Tag: Detroit Pistons

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Lakers, Knicks struggle on hectic first day of free agency


There were clear winners on the first day of NBA free agency, where an estimated $1.3 billion in contracts were handed out. The Cleveland Cavaliers are getting the band back together, reaching deals with Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert. The Golden State Warriors kept Draymond Green in house. The Toronto Raptors impressed and signed DeMarre Carroll. The Pelicans re-signed Anthony Davis and Omer Asik. The Phoenix Suns landed Tyson Chandler and re-signed Brandon Knight, then impressed LaMarcus Aldridge. The Spurs also impressed LMA and they re-signed Danny Green at a great price. The Hawks retained Paul Millsap.

As Knicks rookie Jerian Grant said: “Is this free agency or Oprah? You get a max, you get a max, you get a max…”

Yet, the Lakers and Knicks were left standing there, empty handed.

Early in day two of free agency, the Knicks landed Arron Afflalo, a nice pickup but not the game changer their fans have been hoping to see.

These are two of the games biggest brands, in the nation’s two largest markets, both with plenty of cash to spend on free agents, yet both looked woefully behind the times and unable to adjust to the new realities of the NBA.

It is just one day and both will get chances at other big names — the Knicks have long been linked to Greg Monroe, and the Lakers had the opportunity to pitch him as well (update: Monroe chose the Milwaukee Bucks). DeAndre Jordan and others are still on the board.

But both franchises are learning hard lessons.

Free agents now want more than off-the-court opportunities, they want to see a path to winning. Fast. They can live and work out in Los Angeles in the summer if they want the perks of the city, they want to be shown the analytics of how this team can help them win on the court. Now. Social media has altered the world of off-the-court endorsements, being in a big market isn’t as big an advantage as it once was. Today’s free agents want to know how the team can help them grow their brand by landing them on the biggest NBA stages — the playoffs, The Finals, prime-time games on Christmas Day, All-Star Games.

And right now, the Lakers and Knicks are bad basketball teams.

David West was blunt about it talking about the Knicks.

Those struggles on the court permeate the teams’ big pitches to free agents.

The Lakers were one of the co-frontrunners to land LaMarcus Aldridge heading into free agency, and they got the first meeting with the All-Star forward. But their most dynamic speakers are the people on the business side of the equation, Aldridge was left wanting on the basketball side. From a source that spoke to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

Aldridge considered the Lakers to be part of a “two-horse race” with the San Antonio Spurs and “wanted to be wowed” but was actually turned off by the lack of analytics on the basketball side of their presentation, according to the person….

The Lakers also contended that their analytics outline would have been stronger if they had a better roster last season. The team privately expressed envy that Houston’s presentation could be boasted by stats and on-court analysis of a team with James Harden and, indeed, Dwight Howard.

The Rockets are also far more invested in those analytics. Meanwhile, the Lakers are trying social media campaigns that both seem dated and that the NBA made them take down anyway.

To a degree, this is the impact the other 28 NBA owners wanted with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement — they wanted to take away as much of the inherent advantages of big, profitable franchises as they could. They made the price for continually exceeding the luxury tax so onerous — not just financially, but taking away sign-and-trades and limiting cap exceptions to big-spending teams — that everyone is far more on the same financial playing field.

The Lakers and Knicks have seemed slow to adapt to that new reality. Around the league, they are seen as two teams less willing to embrace the analytics that have driven teams like Golden State, San Antonio and Miami in recent seasons. Both Lakers coach Byron Scott and Knicks head honcho Phil Jackson have at points dismissed the value of the three-point shot. You can try to defend the context of those statements, but the impression was left of two dinosaurs trying to win their same old-school way.

The reality is that rebuilding can be slow and hard. The Lakers can point to an excellent young core of players — D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson — and try to paint a picture of how there is hope for the future of the franchise in their hands. It’s a good picture — but players like Aldridge, at age 30, are not going to wait around for that moment. They want to see good basketball teams now. The Lakers and Knicks are just not that.

Free agency is far from over; all is not lost with either of these franchises this summer. As noted before, Monroe is certainly in play, and with the cash to spend the Lakers and Knicks are going to get the attention of other quality players still on the market.

But day one was rough in Los Angeles and New York.

Who is left on the board after wild first day of NBA free agency?

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three

That was insane.

NBA teams agreed to $1.3 billion in contract money in the first 24 hours of free agency, in what was as hectic a first day as anyone can recall. The CBA worked as the owners intended — small market teams did just as well (actually, much better) than the big markets and most free agents took the extra money and security their current teams could offer. Guys stayed home (19 out of 26 guys did not change teams of the early signings).

So who is left on the board as we head into Day 2? Here are the biggest names out there still.

LeBron James — Like he’s leaving Cleveland. He’s a free agent in name only.

Marc Gasol — He also is out there in name only, the Grizzlies will have a deal with him by the end of the day. It’s just that the deal is being worked out in Spain, in between tapas and siestas, so it’s moving at a different pace.

LaMarcus Aldridge — He has a couple more meetings on Thursday, including with the Knicks and Raptors, before sitting down and figuring out where he wants to play next. The Spurs remain the front-runners, they impressed him with their pitch, plus he gets to go home to Texas and step straight on to a contender. However, Portland, Phoenix and everyone but the Lakers are still holding out hope.

DeAndre Jordan — The athletic center has had a few meetings, and it is thought to be a 50/50 decision between the Mavericks and Clippers. In Dallas he gets to go home to Texas and be a bigger part of the offense; but the Clippers offer more money, he likes living in Los Angeles and playing for Doc Rivers, plus they are legit title contenders.

Greg Monroe — Maybe the most open name on the board. The young center played for relative peanuts last season to get this moment, and the Knicks and Lakers are both very interested. However, both Portland and Milwaukee have made strong impressions and are in the mix. He’s going to get a max, he just has to decide where he wants to play.

