This summer’s free-agent class will be headlined by Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo and (probably) Kevin Love. But there’s also a crop of restricted free agents who may be tough to get, but will undoubtedly draw offers all over the league: guys like Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green and Brandon Knight.
A new report by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe links the Celtics to one of the most high-profile and accomplished restricted guys who will be on the market, Kawhi Leonard.
Kawhi Leonard said he is 100 percent healthy again, giving the Spurs their most versatile player back for the stretch run. Leonard will be a restricted free agent this summer and will receive his share of offer sheets, likely including one from the Celtics. Boston coach Brad Stevens gushed about Leonard’s defensive prowess.
Leonard is exactly the kind of player you’d expect Ainge to go after, a legitimate star and game-changer on the defensive end. He’d join Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart in one of the most formidable perimeter defense units in the league.
Of course, his fit with the Celtics — or anyone else — is completely irrelevant because there’s no way that the Spurs will let the 2014 Finals MVP walk. They didn’t agree to an extension before the October 31 deadline, but with Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan coming off the books (and, sadly, more than likely retiring), plus the upcoming jump in salary cap, San Antonio will undoubtedly offer him a max-level contract that will be well deserved. Other teams may try to get creative like the Mavericks did to steal Chandler Parsons from the Rockets last summer, but the Spurs’ track record speaks for itself. They don’t lose their superstars, and Leonard is the face of the post-Duncan era. Some of the other restricted free agents may be attainable for the right price, but any hope of another team actually prying Leonard away from San Antonio falls strictly in the category of “wishful thinking.”
Not that the Celtics (or anyone) shouldn’t at least give his agent a call. You always have to do your due diligence when someone like that is available. But don’t expect to see Leonard in green and white anytime soon.
Mark Cuban rips officials, NBA: ‘It’s criminal’ how Monta Ellis doesn’t get calls
The Mavericks were blown out at the hands of the Spurs on Friday, and Monta Ellis, the team’s leading scorer, was seen leaving the arena on crutches after suffering an apparent leg injury.
That combination of events had Mark Cuban in a foul mood afterward, so much so that he lit into the game’s officials for the lack of foul calls Ellis receives, and also ripped the NBA for the way the league has responded to his series of complaints.
Cuban, who has calmly mentioned in the past that Ellis doesn’t get as many calls as he should, said he was set off after seeing Spurs power forward Tim Duncan smack Ellis in the face without a foul being called.
“He got hit in the face, Duncan got his body lower, hand was down like this in the replay, and then [referee] Monty McCutchen says he was straight up and down,” Cuban said. “Say you missed it, cool. Say you’ll look at it, cool. Say you weren’t sure, cool. Say it wasn’t your call, cool. But when the second defender doesn’t jump, it can’t be up and down. When a drive starts at the top of the key and you go straight down, it’s not lower box, it can’t be up and down unless you jump. That’s crazy, and it happens three times a game for Monta, every game. It’s ridiculous.” …
“I’m not allowed to say how many and what, but we literally have a play list of all the calls of Monta getting smacked and no call,” Cuban said. “It’s crazy. It’s crazy. It’s always the same: ‘Oh, it’s incidental,’ or ‘It’s not this, it’s not that.’ We tried. We tried to play the game.”
Cuban also took to Twitter to air his grievances.
It's criminal how Monta doesn't get calls
Pushed.Hit in face.Hit on arm.Im tired of turning in calls.Fans need to post video to wake NBA up.
Cuban has been vocal on this topic in the past, and has been fined more than once by previous commissioner David Stern for his public criticism of officials.
These comments may earn him his first fine from Adam Silver, but aside from that (or the league admitting incorrect calls after the fact), there’s not much else that’s likely to come from Cuban’s latest round of remarks.
Not only that, he has improved in each category from before the trade to after more than the other players.
Win shares per 48 minutes:
These aren’t hollow numbers, either. Dragic’s teammates rave about how he helps them.
“He’s easy to play with from the standpoint of he’s going to attack,” Wade said. “He’s always on attack, so the defense – he’s going to get in the paint and finish, or he’s going to create a lot of traffic, and he’s going to be able to kick it out to you and you’ll have open space.”
So, why has Dragic surged more than his traded peers?
Dragic also feels a sense of responsibility joining a team that reached four straight NBA Finals and won two of them. Though he lived his lifelong dream of leading a team with the Suns last season, he’s happy to defer to Wade at times now.
“That’s a team sacrifice,” Dragic said. “When they won a championship when LeBron was here and those guys, they have to make a sacrifice.”