Goran Dragic denies interest in playing overseas, right now anyway

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UPDATE 9/23 12:41 am: Oh, it was all a simple misunderstanding blown out of proportion, like a Three’s Company episode (cue the laugh track). Seth Pollack from SBNation emailed Dragic, who sent back this response.

This news is not correct, because I made a statement that I want to end
my basketball carrer in Europe. So this is a big misunderstanding of the
Greek journalist. In this moment I’m very happy in the NBA and I’m not
going to Europe! I am a member of the Phoenix Suns, and my desire is to
stay in Phoenix for many years!

As Steve Nash is a stud but playing with a back that requires the fantastic Suns training staff, a team of Shaman and daily Holy Water from Lourdes to keep working. Dragic is the understudy, and the thought of him going, however slim, should frighten Suns fans. For now, at least, they have nothing to worry about.

8/22 9:55 am: Goran Dragic was considered a reach when the Suns drafted him in 2008. But he showed flashes before becoming a full-fledged star in the playoffs last season. You may remember him from such films as “Dropping 23 of 26 points on the Spurs in the fourth quarter.”  But that film may become out of print in the NBA.

SBNation Arizona reports that Dragic spoke with Greek media and hinted he may consider leaving to return to Europe when his current contract with the Suns is up. Tas Melas of the Score’s Basketball Jones was kind enough to provide a translation:

I am completely satisfied with my presence in the NBA. These two
years helped me evolve as a player. I improved in all areas. I have a
contract for this year, and then for the following year, it’s my choice
whether or not to continue (in Phoenix). Maybe I return to Europe.

Eventually this will happen for sure. I do not know if it will the
season after next. But the prospect of a big European team, perhaps
even Greek, would interest me very much. Winning titles is always
something which is very important

The “eventually this will happen for sure” part is pretty concerning, if it’s an accurate quote. But the more likely scenario is simply Dragic using his European status to put pressure on the Suns to come with the big contract extension. It’s hard to believe he’d have worked as hard as he has to make the NBA, become a star on the rise, only to up and head back for easier pastures. Then again, kids these days. You never can tell.

Suns sources who spoke with Pollack of SBNation weren’t overly concerned.

Warriors break record by paying $3.5 million for draft rights to Jordan Bell

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The Thunder paid the Hawks $3 million for the draft rights to No. 31 pick Tibor Pleiss in 2010. Last year, the Nets paid $3 million just to move up 13 spots in the second round to get Isaiah Whitehead.

The Warriors surpassed that amount, previously the record for spending on a draft pick, to buy the No. 38 pick from the Bulls and get Jordan Bell last night.

Marcus Thompson of The Mercury News:

Golden State also bought the No. 38 pick last year to get a player I rated as first-round caliber, Patrick McCaw, whose rights cost “just” $2.4 million. McCaw had a promising rookie year and even contributed in the NBA Finals.

Bell – whose draft rights drew the maximum-allowable $3.5 million – could achieve similar success. I rated him No. 31 but in the same tier as other first-round-caliber prospects. He’s a versatile defender, capable of protecting the rim and switching onto guards. He’s obviously not nearly the same level, but Bell is in the Draymond Green mold defensively. Bell’s offense doesn’t come close to Green’s, though. Bell could fill a role sooner than later when Golden State needs a defensive-minded sub.

The Warriors have generated massive revenue during their dominant run the last few years. Now, they’re putting some of that money back into the on-court product. Success breeds success – especially when the owners don’t just pocket the profits.

Markelle Fultz was ‘"Excited to head to (City) and join the (team name)’

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The 76ers drafted Markelle Fultz No. 1 overall, placing a ton of attention on the point guard.

He parlayed that attention into a sponsored Instagram post, but he – or whomever posted on his behalf – never changed the stock text the company sent.

Rodger Sherman of The Ringer:

Fultz deleted and reposted, but this was probably a blessing in disguise. If it weren’t for the funny initial oversight, the advertisement never would have gotten so much traction.

Danny Ainge: Josh Jackson canceled Celtics workout while Brad Stevens and I flew there

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The Celtics were the first playoff team to win the lottery, which brought a complication: Some draft prospects and their agents wanted to avoid Boston, which has a deep roster and fewer avenues to immediate playing time.

Lonzo Ball wouldn’t work out for the Celtics, and neither would Josh Jackson. Ball was straightforward all along on his intent to work out for only the Lakers, who ultimately drafted him No. 2.

With Jackson – who was drafted No. 4 by the Suns after Boston traded down and took Jayson Tatum No. 3 – it was more convoluted.

Celtics president Danny Ainge, via CSN New England:

Never talked with Josh. No one in our organization did. I know someone wrote that that was difference, but that’s not the case.

They cancelled a workout on us when we flew out to Sacramento, and they just decided to cancel it as we flew – just Brad and I and Mike Zarren flew cross-country.

So there was something that he didn’t want to play for the Celtics. In spite of that, we’ve watched Josh for two years, and we’re fans. He’s a terrific kid and a good player. So we tried not to overreact to those kinds of things and make a big deal of it.

Agents and players have all sorts of motivations to get to certain places, as we’ve seen in the past. You remember last year, Kris Dunn didn’t want to come here. We didn’t hold it against him. We felt like we were just taking the player that we wanted.

And I think the same thing this time. I don’t think we were trying to penalize Josh too much, but we didn’t get to see him or talk to him face-to-face.

I was mad. We flew cross-country. Are you kidding me? I had to get up at 4 o’clock and fly back home.

There’s nothing to do in Sacramento.

At first glance, this sounds sloppily rude by Jackson and/or his agent, B.J. Armstrong. And maybe it was.

But perhaps there’s more to it? The best professional athletes enter the workforce in conditions unlike anyone else in this country, forced to join whichever single company in their chosen field picks them – the worst companies receiving priority in selection. Players should feel no obligation to help companies in this cartel gather information. Rather, players’ priority should be getting to the company they find most desirable.

Jackson canceling a workout as the Celtics flew to California almost certainly turned them off more than never scheduling the workout in the first place would have. This might have been smart in the long run by Jackson if he didn’t want to go to Boston.

It stinks Ainge, Zarren and Brad Stevens had to deal with it. But it also stinks Jackson has no realistic choice but to participate in a system so unfair to labor.

Still, Ainge responded correctly – trying not to hold the sudden schedule change against Jackson. The Celtics will be better off with the better prospect, whether that’s Jackson or Tatum. If they drafted Jackson, he’d likely get over it. Evaluating Jackson only on what he’d bring to the team is easier said than done, and I’m not sure how well Ainge actually did that. But at least trying to keep that mindset was the right approach.

Jimmy Butler’s trainer calls Bulls GM Gar Forman a liar, less moral than drug dealers

Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune via AP
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The Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves last night, reuniting the star wing with Tom Thibodeau.

Butler apparently took it well. Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

Butler’s agent showed perspective. Bernard Lee:

Butler’s trainer, on the other hand, took a completely different tone. Travelle Gaines‏:

I don’t like the implication that drug dealers are immoral.

Otherwise, is Gaines right about Bulls general manager Gar Forman? I don’t know what Forman told Butler.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

I do know Forman probably shouldn’t have allowed himself to be drug into public a back-and-forth with Gaines, especially coming across as scolding the trainer. There’s little to be gained there – much like the trade itself.