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Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Report: John Wall contract extension Wizards’ top priority, but he’s unsure about committing

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Wizards guard John Wall can sign a contract extension this year, sign an extension next year or become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. No matter when he signs – because he’s still under contract for two more seasons – the new terms would take effect in 2019-20.

When will he lock in?

By making the All-NBA third team, Wall became eligible to sign a designated-veteran-player contract extension with Washington this summer. But because he has two years left on his current deal ($18,063,850 in 2017-18 and $19,169,800 in 2018-19), an extension could add just four years to his contract.

This is the only time Wall is guaranteed be eligible for a designated-veteran-player salary, though. He could add five years at the designated-veteran-player rate by making All-NBA in 2017-18 or 2018-19, but that’s obviously no guarantee.

Does Wall want to sign now, even for fewer years, while he’s designated-veteran-player eligible? Do the Wizards want to give him that higher max in order to secure his services for just four additional years?

J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

An extension with Wall will be the top priority of the offseason in which Otto Porter is also a restricted free agent, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.

From league sources close to the situation, Wall wants to see a bigger picture plan on where the franchise is headed before committing for longer.

Wall has never advanced past the second round, and he sounded disappointed in his supporting cast after the Wizards lost to the Celtics in this year’s second round. He has also expressed unhappiness about his lack of popularity in Washington.

But that’s a lot of money to turn down. Wall can’t simply pencil himself onto another All-NBA team is this guard-dominant league.

A designated-veteran-player projects to be worth $217 million over five years. If Wall plays out his contract without making an All-NBA team the next two years, his projected max – even if he re-signs with the Wizards – projects be worth $186 million over five years. That’s a $31 million difference!*

*Using Albert Nahmad’s $107 million salary-cap projection for 2019-20

Would Wall take such a large financial risk?

He must weigh his priorities (security vs. flexibility, staying in Washington vs. leaving) and his chances of making another All-NBA team in a league with Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker.

Here’s a flowchart showing Wall’s possible outcomes and what his max contract projects to be in each scenario:

John Wall extension (4)

Draymond Green: BS that Klay Thompson left off All-NBA teams

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All-NBA guards:

Klay Thompson‘s omission – despite three Warriors (Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green) making All-NBA teams – sure seemed to bother Green.

Green, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

“I think it’s bulls—,” he said. “When you look around teams . . . what did we win, 67 games or something like that? And we probably handed teams three or four. You’re talking a possible 70-win season. I think Klay is one of our top three guys, and to not be on an All-NBA team is pretty crazy.

“There are some guys on there, as scorers averaging 20 points and don’t have nearly the amount of wins we have. So how he could be left out, I don’t really understand it. And also the way Klay can defend, I don’t understand it.

“But I guess (voting media) have to find some way to punish us.”

What a victim complex.

Thompson deserved to make All-NBA ahead of DeRozan, but so did Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and Mike Conley – and all three belong in line before Thompson. Kyle Lowry and Kyrie Irving are also in the mix of more deserving than DeRozan and Thompson.

Team wins can’t be the only measure for All-NBA, or Zaza Pachulia would make it. A player’s contributions to winning must be measured. Thompson is very good, but he’s Golden State’s fourth-best player. His was in the mix for All-NBA, but I wouldn’t have given him a spot. It’s certainly not a travesty that he didn’t make it.

But Green wanted to stick up for a teammate. I think that, as much as, maybe more than, merit influenced his comments.

James Harden, LeBron James headline All-NBA Teams

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James Harden was a unanimous First Team choice.

LeBron James and Russell Westbrook came within one vote of the same (one voter each had them on the second team).

While we aren’t going to know who won MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, or other NBA awards until their new ceremony June 26 (after the Finals and Draft), the All-NBA teams had to be different. Because it impacts bonuses and future contracts — most notably if players qualify for Designated Player max deals this summer — teams needed to know early, before the Draft. So on Thursday the NBA released the prestigious All-NBA team, a snapshot of the best in the game.

Here are the three All-NBA teams:

Other players receiving votes, with point totals (First Team votes in parentheses): Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota, 50 (2); Chris Paul, LA Clippers, 49; Marc Gasol, Memphis, 48 (2); DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans, 42 (2); Paul George, Indiana, 40; Gordon Hayward, Utah, 27; Hassan Whiteside, Miami, 18; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland, 14; Klay Thompson, Golden State, 14; Nikola Jokic, Denver, 12 (1); Damian Lillard, Portland, 12; Paul Millsap, Atlanta, 3; LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio, 1; Blake Griffin, LA Clippers, 1; Al Horford, Boston, 1.

These were voted on by 100 members of the media, their votes will be made public June 26 with the rest of the award voting. (Full disclosure, I was one of those voters.)

The big takeaways: Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Stephen Curry (already an MVP) are eligible for Designated Player max contracts. In the case of Leonard it would be five years at around $217 million, and while he would sign next summer it wouldn’t kick in until the summer of 2019. Wall can sign his extension this summer (he has more experience) but his deal will not kick in for a couple.

