Derrick Rose says it’s Stern’s fault, yada yada… wait, who’s in charge of the union?

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This is the paragraph I’m supposed to blockquote you and pull the news story off of. Guess what? A member of the player’s union thinks David Stern and the owners are mean and it’s their fault for the lockout! TOTALLY NEW INFORMATION.

“It’s sad. It’s very sad. But everybody knows it’s not our fault. It’s definitely not our fault. If it was up to us, we’ll be out there playing,” the reigning league MVP said Saturday at the State Street Foot Locker in the Loop. I think that it’s wrong. I know that they can easily take care of it and not take advantage of people, but I guess that’s how people are.

“There’s not too much that we can say. They’re not thinking about anything that we’re saying, they’re not taking into consideration anything that we’re trying to give them. We’ll just have to see how it goes.”

via Rose blames owners for NBA lockout.

This is supposed to be provocative, but really, it’s just Rose’s ultra-simplistic view of what the union holds. The owners don’t want a deal, they’re the ones locking the players out, #letusplay and all that jazz. So yeah, Derrick Rose spoke out against the league, which is of note since Rose has been pretty quiet.

But here’s the excerpt that should actually catch your eye from our friends at CSN Chicago (emphasis mine):

While fans shouldn’t anticipate Rose sitting in on labor negotiations, the perception that the shy kid with the loud game won’t speak up isn’t quite so accurate these days.

“I’ve been so busy, where I haven’t had time to go into the news or anything like that, but my agents, Arn [Tellem] and B.J. [Armstrong] have been doing a great job with keeping me up with the updates and I’m supposed to be talking to ‘D-Fish’ in a couple days or Paul Pierce,” said Rose.

via Rose blames owners for NBA lockout.

Wait.

What?

Okay, so some background on Pierce. He’s not just one of the guys who blew apart the 50/50 proposal last weekend alongside Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant.  He’s prominently involved in the union, has been present at more meetings than any of the other superstars, and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that Pierce has considered a formal presence in the union:

In addition, the Celtics’ Paul Pierce — who was among the stars present Friday and who stuck around for Saturday’s and Monday’s sessions — will take on a prominent role in the negotiations again on Tuesday. Though Pierce has previously expressed interest in being involved in the union — perhaps even as a committee member and vice president — his presence is notable for more than his star power. Pierce’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, is one of seven powerful reps who wrote a pointed letter to their clients urging them not to agree to any further reductions in their share of basketball-related income (BRI) or any further restrictions to the system beyond what the union has negotiated.

via A moment of truth arrives in NBA talks – CBSSports.com.

So I’m not saying it’s random that Rose would want to touch base with him. Pierce does know what’s going on. He’s in the room.

But consider that Pierce’s agent sides with those who reportedly want to at least question if not undercut Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher’s approach. So does Rose’s agent, Arn Tellem. And you’re telling me Derrick Rose, the MVP of the league, can’t get Derek Fisher on the phone to tell him what’s going on? He’s going to Pierce?

I’m not trying to blow anything out of proportion here, though I can readily admit that’s what it looks like. But it seems exceptionally weird that the MVP is checking with someone who’s not a member of the executive committee who recently took things into his own hands along with Garnett and Bryant and blew up the talks, at least in cooperation with the owners’ intransigence. It sounds a lot like there are too many cooks in the players’ kitchen.

You need one voice. One expert. One law. Right now, there’s confusion and unrest coming out of the union. Maybe that’s just a flawed perception from the media. But the perception is still there.

Rumor: Al Horford thinks 4-year, $100 million contract awaits him in free agency

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Things have already gone sideways for the Boston Celtics. Kyrie Irving is set to leave, reportedly for the Brooklyn Nets. Al Horford opted out of his contract with the team this week, and reports have it that the integral big man is looking to go elsewhere.

Horford had $30 million left on his contract at age 33, so there had to be some belief that he would get a job elsewhere for more money than the Celtics would be willing to pay. Now, according to a new report, that is exactly the case.

It was floated on Tuesday night that Horford already knew that somebody was looking to sign him to another long-term deal. New York Times writer Marc Stein tweeted as much late Tuesday night, saying that Horford and his camp believe there is a deal around $100 million waiting for him in free agency.

Via Twitter:

It is — and we can’t stress this enough — freaking June. It’s literally and figuratively too early for this.

We all laughed last season about the arbitrary deadlines of free agency creeping forward. Deals were already done well before it was permitted to actually sign free agents in July. But this… is getting ridiculous.

Horford is a leader, the glue that apparently kept the Celtics from breaking apart last season. Reports surfaced this week that Brad Stevens’ dedication to former Butler Bulldog Gordon Hayward was at least one reason for the team chemistry starting to unfurl.

Whichever team grabs Horford will be getting a player who still has much left to give, and who can help guide a team into the playoffs. Whether he’s heading to a contender or an overpaying bottom-feeder, we don’t yet know.

