New Knicks GM Mills says he won’t be bringing back Isiah Thomas

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The conventional thinking surrounding the Knicks surprising front office shakeup just days before the start of training camp was that it was done to ensure the proper person was in place who could make the moves necessary to make sure Carmelo Anthony doesn’t choose to leave in free agency next summer.

Whether or not new GM Steve Mills is up to the task remains to be seen, but what is odd about the situation is his return to power in the organization considering the way his messy separation from the Knicks occurred five years ago.

Frank Isola of the New York Post gave us some of the details:

It really wasn’t that long ago when Steve Mills returned from vacation and suddenly had the sinking feeling that his job as the president of Madison Square Garden was in jeopardy.

There were two not-so-subtle signs that Mills’ days were numbered; Hank Ratner, his immediate superior, had moved into his office at 2 Penn Plaza, and Mills’ parking spot had been taken away.

The ugly divorce, which began when the Garden was found liable in a highly publicized sexual harassment case, was near its completion.

That harassment case also involved Isiah Thomas, who had an unsuccessful run with the team (to put it mildly) from 2003-2008 as president of basketball operations.

Thomas remains close with Knicks owner James Dolan, and is viewed by many as having a role of an unpaid adviser. The return of Mills sparked speculation that Thomas might be brought back in a more official capacity, but Mills said in a radio interview this week that he has no intention of doing so.

From Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News:

Though conspiracy theorists abound, new Knicks president and GM Steve Mills did his best to quell speculation that he will be bringing back Isiah Thomas to the Knicks, suggesting that Thomas would make a fine executive director of the NBA Players’ Association instead.

“No, Isiah will not be coming back to the Knicks,” Mills said. “I’ve known Isiah for a long time. I think he has a lot of good things going on in his life. . . . He’s probably an excellent candidate for the executive director’s job at the NBA players’ association.”

That sound you heard was the team’s fan base breathing a collective sigh of relief.

The internal workings of the Knicks are a mystery to many, but even an organization that’s had more than its share of issues couldn’t possibly bring back Thomas, given the damage he did to the brand during his brief stint in charge.

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.