Pistons owner Tom Gores will address Joe Dumars’ fate swiftly after season

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Before the season, Pistons owner Tom Gores said the playoffs were minimum goal and Joe Dumars’ job was safe.

Well, barring a miracle, Detroit will miss the postseason for the fifth straight season.

Is Dumars’ job still safe?

David Mayo of MLive:

Whether there is a front-office overhaul or not, Gores said it not a decision that will be allowed to fester.

“Yeah, after the season, we’re going to address it right away,” he said.  “We have to.  We have to let the season play out, then we’ve got to get it done.”

The last time Gores said he’d make a decision quickly after the season, he fired Lawrence Frank.

At this point, it would be shocking to see Dumars return. His contract expires after season, and he’s really stumbled these last several years. Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva were disastrous signings in 2009, and Dumars sent what could be a prime lottery pick to the Bobcats to escape Gordon’s deal one year early. He used the resulting cap space on Josh Smith, who might require a lottery sweetener of his own attached to any trade that sends him out.

Gores also addressed Maurice Cheeks’ firing, making this the first time he or Dumars has spoken publicly about it.

“I feel it was the right thing to do and I feel good about it,” Gores said in his first public comments on the firing, save for a press release.  “This is a very young team, a very young team.  So we have to put them in a position grow as much as possible, and I felt like they were not in a position to grow as much as possible.  So I feel good about it.”

Gores said interim coach John Loyer is “doing a great job,” even if that hasn’t been reflected in the standings.

“The team is better than their record,” Gores said.  “They just are.  They’re better than their record.  So I wouldn’t say they didn’t respond.  I would say that they’re just doing their best right now.  I believe in these guys.  I believe in this team.”

Gores seemingly went over Dumars to fire Cheeks, further indicating Dumars is on his way out. That Gores still stands by the firing so resolutely shows he’s not exactly re-thinking his plan in order to give Dumars more control.

In so many ways, the writing is on the wall.

To give Gores credit, it was good for the franchise he addressed the Cheeks firing – even if the circumstances were eye-roll-inducing. Gores never should have gone this long without speaking to the media about Cheeks, and it shouldn’t have take a game a month-and-a-half later in Los Angeles, where Gores lives and the Pistons played the Clippers Saturday, for it to happen.

But the Pistons are honoring the 25th anniversary of their first championship when they play the Heat on Friday. It would have been poor taste to distract from those festivities to address Cheeks (and even poorer taste to keep ignoring it). By getting it out of the way, Gores can put the attention back on members of that 1988-89 team and those celebrating them Friday.

Though that might backfire.

I suspect Dumars – and, if he’s introduced to the crowd, Gores – will be be booed heartily by Detroit fans.

Report: Anthony Davis intends to receive full trade bonus

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The Lakers are reportedly on track to trade for Anthony Davis on July 6 – the date an important distinction in determining the Lakers’ cap space.

The other key question: Will Davis take his full $4,063,953 trade bonus?

The Pelicans will pay the bonus. It will count against the Lakers’ cap.

Especially considering Davis requested a trade, New Orleans could have pressed him to waive the trade bonus in order to accommodate him. Likewise, the Lakers – his desired team – could have made the deal contingent on Davis waiving the trade bonus.

Ramona Shelburne on ESPN:

My understanding is he doesn’t intend to waive that. He’s due the four million dollars, and he’s going to keep it. But again, as you just noted in that monologue, things can change.

If he takes the full bonus, Davis’ salary next season will increase from $27,093,018 to $31,156,971. And good for him. He earned the trade kicker in his contract.

This also supports agent Rich Paul’s contention that he puts Davis’ interests first while representing Davis, not catering to fellow client LeBron James. Because while the extra money is nice for Davis, this hurts LeBron’s Lakers.

The Lakers now project to have just $24 million in cap room. They can still get a helpful player or two, but $28 million would have gone further.

I wonder whether the Pelicans prefer to pay Davis’ bonus. Though a $4,063,953 check is nothing to sneeze at, tying up the Lakers’ cap space has value with New Orleans getting so many future draft picks from Los Angeles. Maybe the Pelicans have already made Davis getting his full bonus an essential aspect of this trade.

If not, the Lakers have a week before the Davis trade can become official to pitch free agents. Perhaps, if they line up certain free agents and show him the spending power of that extra money, Davis would waive all or some of his trade bonus.

But I wouldn’t blame him if he wants his money and puts the onus on the Lakers to build a strong team, anyway. That’d sounds a lot like another Paul client.

