Kyrie Irving

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Nurse, Irving, Canales

The Sixers don’t have enough room on their roster to take on all six of their 2018 draft picks, let alone sign free agents this summer or bring 2017 draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden over from Israel. For that reason, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer says that moves can be expected.

Pompey lists multiple scenarios in which the Sixers could shake up their payroll, either packaging first-round picks and a player to move into the top five in hopes of landing Luka Doncic or Michael Porter Jr., or simply just trading into the top seven or eight and targeting Mikal Bridges.

Of course the Sixers could also be slightly more ambitious and put together a package of their 2018 No. 10 pick, Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington or Dario Saric and look to make a play for Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • After 27 years as a coach, Nick Nurse finally became the lead man on an NBA bench. Michael Grange of Sportsnet documented the man’s journey and the process that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri went through before promoting him.
  •  The Celtics believe that point guard Kyrie Irving is happy in Boston, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reports, despite recent speculation otherwise.
  • The Knicks are adding Kaleb Canales as an assistant coach, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes. Canales had previously spent time with the Trail Blazers and Mavericks.

Celtics Notes: Leonard, Irving, Draft, Summer League

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is wary of paying a steep price for Kawhi Leonard without a guarantee that he’ll stay more than one season, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Leonard has asked for a trade out of San Antonio and the Celtics may be able to put together the best offer, but Ainge will probably be cautious, according to Washburn.

He suggests Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum would have to be part of the package, along with the rights to the Kings’ first-rounder in 2019. It might be easier to match salaries by including Gordon Hayward, but his trade value has dropped after missing the season with a severe ankle fracture.

Kyrie Irving can already opt out next season, and the Celtics might be reluctant to have two stars on their roster who could leave at the same time, especially if it means breaking up a young core that looks like it will be a contender for several years.

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Irving hopes to resume playing again “in like a month,” he said in an appearance this week on The Bill Simmons Podcast. NBC Sports Boston relayed a few of his comments, including an explanation of what it was like to deal with a knee infection that forced him to miss the entire playoffs. “I was leaving the games at halftime because I had eight-hour shifts of antibiotics I had to take for my infection,” Irving said. “I had a PICC line in my arm for two months and I’m just like… every day is like OK, I can’t necessarily lift, I can’t run, I can’t do anything. If I didn’t have my PICC line in for my infection I would have definitely tried to go after being ready for at least the Eastern Conference Finals.”
  • The Celtics have a recent history of going the draft-and-stash route late in the first round, but the overseas talent doesn’t warrant it this year, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Apart from Luka Doncic, the only foreign players with a shot at being taken in the first round are French point guard Elie Okobo and Bosnian wing Dzanan Musa, according to Blakely.
  • Guerschon Yabusele, Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird are all expected to be part of the Celtics’ summer league team in Las Vegas, Washburn notes. Bird has a two-way contract, so Boston has to make a qualifying offer before he is eligible. Jay Larranaga will coach the team.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Stevens, Leonard, Brown, Ujiri

There has been speculation that Kyrie Irving‘s days in Boston may be numbered as he can hit the free agent market after next season. We already noted that Irving will not consider an extension this summer as his focus is coming back healthy from knee surgery and helping the Celtics capture a championship.

A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston examines all the reasons why it makes sense for Irving to stay in Boston beyond next season. As Blakely notes, the Celtics’ ability to field a winning team and to offer him the most money, along with the chance of leading a team to a championship, are all reasons for Irving to remain in Celtics green. Blakely also notes the stability of the Celtics’ front office and coaching staff as strong points since Irving’s stint with the Cavaliers included four head coaches and three general managers.

A healthy Irving will strengthen a team that was on the brink of an NBA Finals appearance. In addition to Irving, Gordon Hayward is expected back healthy next season. A strong year — along with Boston’s resources — could lead to Irving signing long-term in Beantown.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes below:

  • Brad Stevens is regarded as one of the NBA’s premier coaches. He has led the Celtics to the playoffs in four of his five NBA seasons and to the conference finals the past two years. As he gears up for the 2018/19 season with a healthy roster, Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders explains why next season may be the most important of Stevens’ career.
  • NBC Sports Boston discussed whether or not it makes sense to deal one of the Celtics’ top young players in a trade for Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard. We relayed yesterday that Boston made an offer for Leonard before the trade deadline this past season.
  • After Bryan Colangelo’s departure from the Sixers due to his alleged use of burner accounts, head coach Brett Brown was given the role on an interim basis until a replacement general manager is hired. Derek Bodner of The Athletic (subscription required) writes about the challenge Brown faces and how it may be too much responsibility.
  • President of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said the Raptors are “open for business” as the team tries to construct a more sustainable roster, tweets Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.

