Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:
“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”
“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”
But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.
The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.
Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.
He’s keeping the checks coming.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.
I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).
The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.
Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.
The players union released its long-anticipated long-overdue awards, and there are some doozies. First of all, I still can’t figure out what Chris Bosh – who was announced as the “host” of the Twitter-released awards – has to do with this. But let’s get to the actual winners.
Here are the major awards, with the traditional award/Players Voice equivalent:
- Most Valuable Player/Most Valuable Player: Russell Westbrook/Russell Westbrook
- Defensive Player of the Year/Best Defender: Draymond Green/Kawhi Leonard
- Rookie of the Year/Best Rookie: Malcolm Brogdon/Malcolm Brogdon
- Sixth Man of the Year/Best off the Bench: Eric Gordon/Lou Williams
There’s obviously slight differences in the other categories. I think Green had the best defensive season and deservedly won Defensive Player of the Year, but I also think Leonard is the NBA’s best defender and therefore deserved this honor. I would’ve picked Andre Iguodala for Best off the Bench (and Sixth Man of the Year, for what it’s worth), though that’s a minor quibble. But how on earth did Joel Embiid not win Best Rookie? He was the best rookie in years, let alone this season. I picked Brogdon for Rookie of the Year based on his overall contributions in far more playing time, but there should have been no question about the best rookie.
The union also released several awards without a corresponding NBA honor:
- Comeback Player of the Year: Joel Embiid
- Hardest to Guard: Russell Westbrook
- Clutch Performer: Isaiah Thomas
- Global Impact: LeBron James
- Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team: LeBron James
- Most Influential Veteran: Vince Carter
- Best Dressed: Russell Westbrook
- Best Social Media Follow: Joel Embiid
- Coach You’d Most Like to Play For: Gregg Popovich
- Best Home Court Advantage: Warriors
Lastly, the union awarded a Teammate of the Year on each team:
- Hawks: Dwight Howard
- Celtics: Gerald Green
- Nets: Randy Foye
- Hornets: Marvin Williams
- Bulls: Rajon Rondo
- Cavaliers: James Jones
- Pistons: Andre Drummond
- Mavericks: Harrison Barnes
- Nuggets: Darrell Arthur
- Warriors: David West
- Rockets: Trevor Ariza
- Pacers: Al Jefferson
- Clippers: Alan Anderson
- Lakers: Metta World Peace
- Grizzlies: Mike Conley
- Heat: Udonis Haslem
- Bucks: Jason Terry
- Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio
- Pelicans: Quincy Pondexter
- Knicks: Carmelo Anthony
- Thunder: Nick Collison
- Magic: Bismack Biyombo
- 76ers: T.J. McConnell
- Suns: Tyson Chandler
- Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard
- Kings: Garrett Temple
- Spurs: Manu Ginobili
- Raptors: Kyle Lowry
- Jazz: Boris Diaw
- Wizards: Jason Smith
Dirk Nowitzki won the NBA’s Teammate of the Year – which is voted on by current players after a panel of former players selects nominees – then didn’t even win for his own team here? That’s just weird.
NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.
Even the NBA’s worst team has only a 25% chance of getting the No. 1 pick in the lottery.
The 76ers made their own luck.
Philadelphia finished with the league’s fourth-worst record, fell to No. 5 in the lottery, swapped picks with the Kings to move up to No. 3 thanks to a two-year-old trade then traded up to No. 1 by enticing the Celtics with a future draft pick (another pick acquired in that heist of Sacramento, a Lakers pick or one of the 76ers’ own).
Whew, that’s some Process.
No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz is the latest prize in the 76ers’ reverse engineering of the NBA’s system, joining Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. That’s an exciting young core that might be ready to lift Philadelphia from years of tanking to playoff contention.
To that end, the 76ers signed J.J. Redick to a one-year, $23 million contract. The 33-year-old has already shown signs of decline, but he’s an upgrade over any shooting guard on the roster. If their other young players are ready to make the leap, the 76ers didn’t want to learn the hard way they were a starting shooting guard short of reaching the postseason. In securing an immediate boost, Philadelphia essentially paid extra for flexibility. Redick’s salary will almost certainly outpace his production, the 76ers ensured no lasting negative effects beyond this season.
The same logic could apply to Amir Johnson, who signed a one-year, $11 million contract. But Philadelphia’s frontcourt depth and the dreary market for bigs make that deal less defensible – especially if Johnson’s salary could have been reappropriated for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (who surprisingly became an unrestricted free agent) or paying Robert Covington more up front (as opposed to in future seasons, when the savings might matter more) in a renegotiation-and-extension.
With about $15 million in cap space remaining, the 76ers will likely still renegotiate-and-extend Covington once they can in November. He fits well into a deep crop of solid assets beyond the big three: Dario Saric, Richaun Holmes, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Jahlil Okafor, Justin Anderson, T.J. McConnell, Nik Stauskas, Furkan Korkmaz (the No. 26 pick last year who signed this year), all Philadelphia’s own future first-rounders plus one extra (from either the Kings or Lakers – or both, if if Philadelphia’s own pick is conveyed to Boston). The 76ers even added to the pool this summer with a couple draft-and-stash selections – No. 25 pick Anzejs Pasecniks and No. 36 pick Jonah Bolden (who I’m personally quite high on).
That grouping alone would be envy of many teams. And then there are still Embiid, Simmons and Fultz – the trio that will determine how quickly the brighter days ahead arrive in Philadelphia.
The 76ers’ revival is built on Embiid’s back – and feet and knees. He could be a generational player, but injuries have already cost him 215 games in three years and limited him to just 25 minutes per game in the 31 he has played.
Though it’s the one that looms far beyond, Embiid’s health isn’t the only potential pitfall this season. Rookie point guards – whether it be Fultz or Simmons – rarely lead good teams. It’s a position that typically requires fine-tuning.
Still, this is just the start in Philadelphia. Making the playoffs this season would be nice, but bigger goals down the road appear attainable either way.
The 76ers were in great shape entering the summer. They’re in even better shape now.
Offseason grade: B