Report: Tim Duncan faces June 24 deadline to opt in to final year of contract

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Most contract options must be decided by June 30, but teams and players can negotiate earlier dates. For example, Carmelo Anthony faces a June 23 deadline to exercise his early termination option (which he says he’ll do).

Another player with an earlier-than-usual option date: Tim Duncan.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan has until June 24 to notify the team whether he intends to pick up his $10.3 million player option for next season, according to sources familiar with the terms of the contract.

The date still can be moved closer to July 1, sources said, if both parties agree to do so

sources say the Spurs, to this point, are quietly operating under the assumption that Duncan and Popovich will indeed be back next season

The reliable ShamSports.com lists Duncan’s 2014-15 option at $10 million, but as the site accurately notes, the NBA prohibits option-year salaries from decreasing from the prior season. Duncan made $10,361,446 this season.

The NBA ratified Duncan’s contract, anyway. Maybe the league has to just let that stand, or maybe it can force the Spurs to raise Duncan’s option-year salary to equal his 2013-14 salary. It’s unclear.

Anyway, I doubt less than $400,000 makes a difference.

At or near $10 million is a pretty fair salary for Duncan at this point, and he if wants to return, he could just opt in. Or maybe he’d opt out to re-sign for less, giving San Antonio room to sign an impact free agent.

However, this option has little to do with whether Duncan returns. He could easily opt in and then retire later in the offseason, walking away from his guaranteed salary. The option, related to retirement, matters only if Duncan decides to extend the Spurs the courtesy of informing them on his future before opting in. Opting out would give him no more or less flexibility to retire.

Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are under contract through next season. (As are Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Marco Belinelli and Cory Joseph). I suspect everyone will come back for one more run.

Duncan could either opt in or opt out, but if he does the latter, plenty of doors remain open for him to return. It’s just one step in the process.

Report: 76ers didn’t offer Jimmy Butler five-year max contract once free agency opened

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The 76ers offered Jimmy Butler a five-year max contract, according to Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports. However, Adrian Wojnarowski reported Philadelphia wasn’t offering Butler a five- or even four-year max deal.

What explains the discrepancy?

Maybe timing.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

But on June 30, there was no five-year maximum offer for Butler, multiple sources say.

That doesn’t explicitly say the 76ers offered Butler a five-year max earlier, but it intentionally leaves the possibility wide open. After all, when Philadelphia traded for Butler in the final year of his contract, everyone knew he expected a max contract. He said so himself. After early tension, the 76ers still expressed desire to re-sign Butler. As free agency neared, they kept sending those signals.

What changed?

Maybe Philadelphia had second thoughts about paying Butler so much. There are reasonable concerns. But it’d be odd if the 76ers went so far down the road toward re-signing Butler only to reverse course at the last moment because of internal evaluations. That assessment could have been made earlier.

Al Horford unexpectedly became available, and Philadelphia used Butler’s vacated cap space to sign him. With Butler and the capped-out Heat wanting him in Miami, the 76ers also leveraged another good playerJosh Richardson – in a sign-and-trade. Perhaps, once realizing it was an option, Philadelphia just preferred Horford and Richardson to Butler (and retaining J.J. Redick‘s Bird Rights). That’d be simple enough.

Whatever happened, I bet it’s the crux of the secret story Butler recently alluded to.

Nets to wear ‘Bed-Stuy’ jerseys (video)

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Nets forward Kevin Durant said, “The cool thing now is not the Knicks.”

Brooklyn is cool.

So, the Nets are getting more overt about connecting to the image of their borough. After wearing Notorious B.I.G.-inspired uniforms with Coogi-sweater-style trim, Brooklyn is slapping “Bed-Stuy” – the neighborhood brought to mass popularity by Biggie, Jay-Z and others – onto its jerseys.
Nets:

I can’t decide whether these jerseys are actually cool or trying too hard to be cool.

Also, the Nets apparently aren’t daunted by a Coogi lawsuit.

First non-white player in modern professional basketball, Wat Misaka dies at 95

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SALT LAKE CITY — Wataru “Wat” Misaka, the first non-white player to play in the league that was the predecessor to the NBA, has died. He was 95.

Misaka played three games for the New York Knicks during the 1947-48 season in the Basketball Association of America. He was the league’s first player of of Japanese descent.

A 2008 documentary called “Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story” told the story of what Misaka went through as a trailblazing athlete.

Misaka attended a 2013 Utah Jazz game to watch Jeremy Lin play.

The University of Utah athletic department said in a news release Thursday that Misaka died Wednesday in Salt Lake City. He grew up in Ogden, Utah.

Mikasa was the point guard on the Utah team that won the NCAA Tournament in 1944 and the NIT in 1947.

Reggie Miller reports Zion Williamson to return in mid-December

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If you missed this because Reggie Miller’s color commentary makes you reach for the mute button, nobody would blame you. It’s something we all feel the need to do.

However, doing it Thursday night during the Pelicans’ win over the Suns would have caused you to miss Miller doing some actual reporting on the return of Zion Williamson, saying sources tell him the rookie is on track to return in “mid-December.”

If your first reaction is “I trust Reggie Miller’s reporting as much as the Weekly World News” you would generally be correct.

But in this case we may want to listen. First, Miller does talk to GMs, coaches, and front office types. Second, what he says fits the already established timeline for Williamson’s return from knee surgery, which was “around or before Christmas.” This is not breaking news so much as a confirmation of what we already know.

Williamson certainly makes the Pelicans more dynamic, more athletic, plus much more entertaining and watchable. The sooner we get him back on the court, the better for all of us.