Associated Press

Paul Millsap leads Hawks to rout of 76ers, 104-72

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Even with Dwight Howard having an off game, Atlanta won easily.

And coach Mike Budenholzer said that’s a good sign for the Hawks.

Paul Millsap scored 17 points to lead five Hawks in double figures and Atlanta toppled the Philadelphia 76ers 104-72 on Saturday.

Kyle Korver added 15 points and Mike Muscala added 14 for Atlanta.

The Hawks barely needed top offseason acquisition Howard. The big man had just two points and seven rebounds in his second game for his hometown team after signing a three-year, $70 million free-agent contract this summer. The 31-year-old center had 19 rebounds and 11 points in Atlanta’s season-opening 114-99 win over Washington on Thursday.

“The great thing about adding Dwight to our group and something that Dwight is embracing and cherishing is that we play as a team,” Budenholzer said.

“Everybody steps up, everybody contributes. Dwight is going to have great, big nights. A day like today was maybe not his day. Muscala, Paul and Kris (Humphries) were great. It’s much more a positive than anything.”

Dennis Schroder displayed the playmaking ability the Hawks are counting on with him taking over for Jeff Teague as the team’s point guard. After getting two assists in the opener, Schroder had 11 to go with 11 points against Philadelphia.

Joel Embiid and Sergio Rodriguez had 14 points apiece for the 76ers.

The Hawks’ reserves (51 points) had nearly as many points (53) as the starters.

“It says a lot,” Millsap said. “Our bench is great. Our bench did a great job of coming in and sparking a nice, little run for us. This game, last game, they did a great job of doing that.”

Millsap scored four points during Atlanta’s 8-2 run to open the fourth quarter, capped by Muscala’s 17-foot jumper for an 82-60 lead.

After sitting out for two years because of a foot injury, Embiid dazzled the home crowd with 20 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes in Wednesday’s season-opening loss to Oklahoma City. The third overall pick in the 2014 draft, Embiid had trouble staying on the court in the opening half against Orlando.

Moments after chants of “Trust the process! Trust the process!” serenaded Embiid on the free-throw line, the crowd erupted in the second quarter when Embiid blocked Howard’s shot attempt.

Embiid had to go to the bench seconds later after picking up his third foul. The Hawks took advantage, outscoring Philadelphia 17-10 from that point to enter the intermission up 53-39.

Philadelphia could get only within 10 points in the third quarter on Jerami Grant‘s highlight-reel reverse dunk. But the Hawks scored eight of the final 10 points of the period to enter the fourth quarter ahead 74-58.

NATIONAL ANTHEM

A day after apologizing for prohibiting R&B singer Sevyn Streeter from performing the national anthem at Wednesday’s opener because Streeter was wearing a “We Matter” T-shirt, the song went off without any incidents or protests prior to Saturday’s game. Mike Moore, a member of the team’s “Flight Squad,” performed the national anthem with no signs that anything was amiss.

NO CHEESESTEAKS

DeAndre Bembry had two points for Atlanta. The rookie is a product of nearby Saint Joseph’s. He received cheers when he entered with just under six minutes left.

Bembry said he had “a bunch of people” in attendance from St. Joe’s. One thing he didn’t have while back in Philadelphia, though, was a cheesesteak due to the recent removal of a wisdom tooth.

MORE MINUTES

Embiid, on a minutes restriction because of his foot injury, played 15 minutes.

“With the minutes he played, he clearly helped us,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “We’re looking forward to him playing more minutes.”

TIP-INS

Hawks: Millsap, a three-time All-Star, is averaging a team-best 22.5 points per game through two games. … Atlanta nearly doubled Philadelphia in assists, with 31 to the 76ers’ 16.

76ers: Philadelphia, which started 0-18 on the way to a 10-72 mark last season, looks for its first win with its third straight home game to start the season, Tuesday against the Magic. Five of the 76ers’ first six games are at home. Philadelphia is playing without three starters because of injury: Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Nerlens Noel (knee) and 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons (foot).

 

Toronto police: Report of shooting at Raptors championship parade

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Update: Toronto police:

 

 

The Raptors’ championship parade was interrupted by a scary situation.

Toronto Police:

Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star:

Especially in large crowds like this, chaos and confusion can spread quickly. Hopefully, everyone is OK.

The scene was quite strange, as speeches were interrupted while people in sections of the crowd fled:

The Raptors are continuing their speeches now.

Report: Nets not extending qualifying offer to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

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The Nets appear to be on the verge of signing Kyrie Irving. They opened double-max cap space to pursue a second star like Kevin Durant, Tobias Harris or Jimmy Butler.

Brooklyn isn’t going to let Rondae Hollis-Jefferson foil that plan.

The Nets could make Hollis-Jefferson a restricted free agent, giving them the right to match any offer he receives. But do so, they must extend a $3,594,369 qualifying offer. That’s essentially a one-year contract offer he could accept at any time. If he did, he’d count against the cap at $3,594,369. Brooklyn doesn’t want to risk that.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Nets could still re-sign Hollis-Jefferson. This just prevents him from unilaterally accepting the qualifying offer and jamming up cap space.

But this signals Brooklyn is ready to move on. Hollis-Jefferson, who become an unrestricted free agent after spending his first four years with the Nets, might also be ready.

The 24-year-old Hollis-Jefferson has settled in as an undersized power forward. He’s a switchable defender and active offensively. Playing power forward somewhat covers for his lack of shooting and ball-handling ability, but that can still be exploited.

