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Giannis Antetokounmpo: “I don’t like all these flashy cities like L.A. or Miami”

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is in the first year of his $100 million rookie contract extension and will not be a free agent until the summer of 2021 — he has this season and three seasons after this one under contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. At that point, the Bucks very likely will be able to offer him the designated veteran max, meaning Milwaukee can offer 35 percent of the salary cap, while other teams can only offer 30 percent. (He would have to qualify by making All-NBA teams or being an MVP, but that seems likely).

Still, with the way Antetokounmpo is exploding — he leads the league, scoring 31 points per game this season — teams are circling 2021 on their calendars. The goal will be to lure him out of Milwaukee to maybe a better team or a better lifestyle, the way it has been done with other stars in smaller markets.

Except, Antetokounmpo loves Milwaukee. He’s Tweeted about this before.

And look at what he told Marc Stein in a fantastic profile at the New York Times.

“I’m a low-profile guy,” he said. “I don’t like all these flashy cities like L.A. or Miami. I don’t know if I could be the same player if I played in those cities.”

The recent passing of his father, Charlie, who he had moved to Milwaukee and was very close with, only adds to this.

“I can feel the love from the city every day I step on the floor,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “For me, what I’m going through now, I appreciate it even more.”

No doubt Antetokounmpo loves Milwaukee now, but we have heard Kevin Durant express his love of Oklahoma City and how much he loved playing there. That is what fuels teams thinking ahead.

Four years is a couple of NBA lifetimes. Antetokounmpo likely will still love Milwaukee in four years, but how will he feel about the Bucks’ organization? Where will the team be in the NBA pecking order at that time? Maybe he has no interest in leaving, but maybe the frustration builds. It’s far too early to predict.

The cautionary tale is in New Orleans right now, where the Pelicans have one of the five best players in the NBA in Anthony Davis on their roster but have not been able to put enough around him to even make the playoffs (they were swept out of the first round in 2015, the only time Davis has seen the postseason). Davis has two seasons plus a player options season on his contract after this one, but already there are a lot of teams drooling at the idea of the Pelicans feeling they have to trade him next summer or in the year after that instead of letting him bolt as a free agent in 2020, even though New Orleans will them be able to offer him the designated veteran super-max contract, too. (If the 4-5 Pelicans continue to stumble enough to miss the playoffs in the West, expect a basketball operations house cleaning to bring in people who can keep Davis in New Orleans.)

For now, we should sit back and enjoy the must-see TV that is Antetokounmpo. But know teams are planning, and know Antetokounmpo doesn’t seem to care. Right now.

 

Lou Williams trolls Jimmy Butler for resting during All-Star Game

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Jimmy Butler was in Los Angeles and enjoying his well-earned All-Star slot on Team Stephen.

Well, except for the actual playing basketball part. Butler did not set foot on the court during the All-Star Game at his own request.

“Rest,” Butler said when asked why he didn’t play. “I have to rest. I have to rest my body up. This Timberwolves season is very, very important to me. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to roll when I get back there.”

Lou Williams, the Clippers’ guard who likely would have been near the front of the line for an open All-Star roster spot in the West (likely second in the queue behind Chris Paul), but instead took part in the Saturday Skills Competition then had Sunday off, trolled Butler for it on Twitter.

This seems more good natured than genuinely bitter.

Williams will roll with it, but his point’s a valid one — if you’re an All-Star, at least play a little and give the people what they want. Get out there for five minutes or whatever. LaMarcus Aldridge only played four minutes, no big deal.

If you’re not going to use the roster spot, give it up to someone who will.

Report: Raptors won’t sign Vince Carter if he gets bought out

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Of returning to the Raptors, Vince Carter said, “It’ll happen one day.” It sounds as if the Kings would buy him out if he wants.

Will he end the season with Toronto?

Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050:

After speaking with a few team sources, I can confirm that they’ve had internal dialogue and debate about the idea of bringing Vince Carter back. It’s something that they wanted to do over the summer. That’s why they made him an offer, something that I’ve reported in the past. And it’s also something that they’d be open to in the future, perhaps next year in some capacity. But they’ve decided now is not the right time. And I think the consensus seems to be there’s so much going on right now, and they want this season to be about this team, their accomplishments and their playoff push and not the sideshow that I think would come with a Vince Carter return.

The Raptors (41-16) are on pace for their best record ever. They’re excelling offensively and defensively. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are spearheading a more dynamic offense that spurs hope for more playoff success.

Toronto is probably correct to save the Carter reunion for another year – though it depends who else is available. That 15th roster spot could be useful. If Carter is the best player who’d sign, the Raptors should sign him and deal with the hoopla.

But it’s not clear whom they could get or whether they could even get Carter. He hasn’t sounded like someone who’d forgo guaranteed salary to play for the minimum.

Tiago Splitter announces retirement

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Tiago Splitter was so effective in his role for the Spurs during their playoff run to the 2014 title – 19.1 PER, .239 win shares per 48 minutes, +7.5 box plus-minus. It gets forgotten, because he twice lost his starting job that postseason.

Limited by a late start in the NBA and injuries, Splitter’s prime was short and ill-timed. He was a traditional center just as those were going out of style.

But for moments in the right matchups, he provided a major boost to a championship team. That was the peak of a seven-year NBA career.

HoopsHype:

Tiago Splitter announced his retirement at the age of 33 in an interview with SporTV.

Splitter just couldn’t get healthy. He missed 150 games over the last three years with the Spurs, Hawks and 76ers.

Drafted No. 28 in 2007, Splitter remained overseas for a few years and built hype and intrigue. He signed with San Antonio and started alongside Tim Duncan for a couple years. The Spurs later dumped him on Atlanta to clear space for LaMarcus Aldridge – a sign of Splitter’s success. He earned about $47 million in his NBA career.

J.J. Redick apologizes for saying what sounded like a slur for Chinese people

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76ers guard J.J. Redick explained saying what sounded like a slur for Chinese people – he was tongue-tied. But he didn’t actually apologize, and that bothered many.

Now, he’s getting that part right.

Redick:

Maybe Redick really did just stumble over his words. Based on the inflection, it certainly sounds possible.

Maybe he thought he was being funny then got caught.

He’d respond now the same way now either way. Maybe it’s just unfortunate he’s caught up in this. Maybe he’s using plausible deniability to get away with something.

I don’t know, but it’s good he apologized. People can apologize for accidents, and it usually helps make everyone feel better and move on.