Paul George

And-Ones: All-NBA Teams, Hayward, Kobe

The All-NBA teams were scheduled to be announced during the league’s inaugural award show on June 26th. However, because the selections may impact teams’ offseason plans, the league will unveil the winners in the weeks leading up to the draft, as Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post writes.

The newly created Designated Player Exception drove the change. Being selected on an All-NBA is a criterion for the massive extension and players such as Paul George and Gordon Hayward will be eligible for as much as $70MM more in an extension should they make one of the three teams.

The early unveiling arguably helps the Pacers the most. If PG13 lands on one of the teams, Indiana will have the inside track to signing him long-term as soon as this summer. If he doesn’t earn one of the spots, the organization can begin to seriously consider whether or not it should deal the small forward. George has long been linked to the Lakers and the Pacers may look to deal him rather than see him leave for L.A. without receiving any compensation in return.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Several NBA executives told Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News that they would choose Hayward over George if both were available to sign with their team. None of the executives said Hayward was the superior player based on talent alone, though they chose the Jazz star because he doesn’t come with the baggage that George comes with.
  • Kobe Bryant doesn’t miss playing the game of basketball, as he discussed on recent episode of Good Morning America (h/t James Dator of SB Nation). “No, I don’t,” Bryant said about missing the sport. “No, it’s crazy but I started playing when I was 2, and so after playing for 20 years in the league — what I have now is, everything I’ve learned from the game I carry with me to this day. So, the game’s never truly left me.”
  • Team USA announced who will be on the committees for the country’s men’s and women’s teams. Jerry Colangelo will continue to be the managing director of the Men’s National Team, while director Carol Callan will head the Woman’s National Team. Each committee will have an athlete representative. Shane Battier will serve as the men’s representative and Katie Smith will be the woman’s representative.

Lakers Notes: Johnson, Zubac, George

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss discussed the team’s roster with Magic Johnson prior to handing him the team president role. At the time, Johnson told her that he didn’t see a star on the roster, as she told Jesse Williams on the Open Run Podcast (h/t Anthony Irwin of SB Nation).

“I asked him who he would build the team around,” Buss said. “He thought about it for a second and he said, ‘I don’t know if you have the player yet… I would build the team around Luke.’”

Johnson joined Los Angeles’ front office back in February. Here’s more on his team:

  • GM Rob Pelinka said that one of the Lakers‘ priorities this offseason will be to add a center who fits into today’s NBA, Serena Winters of Lakers Nation relays (Twitter links). Pelinka added that he views Ivica Zubac as “someone [the team] considers to be one of the pillars of the future.”
  • Pelinka said character will be a major factor when evaluating possible additions this summer, Winters passes along on Twitter“I think going forward we’re going to really put a lot of weight into the character of a player,” the GM said. “What kind of person is he?”
  • Johnson will represent Los Angeles at next month’s lottery drawing, according to Mike Trudell of NBA.com. The Lakers have a 46.9% chance at landing a top-3 pick, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors details. They will owe the Sixers their first-round pick should it fall outside the top-3.
  • It’s well known that Johnson is a fan of Paul George and the Lakers may pursue the small-forward either this summer or next. George reportedly hasn’t been quiet about his interest in the team.

Latest On Paul George And The Lakers

Paul George has been talking about playing for the Lakers for years, an anonymous former teammate tells Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News. The small forward never made his desire to play for Los Angeles a secret within the team’s locker room, according to George’s former Pacers teammate.

Lakers team president Magic Johnson will likely pursue George and look to build a title contender around him, sources tell Lawrence. Johnson alluded to such plans during a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Lawrence acknowledges that George is a tremendous talent but hears that his leadership ability is being questioned around the league. Rival teams noticed how George handled himself in the media following the team’s Game 1 loss where C.J. Miles took the last shot instead of passing it to George. “C.J. took it upon himself,” George said following the game. “I’m confident in all my guys taking shots, that’s not the issue. But in that situation like that, I’ve gotta get that.”

A star should want the ball at the end of the game, but taking issue with teammates through the media is not the way top players should lead. “He’s not a winner by saying that [stuff] in public,” one GM told Lawrence. “That’s no way to support a teammate, but that’s how Paul rolls.”

Those comments after Game 1, along with George’s statements about Lance Stephenson‘s body language, have irritated members of the Pacers organization, particularly coach Nate McMillan and team president Larry Bird.

