Kurt Helin

Richard Jefferson on retirement: “It’s is not set in stone”


It was a surprising moment in the minutes after the Cleveland Cavaliers clinched their first NBA title — Richard Jefferson announced he was going to leave while on top, retiring from the NBA. He had a good reason, he’d played 15 NBA seasons and finally reached the pinnacle of the sport, and he was ready.

Except, he may not be, he said on the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday (as broadcast on the NBC Sports Network). You can see the interview above.

“No, it’s is not set in stone,” Jefferson said. “My teammates, ‘Bron and those guys, keep trying to talk me out of it. They say I’m crazy if I retire, so we’ll see. It’s still up for debate.”

Jefferson played a key role in the Finals, allowing the Cavaliers to go small and hang with the Golden State Warriors’ death lineup. Over the course of the season, he gave Cleveland about 18 minutes a night, but it was evident that his skills are slipping (he had a PER of 9.4, a career low).

That said, it will be difficult to turn down a few more million to make one more run at it with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the Cavaliers’ core. The only question is does he want to put in the work to get his body ready for one more season. Often a title can inspire guys to make that effort another time.

Report: Lakers, Pistons, Magic to make run at free agent Al Horford


Al Horford is a great fit just about anywhere. Want a four who can hit threes or play in the post? Then Horford is your guy. Want a “small ball” five who can space the floor, has playmaking skills, defends well, and knows how to play within a team concept? Then Al Horford is your guy.

Which is why it’s going to take a max contract to get Horford as a free agent this summer — and teams are lining up to do it, even if they know they will regret the final year of the deal (he is 30). From Marc Stein of ESPN.

Horford is good at everything, although not truly elite at any one thing. The All-Star averaged 15.2 points and 7.3 points a game, had an above-average true shooting percentage of 56.3 percent, and had a PER of 19.4.

Horford’s versatility means he can play anywhere. He can be a five in Luke Walton’s new Laker system. He can be a four who does more than just space the floor next to Andre Drummond for the Pistons. Frank Vogel would have options and can play Horford at the five (with Aaron Gordon at the four) or the four (with Nikola Vucevic at the five). All of those teams have money to spend and can afford Horford at a max (which will start at $26.4 million for him).

Boston has been rumored to be interested in Horford as well, and he would be an upgrade at any position for them.

However if, as expected, the Atlanta Hawks come in with a larger, five-year max offer — which only they can do because they have his Bird rights — there’s a good chance Horford stays put on a good Atlanta team. Horford said during the playoffs this season he wanted to stay with the Hawks. Smart money is that is what happens.

But he will have options.

Warriors GM Bob Myers has little time to ponder finals loss

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — After the heartbreak of a Game 7 defeat and a championship that somehow got away, Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers went home late Sunday and had a rare glass of whiskey with his wife and ate a grilled cheese sandwich.

He knew there wouldn’t be any more quiet moments in the near future after the grind of another extended NBA season. The Warriors lost in the deciding game of the NBA Finals to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, becoming the first team to squander a 3-1 finals lead. But Myers has to get right back to work. The draft is Thursday night and then the start of free agency July 1.

“One marathon ended, got a drink of water and now we’re moving on,” Myers said Tuesday, later noting, “Even if we were sitting here right now with a parade, it doesn’t change who we draft and it actually shouldn’t change a ton of other things either, but it’s hard not to get swept up in that current. Because in this society, you win or you’re everybody else, and right now we’re everybody else. So you have to be strong enough and disciplined enough to not overreact to making decisions.”

Myers made one thing clear Tuesday: Amid all the speculation about their futures, free agents-to-be Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli will be evaluated by more than just their poor performances in the postseason and finals.

“At this point it’s about what do you do to make sure that it doesn’t happen again?” forward Draymond Green said of the finals collapse. “I’m not the GM of this team, so I don’t make any decisions or make any changes to our roster. That’s not up to me. I do what I do, that’s play the game. Everything else will take care of itself, whether that’s the same 15 guys, whether that’s 10 of the 15 guys, whether that’s 12 of the 15 guys.”

With eight free agents in all, Myers insists he is in no position to start guessing who could return at this early stage. A year ago after capturing the first championship for the franchise in 40 years, Golden State kept its roster together for another special season that included a record 73 wins to break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ mark after a record 24-0 start.

“A lot of decisions that have to made,” MVP Stephen Curry said. “We’ve got a great roster that’s accomplished a lot.”

