Why yes, Minnesota Timberwolves, Darko Milicic will gladly take your $20 million, please and thank you

11 Comments

David Kahn is the most dangerous GM in the world. Not in the Sam Presti or Daryl Morey way, either; you don’t need to worry about his diabolical scheming or adaptable strategy, but rather how much irreparable damage he’s capable of doing to his team in a short time.

Well, add another bad move to Kahn’s Wikipedia page, even if it is merely bad (as opposed to completely ludicrous) and could actually have been far worse: the Timberwolves will sign Darko Milicic to a four-year, $20 million contract.

I’m glad that Kahn and Kurt Rambis understand that pairing Al Jefferson and Kevin Love together is a plan doomed to fail, but signing Darko to a long-term deal isn’t likely to make the situation any better. The Wolves have now betrayed themselves at the negotiating table; with Love as Kahn’s chosen son, Darko locked into a long-term deal, and the newly-signed power forward/center Nikola Pekovic on the way, it’s more evident than ever that the Wolves need to move Al Jefferson. He’s no longer a luxury, but an absolute redundancy, and that could seriously undercut Kahn’s attempts to trade him this summer.

If we view the Darko signing in a vacuum though, it’s really not awful. It’s just too long. And probably too expensive. If Kahn wanted to keep Milicic around while the team looks for more suitable centers, that’s fine. Sign him to a two-year deal starting around $4 million or so (which is still generous). If the Wolves don’t regret this signing immediately, they surely will four years down the line when they’re still paying Darko decent money for indecent production.

The good news is that the last year of Milicic’s contract is partially unguaranteed, so there’s always the possibility that the Wolves could be paying him slightly less in his final year to do absolutely nothing. Yay.

Far worse however, is the fact that signing him essentially forfeits the Wolves’ place in free agency, and removes the possibility of signing rumored target Rudy Gay. The pursuit of Gay may have been a mistake to begin with, but if given the choice between Minnesota spending too much money on an athletic wing with room for growth or a depressing center whose claim to fame is not being absolutely horrible, I think you take the former. Maybe that’s just me.

Either way, the Wolves will only have around $5 million in cap room to play with, no salary cap exceptions to speak of, and little hope for additional change outside of a potential Al Jefferson trade (which may be hindered by this very move). This signing in itself may not be a franchise-killer, but in conjunction with all of Kahn’s move in total, I think it’s time we Kahn-proof his office. Take his computer and phone, stash away all sharp objects, and lock him in. Believe it or not, it could actually get worse before the summer’s end.

Oscar Robertson’s 1971 championship ring sells for $75,948 at auction

Getty Images
1 Comment

Oscar Robertson, one of the NBA’s all-time greats and one of only two men to average a triple-double for a season, was recently given the NBA’s Lifetime achievement award. And with good reason — he was a legend on the court, but off the court his lawsuit paved the say for the NBA/ABA merger and the freedom of modern free agency.

In his career, he won just one title, with the Bucks in 1971. (He got it when he joined the Bucks and paired with a young Lew Alcindor — not yet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — just a reminder for the “count the ringzzzz” crowd that basketball is now and always was a team sport that requires multiple stars and quality role players, plus a little luck, to win a title. Nobody can do it on their own and context matters.)

Robertson recently put his championship ring up for auction, and it fetched $75,948.

That was one of 51 items from The Oscar Robertson Collection put up for auction, which also included game-worn jerseys, his Indiana State championship ring from high school, and more.

Jahlil Okafor says he’s “learned how to identify and manage different stressors such as anxiety”

Getty Images
1 Comment

Jahlil Okafor is trying to take advantage of his chance with the New Orleans Pelicans this season.

He talked about it in an Instagram post, and most people focused on the pictures of his improved physique. Which is improved.

