Month: February 2019

Kings To Sign Corey Brewer To Second 10-Day Deal

The Kings are planning to sign veteran swingman Corey Brewer to a second 10-day contract, a source tells JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link). Brewer’s initial 10-day deal with the club expired overnight.

Brewer, who will turn 33 next month, signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Sixers earlier this year, then joined the Kings following the trade deadline. Having averaged 7.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 1.7 SPG in seven games (20.0 MPG) in Philadelphia, Brewer didn’t see any action during his first 10 days with Sacramento.

Despite not using him yet, the Kings seem comfortable having a veteran like Brewer on their bench to play minutes at the two and three if necessary, having sent Iman Shumpert to Houston at the trade deadline. Sacramento is also carrying just 13 players after Brewer’s 10-day deal expired, so the team would have had to get back up to 14 eventually if he hadn’t been re-signed.

Waiting until Wednesday to complete Brewer’s next 10-day contract would allow the Kings to keep him under team control for their next five games, but NBA.com’s transactions log indicates that the move has already been finalized. If that’s the case, the deal will run through February 27, covering Sacramento’s next four contests. We’ll wait for official word from the team to be sure.

As we detailed earlier today, even before receiving his new 10-day deal, Brewer has already signed more 10-day contracts so far this season than any other NBA player.

Community Shootaround: D’Angelo Russell’s Free Agency

Last July, Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell spoke about using the new five-year, $158MM extension signed by his good friend Devin Booker as “motivation” during the 2018/19 season. Seven months later, Russell has delivered on that promise, positioning himself for a huge payday of his own.

In the midst of a breakout season in Brooklyn, Russell is averaging career highs in PPG (20.3), APG (6.6), FG% (.436), and 3PT% (.372), among other categories. He earned a spot in the All-Star Game in Charlotte this past weekend, and has the Nets in position to make the postseason for the first time since 2015 — at 30-29, the club has already exceeded its win total from each of the last three seasons.

Russell, who will turn 23 years old this Saturday, is poised to hit free agency at the right time. Several teams around the NBA – including the Nets – have the flexibility to offer huge deals, and there are only so many star free agents available. For teams that miss out on the very best options like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving, Russell may look like a tantalizing Plan B.

While the idea that Russell is a maximum-salary candidate may seem surprising, there won’t be many elite point guards available once Irving signs. Russell is six years younger than Kemba Walker and has emerged as a far more intriguing option than Terry Rozier. For a club in need of a point guard – like Booker’s Suns – an aggressive bid on Russell makes a ton of sense.

Of course, Russell will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Nets will have the chance to match any offer he receives. The two sides could also negotiate directly, since Brooklyn is the only team eligible to give Russell five years instead of four. A five-year deal could be worth up to a projected $158MM, while a four-year deal would max out around $117MM.

[RELATED: Maximum Salary Projections for 2019/20]

If the Nets are focused on veteran free agents like Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris when July 1 arrives though, it could open the door for another team to swoop in and sign Russell to a player-friendly offer sheet (perhaps with big up-front payments and a trade kicker), forcing Brooklyn into a tough decision.

Given Sean Marks‘ history of pursuing other teams’ restricted free agents – such as Otto Porter, Allen Crabbe, and Tyler Johnson – and forcing those teams to match massive offer sheets, I expect there will be clubs out there looking to return the favor when Russell reaches restricted free agency. However, the ex-Laker has raved about his time in Brooklyn and may be happy to deal directly with the Nets rather than seeking out an offer sheet.

What do you think? Will Russell get a maximum-salary offer this summer? Will he sign directly with the Nets, or will Brooklyn be forced to decide whether to match another team’s offer? Would the Nets happily match a max offer? Do you expect Russell to ultimately remain in Brooklyn, or can you envision a scenario where he changes teams?

Head to the comment section below to make your predictions on Russell’s upcoming free agency.

MSG Denies Report Dolan Is ‘Courting Offers’ For Knicks

1:02pm: As was the case in December, MSG Co. has issued a statement refuting the idea that there are plans to sell the Knicks (Twitter link via Stefan Bondy).

“The story is 100% false,” the statement reads. “There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions — nothing.”

12:13pm: After Knicks owner James Dolan indicated in December that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of selling the franchise, a new report suggests that he may actually be seriously considering that idea. As Tommy Beer of Forbes.com relays, Bill Simmons of The Ringer said in his latest podcast that Dolan is “courting offers” for the Knicks.

“Multiple people told me this, who know things,” Simmons said. “… It’s happening. It’s on. It’s go time. He’s courting offers for the Knicks. That’s what I heard at All-Star weekend from people I trust.”

Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News notes that there have been rumblings for months that Dolan has been considering the idea of a sale, but if he’s actively seeking out offers, that would be new territory.