However, Paul George and Gordon Hayward did not make an All-NBA team, which could impact their summers because now the Pacers and Jazz cannot offer their stars those Designated Player max contracts. (That contract is only for players who make the team the past year or two of the last three, or are a former MVP.)

In the case of George (who made all-NBA regularly before his leg injury, now has not made it two of the last three), that means the Pacers may consider trading their star this summer. George is a free agent in 2018 and there is a lot of buzz he is going to leave (either to a contender or the Lakers), and Indiana’s new man in charge Kevin Pritchard may feel he needs to get something for George rather than just let him walk. However, the trade market for George will not be robust because teams feel he wants to be a free agent in 2018, so he could be a one-year rental.

For Hayward, it means the Jazz can only offer a little more than other teams — about $2 million a year more on average over the deal, but also a guaranteed fifth year, so it works out to $46 million more guaranteed (but Hayward would get paid somewhere that fifth season, just not as much). That may be enough to keep him, he likes Utah, but it’s known Boston — with Hayward’s college coach Brad Stevens — and other teams are going to come hard at him.

Some will question putting Anthony Davis at center, but he spent 64 percent of his time on the court this past season at the five (as tracked by Basketball-Reference.com). That likely will not be the case next season with DeMarcus Cousins in the picture.

Celtics, Lakers, and Magic headline 2017 NBA Draft Lottery winners and losers

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The 2017 NBA Draft Lottery is over, and the Boston Celtics — a team in the Eastern Conference Finals — hold the No. 1 overall pick. The Los Angeles Lakers will pick at No. 2, and the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3. Who will take Markelle Fultz and who will take Lonzo Ball isn’t yet clear, but they seem slated to go right next to each other at the top of the draft.

A dizzying amount of picks changed hands thanks to protections and swap rights, but the final order ended up looking like this:

1. Boston (via Brooklyn)
2. L.A. Lakers
3. Philadelphia
4. Phoenix
5. Sacramento
6. Orlando
7. Minnesota
8. New York
9. Dallas
10. Sacramento (via New Orleans)
11. Charlotte
12. Detroit
13. Denver
14. Miami

We won’t know who really wins this thing until we get deep into next season, but an initial reaction of winners and losers thanks to aforementioned pick swaps and ping pong balls I think looks pretty clear.

Winners

Celtics
Boston traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen during the summer of 2007, then took home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2007-08. The Celtics then traded Garnett and Pierce in 2013 for three of Brooklyn’s first round picks as well as the right to swap picks in 2017.

Boston traded for a championship, then traded those guys to either add the best player in college basketball or to be able to swap for an existing superstar. They’re doing all that with a team that was already the No. 1 seed in the East and is in the conference finals. That is getting some serious run out of the Big 3. Paul Pierce even thinks so himself.

Celtics fans have to know they came up huge on this one, and even though there might be some overlapping talent with Isaiah Thomas and either Fultz or Ball, that also gives them more weapons to be able to take down LeBron James and the Cavaliers in coming seasons. Or, as Celtics GM Danny Ainge hinted at after the lottery, they might be looking to use that pick to trade for a guy like Jimmy Butler or Paul George.

Lakers
Los Angeles didn’t get the pick they wanted, but they got the next best thing. It’s entirely possible that Ball is a serious talent and missing piece for LA, and they have burgeoning young talent on the roster. Couple that with rumored interest from 2018 free agent Paul George, the Lakers could be on their way back up.

They also keep their 2019 first round pick, which would have gone to Orlando, so things definitely worked out well for Lakers fans.

Sixers
Philadelphia didn’t get the top pick, and someone like Fultz would fit in nicely especially as the 76ers look to add competent ball handlers. But without Fultz or Ball on the board, the Sixers can look at guys like Josh Jackson and De'Aaron Fox to fill out their roster as they add a healthy Ben Simmons next season.

The important thing is that the 76ers still wound up in the Top 3, with the availability to now use that pick to keep building on The Process or to swap for veteran talent, something not many have talked about. The other good news here is that because of pick swaps, the Sixers not only got a high selection this season but have the Lakers’ first round pick unprotected for next year.

Losers

Magic
A serious blow here for the Orlando Magic, who wound up with the No. 6 pick and do not get to keep the Lakers’ 2019 first round pick. Orlando is without a GM at the moment, and finished just 29-53 this season. Their roster is in flux, they’re back toward the bottom of the league, and their new GM will need to knock it out of the park with that No. 6 pick if they want to be able to capitalize with the young talent they already have.

Heat
Miami wound up with the No. 14 pick, which is right where they should be. The Heat had a 98 percent chance to end up at the end of the lottery, but I still think that’s some kind of bummer. Miami had an awful start to the season, but finished 30-11 to tie the Chicago Bulls for No. 8 in the East, just narrowly missing the playoffs. The up-and-down nature of Miami’s season combined with missing out on the postseason and getting the last pick in the lottery sort of sums up a weird, frustrating season in Florida.