Clippers Rumors

Raptors, Clippers Remain Frontrunners For Kawhi Leonard

As has been the case for much of the 2018/19 league year, the Raptors and Clippers appear poised to battle it out this summer for a commitment from Kawhi Leonard, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said today during an appearance on Get Up (video link), referring to Leonard’s upcoming free agency as a “Raptors-Clippers fight.”

According to Wojnarowski, it’s possible that Leonard will take meetings with other teams beyond the Raptors and Clippers, but the star forward is unlikely to seriously consider the Lakers, despite his reported interest in playing in his hometown of Los Angeles.

“Kawhi Leonard’s focused on Los Angeles, but it’s the Clippers, not the Lakers,” said Wojnarowski, who pointed to the Lakers’ lack of a maximum-salary slot as one reason why they’re not a serious contender for Leonard. Additionally, after leading the Raptors to a championship, Kawhi isn’t expected to want to play “third wheel” on a roster that features LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Woj adds.

Leonard enjoyed perhaps the best season of his career in 2018/19, establishing new career highs in PPG (26.6) and RPG (7.3), among other categories, in 60 regular season games for the Raptors. He capped off his year with one of the most dominant postseason runs in recent league history, as his 30.5 PPG and 9.1 RPG in 24 playoff contests helped lead Toronto to its first NBA title.

While there have been whispers all season that returning home to L.A. is Leonard’s top priority in free agency, he has given no indication publicly of which way he might be leaning. The Raptors, with Leonard’s Bird rights, will have the ability to offer him more years and money than any rival suitor.

Patrick Beverley Plans On Talking With Multiple Teams Before Meeting With Clippers In Free Agency

Patrick Beverley is planning on taking as many as five meetings with different teams in free agency before having a sit-down with the Clippers, sources tell Sean Deveney of Sporting News (Twitter link).

Los Angeles plans to chase max free agents and the franchise will likely wait until it has a feel for whether its pursuits will produce another star in the Staples Center before circling back to Beverley. The point guard won’t necessarily wait for the Clippers to carry out their plan before accepting an offer elsewhere, per Deveney.

Beverley could be a target for the Lakers and Bulls. He’s from Chicago, recently declaring that he believes he can help the Bulls.

“I think I can save the city,” Beverley said recently“I inspire already. And I’d be a great inspiration just walking around the city of Chicago, knowing I’m from there, knowing that someone made it out and you can go and do the same. I’m a Chicago kid.”

Shortly after Deveney tweeted out his report, Beverley tweeted “Never personal just business……….” It’s possible the two are unrelated.

Central Notes: Beverley, Bucks, Pacers, Doumboya

Clippers free agent guard Patrick Beverley would consider signing with the Bulls, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (hat tip to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports). Beverley said he’d enjoy playing in his hometown, though he’d probably take the best offer he can find on the market.

“I am Chicago. I’m from Chicago. I bleed Chicago. I really think I can help the city. I think I can save the city,” Beverley said. “I inspire already. And I’d be a great inspiration just walking around the city of Chicago, knowing I’m from there, knowing that someone made it out and you can go and do the same. I’m a Chicago kid. So of course I’m open to playing for the Chicago Bulls if that’s a team that’s interested in me. At the same time, any decision that is made, it’s never personal. It’s always business.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks are the early favorite to win the championship next season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. The odds from have the Bucks as the lukewarm 9-2 choice, followed by the Warriors.
  • The Pacers will host the Virginia Tech duo of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Justin Robinson in a pre-draft workout on Monday, according to a team press release. Phil Booth (Villanova), Kris Clyburn (UNLV), Matt Mooney (Texas Tech) and KZ Okpala (Stanford) will also visit Indiana’s practice facility. Alexander-Walker is ranked No. 22 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony with Okpala two slots behind him. Devin Cannady (Princeton) JaKeenan Gant (Louisiana-Lafayette), Cameron Jackson (Wofford), Christian James (Oklahoma) and Lamar Peters (Mississippi State) were among the players who visited on Friday, Scott Agness of The Athletic tweets.
  • Draft prospect Sekou Doumbouya visited the Bulls on Friday, the team’s PR department tweets. The forward plays for Limoges CSP in the French league.

And-Ones: Durant, Superteams, French National Team

Multiple teams around the NBA still consider Kevin Durant a talent worth investing max money in, despite the ruptured Achilles that will sideline him through 2019/20. Ben Golliver of the Washington Post weighs in on several franchises that could entertain the idea this summer.

