Kris Humphries will probably hang with the Nets, soak up some cap space

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While the Knicks have the glitz and glamor of Madison Square Garden, the Nets have undoubtedly the brighter future given each team’s current assets. For the price of Eddy Curry ($11.3 million in 2010-2011), New Jersey has both Devin Harris ($9.0 mil) and Brook Lopez ($2.4 mil). They have Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Terrence Williams, and Yi Jianlian locked up next season for about $8.5 million total, and they’ll be able to add one high lottery pick and one late first rounder to that collective in order to entice a big free agent score.

Throw in a flashy new owner, a likely score of a solid free agent coach, and the impending move to Brooklyn, and it’s tough to see why any free agent at all would prefer the situation in New York to that in New Jersey. This season was dismal, but the future looks really, really bright for the Nets.

And Kris Humphries apparently wants to be a part of it. For one more season, at least. According to Dave D’Alessandro of the Star Ledger, Humphries is likely to exercise his $3.2 million player option for next season. D’Alessandro cites “the general feeling around the league” as his source, but it could easily be traced to common sense. Humphries is a decent option at forward, but at his best he’s an end-of-the-rotation player. There’s little upside to his game, his defense and shot selection can be suspect, but he does offer fairly solid scoring and rebounding in limited minutes.

Given his talent level relative to his salary, picking up the option is a no-brainer. There may be some appeal for a guy like Hump to score a longer salary before the new CBA kicks in, but there’s no guarantee that anyone would be willing to sign him to such a deal. $3.2 million could be the most substantial paycheck Humphries ever receives in his career, and playing it safe in this case is the right move.

That does cut ever so slightly into the Nets’ cap space this summer, though not enough to prevent them from signing a max free agent and then some. A couple of factors (which pick the Nets get in the draft, whether or not they want to retain Keyon Dooling) keep New Jersey’s exact amount of cap space in limbo, but it should be interesting to watch how Hump’s $3.2 million salary affects who the Nets can target as their second free agent acquisition.
 

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.