No Butler, no George, but Celtics should not over-react or act impatiently. Their time will come.

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What happens if the Celtics do nothing big this summer? They did not land Jimmy Butler in a trade, Paul George went to Oklahoma City, Blake Griffin re-signed with the Clippers, what if the Celtics strike out with Gordon Hayward and he chooses to stay in Utah (or go to Miami)?

First, Celtics fans will freak out online.

Then in the fall the Celtics bring back a team that was the top seed in the East last year, made the conference Finals, and who added the No. 3 pick in the draft. They remain the biggest threat to Cleveland in the East. The Celtics are still stacked with draft picks and talent and look to be a team poised to be the next big power in the conference.

In short, nothing changes. My conversations with people in and around the Celtics have them thinking of building something sustainable that hits in 2019 or 2020, they are not in win-now mode like the Cavaliers or Rockets. Celtics fans may want to knock over the LeBron wall in the East next season, but that wall could be gone in two years (he goes to the West in 2018) or will just start to crumble around him (that could even start to happen next season).

Things are not dire in Boston even if they miss out on all the guys targeted. The Celtics are still in an excellent position, just one that requires patience and vision. Danny Ainge has those things, fans tend not to.

That said, the pressure to land Gordon Hayward this summer in free agency certainly has ramped up some.

The challenge for Boston is that their cap space for the future goes away next summer when Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart all come up for new contracts — no way Boston keeps all of them anyway. That said, it’s easier for Boston if they can add Hayward this summer then decide what moves to make after seeing how all the pieces fit together. While people in Utah remain confident they can retain Hayward, the rest of the league seems to think he’s ready to move on (especially if George Hill and Joe Ingles leave as well). If he goes, Boston is in the driver’s seat.

The frustration in not landing George after seeing him go to OKC for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo is understandable. Same with seeing Butler go to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick.

Boston has in its pocket the Nets first round pick in 2018 unprotected, the Lakers pick in 2019 (if it falls 2-5, otherwise it is the better of either the Kings or Sixers pick in 2019), the Clippers pick in 2019 (lottery protected), the Grizzlies pick in 2019 (lottery protected), Boston’s own picks the next two years, plus players such as Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Jayson Tatum, and on down the line. It’s easy to blame Ainge for being too cautious, not pushing his chips into the middle and using those assets to get an elite player now.

Except he did offer more for George, back at the trade deadline when a couple of those picks including next year’s Brooklyn pick, were on the table, but the Pacers then GM Larry Bird didn’t want to move George. When the organization was forced to move him, they reportedly asked for the Nets pick, the Lakers pick, plus players — way more than they got from OKC. Talk around the league is that in part Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers GM, did not want to send George to a team in the East where he could re-sign without a massive return (which explains not taking Cavaliers’ deal, either). Zach Lowe of ESPN says that the Celtics and Nuggets had worked out a three-team deal that ended with George in Cleveland and Kevin Love in Denver, but Indiana kept moving the goal posts. In the end, the Pacers took on Victor Oladipo rather than Gary Harris, which is not the decision most other NBA teams would have made.

Is Danny Ainge waiting for the perfect deal? Yes.

Does he have to cash in some of those hoarded assets at some point to get the final pieces needed for a contender? Absolutely.

But that time is not the summer of 2017. Paul George is not the last, best hope of the Celtics. Other opportunities will arise. Ainge and the Celtics can be patient. Even if the fan base is not.

Mavericks sign second-round pick Jalen Brunson to first-rounder style contract

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Dallas is excited about the potential of Jalen Brunson.

The point guard who led Villanova to a national championship last April fell to the 33rd pick in the draft last June, high in the second round, and Dallas traded up a spot to get him from Atlanta. The Mavericks were ecstatic, and to the surprise of nobody they have reached terms on a contract with him.

What is a bit of a surprise is the Mavericks gave him a first-rounder style contract — four years with some guaranteed money for the first three of them — reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

At Summer League in Las Vegas Brunson showed the qualities that Dallas liked in him — he’s a high IQ player with polish, and he’s a pass-first floor general — but his weaknesses were also exposed. He has to shoot better (23 percent in Summer League) and his defense needs to improve.