Why timing of Anthony Davis trade matters so much for Lakers

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The Lakers will get Anthony Davis.

That’s clearly the only thing that matters to them.

Not only will they send the Pelicans a massive haul of draft picks and young players, the Lakers could lose significant cap space with the trade’s structure.

Los Angeles and New Orleans can’t complete the reported deal until the league year turns over June 30. Then, the NBA immediately goes into a moratorium in which most transactions aren’t allowed. The moratorium ends July 6. That’s when two main options emerge.

Option 1: Trade July 6

Let’s start with Davis’ trade kicker, a bonus paid to him if traded. Davis’ base salary next season is $27,093,018. His 15% trade bonus could raise his salary $4,063,953 to $31,156,971. Davis could waive all or a portion of the bonus. The Pelicans would pay the bonus, but the Lakers can also include enough cash in the trade to cover the full bonus amount.

The Lakers will send Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart (combined salary: $17,918,965) and the No. 4 pick (which will count about $7 million against the cap) to New Orleans.

Davis’ salary will be between $27,093,018 and $31,156,971 next season, depending on his trade kicker.

Simply, the Lakers’ incoming salary in the trade will be about $2 million-$6 million higher than their outgoing salary in the trade.

That works just fine under the cap rules. The Lakers will have way more than $2 million-$6 million in cap space. As far as salary matching, teams can always trade when they end up under the cap.

So, after this deal, the Lakers would have about $24 million-$28 million in cap space.

But there’s another path that would give the Lakers even more flexibility.

Option 2: Trade July 30

On July 6, if they renounce all their free agents and waive Jemerrio Jones‘ unguaranteed salary, the Lakers project to have about $33 million cap space.

That’s about enough for a max salary for a free agent with fewer than 10 years experience – someone like Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving. Or multiple helpful role players.

The Lakers could spend all that money then trade for Davis.

Here’s how they could get Davis after reaching the cap line:

They’d sign the No. 4 pick June 30. (Signing first-round picks is one of the few moves allowed during the moratorium.) He couldn’t be traded for 30 days after being signed. Hence, the July 30 date on this trade. But his actual salary would count toward the trade. Unsigned draft picks count $0 in trades.

In this salary range, the Lakers could acquire 125% of the outgoing salary in the trade plus $100,000. Aggregating Ball, Ingram, Hart and the signed No. 4 pick would allow the Lakers to acquire about $31 million of salary. That covers Davis’ full salary and most, if not all, of his trade bonus.

But why would the Pelicans wait?

That’d mean the No. 4 pick can’t play for them in summer league. There’d also be complications flipping the No. 4 pick to another team.

It’d also tie up a portion their cap space until the trade is completed, as they’re the ones holding the more-expensive Davis through July. Most good free agents will be off the market by July 30.

New Orleans could always reach an unofficial agreement with a free agent then make the deal official after the Lakers trade. But that requires trust, and some free agents might not go for that.

There’s no upside in waiting for the Pelicans. The only question is how much downside.

What’s at stake?

A quick recap:

If the Lakers trade for Davis sooner, they’d project to have $24 million-$28 million in cap space (depending on his trade bonus).

If the Lakers trade for Davis later, they’d project to have about $33 million in cap space.

That extra $5 million-$9 million could go a long way.

What now?

It doesn’t sound as if the Lakers pressed New Orleans to wait until July 30 before accepting the trade.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

For now, the plan is to execute the trade on July 6, right after the moratorium ends on the start of free agency — and it’s unlikely that will change.

The Lakers could always negotiate with free agents June 30-July 5 then decide. If they want the additional cap space, the Lakers could try to entice the Pelicans with extra draft picks to delay. But that’d make the trade even more costly to Los Angeles.

The alternative might be even more grim – the Lakers not finding worthy players in the first week of free agency. Los Angeles could even view that as a face-saving move to justify the timing of this trade.

But if the Lakers make this trade July 6 then claim they didn’t have good use for an extra $5 million-$9 million in cap space, they’ll only be telling on themselves.

Report: Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has griped about Chris Paul’s contract in front of rival executives

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In 2017, Chris Paul opted in to facilitate a trade to the capped-out Rockets. By forgoing free agency and a max salary, Paul sacrificed $10,083,055 that season. With Paul and James Harden, the Rockets became a championship contender and pushed the Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference finals.

The bill came due last summer.

Houston re-signed the aging Paul to a four-year max contract worth $159,730,592. That deal always looked like it could age poorly, and Paul – now 34 – is already slowing.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has noticed.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Fertitta has grumbled about Paul’s contract, expressing regret to Rockets staffers and even in front of rival executives, according to league sources.

Fertitta bought the Rockets after they traded for Paul. Though the sale was completed before they re-signed Paul, it seems the contract terms were at least discussed as far back as the opt-in-and-trade.

So, Fertitta didn’t necessarily sign off on this arrangement.

But it was good for Houston! It made the Rockets the biggest threat to the Kevin Durant-supercharged Warriors to that point. Re-signing Paul helped keep Houston in title contention this year. The Rockets were limited in that pursuit by Fertitta’s spending limitations, not by locking Paul into this contract.

Yes, there’s downside to Paul’s deal. Houston is feeling it now. Paul will be difficult, though not impossible, to trade this summer.

But as much as Fertitta talks about winning, he yet again shows why that’s all bluster.