Dan Feldman

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Report: Aron Baynes declines player option on Pistons contract

1 Comment

Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy has talked all year about an expectation Aron Baynes would opt out. Baynes reportedly decided months ago to opt out.

But with so many traditional centers receiving lesser roles in the playoffs, the number of teams already stocked with centers and a long wait into the offseason until Baynes announced his plan, doubt had crept in.

No more wondering on Baynes’ $6.5 million player option.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Pistons will likely let Baynes walk.

They’ll be right around the luxury-tax line after retaining Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Baynes is a luxury they can’t afford.

Their replacement to back up Andre Drummond is already on the roster: Boban Marjanovic, whom they signed last summer when they had cap space as a plan-ahead for Baynes leaving this year. Jon Leuer and Henry Ellenson can also play center, but Detroit seems to prefer them at power forward. So, look for the Pistons to draft a third center at No. 12 (Zach Collins, Jarrett Allen, Bam Adebayo, Justin Patton, Ike Anigbogu or Tony Bradley) or sign someone cheap for the role.

Rumor: LeBron James’ wife wants to live full-time in Los Angeles

Phil Long/Invision/AP
11 Comments

That rumor about LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers for Los Angeles, the Lakers or Clippers? Here’s some corroborating evidence.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

Cleveland’s loss in the 2017 NBA Finals has led Lakers officials to hear more whispers about James’ interest in a final chapter in Los Angeles, where his wife would like to live full time, per sources.

“His wife wants to live there” is the oldest rumor in the book, and it’s usually unsubstantiated.

Is that the case here? Let’s review what we know:

  • LeBron owns a house in Los Angeles, and he and his wife, Savannah James, reportedly love it there.
  • Even while LeBron was still under contract with the Heat, Savannah publicly expressed her affection for Akron, Ohio.
  • Still, when LeBron first discussed returning to the Cavs, her initial reaction, as he tells it, was, “F— that.” That might have been more about partnering again with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert than the locale.
  • She reportedly got on board with a return to Cleveland at some point. LeBron obviously signed with the Cavs, not the Clippers, who were in the chase.
  • LeBron, who was rumored to feel he met his obligation to Cleveland by delivering a title, apologized to Savannah for taking her for granted as he focused on basketball.

So, will LeBron repay all he has done for her by signing with the Clippers or Lakers in 2018? Is she actually content in Ohio?

I don’t know, but his family is important to him and one of the factors he’ll take into consideration. So, these tea leaves matter in tracking his future.

Cavaliers head into important summer with cloud over GM’s future

2 Comments

CLEVELAND (AP) — Dethroned last week as NBA champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers are stepping into a summer already off to a strange start.

With the draft just days away, and major roster decisions – maybe even a blockbuster trade for Paul George – needing to be made, the Cavaliers aren’t certain who will be calling the shots going forward as they attempt to close the gap on the Golden State Warriors.

General manager David Griffin’s contract expires June 30, and it remains unclear if he will stay with the organization he guided to its first championship and three straight NBA Finals. Griffin has been Cleveland’s full-time GM for three years, promoted from vice president of basketball operations in May 2014 after serving on an interim basis for three months when Chris Grant was fired.

Under Griffin, and since LeBron James returned, the Cavaliers have enjoyed the best run in franchise history.

There’s no guarantee it will continue.

While owner Dan Gilbert values Griffin and his leadership, the billionaire businessman is hands-on with his basketball team and has shown a willingness to keep his line of executives moving. Griffin is the fourth GM to work for Gilbert since 2005.

Griffin and Gilbert met last week – after the Cavaliers were beaten in five games by the Warriors – to review the season and discuss their future together. And at this point, there is no indication their partnership will last.

During the playoffs, Griffin drew interest from other teams, but Atlanta, Orlando and Milwaukee have filled GM vacancies. Those jobs had presented other opportunities for Griffin, and now that they’re gone, he doesn’t have as much leverage in negotiations with Gilbert.

However, Griffin does have a strong resume, which includes the trade with Minnesota that brought Kevin Love to Cleveland in the summer of 2014. Griffin has also maneuvered around some restrictions – the Cavaliers currently are without a pick in this year’s draft – to re-shape Cleveland’s roster, which needs tweaking again after the Warriors exposed an aging bench in their third Finals matchup with the Cavs.

Adding to the uncertainty, Trent Redden, the club’s senior vice president and Griffin’s likely successor, also has a contract that expires at the end of the month.

There is urgency to get some clarity on Griffin’s situation as the Cavaliers could be a player in the sweepstakes for George, who told the Indiana Pacers on Sunday that he has no intention to re-sign with them after next season.

The four-time All-Star has become good friends with James. The two have battled back to James’ days in Miami, and he has been inspired by George’s comeback from a horrific leg injury in 2014 while playing for the U.S. national team.

