Kurt Helin

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PBT Podcast: The top guys to watch as NBA free agency tips off

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LeBron James is the biggest free agent name. Technically. But we all know he’s not leaving the Cavaliers.

However, when you start to talk about LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe and some other big bodies about to hit the free agent market, things get interesting.

In this latest PBT Podcast the guys talk about all of the big name free agents in a primer for the NBA’s wild off-season season, which tips off the second the calendar flips to July 1 (that’s when teams can start talking to free agents). We’ve got PBT’s Kurt Helin and Brett Pollakoff, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard breaking down the top guys on the board, from the ones not likely to move (Marc Gasol) to the guys trying to move but not finding it that easy (Dwyane Wade).

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Scottie Pippen: “I was LeBron James before LeBron James”

Chicago Fire - Season 3
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Scottie Pippen is a confident man. And a man with a chip on his shoulder — he’s one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players ever (easily) yet by too many is seen as Robin to Michael Jordan’s Batman. Pippen was a lot more than a disposable sidekick (or whatever you see Nightwing as), he was a superstar in his own right.

But this may be a step over the line.

When talking about LeBron James’ skill set — is he more Magic Johnson? Oscar Robertson? Jordan? — Pippen told Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer there is another good comparison.

“I was LeBron James before LeBron James,” Bulls great Scottie Pippen told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “It’s not even close….

“They want to compare him to the greatest, whether it be Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, but he’s more closer to myself,” Pippen said. “It’s natural for folks to say that, but if you look at how he plays the game and how I played the game, you’ll see more similarities with us.”

Maybe on some level this isn’t wholly unreasonable. Both are point forwards who play a hybrid role, both were good passers, both can defend multiple positions. LeBron’s game is certainly more like Pippen than Jordan in style.

But as great as Pippen was — I don’t think we can emphasise enough what a special player he was, MJ doesn’t have all those rings without him — LeBron is simply the better player. LeBron is being compared to Magic and MJ because that’s the next all-time tier for him to climb onto.

LeBron’s physical gifts are just superior to Pippen’s (or anyone else of that size), and that has given LeBron the vastly superior offensive game. Over his career, LeBron has averaged 27.3 points a game on a 58.1 percent true shooting percentage, Where Pippen averaged 16.1 per game with a 53.1 true shooting percentage. Pretty much any advanced stat you break out — PER 27.2 to 18.6), win shares per 48 minutes (.240 to .186), value over replacement player (101 to 69.6) — LeBron comes out well ahead of Pippen.

 

Besides that, LeBron has proven to be a better leader of a team than Pippen turned out to be (in Houston and Portland, it didn’t always go smoothly for Pippen). And while Pippen was a high IQ player, LeBron’s feel for the game is off the charts.

Frankly, LeBron has passed Pippen.

Maybe there is a stylistic argument to be made in that comparison, but that’s where it ends.

Report: Draymond Green to meet with Warriors at midnight, nobody else if that goes well

Draymond Green
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Draymond Green wants to stay a Warrior.

The Warriors want — actually, need — to keep Draymond Green in the Bay Area.

So there shouldn’t be a lot of drama in his restricted free agency. And he plans to keep it that way, unless the Warriors low ball him. From Marc Spears of Yahoo and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Green is key to what the Warriors do — his ability to guard positions two through five is at the heart of the best defense in the NBA. You saw it in the NBA Finals when he covered Timofey Mozgov, allowed the Warriors to go small and it changed the dynamic of that series. He also averaged 11.7 points and grabbed 8.2 rebounds a game, plus shot 33 percent from three. And he talked a lot of trash.

Green’s versatility is a perfect fit in Golden State, but you can see why other teams would be interested in luring him away. It’s just not going to happen.

Frankly, even if Green doesn’t like the offer presented him and goes and talks to other teams, he’s not going anywhere. At worst, the Warriors let the market set Green’s price, then they match it — but why risk alienating the emotional heart of your team>

The likely result is that within an hour of midnight, these two sides have reached a deal.

Report: Free agent Marc Gasol to meet with Grizzlies, nobody else

Marc Gasol
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If you had fantasied your team had a shot to pry Marc Gasol out of Memphis… sorry.

Gasol is in Spain as free agency is set to open as the calendar flips to July 1. While there he is meeting with only one team, the Memphis Grizzlies, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

In the latest signal Marc Gasol is going nowhere in free agency, the Memphis Grizzlies center is scheduling no meetings with rival teams interested in him, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that Gasol will instead host a contingent of Grizzlies officials in his native Spain on Wednesday morning, raising the possibility that a verbal agreement on a new contract will quickly follow.

While guys like LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan started to flirt with other teams and have multiple meetings lined up, Gasol hasn’t tried to lead anyone on — he never planned to leave Memphis. He loves the city, it’s where he went to high school, and he’s playing for a team just a couple shooters away from being a threat to win it all.

There isn’t much drama here; Gasol will get the max, and Memphis will remain a threat to everyone in the West for years.

Report: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker part of Spurs pitch to LaMarcus Aldridge (and they may be favorites)

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Where is LaMarcus Aldridge leaning in free agency?

Depends on who you ask.

Around the Lakers, there is a sense of confidence they are the front runners. But that is not what you hear everywhere around the league — the Spurs are still right in the mix. Maybe they are even the front runners. And the Spurs are bringing out the big guns for their meeting with Aldridge, reports Marc Spears at Yahoo Sports.

Tim Duncan will join Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich as part of the San Antonio Spurs’ contingent when they meet with Portland Trail Blazers free agent LaMarcus Aldridge on Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, a source told Yahoo Sports….

The Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns are among Aldridge’s suitors, but a source close to the situation said the Spurs are currently the frontrunner.

If you take one thing away from those paragraphs it should be this: Tim Duncan is coming back next season. Why else is he meeting with Aldridge?

We know the order of Aldridge’s meetings, thanks to David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com.

As for who are the favorites? Only Aldridge knows.

If it is going to be San Antonio, you will see the Spurs making moves and doing an intricate financial dance to clear out cap space — specifically, expect to see either Boris Diaw or Tiago Splitter moved. If that happens, you can start to assume the Spurs are on to something.

Otherwise, maybe it is the Lakers. Or his hometown Mavericks. Or Portland. Or….

Aldridge is the best free agent on the market likely to be on the move. It’s going to be fascinating to watch.