Both of those can happen, Summer League is more of a chance for teams to benchmark players than make decisions about them. Brunson reportedly has a great work ethic, he can figure the NBA game out.

Dallas is betting that he will.

Kemba Walker: “As far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it”

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Kemba Walker is an All-Star level point guard who is heading into a contract season — he is a free agent in 2019. Walker is also a New York native, born in the Bronx he attended Rice High School in Harlem.

Combine all that with the fact both the Knicks and Nets will have enough cap space for a max (or more than one max) contract next summer, and you’ve got yourself a rumor.

One Walker shot down talking to Michael Scotto of The Athletic.

“As far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it,” Walker replied. “I’m a Hornet, and I’m planning on being a Hornet for a long time, so, yeah, I’m not sure about that (New York).”

Walker has said many times he wants to stay in Charlotte (providing they pay the market rate and are trying to compete).

That said, this is the NBA, so never say never.

A lot of NBA teams have been poised, waiting to see if new Hornets’ GM Mitch Kupchak — with the approval of Michael Jordan — decided to go full rebuild and trade Walker this summer. He has not, talking only about keeping this squad together. The Hornets are a solid team with Walker and Nicolas Batum leading the way, one that could make the playoffs in the East if things break right for new coach James Borrego. However, they will not be anywhere near contenders and if things don’t fall their way they may well miss the playoffs next season. Again. The Hornets also are not a bad team, meaning they are not going to get a high pick (without some lottery luck). They are stuck in the NBA’s middle ground, a place most GMs want to avoid.

Trading Walker could jump-start the rebuild in Charlotte, but the Hornets don’t seem to be going that direction. Yet. This summer they signed Tony Parker, Malik Monk looked good in Summer League, and they got Dwight Howard out of the locker room. They say they are a team poised to make a playoff push.

If that push falls apart early in Charlotte, watch and see if their plans change. And what that could mean for Walker. And the Knicks.

However, as of now, Walker wants to remain a Hornet, and they want to keep him. Which crowds New York out of the picture.

 

Report: Philadelphia tried to recruit Daryl Morey as new GM, was rebuffed

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The analytics movement is not dead in Philadelphia.

The Sixers are still searching for a new general manager to replace Bryan Colangelo (who had to resign in the wake of a Twitter scandal), and the rumors have always been about the big guns. David Griffin, the former Cleveland GM inexplicably let go by that franchise, is a name that kept coming up.

But the home of “The Process” wanted to jump back into the analytics waters and try to land the Rockets’ Dayrl Morey, the face of the NBA’s analytics movement. That was shot down, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.

The Sixers are swinging for the fences right now — they met with LeBron James in free agency, they have tried to get in on the Kawhi Leonard trade sweepstakes, they wanted to meet with Paul George — and landing Morey fits in that mold. Philadelphia already has Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in house, and feels they are on the verge of contention for years, but that they need one more piece. Morey is not that piece, but the guy who traded for James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston could get someone to come to Philly.

Morey is happy in Houston, however, and he’s staying put.

Instead, the Sixers search will continue. In the interim, coach Brett Brown is filling in a dual role (and doing a solid job, but with the recent run of struggles for teams that had a coach filling both positions it’s unlikely they keep this arrangement long term).

French World Cup star Antoine Griezmann interrupts post-win interview to shout out Derrick Rose

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Antoine Griezmann was one of the stars for France’s World Cup victory — he scored on a penalty kick against Croatia in the Final, helping France to the 4-2 win. He had four goals over the course of the tournament, all scored with his left foot. The Atlético Madrid star is one of the world’s great strikers.

And he is a MASSIVE Derrick Rose fan.

How big? Not long after winning the World Cup, he interrupted an English interview with Paul Pogba to express his Derrick Rose love.

Griezmann may be a bigger Rose fan than Tom Thibodeau… nah, not possible. But Griezmann is second on the list.

This is not some out-of-the-blue joke. Griezmann has said before he would only leave Madrid to play with Rose, and back in 2013 called Rose his No. 1 idol.

The Timberwolves need to get that man a Rose jersey fast.