Kurt Helin

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Report: Mavericks get first meeting with Hassan Whiteside, will offer max


Hassan Whiteside = max player.

That is reality. Go ahead and say he’s not “worth” it if you wish, but a player’s worth can be different than his value. Whiteside’s athleticism and rim protection are rare and valuable skills — it’s basic supply and demand, there are not other guys like Whiteside. Add to that an NBA free agent market flooded with cash and you get a guy valued by teams as a max player. Whether he is “worth” it or not.

Whiteside is also a max player because the Mavericks got the first meeting with him and will offer him that, Tim MacMahon of ESPN said on the radio in Miami, as transcribed by HeatNation.com (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

In a radio interview yesterday, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com said that the Dallas Mavericks will be getting the first meeting with Whiteside when the clock hits 12:01 a.m on July 1st….

“Absolutely, no questions asked. The financial negotiations with the Mavericks will take all of one second. Max. One second max for the max,” MacMahon stated emphatically. “If you’re going to try and recruit Hassan Whiteside you can haggle about money, but he’s gonna cross you off his list and move on,” said MacMahon.

After the DeAndre Jordan situation last summer, Mark Cuban isn’t going to mess around with his top target (he didn’t mess around with Jordan either, but he is still stung by how that went down).

Also looming out there are the Lakers, Knicks, Trail Blazers, and Rockets, among others, all of whom would offer a max salary to Whiteside.

The question becomes, will Pat Riley and the Heat offer that much? They had hoped to get a little hometown discount with him (because the Heat need to resign him and Dwyane Wade, plus have a Kevin Durant meeting). That’s not happening. If the Heat offer Whiteside a max he likely stays — he’s comfortable with the franchise that took a chance on him and his return to the NBA, and he likes living there (plus no state taxes). But there will be no hometown discount. The Mavericks are setting the bar.

Reports: If Hawks hesitate on fifth year, Thunder among teams lined up to poach Al Horford

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The Atlanta Hawks are the kind of franchise that sometimes has to overpay to get or keep elite talent. The Hawks may not like to picture themselves that way, but that is the reality of things.

Enter free agent Al Horford.

The four-time All-Star may have spent his entire nine-year career in Atlanta, but that doesn’t exclude the Hawks from needing to overpay to keep him. Horford is an obvious max player — and the second best player available when free agency starts July 1 — but the Hawks are going to have to offer the fifth year of guaranteed money to keep him. It is the one thing Atlanta can do no other team can, his other suitors can only offer four years. Will Horford be overpaid and not nearly as valuable at age 35 in the final year of the deal? Yes. But the Hawks have to do it anyway, or they lose him and have to start a rebuild.

But the Hawks are hesitating, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN.

The Hawks are reluctant to offer Horford the fifth year only they can dangle, and if they hold firm, they are at grave risk of losing him for nothing, per league sources. (Watch out for the Pistons on Horford; with Wednesday’s trade of Meeks, they are one tiny move away from being able to fit his max. They are working to schedule a meeting with Horford over the first 48 hours of free agency, sources say. Horford’s fit alongside Andre Drummond is another question entirely.)

It’s not just the Pistons, the Thunder may make a pitch to Horford to come to them and win, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

As they prepare to make their pitch to Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been making calls around the league looking to clear a massive amount of salary-cap space in a move rival executives believe is an effort to go after free agent Al Horford in addition to Durant, multiple sources told ESPN.

Horford played for Thunder coach Billy Donovan at Florida, where they teamed up to win two national titles, and they remain close. The Thunder have an opening at power forward after trading Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic last week.

To sign Horford likely would mean the Thunder having to move Enes Kanter — and they are willing to do that because they understand that’s the kind of bold move and sacrifice needed to keep a star like Durant and win a title.

Would the Hawks do something that bold?

If not the Thunder or Pistons, Horford will have other options — the Wizards, Rockets, Lakers, Heat, and Warriors have all been rumored as potential suitors.

If the Hawks lose Horford in free agency, they might as well also let Kent Bazemore go (he’s also a free agent), then trade Paul Millsap and start the rebuild. Refusing to offer Horford the fifth year is just a team trying to be safe and thrifty. Which would be very Atlanta Hawks.

Report: Knicks “strong favorites” to sign Joakim Noah in free agency


Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, and maybe Joakim Noah all on the same team? Now all the Knicks need is a DeLorean with a flux capacitor to get back to 2011.

