Paul George

Leonard Trade Rumors: Lakers, Kings, Knicks, Celtics, Odds

It would be a tight squeeze financially but the Lakers could conceivably acquire Kawhi Leonard in a trade and sign both LeBron James and Paul George as free agents, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com. Leonard’s desire to be traded from the Spurs, with Los Angeles being his preferred destination, was made public on Friday. The trade would have to be completed before any free agent signings and the Spurs would have to be willing to take back Luol Deng‘s bad contract, Pelton continues. A package of either Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma might be enough to entice the Spurs to do that, though a third team might be needed in order to match up salaries. The Lakers could then sign James and George, and fill out the roster using their room mid-level exception along with veterans agreeing to minimum contracts, Pelton adds.

In other notes involving Leonard trade chatter:

  • The Kings could be a darkhorse to land Leonard, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets. Sacramento is desperately seeking a star-level talent and is willing to part with the No. 2 pick in the draft to get one, according to Mannix.
  • The Knicks would have to part with Kristaps Porzingis to have any chance of securing Leonard, Marc Berman of the New York Post speculates. The only other major assets the Knicks possess are their lottery pick (No. 9 overall), their potential lottery pick in 2020 and last year’s lottery selection, point guard Frank Ntilikina. But the Knicks could only trade one of those picks under CBA rules and they’d also have to give up another big salary to make the trade work, Berman notes.
  • The Celtics are expected to express interest in Leonard in their quest to land superstars, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reports. However, a league source told Himmelsbach that the timing of the leak might actually be a negotiating ploy to secure a five-year, $219MM maximum extension from the Spurs.
  • The Lakers are the heavy favorites to land Leonard, according to the Bovada Sportsbook as relayed by Adam Zagoria of the New York Times (Twitter link). The Lakers are less than even money at 5-7 to have Leonard in their opening-night lineup. The Celtics are rated at 15-4, a little less than 4-1, to acquire Leonard. The Sixers and Spurs are next as 5-1 proposition, followed by the Cavaliers and Clippers at 10-1.

Southwest Rumors: Potapenko, Cousins, Mavs Draft, Rockets

Vitaly Potapenko and Greg Buckner are among the assistants named to J.B. Bickerstaff’s staff with the Grizzlies, according to a team press release. Potapenko had been the Cavaliers’ assistant director of player development since 2013, while Buckner is a holdover from last season’s staff. As previously announced, Jerry Stackhouse will also be a top assistant for Bickerstaff. Stackhouse, who coached the Raptors’ G League the past two seasons, interviewed for several head coaching jobs. Chad Forcier, an assistant under Frank Vogel with the Magic the last two seasons, has also joined the staff along with Nick Van Exel and Adam Mazarei.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • DeMarcus Cousins will most likely stay put with the Pelicans but there are three other Western Conference teams where the big man would be a good fit, HoopsHype tweets. The Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs are the most likely landing spots for Cousins if he leaves New Orleans, HoopsHype adds.
  • A draft night trade with the Bulls might make sense for the Mavericks, Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News speculates. Dallas owns the No. 5 pick with Chicago slotted at No. 7. If Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young go a little higher than anticipated, the Mavs could move down and either Mohamed Bamba, Wendell Carter or Jaren Jackson would still be on the board, Cowlishaw points out.
  • Rockets fans should lower their expectations of potentially landing LeBron James or Paul George and simply hope GM Daryl Morey can upgrade a  luxury-tax team with precious few young assets, Sean Deveney of Sports Illustrated opines. Giving Chris Paul a max contract will be a tough pill but one they’ll have to swallow to remain a prime contender, Deveney adds.

Charania’s Latest: Clippers, Doncic, Kawhi, RFAs, More

While no trades are likely to be completed until closer to – or during – draft night, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports believes there could be a lot of movement in this year’s draft, with several teams looking to trade up or down. Appearing today on Chris Mannix’s podcast, Charania pointed specifically to the Clippers as a team that has weighed the possibility of moving up. With the Nos. 12 and 13 picks currently in hand, L.A. could put together an intriguing package, and they’ve looked “heavily” at Real Madrid star Luka Doncic, according to Charania.

