Report: Stan Van Gundy tells Josh Smith, barring unexpected trade, forward will start season with Pistons

8 Comments

The Pistons and Kings discussed a trade involving Josh Smith, but it went nowhere.

Then they discussed a Smith trade again, and again, it went nowhere.

It seemed these repeated negotiations reflected new Detroit president/coach Stan Van Gundy’s desire to clear up his frontcourt, which included Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe as starters last season. Van Gundy has repeatedly indicated that trio didn’t work together – something already evident to anyone who watched the team last year beyond Maurice Cheeks, John Loyer or whoever was in charge of the lineup.

But Van Gundy’s plan for change might not involve Smith, whom Sacramento apparently just coveted that badly.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Detroit Pistons president and coach Stan Van Gundy reached out to forward Josh Smith to tell him that reports of the franchise engaging in substantive trade talks with Sacramento centered on Smith have been inaccurate and – barring an unexpected turn of events – Smith will be in training camp with the Pistons this fall, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Sacramento had made calls about Smith in June, but Detroit never heard an offer that remotely interested them and never seriously engaged in discussions, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Since his hiring in the spring, Van Gundy has had productive discussions with Smith and sources say that Smith has been enthusiastic about moving forward with Van Gundy as coach.

Monroe is a restricted free agent, and indications are Van Gundy would match any offer for the big manthough Monroe might not be eager to share a team with Smith again. I would definitely match any offer for Monroe with the intention of starting him and Drummond together in the frontcourt.

So what about Smith?

Smith is far superior to any backup the Pistons have. But he surely knows that too. I’m not convinced he’d be content – and undisruptive – coming off the bench.

Personally, I’d just trade Smith for Sacramento’s spare parts (Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams or Jason Terry) and gain the salary flexibility. One season of Smith in Detroit turned toxic regardless of who was at fault, and I wouldn’t risk a second.

Van Gundy seems to believe he can rehabilitate Smith’s value, and there’s certainly that potential. But that will require either losing Monroe or treading carefully with Smith’s feelings for a full season.

The Pistons shouldn’t drop Monroe without full value in a sign-and-trade, and I don’t trust the sometimes-abrasive Van Gundy to handle Smith gently for that long.

But if a Smith trade happens, it sounds as if it won’t be with the Kings. I can’t imagine other teams are lining up to deal for the final three years and $40.5 million remaining on Smith’s contract.

That’s why you should expect him in Detroit’s training camp.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Leave a comment

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
4 Comments

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.

Report: Dennis Smith Jr. planned to have J. Cole dunk in dunk-contest routine

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. seemed pretty steamed about getting eliminated in the first round of the dunk contest:

The dunk-contest scoring system – five judges ranking dunks on a scale of 6-10 – is plenty flawed. There should have been a larger difference between the Smith and Victor Oladipo dunks the Dallas point guard mentioned. But Oladipo didn’t advance, either. Personally, I thought the right two players – eventual-winner Donovan Mitchell and runner-up Larry Nance Jr. – advanced.

Maybe Smith was more upset about the missed opportunity – dunks (plural!) involving rapper J. Cole.

Amin El-Hassan of ESPN on Black Opinions Matter:

If Dennis had made it to the finals, Cole was going to throw him the alley-oop. But then the plan was, he was going to throw him the oop, Dennis would dunk it, and then Cole would catch the ball, and then he’d dunk it too. That was going to be the ill, craziest dunk-contest use of a prop or a person ever. But we never got to saw it, because they were holding out until the final round. They didn’t want to bring it out in the first round.

This certainly would have been unprecedented and cool. But unless Smith had something amazing planned for the alley-oop, the best element would have been Cole dunking. That would have upstaged Smith, who’s presumably the one being judged.

For what it’s worth, Cole can dunk. We’ve seen it in the celebrity game: