Dan Feldman

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

LeBron James chastises Isaiah Thomas jersey burners

16 Comments

After the Celtics traded – traded! – Isaiah Thomas to the Cavaliers, a couple people burned Thomas jerseys:

I’m unconvinced these are Boston fans showing sincere resentment toward Thomas, who played his heart out for the Celtics, including in the playoffs following his sister’s death. Burning someone’s jersey, especially in such a ridiculous fashion, is a quick path to fleeting fame.

But LeBron James still deemed it necessary to stick up for his new teammate (and Gordon Hayward, who left the Jazz for the Celtics amid very scrutiny from Utah fans).

LeBron:

LeBron’s general point about the hypocrisy of how players are treated is spot on, though I’d argue burning someone’s jersey is a relatively harmless way to show dissatisfaction when he leaves your favorite team. LeBron seems to be working as a players union vice president more than anything here.

You could also argue LeBron – whose jerseys were burned when he left Cleveland in 2010 and Miami in 2014 – is also trying to change the narrative ahead of leaving the Cavs again next summer. But not even I am that cynical.

Tracy McGrady having Isiah Thomas present him at Hall of Fame induction

Craig Jones /Allsport
5 Comments

In 1997, Isiah Thomas – an all-time great player who was then running the Raptors – drafted Tracy McGrady straight out of high school with the No. 9 pick and said, “He does the things that we all wish we could do.”

Twenty years later, Thomas will present McGrady at the latter’s Hall of Fame enshrinement.

One of the coolest things the Basketball Hall of Fame does is have inductees select a current member to introduce them. It’s always fascinating to see which greats share a connection.

McGrady and Thomas didn’t spend long together in Toronto. But after Thomas resigned in November of McGrady’s rookie year, McGrady called Thomas a “father figure.” Given Thomas’ willingness to mentor younger players, their relationship likely didn’t end there.

Here’s the full list of 2017 presenters, via a Basketball Hall of Fame release:

Zack Clayton, presented by Earl Monroe (β€˜90)

 

Nick Galis, presented by Bob McAdoo (β€˜00)

 

Robert Hughes, presented by Sheryl Swoopes (β€˜16)

 

Mannie Jackson, presented by Jerry Colangelo (β€˜04), Lynette Woodard (β€˜04), Russ Granik (β€˜13)

 

Tom Jernstedt, present by John Havlicek (β€˜84), Ann Meyers (β€˜93), Geno Auriemma (β€˜06)

 

Jerry Krause, presented by Jerry Reinsdorf (β€˜16)

 

Rebecca Lobo, presented by Geno Auriemma (β€˜06)

 

George McGinnis, presented Artis Gilmore (β€˜11), Reggie Miller (β€˜12), Bobby Leonard (β€˜14), Spencer Haywood (β€˜15)

 

Muffet McGraw, presented by Ann Meyers (β€˜93)

 

Tracy McGrady, presented by Isiah Thomas (β€˜00)

 

Bill Self, presented by Larry Brown (β€˜02)

Wizards face financial check on their commitment, don’t blink

AP Photo/Nick Wass
6 Comments

NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A β€˜C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

There’s a simple plan for getting good in the NBA:

1. Be bad

2. Spend

The Wizards executed step two this summer.

More quietly and less deliberately, Washington achieved the result Sam Hinkie’s Process aimed for. Between 2009 and 2013, the Wizards lost their way into picks Nos. 5, 1, 6, 3 and 3.

They didn’t always get it right. They traded the No. 5 pick in 2009 for Mike Miller and Randy Foye, who each spent one forgettable season in Washington before departing. They drafted Jan Vesely No. 6 in 2011.

But those failures only ensured Washington would get more bites at the apple with high draft picks. The Wizards emerged from their downturn with John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter.

That trio led Washington to its best season best season (49-33, reaching Game 7 of the second round) in nearly four decades. Now, the Wizards are covering the costs of continuing the run.

After signing Beal to a max contract last summer, Washington matched a max offer sheet for Porter (from the Nets) and inked Wall to a super-max extension this summer. Those three are guaranteed a whopping $418,157,188. The Wizards are on track to pay the luxury tax for the first time in franchise history.

And the spending didn’t end at just their top players.

Washington also traded the No. 52 pick for Tim Frazier, who’s cheap for a backup point guard at $2 million but costlier than the second-round pick would have been. Though we’ve said it about others before, Frazier could shore up those minutes behind Wall.

The Wizards spent a portion of the mid-level exception to give Jodie Meeks a two-year, $6,744,500 contract with a player option. I didn’t love that deal nearly as much. The 30-year-old Meeks has missed 147 games the last three years. But, if healthy, the sharpshooter should help.

More importantly, signing Meeks rather than a minimum player signals Wizards owner Ted Leonsis’ commitment to winning.

The spending hit its limit when Washington restricted free agent Bojan Bogdanovic got $12 million guaranteed in a two-year, $21 million deal with the Pacers. Still, the Wizards are headed toward a payroll unprecedented for them.

