Maynor, Thunder stop contract talks; he will be a free agent

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Eric Maynor is going to be a key part of the Oklahoma City Thunder this year, a role that just got bigger in the wake of the James Harden trade.

Maynor is going to get a piece of the Harden role. No, he hasn’t been asked by management to grow a beard. Probably. But Maynor is going to have to create shots and get the offense going with the second unit. He’s going to get the plenty of rope, plenty of run to prove himself.

Then, next summer he’s going to be a restricted free agent.

Maynor and the Thunder have stopped talking contract extension and have agreed to pick up talks again in July, reports the Oklahoman. That means next July the market will set the price for Maynor (the Thunder can match any offer from another team). But the two sides could not reach a deal right now.

But two issues have complicated matters. Maynor is coming off a major knee injury, and second-year point guard Reggie Jackson is emerging into a potential impact player. Maynor tore his ACL nine games into last season but is now recovered and ready to reclaim his position as the primary backup to Russell Westbrook. But coach Scott Brooks has maintained that the backup job is an open competition between Maynor and Jackson, who showed tremendous growth this preseason.

Jackson clearly is considered an important part of the Thunder’s future, which puts a small level of pressure on the franchise to decide how much it is willing to commit to Maynor

Maynor is going to get a healthy pay raise next summer, he is a quality point guard. Some team is going to step up and pay him. It may well be the Thunder (they could have used Maynor in the finals over what’s left of Derek Fisher). Whatever the Thunder decide, Maynor will get paid.

But one of the points of how Thunder GM Sam Presti handled the Thunder trade was to give himself flexibility going forward. It makes sense not to lose some of that flexibility by locking in with Maynor now.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.