Dan Feldman

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Report: Cavaliers-Kings trade held up by Cleveland wanting George Hill to surrender future guaranteed salary


The Cavaliers appeared on the verge of trading Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye to the Kings for George Hill.

Then, they didn’t.


Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

George Hill, they didn’t want to buy him out this year. What they wanted to do was protect themselves in the event that, if LeBron James left, whether George Hill would be willing to take a buyout on the $20 million he’s owed on his contract after this season.

There’s actually some precedent for this. Ty Lawson agreed to reduce the guarantee in his contract a few years ago to facilitate a trade from the Nuggets to the Rockets. He flopped in Houston, got cut and lost about $12 million he otherwise would’ve earned. He’s now out of the league.

Hill could similarly agree to reduce the amount of his salary that’s guaranteed in future seasons. Right now, he’s guaranteed $19 million next season and $1 million of $18 million the following season.

Hill might be unhappy in Sacramento, but enough to relinquish significant salary protection just to get to Cleveland? He can probably tough it out on a bad team if it means getting all his money.

I don’t blame the Cavs for wanting Hill to cut them a break. I’m just surprised trade discussions advanced so far based on the idea Hill would actually go for this.

It sounds as if Nikola Mirotic vetoed Bulls-Pelicans trade

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Nikola Mirotic reportedly wanted Chicago to trade him after after a preseason practice fight with teammate Bobby Portis left Mirotic hospitalized. And the Bulls appear ready to satisfy that request.

They even neared a deal with the Pelicans that would have netted a first-round pick (and come with the burden of accepting Omer Asik‘s contract).

Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:

Mirotic signed a two-year, $25 million contract with a team option last offseason. But because that option hasn’t been exercised, it’s technically a one-year contract right now. So, as someone on a one-year contract who’d have Bird Rights next summer, Mirotic automatically gets the right to veto any trade.

One way around that: Chicago – with New Orleans’ blessing, of course – could exercise Mirotic’s team option. That’d turn his contract into a two-year deal and nullify his trade-veto power.

But it sounds as if the Pelicans won’t accept Mirotic with his $12.5 million salary next season guaranteed and he won’t accept a trade to New Orleans unless it is.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Wojnarowski doesn’t outright say Mirotic exercised his veto power. But that’s what I infer.

It’s also possible the deal fell apart for other reasons and someone is trying to scapegoat Mirotic.

Mirotic can’t be sure New Orleans will exercise that option after the season. But he can’t be sure Chicago will, either. Presumably, he’d rather spend the rest of this season with the playoff-contending Pelicans than the lottery-bound Bulls, especially with Portis still in Chicago.

But Mirotic has leverage. He can wait for more favorable destinations – places he’d prefer to New Orleans the rest of this season and/or teams willing to guarantee his 2018-19 salary now.

Of course, that could backfire. More desirable suitors might not emerge. The Bulls could become less cooperative and keep him. The Pelicans might move on, as they try to reinforce their roster with DeMarcus Cousins injured.

New Orleans is probably wary of how expensive its roster would get with Mirotic and a re-signed Cousins. But the way Mirotic has played so far this season, maybe the Pelicans could flip him for value next summer. That’s a risk, though, and Cousins is probably still the priority.

It’s hard enough for two teams to agree on a trade. When a player must also consent, it gets far more complicated.

Pistons pay big price to find out whether Blake Griffin is still a star

Harry How/Getty Images
1 Comment

Blake Griffin arrives in Detroit a proven star.

He entered the NBA with the fanfare of being the No. 1 pick, the first top pick to eventually join the Pistons since Kwame Brown in his journeyman phase. Griffin raised his profile higher by winning Rookie of the Year, and he’s the first former winner of that award in Detroit since a washed-up Allen Iverson. Griffin made five NBA All-Star games by age 25, a feat otherwise accomplished by only Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers.

Playing in L.A., Griffin parlayed his fame into a budding show-business career. He stars in commercials, appears in movies and books stand-up-comedy gigs.

The Pistons haven’t had a player of this profile in quite some time, maybe ever.

“Blake Griffin is one of the NBA’s elite players, and when you get an opportunity to add that kind of talent, you take it,” Pistons owner Tom Gores – who grew up in Michigan, but is now an L.A. guy – said in a statement.

The Pistons just traded a load – Tobias Harris and his team-friendly contract, Avery Bradley on an expiring contract, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round pick protected only for the top four and a second-round pick – to the Clippers and agreed to assume the whopping $141,661,920 over four years remaining on Griffin’s contract.

Detroit gains someone with a monster reputation. Can Griffin still live up to it?

The endorsements might not come as quickly in Detroit, but nothing affects a player’s stature more than on-court performance. The buzz around Griffin and now the Pistons, who’ve struggled to fill their new downtown arena, will persist only if he helps the team.

Griffin has missed the last three All-Star games, a precarious trend. In the lasts 20 years, 18 players have been multi-time All-Star by their age-26 season then missed three straight All-Star games. Just two of the 18 – Al Horford and Rasheed Wallace – returned to All-Star status.