Last year, Madison Square Garden Co. announced plans to separate the sports and entertainment aspects of its business, which means that the Knicks could be sold without Madison Square Garden being part of the deal. In that scenario, Dolan could theoretically retain control of the live entertainment business, including venues like MSG, the Hulu Theater, and Radio City Music Hall.

Simmons’ comments suggest that those aspects of the business may be of greater interest to Dolan than controlling the Knicks long-term.

“This is what I’ve pieced together,” Simmons said, according to Beer. “[Dolan] really cares about the buildings and the in-game/in-concert experience. And he wants to put even more money into that. The Knicks are just a pain in the a–, people s–t on him for it. He feels if he can just sell the Knicks for some crazy price, then he can put the money into that music/in-game experience stuff that he cares about. So, the Knicks are available.”

In the wake of his December comments stating that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of selling the Knicks, Dolan quickly released a statement clarifying that there were no plans to sell the team. Two months later, with rumors swirling again, it wouldn’t be shocking if he issues a similar denial. If he doesn’t, it would strongly signal that Simmons is onto something.

For what it’s worth, Forbes’ most recently NBA franchise valuations – published earlier this month – estimated the Knicks’ worth at $4 billion. The team ranked first on Forbes’ list of most valuable NBA franchises, and became the first basketball club to ever earn a $4 billion valuation.

Checking In On 2019’s 10-Day Contracts

Corey Brewer‘s 10-day contract with the Kings expired overnight, and it’s not clear whether or not Sacramento will sign him to another. The Kings are now carrying just 13 players and will have to get back up to at least 14 (the league-mandated minimum) within the next two weeks. However, Brewer didn’t see any action during his 10-day stint in Sacramento, so the club may not be in a hurry to bring him back.

Whether or not Brewer gets a new deal from the Kings, he is currently the NBA’s leader in 10-day contracts signed during the 2018/19 season. Before signing with Sacramento, he received a pair of 10-day contracts from the Sixers, making him the only player who has inked three such deals so far in 2019.

With the help of our 10-day contract tracker, here’s a breakdown of some of the other notable numbers related to 10-day deals from 2019 so far:

  • Total 10-day contracts signed: 22
  • Teams that have signed at least one player to a 10-day contract: 12
  • Teams that have signed multiple players to 10-day contracts: 4
  • Ten-day contracts which are still active: 4
    • John Jenkins, Knicks (through 2/20)
    • Isaiah Canaan, Timberwolves (through 2/22)
    • Scotty Hopson, Thunder (through 2/23)
    • Richard Solomon, Thunder (through 2/23)
  • Players who have signed 10-day contracts with multiple teams: 2
    • John Jenkins (Wizards, Knicks)
    • Corey Brewer (Sixers, Kings)
  • Players who have parlayed 10-day contracts into a rest-of-season deal with the same team: 1

For a full breakdown of 10-day contracts from 2019 and past seasons, be sure to follow our tracker.

Pelicans Notes: Davis, GM Search, Gentry, Holiday

Shortly after the Pelicans dismissed general manager Dell Demps on Friday, Sam Amick of The Athletic cited sources who said there was no plan in place for how to handle the Anthony Davis situation after the All-Star break. On Sunday night, a tweet from Scott Kushner of The Advocate suggested that there’s still no resolution.

According to Kushner, there are people within the Pelicans’ organization who believe that Davis has played his last game for the team. However, the big man played in the All-Star Game on Sunday and his shoulder injury isn’t expected to sideline him going forward. He has also made it clear he wants to play down the stretch.

[RELATED: Anthony Davis plans to play rest of season, confirms teams on trade list]

With the NBA not stepping in to clarify its position on the issue, it’s not clear what the tipping point will be, according to Kushner, who predicts that the situation will continue to be a “weird” one going forward.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The Pelicans, who reportedly plan to target high-level executives for their GM opening, are expected to hire a search firm to vet outside candidates, per Amick.
  • In a column for The Advocate, Kushner argues that the Pelicans’ next general manager should learn from Demps’ mistakes — namely, Demps’ strategy of trading first-round picks for “young veterans” backfired, since New Orleans’ rosters during the last several years typically lacked depth and were short on affordable rookie contracts.
  • While the Davis saga has been a mess for the franchise, head coach Alvin Gentry and star guard Jrue Holiday have emerged as “sympathetic, admirable figures,” Kushner writes in a separate piece for The Advocate. According to Kushner, “Gentry and Holiday are the stewards who should be remembered for carrying a wounded franchise across a period of dread with dignity and pride.”

Schlenk: Hawks Would Have Drafted Luka At No. 3

The Hawks participated in the biggest draft-day trade of 2018, agreeing to move down two spots from No. 3 to No. 5 in a deal with the Mavericks. The trade will have a significant impact on both franchises going forward, with third overall pick Luka Doncic looking like a franchise player in Dallas while No. 5 pick Trae Young appears to be a foundational piece in Atlanta.

