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.

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.