Author: Kurt Helin

Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe says he ignored rumors about future while in Africa, will focus on getting deal now


The rumors have been swirling around Pistons’ restricted free agent Greg Monroe: That he doesn’t really want to return to the Pistons, that he wants a max contract, that there were sign-and-trade talks with teams, that he wants Josh Smith traded, that front line partner Andre Drummond thinks Monroe will return anyway, and that the Pistons have upped their offer to him.

Monroe says he hasn’t paid attention to any of it.

Monroe is just getting back from time in Africa with the NBA Cares “Basketball Without Borders” program and told Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated that he has been ignoring the rumors while over there, but now that he’s back with a clear head he wants to focus on getting his status resolved.

“It’s been great to get out here, relax, clear my mind and take this new experience in. I don’t listen to all of the reports and rumors — I’m just enjoying the fresh air….

“I’m heading back Saturday. We’re still trying to sort things out. I’m really not sure what is going to happen, I’ve just enjoyed my time here, and it’s been nice to get away and do something positive with my time.”

While Monroe was trying to inspire youth in Africa his agent was still working to get something done stateside. The wheels never stopped churning, he just was outside the continent and the rumor loop, so he could simply ignore it.

But it doesn’t change the fact he is stuck. He should call up Eric Bledsoe and they can commiserate.

No team made a free agent offer because they knew the Pistons would just match it, they weren’t going to let him go for nothing. There have been talks of sign-and-trades — Phoenix, New Orleans and Portland were among those interested — but everyone has walked away after talking price.

Monroe at this point may need to be thinking about his third contract and not this second one — get more money and fewer years so he can get on the open market sooner. He’s not going to be hurting, mind you, the Pistons reportedly offered to pay him more than Josh Smith’s bloated contract (the offer currently on the table is reportedly four years, $54 million), but if he’s not happy with the situation (and nobody should be happy with the Drummond/Smith/Monroe combo) then looking for a way to move on sooner rather than later (or force Detroit to move Smith sooner) may be the best he can do.

Mitch Richmond thanks family as he enters Hall of Fame (VIDEO)

Mitch Richmond
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Mitch Richmond’s speech as he entered the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Friday night was not as smooth as Mitch Richmond the player, but really few people are that smooth. Ever.

What mattered is he hit all the right notes, including thanking his family.

Richmond deserved to be here. The six-time NBA All-Star was a player whose game would fit in smoothly in today’s NBA. He could shoot with three-point range, and he could put it on the floor and get to the rim then finish with authority. Basically, the man could flat-out score and finished averaging 21 points a game or more for 10 consecutive seasons. He went on to win an NBA title (2002 Lakers) and an Olympic Gold Medal (1996).

Take a look back at his career.

David Stern thanks fans, everyone else in Hall of Fame speech (VIDEO)

David Stern

I’ll be as quick to criticize David Stern as anyone, but he unquestionably deserved to be in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and Friday night handled his induction speech well.

Stern didn’t make a lot of “I” statements and rather turned the spotlight on others who helped him along the way, who shared his vision, and who in some cases lifted the league up and would have done so no matter who was commissioner. It was a self-effacing speech that focused on the organization, not the man running it.

Stern simply seemed to get that the institution was bigger than the man… at least he did on that stage Friday night. We can debate whether he did most days at the NBA office another time, but Friday night Stern hit all the right notes.

LeBron James on Cleveland: “I’m not going anywhere”

LeBron James

We knew this.

After the way LeBron James framed his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers — all about wanting to go home, about unfinished business, about bringing a title to Northeast Ohio — he couldn’t leave again. Can you imagine the public relations backlash if he left them a second time?

But LeBron confirmed that, meeting briefly with the media in Akron before a welcome home rally Friday night. LeBron said this, reports Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal.

If your next question was “why have an opt out next season and have a two-year deal?” the answer is money. Raking it in. Benjamins. Getting paid.

LeBron (along with Carmelo Anthony) took the position this summer that players in their prime should not sacrifice money on their deals. (Technically ‘Melo took a $6 million haircut on a $123 million deal, but that’s not much.) After the owners won big at the last collective bargaining agreement and the players share of league revenue fell from 57 percent down to 50 percent, LeBron didn’t feel like taking a discount. Small and middle market owners — led by Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert still sore from LeBron bolting to Miami — led the charge to put in the restrictions that would limit future super teams and force their owners to pay. Now Gilbert is going to have to write some checks and LeBron isn’t giving him a discount on it.

You can be sure that Friday night’s rally will lack the bombast of what happened in Miami four years ago. LeBron continues to do things right, there will be no “not two, not three, not four…” instead more of downplaying the expectations:

Here are a few other highlights from his comments.

Rockets reach deal to bring Greek star Kostas Papanikolaou over for next season

JSF Nanterre v FC Barlelona Basket -Euroleague

There was great comedy back in 2012 when the Knicks had just one second round pick and used it to take Greek small forward Kostas Papanikolaou — Knick’s fans had no idea who he was and freaked out.

Eventually Papanikolaou’s rights worked their way to the Rockets, who have signed a deal to bring the oversized small forward over for next season, something first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN. Papanikolaou has a fully guaranteed $4.8 million this coming season and a team option for $4.6 million next season.

There will be minutes to be had at the three behind Trevor Ariza (especially with Chandler Parsons gone) and even at the four where it’s Terrence Jones and Jeff Ardrien trying to space the floor for Dwight Howard inside (Papanikolaou can shoot the three). Papanikolaou is 6’8” and 230 pounds and according to reports works pretty hard on defense, so he can play the stretch four and defend a little.

Aside that, honestly I know little more than Knicks fans about him. Last season he played for Barcelona, one of the top teams in Europe. According to the DraftExpress scouting report he’s kind of a classically European big — great feel for the game, can shoot the rock, plays with a high IQ but he has average athleticism and there are questions about how much he’ll be able to do at the NBA level.

We will get a chance to see him at the World Cup where he will play for the Greek national team.