Several NBA executives are under the belief that George’s unhappiness and public blaming of teammates is a result of the Pacers not surrounding him with the right pieces.  Lawrence believes the Lakers need to surround George with “strong-willed” veterans should they trade for him this year or sign him next summer. One GM told Lawrence that the Celtics would be a much better fit than the Lakers because of Boston’s personnel.

Lawrence speculates that the team could part with D’Angelo Russell and/or Julius Randle in a hypothetical trade for George. The scribe adds that Brandon Ingram may not be on the table due to his high ceiling.

George said publicly that he hasn’t yet made a decision on his future with Indiana. “I ain’t even at that point, yet,” George said. He can become a free agent next summer by turning down a player option, which is worth approximately $20.7MM.

Pacers Notes: George, Teague, Miles

Paul George can become a free agent next season and he hasn’t yet committed to staying in Indiana long-term, as Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports writes. “I ain’t even at that point, yet,” George said.

The small forward took responsibility for the Pacers‘ short playoff run, though he admitted to being frustrated by losing to the same foe over and over again.

“It’s real frustrating to continue losing to the same team, or the same person. It’s what I work hard for in the summer, to try to help lead a team of my own and it’s ultimately who I’m always going to see and face. But again, came up short. Didn’t do enough,” George said. “If we want to win, that’s the team that we have to work towards stacking up against. If we want to be serious, that’s the team we’ve got to look at and figure out how can we match up against them.”

LeBron James-led teams have sent George home in the playoffs on four separate occasions. Here’s more on George and his Pacers teammates:

  • If George is going to leave the Pacers to join the Lakers, he may have to settle for mediocrity during his prime, Lee argues in the same piece. The scribe cites the past situations of Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and Deron Williams. All were stars who forced their way to other teams mid-prime and each player found himself playing for a team that wasn’t a serious championship contender.
  • Jeff Teague, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer for the first time in his career, is a native of Indiana and loves playing for the team. However, he admits that free agency comes with uncertainty, Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star relays. “ I love it here, but you never know, how they feel about me or whatever,” Teague said.
  • C.J. Miles could also hit the open market if he opts to turn down his player option, though he hasn’t yet decided what he’s going to do, Brown adds in the same piece. “I’ll sit down with my agent in the next couple of days,” Miles said in the locker room. “If [I opt out], it’s not solely because I’m trying to get out of here. It’s a business decision. The market, salary cap, everything is going up. It’s not like I’m 22. I’m nowhere near done, but you don’t want to waste anything.”
  • Miles added that he feels the Pacers could have a busy offseason, as Brown passes along in the same piece. “I think it could be,” Miles said. “I can’t speak for what they plan on doing, but you look at all the stuff, the rumors that happened throughout the season. We’ll see.”

Central Notes: Canaan, Teague, James

Consider Isaiah Canaan the latest beneficiary of the point guard carousel in Chicago. The reserve guard with more DNP-CDs than minutes played since the All-Star Break logged heavy minutes in Game 4 of the Bulls first-round tilt, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes.

With Rajon Rondo out for the series with a fractured thumb, Michael Carter-Williams in foul trouble, Jerian Grant rendered ineffective and Cameron Payne inactive, head coach Fred Hoiberg turned to the 25-year-old journeyman to lead his Bulls.

I was really proud of Isaiah for coming out after a lot of DNPs and being on the inactive list,” the Bulls coach said. “We wanted him in there because he can pick up the ball full-court. He hit a few shots for us as well. The plan was if we didn’t get off to a good start, he was going to get his opportunity.”

Though the Bulls would fall to the Celtics in the contest, Canaan posted 13 points and three assists in 34 minutes, an adequate stopgap for the latest hole in the club’s volatile point guard rotation.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Indiana native Jeff Teague‘s future with the Pacers is uncertain, Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star writes. The point guard will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after a disappointing 2016/17 campaign. “I have no clue, I’ve never been a free agent, I don’t know how it goes. I love it here, but you never know, how they feel about me or whatever. I love being in Indiana, it’s great, got a home here. But you never know.
  • The Pacers are no closer to a title than they were a year ago, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star writes. Now, after a four-game sweep at the hands of the Cavs, they could be one year closer to losing Paul George.
  • Could LeBron James be the best first-round performer in the history of the NBA? Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon suggests as much after the Cavaliers sweep. The King hasn’t lost an opening series in 12 seasons and hasn’t lost a single first-round game in five years.
  • Consider Cavaliers leader LeBron James’ record in the first-round as much a sign of his ability to be mentally prepared to tackle lower-seeded opponents as it is a sign of his unique skills, Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal writes.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Divac, Clippers

The Lakers would be making a terrible mistake by targeting Pacers forward Paul George as their much needed superstar, Mitch Lawrence of the Sporting News writes.