Here are more highlights from Charania’s appearance on the Yahoo Sports NBA podcast:

  • Addressing the Kawhi Leonard situation in San Antonio, Charania indicated that an extension or a trade are the probable outcomes for the star forward this summer — it’s unlikely that the Spurs would keep him for next season without a new deal in place. However, both sides are interested in mending fences and clearing up last season’s miscommunications. Leonard is also nearing 100% health and should be ready to go to start next season, Charania adds.
  • In a look at the restricted free agent market, Charania identified Magic forward Aaron Gordon and Bulls guard Zach LaVine as two players who could command max or near-max deals and are unlikely to change teams. He also speculated that the Suns, Kings, and Pacers are among the clubs with cap room who could be fits for Celtics RFA Marcus Smart, and said that there seems to be mutual interest between the Mavericks and Julius Randle.
  • Raptors guard Fred VanVleet and Bulls swingman David Nwaba are two under-the-radar restricted free agents in line for sizable raises, in Charania’s view. He expects both players to land deals worth more than $5MM, noting that Toronto may have to use its full Early Bird exception (approximately $8.5MM) to retain VanVleet.
  • While outside observers around the NBA remain skeptical about the Thunder‘s chances of re-signing Paul George, Oklahoma City is still exuding confidence, according to both Charania and Mannix. Charania observes that George and Russell Westbrook have become “really close,” which could factor into the forward’s decision.
  • Many people around the league don’t expect former Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo to get another NBA job anytime soon, if at all, per Charania.

Latest On Paul George’s Free Agency

Paul George has one season remaining on his contract, but he’s expected to opt out of his deal this summer and become a free agent. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski discussed George’s future on the network’s NBA Draft Special (h/t Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman), explaining how the Thunder are now in a better position to keep George than they were last offseason.

“Oklahoma City’s done a great job of selling him on a future there, and he liked playing with Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams and Billy Donovan,” Wojnarowski said.

While OKC has an opportunity to keep George, the Lakers remain a serious threat. George and LeBron James will at least discuss the possibility of teaming up in Los Angeles prior to free agency, per Woj.

The Rockets will be aggressive in their pursuit of George. While Houston isn’t expected to have salary cap space, we saw what GM Daryl Morey is capable of in last summer’s Chris Paul deal. Morey and the Rockets will search for a way to get George on the roster should the small forward have interest in joining the club.

Wojnarowski also mentions that the Sixers would be a good fit for George. Philadelphia has slightly over $67.4MM in guaranteed salary on the books with the cap projected to come in at $101MM.

Western Notes: Rockets, Jazz, Westbrook, Allen

The Rockets have reduced their rotation to seven players but they won’t use fatigue as an excuse for their second-half collapse against the Warriors in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry have all played more minutes per game than any Rockets player, Feigen notes. “Fatigue is never a factor in the playoffs,” Rockets forward Trevor Ariza told Feigen and other media members. “This is what we prepare for. This is what we work hard all summer for. They started playing harder. They started making shots. That’s it.” 

Also around the Western Conference:

  • The Jazz might keep their core group intact going into next season, GM Dennis Lindsey told Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News“My best guess is the option that we’ll ultimately consider, is bringing the team back intact, but I don’t know what other things are going to come our way,” Lindsey said. In order to do that, they’d have to sign unrestricted free agent Derrick Favors and restricted free agent Dante Exum. If both players receive significant raises and the Jazz make other moves, they could find themselves close to the luxury tax. They currently have approximately $90MM in salary guarantees next season.
  • If Paul George re-signs with the Thunder, it will deal a blow to the narrative that other stars don’t like playing with Russell Westbrook, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes. That’s why Westbrook has made public statements about wanting George to return, saying he thinks George “definitely wants to be here,” Dawson adds.
  • Duke combo guard Grayson Allen could be an option for the Kings if he slips into the second round, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. Sacramento holds the No. 36 overall pick and Allen is currently ranked No. 30 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Allen would be a fit because the Kings need guards who can provide size and shooting, Jones adds.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2017/18 season, with James Harden and LeBron James leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

The voting results will have major financial implications for the three All-NBA centers, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, and Karl-Anthony Towns. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Davis is now eligible for a supermax extension from the Pelicans next summer. Davis will be eligible to sign that deal, which projects to be worth $230MM, as of July 1, 2019.