Anthony remains under contract and the Knicks made a big trade to upgrade at the point and get  Rose from the Bulls. Now the Knicks are looking very likely to land long-time Bulls big man Joakim Noah, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The New York Knicks have emerged as strong favorites to sign free-agent big man Joakim Noah, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that multiple teams interested in Noah have all but conceded already that the Knicks are his runaway preferred destination in free agency.

Since the Knicks shipped out Robin Lopez (currently a better player than Noah), they need a new big in free agency. Noah, a native New Yorker”  is great in the locker room and he’s still fierce on the defensive end, but at 31 years old his body has started to betray him — he has missed 68 games in the past two seasons. Even when he does play the injuries and age show, he doesn’t move the same way and with the same athleticism that made him so special in the past. There are teams not chasing him because they think he is “done.”

How much will the Knicks offer Noah? More than $15 million a season? And for how many seasons? Noah is exactly the kind of player who gets overpaid — because a team pictures his past glories and not his current realities. The only question is will the Knicks be the team to do the overpaying, or will they strike a more reasonable deal (by this wild market’s standards)?

It’s going to be an interesting couple of days when the calendar flips to July 1.

Thunder to play two 2016-17 preseason games in Spain

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The Oklahoma City Thunder will play two preseason games in Spain as part of the NBA Global Games Europe 2016.

The NBA and Euroleague made a joint announcement on Wednesday.

The Thunder will play Real Madrid, a nine-time Euroleague Champion and 33-time Spanish League Champion, on Oct. 3. Oklahoma City will then travel to Barcelona to face 18-time Spanish League Champion and two-time Euroleague Champion FC Barcelona Lassa on Oct. 5.

Last season, the Thunder made their fourth Western Conference finals appearance in six years.

In March, the NBA announced that the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans will play preseason games in Shanghai and Beijing on Oct. 9 and Oct. 12 as part of the NBA Global Games 2016.

Multiple reports out of Europe have Dario Saric coming to Sixers next season

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Dario Saric must really want to come to the NBA. It apparently matters more to him than $10 million (at least).

Saric was drafted 12th by Orland and traded to the Sixers in 2014 and has played the last two seasons in Turkey. But now reports are cropping up from newspapers and those connected in Europe that Saric wants to come to the NBA next season and start playing for the Sixers.

Then this is this quote via Basket USA (from this Croatian article, I believe), translated by Hoopshype.

“Everything is going in the right direction, and I expect to finish the Qualifying Tournament with Croatia to go sign my contract in the US,” he said in local media. “I still have a year of contract with Efes and Perasovic wants me to stay, but I promised to join the Sixers after two years. What is promised is most important, and when you are a man of your word, it doesn’t matter what the contract says.”

Saric is 6’10” but has point-forward skills with a very high hoops IQ. Saric brings impressive ball handling skills for his size, great scoring instincts (in the post and in transition), plus he is a gifted passer pass. He needs a more polished jumper, there are questions about his defense, but there is a lot of potential here.

If that sounds a lot like Ben Simmons to you, you’re not alone. It will be interesting to see how Brett Brown would use both of them.

It’s a surprise Saric is coming over now because it will cost him money. If Saric comes to the NBA next season (two seasons after he was drafted) he is locked into the 2014 rookie scale, meaning his salary would be (via our own Dan Feldman).

2016-17: $2,318,280
2017-18: $2,422,560
2018-19: $2,526,840 (team option)
2019-20: $3,481,986 (team option)

That’s about $4.7 million guaranteed and $10.8 for the four years of the contract. After three seasons, the Sixers could offer a contract extension beyond this deal, but he would be locked in for the rookie scale that fourth year.

If Saric waits one more season and comes over for the NBA’s 2017-18 season, he is not bound by the rookie scale and can negotiate any deal he can get from Philadelphia. This is what Nikola Mirotic (among others) have done, and Mirotic negotiated a 3-year deal worth $16.6 million last summer. Remember Mirotic was a lower pick (23rd) and signed before the salary cap spike hitting the league this year. Conservatively, if Saric waits one more a season he should be able to to get three years $21 million from the Sixers, or four years $28 million. That’s at least — at least — $10 million more guaranteed. If your argument is “he gets to his second contract faster coming over now” you are wrong — he would still be under his rookie deal through 2020, if he comes over next summer he can sign a three-year deal for $10 million more and he would still be a free agent in 2020.

But he wants to be here now more than the cash. That’s a good sign for the Sixers.