“We’ve got a really good friendship. I’m going to leave it at that,” James said after a matchup against George in April.

The Pacers have reportedly reached out to the Cavaliers to gauge their interest in George. Cleveland doesn’t have many future assets to offer Indiana, but the Cavs might be willing to strike a deal for Love, the talented power forward coming off his best season with Cleveland. The 28-year-old has two years left on his contract, and the Pacers could view him as a cornerstone piece to rebuild on and run down the Cavs.

George has spoken in the past about a preference to play for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, and it would be risky for the Cavaliers to acquire him without a promise he would sign beyond the 2018 season. Then again, a one-year rental may be intriguing to the Cavs if it would guarantee a fourth shot at the Warriors and a chance to even their rivalry.

Also, if James and George clicked, and it would be hard to imagine that not happening, they may stay in Cleveland. Like George, James has one year left on his contract, and at 32 his window for adding titles is shrinking. James has said he intends to end his career with Cleveland, but another loss in what would be his eighth straight Finals – and that he already owns a home in Los Angeles – could push him away.

But before any of those decisions are made, the Cavaliers must figure out who is making the next one.

Celtics president Danny Ainge: ‘There’s a really good chance the player that we’ll take at 3 was the same player we would have taken at 1’

5 Comments

The Celtics traded the No. 1 pick to the 76ers for the No. 3 pick and a future first-rounder.

Why would Boston bypass an opportunity to draft Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia’s presumed selection now?

As Celtics president Danny Ainge tells it, the deal was practically a no-brainer.

Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly

According to multiple reports, Fultz was atop Boston’s draft board. Were those reports wrong, or is Ainge just spinning after trading away an opportunity to draft Fultz?

I believe, though am not certain, the Celtics would have picked Fultz if they kept the No. 1 pick. I also believe they saw minimal separation between Fultz and the player they’ll take at No. 3 – seemingly Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum.

If there’s little difference between Fultz and either of those forwards, the trade is an easy call for Boston. The Celtics added a valuable asset in the process – the Lakers’ 2018 first-rounder if it falls 2-5 or, if not, the higher of the Kings’ and 76ers’ 2019 first-rounders (unless one is No. 1, in which case it’d be the lower of the selections).

I’m just not nearly convinced the No. 3 pick will match Fultz’s production. Fultz is such an advanced offensive player for his age. Jackson and Tatum carry many more question marks.

The Celtics are betting on their evaluations, both of Fultz and Jackson and/or Tatum. They don’t need the No. 3 pick to surpass Fultz, but he better come pretty close.

Celtics complete trade of No. 1 pick to 76ers with previously unreported wrinkle

10 Comments

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons… and, soon, Markelle Fultz.

The 76ers have built an incredible young core. But it came at a cost – years of losing to tank for Embiid and Simmons and an extra first-round pick to move up with the Celtics to draft Fultz No. 1 overall this year. That trade, as expected, is now complete.

With the deal official, we have a clear look at the draft picks and protections involved.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have acquired the third overall selection of the 2017 NBA Draft and the favorably-protected rights to a future first round pick from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the first overall pick in this year’s draft.

The future first round pick will be the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2018 pick if it’s within the No. 2 to No. 5 range of the 2018 draft. If it is not, the Celtics will instead receive either Sacramento’s or Philadelphia’s first round pick in 2019, whichever is more favorable. However, if either of those 2019 picks result in the first overall selection, Boston will instead receive the other first round pick.

“We’re thrilled to be able to select what we expect be an impact player with the third pick in this year’s very talented draft class, while also adding a highly valuable future asset as we continue to build towards Banner 18,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

It was previously reported the Celtics, if they don’t get the Lakers 2018 first-round pick, would get the Kings’ 2019 first-rounder. The conditions for Boston getting the higher of Philadelphia’s or Sacramento’s 2019 first-rounder (or the lower of the two, if one is No. 1) were previously unreleased.

This doesn’t change the calculus much. It’s still possible the Lakers’ 2018 pick completes the trade. If not, the Celtics get a higher floor (getting the more favorable of two picks, rather than just one wherever it lands) and a lower ceiling (no No. 1 pick) with the 2019 selection. The 76ers should be much better by then, though Embiid’s and Simmons’ injury histories cause concern. It’ll still probably be the Lakers’ or Kings’ pick going to Boston.

After Philadelphia picks Markelle Fultz No. 1, the Lakers will probably take Lonzo Ball No. 2. That puts the Celtics on the clock in a big decision, seemingly between Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum. Getting that right will factor into how this trade is judged years from now.

But whether Fultz becomes an elite player will hover the transaction more than anything else. If he’s a superstar, it’d be nearly impossible for Boston to recoup enough value from the lower draft picks it received. If not, the Celtics have set themselves up even more nicely for a future that already includes the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder.