Warriors GM says team “focused and motivated” to get Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli extensions done

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It’s the cost of winning titles — the players on your team come up for free agency and want to get paid.

The Warriors locked up Klay Thompson last summer, Draymond Green this summer, and now they are focused on keeping next year’s free agents, too: Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli.

With the salary cap about to spike and at least two-thirds of the NBA expected to have room for at least one max deal, the Warriors could be better just locking guys up at a fair deal now. Warriors GM Bob Myers was on KNBR Radio in the Bay Area and talked extensions a little bit. From Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group:

In the case of Barnes, the question is can the two sides find a number that works for them? If Michael Kidd-Gilchrist just got four-years, $52 million Barnes will want at least that and probably more. The Warriors already have five players making eight digits in salary for the 2016-17 season (Thompson, Green, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry). They are going to be bumping up against the new cap already. If you’re Barnes, do you want to see what the market will bring you next summer than ask the Warriors to match it? That might be the better option for Barnes.

With Bogut nearing the end of his deal (two seasons left), Ezeli has the ability to show the Warriors he can step into that role (guys around the team are high on him) and get paid like it. Right now, the Warriors would love to lock him down at a discount, Ezeli may want to get through the season and let the market set his price.

It’s something to watch. All summer long guys have taken discounts for security, can the Warriors get Barnes and Ezeli to do the same?

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.