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Report: Pistons plan to match any Kentavious Caldwell-Pope offer sheet, even a max

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Bad news for the Nets or any team planning to pursue Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in restricted free agency this summer.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

The Pistons are prepared to match any offer sheet he receives, even if it produced a maximum contract, according to multiple persons with firsthand knowledge of the franchise’s thinking.

One person told the Free Press: “We can’t lose him.”

This is the right course for Detroit.

If the Pistons let Caldwell-Pope walk, they’d have just the $8,406,000 mid-level exception or so to replace him. That’d yield a far lesser player, which is untenable for Detroit with too many players – Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris and Jon Leuer – under contract and at least theoretically ready to win now.

The 24-year-old Caldwell-Pope should remain productive through his next contract, which makes paying him major money less risky. He’s a strong defender, solid 3-point shooter and fantastic transition threat. Teams can’t get enough two-way wings as small ball gains popularity. His recent DUI arrest is unlikely significantly affect his stock, because his blood-alcohol content registered barely above the legal limit and he has an otherwise solid reputation as a diligent worker.

Caldwell-Pope would likely  get max offers if he were an unrestricted free agent. By putting word out now, the Pistons might dissuade other teams from wasting their time pursuing him. More likely, Detroit opens the door to negotiating a five-year deal with Caldwell-Pope rather than matching a shorter offer sheet from another team, which can be for a max of four years.

Interestingly, the next Collective Bargaining Agreement bans teams from declaring an intent to match all offers for a restricted free agent. It’s unclear how the league will enforce anonymously sourced reports like this, because the Pistons have plausible deniability they didn’t provide Ellis the information. More importantly in this case, the next CBA has not yet taken effect. The Pistons have wide latitude for another couple months to publicly negotiate Caldwell-Pope’s next contract – a deal that increasingly appears will return him to Detroit.

Report: First-round draft prospect says Phil Jackson fell asleep during his workout

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Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.

Jay Williams of ESPN:

A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”

Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.

Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.

O.G. Anunoby invited to NBA draft, Harry Giles declines

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The NBA’s invitations to the draft are a good indicator of when players will get drafted. The league samples executives, who are more likely to be honest here than in leaks to the media, about how they rank players. So, the list is worth monitoring.

The players who will attend tonight’s draft nearly match the leaks – with one exception. O.G. Anunoby is going, and Harry Giles isn’t.

Here are the players who will be at the draft – a reasonable placeholder for the players most likely to get picked in the top 20 – via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:

Harry Giles declined his invite sources told DraftExpress.

Did Giles decline his invite because, with his extensive injury history, he feared falling too far? Or did he just prefer to watch elsewhere?

Was Anunoby simply 21st on the NBA’s list of players to invite? Or was the league too unsure of his medical status to include him until getting a stronger grasp now?

I don’t know, but the possibility that Giles could slip or Anunoby is more secure alters my perception of their draft stock (Anunoby up, Giles down).

Report: Knicks’ asking price for Kristaps Porzingis ‘massive’

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What has Phil Jackson actually done? He discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis with other teams and called the Knicks, not Porzingis, his priority. That’s it.

At face value, this is fine. It’s what devoted executives, not always Jackson, should do.

Jackson hasn’t traded Porzingis for meager return. He hasn’t traded Porzingis at all.

Everyone up in arms should take a deep breath.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

I wouldn’t rule out the Knicks trading Porzingis. The No. 1 pick got traded, after all. I wouldn’t rule out them trading Porzingis for too little return. Look at Jackson’s track record running the front office.

But wait until they do before bashing Jackson for not understanding Porzingis’ value.

There are plenty of better reasons to criticize Jackson, including overseeing the toxic culture that led to Porzingis skipping his exit interview and setting this latest “crisis” into motion. Publicly discussing trading Porzingis won’t endear Jackson to the budding star, but the problem is how it reached this point. Players in sound organizations can handle this. Jackson has engendered little confidence from his players, the distrust existed well before this round of trade talks.

Lonzo Ball recruits LeBron James to Lakers (video)

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Lonzo Ball doesn’t play for the Lakers. LeBron James isn’t a free agent.

But they’re headed that way – and Ball is already embracing it.

The Lakers are expected to draft Ball No. 2 tonight, and rumors are heating up about LeBron leaving the Cavaliers in 2018.

Why should LeBron join Ball in Los Angeles?

Ball on ESPN:

LeBron, I like to win. I know you like to win. I think our games can help each other out a lot. Any time you want the ball, just let me know. It’s going to be there.

Ball was asked to to pitch LeBron, so it’s not as if Ball is out here talking so brashly on his own. But answering the question was a rookie mistake.

Besides, I’m not sure Lonzo Ball can undo the bad blood between LeBron and LaVar Ball.