Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Spurs reach one-year $14 million contract with Manu Ginobili; Sixers drove up price

14 Comments

Can you imagine Manu Ginobili ending his career in a Sixers uniform?

Neither could the San Antonio Spurs — but they had to pay Ginobili a massive one-year, $14 million contract to have the legendary Argentinian finish his career in San Antonio. The two sides formally reached and signed a deal on Thursday, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports and since confirmed by the Spurs and Ginobili himself.

Here is the initial report:

Four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili has signed a one-year, $14 million deal to return to the San Antonio Spurs, league sources told The Vertical.

Both sides had been discussing terms and completed the deal Thursday, sources said. Ginobili, 38, opted out of his $2.9 million contract in June to become a free agent.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical had the more interesting details.

The Spurs first offer to Ginobili was for a little more than $3 million. At the urging of coach Brett Brown — who had been an assistant with the Spurs — the Sixers offered Ginobili a two-year deal with at least $16 million guaranteed in the first season, Wojnarowski reports. The Spurs want veterans who know how to win in their young locker room. That forced the Spurs to up their offer — Ginobili would give the Spurs a hometown discount, but not a $13 million one. The Spurs got their man, but it’s part of the reason they couldn’t match the Piston’s offer sheet for Boban Marjanovic.

Ginobili does still bring value on the court as a playmaker off the bench. Last season he averaged 9.6 points and 3.1 assists per game, in what felt like a bounce-back season. Ginobili will play for Argentina this summer at the Rio Olympics.

Old school Isiah Thomas rips Ben Simmons for not playing every Summer League game

26 Comments

He does realize it’s Summer League, right?

The NBA world has been in Las Vegas the past week for Summer League, a series of exhibition games where teams look at their just-drafted rookies, guys they might consider for the final couple roster spots/camp invites, and mostly guys who will spend next season in Europe or the D-League.

The outcomes of the actual games mean about as much as the color of your toothbrush — Summer League is an evaluation tool. Nothing more. It’s not important and top players — such as highly drafted rookies — are often pulled by teams after a few games.

Don’t tell that to Hall of Famer and former NBA coach Isiah Thomas. The Sixers sat No. 1 pick Ben Simmons on Wednesday night, and Thomas was on the NBA TV broadcast. Here is what Thomas said, the video is above (via Eye on Basketball):

“He should be playing tonight. You got people coming into the building, they want to see him play. He’s a rookie. He’s taking selfies and signing autographs, I mean you 19 — earn your money. Get out on the floor and play.”

Wrong. 

I don’t think we can say this enough: It’s Summer League. It doesn’t matter. I get the old school “I always compete” mentality, but this is not when Ben Simmons earns his money — he earns it when the games start in October. The real games. The ones count for something. That’s when he needs to always compete. What matters in Las Vegas is he got in a little run with better competition than he saw at LSU, the coaches got to evaluate him in that setting, learn some things, work with him on others. 

What matters most for Simmons at Summer League? Staying healthy. Between the Utah and Las Vegas leagues Simmons played in five games this summer. That’s plenty.

Summer League has become a draw for hardcore fans of the game, it’s become a surprisingly large spectacle and event. Which is awesome. But let’s not confuse the games with something that has real meaning beyond an evaluation tool.

Apparently Wanda Durant (Kevin’s Mom) set Adam Silver straight on son’s move to Warriors

Getty Images
14 Comments

Adam Silver has said he doesn’t think the move of Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors is good for the NBA, as Silver has made “competitive balance” one of his priorities. Dallas owner Mark Cuban thinks KD as a villain on the Warriors is going to be good for business. But Silver said the situation that helped form the Warriors is something the league should look at through the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which the owners/players union are already discussing.

Wanda Durant came to the defense of her son and set Silver straight.

Silver was at the ESPYs last night and spoke to Joe Varden of Cleveland.com.

“The one thing I have learned, I was just talking to Kevin Durant’s mom, every situation is different,” Silver told cleveland.com on the red carpet in Los Angeles prior to the ESPYS Wednesday. “This was a team in Golden State where they have three all-stars who were all drafted. A team that’s under the cap. And one free agent, who also happens to be a superstar, makes a decision to go to that team. It’s very different than if multiple players from different teams had come together and said let’s all land on yet a completely different team.

“Every situation is unique, and these players have difficult decisions to make,” Silver said. “Of course they want to win. I’m sure it was very difficult for him to leave the Oklahoma City community. Look at the incredible things he’s done there over the years. So these decisions are always difficult, and these are young men. It’s a lot of responsibility.”

Kevin Durant’s mom is his best publicist and enforcer. Apparently. Of course it helps that she’s right.

Silver went on to say he still wants to see CBA changes. Silver speaks for the majority of owners, who want changes to limit superteams and flatten out the talent pool (which the current CBA has done, five different champs the past six seasons). The problem is what changes get made? The confluence of events — the new television deal spiking the salary cap, Stephen Curry being on a below-market contract because of past ankle issues, and much more — that had to come together for Durant to make this move were a fluke, not something easily predicted and preventable.

Some owners will want a hard cap, but no way the players would go for that and it would lead to a lengthy lockout. Same goes for a “franchise player tag.” The best move might be to remove the max salary restrictions while keeping the cap as is — no way a team could get Curry and Durant at the same time when each would command at least $45 million — but the rank-and-file NBA players wouldn’t want that because the money they make now would suddenly go to the top five percent of players. There are no easy answers or this would already be done.

Maybe Silver should just consult Wanda Durant on this.

Rumor: Celtics target Blake Griffin in three-team deal; want to make big move soon

Getty Images
42 Comments

The Celtics are one of the big winners of free agency — by adding Al Horford to a 48-win roster they became arguably the second best team in the East. But they are still a step or two behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, and GM Danny Ainge is going to be aggressive in trying to land another star. Not overpaying in deals, mind you, but aggressive.

Like going hard at Blake Griffin.

That’s the guy the Celtics have in their sights, reports Sean Deveney of the Sporting News.

The likely target for the Celtics, according to front-office sources, is Clippers forward Blake Griffin. The Clippers have been weighing trading Griffin all season , and the possibility of a three-team package involving Sacramento sending Rudy Gay to the Clippers has emerged. The Celtics would give up some number of their upcoming draft picks, but opposing front-office members say they don’t want to give up either Brooklyn pick Boston can own in the next two years.

The Clippers have 31-year-old point guard Chris Paul on hand, and league sources have said that if the Clippers move Griffin — a move that Clippers coach and front-office head Doc Rivers is reluctant to make — they will want a deal that involves draft picks and a frontline star who can keep them in Western Conference contention.

Before you get too excited Celtics fans, there is this from the well-connected Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

Sources indicate the Celtics are very much open to major moves, but while situations certainly remain fluid and they have expressed interest in Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook in the past, there have been no discussions regarding those players in quite some time.

For fun, let’s say the rumor has legs. While a lot of details need to be filled in, this deal certainly makes sense for Boston, especially if they can keep the Brooklyn pick — other GMs will demand that in a major deal. Rudy Gay has requested a trade from Sacramento and the Kings are trying to accommodate him, according to the league buzz in Las Vegas (where nearly everyone from the NBA has gathered for Summer League).

But I can’t see the Clippers pulling the trigger on this (at least as currently reported). The Clippers are the second or third best team in the West (depending on what you think of the Spurs) and in win-now mode. They have Paul, who can be a free agent next summer — any move the Clippers make needs to get them closer to a ring and make CP3 want to stay. Swapping Griffin for Gay does neither.

Also, Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer understands he is competing with the still-more-popular Lakers in a star-driven market, if the Clips move Griffin they need an A-list star back. Gay is still a good player, but he’s not that.

Still, expect a lot of Celtics rumors (particularly around Russell Westbrook, although that has complications as he will be a free agent next summer, too) and a lot of Griffin trade rumors. Just not sure this one pencils out.