In an appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski’s Woj Pod, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk revisited that blockbuster deal, explaining the thinking behind the move (hat tip to RealGM). According to Schlenk, Atlanta had been preparing to select Doncic at No. 3 – even tentatively letting agent Bill Duffy know when Doncic’s introductory press conference would take place – before the Mavs improved their trade offer on draft day.

“Not a lot of people know this,” Schlenk said. “If we would have stayed at three, we would have taken Luka. We had worked with his agent, he did a physical for us that morning in New York. … But then Dallas came in an hour or so before the draft. I told them all along that it would take another lottery pick for us to slide back, and that’s when the conversations got started.”

The price to move up two spots in 2018 was the Mavericks’ top-five protected 2019 first-rounder. While that pick wasn’t necessarily assured of becoming a lottery pick – and still isn’t – Schlenk told Wojnarowski that the work done by the Hawks’ analytics staff made him and the front office feel good about that selection.

“For us, what made (the trade) make sense is our analytics staff was projecting Dallas to finish eighth (in the reverse standings) this year,” Schlenk said.

As the Hawks’ GM observes, that projection looks pretty accurate so far — Dallas currently has the NBA’s ninth-worst record. Still, with draft experts somewhat bearish on the 2019 class as a whole, the Mavs will likely be fine with handing over a top-10 pick. Surrendering that selection gave them the opportunity to secure their first bona fide star since Dirk Nowitzki‘s decline began.

Nets Notes: Russell, Kurucs, Musa, Marks

As Brian Lewis points out for The New York Post, Nets GM Sean Marks didn’t offer D’Angelo Russell a contract extension in October mainly because he wanted to see if the young point guard could prove himself to be a go-to option and leader. So far, so good on that end as Russell has stayed healthy this season and is averaging career highs of 20.3 points and 6.6 assists per game going into his first All-Star game appearance.

Russell has been the leading force on a Nets team that is surpassing expectations, having already won more games (30) than they did all of last season (28). Russell’s improvements have coincided with steady improvement from Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, and Spencer Dinwiddie, with veterans and rookies contributing in other spots as well.

The Nets will now look to build on their strong record and claim their first playoff spot since 2015, as Russell will look to lead the way and play his way into a big contract this summer.

There’s more on the Nets:

Wizards, Kings Ahead Of Sports Betting Curve

Monetizing the legalization of sports betting is a hot topic among owners of North American professional sports franchises and several NBA teams are positioning themselves to be at the forefront of the movement.

The Wizards and Kings are among the teams looking to educate potential bettors in preparation for when legalized betting arrives in their respective areas, as ESPN passes along.

“I think this is the most important new business for us,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said while stressing the importance of making sure new bettors are not confused when placing wagers.

The Kings are allowing fans to “Call the Shot,” something that gives fans the ability to predict outcomes like the score of a quarter or the statistics of a certain player. The team is adding a lounge for premium seat holders where fans can go to and use iPads to make “bets” before returning to their seats to watch the events unfold. The Kings are calling the experience “predictive gaming.” which is expected to be available for four select games in March.

“The arena is the game console,” Sacramento owner Vivek Ranadive said. “And your phone is the controller for the game console. So we’re only limited by our imagination.”

There currently is no monetary value to the “bets,” as fans can play for free and will get virtual credits for winning. Sports betting is not currently legal in California but the Kings will have the infrastructure in place should wagering become legal.

“We’d have all the infrastructure in place,” Ranadive said. “We’d have the fan base that’s already educated. We’d have the ability to execute and all of that. So we think that we would be able to flip the switch very quickly and move.”

Washington D.C. is closer to legalized sports betting than California, as a bill that would allow sports betting inside of professional sports franchise stadiums and arenas is expected to be passed before the end of the NBA season. The Wizards are among the franchises in the district that are expected to build a Las Vegas-style sportsbook inside its stadium, according to the Washington Post.

Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are expected to be permitted inside of Audi Field (D.C. United of the MLS), Capital One Arena (Wizards, NHL’s Capitals), St Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena (WNBA’s Mystics and Wizards’ G League affiliate GoGo), and National Park (Nationals of the MLB).

The Wizards have been progressive about getting their fans familiar with real-time betting. The team scheduled live, alternate sports betting broadcast for seven games this season where potential bettors can view what a version of live betting will look like while they watch the Wizards play.

“Right now, the people who go to casinos to gamble, it’s a small community and it generates $8-10 billion a year in revenues and play,” Leonsis said. “But there’s probably $100 billion that’s in the shadows by really sophisticated gamblers. And obviously, the first step is we want to get that audience that’s gaming illegally to come into the sunlight.”

