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Agent: Gordon Hayward leaving Jazz for Celtics ‘broke his heart’

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Gordon Hayward‘s agent, Mark Bartelstein, is sticking with his story: Hayward was still undecided Tuesday when news broke that he’d sign with the Celtics then only made up his mind on Boston later in the day.

In a fantastic account of the saga relayed by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, Bartelstein answers one big question: If Hayward were undecided Tuesday afternoon, how did he write such a lengthy Players Tribune article in such a short period of time? Bartelstein said Hayward previously wrote three versions of the article – one for the Celtics, one for the Jazz and one for the Heat – as a “cathartic” part of the process.

Bartelstein didn’t address my big question, though: If Hayward truly hadn’t made up his mind, why would incorrect reports cause Hayward to, as Bartelstein put it, “re-evaluate everything”?

At least Bartelstein went in depth on plenty. Via Genessy:

“Always through this process the Jazz were the leader in the clubhouse because of the incredible integrity and class that Dennis, Quin and the Miller family showed,” Bartelstein said. “The way they handled everything throughout Gordon’s career has been exemplary. It’s a wonderful place with a great, young team so leaving there was going to be really difficult.”

Hayward’s camp whittled the candidates down to three and set up visits in Miami on Saturday, Boston on Sunday and with Utah in San Diego on Monday.

After every stop, a new leader in the clubhouse emerged.

Hayward’s trip to Miami was “an unbelievable visit,” the agent said. After spending time with Riley, Spoelstra and crew, Hayward told Bartelstein, “I can 100 percent see myself being here.”

Boston surpassed Miami the following day after Hayward and his wife, Robyn, got the chance to spend time with Stevens, general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics.

“I think this is the spot,” Hayward told his agent during a phone call from the plane Sunday night. “I think this is the right place for me.”

The Jazz were back in the lead after the meeting ended.

“Everything that you would want to touch on to make someone feel that they’d never want to leave is exactly what they did,” Bartelstein said. “And it worked.”

After the Jazz contingent left, Hayward had a two-hour conversation with his rep.

“How do I leave here? How can I leave this?” Hayward asked Bartelstein. “He was very emotional. He was tortured.”

The agent said Hayward continued to be “twisted and turned” until clarity finally came late Tuesday afternoon.

“He had to make a decision that was in his best interest, and it broke his heart,” Bartelstein said. “But he had to make the decision (for him). He had three incredible choices and that’s what made it so hard. There was no no-brainer.”

I recommend reading the full article for a detailed account of Bartelstein’s version of Hayward’s story. Bartelstein, accurate or spinning, is trying to paint his client as still caring and respectful toward Utah.

But it’s too late for that. It’s easy to read some resentment from the Jazz, and their fans aren’t even feigning hiding it. Hayward has become a villain in Utah.

This account of his exit isn’t helping. It just digs the knife deeper. Tying hope to Hayward forcing the Celtics into a sign-and-trade that helps the Jazz at Boston’s expense just furthers the problem.

Nationally, Bartelstein isn’t helping his client, either. Hayward comes across meek and too easily swayed.

Hayward made a tough, bold, forward-thinking choice. The Celtics appear best for his future, which is more important than rewarding Utah for what it did for him in the past.

He should own that and move on.

Kendrick Perkins says not to sleep on Clippers signing Kevin Durant (VIDEO)

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We don’t know what to think about Kevin Durant and his plans for the offseason right now. Reports have him choosing between the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks. Others think he might just stay with the Golden State Warriors. At the very least, some have suggested that nobody really knows where he’s going to go, and Durant’s own business partner says he’s undecided.

So take this with a huge, giant, rough-edged grain of salt.

According to former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kendrick Perkins, he would not be surprised if Durant decided to signed with the Clippers this summer.

Via Twitter:

It’s not even the end of May yet and I’m already tired of talking about Durant. He’s not even playing and he’s tiring. Durant is perhaps the league’s best player, but the next time this story will be interesting will be when he finally signs somewhere in early July.

In the meantime, talking about what the mercurial Durant wants is a lost cause. Nobody knows what he wants — maybe not even Durant. That is, until he decides to furiously tweet it at a media member. That’s not out of the realm of possibility, either.

Durant won’t be back for the start of the NBA Finals, which is the real story of interest. Golden State looks great against the Portland Trail Blazers without their former two-time Finals MVP, and if the Warriors win a championship without Durant actively participating in that series, it will make his legacy that much more compex.

Mallory Edens wears shirt with Pusha T as a dig against Drake (PHOTO)

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There has been sort of a weird back-and-forth happening during this Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors. Ontario native Drake has been seen courtside during games in Toronto, and his interaction with Raptors head coach Nick Nurse during Game 4 drew the attention of many around the league.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said that he didn’t believe Drake should be standing where he was, nor touching Nurse during the course of a game. That caused the Raptors fan base — and Drake — to fire back at Budenholzer via Instagram, berthing one of the weirdest beefs in playoff memory.