Golliver writes that the Clippers, backed by billionaire Steve Ballmer could afford to sign Durant, tinker with the impressive lineup that led them to the postseason this spring, and then hit the ground running with Durant in 2020/21. That’s a scenario that would be ever dreamier if they were able to land Kawhi Leonard this summer as well.

Of course Durant’s absence next season will still have some impact on his value. Could the revelation that Durant won’t play in 2019/20 derail a potential pairing with Kyrie Irving in New York? Would Irving prefer instead to work with a different star in Brooklyn?

These are questions we’ll get answers to eventually but for now one thing is clear, Durant’s value remains high but that’s not to say that his Achilles hasn’t still thrown the league for a loop.

There’s more from around the league:

  • Is this the beginning of the end of the Superteam Era? Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN wonders as much in a video released on Instagram, suggesting players around the league are showing a greater interest in leading their own teams. For the past decade, star players have seemingly gravitated to one another to stack the deck and win championships but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, if the Raptors’ 2019 title plays a small role in the ushering out the Superteam Era, they’ll be walking right back into a climate that saw former Raptor star Tracy McGrady bolt the franchise for the chance to get out of Vince Carter‘s shadow and lead his own Magic squad.
  • Former Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas has received interest from a number of NBA teams and has several offers to join teams on non-guaranteed pre-season camp deals, international basketball reported Donatas Urbonas tweets.
  • The preliminary French national team for the 2019 World Cup has been revealed and a number of household NBA names will fortify a competitive roster. As seen at Sportando, Rudy Gobert, Nicolas Batum and Evan Fournier are the biggest names on the preliminary roster but they’re not the only ones with big league credentials.

Clippers Will Focus On Durant, Kawhi, Davis This Offseason

While the Clippers are generally grouped together with the rest of the Los Angeles and New York teams leading up to free agency as the big-market franchises looking to make a major splash on the free agent market, the Clips’ plans may look a little different than what those other clubs have in mind, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

As Buha explains, the Clippers are unlikely to pursue top point guards like Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker due to their “steadfast belief” in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has been considered untouchable in trade talks.

Additionally, the Clippers likely won’t attempt to sign a second- or third-tier free agent like Khris Middleton or Tobias Harris unless it’s on a short-term deal, according to Buha, who points out that the team traded away Harris because it didn’t want to cap the roster’s ceiling at “good” instead of “great.”

Instead, the Clippers will focus on the top two free agents in this year’s free agent class – Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard – as well as top trade candidate Anthony Davis. If L.A. is unable to land one of those superstars, the organization figures to remain patient, avoiding a reactionary signing or trade and instead shifting its attention to re-signing its own free agents and making smaller moves, says Buha.

Lakers, Celtics Engaged In Anthony Davis Trade Talks

The Lakers and Celtics are each engaged with the Pelicans in trade talks involving Anthony Davis, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

While the Lakers were unable to land Davis at the trade deadline in February, they continue to be viewed as a strong contender in the AD sweepstakes. Wojnarowski referred to them as the leader in the clubhouse during a SportsCenter appearance earlier this week, while Ian Begley of hears from a league source that the Lakers have made some progress toward a multi-team deal Davis deal.

According to Wojnarowski, the No. 4 overall pick in next week’s draft – currently held by L.A. – has been discussed as a trade chip that could help New Orleans acquire a high-level player in a multi-team deal. Wojnarowski had reported earlier this week that new Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin was exploring scenarios involving multiple teams in an effort to get New Orleans the sort of assets the team is seeking.

Marc Stein of The New York Times reports (via Twitter) that the Lakers have made both Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram available in trade talks for Davis, in addition to the No. 4 overall pick, which may be re-routed to a third team if a deal comes to fruition. Stein adds (via Twitter) that the viability of the Lakers’ offer may hinge on what kind of player that No. 4 pick could attract. If the Pelicans can get another player they really like on top of Ball or Ingram, it would help tip the scales.

It also appears possible that Kyle Kuzma may be a deal-breaker for the Pelicans. Los Angeles is trying to keep Kuzma out of any trade package, per Stein and Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). However, the Pelicans want Kuzma as part of the return for Davis if they make a deal with L.A., according to Ganguli and Turner, who say that the forward is the young Laker most coveted by the Pelicans.

