Kurt Helin

Al-Farouq Aminu, James Harden

Knicks, Celtics, Trail Blazers, Raptors, Pelicans all reportedly interested in Al-Faroqu Aminu

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Al-Faroqu Aminu finally seemed to get it last season, and his big playoffs for the Mavs earned him a payday this summer. If you forgot, in the playoffs Aminu averaged 11.2 points, and 7.2 rebounds a game, shot 63.3 percent from three and had a PER of 20.3.

Dallas would like to retain his services, but a lot of other suitors are going to come calling, reports David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com.

Again, that’s the Knicks, Celtics, Trail Blazers, Raptors, Pelicans all trying to poach Aminu while the Mavericks try to keep him.

Aminu likely makes in the $4 million to $5 million range next season. Dallas may have trouble retaining him — they likely do not have their mid-level exception to offer, and the room exception ($2.81 million) likely will not be enough. There are personnel moves the Mavs may consider freeing up cap space to resign Aminu, but as of now those are all hypothetical.

What is not hypothetical is that Aminu is going to have options.

Report: Jimmy Butler wants to sign with Lakers. Sounds like someone’s agent wants leverage.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Chicago Bulls
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There are two simple facts to consider with this story:

1) Jimmy Butler is a restricted free agent, and the Bulls can match any offer he signs with another team and retain him.

2) The Chicago Bulls are very, very high on Butler and want to keep him.

With that background, we pass the report that what Butler wants to do is play for the Lakers. Via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

Lastly, Chicago forward Jimmy Butler hopes to take his talents elsewhere and take advantage of the new television deal after his career year coincided with Tom Thibodeau’s firing and Derrick Rose’s chemistry issues. Although Butler wants to sign a one-year deal with the Lakers, according to a league source familiar with his thinking, the Bulls are expected to match any offer for the restricted free agent.

Two quick thoughts here. First, Butler does want to sign a shorter deal, not a five-year max contract, and the Lakers have been dropped as a team he is interested in before. Second, the Lakers cannot extend a one-year offer sheet. It’s part of the complexities of the salary cap, something the brilliant Mark Deeks breaks down here, if you want to read about it in detail. Just know it has to be at least a two-year offer from the Lakers.

This is an agent trying to use the Lakers to leverage the Bulls. There will be a lot of that this season, whether it is Dwyane Wade or a host of others, if an agent is looking to create leverage he’ll use the big market and wads of cash that the Lakers have to do it.

This is simply an effort to get the Bulls to offer Butler a shorter deal and not the five-year max, because like everyone Butler would love to tap into that television money that is about to start flowing into the NBA in 2016.

However, if Chicago does offer Butler a five-year max he will take it — everyone takes a max extension to his rookie contract (Greg Monroe was not offered that, according to the most reliable reports). That would be Butler’s first  huge contract, it is $90 million and that is “set your family up for generations” money. Players don’t walk away from that the first time it’s on the table. (LeBron James may leverage shorter deals now, but only after he got money in the bank off that first extension.)

If the Bulls offer the max, the Lakers would have to offer at least three years under the CBA, and the Bulls would just match that offer sheet if Butler signed it. If Butler really wanted out of Chicago, his only option would sign a one-year qualifying offer at $4.4 million and leave more than $85 million in guaranteed cash on the table, then he could be a free agent next summer. Not even the most deluded Lakers fan can picture that happening.

Butler is going to be a Bull next season. Nothing to see here, move along.

Report: Suns serious about shopping Eric Bledsoe this summer

Phoenix Suns v Washington Wizards
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After a game of cat and mouse through much of last summer, the Phoenix Suns committed to Eric Bledsoe — five years, $70 million. He responded by giving them a good season, averaging 17 points and 6.1 assists a game, leading the team in Win Shares (seven) and he had the highest PER of any player on the roster at the end of the season.

So, now the Suns want out of the Bledsoe business.

Phoenix is reportedly going to sign Brandon Knight to a $70 million contract this summer, and if that happens you can bet they don’t want to high-priced point guards and Bledsoe will be on the block. Marc Stein of ESPN put it this way:

It sounds like the Suns do not want to try and recreate the two point guard success they had with Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, just slotting Knight in there. Catching that lightning in a bottle twice was always going to be difficult to do. But do the Suns want to bet on Knight over Bledsoe? Interesting choice. And by interesting, I mean not the choice I would make. It’s simple here, Bledsoe is the better player.

