Don’t be surprised if these talks start up again — part of the negotiation game is to walk away from the table if you can’t get the deal you want, then check back in a few days or weeks and see if positions have changed.
The Phoenix Suns have stopped talks to acquire Pau Gasol because they feel the Lakers want too much for the veteran post player, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Phoenix could own four picks in the June draft, and the Lakers coveted one of the more valuable two — the pick the Suns could potentially get from Minnesota or the one they might receive from Washington.
The Washington pick would be the No. 17 pick as of today, and it is top 12 protected so the Suns would get it. The Minnesota pick is top 13 protected and the Timberwolves are right on that bubble (12th as of the start of play Tuesday).
The Lakers would get considerable salary cap relief if they just traded Gasol for the Suns Emeka Okafor, as Gasol makes $19.3 million this season and Okafor $14.4 million (the Suns are under the salary cap so they could absorb the extra). However, saving money alone is a tough sell for the Lakers to their fan base, they will want one of those higher picks.
The obvious compromise is the Suns have their own pick (currently 22nd) and the Pacers’ pick (which will be one of the last handful of the first round).
But right now both teams are posturing to say they need to get more out of the deal, with the Lakers saying they could keep Gasol past the deadline and the Suns walking away from the table.
The Suns want to see Pau Gasol back on the court, which may be a couple weeks away now and closer to the trade deadline. Which is about when they can revisit the talks with the Lakers — if they don’t get a better offer for Okafor in the meantime — and see if positions have changed.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.