Kyrie Irving Not Considering Extension This Summer

Despite being eligible for a contract extension this summer, Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is apparently not interested, reports Chris Forsberg of ESPN. Irving is quoted as saying he is pretty sure management and I will have a talk, but that talk won’t happen now,” because contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense.”

Irving is instead focused on getting healthy for next season and helping Boston take another step towards an NBA Championship, saying that he intends to deflect focus off of his contract situation.

“The focus is solely on winning a championship next year. I don’t think [impending free agency will] necessarily have an effect. I’m doing my best to kind of deflect all that and focus on what’s in front of us.”

As for the extension-related issue, Irving’s logic is financially sound, as the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the players’ association caps the length of veteran extensions to five seasons, including the seasons remaining on the current contract. Moreover, it limits the salary in the first year of the actual extension to 120% of the player’s salary the previous season.

Irving, who is under contract next season for $20.1MM and holds a player option for the 2019/20 season worth $21.3MM, could choose to forgo exercising his option and sign a four-year extension worth about $108.1MM. Clearly, that figure is substantial; however, if Irving were to opt out next summer and become an unrestricted free agent, he would be eligible to utilize his Bird rights and sign a five-year deal with the Celtics worth upwards of $188MM, based on the latest salary projections for the 2019/20 season.

Irving, whose current contract is virtually identical to Spurs’ superstar Kawhi Leonard, is not eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension like Leonard because he hasn’t met the Designated Veteran Player 35% Max Criteria, nor has he remained with the same team throughout his current contract.

Irving was also asked about the prospect of potentially being reunited with former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James, saying that “in this business, I’ve experienced it all and I’ve seen a lot, so we’ll see what management decides.”

Irving further added that he’s navigating his rehab with caution but that he’s excited about his targeted return date of mid-to-late September.

Latest On LeBron James’ Future

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert cannot offer LeBron James a stake in the franchise in an effort to retain his services, Michael McCann and Jon Wortheim of Sports Illustrated point out. The Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits players from holding direct or indirect interest in the ownership of a team, thus the NBA would not approve a contract with any type of ownership provision, the story continues. The league has also been vigilant in preventing players and owners from intermingling their business interests, the SI duo notes. James can opt out of his contract or try to force a trade to a desired destination this summer.

Here’s some other interesting notes regarding the possibility of James playing elsewhere next season:

  • The Rockets would need to either gut their roster or make a trade with the Cavaliers to add James, but the latter option is complicated by the team’s roster composition, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. The Cavaliers would likely want quality young talent to kick-start a rebuild in any James trade and the Rockets don’t have enough of those players while trying to match up salaries to absorb James’ $35MM contract, Feigen adds. The most desirable option for the Rockets is to dump Ryan Anderson‘s contract ($20.4MM next season and $21.3 MM in 2019/20) on a team with ample cap room, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN. But Houston probably doesn’t have enough first-round picks to package with Anderson to get a third party to bite, Pelton adds.
  • There are major obstacles to any possible pursuit of James’ services by the Celtics, DJ Bean of notes. It’s highly unlikely that Boston would include Gordon Hayward in any deal, considering the high-level free agent chose Boston last summer and hasn’t even played a full game with the franchise, Bean continues. There’s also the sticky problem of trying to reunite James with Kyrie Irving, who asked out of Cleveland last summer. Acquiring James now would likely damage the team’s long-term prospects for being the dominant team in the league, given the assets they’d likely have to trade, Bean adds. Logically, the only big contract the Celtics would be willing to move is Al Horford‘s deal, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
  • James’ decision will have more to do with his family than basketball, former teammate Dwyane Wade predicts, as Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald writes. “I don’t really think for him the basketball decision is ‘Oh, let me go team up with three All-Stars.’ I think at this point in his life it’s more so of a lifestyle thing,” Wade said. “Where is my family going to be the most comfortable at? Where am I going to be the happiest at? Because basketball-wise he’s so great, he can take along whoever.”
  • The Lakers and Sixers are the favorites to land James while the Cavs are just a 5-1 shot to retain him, according to Bovada sports book, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. The odds rundown can be found here.

Central Notes: Carter Jr., Casey, Irving

The Bulls ought to bet on big man Wendell Carter Jr. if he’s still available when the No. 7 pick rolls around, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago writes. The Duke product presents eerily similar to three-time All-Star Al Horford.