PBT’s off-season Power Rankings: Free agency (and Kevin Durant) changed everything

Getty Images
25 Comments

Off-season power rankings are about feel. During the season there are spreadsheets full of statistics — wins and losses, net ratings, etc. — to make these rankings somewhat accurate. There is data. But during the off-season, we are doing more guesswork — which teams made the smart moves, which teams took steps backwards.

It’s also hard because some of the teams near the bottom of this ranking are going to be better than they were a year ago. There is hope in Philadelphia and Los Angeles and a host of other cities — the guess work goes into how much better they may get. Here’s how the league sits after the big names of free agency have settled.
source: 1. Warriors (73-9). I have a general policy that the team that wins the NBA championship should start the next season on top of the rankings — the Kevin Durant signing makes this the exception to the rule. A 73-win team just went from Harrison Barnes to Durant in their starting lineup. They had to give up some depth to get KD (Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, etc.), but pickups such as David West and Zaza Pachulia help fill that gap. It’s going to take a little time to work out the kinks, but this team is going to be the best shooting team of all time.

source: 2. Cavaliers (57-25). When you have a championship team, the smart play is not to make radical changes, and that’s what the Cavaliers did this summer — they kept the band together (even if we still wait for the formal re-signings of LeBron James and J.R. Smith). They are clear and away the best in the East. The only changes are on the periphery — no need to pay Timofey Mozgov as much as the Lakers did, they traded Matthew Dellavedova, but get a nice pickup with Mike Dunleavy.

source: 3. Spurs (67-15). Tim Duncan has retired and Pau Gasol has stepped in to fill that role — he brings better offense but worse defense at this point in his career. That said, he will fit seamlessly into their culture. The Spurs won a franchise best 67 games last season, but they didn’t get younger or more athletic this offseason, will that haunt them in the playoffs? This team is likely the Warriors biggest threat in the West.

source: 4. Clippers (53-29). I didn’t love their offseason — Cole Aldrich was good for them and will be missed, they still have Luc Mbah a Moute as their starting three, and they overpaid Austin Rivers — but they kept the core together including Jamal Crawford. With the Thunder taking a step back the odds of the Clippers reaching a conference Finals just went up.

source: 5. Celtics (48-34). Is this too high for Boston? Maybe. But they could be the second best team in the East (them or Toronto). Al Horford was a very good signing in that he is now their best player and he opens the door to bring in other name free agents next summer. This team won 48 games last season and should make a leap up into the low 50s with this roster, and nobody would be shocked if they pulled off some quality trades before the season gets rolling.

source: 6. Thunder (55-27). Gone are Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, and with that Oklahoma City is going to take a step back from last season when they proved to be title contenders. That said, they still have Russell Westbrook (who will have a monster season) and the Victor Oladipo trade made them better on the wings. The question that will loom is when will they trade Westbrook? And if he’s going to test the market at all (as is rumored), that has to be “when” they trade him, not “if.”

source: 7. Grizzlies (42-40). Memphis had one of the better offseasons out there — they kept Mike Conley and he helped recruit Chandler Parsons into the fold. They will have Marc Gasol back from injury. Draft pick Wade Baldwin has looked like a rotation player at Summer League. If this team can stay healthy — and that’s a big “if” — they become a tough matchup nobody wants in the playoffs, and they may well have home court in the first round.

source: 8. Raptors (56-26). Can they replicate the franchise-best season from the last campaign? They were able to re-sign DeMar DeRozan, which was key. They lost Bismack Biyombo via free agency and will try to replace him with free agent big Jared Sullinger and draft pick Jakob Poeltl (who needs to add strength but has nice footwork, watching him at Summer League). It all comes down to this: Can Kyle Lowry replicate last season? If so, this ranking may be a little low for Toronto and they may remain the second best team in the East.

source: 9. Pacers (45-37). This team quietly had a very nice summer and got better. Jeff Teague is an upgrade at the point over George Hill, Thaddeus Young is a strong addition as well, and Al Jefferson can get them buckets inside off the bench. They lost Solomon Hill, but this team is poised to take a step forward this season.