Shifting experienced bettors away from the illegal market remains a challenge. CEO Geoff Freeman of the American Gaming Association believes it’s going to take a partnership between the leagues and betting operators to ensure that illegal bookmakers are put out of business, as I passed along previously in a piece for CNBC.

Eight states (DE, MS, NJ, NM, NV, PA, RI, WV) currently allow for sports wagering, though the impact on the illegal market hasn’t been drastic. “It’s not as if the bookies are out today shopping for new careers,” Joe Asher, CEO of the Britain-based sports betting operator William Hill, said after the landmark Supreme Court decision which made sports betting a reality in many states.

Pennsylvania is the only state with an NBA team that currently has legalized sports betting in place. However, there is no mobile betting available yet, so Philadelphians cannot place legal bets from inside the Wells Fargo Arena as they watch the Sixers play.

Klay On Warriors’ Future: “Hopefully, I’ll Be A Part Of It”

The Warriors are committed to keeping their championship core together even if it leads to unprecedented financial implications. Owner Joe Lacob recently declared that the Dubs “can do whatever [they] want” in terms of finances and that cost concerns won’t be the reason the team doesn’t “stay great” going forward.

Klay Thompson, who will be a free agent at the season, is encouraged by Golden State’s stance and the commitment to remaining a championship contender.

“That’s good to hear, I know Joe’s competitive. He wants to win more than anything. And he will put together the best team to do that. Hopefully, I’ll be a part of it,” Thompson said (via Mark Medina of The Mercury News).

Thompson is widely expected to land a max deal this summer and while Lacob is fully aware that rival teams will attempt to pry him from the Warriors, the team owner is “not really worried about it.”

“All we can do is be the best organization we can, treat players the best we can, provide the best environment, have the best management, have a great arena. I mean, all the things we do,” Lacob said in an interview with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. “The culture of the organization, I think, speaks for itself. Then the chips fall where they may.”

The owner added that the organization plans to be aggressive in free agency regardless of whether Kevin Durant and Thompson stick around.“Nobody’s going to outspend us. Nobody’s going to outwork us,” he added. “…I know what [our free agents] should do, which is stay with us, but I can’t say what they’re going to do, so they’ll do what they’re going to do. And we’ll have contingency plans; if somebody leaves, we’ll do what we’ve gotta do.”

Pelicans Notes: Davis, Demps, Benson, Okafor

Despite Anthony Davis not wanting to be the bad guy, his botched trade request in New Orleans has left him with no other choice, Michael Lee of The Athletic writes.

Davis made his request last month through agent Rich Paul, who took the request to various media outlets and publicized his client’s wish. Davis confirmed his list of preferred trade destinations over All-Star Weekend: The Bucks, Celtics, Clippers, Knicks and Lakers.

“When you’re somewhere for seven years, of course it’s tough but, I don’t know how long I’m going to play this game,” Davis said, according to Lee. “I want to make sure I have a chance to win. I want to win. Like I said, no matter where it is. I have no preferred destination. But I want to play the game of basketball and I want to win. I just felt like it was time for me to move forward, try to take control of my career and go out there and try to win.

“Market doesn’t matter to me. I just want to win,” Davis said. “Big market, small market, that doesn’t matter. I’m focused on winning at this point in my career, wherever that may be. It could be a big market or a small market, I just want to win.”

Davis will have to finish out the 2018/19 season in New Orleans despite seeking a trade. The Pelicans failed to move him before the Feb. 7 trading deadline, meaning the earliest they can open new trade discussions is when season comes to an end.

Davis has mostly received boos from Pelicans fans in pregame intros, and the reaction from the fan base on social media has been mixed.

There’s more out of New Orleans today:

  • The Pelicans made the right decision by parting ways with general manager Dell Demps last week, Ben Golliver of The Washington Post opines. Demps, who served as New Orleans’ GM for nine seasons, failed to effectively build a winning roster around Davis since drafting him back in 2012. Pelicans owner Gayle Benson said the team will immediately begin the process of restructuring its basketball operations department, which will include a comprehensive and confidential search of a new leader that reports to Benson.
  • Benson’s next major decision will either break or make the Pelicans, Larry Holder of The Athletic writes. New Orleans has to decide whether to trade Davis this offseason, or try to persuade him into staying with their younger group. “I think they’re young, and we’re going to invest more money and get the big players and do everything we can to keep Anthony here,” Benson said. “I really like what we have in place. I really like Anthony, but if he wants to leave, you can’t hold him back.”
  • William Guillory of The Athletic hosted a Q&A with Jahlil Okafor, who’s having a bounce-back season with the Pelicans through 38 games. Okafor discussed his mentality this season, playing with Davis, how he’s improved as a player and much more in the story.