David Stern says Sacramento group needs to up offer for Kings

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Of late there has been growing momentum for Sacramento in its fight to keep the Kings. Mayor Kevin Johnson has helped bring together a bid led by 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov (who was second in the bidding for the Warriors a couple years ago) and supermarket magnate Ron Burkle. The plan calls for the construction of a new arena in downtown Sacramento.

But it’s still a negotiation. And NBA commissioner David Stern is good at the negotiations part.

Friday night Stern spoke and there was good news for Sacramento fans: Stern said that a comparable offer from Sacramento might well sway the owners to vote to keep the team in Sacramento.

The bad news is Stern said the offer currently on the table from Sacramento is not good enough.

“I think it’s fair to say without telling any secrets that the offers are not comparable,” Stern said Friday night. (Thanks to our man Aaron Bruski, who has written on this story a lot at PBT and sent me the audio file of Stern’s remarks.)

Stern was in Oakland to watch the Warriors get in a track meet with the Rockets. He spoke to the media before the game and a contingent of Sacramento media made the drive to the coast to pepper him with questions. Stern used the opportunity to put a little pressure on Sacramento.

Stern went on to say that if the Sacramento offer doesn’t improve it will not go before the owners.

“I have an expectation, a hope, that the variance will be eliminated by the time the owners give it consideration…” Stern said.

“(The Sacramento offer has) strong people behind it but not quite there compared to Seattle bid.”

It’s a negotiation folks and David Stern is going to get the most money he can for his franchise, wherever it comes from. Don’t take these comments as a sign that Seattle is far ahead of Sacramento, take this as a sign David Stern wants to jack up the sale price.

It will probably work. Look what Mastrov told the AP.

The offer from Sacramento was never going to be as high as from Seattle because it would not have to repay the $77 million loan (with penalties) from the city the Maloofs were given. But the number the league was given did not win over Stern. Yet.

The Maloof family that owns the team has a deal in place to sell the franchise to a well-funded Seattle group led by hedge fund guy Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

In the end it is not David Stern or the Maloofs that make the final call — the NBA Board of Governors (made up of the other 29 owners) will vote on this. Stern all but outright said if the BOG votes for the Sacramento offer that he expects the Maloof family will fall in line and sell.

That vote will come April 18-19 in New York City. Up until then it is an ongoing negotiation.

Sprained ankle has LeBron James questionable for opener vs. Celtics

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James‘ playing status for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston remains unclear.

James has been slowed by a sprained left ankle for more than two weeks and it’s still not known whether he’ll be on the floor when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics and Kyrie Irving, who asked to be traded by Cleveland this summer.

Following Monday’s practice, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said “I really don’t know” when asked if James will play.

James took part in some post-practice shooting drills with teammates. He did not speak with the media as the Cavaliers prepared for their opener, a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals.

James has never missed an opener in his NBA career, and teammate J.R. Smith doesn’t expect him to miss this one.

“Oh, he’s going to go,” Smith said. “He’s going to go, trust me that. I don’t care what he’s got to do, he’s going to play.”

 

Report: Richard Jefferson signing with Nuggets

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Update: The Nuggets will waive Jameer Nelson, according to Wojnarowski:

It looks like Denver will ride with the younger Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay at point guard — a risky proposition. Nelson stabilized the position in the event Murray or Mudiay weren’t ready for bigger roles. The Nuggets aren’t hedging their bets now, which puts plenty of pressure on Murray and Mudiay.

Murray should be fine eventually. Mudiay’s promise is far less certain. But this is a team trying to reach the playoffs now, and it might have to ride out growing pains from its point guards without Nelson as a safety net.

 

Richard Jefferson became a late entrant into free agency when the Cavaliers traded him and the Hawks waived him.

But the forward is landing on his feet.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Jefferson could help the Nuggets, who look primed to end a four-season playoff drought. They were set to squeeze backup small-forward minutes behind Wilson Chandler out of the undersized Will Barton and oversized Juan Hernangomez. Jefferson is far more comfortable at the position.

He’s 37 and doesn’t offer long-term upside, but he’s a savvy defender and still pretty athletic. He picks his spots well enough offensively to help on that end, too.

But Denver also has a deep roster that already had 15 players on standard contracts. There’s not an obvious cut to make room for Jefferson, though the Nuggets clearly have something planned.

Sixers to keep Joel Embiid’s minutes in teens to start season, he’s not happy

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Joel Embiid wants to get on the court, he wants to unleash himself on the NBA this season. After three seasons of being bottled up — even in the 31 games he has played there was a minutes restriction — Embiid wants to impose his will on the league.

He’s going to have to do that in less than 20 minutes a night, at least to start the season.

Sixers coach Brett Brown says to start the season there will be a tight minutes limit on Embiid, who averaged less than 15 minutes in two preseason games after finally being cleared to play. Embiid does not like that. Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia has the quotes.

“I don’t really know if there’s a solid number,” Brett Brown said Monday after practice. “I can tell if you were to choose a number, it’s somewhere in the teens.”

“I didn’t know about that, but that’s very disappointing,” Embiid said Monday of the minutes restriction. “I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today’s practice and tomorrow’s practice.”

The Sixers being cautious with Embiid is about as surprising as the last Transformers movie sucking.

That said, if any particular game is close going into the fourth quarter don’t be shocked if Embiid breaks his minutes limit — this is a team that wants to start winning, and that means keeping their best players on the court longer. If Saturday night against the Raptors Brett Brown thinks giving Embiid 22-23 minutes helps get them the win, he will. The goal will be to get him up to the high 20s by the end of the season.

The real test for these Sixers will not be how the offense fairs with Embiid sitting — they have guys that can create and knock down shots if needed, such as Ben Simmons or J.J. Redick – instead it’s how well they can defend with him resting.

Report: Spurs signing LaMarcus Aldridge to two-year, $50 million contract extension

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From troubled to extended, LaMarcus Aldridge‘s Spurs tenure has changed directions in a hurry.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Piecing this together, Aldridge is exercising a $22,347,015 player option for 2018-19. That means his extension is worth $50 million over two years will carry him through age 35. All in all, Aldridge is now under contract for four more seasons.

Aldridge is a borderline All-Star, and he raises San Antonio’s floor. His back-to-the-bask mid-range games remains reliable, and he’s a willing defender. Him signing this deal should end pining for greener pastures, but it certainly won’t force him into diligent acceptance of his role forever. Players can become discontent whenever they please.

This extension significantly limits the Spurs flexibility the next two summers and maybe even in 2020, depending on Aldridge’s guarantee in the second year of his extension. They seem fine with that, perhaps believing they already have enough to topple the Warriors if Kawhi Leonard is healthy.

With Aldridge, Pau Gasol and Patty Mills all under contract for the few years around Leonard, San Antonio should remain stably good. But will these deals for aging veterans limit the Spurs’ ceiling? That’s the risk for an organization that has built its identity on championships and already has a young, in-his-prime superstar who has proven capable of being the best player on a title team.