Dan Feldman

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Report: Jrue Holiday to give Pelicans’ first crack at signing him before exploring market

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Jrue Holiday has the Pelicans over a barrel.

General manager Dell Demps appears to be on the hot seat, and DeMarcus Cousins is entering the final year of his contract. Keeping Holiday, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, is New Orleans’ best clear chance of winning enough around Anthony Davis for Demps to keep his job – and re-sign Cousins to extend his tenure as general manager further. If the Pelicans lose Holiday, they’d have only about $12 million for a replacement starting point guard unless they dismantled their roster elsewhere.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday will meet with Pelicans officials at the 12:01 a.m. ET start of free agency on Saturday, league sources told The Vertical.

If Holiday, one of the market’s top unrestricted guards and the Pelicans’ primary summer priority, is unable to reach an agreement on a deal to remain with New Orleans, he intends to take meetings elsewhere in the first 48 hours of free agency, league sources said.

This sounds like a thinly veiled threat: Make a huge offer, or Holiday might walk.

What is that huge offer? The max, which projects to be worth nearly $144 million over five years?

Younger than other starting-caliber free agent point guards, the 27-year-old Holiday should draw plenty of lucrative offers. With his injury history, money might be an especially big factor.

I don’t know what’s scarier for the Pelicans – locking up Holiday to a max or near-max contract in the opening minutes of free agency or risking losing him. But this is the hole they’ve dug themselves into.

NBA gets high grades again for race, gender hiring

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A diversity report shows the NBA “significantly ahead” again in professional sports in racial and gender hiring practices.

The league received an A for racial hiring and a B for gender hiring practices for the 2016-17 season. The NBA drew an overall grade of A-minus, continuing its run of A grades since the start of the 2000s.

The report card was released Thursday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. The report was written by Richard Lapchick.

The NBA sets the pace, with people of color making up 30 percent of the head coaches and 45 percent of the assistants. The NBA is also the first major sports league to have three owners of color.

Report cards are also issued for the NFL, MLB, WNBA, MLS and college sports.

“They have been significantly ahead of the other leagues from the time we started it in the 1980s,” said Lapchick, the chair of University of Central Florida’s sports business management program. “Other leagues have closed the gap and improved a little bit but the NBA has continued to improve as well to stay the industry leader.”

The league, however, did receive an F for race representation this season at the levels of team president/CEO and general manager. There are just four people of color at the top tier of team management and three general managers of color.

The NBA also received a D for gender hiring for team vice presidents, with women making up 24 percent of the workforce in that area. Although women in team senior administrative positions jumped from 24 percent in 2015-16 to 29 percent this past season, the league earned a C-minus for gender hiring at the team level.

“There are obviously areas in there that need improvement,” Lapchick said. “This is the second year in a row that we’ve talked to about the lack of women in senior leadership positions at the team level.”

Still, the NBA receives overall high marks for hiring practices at the team and league offices. In the NBA league office, 35 percent of the professional staff positions were held by people of color at the beginning of this season, with women at nearly 39 percent.

Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum is the highest ranking African-American of any of the professional American sports leagues.

Lapchick attributes the NBA’s strong marks to its past two commissioners – David Stern and Adam Silver. Months after he became commissioner in 2014, Silver led the way in ousting Los Angeles Clippers Donald Sterling after it was discovered he made racist remarks.

“That kind of out-front posturing is important,” Lapchick said. “It sends a signal to the teams and obviously to the league office that diversity and inclusiveness is very important. I think all commissioners feel that way but I think the NBA has made its stamp even more powerful.”

 

Report: Pacers seeking 2018 Nets and Lakers picks, starter from Celtics in Paul George trade

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
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The Celtics reportedly plan to sign Gordon Hayward and trade for Paul George.

They’ll have their crack at Hayward, but they don’t sound particularly close to getting George from the Pacers.

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:

That offer – which presumably includes Jae Crowder or Avery Bradley as the starter – is an outrageous asking price for a player on an expiring contract who has professed a desire to join the Lakers.

But it’s just an asking price. Indiana surely knows it won’t get that much. It’s all part of the negotiation (as is Boston seemingly leaking the offer).

There’s still time for both sides to find common ground.

Jimmy Butler’s phone-number reveal was either a stunt, or he has an insane voicemail message

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At his introductory press conference with the Timberwolves today, Jimmy Butler revealed his cell phone number – 773-899-6071 – and told his critics to call him directly.

I tried and got an error message, but Joon Lee of Bleacher Report got through:

Butler’s voicemail message:

Jimmy Butler. Sorry I couldn’t get to the phone, but leave your name and number, and I’ll hit you back. If you’ve got any beef, definitely leave a message.

Butler has to be a little crazy to make the journey he has, but, “If you’ve got any beef, definitely leave a message”? That almost had to be orchestrated as part of his press conference answer.

Jimmy Butler gives out cell phone number at Timberwolves introductory press conference (video)

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Sometimes, Jimmy Butler is a superstar.

Sometimes, he’s still just a kid from Tomball, Texas, who believes he can just give out his phone number to anyone who cares.

I don’t know whether 773-899-6071 is Butler’s actual number, but if it is, it’s hard to believe it will remain his actual number.