George, the “anti-Magic,” has shown poor leadership and a tendency to alienate teammates, Lawrence says. Those aren’t characteristics typically paired with a young team like the Lakers.

In the same piece, Lawrence goes on to add that a better fit for George may be Boston because the Celtics, unlike the Lakers, boast the strong-willed vets to withstand George’s occasional negativity.

Should the Lakers continue to pursue the swingman, however, they’ll need ensure that their point guard is mentally strong enough to deal with the vocal superstar.

  • After a tumultuous first few seasons at the helm, Vlade Divac has been given an opportunity to manage a stable Kings franchise, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee writes. “I knew the staff I wanted to put together. There was always so much (drama) going on ever since I got here, it took up a lot of my time,” Divac said. “Finally I have been able to find people who believe in what we are trying to do and who I am very comfortable with.
  • The Clippers have every intention of competing for a title even with the injured Blake Griffin on the sidelines, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. “It’s not the best thing that could have ever happened to us,” teammate Chris Paul said, “but it’s not the end of the world. We still are going to go out there. We know we got a job to do. We got a big game (Sunday), Game 4, and we go out there expecting to win.”
  • Could a candid conversation on Jimmy Kimmel be considered tampering? USA Today’s Alysha Tsuji wrote about how Lakers executive Magic Johnson may have tampered while commenting specifically about not tampering.
  • Count Gary Payton (Sr.) among the crowd who thinks Warriors forward Draymond Green should be this season’s Defensive Player of the Year, an Associated Press report outlines. The Glove also speaks highly of Kawhi Leonard as a legitimate candidate.

Eastern Notes: George, Williams, Lowry

It’s time for the Pacers to deal Paul George since he can become a free agent next summer, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders contends. Hamilton compares the Pacers’ situation to the Jazz’s back in 2011. Utah sent Deron Williams to the Nets when the point guard still had over a year left on his contract. Brooklyn gave up quite a haul for Williams and the Jazz were able to easily rebuild. Hamilton names the Lakers as a potential trade partner.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Cavaliers won Game 4 against the Pacers today and Williams played a key role in the win, as Chris Fedor of The Northeast Ohio Media group details. Williams can to Cleveland via the buyout market this season. It was previously reported that the waiver and buyout process could be altered this offseason.
  • Coach Brad Stevens surprisingly started Gerald Green in Game 3 of the Celtics’ series against the Bulls and Green will get the nod again in Game 4, Jared Weiss of SB Nation relays. Green is on a one-year, minimum salary deal and he’ll be a free agent this offseason.
  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post wonders if the Raptors are going to pay Kyle Lowry a max contract if they lose in the first round. Bontemps believes rival teams, like the Sixers, will be willing to pay him the max for his services regardless of Toronto’s playoff success. Lowry can become a free agent this summer.

Central Notes: Rondo, Bulls, George

We learned earlier today that Bulls guard Rajon Rondo will miss the remainder of the first round and perhaps some of the next with a fractured thumb. That bad news complicates how the pending free agent’s summer might unfold, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.

Though Rondo is signed through next year for $14MM, the Bulls can part ways with him should they choose to do so by June 30. Half-way through Chicago’s dysfunctional regular season, such a split seemed inevitable. These days, up two games to zero on the No. 1 seed Celtics, that’s not the case.

A strong finish to the regular season, coupled with his impact on the Bulls’ surprising first-round wins over Boston this week, have bumped the oft-maligned veteran’s value to its highest point in seasons.