In their full report, the Times’ duo even suggests that the Lakers may have the opportunity to keep the No. 4 pick if they include Kuzma in their offer, though it sounds as if they’d probably have to add other extra assets in that scenario. The Lakers are trying to exercise some level of restraint in trade talks, given their leverage as Davis’ preferred destination, per Wojnarowski.

As for the Celtics, they apparently haven’t been deterred by the public comments made by agent Rich Paul, who has made it clear that Davis would prefer to end up with the Lakers or Knicks and would just be a rental if he goes to Boston.

“They can trade for him, but it’ll be for one year,” Paul said of the Celtics and his client. “I mean: If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual [obligations] and we would go into free agency in 2020. I’ve stated that to them. But in the event that he decides to walk away and you give away assets? Don’t blame Rich Paul.”

While the Celtics remain in the mix, Ganguli and Turner write that Boston and New York may not be willing to gut their respective rosters in a trade for Davis, since they’re concerned about not having enough leftover talent to be legit contenders.

The Nets and Clippers are among Davis’ other potential suitors, but they haven’t been able to gather any traction in discussions with New Orleans, according to Wojnarowski.

No matter which team Davis plays for in 2019/20, he’s expected to reach free agency next summer, but his camp has strongly suggested that the odds of the All-Star big man re-upping with the Lakers or Knicks are much higher than they’d be with any other team.

If the Celtics or Lakers reach an agreement with the Pelicans on a trade for Davis, it wouldn’t be officially finalized until sometime after the new league year begins in July, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter links). Boston isn’t permitted to acquire AD at all while Kyrie Irving is still on his current contract, and the Lakers wouldn’t be able to make salary-matching work at this point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Achilles Injury Not Expected To Deter Durant’s Suitors

Kevin Durant‘s Achilles injury won’t change the offseason plans for several NBA franchises. The Warriors, Knicks, Nets, Lakers, and Clippers are all expected to pursue Durant, with his injury unlikely to cool their enthusiasm, sources tell David Aldridge of The Athletic.

There’s optimism around the league that Durant will come back from the ailment and remain among the NBA’s elite, making him worthy of a maximum-salary investment this summer.

“It’s not like he’s gonna fall from the top player in the league to number 50, even with the Achilles,” a league executive told Aldridge. “Maybe he falls into the top 10. I still think KD is a guy that’s going to score 20, 25 a game.”

Aldridge suggests that that the price for Anthony Davis has gone up as a result of the Durant injury. Durant could miss all of next season and with one fewer star available to suit up, the scarcity of those elite players in both the free agency and trade market may give added leverage to the Pelicans.

The Achilles injury won’t stop Durant from seeking a new deal. He’s long been expected to turn down his $31.5MM player option for next season, though with the injury, the decision is no longer a slam dunk. Durant officially has until June 29 to make a contractual move.

Latest On Anthony Davis

After new Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin spoke during his first few weeks in New Orleans about wanting to retain Anthony Davis, he has apparently become more open to the idea of a trade as of late. One Monday report provided several details on the kind of return the Pelicans are looking for in exchange for Davis, as well as the scenarios they’re exploring, while another indicated that AD’s own wish list may be narrowing.

As Scott Kushner of The Advocate writes, those two reports showed each side – the Pelicans and Davis’ camp – looking to amplify its own message. The Pelicans are aiming to maximize their potential return in any deal, while Davis is making it more difficult for the 27 teams not on his wish list to feel confident that he’d be more than just a one-year rental.

While Griffin is facing pressure to get good value back for Davis, he indicated today that he won’t let next Thursday’s draft act as a deadline forcing him to get something done as soon as possible, as Andrew Lopez of The Times-Picayune relays (via Twitter).

“If things evolve in such a way that it’s time for us to make a decision relative to Anthony Davis or any other part of the organization, we will,” Griffin said. “But we’re not in a hurry to do anything. WE don’t feel there is a time sensitivity to anything we’re talking about. That includes AD’s desire to stay or not stay. It’s not something there’s a shot clock on.”