Here are those 18 players on an aging curve. Players’ first and last (or, with active players, current) seasons are marked with gray bars. All-Star seasons are marked with red stars. The three years between Horford’s All-Star seasons and four years between Wallace’s are marked with blue squares.


Players on that list lost their star status for numerous reasons, many of them suffering major injuries. But that’s precisely the point. In the last four years, the 28-year-old Griffin has missed 99 games – and counting. There are plenty of signs of his body is breaking down.

Griffin has compensated for declining athleticism with significantly improved skills. He has developed as a ball-handler and now 3-point shooter, and he’s one of the NBA’s best-passing bigs (behind Draymond Green).

Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy has raved about Griffin’s passing ability, and there are shades of it in how Detroit has used Andre Drummond this year. Drummond has mostly stopped posting up, an ugly play that appeared to serve little purpose other than make Drummond feel involved. Instead, Drummond now often serves as a passing hub from the high post.

But that’s also Griffin’s specialty. Can the two coexist?

Griffin’s improved outside shooting helps, but it will likely take time to develop chemistry. Having lost eight straight, the Pistons are 2.5 games out of playoff position. This trade could jolt a subpar status quo, but that’s a tough ask while Reggie Jackson remains sidelined. More likely, Detroit spends the rest of this season getting Griffin and Drummond – and Jackson, once he returns – acclimated to each other. With many players under contract for next season and little maneuverability below the luxury-tax line, the Pistons could remain stable through the summer.

It all sets up for next season, which not coincidentally is the final year of the five-year contract Van Gundy initially signed with Detroit.

Making the playoffs this year would be nice, but next season is probably his make-or-break year. The Pistons haven’t won a postseason game under his leadership (or going back, since 2008).

This franchise is desperate – maybe for a spark Griffin will provide.

That probably contributed to Van Gundy getting ownership approval for this trade. But from Van Gundy’s perspective, if the surrendered first-round pick becomes an impact player or Griffin becomes a liability on his mega contract, that might be the next guy’s problem. Van Gundy must make it past next season first.

Trudging toward a murky future with someone whose best days were so far in the past rarely works out well. The Pistons need Griffin to be as exceptional as they’re touting him to be.

Reported All-Star draft order, from Kevin Durant (No. 1) to Klay Thompson (No. 9)

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Kevin Durant revealed he was the first pick in the NBA All-Star draft.

As for the rest of the draft between LeBron James and Stephen Curry, Brian Windhorst of ESPN provided the entire starter round plus the first pick of the reserve round:


1. Kevin Durant (LeBron)

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Curry)

3. Anthony Davis (LeBron)

4. James Harden (Curry)

5. Kyrie Irving (LeBron)

6. Joel Embiid (Curry)

7. DeMarcus Cousins (LeBron)

8. DeMar DeRozan (Curry)


1. Klay Thompson (Curry)

The biggest surprise is how high LeBron took Irving. Not only are there personal issues between the former Cavaliers teammates, Curry and Irving are both point guards. Drafting Harden meant Curry needed another lead ball-handler even less. LeBron probably could have had his pick between Embiid and Cousins then gotten Irving No. 7. Maybe LeBron got his preference between the bigs, anyway. But, yeah, despite everything else, LeBron didn’t shy from drafting Irving. That draws intrigue.

The dreaded last pick of a round: DeMar DeRozan. He now wears the scarlet letter of being the least respected All-Star starter in the world’s best basketball league. How will he ever go on? Thankfully, not televising the draft spared him from experiencing this indignity in front of a mass audience.

After LeBron picked first among the starters, Curry made the first selection among reserves. Predictably, he chose one of two Warriors, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. I wonder how Green feels about Thompson getting the nod. Green won’t be out for revenge in the All-Star game, though, as Curry drafted him later. Maybe where was picked will get leaked later.

Report: Wizards’ John Wall out six weeks with knee injury

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

John Wall hasn’t looked right this season.

His defense has come and gone for a couple years, but he has appeared lethargic even offensively.

This might explain why.

Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:

The most important thing for Wall and the Wizards is him getting healthy for the playoffs. Tomas Satoransky and Tim Frazier will be in over their heads for a bit now, but if that’s what it takes for Wall to get healthy, it’s worth it.

Still, this raises long-term questions about Wall, who underwent surgery on both knees a couple years ago and also missed time earlier this season for knee treatment. Wall just signed a four-year super-max contract extension that won’t even begin until 2019-20, when he’ll be 29.

In the meantime, NBA commissioner Adam Silver must replace Wall on LeBron James‘ All-Star team. The maximum six Eastern Conference guards made All-Star teams, so presumably, Silver can pick from any position. He has tended to defer to the highest-ranking non-selection in the coaches’ reserve vote. That’s probably Andre Drummond (who was quite upset about his omission) or Kemba Walker (who’s quietly still excelling for the lousy Hornets). I’ll also take this opportunity to renew my complaint: With East and West players mixed in this new format, conference shouldn’t matter when selecting All-Stars. Chris Paul is the biggest snub, and the Rockets guard should be picked.