As for Embiid, missing out on a First Team nod means his maximum-salary contract will remain at 25% of the cap rather than being bumped up to 30%. That means he’ll miss out on approximately $29MM over the next five years, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports details.

Towns, meanwhile, will be eligible for an extension worth 30% of the cap this summer, Marks tweets. An extension of that sort, which would make the cap outlook in Minnesota very interesting, would go into effect for the 2019/20 season.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Harden and James scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

First Team

  • Guard: James Harden, Rockets (500)
  • Guard: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (432)
  • Forward: LeBron James, Cavaliers (500)
  • Forward: Kevin Durant, Warriors (426)
  • Center: Anthony Davis, Pelicans (492)

Second Team

Third Team

Among those results, the tightest race saw DeRozan edge Curry by a single point for a spot on the All-NBA Second Team. Both players received two First Team votes and 39 Second Team votes, with DeRozan grabbing one extra Third Team vote (38 to 37) to bump him up to the Second Team ahead of Curry.

As for the players who didn’t quite make the cut, Rockets point guard Chris Paul (54 points), Jazz center Rudy Gobert (51), Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (42), and Sixers guard/forward Ben Simmons (36) received the most support.

Al Horford (Celtics), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Clint Capela (Rockets), Draymond Green (Warriors), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Steven Adams (Thunder), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Trevor Ariza (Rockets), DeMarcus Cousins (Pelicans), Dwight Howard (Hornets), Kevin Love (Cavaliers), and Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) also each received at least one All-NBA vote.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its 2017/18 All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with Defensive Player of the Year candidates Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis headlining the First Team.

Gobert led the way in voting, receiving 94 of 100 potential First Team votes. He also received four Second Team votes, and was left off of just two ballots, earning him 192 total points (two points per First Team vote; one point per Second Team vote). It’s his second All-Defensive First Team nod.

[RELATED: NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Rookie Teams]

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), the All-Defensive recognition will pay off financially for Gobert, who earns a $500K bonus as a result of his spot on the First Team. Meanwhile, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday will receive a more modest $100K bonus for being named to the All-Defensive First Team.

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team

  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz (192)
  • Anthony Davis, F/C, Pelicans (163)
  • Victor Oladipo, G, Pacers (136)
  • Jrue Holiday, G, Pelicans (105)
  • Robert Covington, F, Sixers (90)

Second Team

Rockets point guard Chris Paul (74 points) and Thunder forward Paul George (69) narrowly missed earning spots on the All-Defensive Second Team. A total of 29 other players received at least one vote, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.

You can find the full voting results right here.

Northwest Notes: George, Mitchell, Patterson

There’s no indication that Paul George has decided what to do as a free agent this season but Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes that we’ve already seen a glimpse of what’s possible if he decides to stay with the Thunder and continue to suit up alongside Russell Westbrook.

The scribe writes that the forward’s decision to leave or stay with the Thunder will be seen, fairly or not, as a referendum on playing next to the club’s superstar. George himself lamented that it was a significant adjustment tweaking his game to complement Westbrook’s but the pair would occasionally fall in step and thrive.

George’s first season with the Thunder saw him touch the ball five fewer times per game and also hold possession for less. That’s not all that surprising given that he was necessarily obligated to play off the ball but it could play a role in the decision he makes heading forward.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Yes, Donovan Mitchell had an impressive rookie campaign, but plenty of other players had solid first years before plateauing. One particularly intriguing perspective that may reassure Jazz fans that they’re not witnessing the next O.J. Mayo is teammate Thabo Sefolosha‘s. “I was a teammate with Derrick Rose when he was a rookie, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant when they were young in their first two seasons in OKC, and the talent level is right up there with those guys,” the 34-year-old told Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News.
  • There’s no denying that Patrick Patterson is a sharp-shooting veteran presence for the Thunder, exactly what he was expected to be when he signed a three-year, $16MM deal last summer, but declining athleticism limited his ability to contribute off the bench in 2017/18, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes.
  • He may not win the Rookie of the Year award (according to our own staff) but ESPN’s Mike Schmitz believes that Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has the highest future potential of any of this year’s rookies. Co-writer Kevin Pelton placed him No. 2 behind Ben Simmons but Schmitz raved about the Louisville product’s demonstrated ability to improve upon his weaknesses.