Of course retaining Rondo would almost certainly delay Chicago’s supposedly inevitable rebuild, Deveney points out. Then again a team capable of threatening the top seed in their conference may not need to shake things up as badly as initially thought.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Don’t underestimate the impact that Bobby Portis, Paul Zipser and Nikola Mirotic have had on their first-round series against Boston, Sam Smith of Chicago’s official team site writes. The Bulls big men have helped their team hop out to an unexpected two-game lead on the No. 1-seeded Celtics.
  • After being questioned for comments he made about his Pacers teammates, Paul George has come out and defended himself, Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star writes. “Everybody knows how close I am with my teammates,” the All-Star said. “For [the media] to say I’m a selfish teammate, or I don’t think about my teammates, or I’m throwing my teammates under the bus? I didn’t say anything bad about my teammates, other than what I think my teammates can do down the stretch in order to help this team win.
  • Though his Cavaliers are up three games against the Pacers (two at the time), LeBron James speaks highly of Paul George, Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. “Paul George is one of those type of players that you have to just have your eyes on him every single possession because he’s capable of hurting you,” James said prior to Game 3.
  • The way that the Bucks have been playing in their first-round matchup against the Raptors has served as a glimpse into the future, Genaro Armas of the Associated Press writes. While the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo is nothing new, it’s the first time they’ve been on full display on the national stage.

Sixers Notes: Colangelo, Simmons, George, Covington

Bryan Colangelo has become the least trusted GM in Philadelphia, charges Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Hayes blasts Colangelo for being evasive about releasing injury details regarding Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric and others, and more recently for refusing to say whether Ben Simmons will play in the Summer League. The writer contends that Simmons needs the work to help with his transition to point guard and criticizes Colangelo for not being more open about the team’s plans.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • A long string of injuries and the February trades of Noel and Ersan Ilyasova made Colangelo’s first full season in charge look like another Sam Hinkie season, writes Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Ford adds that the team wasn’t able to address several important questions for the future of the franchise, such as whether Simmons can handle the point guard role, if he and Embiid are an effective combination and if Jerryd Bayless can be counted on as a starter.
  • Pacers forward Paul George might be worth a gamble if the Sixers want to make a splash this summer, Ford writes in a separate column. George has a player option for 2018/19, which means he will be effectively entering the final year of his contract next season. With rumors that he is interested in joining his hometown Lakers, Indiana may be tempted to move him in a trade instead of losing him with nothing in return. The Sixers have young talent to offer, and may have two high picks, depending on the results of next month’s lottery. “At the three, Robert Covington kind of has that position locked up with not a lot of depth at the position currently,” Colangelo recently told reporters. “But we’ve got some interesting draft prospects in the top 10 that happen to address that situation and that need.”
  • Covington underwent minor arthroscopic surgery this week to fix a meniscus tear in his right knee, the Sixers announced on their website. Covington will rehab the knee in Philadelphia and is expected to be ready for full basketball activities this summer.

Pistons Committed To Keeping Caldwell-Pope

The Pistons plan to match any offer that restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope receives, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.

The organization is prepared to give the fourth-year shooting guard a maximum deal if that’s what it takes to keep him in Detroit, Ellis adds, with several sources saying he is an important part of the team’s future.

Caldwell-Pope averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season, but his numbers declined after the All-Star break. Ellis states that the Pistons may have viewed the situation differently if they were confident that Stanley Johnson was ready to become a starter, but they believe keeping Caldwell-Pope is vital and they wouldn’t be able to get an adequate replacement because of their cap situation.

Ellis touches on several other Pistons-related matters:

  • Trade talks involving Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson will continue this offseason. Ellis states that the organization is becoming impatient with Drummond, with coach/executive Stan Van Gundy saying in Friday’s press conference that he needs a “sense of urgency to elevate his game.” Jackson’s drop in production stemmed from left knee tendinitis that plagued him throughout the season, and Ellis claims the only available replacement who might be an upgrade is the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe.
  • The Pistons believe they have enough young players and future first-rounders to acquire a star this offseason. There were rumors that Drummond was offered to the Kings for DeMarcus Cousins before he was sent to New Orleans, and a source told Ellis the Pistons contacted the Pacers about Paul George but never got close to a deal. George has another season left before he can opt out, and Detroit might be interested in taking the chance that it can re-sign him, but only if the price in a trade comes down. Other targets could include Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony.
  • Although the Pistons might benefit from a franchise-altering move, Van Gundy said smaller deals are more realistic. “There’s a couple things we’d like to do and make us a little bit better, but I don’t think we’re broken” he said. “Getting our point guard situation back to where it was or even better is more than feasible and corrects a great deal of the problems we’re talking about. Our roster is pretty good from there.”
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