City of Seattle

Pacific Notes: Ball, Durant, McGee

The Lakers have no intention of taking Lonzo Ball out of the starting lineup anytime soon, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. The rookie guard has struggled mightily with his jump shot over the course of his first month in the league but the franchise remains committed to his development.

He’s our starting point guard,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said. “So there’s no discussion, no talks as of now of moving Lonzo to the bench. Nah. He’s our starting point guard.

The much hyped Lakers point guard – who cut his hair earlier today(!) – has averaged 9.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game so far this season but is just .303 from the field and .230 from beyond the arc.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division today:

  • Among several excellent aspects of an interview with Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, Warriors forward Kevin Durant spoke candidly about the Thunder and their move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. An under reported asset that the Bay Area offered Durant in free agency is a similarity to the Pacific Northwest town in which he broke into the league. “To be part of a franchise moving, no player, especially a rookie, expects that,” Durant said. “I didn’t even think that was in the cards. Obviously, I wasn’t in on the deal, nobody asked me any questions. So as long as we got to play somewhere, it was cool with me. I was 19, I didn’t know the effect a team moving had on fans or a city. As I got older, I realized how huge a team leaving a city is, how devastating that must have been for the fans. Every time we’d go to the West Coast, we’d see Seattle jerseys and you’d start to realize that was a huge, huge part of people’s lives.
  • A solid debut with his new franchise could boost Greg Monroe‘s trade value, Cody Cunningham of Phoenix’s official team site writes. The big man dropped 20 and 11 in his first game for the Suns since coming over alongside draft picks in the Eric Bledsoe trade.
  • The Warriors haven’t been featuring JaVale McGee heavily in their regular rotation, opting to play him only if matchups call for his length and athleticism. “You definitely have to humble yourself a little bit, just because we’re competitors. We want to play,” McGee told Mark Medina of The Mercury News. “But you can’t complain on a winning team. I understand if we were losing and I’m thinking, ‘I can help.’ But we’re a part of a winning system.”

And-Ones: Youth Movement, Asian Influence, Seattle

The current crop of NBA rookies is one of the best that hoops fans have seen in years, Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders writes. The scribe cites Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum as two first-year players who’ve looked poised and dominant in significant roles out of the gates.

It’s not just a top-heavy class either, however, all of Kyle Kuzma, Lauri Markkanen and Donovan Mitchell have impressed over the course of their first months in the NBA.

The youth movement may not be limited to the 2017/18 season though. Marc Spears of The Undefeated recently profiled the 12 best collegiate players who could make an impact at the NBA level as early as next season, going so far as to declare that Michael Porter Jr. should have greater star power than anybody in the 2017 class.

There’s more around the league:

  • As the world economy shifts, more and more prominent Asian businesses and billionaires are looking to buy into the NBA. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune breaks down the trend that formally started when Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor sold a 5% stake in the franchise to Lizhang Jiang.
  • While Tim Leiweke remains confident that he and his Oak View Group represent Seattle’s best chance of regaining an NBA franchise, it’s not necessarily going to happen as soon as some fans would hope. He spoke on the topic at length with Q13’s Bill Wixey.
  • The BIG3 will add retired point guard T.J. Ford to its ranks, an ESPN report says. The guard averaged 11.2 points and 5.8 assists per game over the course of 306 NBA starts in eight seasons.

Plans To Restore Seattle’s KeyArena Revealed

Details of a facility proposal that could bring the NBA back to the Pacific Northwest were presented to Seattle’s City Council today, Chris Daniels of King 5 writes, but don’t dust off that vintage Detlef Schrempf jersey just yet.

A press conference to discuss the occasion was scheduled for today but was promptly cancelled after the abrupt resignation of mayor Ed Murray following the latest in a series of sexual abuse allegations.

As Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes, given that Murray had been a been a strong proponent of the proposal to restore 45-year-old KeyArena, the mayoral vacancy could potentially open the door to other parties interested in providing a pro sports-ready venue.

Just last week we discussed how a Chris Hansen-led inevstor group similarly interested in reviving the spirit of the Sonics offered to repurpose KeyArena, but as a smaller scale venue after construction was completed on their own brand new facility in the Sodo District of town (where MLB’s Mariners and the NFL’s Seahawks play).

Shortly after that Hansen group offer was made public, however, a statement from Seattle’s Office of Economic Development said that they should have submitted a formal proposal months prior when the city specifically solicited them.

It was during this formal solicitation period, that Oak View Group, a Los Angeles-based sports development company spearheaded by former Raptors executive Tim Leiweke, did put forth a submission to renovate KeyArena, with intentions of housing both an NHL and an NBA franchise.