Sixers Will Pursue Top Free Agents

Luxury tax concerns won’t scare the Sixers away from chasing elite talent this summer, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

LeBron James tops the list of targets and is rumored to be considering Philadelphia as a possible destination. GM Brian Colangelo estimates the team will have about $25MM in cap room, but more could be opened to meet James’ demand for a maximum deal starting around $35MM a year.

“I think the bar is very high for us in terms of who we are going to put on this team,” said Sixers co-managing partner Josh Harris. “But on the other hand, for a certain small number of players, like we are going to go after them hard. People have asked me about the luxury tax. I don’t have any problem spending for good players.”

Pompey shares a few other notes about the Sixers’ offseason:

  • The franchise is planning to pursue Oklahoma City’s Paul George as well as James. George has expressed a desire to play in Los Angeles, but could be swayed by the young talent in place in Philadelphia. His defense and outside shooting would make him an attractive fit alongside Ben Simmons.
  • The Sixers will make a play for Spurs star Kawhi Leonard if he becomes available in trade. Leonard has a good relationship with coach Brett Brown, but Pompey cites the risk of trading for him without a guarantee that he will sign an extension. Leonard can opt out of a $20.1MM salary next summer.
  • Creating room for a max contract means renouncing the rights to free agents J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. The Sixers could try to bring them back with the mid-level exception and minimum contracts, but they may all get better offers elsewhere. Redick signed a one-year, $23MM deal to come to Philadelphia last summer and is probably seeking a longer arrangement at age 33. Pompey expects him to get an offer in the $12MM to $15MM range. Johnson, 31, will also be searching for a long-term contract.

Sixers Notes: George, Brown, McConnell, Covington

The Sixers should pursue Paul George rather than LeBron James in free agency, contends Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. George is a better fit, Bontemps argues, because he would allow Ben Simmons to remain the primary ballhandler. Simmons is accomplished in nearly every phase of the game except for shooting and wouldn’t be effective spotting up alongside James.

George not only adds another 3-point shooter, he is a top defender who would create a smothering combination with Robert Covington. He could also serve as a second playmaker in case Markelle Fultz can’t overcome the issues that sank his rookie season.

The other benefit is age, Bontemps notes, with George about five-and-a-half years younger than James. He showed an ability to adapt to a new situation in Oklahoma City and would have plenty of prime seasons left for Simmons and Joel Embiid to develop as players.

There’s more today out of Philadelphia:

  • An extension for coach Brett Brown should be the Sixers’ first move of the offseason, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider account). Brown is entering the final season of the extension he signed in 2015 and deserves to be rewarded for the adversity he has guided the franchise through, Marks argues.
  • The Sixers will be taking a risk if they exercise T.J. McConnell‘s $1.6MM option for next season, Marks adds in the same story. While that would be an easy way to preserve cap room, it would also make him an unrestricted free agent next summer. The alternative is to decline his option and extend a qualifying offer, which would throw him into restricted free agency right away. His price will go up — Marks estimates about $4MM to $5MM annually — but the Sixers can match any offer and lock him up for the long term. McConnell becomes eligible for an extension in July and can have his salary for next season negotiated with cap space beginning September 22.
  • Covington didn’t live up to his four-year, $62MM extension in the playoffs, writes Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. After starting 80 games in the regular season, Covington was replaced in the starting lineup by McConnell and fell behind Justin Anderson in the rotation. The playoffs may have redefined several players’ roles, Hayes notes, and it’s possible that Covington isn’t a good fit anymore.
  • The Sixers are holding their exit interviews today, with much of the focus on the free agents. J.J. Redick, who signed a one-year deal last summer, will consider money, the chance to win and closeness to home when deciding on his next move, tweets Rich Hoffman of The Athletic. “This was probably my favorite year of my career. … Playing in Philly is its own experience. The buzz about this team was amazing,” Redick said (Twitter link from Derek Bodner of The Athletic). “We all hope that I am back. The [contract] numbers can get tricky. It’s not my job to worry about that.” (Twitter link).