Dan Feldman

Rumor: Kyrie Irving telling other stars he might push for trade if LeBron James leaves Cavaliers

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Flash back to January 2014: Kyrie Irving was reportedly telling people he wanted to leave the Cavaliers.

A few months later, LeBron James returned and Irving’s world changed. There has been some rockiness, but LeBron carried Irving to basketball’s biggest stages, where Irving has earned a reputation as a big-game player. Irving won a title, and Cleveland will contend again next year.

But what about 2018, when LeBron could leave the Cavs (maybe for Lakers or Clippers)?

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

All-Star Kyrie Irving has been contacting some of his former Team USA teammates and letting them know that he might be willing to push for a trade, especially if he feels the Cavs’ run could end quickly with James able to opt out after next season.

Through back channels, Chicago would be one of the places that Irving would be interested to play.

It’s easy to see these conversations getting spun beyond the intent. It’s a short hop from a vague “Wouldn’t it be cool if we played together?” among friends to this report.

But Irving will be just 26 next year and under contract for another season. The Cavaliers likely want to make him centerpiece of their next era.

If Irving threatens to leave in 2019, when Kevin Love can also become a free agent, they might trade him. And Irving might do that.

It’s fair to wonder when and how far Cleveland falls. It could get ugly in a hurry.

But I wouldn’t assume Irving is already lining up hard contingencies if LeBron leaves – or that the Cleveland will accommodate Irving’s plan even if he makes one.

Judge denies request to block funding tied to Detroit arena

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DETROIT (AP) A federal judge has denied a request to block some public funding for Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit Pistons’ move from the suburbs.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued his decision late Monday, saying a requested injunction would cause “catastrophic damage” to Detroit.

The lawsuit says Michigan law prohibits spending school property tax revenue on the projects because a tax voters approved in 2012 was to be used exclusively for Detroit’s public schools. It said a vote from city residents was needed first.

Activist Robert Davis and D. Etta Wilcoxon, who is running for City Clerk, had sought to block the Detroit Downtown Development Authority from using the money.

The arena, which will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the NBA’s Pistons, opens this fall.

CEO: Timberwolves’ jersey ads will ‘change the way teams evaluate these types of deals’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves are getting into the jersey advertisement game with a Fitbit patch in a three-year deal.

The Timberwolves announced the marketing collaboration for the team’s first jersey patch on Tuesday. Fitbit also will be featured in the newly renovated Target Center, with the team exploring ways the wearable technology can help players, employees and fans track their health and fitness during practices, games and everyday activities.

Timberwolves CEO Ethan Casson said the team sees the partnership as more than a small patch in the corner of newly designed jerseys unveiled later this summer. The Timberwolves were among four other teams bidding for Fitbit’s business.

“This is going to change the way teams evaluate these types of deals and relationships going forward,” Casson said. “This is different than anything I’ve seen before.”

The Wolves plan to use Fitbit’s technology throughout the organization, including logging the new concession offerings at Target Center into the Fitbit food section to help fans make healthier choices at the games. The wearables will be used with the Iowa Wolves, the Des Moines-based development league team recently purchased by the Timberwolves, as a test for performance enhancement that might be incorporated with the NBA team. Areas of interest include sleep, recovery from workouts and nutrition.

“They weren’t just looking at this as a jersey sponsorship,” Fitbit chief marketing officer Tim Rosa said. “They were looking at it as an opportunity to tell a bigger story around innovation and health and wellness.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau is on board, Casson said.

Jersey patches are just starting to take hold in the NBA. Boston, Sacramento, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Cleveland are among the teams to announce deals with various sponsors. The Wolves have been exploring potential deals for months.

They considered local companies and had conversations with several Chinese companies after John Jiang joined the team as the NBA’s first Chinese minority owner. In the end, they chose San Francisco-based Fitbit for its recognizable brand and the company’s ability to partner with the franchise on several health and wellness fronts.

“We think we’re going to evolve weekly with the types of things we’re thinking of doing and capable of doing,” Casson said. “We’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

Rosa said Duluth, Minnesota, ranked first on the company’s “Fittest Cities” list in 2017 while Minneapolis ranked second in 2016. Fitbit also has business relationships with several prominent Minnesota companies that do business with the Wolves, including UnitedHealth Group, Target, Best Buy and the Mayo Clinic, which partners with the Timberwolves on their practice facility.

The Iowa Wolves will wear a Fitbit jersey patch, and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx will use the wearable technology. The Lynx feature the Mayo Clinic and Verizon on the front of their jerseys.

“The ability to work with a team and work on specific things around sleep or activities in the offseason, it’s pretty exciting,” Rosa said. “It’s a mutual benefit that a team has access to all of this plyometric data. There’s a lot of room for improvement and understanding your body and how to enhance performance.”

 

Kristaps Porzingis’ brother: ‘Despite how the Knicks are treating their players, Kris wants to stay in New York’

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The Knicks are reportedly willing to trade Kristaps Porzingis after a contentious start to his offseason.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

No one from the Knicks organization has been in touch with Kristaps Porzingis since he skipped exit meetings. Porzingis’ brother, Janis, is frustrated by the lack of communication. “Despite how the Knicks are treating their players, Kris wants to stay in New York. He loves the city and he loves the fans and he wants to win with this team,” Janis Porzingis told ESPN. “If he’s going to be traded, he’s going to play out his contact and decide his future on his own.”

“Despite how the Knicks are treating their players.”

“Despite how the Knicks are treating their players.”

“DESPITE HOW THE KNICKS ARE TREATING THEIR PLAYERS.”

What a statement!

Janis isn’t holding back, and considering how the Knicks have also treated Carmelo Anthony, can you blame him? Phil Jackson is turning all his players into sympathetic figures.

Report: Phil Jackson willing to trade Kristaps Porzingis, who’s drawing immense interest

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When Kristaps Porzingis skipped his exit interview, teams called the Knicks with trade offers for the promising big man.

Is Phil Jackson listening?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

There’s a HUGE difference between being willing to trade a player and actually trading a player. Jackson might be holding out for a return so great, even the most skeptical Knicks fans find the deal justifiable.

Lauri Markkanen and Porzingis have overlapping skill sets and might not ideally complement each other. But their shooting in tandem could be a dangerous weapon, especially if Porzingis grows into enough of a rim protector.

If the Knicks believe Markkanen is the best prospect available at No. 8, they should draft him. Likewise, if they get offered a package for Porzingis that is more valuable than him, they should trade him. Those decisions should be mostly divorced from each other.

What will Jackson do? That’s difficult to predict, especially when there’s some animosity between the sides.