Strotman dives deep into the two players’ numbers during their NCAA careers since they were in similar situations. Carter Jr. shared a frontcourt with Marvin Bagley III while Horford lined up alongside rim protector Joakim Noah at Florida. In 2018/19, Strotman writes, Carter Jr. would be a perfect complement to Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • After a series of media appearances, there’s reason to believe that Dwane Casey is the frontrunner to land the Pistons‘ head coaching gig. The man himself pumped the brakes in an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (h/t MLive’s Ansar Khan), saying that nothing has been finalized.
  • The Cavaliers sorely missed ex-point guard Kyrie Irving this season, not that it was their decision to exile him. Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe writes that team will now need to make particularly good use out of the 2018 first-round pick they received in the trade that sent Irving to the Celtics for the deal to appear respectable.
  • Speaking of LeBron James‘ supporting cast, Jordan Clarkson – acquired by the Cavaliers in the Isaiah Thomas deal – set an all-time record for fewest win shares in an NBA postseason (h/t r/NBA). The 25-year-old averaged 4.7 points per game on .301 shooting in 15.1 minutes per contest.

Central Notes: Beilein, James, Finals, Dunn

Michigan coach John Beilein was not offered the Pistons head coaching job before he withdrew his candidacy on Wednesday, Brendan Quinn of The Athletic reports. Beilein was one of the finalists along with ex-Raptors coach Dwane Casey and Spurs assistant Ime Udoka. Beilein was uncomfortable with the attention that he received when his name surfaced publicly and grew tired of the dragged-out process. But he admitted he would have strongly considered taking the NBA job if it had been offered. “I just said, let’s just move forward. I’ll make their decision easier,” Beilein told Quinn. “I felt like, well, if they’re not certain — and I understand that, it’s OK — but if they’re not certain, then I’m not going to be certain.”

In other developments involving Central Division teams:

  • Pressure from family members might be the only way that LeBron James stays with the Cavaliers after the NBA Finals, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. James has more of an inkling what he’ll do this summer than he’s revealed publicly, Stein continues. Joining forces with close friend Chris Paul is a strong possibility, Stein adds, whether he goes to the Rockets or they sign with another team with enough salary-cap space to pull it off.
  • The Cavaliers are frustrated to be down 3-0 in theFinals against a more vulnerable Warriors team than they faced last year, according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. One unnamed player even told Lloyd the series would be completely opposite if Kyrie Irving had not been traded to the Celtics. “We’d be up 3-0 if Kyrie was still here,” the player said. “I have no doubt.”
  • It’s possible the Bulls will draft a point guard, in part because they’re unhappy with Kris Dunn‘s work habits, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Multiple sources told Cowley that the coaching staff and front office believe Dunn has been “shortcutting’’ his way through May and the first week of June. This is a surprise, Cowley adds, because Dunn was considered a workout warrior with the Timberwolves and showed the same traits last summer after he was traded to Chicago.

Central Notes: Irving, Bamba, Lee, Brown, Pistons

In a series of tweets before the Cavaliers went down 0-1 in their series against the Warriors, owner Dan Gilbert voiced his thoughts about Cleveland’s’ journey, Joe Vardon of writes. The Cavs are back in the NBA Finals for a fourth straight season and team owner Gilbert said that trading Kyrie Irving was a crucial part of that.

Gilbert said that general manager Koby Altman‘s decision to deal Irving, and then restructure the roster at the deadline was critical in getting the team to this point.

“W/o either of these 2 bold moves orchestrated by Koby & the @Cavs front office, we would not be here w/ a good chance to bring another one home to CLE,” Gilbert wrote in one tweet. Gilbert also praised LeBron James, writing that “his impact is magical,” and also lauded the play of his support cast.

Much was made of the Cavaliers’ decision to part with Irving last summer as the point guard helped lead the team to an NBA title two seasons ago. James himself admitted to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he doubted the Cavaliers’ ability to compete after the team dealt Irving.

“Even if you start back to the summertime where I felt like it was just bad for our franchise just to be able to trade away our superstar point guard,” James said. “A guy that I had been in so many battles with over the last three years, and obviously I wasn’t a part of the communications and know exactly what went on between the two sides. But I just felt like it was bad timing for our team.”

