Magic Choose Weltman As President of Basketball Operations

Raptors GM Jeff Weltman has reached a five-year agreement with the Magic to become their President of Basketball Operations, sources told The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The deal was finalized in a meeting between Weltman and Orlando’s CEO Alex Martins, as well as the team’s ownership group, Wojnarowski continues. He replaces Rob Hennigan, who was fired last month.

The Magic had seriously considered making an offer to Cavaliers GM David Griffin, but focused their attention on Weltman in recent weeks, Wojnarowski adds. Weltman had been working under Raptors president Masai Ujiri. He previously had high-level jobs with the Bucks and Nuggets after starting his front-office career with the Clippers. He had been with the Raptors since 2013 after leaving the Bucks organization.

Weltman will have the ability to hire a GM who’ll report to him but Matt Lloyd, who had been serving as the interim GM, could remain with the organization, Wojnarowski adds.

The Raptors will likely fill the GM vacancy with assistant GM Bobby Webster, Toronto beat reporter Doug Smith tweets.

Multiple Prospects Withdraw From Draft

This Wednesday is the deadline for players who are testing the draft waters to make a final decision. Several players have made a decision today, opting to withdraw from the draft. Here are some players who’ve decided to stay in school (all decisions are reported by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman unless otherwise indicated):

Wizards To Pursue John Wall Extension

An extension for John Wall will be Washington’s top priority this offseason, sources tell J. Michael of Comcast Sportsnet. The team hasn’t yet reached out to Wall, but the front office is expected to do so now that Wall has made an All-NBA team this season and is eligible for the Designated Veteran Player Extension.

Wall can sign on for an additional four years and nearly $170MM with the CBA’s new extension. While that may be tempting to most, Wall isn’t ready to sign on the dotted line just yet. Sources tell Michael that Wall would like to see the front office’s plan for the future before committing long-term.

Wall had his most effective season as a pro during the 2016/17 season. He scored 23.1 points, dished out 10.7 assists and made 45.1% of his shots from the field. He wasn’t able to elevate the Wizards past the second round in the Eastern Conference, but that was arguably due to the team’s lack of firepower off the bench.

The Wizards will have several pressing issues this offseason, including Otto Porter‘s restricted free agency. Locking up Wall long-term is No. 1 on the list and once they know how long the point guard will be in Washington, they can move onto other objectives.

2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Brooklyn Nets

Still reeling from the 2013 trade with Boston that cost them a handful of first-round picks, the Nets entered the 2016/17 season as the odds-on favorite to lose the most games of any team. Sure enough, they delivered, posting a 20-62 mark as their top free agent addition (Jeremy Lin) battled injuries for most of the year.

With the Celtics still in control of Brooklyn’s first-round picks in 2017 and 2018, the Nets will be hard-pressed to add star talent, but GM Sean Marks will look to continue adding young pieces with a pair of draft picks in the 20s — and with the team’s max-level cap room.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Nets financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2017:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

  • None

Cap Holds

  • Randy Foye ($3,000,000)
  • No. 22 overall pick ($1,713,720)
  • No. 27 overall pick ($1,423,560)
  • Total: $6,137,280

Projected Salary Cap: $101,000,000

Maximum Cap Room: $33,209,882

  • With eight guaranteed salaries, two cap holds for first-round picks, and a pair of cap charges for empty roster spots, the Nets would have a team salary of $67,790,118. Their available cap room will dip a little if they keep some of their players with non-guaranteed salaries, as is expected, but they’d still have more than enough room to aggressively pursue at least one major free agent — perhaps an RFA, if they follow 2016’s blueprint.

Footnotes:

  1. Acy’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 16.
  2. Harris’ salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 30.
  3. Kilpatrick’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 30.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and The Vertical was used in the creation of this post.

Paul Millsap Opts Out Of Deal

Paul Millsap has opted out of his contract and will become a free agent, sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical. Millsap previously said that this was likely to happen, so it comes as no surprise. He turned down a salary of slightly more than $21.4MM for next year.

Millsap has publicly expressed a desire to stay in Atlanta, though NBA.com’s David Aldridge recently reported that the 32-year-old may be more open to a change than he’s been leading on. Aldridge wrote that Millsap was among the team’s players who were unhappy with the team’s ” lack of accountability for other players who consistently made mistakes on the floor.” 

The power forward will be a top priority for the Hawks, Charania adds. Atlanta has openings at GM and team president after shifting Wes Wilcox to a new role and taking front office privileges away from coach Mike Budenholzer. The team will take the same strategy with Millsap regardless of who fills the openings, as he’ll negotiate directly with owner Tony Ressler as the sides discuss a new deal.

The Hawks have thrived since Millsap arrived in town. The team has gone 189-139 over the last four years and Charania notes that many around the league believe the power forward’s unselfishness has allowed the team’s system to work.

Draft Notes: Kanter, Bucks, Swanigan

Kerem Kanter has withdrawn from the draft, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweets. Kanter, who is the younger brother of NBA player Enes Kanter, graduated from Green Bay and will play for Xavier this year.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

Durant Talks Decision To Join Warriors, Future With Team

Kevin Durant recently spoke with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated to discuss his decision to join the Warriors and his future with the team. Here are the highlights from the piece:

On whether or not he has any regrets about leaving the Thunder:

I made the 100 percent correct decision, win or lose. I feel like this is the place I was supposed to be. I appreciate everything I’ve done before this. But I’m here now, and I feel like it’s a great spot for me to be. This is where I am supposed to be at this point of my life. I’m taking it on and conquering every part of it. I’m enjoying every single step.

