Dan Feldman

Report: Kevin Durant’s stone-faced reaction to Peyton Manning’s joke was part of act

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Peyton Manning, while hosting the ESPYS, joked that the U.S. women’s gymnastics team was so dominant, Kevin Durant wanted to join.

The Warriors star appeared displeased – because he’s a good actor.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Was Russell Westbrook also in on the joke?

Report: Pelicans, Rajon Rondo working toward one-year contract

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New Orleans achieved its biggest offseason priority – overpaying Jrue Holiday rather than losing him.

But after escaping that corner, the Pelicans are backed into another. They’re capped out and need to fill out their rotation.

Enter Rajon Rondo?

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Rondo and Holiday playing together? I don’t know about that, though New Orleans’ unappealing shooting guards make it more palatable.

The Pelicans could use a backup point guard.

Quinn Cook has barely played in the NBA. No. 31 pick Frank Jackson is just a rookie and coming off injury. E'Twaun Moore and Jordan Crawford are combo guards, and Crawford might not make the team.

Rondo would be an upgrade.

New Orleans should somewhat stagger Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, as both are best at center. For all his incredible abilities, Davis’ weak spot is creating his own shot. Rondo, who has declined in so many facets, remains a quality distributor. He could play well with Davis. (Davis and Cousins have emerging outside games, but spacing with both and Rondo could get creaky.)

The Pelicans have the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available. But using both – especially considering they could also re-sign Dante Cunningham with Bird Rights – could put them into the luxury tax. Signing Rondo would also limit their ability to add a wing, another position where they need help.

It’s probably impossible for New Orleans to address all its shortcomings, but at least Rondo might plug one hole.

Report: Spurs, Jonathon Simmons break off contract discussions

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Why would the Spurs renounce Jonathon Simmons (or even rescind his qualifying offer) while still trying to re-sign him, as reported?

Maybe because they’re not actually trying to re-sign him.

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

This makes more sense.

If they didn’t renounce Simmons, the Spurs could have offered him a starting salary of about $7.9 million. If they didn’t pull his qualifying offer, they also could have matched any offer sheet, which could have included a starting salary up to $8,406,000.

With Simmons renounced, San Antonio can likely offer him just the $3,290,000 bi-annual exception.

The Spurs will likely remain above the cap regardless. So renouncing Simmons and removing mechanisms to re-sign him likely means only one thing: San Antonio is moving on from Simmons.

Plenty of teams could use the athletic wing, but cap space has dried up around the league. He’ll a home, but maybe for not as much money as he could have commanded as an unrestricted free agent earlier in the process.

LaVar Ball says he’s fine with Lonzo Ball wearing Nike

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Lonzo Ball – pun intended – balled out in the Lakers’ summer-league win over the 76ers last night.

He noticeably did so in front of Nike endorser LeBron James while wearing Kobe Bryant Nikes, not Big Baller Brand shoes.

LaVar Ball and Lonzo Ball, via Darren Rovell of ESPN:

“Lonzo is not forced to wear any brand and can play in any shoe he wants as long as it’s OK with the NBA,” LaVar Ball told ESPN by text early Thursday morning. “This is what being independent is all about.”

There are “no negotiations with Nike” at this time, LaVar Ball said.

“At BBB, you can play in what you want,” Lonzo Ball said on SportsCenter after the game. “I already played in both of my shoes, might as well get the ‘Mamba Mentality’ going. Put ’em on, and it worked out tonight.”

“At BBB, you can play in what you want.”

How convenient.

Report: Spurs allow Jonathon Simmons to become unrestricted free agent

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The Spurs held tremendous leverage over Jonathon Simmons.

He was an Arenas Rule-limited restricted free agent, meaning his starting salary in an offer sheet couldn’t exceed $8,406,000 (though the third and fourth years could be balloon payments up to the max). His qualifying offer was a miniscule $1,671,382, and even if he accepted it, he’d be restricted again next summer (though without Arenas limitations).

Yet, San Antonio reportedly prepared an offer of $9 million annually. Somehow, negotiations have gone awry.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This suggests the Spurs didn’t actually renounce Simmons, but just rescinded his qualifying offer. That’d make him an unrestricted free agent whose Early Bird Rights are still held by San Antonio.

The Spurs have operated as an over-the-cap team and will likely continue to do so. They could carve out $7,693,651 in space, which would also grant the $4,328,000 room exception. But they’d still need to re-sign Manu Ginobili and Pau Gasol with cap room, the room exception and/or minimum contracts. As an over-the-cap team maintaining Ginobili’s Bird Rights and Gasol’s Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), San Antonio could pay Ginobili up to the max and Gasol up to $18.6 million starting.

In other words, this was probably just a favor to Simmons. It’s hard to see an advantage the Spurs gained by rescinding his qualifying offer.

I’m not even sure why they granted this favor if they still want to sign him themselves. Today is the last day teams can unilaterally withdraw a qualifying offer, but if they’re just trying to help Simmons, it’s not a real deadline. They could always pull the qualifying offer with his consent later.

I strongly doubt San Antonio feared Simmons accepting the qualifying offer – the usual reason for withdrawing it. Simmons returning on a $1,671,382 salary? That’d be great for the Spurs.

Simmons turns 28 before the season, so this could be his only chance at a big payday. He reached the NBA only after paying to participate in an open D-League tryout.

He’s an athletic wing in a league that can’t get enough of them. His defensive awareness is improving, and he can finish above the rim.

I get why the Spurs want to re-sign him. I don’t understand why they pulled his qualifying offer.