Report: Andre Iguodala decides to opt out of final year of contract to enter free agency

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It has always been a distinct possibility that Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala would choose to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent.

The offseason moves of the front office in Denver, which included firing Coach of the Year George Karl and parting ways with Executive of the Year Masi Ujiri, likely made his decision that much easier.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Denver Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala has decided to opt out of the final year of his contract and enter free agency, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

Iguodala, 29, promises to be one of the most desired players on the summer market. His agent, Rob Pelinka, informed Denver CEO Josh Kroenke of the plan in a meeting on Thursday in Los Angeles.

“We are fully aware of Andre’s intentions and he’s well aware of how much we want him back,” Kroenke told Yahoo! Sports Friday afternoon. “Andre us a huge priority for our organization.”

Iguodala stated as recently as the end of March that this was the plan, and while he would let the playoffs have some influence over whether or not he’d play out the final year of a deal that would have paid him $15.9 million next season, it wouldn’t have been the most prudent move financially.

Even though his next contract will start at less than what he was slated to earn next season, signing a multi-year deal now guarantees Iguodala much more money in the future.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, he can sign a four-year deal with a new team, or get an extra year by choosing to stay with the Nuggets. Had he not chosen to opt out, Iguodala would only have been eligible for a three-year extension.

Iguodala will be coveted, but it’s a relatively crowded free agent class, especially if the big names decide to truly test the market. Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Josh Smith are among the guys Iguodala will be competing with for the dollars available under the salary cap.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect if any all of the recent changes in Denver have on the team’s ability to retain Iguodala, and whether or not the Nuggets will come up with the right amount of cash to retain his services.

Iguodala averaged 13 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game in Denver last season, but his athleticism and ability to defend on the wing are the assets that will have several teams interested in him beginning July 1.

Bradley Beal, Kent Bazemore get technicals for scuffle in Hawks, Wizards

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It’s been a chippy kind of playoff series — one where Paul Millsap gets called a crybaby — and with the Hawks on the brink of elimination emotions were especially high on Friday night.

Kent Bazemore had been frustrated with a couple of calls (and no calls) and he took that out on the play above — he got picked by Kelly Oubre, who threw the ball ahead to Bradley Beal for a layup, and Bazemore gave him a little push in the air. It wasn’t much, but when a guy is airborne and defenseless that touch throwing off balance can lead to serious injury.

Beal bounced up and got in Bazemore’s face. Then an NBA version of a scuffle started.

The referees reviewed it and Beal and Bazemore got technical fouls with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jason Smith also getting them for their role later in the “festivities.”

The league should come in with a fine for Bazemore on this — you cannot let guys push other guys who are airborne, even slightly. That was a dangerous play, and I’m surprised the officials did not call a technical.

Report: Kevin McHale also in mix for team president in Orlando

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Cavaliers GM David Griffin — who doesn’t have a contract with the team beyond this year, but who LeBron James has endorsed — is on their radar.

Larry Bird, who is stepping down in Indiana, is a potential target.

You can add Kevin McHale to the list of former NBA executives the Orlando Magic are taking a look at in their search for a new head of basketball operations, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

The Orlando Magic have serious interest in Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Kevin McHale for their team president position, according to two people with knowledge of the situation….But McHale, who served as Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations from 1995 to 2008 while also serving as the team’s head coach on two occasions, is known to be on the Timberwolves’ short list as well. The Magic would strongly prefer someone who has previously been a general manager for the president position.

But McHale, who served as Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations from 1995 to 2008 while also serving as the team’s head coach on two occasions, is known to be on the Timberwolves’ short list as well. The Magic would strongly prefer someone who has previously been a general manager for the president position.

McHale made some franchise-defining moves as the head man in Minnesota — he drafted Kevin Garnett and he brought Flip Saunders into the organization, he brought in Sam Cassell and Latrell Spreewell and that got the Timberwolves to the conference finals in 2004, to use a few examples.

He had his share of mistakes, too. Like drafting Ray Allen then trading him for Stephon Marbury, or drafting Brandon Roy and trading him for Randy Foye.

The Orlando roster has talent on it — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — and a quality coach in place with Frank Vogel. That said the talent on the roster does not fit and Orlando desperately needed someone willing to shake things up, who wasn’t too invested in “their guys” to realize the roster’s serious shortcomings.

McHale could do that. It looks like we are a month or more from finding out, however, as Griffin isn’t going anywhere until after the Cavaliers season — which likely extends into June. If the Magic are serious about him, this process is going to drag out.

Joel Embiid was hanging out with Philly fans at the NFL Draft

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Joel Embiid is a man of the people.

And last night the people in Philadelphia were all Eagles fans, watching the NFL Draft unfold.

Embiid was out there with them. Literally.

Ben Simmons was there as well with Embiid, according to CSNPhilly.com.

Philadelphia fans can only hope the Eagles draft as well — and have WAY better injury luck — than the Sixers.

Moving to new arena, Detroit Pistons submit bids to host 2020 or 2021 All-Star Game

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DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Pistons have put in bids to host a future NBA All-Star Game at Little Caesars Arena.

The team says in a release Friday that bids were submitted to the league for 2020 and 2021.

Little Caesars Arena is being built just north of downtown Detroit and is expected to open this year. It also will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.

In November, the Pistons announced the team was moving back to Detroit from The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The city of Detroit last hosted the NBA’s All-Star Game in 1959. The 1979 game was played in Pontiac when the Pistons’ home court was the Silverdome.

NBA All-Star events include the All-Star Game, NBA Rising Stars Challenge, a celebrity game, skills competition and fan events.