It’s at this point where things grow even more complicated.

Back in 2012, Hansen and his group actually came to an agreement with the city that they would build their new arena in the Sodo District but it was contingent on the NBA officially rewarding the city a franchise, which obviously has not happened at this point.

That pact expires in early December, an Associated Press report says, meaning that three months from now, the city will be officially free of their commitment to Hansen and thus eligible to vote on the Oak View Group proposal, which could see renovations on the 45-year-old building starting, possibly, as early as October 2018.

As Daniels explains in his King 5 article, the details of the Memorandum of Understanding revealed today lay out some of the financial obligations that the Oak View Group would have toward the city, the logistics of parking and how inevitable traffic problems could be mitigated.

Whether this all ends up happening, of course, is contingent upon the city voting to approve the proposal later this year. If the Oak View Group’s support weakens with Murray’s sudden absence, for example, we may see an opportunity for Hansen and company to sneak back into the picture.

Alas, as Stone writes, there appears to be a decent amount of inertia behind the Oak View Group’s proposal and “the heft of city politics still seem aligned” behind it.

Latest On Seattle’s Quest For An NBA Franchise

For much of the past half decade, a group of investors led by Chris Hansen has sought ways to build an arena in Seattle that could house an NBA team and possibly an NHL club as well. The group, however, has faced resistance, most recently from a city council that refused to grant it access to a city street necessary for construction in the Sodo District.

On Thursday, an Associated Press report broke news that Hansen’s group would also be willing to help rebuild and modernize KeyArena as a venue for concerts, after the construction on the new Sodo facility had been completed, that is.

From 1967 until 2008, KeyArena was home to the NBA’s SuperSonics and the building currently remains on a 74-acre plot in downtown as a multipurpose facility and the home of Seattle’s WNBA club.

Despite the fact that Hansen’s group is aggressively pursuing a franchise – they’ve already pivoted from seeking to use public money to privately financing the project – their plans of building a facility near those of the Seahawks’ and Mariners’ facilities would require the purchase of a portion of Occidental Avenue South.

As recently as May of 2016, however, Seattle city council voted against such an acquisition 5-4, some councilmembers steadfast against the idea of vacating a prominent, industrial city street in the name of supposed “gentrification.”

If the proposal to rebuild KeyArena was intended as an olive branch for city officials, it wasn’t taken as such. Almost immediately after issuing their proposal, Seattle’s Office of Economic Development shot them down, referring to a formal request for proposals that was held earlier in 2017.

If Hansen’s group wanted to modernize KeyArena, the office suggested, they should have formally proposed their plans when the city was requesting them. As things stand, a Los Angeles-based company already has a finalized draft to renovate KeyArena for $564MM with the intention of housing NBA and NHL teams there.

What does this mean for hoops fans hoping for another basketball franchise in the Pacific Northwest? Not much, directly at least.

In April of 2016, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told Baker that a “shovel ready arena” wouldn’t hasten the league’s meticulous expansion process. More recently though, Silver told C.J. McCollum of the Players Tribune (yes, that one) in July 2017 that the league would inevitably start looking at growth of franchises.

Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at,” Silver told him.

Whether that hypothetical franchise suits up in a renovated version of KeyArena or somewhere in the middle of an industrial district slowly enveloped by sports facilities remains to be seen.

Silver: Expansion Discussion ‘Inevitable,’ Seattle On Short List

Asked in recent years about the possibility of expanding the NBA beyond 30 teams, commissioner Adam Silver has suggested such a move isn’t being actively discussed, and isn’t necessarily on the horizon. However, in a conversation with Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum for The Players’ Tribune (video link), Silver acknowledged that the league isn’t overlooking the possibility of expansion.

“I think it’s just a question of when the right time is to seriously start thinking about expansion,” Silver said. “I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it, but it’s inevitable at some point we’ll start looking at growth of franchises. That’s always been the case in this league.”

While Silver stops short of saying expansion itself is inevitable, his comments hint that he believes it will happen at some point. McCollum, who plays his games in the Pacific Northwest, asked Silver specifically about the possibility of Seattle getting a franchise again, and the commissioner confirmed that the former home of the SuperSonics will “no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at.”

The NBA has featured 30 clubs since the Charlotte Bobcats entered the league in 2004, and Seattle has been without a team since the Sonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008. Within the last decade, investors – including Chris Hansen – have made an effort to bring a franchise back to Seattle with a new arena or with renovations to KeyArena, but the league has not introduced any new teams via expansion or relocation during that time.