source: 10. Pistons (44-38). Maybe I’m a little too high on this team, but they were already a team on the rise in the East — especially after getting Tobias Harris — and they had a solid summer. They locked up Andre Drummond as they should. A lot of casual fans asked “who is Jon Leuer?” but the stretch four fits what Stan Van Gundy wants to do. They got depth up front with Boban Marjanovic. This team is poised for a healthy step forward this season.

source: 11. Jazz (40-42). They quietly had a fantastic summer. George Hill is an upgrade at the point (where they also get Dante Exum back from injury). They add depth and shooting on the wing with Joe Johnson. This was already a team on the rise, one expected to make the playoffs, and that looks more likely now. The one looming question: Gordon Hayward can and almost certainly will opt out next summer and become a free agent, can they keep him? If not, do they need to trade him?

source: 12. Trail Blazers (44-38). While the playoffs showed the need for another playmaker and perimeter defender, the dramatically overpaid Evan Turner to get “meh” versions of those skills. Portland also made a number of good moves: matching the Allen Crabbe offer sheet, re-signing Meyers Leonard, picking up Festus Ezeli on a good contract. Portland should be a little better next season than last.

source: 13. Hawks (48-38). This is going to be a very different Hawks team without Al Horford and Jeff Teague. They are bringing Dwight Howard to his hometown, but how will he fit into their ball-movement, selfless system? They made a smart move by bringing back Kent Bazemore, but the Hawks are going to take a step back off last season unless Dwight returns to Orlando form.

source: 14. Rockets (41-41). Offensively this team is going to be a lot of fun, but can they get any stops? GM Daryl Morey did a good job shaping this roster into one that better fits how new coach Mike D’Antoni wants to play — Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, and even Nene can help if they can stay healthy. Smart move locking up James Harden for an extra year, too. This team should be entertaining to watch, but not much of a playoff threat.

source: 15. Timberwolves (29-53). One of the teams on the rise in the West, their best move this summer was hiring coach Tom Thibodeau. First-round pick Kris Dunn has impressed at Summer League. Cole Aldrich was quietly a very nice signing. This is a team everyone, myself included, expects to make a big leap this season.

source: 16. Heat (48-34). I’m not sure where to rank this team because I don’t know the answer to the one big question: Will Chris Bosh play? The Heat lost Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson, so it feels like there may be a short-term step back. However, they are well poised for the future by re-signing Hassan Whiteside and matching the offer to Tyler Johnson. If Bosh plays this season this ranking is way too low, but if he doesn’t it’s too high.

source: 17. Hornets (48-34). They kept Nicolas Batum, which was huge, and they also re-signed Marvin Williams after his best season. However, the Hornets lost depth with Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee, and Al Jefferson all heading out the door. This is still going to be a good team for Steve Clifford, but not quite as good as a year ago.

source: 18. Magic (35-47). Their best move of the off-season may have been getting coach Frank Vogel. With him as the coach and Serge Ibaka looking to prove himself, this should be a much improved defensive squad. They wisely kept Evan Fournier. They brought in Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Green (at least Green is on a one-year deal). Individually I like all the moves, but I don’t see how all the pieces fit together well, especially on offense. Vogel will need to earn his keep this season.

source: 19. Mavericks (42-40). Once again Dallas swung for the fences in free agency, missed, then recovered nicely with a series of singles. They rolled the dice on a huge contract for Harrison Barnes — is he ready to step up from a No. 4 option to the second slot? They re-signed Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams, plus made a nice trade to get Andrew Bogut. If Barnes can live up to the contract they should be battling for one of the final playoff slots in the West.

source: 20. Wizards (41-41). They maxed out Bradley Beal, because they had to if they wanted to keep him, now they just need him to stay healthy and on the court. Maybe new coach Scott Brooks can get Beal and John Wall to be the powerhouse duo that can carry a team that they need to take a step forward. I like them getting Andrew Nicholson, but what is going to be different about these Wizards compared to the last few years? Can just staying healthy be enough to take a step forward?

