Kobe Bryant returned, Rudy Gay was traded, and the Knicks were crushed. Grading a busy Sunday of NBA action:
Toronto Raptors: What the Toronto Raptors have not had in recent years is a GM with a plan and financial flexibility. With this and previous trades you get a sense that GM Masai Ujiri has a plan. First, get the big contracts for guys you don’t want to build around off the roster — goodbye Andrea Bargnani and now Rudy Gay. This trade saves them $13 million in obligations next summer. It also removes the Gay/DeMar DeRozan roster duplication. If they want they can bet on DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and whoever they can get in the draft (clearly the target) as a start for a rebuild. More than that, the Raptors can buy out John Salmons for $1 million after this season, Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson are on rookie deals, and Chuck Hayes is solid and makes $5.9 million next season. Flexibility. Plus Vasquez on the roster means they can shop Kyle Lowry hard. Can the Raptors recruit a superstar up to the north as an anchor? Maybe not. But they have picks the next couple years to chase one and the flexibility to put a good team around him. — Kurt Helin
Sacramento Kings: If you judge your trade winner based on who got the best player then the Kings “won” Sunday’s trade — Rudy Gay is a quality wing. Sure, he’s a volume scorer (read: not efficient) but he puts up points and is a shot creator the Kings could use. Aaron Gray is a solid big in the middle. Kings fans will not miss John Salmons in the least, plus now they get more Isaiah Thomas. That said, after watching Gay fire up jumpers rather than feed an open Jonas Valanciunas in the paint all season, not sure if he is really a great fit with DeMarcus Cousins. Still, this is a nice move for a rebuilding Kings team. Bottom line: if Gay opts out of the $19.3 million he is due next season it is a good trade for Sacramento (it’s possible if he thinks he can get the security of four years and say $35 million). If he stays for another season it’s not bad financially (and the team likely is still lottery bound), and they could possibly move him next season. — KH
Kobe Bryant: Bryant played 28 minutes in his season debut, but was in facilitator mode from the start and appeared understandably rusty offensively, which was to be somewhat expected after an eight-month absence. Bryant finished 2-of-9 from the field with nine points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and eight turnovers — a fine start for a player finding his way back into the rhythm of regular season game action after so much time missed.
New York Knicks: It isn’t easy to lose by 41 points at home, but the Knicks got the job done proving yet again that tip-off times of 12 noon just aren’t their style. After briefly turning the corner by following up a nine-game losing streak by winning consecutive games by 30-plus points, New York fell behind by 25 points in the first quarter on Sunday, essentially ensuring defeat less than 12 minutes into Sunday’s contest.
The Spurs agreed to trade Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected first-round pick.
But the deal isn’t official until everyone involved passes their physicals.
All eyes turn to Leonard, who missed 73 games last season with a hip injury. Will he, presumably testing with Green, pass?
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
The pair are scheduled to appear in Toronto on Friday for physicals.
I expect Leonard to pass.
The Raptors have complete discretion, and they knew they were trading for a risk – both in terms of Leonard’s impending free agency and health. After DeMar DeRozan’s reaction would Toronto really undo this trade and bring him back?
Concerns about Leonard’s hip seem to be more about his ability to recover from regular usage and long-term soundness. I’m not sure either would show up in a single-day examination.
Leonard was cleared medically months ago, and he was reportedly considering playing in Team USA’s minicamp next week. He seems ready to go – at least to pass a physical by a team that knew of his health issues when trading for him.
But if Toronto sees a red flag that would cause them to cancel the trade, all hell will break loose. So, the stakes are high.
In 2015, DeAndre Jordan agreed to a contract with Mavericks then backed out to re-sign with the Clippers.
This won’t cause the same uproar, but Dallas has been left at the altar once again.
Yogi Ferrell won’t sign his agreed-upon deal.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Ferrell agreed to an unbelievably stupid contract. He could have accepted his fully guaranteed, one-year qualifying offer for $2,919,204. Instead, he took a lower salary for next season AND agreed to attach a cheap fully unguaranteed second season. If Ferrell plays well, the Mavericks will keep him for a relatively low salary in 2019-20. If he doesn’t, they’ll waive him at no cost.
In other words, Ferrell gave Dallas a discount for next season and all the power for the following season. There was no tradeoff. Ferrell lost in every aspect of the deal.
He and Tejada never should have accepted it in the first place. But backing out now also carries a reputation hit, especially for Tejada.
Though this reflects more poorly on Tejada, Ferrell will take more egg on his face, because he’s a public figure and gave some now-unfortunate comments.
Andy McDonnell of WANE-TV:
What now for Ferrell?
The Mavericks still have his Early Bird Rights and a low cap hold on him. They could pay him a little more without interfering with their other moves.
But Ferrell – an undersized scoring guard – is a marginal player. Dallas might not want to reengage with him after this. The Mavericks signed Jordan this year, but it took years and a special need for them to get over everything.
How about the Kings? They’re certainly not above negotiating with players who already struck deals with another team.
Philadelphia struck out going big game hunting this off-season — LeBron James, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard all ended up elsewhere. The Sixers decided to trade for Wilson Chandler (absorbing him into their cap space) and re-signed J.J. Redick, but they have continued to look for the right trade.
That could involve adding Kyle Korver.
From Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
According to a league source, the team has had discussions about trading Jerryd Bayless to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyle Korver.
That move would enable the Sixers to bring back a fan favorite who’s one of the league’s top three-point shooters. He would be an upgrade from former Sixer Marco Belinelli, who signed as a free agent with the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month.
This trade is still in the talking phase.
That this was leaked means an agent of one of the teams involved wants to see the deal done and hopes leaking it puts enough pressure on one or both sides to get it done.
For the Sixers it makes sense on the court, they get out of a contract in Bayless they have tried to trade for a year, and they bring in a sharpshooter who can fit within their system and add bench scoring.
For the Cavaliers, they have to be getting a pick or picks of some kind back in this trade (probably a second round or multiple second-round picks, of which the Sixers have several besides their own in the next couple of drafts).
Something to watch as we head into the weekend, to see if this deal can get done.
Milwaukee Bucks superstar at Giannis Antetokounmpo will bless this year’s cover of NBA 2K19. It’s a big deal for the Greek Freak, who has come a long way since be a heralded prospect after being drafted in 2013.
Antetokounmpo is also apparently aware of the noted curse from the 2K franchise. That is, that former players who have been on the cover in years past have notoriously ended up in different jerseys shortly after getting selected for the honor.
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, and Kevin Durant all left their respective teams shortly after being featured on the cover.
Antetokounmpo signed a contract extension in 2016 that runs through the 2020-2021 season. Unless something goes horribly wrong, there’s no reason to think that he will be gone anytime soon.
But is the cover curse real? People certainly seem to think the Madden one is.