Here’s more on Davis and the Pelicans:

  • The Knicks, one of the two teams on Davis’ wish list (along with the Lakers), have engaged in talks with other teams in an effort to improve their offer for the All-Star big man, reports Ian Begley of However, Begley notes that some people in the organization are uncomfortable with giving up too many major assets for Davis, citing the Carmelo Anthony deal as a cautionary tale.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post also hears that the Pelicans don’t find the Knicks‘ young assets especially attractive in a package, suggesting that New York would need to find a third team to help complete a deal for Davis. A source tells Berman that the Pelicans consider the Celtics to have the best young assets.
  • According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, there aren’t many people in league circles who believe that Griffin will get everything on his wish list in a Davis trade (an All-Star player, a young player with All-Star upside, and multiple first-round picks). However, sources tell Kyler that more than half the teams in the league have registered some interest, and there are “a lot” of conversations taking place.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores what Davis offers from the Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, Nets, and Clippers might look like.

Kevin Durant Notes: Reactions, Ripple Effect, More

Even though he was cleared to play in Game 5, Warriors star Kevin Durant wasn’t “anywhere close” to 100%, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. As family members, teammates, and confidants checked in on his status during his recovery from a calf injury, Durant said throughout the process that he was still experiencing discomfort pushing off his right foot, Haynes adds.

There was some resentment throughout Durant’s recovery about the way the Warriors handled updates on his progress, according to Haynes, who notes that KD’s possible return became a daily talking point once the club didn’t simply rule him out indefinitely.

Durant is now facing a possible worst-case scenario, as he suffered an Achilles injury during his brief return on Monday night. While an MRI has yet to confirm the diagnosis, the Warriors believe he suffered a torn right Achilles tendon. An injury of that magnitude would sideline him not only for the rest of the NBA Finals, but for most or all of the 2019/20 season.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that Durant is heading to New York, rather than Oakland, for medical evaluations on his injured Achilles. The Warriors don’t expect to have an update on the two-time Finals MVP until at least late tonight or tomorrow morning, tweets Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group.

Here’s more on Durant’s injury:

  • Warriors guard Shaun Livingston pushed back against the idea that the team’s front office or training staff should be blamed for Durant’s injury, per Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. “I know for a fact that our team, [GM] Bob [Myers] and [head coach] Steve [Kerr], and the training staff, is not going to compromise their integrity [just to win a game],” Livingston told Beck. “They’re always going to put a player first because they look at guys as humans.”
  • Durant’s injury will have a significant ripple effect on the rest of the NBA Finals and the coming offseason, according to John Gonzalez of The Ringer. Gonzalez writes that teams like the Knicks and Clippers, who would have killed to sign a healthy KD, may have to re-evaluate their approach to free agency — assuming Durant even opts out of his Warriors contract, which is no longer a lock at all.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post and Ian Begley of examine the impact of Durant’s injury on the Knicks, with both reporters suggesting that it may increase the likelihood of the franchise continuing a gradual rebuild rather than swinging for the fences this offseason.
  • While the Celtics were never considered a contender for Durant, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wonders if the injury could affect the team anyway. As Forsberg observes, there has long been speculation that Durant and Kyrie Irving would consider teaming up this summer. If Durant is expected to miss all or most of the 2019/20 season – or if he opts in with the Warriors – that scenario may no longer be on the table, which could in turn increase the odds of Irving sticking with Boston for at least one more year.

Lakers, Knicks Top Anthony Davis’ Wish List

Anthony Davis is focused on joining either the Lakers or Knicks as his long-term destination, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

Davis, who can become a free agent next summer, has not formally told Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin that he has narrowed his list. Davis submitted a four-team list to the Pelicans in February that also included the Clippers and Bucks.

Griffin met with Davis and his agent, Rich Paul, late last month in an effort to convince Davis to remain with the Pelicans. However, Davis’ desire to be dealt remained unchanged and Griffin has accelerated trade talks.

Several teams have expressed an interest in trading for Davis, according to Charania, including the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Nets and Celtics. An ESPN report surfaced earlier on Monday that Griffin is willing to involve third parties in trade discussions in order to maximize the package New Orleans would receive.

Charania’s report suggests that Paul is attempting to steer those discussions toward the Lakers and Knicks. If those franchises know that Davis is willing to commit to them long-term, they obviously have more incentive to do everything they can to acquire the superstar big man.

Even so, other suitors — including the Celtics — are aggressively pursuing Davis despite not being one of his preferred teams. The Celtics are apparently willing to deal for Davis regardless of where Kyrie Irving ends up in free agency, Charania continues.

Griffin could hold onto Davis into next month with the hope of getting a desperate team that missed on its free agent targets to up the ante, Charania adds.