When the Hornets traded former lottery pick Noah Vonleh to Portland for Nicolas Batum, it was always going to be something of a gamble. Batum has just one year left on his contract, and will become a free agent in time for the massive salary cap spike of 2016. Charlotte will have to pay big if they want to keep him, and Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports that the French forward has his sights set on another team: Toronto.
Batum is an impending unrestricted free agent on a borderline playoff team, diving into an unprecedented cap frenzy in which two-dozen suitors could offer $20 million per season. Batum’s people have already made noise about how much Batum would like to play in Toronto, a city that appeals to his international roots, per several league sources. He is a flight risk, even though both Cho and Chad Buchanan, the team’s assistant GM, know Batum well from their days in Portland. “We are very comfortable given that Chad and Rich know Nic well,” Polk says.
This is all purely hypothetical at this point, because Batum’s free agency is a year away, but the Toronto fit is interesting. They could potentially have an opening on the wing if DeMar DeRozan opts out of the final year of his deal, which he almost certainly will. DeRozan could command max money in next summer’s free-agent market, and it’s very possible that the Raptors will be uninterested in giving him that type of money. A defensive duo of Batum and DeMarre Carroll on the perimeter is incredibly versatile and dangerous, and Batum is an outstanding passer and ballhandler in addition to a solid shooter. It would cost the Raptors a lot to sign him, but if his interest in playing there is real, he’d be a good fit for the team Masai Ujiri is building.
Royce O’Neale agrees to four-year, $36 million contract extension to stay in Utah
However, GMs around the league recognize him is the kind of role player teams need to win. O’Neale is asked to guard the opposing team’s best wing player nightly, while on the other end of the court he’s shooting 44.3 percent from three. He’s become a critical part of Utah’s rotation.
So the Jazz have locked him up with a contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale has agreed to a four-year, $36 million contract extension, agents Ty Sullivan and Steven Heumann of @caa_sports told ESPN.
The Jazz — who have won 16-of-18 — just got Mike Conley back in the rotation, and have jumped up to a top-four seed in the West (as of this writing). Things are looking up, and also they have set themselves up well financially for the future.
2020/21 Jazz cap info: Post Royce O’Neale extension
*14 players under contract including 1st rd. pick * $18M below the projected tax * Still have $9.8M midlevel and $3.9M biannual exception * Free agents: J. Clarkson (bird) and E. Mudiay (non-bird)
Bigger bills are coming in Utah, in the summer of 2021 the Jazz will need to max out Donovan Mitchell with an extension plus re-sign Rudy Gobert. Which is why locking in a quality role player like O’Neale at a fair price now is a smart move.
Watch Marcus Smart set Celtics’ record with 11 threes, still not enough to beat Suns
BOSTON (AP) —Devin Booker had 39 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and the Phoenix Suns overcame a franchise-record 11 3-pointers by Boston’s Marcus Smart and beat the Celtics 123-119 on Saturday night.
Smart shot 11 for 22 from 3-point range and finished with a career-best 37 points. His performance marked the first time in NBA history that a player made 11 or more 3-points in a losing effort, according to Stats.
Three years ago, Booker scored 70 points in a loss to the Celtics in TD Garden. He finished an assist shy of his first career triple-double.
The Celtics were missing two of their top three leading scorers – Kemba Walker (team-best 22.1 per game), out with left knee soreness, and Jaylen Brown (20.0), sidelined for the second straight game with a sprained right thumb.
Marcus Smart on his 11 3-pointers:
"Right now it means nothing. I’d trade all that in for a win, especially with the way this team has been playing. I’d rather have the win than the record."
Boston cut its deficit to 90-85 early in the fourth, but Dario Saric and Bridges answered with consecutive 3s. The Celtics had it down to 114-111 on Daniel Theis‘ breakaway dunk with about a minute left, but Bridges hit a jumper in the lane with 37 seconds to play.
Booker’s two free throws sealed it with 4.8 seconds left.
The Suns led 60-51 at halftime and answered – mainly behind Booker and Ayton – any surge by Boston. The lead never fell below seven in the quarter, with Booker scoring nine points and Ayton getting eight.
The loss of two key players showed for the Celtics in the first quarter when the Suns broke in front 26-10 before Boston’s bench helped spark a 15-0 run.
Decades of stars and success — from Magic Johnson through Kobe Bryant — turned the Lakers into the biggest franchise brand in the NBA, the only thing that might rival it is LeBron James‘ brand. Combine those two and there seem to be loud, at points obnoxious, Lakers fans in every arena.
LeBron’s play this season — 25.5 points and a career-high 10.9 assists a game, playing his best defense in years and leading the Lakers to a West best 34-8 record — has him in the hunt for a fifth MVP award (although he’s not who we would vote for right now).
Expect to hear these chants in a lot more buildings this season.
Check out Stephen Curry the sideline reporter (VIDEO)
That’s how Curry was introduced on the Warriors broadcast Saturday night as he took over some sideline reporting duties while still out after fracturing his hand four games into the season. What else has he got to do?
Above you can see the best of Curry’s reactions, or check out his walk-off interview with Eric Paschall:
I’d say he shouldn’t quit his day job, but that job also pays a little better.
By the way, the Warriors ended their losing streak with a 109-95 victory over Orlando. D'Angelo Russell led the way with 26 points.