If the Suns want to move Bledsoe, there will be interested trading partners, but you’d have to think the Suns would keep the price high.

Report: Dallas most likely team to lure DeAndre Jordan from Clippers, Chandler Parsons already recruiting

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Four
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Two summers ago Chandler Parsons helped recruit Dwight Howard to Houston. Then last summer Parsons bolted the Rockets and signed with the rival Mavericks over in Dallas.

Even there he doesn’t stop. Chandler is back to recruiting big men.

He met last week with DeAndre Jordan at his Texas home and flew back to Los Angeles with him. Dallas is looking like the biggest threat to lure Jordan away from the Clippers, as reported by Tim MacMahon at ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Mavericks are the team feared most by the Clippers even though Jordan is expected to meet with at least two more teams: the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons, who regards himself to be Dallas’ lead recruiter on free agent matters, visited Jordan in Houston last weekend and traveled to Los Angeles immediately after Thursday’s draft to spend more time with the big man.

Jordan’s decision likely comes down to staying with the Clippers or heading to Dallas. He wants to be more at the forefront of a team, and that’s not happening with the Lakers (that’s Kobe Bryant’s team, and then it will be probably D’Angelo Russell’s). The Knicks are a long shot.

Clippers fans should be nervous — if Jordan bolts Los Angeles has no way to replace him with near the same quality (even without Jordan’s contract LA would be close to the cap and have only the mid-level exception to use; which last year got them Spencer Hawes). Jordan reportedly has felt like the third wheel at times — the Clippers are Chris Paul and Blake Griffin’s team. Jordan gets Defensive Player of the Year votes, Doc Rivers pumps Jordan up like no other (he restored the confidence Vinny Del Negro had shattered), but Jordan is not the focal point of the Clippers. Not even close, and that plus CP3’s unrelenting competitiveness can wear on some guys.

Still, the Clippers have three big things going for them. First, Jordan likes being in Los Angeles and Hollywood, he likes all the perks that can be associated with living in the nation’s second . Second, frustrated with him or not, no point guard is going to make Jordan look as good, no point guard trust him like Paul. Finally, and most importantly, the Clippers can offer one more guaranteed year (five years vs. four) and about $30 million more in guaranteed money than anyone else.

The money — and the fact the Clippers are contenders — should have Jordan leaning Los Angeles. But after years of feeling like the third guy at best on the team, the fact other teams are going to pump up his ego — as Parsons is already doing — will play well with a guy wanting that recognition.

Report: Lakers would still trade D’Angelo Russell for DeMarcus Cousins straight up. Kings wouldn’t.

2015 NBA Draft
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DeMarcus Cousins’ agent Dan Fegan tried. He was the guy who guided Dwight Howard’s exit from Orlando, and now he was attempting to get his other top center out of Sacramento and to the Los Angeles Lakers. He got permission from the Kings’ owner to explore a deal, but he couldn’t find one that Kings GM and the owner would sign off on. Now more and more it looks like George Karl and Cousins may just have to try and get along.

But if something changes, the Lakers would gladly give up their recent No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell for Cousins, reports Mark Heisler at the Daily News.

Of course, it’s not the Lakers side of that equation that was ever in question.

You shortcut (the rebuilding process) at your peril, even if the Lakers were willing to trade their No. 2 pick for Sacramento’s even-higher-maintenance-than-Dwight-Howard DeMarcus Cousins … and would send Russell up there tomorrow if that would do it, a league source told me.

Not that it’s likely to happen, either. With owner Vivek Ranadive intent on not trading Cousins, much less to the hated Lakers, the Kings asked for the moon — the No. 2 pick, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, more picks.

That was the asking price I heard as well, and that maybe you could talk the Kings back to “just” Randle, Clarkson and now Russell but that was the floor.

That’s not a deal the Lakers should do.

Those three young players form a solid core, the kind free agents will take a long look at because there is potential. The Lakers will be swinging for the fences, and they will connect at some point. That doesn’t mean LaMarcus Aldridge comes this summer (smart money there is still on the Texas teams), nor Kevin Love (don’t expect him to bolt Cleveland, at least this summer). But it means that over the next few years the Lakers are likely to land one or two big names, which paired with that core vault them back up near the top of the West.

In the short term, you sell the Kobe Bryant farewell tour (even if he will not call it that).

Cousins is a cornerstone player, but you can’t give up everything to get him.