They aren’t guaranteed to pay the luxury tax, which is assessed the last day of the regular season. They could try some funny business to dodge the tax, like dumping Jason Smith and not carrying a full roster throughout the season. Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon Mac are guaranteed just $50,000.

But Washington’s most direct path under the tax line is trading Marcin Gortat or Ian Mahinmi. The well-paid centers are redundant, to the point Gortat indicated an expectation he’d be traded. Smith can easily serve as the full-time backup center, and Markieff Morris can also play the position. Porter slides to power forward in some of the team’s most effective lineups.

Gortat and Mahinmi probably hold negative trade value, though. The 33-year-old Gortat has declined the last few years and is still owed $26,347,827 over the final two years of his contract. Mahinmi, 30, missed 51 games last season. His injury risk is considerable for someone with three years and $48,055,846 left on his deal.

If the Wizards knew which center they could rely on, they might bear the significant cost of unloading the other. But they can’t know. Gortat and Mahinmi are insurance for each other.

The worst thing Washington could do is trade the wrong one and wind up with no effective centers when it matters most – which is a far more favorable dilemma than what the Wizards could’ve faced. They could’ve used being strapped with Gortat and Mahinmi as reason for letting Porter – a young player who’s awesome in his role – walk.

Instead, they head toward the season with all three – stronger on the court because of it.

Washington has changed how the franchise is discussed, winning three playoff series in the last four years and going .500 the other season. Wall (26), Beal (24) and Porter (24) are young enough to keep advancing the conversation.

The Wizards dipped their toes into the Paul George waters this summer. Though they didn’t get him, they emerged unscathed and looking a little more credible for stars.

Washington probably won’t have cap room any time soon, but flexibility is inherent in winning, which lifts players’ values. A lengthened run – fortified by this summer’s spending – could also pay off years from now.

The roster didn’t change much, but keeping that chemistry proved costly. Credit Leonsis for committing.

Offseason grade: B-

Report: Knicks-Rockets Carmelo Anthony trade talks ‘fairly dormant’

8 Comments

The Knicks and Rockets re-engaged on Carmelo Anthony trade talks a couple weeks ago.

The teams apparently haven’t made much more progress than their last attempt.

Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN (hat tip: reddit user AminElHassavag)

Carmelo Anthony right now, those talks have been fairly dormant between Houston and New York. They’ve tried to find third, fourth teams – the Rockets have – to help facilitate a deal with Carmelo Anthony. They haven’t been able to do that. And both sides are prepared for the fact that Melo may have to go to camp with the Knicks.

There’s just no easy way around the problem that, no matter how many other teams Houston and New York try to rope in, someone must be left holding Ryan Anderson or Meyers Leonard or some other undesirable contract at the end of the day.

So, what now?

Anthony reportedly told the Knicks he didn’t want to return. They sound as if keeping him is inconsequential to their stated priorities of youth and player development.

At some point, Anthony might have to declare whether he’ll waive his no-trade clause for a team other than his preferred Rockets. Staying in New York wouldn’t necessarily be so bad for him. But if the Knicks can expand the market, they might find a workable deal to send him elsewhere.

Did Bucks offer Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and first-round pick for Kyrie Irving?

AP Photo/Aaron Gash
2 Comments

The Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder for Kyrie Irving. That seemed like a huge overpay in a vacuum – and maybe even worse in context.

The Timberwolves said they wouldn’t trade Andrew Wiggins. The Suns reportedly told Devin Booker and Josh Jackson they wouldn’t be dealt for Irving. The Knicks reportedly weren’t interested in swapping Kristaps Porzingis for Irving. The Nuggets were rumored to be unwilling to include Jamal Murray and Gary Harris in an Irving trade.

What was the Cavaliers’ next-best offer?

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press:

Whether a team offered a trade or just discussed it can get lost in the fog of negotiations.

But dealing Irving for Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and a first-round pick would’ve made some sense for both sides.

Irving is a premier young talent. In Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo would’ve mitigated Irving’s limited distributing skills while Irving would’ve added helpful ball-handling and isolation ability.

Middleton is the type of 3-and-D wing the Cavs must load up on to challenge the Warriors. Brogdon could’ve stepped in as a low-usage, spot-up point guard next to LeBron James. And an extra first-round pick is ammo Cleveland needed.

But the Cavaliers took a better offer from Boston, leaving a trail of conflicting reports.

During the process, the Cavs might have wanted the Suns to believe there was another viable offer on the table to prompt one from Phoenix. Whether or not that Bucks offer was ever actually made, that could explain why someone primarily covering the Suns leaked it.

That puts Milwaukee in damage-control mode, wanting Middleton and Brogdon to feel stable and valued. Again, that applies whether or not the players were actually offered for Irving.

Whether or not this offer was ever actually made, Cleveland accepted a better one from Boston.