Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Report: Portland reaches two-year, $15 million deal with Festus Ezeli

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This was a smart pickup by a patient GM.

Golden State had to renounce its rights to center Festus Ezeli to make room for Kevin Durant, and now Portland has swooped in and picked up the big man for two years at a very reasonable price. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the news.

Free-agent center Festus Ezeli has agreed to a two-year, $16 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, league sources told The Vertical. Ezeli will compete for minutes with Portland’s Mason Plumlee at center….

Ezeli met with Blazers officials and medical staff late Wednesday and into Thursday, and reached agreement on a deal Thursday night. Ezeli missed six weeks of the regular season after left knee surgery and concerns over his sturdiness likely cost him a stronger financial commitment in the free-agent market.

The actual contract may be a little less than reported.

At this price, the Trail Blazers should be able to keep their three big restricted free agents: Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe, and Moe Harkless.

While he struggled in the Finals (particularly Game 7), Ezeli brings some rim protection and athleticism to the center spot for Portland. He can run the floor in transition, crash the boards, and play the pick-and-roll with Portland’s stud guards. This is a good signing at this price.

Portland GM Neil Olshey had taken some criticism this offseason for his $70 million Evan Turner contract, the one I think was the worst deal handed out this off-season. Portland wanted another playmaker and guy who can defend multiple positions, but he’s an inefficient shooter and not quick enough to be a real quality defender. Turner is a below average player (who could improve to replacement level) but got paid like a star.

The Ezeli signing is more the Olshey most of us expect — a smart move where he got a nice player at a good price and, if it doesn’t work out, he’s not on the hook for much. It’s a move that makes Portland better.

Stephen Curry has top selling NBA jersey, Cavaliers sell most team gear

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Just like during the season, Stephen Curry got the top individual prize but the Cleveland Cavaliers won the big team award.

However, this time we are talking jersey and team gear sales.

Not a lot of surprises at the top, but here are the top 15 NBA jerseys sold through the NBA.com store.

1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
4. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
6. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
7. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
8. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
9. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
10. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
11. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
12. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
13. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
14. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
15. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks

No huge surprises there, maybe Iguodala making the list still and getting more sales than Kevin Love. Three of those names — Durant, Rose, and Wade — will change teams next season, while at least one (Kobe Bryant) has retired. He could be joined by Duncan.

As for team merchandise sales, here are the top 10

1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Golden State Warriors
3. Los Angeles Lakers
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
6. San Antonio Spurs
7. Miami Heat
8. Toronto Raptors
9. New York Knicks
10. Boston Celtics

I love that the Raptors surged ahead of far more established teams like the Knicks and Celtics — Raptors fans are passionate. And like to shop, apparently.

Ginobili returning to Spurs on 1-year deal

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Manu Ginobili has ended any doubt, as if there ever was any to begin with: The Argentinian star tweets that he is returning to the San Antonio Spurs on a one-year deal.

Ginobili previously posted a message on social media saying he had decided to play another season in the NBA. But he didn’t mention the Spurs, which led some to wonder if he would head to another team after spending the first 14 years of his career in San Antonio.

It was a highly unlikely scenario, and one that Ginobili clarified on Thursday.

He tweets: “Happy to tell you guys that I’ll be coming back to the Spurs for another season. (hash)backhome.”

Ginobili will turn 39 later this month.

PBT Podcast: Dwyane Wade to Chicago, Kevin Durant to Golden State, more with Dan Feldman

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Kevin Durant chose Golden State — and that wasn’t the biggest shock in free agency.

Dwyane Wade left the Heat for the Bulls, which was stunningly unexpected — but still left Miami in a better spot than Chicago.

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC break down the two biggest stories in NBA free agency, plus talk about the big winners during free agency such as the Celtics and Jazz.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

Kevin Durant says Russell Westbrook not happy with decision but respects it

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With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook together, the Oklahoma City Thunder were a contender, the third best team in the NBA by the end of last season.

Then Durant chose to leave and go to the second best team, the Golden State Warriors.

At his press conference Thursday in the Bay Area, Durant talked about breaking the news to Westbrook.

 

“Obviously, it’s tough. We were teammates for so long and had a lot of great memories and I’m sure he wasn’t happy about the decision, but he respected it as my friend. The relationship is great. We had great years man. It’s something that you’ll never take away from us. But like I said, I wanted a new chapter in my life. I felt it was time for it.”

Westbrook likely will say something similar when he talks about it down the line.

Of course, all the questions Westbrook are going to get will have a lot more to do with whether he will follow Durant out of town, or if he wants/expects to be traded.