Check out more Central Division notes down below:

  • Former Hawks assistant coach Charles Lee has signed a contract with the Bucks to join the staff of new head coach Mike Budenholzer, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • During a press conference before Game 1, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the January police video that showed Bucks player Sterling Brown being arrested. Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports writes that Silver called the footage “horrific” and that he has been in contact with Brown.
  • After working out and interviewing with the Bulls, Texas big man Mohamed Bamba has made a compelling case to be drafted by the Bulls as the seventh overall pick, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.
  • With the departure of GM Jeff Bower, assistant GM Pat Garrity is likely a strong candidate to land a key role in the Pistons’ front office, tweets Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Keith Langlois of looks at the Pistons‘ search for a head coach and a general manager. With Ed Stefanski hired to oversee the hiring process, Langlois writes that Detroit should prioritize a head coach.

Cavaliers Notes: James, Irving, Lue, Hill

As the Cavaliers prepare for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Warriors, the fourth consecutive meeting between the two franchises in the Finals, the journey for Cleveland was not easy. A midseason roster purge cast doubt over the Cavaliers’ ability to construct the team chemistry necessary for a deep postseason run.

In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, LeBron James acknowledged that, at certain points, there were doubts about the Cavaliers’ ability to reach the postseason.

“It was at points where, ‘OK, will the Cavs even make the playoffs?'” James said. “And I was like, ‘OK, I am not settling for that conversation. Now that is just ridiculous. Now I have got to get into the postseason.'”

James has been instrumental in leading the Cavaliers to this point as the team escaped tough series against the Pacers, Raptors, and Celtics to face Golden State. However, James also divulged that his doubts began forming last summer when the team decided to trade Kyrie Irving.

“Even if you start back to the summertime where I felt like it was just bad for our franchise just to be able to trade away our superstar point guard,” James said. “A guy that I had been in so many battles with over the last three years, and obviously I wasn’t a part of the communications and know exactly what went on between the two sides. But I just felt like it was bad timing for our team.”

Check out more Cavaliers notes below:

  • Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer looked back at the Kyrie Irving trade and the repercussions it had on the Cavaliers, Celtics, and even the point guard’s own career. Irving last played on March 11 before he was ruled out for the remainder of the year due to a knee injury which predates his Boston tenure.
  • George Hill was traded from the Kings to the Cavaliers just before the deadline and he said he’s excited to be suiting up for the NBA Finals after playing for a losing team in Sacramento, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. “You’re competing for an NBA Finals (with Cleveland),” Hill said, “In Sac we were just playing. I feel like my teammates in Sac, I love them to death. … But it’s a whole different feeling when you’re playing for something, totally different. We’re playing for something and that’s why we’re here today.”
  • Head coach Tyronn Lue temporarily left the team two months ago due to medical reasons and he revealed to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he’s been treated for anxiety. “I’m glad it wasn’t anything serious,” Lue said. “Just anxiety, and the medication I’m on is great. No more chest pains, so everything’s been great.”

Celtics Notes: Baynes, Irving, Roster, Smart

Now that the Celtics’ season is over, Aron Baynes will undergo surgery to repair a broken nose, which he suffered during Game 6 of the team’s series against Cleveland, the big man told reporters today, including Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving‘s absence from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals was also related to a nasal issue — as ESPN’s Chris Forsberg details, Irving underwent surgery to repair a deviated septum and wasn’t able to fly to the game in the wake of the procedure.

“It was a residual from the facial fracture he had earlier in the season,” Irving’s agent Jeff Wechsler told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. “He had the knee surgery, and now he’s taken care of this sinus surgery, so he will be all set going forward.”

Here’s more on the Celtics as their offseason officially gets underway:

  • Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe passes along several notable quotes from the Celtics’ exit interview today. Among those comments: C’s president Danny Ainge indicating that the team is unlikely to make major roster moves unless those changes represent clear upgrades.
  • Asked today about re-signing RFA-to-be Marcus Smart, Ainge expressed confidence in ownership’s willingness to spend, tweets Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. As Himmelsbach relays, Smart believes the Celtics will look to bring him back, and said he’d like to stay with the franchise. “I want to be in Boston,” Smart said. “I want to be here. I love this city, I love this team, I love the atmosphere it gives off. I’ve been here for four years. My heart’s here.” Smart also spoke after last night’s game about his value in free agency, as we detailed this morning.
  • Despite Ainge’s suggestion that the roster may not change much this offseason, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News says it will be interesting to see if the Celtics get involved in trade talks in the coming months in an effort to tidy up certain areas where their depth chart is crowded.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) previews the Celtics’ offseason, exploring the possibility of a Irving extension among many other roster moves.
  • Earlier today, we took a closer look at the Celtics’ salary cap situation heading into the summer.