This league just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

Daryl Morey denies that Chris Paul requested trade in James Harden dispute

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Things are not all that great for the Houston Rockets. They were bounced in the second round by the Golden State Warriors, and Chris Paul and James Harden appear to be at each other’s throats.

There been reports that Paul and Harden have each issued ultimatums to team management asking the executive branch to instigate a trade. This of course essentially means that the Rockets need to look for a trade partner for Paul.

The problem is that Paul has a massive $125 million left on his deal. It was an insane sum when Paul signed it, but the thought was that even a declining CP3 would be able to help the Rockets as they went all-out expecting a Warriors decline.

But Rockets GM Daryl Morey has refuted the idea that either player has issued an ultimatum. Morey told Marc Stein of the New York Times as much, and reiterated this stance on ESPN radio on Tuesday.

Morey is a veteran general manager, and openly noting that a player has requested a trade cuts his leverage. It has been widely reported that Morey has been looking for trades for Paul and his gargantuan contract for some time, with no apparent taker as of yet.

Now is the time to jump on things in the West. The Warriors are weak, particularly with injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Who knows what that roster will look like next season (and beyond)?

Houston has been the perennial contender against Golden State in the playoffs, but now they appear to be bursting apart at the seams. Morey is one of the best general managers in the NBA, and he has a history of taking big risks and turning wheat into gold. But until he can offload Paul’s contract, things will be tenuous in Texas.

Report: Brad Stevens’ dedication to Gordon Hayward caused chemistry issues with Celtics

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Things are not all well in Boston. The Celtics are already in a free fall when it comes to free agency, and it’s not yet July. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are reportedly poised not to return to TD Garden next year. Now, a team that was aiming for the NBA Finals next year could be in serious trouble.

Things have quickly fallen apart for Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens, who are left with a team that also has an apparent enemy in one of the biggest agencies in Klutch Sports. Boston reportedly backed out of serious offers in trade negotiations with the New Orleans Pelicans in part because they felt as though Klutch client Anthony Davis would not re-sign after one year.

Basketball is a game of chemistry, and the Celtics seemed to lose theirs over the course of the year. At least externally, it appeared Boston was disintegrating. Now, according to a report from Jackie MacMullan, we have some confirmation of this rift.

Via NBC Sports Boston:

“You hate to pick on Gordon Hayward because he was coming back from injury and he was doing the best he could, but I really think that’s where it started,” she said. “They were force feeding him on his teammates, Brad [Stevens] knew Gordon well, he wanted to get his confidence back.

“I would contend that Brad Stevens would have done that for any player on that roster that had a catastrophic injury, he would want to fill him with that same confidence, but that’s not what happened,” MacMullan continued. “He gave the benefit of the doubt over and over to a player that wasn’t ready, to a guy who had history with him, and it rankled that locker room, and it bothered that locker room.”

The Celtics have a roster on paper that should have been good enough to get them deep into the playoffs. But Hayward returned and never really looked like himself, and Stevens devoting his faith to his former Butler Bulldog was obviously misplaced.

Chemistry issues for Boston we’re not all to blame on Stevens and Hayward. Irving is perennially mercurial. Given a situation where he got his own team (whatever that means) he didn’t lead the way folks were expecting.

Unless something drastic can be done — and don’t put it past Danny Ainge to get wild — Boston could be taking a step back next season.

Their saving grace, ironically, could be a fully healthy Hayward who has more reign to do what he wants and an unrestricted role on offense. We’ll see how that goes.

Report: Kawhi Leonard focusing on Clippers in free agency

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Kawhi Leonard might not be with the Toronto Raptors next season. That much has been apparent ever since the Raptors traded for Leonard last year, but the team did just win the 2019 NBA Finals. You know what they say: winning fixes everything.

But we are now into the thick of the NBA offseason, and that means crazy rumors and a wild game of Free agency musical chairs. Leonard could end up in many places, including Toronto. But the talk all along has been how Leonard prefers to land in Los Angeles.

The only problem for fans in L.A. county? His landing spot is unlikely to be the Los Angeles Lakers.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Leonard’s focused on Los Angeles but only with the Clippers. In Wojnarowski’s opinion, Leonard is not interested in joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis as a third wheel on a superstar, big three type of Team. Instead, Leonard wants to have his own team match the way he does in Toronto. That could easily be the case with the Clippers.

Via ESPN:

The Lakers are trying to open up enough cap space for a third max-level player, which Leonard obviously is. But if things stand how they are now, Rob Pelinka and the Lakers will need to go elsewhere to find a third star to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Obviously the Lakers would be better suited by using their cap space to fill out their roster around their two superstars, but they probably won’t do that. In the end, Leonard focusing on the Clippers seems like the right choice.