On where he’ll be playing next season (He can become a free agent this summer by turning down the player option in his contract):

I love it here. I love my teammates. I love the city [of Oakland]. I love the organization. I love it here. I don’t plan on going anywhere else

On the criticism he received for making the decision to join the Warriors:

I try to play the right way and handle myself the right way. I am just confused as to why that stuff doesn’t matter more than what happens on Twitter or whatever the topic of discussion is each day. I think it takes away from what is most important: that ball and that basket, everything in between the lines. I don’t expect anyone who has never been there before to understand that.

On whether or not the criticism will ever stop:

Somebody is always going to disagree. Somebody is always going to discredit. It’s just a part of life. When you want to do it for each other and for friends and family, that’s when it’s purer than anything.

On the best thing about playing for the Warriors:

You have people here who realize that the most important thing is it’s a game. You have fun. But you also should be passionate and dedicated. That is what everybody’s vision is.

Southeast Notes: Wizards’ Bench, Hawks’ FO, Winslow

The Wizards fell just shy of the Celtics in their Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown and now must look at ways to improve if they hope to take the next step as a potential contender. One place they can start, point guard John Wall tells Chris Miller of CSN Mid-Atlantic, is with their bench.

I think we have to add pieces to help our bench,” the Wizards All-Star said. “Just to be honest I think that’s been our downfall.

While Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 27.2 and 24.8 respective points per game this postseason, mid-season trade acquisition Bojan Bogdanovic was their most potent reserve averaging a modest 8.8 points per game.

Brandon Jennings, another mid-season Wizards target charged with the task of jump-starting the second unit, posted averages of just 2.8 points and 1.8 assists per game in the playoffs.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks have interviewed Wizards VP of basketball operations, Tommy Sheppard and Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk in their ongoing search for a new executive, Marc Stein of ESPN writes.
  • A recent profile from the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman features Heat assistant general manager Adam Simon‘s and his background scouting internationally.
  • The Celtics may have offered a first-round pick to the Heat in exchange for Justise Winslow back on draft night in 2015 but it wasn’t the Nets pick, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel clarifies.
  • A column by George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel draws comparisons between Lonzo Ball and Shaquille O’Neal, citing the overbearing presence of their respective father figures.
  • The Magic have several options that could realistically be available to them at the No. 6 pick, including De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel breaks them down.

Knicks Part Ways With Assistant Coach Josh Longstaff

Despite the fact that the Knicks’ relationship with Kristaps Porzingis is already tenuous, the organization chose not to renew the contract of an assistant coach that he’s particularly close with, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes.

The second-year big man had bonded with Josh Longstaff through his first two years in the league, the pair even training overseas together last summer.

The Knicks didn’t specify why they decided to part ways with the 34-year-old player development specialist, one of several holdovers from Derek Fisher‘s coaching staff prior to the 2016/17 campaign, but the decision is curious. Per Bondy, the Knicks are said to be moving forward with a heavy focus on the triangle all throughout the organization.

Knicks fans have already seen their front office clash with the 7’2″ budding star this offseason. Porzingis ditched his exit meeting with the team last month to head back to his native Latvia. Just this week, team president Phil Jackson and Porzingis’ brother supposedly connected to discuss the apparently strained relationship but the sit down isn’t said to have been very effective.

All told, the move is the latest questionable one out of a front office that has spent the better part of the past year denigrating Carmelo Anthony, though a top-down effort to more seriously implement the triangle may put things in perspective.

Rumored to be a candidate to fill the vacancy is former Knick Pablo Prigioni. The 40-year-old played in Europe this season but served with the Knicks for three seasons ending in 2014/15.

Community Shootaround: Celtics’ Offseason Strategy

Reeling after two straight emphatic defeats against the Cavaliers and now without their best player for Games 3 and 4, the Celtics will have a long summer ahead of them to contemplate how they can maneuver ahead of LeBron James and company in the Eastern Conference.

Fortunately, the club is historically privileged to have the first overall pick in this summer’s stacked NBA Draft. No matter how hoops fans or league executives want to slice it, the Celtics are in an ideal situation, they can either hold onto the No. 1 pick and mold their already formidable roster around supposed future superstar Markelle Fultz or they can move the highly-sought-after draft pick in exchange for an established star.

Considering that the club is loaded with assets already, ranging from allegedly untouchable veteran center Al Horford to the 2016 third-overall pick Jaylen Brown, they’re not far removed from being the undisputed No. 2 team in their conference – the only question is how they’ll want to go about it.

Let’s take the grand creative leap and assume that the Celtics do meet their demise in this Conference Finals matchup, where do you think they should go from there? Does it make sense to flip the pick for a genuine, established star like Jimmy Butler or Paul George? Or is there little point in pushing to win now at the expense of setting themselves up long-term with Fultz?

LeBron James is 32 years old and likely has at least a handful of seasons left to rule the East, you tell us how the Celtics should look to approach their offseason given their multiple appealing possible options?

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