These days, Myers said the Warriors have built a desirable culture that players want to be a part of under the leadership of NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr. Owner Joe Lacob “is aggressive when he wakes up in the morning, he’s aggressive when he goes to bed,” Myers said of continuing to build and improve.

As Golden State looks to build the roster for next season, Myers said he would measure the value of continuity against the players available on the market. The status of rookie forward Kevon Looney is still a question mark. Golden State’s top draft pick last year out of UCLA is recovering from left hip surgery and won’t participate in summer league. The hope is he will be healthy for training camp or at the latest near the start of the regular season.

“We’re always going to try and be better, but sometimes like last summer we won a championship I didn’t do anything really,” Myers said. “We brought back the same team. Some people have said that was something we shouldn’t have done. … The team actually in some ways was better. Didn’t win a championship so maybe we weren’t. But as far as making the right decisions in the offseason, we made sound decisions without being what some people would call aggressive. They probably would have called it passive. It doesn’t mean you’re not looking aggressively.”

Myers completed exit interviews with the players Monday before everyone went their separate ways for the summer.

For most, the sting of being oh so close was still fresh and difficult to comprehend, one day after a 93-89 defeat to the Cavs decided in the final minute on the Warriors’ home floor in Oracle Arena.

“I was wondering how our players would react or process losing in Game 7 after the season we had, but what I saw and what I heard was really encouraging, from a maturity standpoint, from a learning capacity, from a processing,” Myers said. “Shaun Livingston, it was really poignant, he said, `How am I supposed to feel?’ And I said, `Not good.’ It’s not supposed to feel good to lose like we did. It’s supposed hurt, and that’s what drives you.”

Report: Orlando Magic went hard at Chauncey Billups to be assistant coach, he said no

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Chauncey Billups is good in his role as an NBA analyst for ESPN. It’s also no secret around the league he’d like to step into an NBA front office one day, and spend just a few minutes talking to Billups and you start to think he would be good at that, too.

Billups the NBA assistant coach? He’d be good at that, too. Which is why the Orlando Magic, with new coach Frank Vogel, made a run at him (after they lost assistant coach Adrian Griffin to Oklahoma City). However, Billups turned the offer down, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Magic were prepared to make Billups one of the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coaches, an opportunity to which Billups gave serious consideration before deciding to stay in his role as a network television analyst, league sources said.

Billups has designs on a front-office career and could decide to make the leap in the future.

Being an NBA assistant coach is a lifestyle commitment — it is long hours, a lot of time watching film, and a lot of time on the road. You have to love coaching to do it, even if you are getting paid well. Billups likely realized the time commitment was not for him.

Not that NBA front office people don’t put in a lot of hours — they do, and most for less money than the Magic just threw at Billups — but there is less travel and disruption of lifestyle. Billups will be in a front office when he’s ready, but right ow he’s got a comfortable gig with ESPN.

Report: Chandler Parsons to opt out of final year of deal with Mavericks

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No player’s situation may sum up just how absurd and cash rich this summer’s free agency will be like Chandler Parsons. He’s coming off his lowest-scoring season since his rookie year (13.7 per game), plus he only played in 61 games and sat out the end of the season due to troubling knee issues.

Yet he is going to opt out of the $16 million max contract he signed two seasons ago because he will get a raise this summer.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN broke the news that had been expected — Parsons is opting out and it’s going to cost Dallas to keep him.

Chandler Parsons will follow through on his plans to become a free agent despite Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s attempts to convince Parsons to opt in for the final season of his three-year, $46 million contract, sources told ESPN.com. With the salary cap spiking to a projected $94 million this summer, Parsons’ camp expects him to receive a significant raise in free agency.

Parson’s camp is right. Welcome to the Mad Max style new NBA salary world.

The max salary for Parsons would be $22 million a year, and he very likely gets that. When healthy his versatility — he can shoot from the outside, put the ball on the floor (and has maybe the best shot fake in the game), is a good passer, and is a solid team defender — is what teams prize right now.

The bigger question may be how many years on his contract? Parsons is only 27 years old, but he played 66 games two seasons ago and 61 last season because of multiple surgeries on his right knee. Is this chronic or is he past it? Will teams want to guarantee all four years? Many may not, but it only takes one GM to be okay with the medical reports for Parsons to get what he wants. And if he’s healthy, that team will have a good deal considering today’s market.