My summer of transformation: First off I want to thank @idanwan & @dzandertraining for getting after it with me the moment my season ended. Grateful to have two of the best in their respective fields work with me all summer. Although the physical changes in this photo are evident, their has been extreme growth unbenounced to the eye. I’ve learned how to identify and manage different stressors such as anxiety. Learning how to identify certain stressors has also allowed me to over come them. Often times because of my size and profession people may view me in a certain way, but in reality I deal with the same struggles as countless others. Mental health awareness is a cause I will fight for the rest of my life and if you’re struggling today don’t be afraid to speak with someone and seek help. I would like to thank @kevinlove and the @playerstribune for helping me identify my feelings and informing me what I was dealing with was in fact normal. 6 weeks left in the off season; with a lot more work to do!

A post shared by Jahlil Okafor (@jah8) on

However, the text was interesting:

I’ve learned how to identify and manage different stressors such as anxiety. Learning how to identify certain stressors has also allowed me to over come them…. Mental health awareness is a cause I will fight for the rest of my life and if you’re struggling today don’t be afraid to speak with someone and seek help. I would like to thank @kevinlove and the @playerstribune for helping me identify my feelings and informing me what I was dealing with was in fact normal.

NBA players stepping forward and admitting they need help dealing with mental challenges and illness is a good thing. Kevin Love helped Okafor, and hopefully Okafor talking about it will help others.

Okafor has a clean slate in New Orleans. He missed much of last season due to injury, and between his time with the Sixers and Nets he was on the court for just 353 minutes total. In New Orelans there are bench minutes available (behind Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, and Julius Randle, but Okafor needs to show he can run the floor and play the up-tempo style the Pelicans employ. Okafor’s below the rim, back-to-the-basket offensive game, plus he poor defense, have held him back. If he’s got his body and mind right, maybe some of that can change.

Rockets waive R.J. Hunter, he’s a free agent. Again.

Getty Images
2 Comments

R.J. Hunter has just not been able to find a home and stick in the NBA. He was a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics in 2015 and expected to be a sharpshooter at the NBA level. He went on to play in 35 games for Boston his rookie season, but during the following training camp they cut the former Georgia Tech shooting guard. The Chicago Bulls picked him up on a non-guaranteed minimum contract, he played a total of three games for them, then was cut loose. Houston eventually had him on a two-way contract the second half of last season, where he played five games for the big club and spent most of the season in the G-League.

He played for the Rockets at Summer League and averaged 11.2 points a game on just 40 percent shooting. Now, the Rockets have cut him loose, too. Via Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (for now, he moves over to The Athletic in the coming weeks).

Hunter will look for another chance in the NBA via the G-League, although he may be at the point he considers the overseas money he could earn.

In the G-League last season, playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, he averaged 20.4 points per game with an impressive 60.4 true shooting percentage, and shot 37.7 percent from three. However, he has never been able to transfer those numbers, or anything close to it, over to the NBA level. He has tried to broaden his game and be more than a shooter, but the consistency has just never been where he needs it to be.

He has talked about learning and maturing through all of this. Hopefully he has, and it pays off for him at his next stop. Wherever that may be.

Kobe Bryant’s $6 million investment in BodyArmor now worth estimated $200 million

Getty Images
4 Comments

And the rich get richer.

Kobe Bryant is a smart man who studies whatever he does. He was that way on the court, breaking down film on opponents and knowing what was coming next, being one step ahead. He’s done the same in his post-NBA life, which is in part how he won an Oscar.  He is calculated.

The same with his investments. Before he stopped playing, he invested in a new sports drink called BodyArmor. (Did you notice the last couple years of his career he always took down or at least turned the label away of NBA sponsor Gatorade when he sat at a podium to speak?) This week, his investment in that company paid off big time, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

On Tuesday, Coca-Cola announced it had purchased a minority stake in sports drink BodyArmor.

Bryant made his first investment in the brand, for roughly 10 percent of the company, in March 2014, putting in roughly $6 million over time. Based on the valuation of the Coca-Cola deal, his stake is now worth approximately $200 million, sources told ESPN.

At least where I shop, BodyArmor — marketed as a healthier alternative to the other sports drinks — is showing up in the same spaces as Gatorade, Powerade, and the rest. It’s got a growing market share, with more than $400 million in sales expected this year.

I guess Kobe can afford college for his daughters now. Although, he may have already had that covered.