Kurt Helin

Reports: Manu Ginobili, David West both opt out with Spurs, both uncertain about future


Let’s be honest, the future of Manu Ginobili and David West is likely tied to what Tim Duncan decides to do. And he is a week away from making a call (his deadline is June 29).

In the interim, both West and Ginobili kept their options open by opting out of their contracts with the Spurs, according to reports. Neither has taken retirement off the table.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the Ginobili news.

Ginobili had a Wednesday deadline to make a decision on his player option. Ginobili, 38, is leaning toward playing next season and returning to the Spurs under a new contract, sources said.

He was set to make $2.8 million next season (his opting out leaves the Spurs with a $5.6 million cap hold. The Spurs can pay him whatever they want; it may come down to how much cap space they have.

Ginobili will spend his summer in Brazil, playing for his native Argentina in the Rio Olympics. He had a bounce-back season with the Spurs averaging 9.6 points, 3.1 assists, and 2.5 rebounds in just less than 20 minutes a night.

West is not going to Rio, but aside that he is following the same path.

If Duncan returns, I’d expect to see both West and Ginobili playing for the Spurs (a team expected to be aggressive in free agency). If not, Ginobili will either re-sign or retire, it’s hard to picture him anywhere else. West will have a lot of teams calling, who couldn’t use his rock-solid veteran presence.

Wojnarowski, Vertical’s draft night stream may be must watch of night

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Expect to hear Adam Silver say this a lot Thursday night: “We have a trade.”

NBA draft night 2016 is going to be roller coaster — after Ben Simmons (Sixers) and Brandon Ingram (Lakers) go off the board anything could happen. Boston has the third pick (thanks to Brooklyn’s mismanagement), and they are looking to trade it. Minnesota has gotten calls about the No. 5 pick that may tempt them, Denver is shopping the No. 7 pick, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is going to be a lot of fast and furious action.

Up to now you had one real option for draft night information: ESPN’s broadcast for the visuals, features and analysis; plus using Twitter for faster information and snark.

Now there is another option, one that will be a draw on a crazy night — Adrian Wojnarowski and The Vertical.

The Vertical is going to do a comprehensive live stream draft show Thursday on Yahoo Sports. Since half of you are watching the Draft with a second screen up already, this is a natural fit because Wojnarowski’s stock in trade is information.

“Being first is great, but we certainly want to be accurate…” said Wojnarowski, the NBA media’s preeminent news breaker. “The nuts and bolts of the show is information. We’re not trying to outdo television, we’re not going to be too cute. What you’re going to get from us is great information.”

Chris Mannix will host from a studio, where he will be joined by former Nets front office executive Bobby Marks, Mike Schmitz of Draft Express, and Indiana coach Tom Crean. Wojnarowski, Shams Charania, and Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony will be at the draft. There also will be segments from Brian Scalabrine (on draft night fashion) and shoe deals from Nick DePaula.

“(The draft show) is in our wheelhouse,” Wojnarowski said of his Vertical crew. “I just got off the phone with (Indiana coach) Tom Crean and he’s been breaking down video of players and talking about things he wants to emphasize on the show with the breakdowns he’ll do…

“He’s a real student of the NBA, he follows the NBA very closely, and he understands who projects, and he’s had great success sending guys into the league. He’ll be a tremendous part of the show.”

While NBA fans tend to be up on elite college players — Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, etc. — they get confused when European names are called. Remember how Knicks fans booed Kristaps Porzingis a year ago, and now he’s their savior. Again for Wojnarowski, it’s about information.

“With European players, Jonathan Givony has traveled Europe, he has seen the players in this draft, not just this year, but he’s watched these players…” Wojnarowski said. “They’ve watched these guys overseas develop over three or four or five years. They’ve been watching Ben Simmons since he was 16 years old at tournaments, same with the European players that will be drafted. It’s just a real strong sense of understanding and knowledge.”

But information needs context.

Having (former Nets executive) Bobby Marks there to lay out the decisions front offices are making and how that’s going to impact free agency — because they’re all connected, there is context to what is coming in free agency,” Wojnarowski said. “Certainly with trades that are made, whether someone is clearing cap space to go after a free agent or they’re trying to get deals done now because they don’t feel confident what they can get out of free agency, Bobby and I will be there to talk about those things during the show. So it’s more than the draft, it’s setting the stage for free agency, which is certainly more impactful to winning and losing in the short-term than how teams will look in the draft.”

This provides an option for draft night viewing. ESPN has the broadcast rights and has a large, smart crew of analysts.

But when news is breaking fast, you better be following Wojnarowski.

LeBron James: “I’ve got no plans to go nowhere at this point”


The NBA Finals were not even over before the speculation started and ramped up after the Cavaliers;’ win: LeBron James said he wanted to come home to Cleveland and bring the area a title, he’s done that now, he may bolt to play somewhere else again. Miami, Los Angeles, wherever; he had wanderlust and could be on the move again.

Not this year.

Here is what LeBron told the Cleveland Plain Dealer just before the parade through downtown Cleveland Wednesday:

“I love it here. I love being here. I love my teammates,” James told cleveland.com, moments before he boarded a float at The Q for the Cavs’ championship parade through downtown Cleveland. “Obviously my agent will take care of all the logistical things but, I’m happy. I’ve got no plans to go nowhere at this point.”

“This is the happiest time in my life right now,” James said.

LeBron confirmed the same thing to other outlets.

Expect James not to pick up his player option for next season — not because he wants to leave but because he wants to get paid. LeBron’s option would pay him $24 million next season, while a new max contract would be worth $30.8 million (with the salary cap at $94 million as the league just suggested).

Also, expect LeBron to sign another 2-year deal with a player option after the first year — both because the salary cap is going to go up again, and because it helps keep his options open and therefore leverage on owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin (to both spend to keep this team a winner and do what LeBron wants).

It’s not crazy to think LeBron will leave Cleveland again at some point to play with friends in another city and chase rings with another franchise.

But it’s crazy to think he didn’t want to come back home to Cleveland for a victory lap season. And to try and repeat.

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.