Report: Suns, Bucks, Nets leaders in Josh Smith sweepstakes

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If it appears two things are certain following the trade deadline now — Lakers fans will complain (because they always do) and Josh Smith will be in another uniform.

The question now seems to be “where will Josh Smith play the rest of this season?”

Followed by, “what about next season?”

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports updates us on the first question.

The Bucks are interesting in that the early talk had Monta Ellis and his expiring deal coming back to Atlanta, which is an interesting fit for half a season next to Jeff Teague. The Hawks may or may not be able or want to re-sign Ellis this summer, what really matters in making that deal work is what other picks and parts are in the deal to entice Atlanta. Chris Broussard of ESPN suggested the Bucks were trying to come up with a deal where they kept Ellis and Brandon Jennings to pair with Smith, but that seems unlikely. And Milwaukee couldn’t re-sign all three of those free agents next summer to the deals they expect.

For the Bucks, who already are going to have to give Jennings a big pay raise this summer, with or without Ellis can they afford Josh Smith, too? Would they give him a max or near max deal? Would he take it and stay? All really good questions that have to weigh on any decision.

The Nets have always seemed to be the Hawks fallback, getting Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a pick. Getting Brooks and the pick is nice, no way they really want Humphries, who is set to make $12 million next season, you can bet Ferry would be looking to flip him this summer.

The Suns may be the most interesting package for the Hawks. Phoenix has a stockpile of picks and some young players they can throw in, plus they have Marcin Gortat. A trade of Gortat, Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker plus picks works salary wise. And for the Hawks, they get a solid, true center in Gortat that lets Al Horford move to his more natural four spot.

But can the Suns keep Smith? They have the cap room to sign him to a massive deal, and they need a star to anchor that franchise. The questions are would he take it and is he really the star the Suns want to gamble on as an anchor?

We’ll see. The only sure thing is Smith is going to be on the move.

Klay Thompson goes up for 360 dunk in exhibition… and he’s not a dunker (VIDEO)

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Klay Thompson has an amazing skill set — one of the best pure shooters in the league, he can put the ball on the floor and create, and he’s a very good perimeter defender.

He’s not a dunker. Oh, he can dunk, but he’s not the guy you’re inviting to the Dunk Contest.

Case in point, this video out of China where Thompson was part of an exhibition and tried to show off his dunking skills.

Thompson’s shoe sponsor is China-based Anta, which explains why he’s there playing some exhibition ball. In case you missed it, Thompson had a Finals shoe released.

Those are about as good as the 360 dunk.

Sixers will talk contract extension for Joel Embiid this summer, want to lock him up

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Could Joel Embiid be Philadelphia’s Stephen Curry?

No, I don’t mean taking 30-foot bombs that demoralize opponents (although, no doubt Embiid is game for trying it). I mean in having a contract extension off his rookie deal for less than the max, a value contract that allows the Sixers the cap room to secure a title contender around him.

After three seasons in the NBA, Joel Embiid is eligible for a contract extension this summer (one that would be negotiated now but not kick in until the 2018-19 season). Teams lock up their stars at this point, and Embiid is that — he was dominant in the 31 games he played. But it’s 31 games in three seasons, how much do the Sixers want to pay here?

Sixers owner Joshua Harris said extending Embiid is a priority for the team this summer, speaking at a press conference, via the Courier Times.

“Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Harris said. “We want us all to grow old together. That’s the way I would put it.”

A max contract for Embiid would be five years at about $130 million, an average annual salary of $26 million. Because of his injury history, would he be willing to sign five years at $100 million, maybe with an opt-out after four? That extra cap space may not sound like a lot, it’s not a Curry-level savings, but it would help the Sixers’ team building.

If the two sides can’t reach a deal by Oct. 31 (the deadline), Embiid will play out this season then be a restricted free agent next season. If he stays healthy, he will get a max deal from another team that the Sixers would just match (the Sixers and Embiid could also reach a deal).

The Sixers are not about to let Embiid go, they have their young core they believe they can contend with in a few years. Plus he is a fan favorite. The only question left is cost.

Josh Jackson’s first pitch is… just a bit outside

Associated Press
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Josh Jackson is not going Bo Jackson on us and playing baseball in the offseason.

The highly-rated forward out of Kansas who was the No. 4 pick of the Phoenix Suns was invited to throw out the first pitch before Friday night’s Diamondbacks game.

To quote Bob Uecker, he was just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.

Lonzo Ball was able to make his first pitch, ergo, he will turn out to be a much better NBA player. Obviously, these skills correlate.

Report: Re-signing Nerlens Noel Mavericks’ top off-season priority

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This is a Mark Cuban owned team, you don’t think the Mavericks are going to make a serious run at a free agent come July 1? Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday has long been known to be a target, but there will be others.

But keeping their new core together, including restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, is the top priority, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Rumors like this are out there in part from Dallas to hope to chill the market for Noel. While he could be a defensive force who provides some scoring around the rim, with Noel’s injury history they may be able to get him at less than max money — because if he’s at the max the Mavericks are flirting with the luxury tax (and Cuban isn’t going to want to pay the tax for a borderline playoff team at best).

What Dallas fears is what Brooklyn did last season to Allen Crabbe in Portland and Tyler Johnson in Miami — some team to come in with a max or near-max offer sheet that drives up the price. Dallas will match, they will keep the young core together, it just gets more expensive.

Next season in Dallas will be a deserved big farewell to Dirk Nowitzki. He will be the focus, but behind him Dallas will try to be building for the future. They made the trade deadline move to make sure Noel is a part of that, the only question now is how much it costs them.