source: 21. Bulls (42-40). They chose a direction trading Derrick Rose and keeping Jimmy Butler — then they assembled an older team that can’t shoot with Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. I did like the pickup of Robin Lopez and drafting Denzel Valentine, but this Bulls team is going to struggle defensively and the ball may stick on offense. Bulls fans will think this ranking is too low, I fear it’s too high.

source: 22. Bucks (33-49). I haven’t loved their off-season — Thon Maker was a reach at No. 10 in the draft, while Mirza Teletovic and Matthew Dellavedova are nice but not game changing pick ups. They found something near the end of last season with Giannis Antetokounmpo playing essentially the point, maybe that’s enough to propel them back on the trajectory we thought they were on a year ago. Their defense needs to get better.

source: 23. Knicks (32-50). How far can Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah, and contract-year Derrick Rose take this team? Do any of them really fit the way Jeff Hornacek wants to play? And what is the long-term plan? I did like the Courtney Lee signing for them. The Knicks will be better, but they are still going to be scrapping for one of the bottom playoff spots in the East.

source: 24. Nuggets (33-49). This is a team that started to develop a nice culture under Mike Malone last season and they should be able to build on that, but the roster needs more talent. Jamal Murray has looked pretty good at Summer League, but both he and Emmanuel Mudiay like the ball in their hands to create so they may need their minutes staggered. The Nuggets should improve with consistency of roster and system, but in a deep West how big a step forward they can take remains to be seen.

source: 25. Pelicans (30-52). If Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday are healthy and all the way back, this ranking may be much too low. I like how the roster has started to be shaped more to the style of coach Alvin Gentry — Solomon Hill, Langston Galloway, and E’twaun Moore are good free agent signings, and Buddy Hield will be a quality NBA player once he adjusts to the league. This team should be better than it was a year ago, but I’ll need to see it in action before I fully buy in.

source: 26. Lakers (17-56). This is going to be an improved Lakers team — but a young one still with growing pains. D’Angelo Russell has looked fantastic at Summer League, No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram needs to get stronger but will find his way, and they wisely re-signed Jordan Clarkson. I like the summer addition of Luol Deng both to add front court depth and as a veteran in the locker room. They overpaid for Timofey Mozgov but if healthy he can help them in the paint. Best case for the Lakers is they about double last year’s win total and show promise for the future.

source: 27. Kings (33-49). I expect a monster year out of DeMarcus Cousins (who looks to be in the best shape of his career), but I’m not sure how the rest of the pieces fit together. New coach Dave Joerger has his work cut out for him. Maybe the pickups of Arron Afflalo and Matt Barnes will provide some veteran stability, and point guard Darren Collison was better than Rondo last season. I don’t get the Georgios Papagiannis pick, but like what I’ve seen of Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere at Summer League (Skal could pass Willie Cauley-Stein on the depth chart sooner rather than later). This team could be better than this ranking, but I’ll need to see it shake out that way on the court before I buy in.

source: 28. Nets (21-61). GM Sean Marks has done as good a job as could be expected moving this franchise in the right direction considering what he had to work with. He made a good signing with Jeremy Lin. He made smart gambles going after restricted free agents Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe (even if neither worked out). They still have Brook Lopez in the paint. This isn’t going to be a good team, but they will be better than last year.

source: 29. Suns (23-59). They are banking on Eric Bledsoe staying healthy and a youth movement — they drafted Marquese Chriss, and Dragan Bender has looked good at Summer League. Bringing in Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley are nice veteran pickups. Still, hard to imagine the Suns’ playoff drought coming to an end this season.

source: 30. 76ers (10-71). Maybe the Sixers are better than this, but after the past couple seasons they will need to prove it to get out of the cellar. Ben Simmons has shown flashes at Summer League, they will get Joel Embiid on the court (*knocks on wood*), and veterans such as Gerald Henderson and Sergio Rodriguez will help this team not be embarrassing. It’s still a long road to good, but expect a step forward (and maybe out of the bottom slot in these rankings) this season.