Dan Feldman

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Klay Thompson delivers impressive first pitch (video)

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Warriors guard Klay Thompson threw out the first pitch at tonight’s San Francisco Giants-Oakland Athletics game.

Alex Pavlovic‏ of NBC Sports Bay Area:

This is where I remind you Klay Thompson’s brother, Trayce Thompson, is a professional baseball player.

NBA owner: Expansion fee ‘starting point’ should be $2 billion

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Adam Silver called expansion “inevitable

The NBA commissioner didn’t give a timetable, but current owners are already thinking about the potential windfall.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

A third NBA owner said the $2 billion price for the Clippers should be “the starting point” for any expansion team’s entrance fee, whether in Seattle or the handful of other cities considered potential candidates for expansion — Las Vegas, Mexico City, Louisville, Kansas City or even Vancouver, which lost the Grizzlies to Memphis in 2001.

“It may sound like a crazy high number now, but so did the Dodgers (who sold for $2 billion in 2012), Clippers and other team sales prices,” the third owner said. “If you can revitalize part of a city or create a world-class arena that draws a new level of cultural events or anchors downtown, then the economics for the real estate dwarf what happens with the team. For someone who has the wealth and wants to leave his or her imprint on a city and state, an NBA team makes perfect sense.”

Does the owner mean the NBA’s opening asking price in a negotiation? Or does he mean the opening, minimum-acceptable bid?

The latter might be a bit optimistic.

The $2 billion Steve Ballmer paid for the Clippers was seen as an overpay by a wealthy buyer who really wanted to own an NBA team. Though the record price doesn’t look ridiculous now, it still might be closer to a high-water mark than the new normal.

Forbes has valued just six franchises at $2 billion or more: Knicks, Lakers, Warriors, Bulls, Celtics, Clippers. But New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston aren’t Seattle, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Louisville, Kansas City or Vancouver. The available markets appear far less lucrative than Los Angeles, where Ballmer’s Clippers play (even if they’re second-fiddle to the Lakers).

The Rockets are for sale, and that should provide another reference point. But Houston is also a fairly large market, not necessarily similar enough to the places an expansion team would land.

It’s fine for current owners to seek $2 billion, but that amount might not be coming.

Daryl Morey: Chris Paul, on expiring contract, ‘hopes to continue with Houston’

AP Photo/Eric Gay
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Chris Paul said joining the Rockets was about winning in the present.

But with Paul on an expiring contract, his future in Houston is a major question.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, via Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

“We’ve had high-level discussions [with Paul about his future],” Morey told The Crossover, noting that Harden’s recent $228 million extension provides a “signaling aspect” to other stars that Houston caters to its marquee players. “[Paul] hopes to continue with Houston. He likes the team, the organization and the city. In terms of him actually signing long-term, that’s something that won’t be decided until next year.”

Paul opted into a $24,599,495 salary – well below the $34,682,550 max he could’ve received in free agency – to facilitate his trade from the Clippers to the Rockets.

Of course, he hopes to continue with Houston – on a lucrative long-term deal. I’d be shocked if and Morey didn’t discuss parameters before the trade.

But there’s a season to play out first, so both sides are taking a risk.

As Morey said, James Harden‘s historic contract extension shows the Rockets take care of their stars. Morey furthered that image by continuing his campaign for Harden to win 2015 and 2017 MVPs. But Leslie Alexander is selling the team, creating tremendous uncertainty about its commitment to spending under new ownership.

From the other side, Paul will evaluate how he plays with Harden. It’s a tricky fit for two players so used to dominating the ball.

Everyone surely hopes it goes well – Paul stays healthy, meshes seamless with Harden, and Houston wins a lot. At that point, re-signing Paul to a big contract would be a no-brainer for both sides.

But if it doesn’t go well, Paul or Houston has an out after this season.

It’s good that they’ve already talked about the future, but this is a high-stakes unknown.

Isaiah Thomas has sweet Brinks-truck sandals (photo)

Greg Fiume/Getty Images
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Last year, with his free agency still two summers away, Isaiah Thomas issued his demand: Back up the Brinks truck. This year, the Celtics guard used the same two magic words in preparation for 2018 free agency: Brinks truck.

It appears Thomas has really taken to the phrase.

Via CSN New England:

These are awesome. Look closely, and the side of the truck, in the typical Brinks font, says “Isaiah.”

Thomas has been underpaid his entire career. The last pick in the 2011 draft, he earned the minimum his first few years. Then, he signed a moderate-paying long-term contract before the salary cap skyrocketed and he broke out into stardom.

There’s room to debate invested heavily in a 5-foot-9 guard who will be 29 when he signs his next contract. But I’m rooting for Thomas to get paid – and wondering where I can get a pair of these sandals.

Hornets rookie Malik Monk says he’d beat Michael Jordan one-on-one

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A couple years ago, a 52-year-old Michael Jordan said he could beat some current Hornets one-on-one. Then-rookie Frank Kaminsky even agreed.

What about a 54-year-old Jordan?

Charlotte’s latest first-rounder, Malik Monk, is more confident about his chances against the Hornets owner.

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

Monk showed his cocky side Saturday, repeating that he’d beat Hornets owner Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one. Jordan might have been the greatest player of his generation – maybe ever – but, as Monk noted, he is 54.

“He’s pretty old right now,” Monk said of Jordan. “I think I can get him.”

I’ve long been intrigued about how long a star could last in the NBA if he were willing to accept any role as his production declined. Vince Carter is providing some answers.

Jordan is obviously nowhere near his Bulls peak – or even his level with the Wizards. But Jordan was solid in Washington. He could be well worse than that and still better than some current NBA players.

I don’t think it’s impossible that Jordan could beat some current players one-on-one, given not everyone’s skill set caters to that format. Jordan’s obviously does. But so does Monk’s. His specialty is individual scoring.

If Monk can’t beat Jordan one-on-one, that’s a problem for everyone involved.