Report: Knicks not signing second rounder Thanasis Antetokounmpo

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At one point, the Knicks sought a trade to open a roster spot.

Instead, they made a deal that essentially closed a roster spot.

In its trade with the Kings, New York essentially swapped Wayne Ellington for Travis Outlaw, both of whom have guaranteed contracts, and Jeremy Tyler for Quincy Acy, both of whom have unguaranteed contracts. Prior to the deal, I was already counting on the Knicks waiving Tyler to clear space, but waiving Acy would ruin the whole point of the trade (not that the Knicks always act logically).

Acy’s contract becomes guaranteed Aug. 15, and it seems New York has already decided to keep him and lock in 15 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts.

That leaves unsigned No. 51 pick Thanasis Antetokounmpo on the outside looking in.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

To keep Antetokounmpo’s rights, the Knicks must extend him a required tender – essentially a valid NBA contract – by Sept. 6. That can be a fully unguaranteed one-year deal.

I don’t know what promises Antetokounmpo made (many second rounders agree to play in the D-League or overseas before the draft, which increases the likelihood of being selected) or what New York can do for him (many teams in this position help their draft pick find work in exchange for him declining the required tender). But if nothing is on the table for him, Antetokounmpo should consider accepting the tender.

That would likely lead to him joining the team for training camp and, unless the Knicks make another move that trims the roster, getting waived before the regular season begins so they can reach the roster limit of 15 players.

Antetokounmpo would then become an unrestricted free agent. Considering he sipped to No. 51 in the draft, no NBA team would likely be beating down his door immediately. But if he excels in the D-League or overseas, he could negotiate with any NBA team rather than just the Knicks, an advantageous position.

After playing in the D-League last season, Antetokounmpo probably doesn’t need New York’s help to get another job there again this season. If the Knicks can secure him a more lucrative offer – in the D-League or Europe – than he could get on his own, that obviously changes the equation. But the onus should be on them to deliver before Antetokounmpo gives away his right to bargain with other teams around the NBA.

On the other hand, teams don’t always act rationally. Phil Jackson surely doesn’t want to waste a draft pick or be viewed as someone who wasted a draft pick. He very well could give Antetokounmpo the benefit of the doubt when it comes to making the roster in future seasons – even though he technically wouldn’t be any more beholden to an unsigned Antetokounmpo than a free agent.

Antetokounmpo will probably play ball with the Knicks, who chose to fill their roster without him. But before he does, he should consider how it will affect his future.

Lakers exercise David Nwaba’s $1.3 million contract option

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers have exercised their $1.3 million contract option on guard David Nwaba for the upcoming season.

The Lakers announced the move Wednesday.

Nwaba earned a job with the Lakers after they called him up from their D-League affiliate on Feb. 28. The rookie averaged 6.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while impressing Luke Walton’s coaching staff with his hustle and defensive play.

The Lakers signed him to a new contract with a multi-year component just three weeks after his NBA debut.

Nwaba is a local product, attending University High School in West Los Angeles and Santa Monica College before finishing his college career at Cal Poly.

Stephen Curry to play Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic

AP Photo/Eric Risberg
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HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) — Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry is set to test his golf game against the pros.

The Web.com Tour said Wednesday that Curry, coming off his second NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors, will play in the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae on Aug. 3-6.

It’ll be the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event for Curry, who has competed in various celebrity events and pro-ams. The top 25 on Web.com Tour’s regular-season money list will earn PGA Tour cards.

Curry will maintain his amateur status, competing on an unrestricted sponsor exemption in the event that benefits the Warriors Community Foundation.

Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice played in the event in 2011 and 2012. He missed the cut in 2011 with rounds of 83 and 76 and withdrew in 2012 after playing 27 holes in 23 over.

Also Wednesday, Nissan’s upscale Infiniti brand announced that Curry would be its new global brand ambassador. The point guard will be featured in ads for the Q50 sports sedan beginning this summer.

Report: Clippers never committed to offer Chris Paul five-year max contract

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The Clippers projected to be able to offer Chris Paul a five-year, $201 million contract that would have culminated with a $46 million salary in his final season.

Did they offer that much before sending him to the Rockets?

Just as one side is trying to pin all the Clippers’ problems on Doc Rivers and Austin Rivers, the Clippers surely want to spin Paul’s exit to another way – that they shrewdly chose when to part ways rather than that they lost the best player in franchise history due to nepotism.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

If Paul really wanted that five-year max, he could have pushed harder for it by bringing counter offers to the Clippers in July rather than engineering his way to Houston before free agency even began.

Would the Clippers have eventually relented and offered the five-year max? We can never know for certain.

But it’s pretty clear why the Clippers would want this version out there. Accurate or not, it makes them seem far more on top of things and is less likely to taint them with free agents they covet in 2018.

How Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza complicate Rockets’ pursuit of third star

AP Photo/John Raoux
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After pairing Chris Paul and James Harden, the Rockets are reportedly chasing a third starPaul George, Carmelo Anthony or someone else.

But Houston parted with significant assets to land Paul from the Clippers. And the Rockets will have a tricky time dealing two remaining players, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Unloading Ryan Anderson to sign Paul outright would have helped Houston keep one of their outgoing guards, but the market for the three years and $60 million left on Anderson’s deal was frigid. Not even the Kings wanted him for free. At least two teams would have demanded two Houston first-round picks in exchange for absorbing Anderson, according to several league sources.

The salary filler probably can’t be Trevor Ariza, by the way. Ariza and Paul are close after years together in New Orleans, and playing with Ariza factored at least a little into Paul’s decision, per league sources. The Clippers had tried to trade for him in prior seasons, sources say. Ariza is also still good at a coveted position, and his Bird Rights will be valuable to a capped-out Rockets team next summer.

Anderson would be dangerous as a stretch four in pick-and-pops with Paul and Harden. Even if he’s overpaid, might be better to keep him than surrender more assets to dump him.

Likewise, Ariza is a nice two-way player and can play small-ball four. There’s a use for him on this team.

But beyond them, Houston is left with Eric Gordon and Clint Capela as movable players. Gordon, with a higher salary and less obvious fit with Paul and Harden, would almost certainly be a key cog in a trade for another star. Capela is younger and more valuable, though the Rockets would probably want to keep him as a defensive anchor.

That might not be possible while trading for a third star, though. Houston can’t even guarantee sending out another first-round pick in a trade after sending a protected first-rounder to the Clippers. (The Rockets could agree to convey a first-rounder two years after sending one to L.A., which would is highly likely to convey next year.) Including Capela in a trade might be the only way to assemble a suitable package.

Even then, Houston would be hard-pressed to surpass an offer from the Lakers or Celtics for George. Plus, if Indiana is rebuilding around Myles Turner, Capela is an awkward fit. That trade might require a third team – causing further complications.

Hoping Anthony gets bought out by the Knicks then signs for the mid-level exception is much simpler – though that route returns the lesser third star.

But Daryl Morey just brought Chris Paul to Houston before free agency even began. Now is not the time to underestimate the Rockets general manager.