Rajon Rondo says Carmelo Anthony might be ‘missing piece’ for Bulls; Celtics also in the mix

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Carmelo Anthony is expected to opt out and pursue free agency this summer, and he’s the one player who’s believed to be the most available for another team to scoop up.

LeBron James may do the same, of course, but his leaving Miami remains a long shot. And Kevin Love can be had for the right offer in trade, but he won’t be a free agent until the 2015 season has finished.

That leaves Anthony as the marquee free agent, especially if opting out does in fact mean that he’s made a decision to play somewhere else.

Chicago would seem to be the frontrunner for his services, and Rajon Rondo believes that the addition of Anthony would immediately propel the Bulls into the championship conversation.

“I hate to say it, but he just might be [the missing piece],’’ Rondo said on ESPN’s Numbers Never Lie, via Basketball Insiders. “[The Bulls] have a great center in Joakim Noah who holds down the paint and one of the best pick-and-roll defenders in our league. And with Derrick Rose coming back, you have a Big Three in Chicago. Melo could be the missing piece, but if he does a move like that, we’ll have to figure out something in Boston.’’

Later in the interview, Rondo discussed his own team’s pursuit of free agents, and Anthony’s name was one he included in the discussion.

“You never know what Danny [Ainge] is capable of doing,” Rondo said. “I can’t tell you too much. We want to be contenders as well next year. We don’t plan on being down for too long. I think Danny has a lot of wiggle room with what he’s been able to do the past couple of years in the draft. So I’m looking forward to what’s going to happen. Hopefully [Carmelo Anthony] doesn’t go to Chicago.”

“I think after we try to get ‘Melo and add an additional piece, then who knows? The sky’s the limit,” Rondo added. “I play to try to win a championship every year. With ‘Melo, I think it’s very possible.”

The Celtics have plenty of draft picks to entice teams to make a deal, and also have assets like young, inexpensive talent and expiring contracts that could be of interest, depending on their trade partner’s priorities.

Anthony signing in Boston doesn’t seem likely, however, given how far away the Celtics are from competing for a title; he isn’t going to leave in the neighborhood of $30 million on the table in New York just for the sake of changing scenery. It has to be a situation where the team he goes to is immediately capable of contending for the championship — someplace like Chicago, for example.

Rumor: Spurs won’t trade Kawhi Leonard to Western Conference team

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Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants the Spurs to trade him, ideally to the Lakers or Clippers.

Chris Sheridan of Get More Sports:

He is not going to Los Angeles…or any other destination in the Western Conference, sources are telling GetMoreSports.com.

Leonard has some leverage in that he can tell any non-L.A. team that he has no interest in signing an extension after his current deal expires in a year, and that may end up diminishing the value of offers Eastern Conference teams are willing to make.

But if you think that bothers Popovich, you don’t know Popovich. The guy would gladly take 75 cents on the dollar for Kawhi if he could ship him out of the West — even if that upsets Kawhi.

There are two choices here:

The Spurs are a well-run organization that will manage this crisis as effectively as possible.

or

The Spurs will outright refuse to trade Leonard to a Western Conference team.

It can’t be both.

If the Spurs trade Leonard, they should take the best offer they get – no matter who makes it. Teams like the Celtics and 76ers have better assets to dangle. But if the Lakers and Clippers are the only team with assurances Leonard will re-sign next summer, they could offer more, even assembling a package from a shallower pool of assets.

The Spurs shouldn’t worry where Leonard lands. But that doesn’t mean they won’t worry where Leonard lands.

Report: Celtics believe Kyrie Irving happy in Boston

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Chris Mannix reported Kyrie Irving, when he played for the Cavaliers, told teammates of his desire to play for the Knicks. In the same discussion, Mannix speculated on the Celtics’ fear of Irving leaving in 2019 unrestricted free agency. Asked about his future in Boston, Irving gave a cryptic answer.

There’s just no good way to resolve this until summer 2019. As Irving knows, a contract extension is illogical. The largest extension he could sign, beginning July 1, would be four years, $108,053,240 ($27,013,310 annually). If he waits until 2019 free agency, he could re-sign for a projected $188 million over five years (about $38 million annually) – and even more if he makes an All-NBA team next year. In that case, his max would project to be $219 million over five years (about $44 million annually).

So, the Celtics must ride this out – or trade Irving before he gets to free agency. How do they feel about his future with Boston?

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

A league source said Friday that the Celtics believe Irving is happy in Boston and would like to be with the team long-term, but that there are no certainties.

This is probably correct. Irving clearly wanted out of Cleveland, so him longing for a spot on the Knicks made more sense then. Overall, Irving seems happy in Boston. A noncommittal answer from someone whose brand is mysterious ideas doesn’t set off alarms.

That said, also file this under: What else are they supposed to say? The Celtics maximize Irving’s trade value if everyone believes he’s happy and not a flight risk who should be preemptively traded.

The Celtics must closely monitor Irving’s satisfaction with them. If it seems he might leave, they ought to look hard at trading him first.

But it really seems the Celtics aren’t anywhere near that point. If they are, they’ve bluffed well.

J.R. Smith’s Game 1 Finals jersey up for auction

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It was the moment that defined the 2018 NBA Finals.

The score was tied with 4.7 seconds left when George Hill missed his second of two free throws, but J.R. Smith made an impressive play to get the offensive rebound — then tried to dribble out the clock like the Cavaliers were ahead.

Now, you can own Smith’s Game 1 jersey — the one he was wearing when he made a play so thoughtless LeBron James broke his own hand punching a whiteboard in frustration over it. It’s available on the NBA auction site. The bidding goes on for three more days, until June 21.

As of Monday morning, the current bid is $3000.

A Warriors’ fan is going to buy this thing, not a Cavaliers fan. They are still trying to repress this memory.

Kevin Durant’s dad wrote him a nice letter for Father’s Day

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Kevin Durant and his father didn’t have the best relationship growing up. Wayne Pratt, father of the Golden State Warriors star, left Durant and his family when the sharpshooting Finals MVP was just one year old.

Pratt was in and out of Durant’s life, and eventually they reconciled. Now, Pratt is important part of Durant’s career and business decisions.

As several players decided to celebrate their fathers and the national day of recognition on social media, it was actually Pratt who decided to write a letter to his son. In a post on The Undefeated, Pratt spoke about how he was grateful to have Durant as a son and to have reconciled with him.

Via The Undefeated:

I regret missing out on your first day of school, your first haircut, holidays and the first day you picked up a basketball. But I thank God daily for creating the opportunity for us to reconnect. I’m so thankful for you opening your heart at such a tender time. Every parent-child relationship has its ups and downs and we are no exception. I feel fortunate that we have learned how to successfully navigate life’s mistakes. Thank you for forgiving me and allowing us to have the great relationship we have today.

Go back and read the full letter, it’s worth it. Seeing the vulnerability between two grown men living a real, complicated, and adult situation like this is humanizing. Plus, it appears to have had a positive ending for Durant and his pops.

Hope all you dads out there had a good one on Sunday.