Dwyane Wade — He and the Miami Heat need each other, and they are reportedly closing in on a deal. There isn’t much of a market outside Miami for his skills, unless he wants to take less money than he felt insulted by when the Heat offered it.

Robin Lopez — He has had interest from a number of teams, but for the Knicks and Bucks the veteran big man is kind of Plan B after Monroe. Lopez is going to get paid then bring solid defense and a hatred of mascots to wherever he chooses.

Wesley Matthews — He tore his Achilles last season and, while reportedly ahead of schedule on rehab, teams can’t expect him to be right for at least half if not all of this next season. That said, he has shown zero interest in taking a discount — he wants $15 million per year or more. Dallas is considered the front-runner for maybe the best “3 and D” guy in the league (because he can do more than just that), but other teams such as the Kings are interested.

Tobias Harris — With Orlando striking out on Paul Millsap (who stayed in Atlanta) it may take a max offer to get the Magic not to match (Harris is a restricted free agent). The Pistons, Lakers, Knicks and others have reportedly been interested, but will any of them put that much money on the table for the young forward?

Monta Ellis — The Pacers meet with Ellis on Thursday, and that may be a match. The Pacers need shot creation and playmaking, plus they have the money to pay. The Kings also are said to be interested, and more may come calling.

Other names on the board: Lou Williams, Rodney Stuckey, Jared Dudley, Ed Davis, Kosta Koufos and Patrick Beverley (he’s restricted, the Rockets can match any offer).

Report: Thunder reach deal five-year, $25 million deal to keep Kyle Singler

Oklahoma City Thunder v Minnesota Timberwolves

Kyle Singler has one elite NBA skill — he can shoot the three ball. He is a career 37.8 percent from deep and has ridiculous range.

Aside that, his game is still a work in progress. But the Oklahoma City Thunder are willing to make a bet on the rest of that game.

The Thunder and Singler have reached a five-year deal, reports Adrian Wojnaroski of Yahoo Sports.

Singler never quite found a groove in Detroit, and Stan Van Gundy — who loves shooters – was willing to let him go in the Reggie Jackson trade. Singler’s game can seem awkward, but at times it’s effective.

The key here for the Thunder is they got him at a fair price — $5 million a year is easy to either absorb or move, depending on how things go.

Reports: Phoenix Suns sign Tyson Chandler, re-sign Brandon Knight, try to reshape roster

Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers

There were a lot of teams — the Clippers, Knicks, even Mavericks among others — that were going to get serious in talks with Tyson Chandler as Plan B, if their first gambits didn’t pay off.

The Phoenix Suns came calling in the first 24 hours of free agency telling Chandler he was Plan A — and they carried a big check.

It worked, Chandler is going to Phoenix, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

That’s a lot of years for a player who turns 33 next season, and a lot of money for a guy whose skills have started to show some slippage. That said, the magical Suns training staff has rejuvenated more than one big man and kept him playing at a high level.

The Chandler news came right on the heels of an expected announcement — the Suns re-signed point guard Brandon Knight to a five-year deal, $70 million deal, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Knight, 23, averaged 13.4 points and 4.5 assists in 11 games for the Suns last season after they acquired him in a three-team deal with the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers at the February trade deadline. Ankle and heel injuries sidelined him for most of his short time in Phoenix last season.

Armed with those two signings, the Suns walked into their meeting with free agent LaMarcus Aldridge — more than those two signings, they brought Chandler into the meeting.

Phoenix wants to play small and reportedly are not looking to trade Eric Bledsoe — although around the league they thought he was being shopped — but rather play those two together. With that lineup you can see Chandler as the rim protector on defense and rebounder (plus he is strong in the pick-and-roll), then Aldridge could space the floor and have room to operate as a four (his preferred role).

The challenge: With those two signings the Suns do not have the room to sign Aldridge to a max deal as well. If Aldridge said he wanted to come to the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix would need to shed a lot of salary fast. That, or do a sign-and-trade with Bledsoe.

Even if Aldridge chooses to play elsewhere, the Suns have upgraded their roster.

And no Chandler on the board could leave teams in a lurch. For example, the Clippers wanted to sign-and-trade for him if DeAndre Jordan chose Dallas. Now if Jordan bolts the Clippers do not have the cap space to replace him with anywhere near that same quality of players. There is also now more pressure on the Lakers and Knicks to land Greg Monroe.

Knicks have midnight meeting with Greg Monroe; DeAndre Jordan, LaMarcus Aldridge up next

Greg Monroe

The Knicks are expected to be active players in free agency, which officially got going at midnight Eastern time on Wednesday.

New York is getting a formal sit-down with all the big names, and the first one on their list remains the most likely of targets to end up playing in a Knicks uniform next season.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

A Knicks contingent of Phil Jackson, general manager Steve Mills, coach Derek Fisher and vice president of operations Jamie Matthews descended upon Washington D.C. at midnight Wednesday to meet with Greg Monroe at superagent David Falk’s offices, then was to fly to Los Angeles to meet with Clippers defensive center DeAndre Jordan in the afternoon in making their first bids for a free-agent splash.

Jackson’s crew will then sit down in L.A. with Portland All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge Thursday — the Knicks being the last of seven teams he will greet. Falk, who is close to Jackson, holds all of his free-agent meetings in Washington. Monroe, the former Georgetown star, is considered a favorite to choose the Knicks.

The Knicks, much like the Lakers, can’t afford to hand out two max-level contracts this summer.

Monroe has always been linked to New York, while Jordan and Aldridge remain long shots. But the Knicks are in the largest of markets, and armed with significant cap space for the first time in years, are at the very least getting everyone to listen.