T.J. Ford shoots down the Pacers' buyout offer

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tj_ford.jpgAs our own Kurt Helin noted yesterday, the Pacers have taken a new approach in trying to sever their ties with point guard T.J. Ford. Though Ford has been on the trading block since, well, moments after he arrived in Indiana, the Pacers were, as of yesterday, attempting to negotiate a buyout with Ford — likely as a display of good faith to the newly acquired Darren Collison.

That’s all well and good, but ultimately futile if Ford doesn’t want to play ball. Err, I mean if he doesn’t want to not play ball. For the Pacers anyway. And not playing ball he most certainly doesn’t want to do. For something a little less confusing, we turn to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:

The Pacers – like they’ve been doing for quite some time – tried to trade Ford on Wednesday. They couldn’t throw him in a deal so they then tried to negotiate a buyout with him. The Pacers wanted Ford to take a buyout for about $5 million. The point guard quickly shot that idea down. “I’m not taking a buyout,” Ford said.

You can’t blame Ford for not taking a buyout, especially since he’s scheduled to make $8.5 million next season. He didn’t pick up his player option to leave $3.5 million on the table. “T.J. is on the team and we expect him to come in here and be
professional and try to get a job and get some playing time,” [Larry] Bird said.

So unless Indiana can find a taker for Ford’s $8.5 million expiring contract or the team decides to waive him outright, Ford should be a Pacer next season. Even if that’s in name only. Ford will no doubt serve in a less prominent capacity next season (note Larry’s quote regarding his hope that Ford will try to “come in here and…try to get a job and some playing time,”) and could easily become a fixture at the end of the Pacers’ bench.

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.