The Thunder reportedly aren’t looking to trade Russell Westbrook right now.
One speculated suitor — the Lakers — doesn’t seem interested, anyway.
Chris Broussard of ESPN on MSG:
The Lakers think they can sign him. And I was talking to some executives yesterday about possible trades they might do or offer. And I was told they think they can sign him as a free agent, so why should they give up anything?
The Lakers also thought they’d sign Dwight Howard in 2013, Carmelo Anthony in 2014, Kevin Durant in 2016…
But the larger point remains: The Lakers shouldn’t break up their talented young core — D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandan Ingram and Julius Randle — in a trade for Westbrook.
If he wants to play for the Lakers in 2017-18, Westbrook will get to Los Angeles. If he doesn’t, he’ll sign elsewhere.
Keeping the team’s most valuable players will only make the Lakers look more appealing to Westbrook next summer. I suspect that outweighs Westbrook’s incumbent team’s ability to offer higher raises and a fifth season on a new contract.
Spending the upcoming season with the Lakers, who look ill-equipped to win now, might even turn Westbrook off to the Lakers.
It’d be devastating to trade valuable assets for Westbrook then lose him a year later. Better just to wait to add him as a free agent — even if the Lakers are probably overblowing their odds of signing him.
The Clippers, due to salary-cap restraints, had a simple realistic mission this offseason: Retain as much of their talent as possible.
It went so-so.
They re-signed Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson and Luc Mbah a Moute and lost Jeff Green (to the Magic) and Cole Aldrich (to the Timberwolves).
At least it seems the Clippers will keep Paul Pierce, who was considering retirement.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
With the retirements of Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant, Pierce is tied with Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter for second-most seasons played (18) among active players. Kevin Garnett ranks first (21).
Just don’t expect much from Pierce, who turns 39 before the season. Moving to power forward injected late life into his career, but he couldn’t hold off the effects of aging last season. That’s unlikely to improve a year later.
Perhaps, he can help the Clippers situationally. They’re thin behind Blake Griffin, as Marreese Speights makes a better impact at center. Johnson and Mbah a Moute are treading water at small forward, so even if that’s not Pierce’s best position, he still might play there.
But even limited contributions might be asking too much from Pierce at this stage.
The Raptors are taking a flier on a talented power forward who struggles with conditioning.
This should go more smoothly than Anthony Bennett, the former No. 1 pick whom Toronto signed and waived last season, because Jared Sullinger is a far better player.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun:
The Celtics pulled Sullinger’s qualifying offer to sign Al Horford, making Sullinger an unrestricted free agent. Sullinger appeared to fall out of favor in Boston due to his injuries, weight and tardiness.
Still, the Celtics upgraded. The Raptors need help at power forward after up-and-down play from Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson last season. Boston’s castoff can be Toronto’s gain.
Sullinger is a good outside shooter, though his range doesn’t extend to the 3-point arc. Yet, he still crashes the offensive glass hard, and he defensively rebounds well, too. He’s a plus passer for his position, and he was more committed defensively last season than years prior.
At 24, he has shown enough talent to suggest a brighter future. Maybe Toronto provides the right fit, though the lack of mobility between him and Jonas Valanciunas would be troubling if they’re paired.
Sullinger is surely looking for a bounce-back season then to hit free agency again next summer. If he helps the Raptors become strong challengers in the East between now and then, they’ll happily figure out the rest later.
Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric — the 76ers have quite a recent history of first-round picks not playing in the NBA the season after being drafted.
That trend was largely ascribed to former general manager Sam Hinkie, but it’s continuing under Bryan Colangelo.
No. 26 pick Furkan Korkmaz will stay with Anadolu Efes next season, according to EuroBasket.
Kormaz was still great value at 26. He’s young, athletic and skilled offensively. He needs to get tough and stronger, but that should come with time — and that maturation can happen overseas.
He’s not ready to make a significant difference in the 76ers’ outcomes this season, anyway.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andrew Bogut has been included in Australia’s Olympic squad despite concerns over his fitness.
Australia coach Andrej Lemanis announced his 12-man roster on Monday, saying he’d give Bogut until the eve of the games in Rio de Janeiro next month to recover from the bone bruising around his left knee sustained during Golden State’s seven-game loss to Cleveland in the NBA finals. The 31-year-old Bogut, who has been traded to Dallas, has been working with the Boomers squad in Melbourne and has until Aug. 5 to show he is fit enough to play in his third Olympic basketball tournament.
Matthew Dellavedova, a guard who helped Cleveland to the NBA championship, and 2014 NBA champion Patty Mills are also in the Australian squad.
“We are going to Rio to win a medal,” Mills said. “We all understand it is going to be a very hard task but the belief in each other that we can get it done is very exciting. This is certainly one of the strongest teams I’ve been a part of.”
The Australians will play warmup matches against the Pac-12 College All-Stars in Melbourne on Tuesday and Thursday and will have further warmup matches in America before arriving in Brazil. The Australians play France on Aug. 6 and Serbia on Aug. 8 before facing the U.S. on Aug. 10 and China on Aug. 12.
Australia squad: David Andersen, Cameron Bairstow, Aron Baynes, Andrew Bogut, Ryan Broekhoff, Matthew Dellavedova, Chris Goulding, Joe Ingles, Kevin Lisch, Damian Martin, Patrick Mills, Brock Motum.