Report: Wizards expected to offer John Wall max extension

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Has John Wall earned a max contract extension?

Apparently the Wizards front office thinks he has and will offer one come July.

Wall is eligible for a contract extension this summer and it was always likely the Wizards were going to offer one, the question was for how much? Wall said recently he thought he deserved a max offer (starting at $13.5 million a year), while others thought he should get something a little less, more in the Rajon Rondo range (his started at just over $9 million and went up from there, a deal now considered a steal for Boston).

It looks like the Wizards will offer the max extension, reports J. Michael at CSNWashington.com.

According to several persons with knowledge of the situation who talked with CSN Washington, all the signals point to the answer being yes (he will get a max deal)…

“If they believe I’m their franchise guy, that I’m the max player that I feel that I am, they’ll do what’s best for them,” Wall told CSN. “I feel like they believe in me. My coaches and my organization believe in me. The owner (Ted Leonsis) and GM (Ernie Grunfeld) believe in me. … They like what I’ve been doing lately.”

The question is how good do you think Wall can be? He missed the first 33 games this season but since his return (with Nene about the same time) the Wizards are 18-15. On the season Wall is scoring 15.6 points a game on 44.4 percent shooting, but shoots just 29.2 percent from three. He assists on 40.4 percent of his teammates buckets when he is on the floor. But in the last 10 games his scoring is up to 20.1 points on 52.4 percent shooting, 54.5 percent from three and his assist numbers have remained strong. Wall still has some rough shooting and turnover games, but he’s brought more positives than negatives.

The question with Wall has always been his jump shot — if that were consistent he becomes much more dangerous. This season from 16 feet out to the arc Wall is shooting 35 percent, which is not great but is his career best and improving. But as the three point shooting numbers above show, in recent weeks he’s started to look healthy and find that shot.

If they give him a max deal the Wizards are betting they get that guy of the last couple weeks with the new deal.

They are also doing so to change past patterns, Michael notes.

And factor into that the recent history of the Wizards when it comes to allowing players such as Chris Webber, Richard Hamilton and Ben Wallace to leave, blossom and help other franchises become successful.

“An organization’s history is leverage,” one NBA agent told CSN Washington. “In negotiations, you use that. Definitely. And this kid has kept his nose clean on top of that.”

Looks like the Wizards are going to gamble on Wall. They are going to have to do more to get players around him, but as it has been the past couple years it looks like it will be for a while — as Wall goes the Wizards go.

Is FIBA’s decision to move World Cup to year before Olympics reason for USA drop outs?

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FIBA made a mess of World Cup qualifying moving the games from the summer to during the season for the NBA and all the major European leagues. The USA qualified thanks to a team of G-League players coached by Jeff Van Gundy, but the process was not pretty. For anyone.

Now it could be another FIBA decision that has led to the rash of stars — James Harden, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, and others — deciding not to play for Team USA this summer.

Traditionally, the FIBA World Cup took place every four years, on the even-numbered year between Summer Olympic cycles. For example, the last World Cup was 2014, the Rio Olympics were 2016 with the Tokyo games in 2020. However, FIBA pushed this World Cup back a year to 2019 (instead of 2018) and that has changed the calculus for players, something Michael Lee of The Athletic speculated about.

For American players, the Olympics are the bigger draw, when more people watch. We grew up with the Dream Team at the Olympics, not the World Championships. That means if players have to choose, despite the allure of the Chinese market, they will choose the Olympics next year.

The other factor: The NBA feels wide open, with as many as eight teams heading into the season believing they can win the title. A lot of those contending teams have new players, which is leading players to prioritize club over country this time around.

This is different from 2004, when the NBA’s top players stayed home from the Athens Olympics because of a combination of terrorist concerns and players not liking coach Larry Brown. Today’s players love Gregg Popovich, but other concerns are weighing on them more.

It has left team USA without the biggest stars of the game — Kemba Walker is the only All-NBA player on the roster — but USA Basketball has such a depth of talent that they are still the World Cup favorites. The margin for error just got a lot smaller, however.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was working on jump shot with Kyle Korver (VIDEO)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s jumper is getting better. Last season after the All-Star break he shot 31.5 percent from three (up from 22.3 before the ASG) and in the playoffs that jumped to 32.7 percent. He struggled on catch-and-shoot threes in those final 19 games after the ASG, shooting just 16.7 percent, but off the bounce he shot 33.8 percent after the break. Also, all of last season he didn’t take many long twos, but when he did he shot 41 percent on them.

What would make his jumper better? Working on his shot with the newest Buck, Kyle Korver.

Which is happening.

Be afraid NBA. Be very afraid.

Antetokounmpo recently said he is only at about 60 percent of his potential. If he can start to consistently hit threes off the bounce when defenses sag back off the pick-and-roll (trying to take away his drives), he might become unstoppable. Or, more unstoppable. If that’s a thing.

Zion Williamson signs shoe deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand

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Russell Westbrook. Jimmy Butler. Blake Griffin. Chris Paul.

And now Zion Williamson has joined them as a Jordan Brand athlete. Williamson announced that he had signed with Jordan on his Instagram.

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Let’s Dance #JUMPMAN

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Williamson was probably the biggest shoe free agent on the market this summer. While still a rookie, he already is a huge marketing presence — Summer League in Las Vegas sold out to see him the first two nights (people ended up disappointed) — and it was estimated he would make north of $10 million a year on his rookie shoe deal.

While we have not heard official numbers yet, the rumors are he did get that money.

If true, this is the second-largest rookie shoe deal in history. LeBron James got seven-years, $87 million, however, Williamson is second and bumps Kevin Durant to third (seven years, $60 million).

There are rumors Puma had offered even a larger contact, but Williamson wanted to be a Jordan brand guy.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” Williamson said in a statement. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league & having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had & continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to.”

“Zion’s incredible determination, character and play are inspiring,” Michael Jordan said in a statement. “He’s an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future. He told us he would ‘shock the world,’ and asked us to believe him. We do.”

Nike continues to dominate the NBA and basketball shoe market, with more than two-thirds of NBA players wearing Nikes. Even still, landing Williamson — who will play for the New Orleans Pelicans — was such a big score that Nike stock jumped up one percent on the news. He has the potential to be the next LeBron or Durant for Nike, if he can live up to the hype and weight of being the most discussed No. 1 pick in a decade.

He’s the kind of player who could sell a lot of shoes, and Jordan is betting on just that.

Al Horford calls Celtics’ reported tampering allegations ‘ridiculous’

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The Celtics have reportedly complained about the 76ers tampering with Al Horford.

Horford opted out, and it seemed he could return to Boston. But more than a week before free agency officially began, a report emerged he’d leave the Celtics while expecting a four-year, $100 million contract elsewhere. He committed to the 76ers on the first day of free agency, getting $97 million guaranteed and up to $109 million over four years.

What did Horford make of tampering allegations coming from Boston, where Danny Ainge runs the front office?

Horford on The Dan Patrick Show:

It’s pretty ridiculous. But it is what it is. Danny – I love Danny. Danny was always really good to me. I know that he’s definitely frustrated with things didn’t work out with us.

Notice the lack of a denial.

But Horford is right: It’s ridiculous. Because the Celtics are hypocrites who locked up Kemba Walker before free agency officially began.

Though Boston’s specific complaints don’t hold water, there are legitimate issues with the wider landscape.