Kawhi Leonard leaving NBA-champion Raptors would be unlike anything we’ve ever seen

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Many Raptors fans hoped Kawhi Leonard would use yesterday’s championship parade to declare his plan to re-sign with Toronto.

They got a laugh and not much else.

But they can be heartened – or maybe eventually heartbroken –a by this: Stars almost never switched teams immediately following a title.

Before this year, there have been…

  • 49 Finals MVPs who won a championship. None switched teams that offseason.
  • 147 All-Stars who won a championship. None switched teams that offseason.
  • 124 All-NBA players who won a championship. Only one switched teams that offseason.

In 1998, Scottie Pippen got signed-and-traded from the Bulls to the Rockets. He was neither an All-Star nor Finals MVP that year, but he made the All-NBA third team. After leaving Chicago, he never achieved any of those accolades.

Leonard checked all three boxes this season – Finals MVP, All-NBA, All-Star. He looks poised to take over as the NBA’s best player for the next few several years.

It’d be unprecedented for someone like him to bolt.

The most productive player to leave a championship team immediately after winning a title? It might be Tyson Chandler, who posted 9.4 win shares for the 2011 Mavericks then got signed-and-traded to the Knicks.

Even while missing 22 games amid load management and minor injury, Leonard posted 9.5 win shares last season.

Here’s how Leonard compares to the players with the most win shares in a title-winning season who began play elsewhere the following year:

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Of course, Leonard isn’t bound by history. He’ll make his own decision. If he wants to leave the Raptors for the Clippers, Knicks or anyone else, he can.

But players just usually stick with a champion. LeBron James said he might have re-signed with the Heat if they won the 2014 title. Kyrie Irving was unhappy after the Cavaliers’ 2016 championship but didn’t request a trade until they lost in the 2017 NBA Finals. Shaq and Kobe coexisted peacefully enough until the Lakers stopped winning titles.

It’s just hard to leave a team that has proven its ability to win a championship, and Leonard would have that in Toronto.

Report: Al Horford opting out with Celtics

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Celtics president Danny Ainge called restructuring Al Horford‘s contract status – which would involve the center declining his $30,123,015 player option then re-signing for a lower starting salary but more total compensation in a multi-year deal – a priority.

This is either a step toward that or a step toward Boston, with Kyrie Irving seemingly exiting, losing multiple stars this summer.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

If they renounce all their free agents, the Celtics would project to have about $32 million in cap space. That’d be about enough for a max player with fewer than 10 years experience, and Boston would get the room exception (projected to be about $5 million)

Or the Celtics could use Bird Rights to re-sign Horford, Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. That route would come with a mid-level exception, either the non-taxpayer (projected to be about $9 million) or taxpayer (projected to be about $6 million).

Horford could determine Boston’s path. If the 33-year-old wants to re-sign, that’d probably consume most of the Celtics’ cap space. If he sees Irving leaving and wants to chase a title elsewhere, Boston could reset around Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and three first-round picks in Thursday’s draft.

The Celtics could bring back Rozier, who’ll be a restricted free agent, in either scenario. But if Horford departs, that’d at least open the door to pursue an outside point guard – like D'Angelo Russell or Malcolm Brogdon – to replace Irving.

Report: Kyrie Irving has ‘ghosted’ Celtics as free agency approaches

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The emerging expectation: Kyrie Irving will sign with the Nets in free agency.

Many thought the Celtics had a chance of changing his mind by trading for Anthony Davis. But Boston didn’t deal for the star center.

There’s little reason to believe Irving will re-sign with the Celtics now.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

The strangest part of the Irving situation right now is that it appears he has essentially ghosted on the Celtics. The people within the organization I have spoken with have made it clear that they have had little, if any, communication with Irving in recent weeks.

Irving is the prize. He’s not interviewing for jobs. Employers are chasing him. By becoming one of the best basketball players in the world, Irving has earned the power to act however he wants in this situation.

The season is over. If Irving wants space, he’s entitled to it.

Maybe it’s because he’s being a jerk. Maybe it’s because telling Boston he wants to leave isn’t an easy message to deliver.

Either way, Irving can proceed as he sees fit. The Celtics will still offer him a max contract if he wants to stay.

This is the same tact he reportedly took on his way out of Cleveland. So, it’s believable he’s behaving this way again.

But we’ve also repeatedly seen players smeared on their way out the door. Whether or not it’s accurate, this report will reflect poorly on Irving in many circles. So, in light of recent history, have at least a little skepticism for this depiction of Irving.