And-Ones: Seattle, Summer League, Ledo, Prigioni

Ray Allen has been in the news lately for his beef with his former Celtics teammates, stemming from his move to the Heat. Before he played for either of those clubs though, Allen was a four-time All-Star for the Seattle SuperSonics. The longtime marksman was at his best during his time in Seattle, averaging 24.6 PPG in 296 regular season contests, and he still has a fondness for his old home. As Alysha Tsuji of USA Today details, Allen suggested in a recent Instagram post that he wants to see the NBA back in the city.

“I still can’t believe that there is no basketball in Seattle!!” Allen wrote on an Instagram post that featured the hashtag #bringbackoursonics. “This city is too great not to have a hoops squad. Come on everybody we need to rally and bring the NBA back to Seattle. let’s make this happen people!!! The NBA misses traveling to Seattle, I know I certainly do!!!!!”

As we wait to see if Allen follows Russell Wilson‘s lead and officially joins a group trying to bring the NBA back to Seattle, let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • The NBA officially announced today that a record 24 teams will compete in the Las Vegas Summer League from July 7-17 this summer. While multiple Summer Leagues take place in July, the event in Vegas continues to be the most popular.
  • As David Pick reports (via Twitter), Spanish team Baskonia made a roster move involving a former NBA player earlier this week, signing Ricky Ledo, a second-round pick in the 2013 NBA draft. According to Pick (via Twitter), the move to add Ledo was made because Baskonia feared that former NBA sharpshooter Chase Budinger would miss the rest of the season with an injury.
  • Pick has another update on Baskonia, tweeting that the Spanish club is considering the possibility of hiring Pablo Prigioni as its future head coach. Although he played four seasons in the NBA, Priginoi spent most of his career in the Euroleague, spending a long stint with Baskonia in the 2000s. He recently retired as a player, and it appears coaching may be the next step for him.

And-Ones: Doncic, Seattle, Jeff Van Gundy, Draft

Seventeen-year-old Real Madrid star Luka Doncic has a new agent, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who reports (via Twitter) that Doncic has signed on with BDA Sports, and will be represented by Bill Duffy. Doncic won’t be eligible for the 2017 draft, but the investment by BDA has a chance to pay off in a big way down the road — the Slovenian guard is considered one of the best European prospects in years, and is currently viewed as the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the basketball world:

  • Chris Hansen‘s efforts to build a new NBA- and NHL-ready arena in Seattle have been going on for more than five years, but the investor is still confident that it will eventually happen, according to an Associated Press report (link via USA Today). Hansen’s group has increased the private funding in its arena plan and re-submitted it to Seattle City Council, per The Associated Press.
  • Will ESPN and ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy ever return to the sidelines to coach an NBA team? His brother thinks it’s still a real possibility. “Yeah, with the right situation, absolutely. I don’t know if he will, but I definitely can see it,” Stan Van Gundy said, per Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times. “He misses parts of it (coaching), but he also has a real good job, so it goes both ways.”
  • Within his latest draft notebook for The Vertical, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress passes along several interesting notes, writing that player agents aren’t enthusiastic about the NBA’s new two-way contracts and suggesting that 2017 will be a weak draft class for NCAA upperclassmen and international players.
  • Terrance Ferguson is the mystery man of the 2017 draft class, according to Neil Johnson of ESPN.com, who takes a closer look at the 18-year-old who is playing professional ball in Australia.

And-Ones: Blue, BIG3, NBPA, Draft, Expansion

NBA D-League veteran Vander Blue has appeared in more than 150 NBADL games since making his debut in 2013, and once again ranks among the league’s scoring leaders this season. In 35 games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Blue has averaged 25.2 PPG and has shot 37.2% on three-point attempts.

Despite his success in the D-League, the former Marquette standout has only appeared in five NBA regular-season games. Nonetheless, at age 24, he continues to believe he’s deserving a longer look in the NBA, telling Alberto de Roa of HoopsHype that he knows it’s eventually going to happen. In fact, as he focuses on producing for the D-Fenders and earning another shot in the NBA, he says he’s not considering more lucrative offers overseas.