Adding to that rivalry on Thursday night was Mallory Edens, the daughter of Bucks owner Wes Edens. Sitting next to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Edens could be seen wearing a t-shirt with rapper Pusha T on the front of it.

Pusha T and Drake have had a back-and-forth beef for years.

Via Twitter:

Let’s see what Drake comes up with for Game 6 back in The 6. The Raptors are looking to close the Bucks on Saturday and head to the NBA Finals, and it appears that ol’ Aubrey is ready to go:

Toronto beat the Bucks in Game 5, 105-99.

Raptors beat Bucks, are one win away from first-ever NBA Finals

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The Toronto Raptors now lead the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, 3-2.

Thursday night’s matchup marked a three-game winning streak by the Raptors against the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference to take a series lead. Kawhi Leonard & Co. now have the chance to close out Giannis Antetokounmpo back in Ontario for Game 6 on Saturday.

Much of Toronto’s success against Milwaukee in Game 5 was predicated by the same thing that got them through Games 3 and 4. Defense was incredibly important for the Raptors, who again collapsed on Antetokounmpo and pressured the shaky Bucks shooters into poor shots at the arc. Milwaukee shot just 32.3 percent from the 3-point line. Once again, both Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon struggled, combining to go 4-of-13 from deep.

Antetokounmpo had a better shooting night then he had in Game 4, but he scored just 24 points to go with six rebounds and six assists. The Greek Freak was not the same kind of impact player that he was in the first two games, and Nick Nurse forced Milwaukee to rely on its supporting cast yet again.

To that end, Khris Middleton had just six points on 2-of-9 shooting, although he did grab 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Milwaukee’s bench was awful for the second game in a row — Nikola Mirotic and Ersan Ilyasova scored zero points on five shots in 20 minutes.

Much to the delight of Raptors fans, Toronto’s supporting cast rose to Leonard’s level. Pascal Siakam, who didn’t shoot well, scored 14 points with 10 rebounds and three blocks. Kyle Lowry had a solid playoff performance of 17 points on 4-of-11 shooting to go with seven rebounds and six assists.

Most surprising was Fred VanVleet, who played 37 minutes off the bench to the tune of 21 points — all from 3-point shots. VanVleet has been uneven this postseason, but Danny Green had such a poor outing on Thursday (he scored zero points as well) that it was necessary to play VanVleet heavily. Thankfully for Toronto, it worked out.

As a team the Raptors limited turnovers to just six, shooting an incredible 41.9 percent from the 3-point line thanks in large part to Leonard and VanVleet.

The momentum has shifted significantly in this series, and it has much to do with the coaching changes that Nurse has made to pinpoint the inequities in Milwaukee’s lineup. It also seems like the Bucks have gone cold at just the wrong time, and coach Mike Budenholzer will need to come up with some serious strategy to be able to combat Toronto and stave off elimination. The series heads back to Ontario for Game 6 on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. when the Raptors can close the series at home at the Air Canada Centre for their first-ever NBA Finals berth.

The Raptors beat the Bucks in Game 5, 105-99.

Raptors fan promises Kawhi Leonard high rise penthouse if he stays with team

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Will Kawhi Leonard stay with the Toronto Raptors past the season? Many believe that question could be answered if the Raptors head to the 2019 NBA Finals to take on the Golden State Warriors and put on a good show. Then again, some think that even a Finals berth might not appease Leonard.

The city of Toronto would like Leonard to stay, and now there are fans of the team looking to try to entice the former San Antonio Spurs wing any way they can. In a move that is half free publicity, half devotion, the CEO of a Canadian real estate company has said he will gift Leonard a high rise penthouse if the star stays with the Raptors.

Here’s what Simon Mass, the CEO of something called Condo Store Realty, said to Narcity and Livabl, respectively.

“We want to do what we can to ensure that our MVP stays in Toronto where he is loved and respected for being the ‘best of the best’ for the basketball-loving public of Toronto and Canada,” Mass said to Narcity.

“Based on his contract — whether it’s one-year, two-year or three-year — we would make sure that he has his own place to stay, as a sign of our support to the team and the city.”

To be honest, this mostly seems like a publicity stunt. Leonard is not eligible for the supermax after being traded by the Spurs, but the amount of money in the NBA these days sort of makes things like figuring out primary housing negligible on scale. Leonard can afford any piece of property he likes and he doesn’t need CEOs to give him a penthouse.

Then again, the support of a city is usually a factor in a star choosing to sign with a team, so it can’t hurt that people are trying to throw massive gifts at Leonard.

Let’s just get through this Eastern Conference Finals before we make any hasty assumptions about where Leonard will sign this summer, penthouses or not.