LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard. Kevin Love. Marc Gasol. DeAndre Jordan. Draymond Green. Jimmy Butler. Dwyane Wade. Brook Lopez. Goran Dragic. Danny Green.
Every one of those top free agents this summer re-signed with their own team — security and taking the cash on the table were the themes of the summer. Even the restricted guys (Leonard, Green and Butler) didn’t meet with other teams, they were never really on the market. LaMarcus Aldridge was the outlier, bolting Portland to contend in San Antonio.
What does that portend heading into the much-discussed free agent summer of 2016, when the salary cap spikes and every team will be flush with cash?
Don’t bet on Kevin Durant leaving OKC.
Executives around the league expect him to stay put, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.
Most league execs informally polled here at Summer League expect Durant to stay in Oklahoma City when he hits the market next summer. There are only a handful of teams that can legitimately think they’re an option. The Lakers, the Mavs and the Wizards (in Durant’s hometown) are in the mix, for starters. The Knicks? I mean, I guess, in theory.
I will say I’ve heard there is some pressure within Durant’s circle to consider the Knicks, but will they have a roster that he wants to come to?
Oklahoma City has always been the frontrunners, and the owner has signed off on paying the tax this year to show his commitment to winning (that came with matching the Blazers’ Enes Kanter offer). Durant likes the city, the team is a legit title contender, and as we have seen this year the lure of a big market alone is not near enough to draw a superstar.
The NBA season between now and Durant’s decision is a lifetime, and a lot of things could change. But it’s good to be in front of the race now, and Oklahoma City is that.
yIn the NBA, a minute can be an eternity.
Trae Young didn’t think so, he thought Atlanta was going to get the upset after his assist to Alex Len for a dunk put the Hawks up 6 with less than a minute to go in the game.
Did we mention a minute can be an eternity in the NBA? Miami came back and a Jimmy Butler three sent the game to overtime. Butler finished the game with a triple-double of 20 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Miami owned the overtime and went on to win 135-121.
Butler didn’t miss the chance to mock Young on Instagram
It was a big night for the Heat’s young core. Bam Adebayo had a triple-double of 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, Kendrick Nunn led Miami with 36 points, and Duncan Robinson drained 10 threes.
Wednesday night, Kawhi Leonard returns to Toronto for the first time since leaving the team last summer to head to Los Angeles.
Unlike most returns in recent years, there will not be boos — Toronto will welcome Leonard back with open arms. He won them a ring, there are no hard feelings.
The Raptors already dropped a tribute video on Twitter.
Well done, Raptors.
It’s going to be fun to see his return, which will be a celebration — and should be a good game.
Monday night, Grizzlies star rookie Ja Morant returned to the court after missing four games with what was officially called “back spasms,” but in reality was him recovering from his back hitting a courtside cameraman after a fall.
Morant scored 26 to lead the Warriors to a win in Golden State, but he admitted to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes that when he drove the lane and went up he thought about his landing spot and those cameramen.
Following the contest, Morant acknowledged that instead of solely focusing on being the best version of himself, he occasionally found himself thinking about the proximity of camera operators while driving in the paint.
“It’s tough because I know I just have to do more controlled jumps now,” Morant told Yahoo Sports. “But at the same time, I’m just trying not to think about it and still try to play my game. It’s just a tough situation all the way around, honestly….
“I just think player safety should be first and foremost. How I play and where I end up, [cameramen] are right there. Personally, I like to attack the rack, and I feel like that injury came from me attacking the rack and it was just nowhere to land for me.”
Morant echoes the concern of a lot of players and coaches.
The NBA is aware of the issue, back in 2014 they reduced the number of cameramen on the baseline by half (down to 10 per side) and created a four-foot-wide “runway” on either side of the stanchion that players can run up if they have a full head of steam.
That’s not close to eliminating the problem. The NBA is not going to remove those cameras — the NBA is in the entertainment business, and those cameras provide some of the best video angles and still shots to show fans — but expect it to take another look and review its process here.
What we don’t want to happen is the game loses a promising young player like Morant for a lot more than four games after a run-in with a cameraman.
The Chicago Bulls miss Otto Porter. He was a starter on the wing for nine games, scoring 11.2 points per game, hitting 40 percent of his threes, playing solid defense, and the Bulls offense was 8.3 points per 100 possessions better on offense when he was on the court. He’s a steadying influence as a veteran.
However, he has been out the last 16 games with a foot injury, and he’s going to miss at least another month, the Bulls announced Tuesday. The Bulls said Porter saw a specialist and he “confirmed the bone injury and healing response in Porter’s left foot consistent with a small fracture that has become more clearly defined with repeated imaging over the last five weeks.”
What that means for Porter is another month in a boot.
Chandler Hutchison‘s bruised shoulder has him in street clothes, too, which means Kris Dunn will remain the starter for now. Denzel Valentine has used a bump in minutes to show some growth in his game, play fairly well, and make a push for even more run of late.
But without Porter, the Bulls are not the same.