“I told my agent I don’t really wanna hear about overseas right now,” Blue said. “I feel like if I start thinking about that I’m gonna lose focus about what I need to do here. And I want my mind, my soul, my body all to be in one spot so I can really be the best I can be.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the NBA:

  • The BIG3 has confirmed another new team, announcing in a press release that Chauncey Billups, Stephen Jackson, and three other players will team up on a club called the Killer 3s. Previously, we heard that Rashard Lewis and Jason Williams would co-captain a team called the 3 Headed Monsters.
  • TNT’s David Aldridge spoke to NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, engaging in an interesting Q&A on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and her role as an advocate for the league’s players.
  • ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider link) has updated his latest 2017 mock draft in the wake of this week’s trades, which saw two first-round picks change hands. The Trail Blazers and Magic acquired first-rounders from Denver and Toronto, respectively, so Ford has incorporated new picks for those teams.
  • There’s no indication that the NBA is seriously considering expansion at the moment, but that didn’t stop Tom Ziller of SBNation.com from identifying his top 13 candidates for a new NBA franchise, from an obvious choice (Seattle) at No. 1 to a surprise choice at No. 13.

Aldridge’s Latest: Hornets, CBA, Seattle, Casspi

The Hornets had several players eligible for free agency in the summer of 2016, and while they lost some players, such as Courtney Lee and Jeremy Lin, they were able to re-sign key pieces like Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, much to the relief of Kemba Walker.

“I was nervous as hell,” Walker told David Aldridge of NBA.com. “I didn’t want to lose those guys. I knew we couldn’t pay everyone. I wish we could have gotten a lot of the guys back, but unfortunately, the way this business works is it can’t happen all the time. Nic and Marv were high priority … I got a chance to go out to Dallas and be a part of Nic’s meeting. Me and [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] flew out. It was super cool. We got a chance to sit in the room and say a few words.”

General manager Rich Cho admits the team was worried about potentially losing Batum. As Aldridge details, teams like the Mavericks and Wizards were interested in the veteran forward, but the Hornets didn’t want him to take a meeting with another team — and he didn’t.

Here’s more from Aldridge:

  • Barring any last-minute complications, the NBA and the NBPA will likely reach an official agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement during the week of December 5, reports Aldridge. The league and the union will likely take the week after Thanksgiving to make sure everyone’s up to speed on the new deal before formally announcing it.
  • According to Aldridge, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson approached Chris Hansen and his investment group about getting involved in the Seattle arena project, rather than vice versa. While it may still be years before a new Seattle arena is built, Wilson’s cache and his willingness to invest in the project should only help, Aldridge writes.
  • While there’s no indication that they have interest, Aldridge believes the Wizards should look into trading for Omri Casspi, who has fallen out of favor in Sacramento. Casspi told Matt George of Cowbell Kingdom that he and Kings head coach Dave Joerger haven’t spoken since the preseason.

Adam Silver Talks CBA, Expansion, Draft Lottery

Appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Thursday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver reiterated that he remains optimistic about the league and the players’ union reaching a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement sooner rather than later. As Silver explains (Twitter link), he views the opt-out date of December 15 as a deadline of sorts, and is hopeful that the two sides can reach an agreement on or before that date.

Silver also weighed in a few more issues of note, so let’s round up a few of the highlights…

  • On the new CBA giving teams “additional opportunities” to lock up their own players (Twitter link): “One of the things that we’re talking about is coming up with some… advantages in terms of being able to negotiate earlier, to extend the contract. Under the way our rules our structured, your current team can offer you a longer contract [and] they can offer you more money. I think if we early-up some of those opportunities, at least teams will be in a better position to know whether they can keep that player. And if they can’t, there will be more of an opportunity to deal that player and get value for that player if it seems likely that player is going to leave.”
  • On the possibility of expanding the NBA beyond 30 teams (Twitter link): “In addition to the so-called super-team issue, we also have to be sure that we have 30 competitive teams, made up of strong rosters. I’m not sure right now that expansion, which would then in turn dilute the competition on our teams, is necessarily the right direction to go. … As much as I’d like to bring teams to other communities, I have to take into account what impact it’ll have both in terms of competition and financially on our existing teams, who will then get their payments from our national TV partners diluted.”
  • More on expansion: “I’ll say that we owe to our owners, our players, and our fans to take a fresh look at it on a regular basis. I think once we ultimately get this new Collective Bargaining Agreement done, I’m sure a committee of owners and people at the league office will turn back to it and do a very sophisticated analysis about whether expansion does make sense.”
  • On draft lottery reform (Twitter link): “I’m not exactly sure how I would change it at the moment, because it once again seems to be working pretty well.”
  • Addressing the practice of resting non-injured stars, Silver said he’d like to see teams do it in home games rather than road games, but noted he’s “super-reluctant” to try to set any rules for how teams and coaches should manage their players’ minutes (Twitter link).
  • Silver also suggested that an NBA team in Europe is unlikely to happen anytime soon, pointing to rest and logistics as roadblocks (Twitter link).
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