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Deals happening this summer, but amid perhaps more caution

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Pat Riley saw this coming.

Surveying the landscape going into free agency, the Miami Heat president had a clear sense that smarter spending was going to be the rule in the NBA this summer as opposed to the enormous-contract spree that occurred a year ago.

And so far, he’s been proven right.

There have still been some massive contracts – Stephen Curry‘s $201 million agreement with Golden State will set an NBA total-value record, while the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry combined to assure themselves another $400 million in soon-to-be-official deals. Otto Porter may be in line for $105 million, either from Sacramento or Washington.

But unlike 2016, there’s been very few puzzling moves.

“Some of the contracts were sort of out of whack,” Riley said.

That was then, with deals like ones given to Joakim Noah ($72 million for four years by the Knicks), Timofey Mozgov ($64 million for four years by the Lakers) and Luol Deng ($72 million for four years, also by the Lakers) not exactly paying massive dividends last season. Perhaps not coincidentally, it should be noted that the Knicks and Lakers are both under different management this summer.

Deals are getting done – going into Monday, $1.255 billion in new contracts have been agreed upon this summer already, a figure that goes past $1.5 billion when Porter signs and assuming John Wall takes his $168 million extension offer from Washington.

They’re just getting done more judiciously, or so it would seem.

“That’s part of the reasons we signed guys in advance last summer, was in anticipation of where the cap was going, knowing the value of cap room wasn’t going to be as much because of the preponderance of cap room in the marketplace,” Portland president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said, noting there was $450 million available in cap room this summer across the league.

To Dwyane Wade, who will make nearly $24 million this season, what’s happening now is eye-popping.

“If I’m 25 with the same numbers,” the Chicago guard tweeted on June 21 with a reference to his stats from last season, “I’m getting 150 million.”

And later, Cleveland star LeBron James suggested that Curry should be getting $400 million instead of half that much.

Money matters, clearly. But this summer, teams and players are both showing savvy when handling these deep NBA coffers.

Gordon Hayward may sign a three-year deal wherever he goes, in large part because when that contract ends he’d be a 10-year veteran and in line for an even-bigger payday than the one that awaits. J.J. Redick cashed in with Philadelphia for $23 million, and gets the chance to be free again next summer. Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Jeff Teague were among those who took three-year deals, even though longer ones were possible.

Lowry announced his decision on The Players’ Tribune, saying his son’s reaction to the news that they were staying in Toronto was that they now need to get a bigger house.

“We’ll see about that one,” Lowry said.

In the first two days of free agency – really, Monday was only Day 3, even though it seems like it’s been going on forever – at least 19 of the 30 NBA clubs struck known agreements on deals that will be eligible to be executed starting Thursday. Half the league hasn’t done anything that could be described as anywhere near splashy, either because funds are tight or they’re waiting for other dominoes to fall.

“Really happy and looking forward to this opportunity,” point guard Jose Calderon said after getting a $2.3 million deal from Cleveland, which didn’t have the room to be a major player in free agency – though can still make trades if it chooses, of course.

Golden State, meanwhile, has beaten the Cavaliers for two of the last three NBA titles and has handed out $275 million in new contracts so far this summer. And that total will soar when Kevin Durant‘s new deal with the Warriors gets added in, presumably sometime later this week.

Other teams without cap space or mechanisms by which to land players have to wait and see for what’s left.

“I don’t know how much money our team has – $16 million, and those guys are making $30 million now,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said, when asked if he thought his team could be a major player in free agency this year. “If you look at it that way, it doesn’t look likely. But there are good players out there.”

 

Arson suspected at bar where Zach Randolph’s brother killed

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MARION, Ind. (AP) Investigators have determined a fire likely was intentionally set at an Indiana bar, one day after the brother of NBA star Zach Randolph was fatally shot there.

The fire happened at Hop’s Blues Room in Marion early Sunday – less than 24 hours after 35-year-old Roger Randolph was found dead.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze that caused an estimated $20,000 in damage. Marion Fire Department Investigator Brandon Eckstein says the cause of the fire was arson.

Early Saturday, Roger Randolph died shortly after he was found shot in the parking lot of the business. Police say no arrests have been made.

Zach Randolph was a star player in Marion and now plays for the Sacramento Kings.

Authorities didn’t immediately say whether they believe Randolph’s death and the fire are related.

Report: First round picks will walk across draft stage with two family members

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The NBA Draft is a big moment for many young men entering the league. Before the picks are announced, TV coverage shows players waiting at their tables among parents, siblings, and their agents.

Now, the NBA is apparently turning the first round into even more of a family affair.

According to Yahoo! Sports, first round selections will be invited to bring two family members to walk across the stage with them as they are selected during the draft on Thursday night. Those members will also be in the greenroom, so they will get the full experience of what it’s like to be an NBA draft pick themselves.

Via Yahoo!:

This is going to be pretty neat to see, and it should make the smiles of the players even bigger as they get to experience a lifelong dream right alongside their support networks.

The 2018 NBA Draft kicks off on Thursday, June 21 at 4:00 PM.

It’s the 10 year anniversary of Kevin Garnett’s ‘Anything is possible’ (VIDEO)

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The Boston Celtics were world champions back in 2008. After a whirlwind summer in 2007 where the team traded for both Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, things came together for the Celtics as Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo filled out an impressive roster.

Boston had two consecutive seven-game series to open the postseason in 2007-08, beating the Atlanta Hawks in the first round and then LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second. They then dispatched the Pistons in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, and Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers in six in the NBA Finals.

The Celtics hadn’t won the championship since the 1985-86 season, and suffered through patently bad teams or talented ones that tended to get clumsy with early playoff exits.

When Boston finally did win their title, it was Garnett who game us one of the more iconic moments of their celebration, shouting “Anything is possible!” as he was interviewed after the game.

Via Twitter:

A decade later, Boston is again in the hunt for another championship and seemingly set up to do so for years to come.

Report: Minnesota’s Tyus Jones considered asking for trade, Thibodeau eased concerns

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If there was one thing at the top of the list that set off Timberwolves fans on Twitter last season — and that is a long list — it was the burying of backup point guard Tyus Jones on the bench.

Jones played well on the floor — he is an excellent pick-and-roll ball handler, knows how to run an offense, is strong in transition, and can knock down a spot-up jumper — and the Timberwolves were 5.8 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents when he was on the court. Yet coach Tom Thibodeau jerked Jones’ minutes around — he leaned heavily on starter Jeff Teague and backup guard Jamal Crawford, then mid-season brought in Derrick Rose and gave him run. Jones’ minutes were up and down when they never should have been — even Teague went to Thibodeau and said to play Jones more.

It got to the point that after the season, the third-year guard considered asking for a trade, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.

But sources told Sporting News that Jones met with team management after the playoffs, and Thibodeau reasserted his support of Jones and his development. Even if the Wolves re-sign Rose, Jones was assured, his minutes and opportunities would increase because Crawford is not expected to return to the team. Rose mostly played shooting guard with the Wolves last season, so there’s a chance Jones could play alongside Rose as a backcourt bench unit.

Jones had considered requesting a trade, but the meeting with the team defused that notion before it arose. And for now, at least, the Wolves have no intention of dealing him.

Thibodeau is saying the right things, we’ll see if his actions back up his words. Jones will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019 and he has a lot of fans around the league in other front offices. If Minnesota doesn’t give him enough burn he will hunt out a place that will (and may pay more than Minnesota wants to match).

It’s one of a number of issues around the Timberwolves that could derail, at least temporarily, a team that is on the rise in the West.