Author: Dan Feldman

Andre Drummond, Kawhi Leonard

SVG defends accusation on Andre Drummond extension: What about Kawhi Leonard?


AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – An anonymous NBA executive accused the Pistons and Andre Drummond of circumventing league rules by forgoing a contract extension, a move that could give Detroit an extra $13 million in cap space next summer while still giving Drummond a max contract.

“I don’t remember reading any of those things about Kawhi Leonard last year coming off being the NBA Finals MVP, and they didn’t extend him,” Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy said. “…Washington’s doing it with Beal. Look, it’s more common not to do them then do them. So, I don’t know why the criticism.”

Van Gundy is right. The Spurs clearly did this with Leonard, and the Wizards are gaining a similar advantage with Bradley Beal.

The key question: Did the Pistons promise to give Drummond a max deal next summer? That would seemingly violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Van Gundy said the league asked about negotiations to ensure everything was on the up and up.

“You can’t have a deal into the future,” Van Gundy said. “So, that’s why what we said was exactly what happened. With Andre’s consent, the decision was made to delay negotiations until next summer.  Look, I don’t think it’s that surprising.”

Bottom line: We don’t know what the Spurs promised Leonard or the Pistons promised Drummond. It seems a little silly to give teams such incentive and ability to break a rule, but I’m not sure there’s a way to handle this.

A simple solution would be to have a player’s cap number in the offseason prior to the first season of a contract extension count as what his cap hold would’ve been without an extension. The players would love that, because it would free teams to spend more. But for the same reason, owners would be reluctant.

As is, we have little choice but to trust teams and players without evidence to the contrary. It’s perfectly reasonable that Drummond – without an explicit promise – trusts the Pistons to pay him next summer and wants better teammates.

It’d also be reasonable that he wanted a promise from management before forgoing $120 million guaranteed.

There are plenty of cases that look fishy. This is only one. If you want to question the Pistons and Drummond, question the rest, too.

According to Van Gundy, the NBA already did – and presumably walked away satisfied.

Nets getting their own D-League affiliate


The Nets have looked like a D-League team this season.

Soon, they’ll have an actual D-League team to make them look better by comparison.

Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:

After spending two years without an affiliate, the Nets will resume control of one next season, sources said. An official announcement will come Friday.

Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark let the cat out of the bag Thursday morning at the groundbreaking of the renovation of Nassau Coliseum, saying there would be a “major announcement” about professional basketball coming to the Coliseum in the future.

That would be a new D-League affiliate for the Nets, which will begin play next season at Barclays Center before transitioning to its new home at the renovated Coliseum beginning with the 2017-18 season.

With the Bulls, Hornets and maybe Hawks, this will leave just seven or eight NBA teams without a D-League affiliate. Eventually, that list will shrink to zero. We’re clearly headed to each team having its own affiliate.

The Nets’ location choice is interesting. Perhaps, their trying to carve into the Knicks’ fan base on Long Island.

Dario Saric insists he’ll sign with 76ers next summer

Dario Saric

Dario Saric signed a contract before the 2014 NBA draft that would seemingly keep him in Europe at least two more seasons.

Since, Saric – the No. 12 pick in 2014 whose rights are held by the 76ers – has been linked to jumping stateside two years ago and last year. Obviously, neither happened.

Saric has always said he’d most likely join the NBA in 2016, but this is the most definitive he has been.

Saric, via Vecernji list:

I am in constant contact with the Sixers, they wanted me as soon as possible, but I have a contract with Efes.

But in the summer I will still go because I have a way out in the contract.

I still have doubts for one major reason: If Saric waits another year, he’ll no longer be tied to the restrictive rookie scale. He’d be free to negotiate any contract in 2017.

Next summer, his only option will be a four-year $10,749,666 deal with $4,740,840 guaranteed, two team options and the likely fate of restricted free agency if he completes the contract. If he accepts those terms, it’d be great for the 76ers, not so great for Saric.

Philadelphia should be encouraged Saric is speaking so emphatically about signing next summer, but he also talked – though not nearly as resolutely – about signing the last two years. I need to see more proof before becoming totally convinced he’ll be a 76er next season.

Report: Nuggets signing Kostas Papanikolaou, waiving Erick Green

Blake Griffin, Kostas Papanikolaou
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The Nuggets didn’t want to pay Kostas Papanikolaou $4,797,664 this season.

But getting him for a lesser amount?


Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Erick Green, who has played just seven minutes this season, will get his $100,000 guarantee. My guess is he clears waivers. He’s a score-first point guard who doesn’t score well enough to justify his lack of distributing skills.

Papanikolaou is a more intriguing player – a versatile forward who must shoot better than he did as a Rockets rookie last season. It’s no lock he’ll become a viable NBA rotation player, but Denver clearly valued him as more than just a throw-in in the Ty Lawson trade. After the Nuggets waived him, Papanikolaou could’ve signed anywhere, but he clearly liked something about Denver’s offer.

This is a minor move, but a swap in the right direction for the Nuggets.

Kevin Durant calls Russell Westbrook Thunder’s best player

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook

A few months ago, Kevin Durant was calling himself the world’s best player.

Now – after averaging 29.2 points on 49.5% shooting with 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, mind you – he says he’s not even the Thunder’s best player.

He gives that title to Russell Westbrook.

Durant, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

We let our best player, Russell, we let him control the game.

This might just be a humble Durant complimenting a teammate he likes

But Durant deferring too much to Westbrook has been a problem over the years.

Durant is Oklahoma City’s best player, and he must recognize it for the Thunder to maximize their potential. He can’t just stand off to the side, waiting for Westbrook to pass to him. Westbrook – energetic, confident and the lead ball-handler – will get his own shots whether or not Durant tries to take over. Durant doesn’t have the same luxury. He needs to assert himself.

Players don’t always say what they mean, and if this is just Durant being nice, OK. But there’s too much evidence to brush this statement off as something that has no effect on the court.