Report: Knicks “progressing toward” opening contract talks with David Griffin about GM job

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There is a long way to go and many questions to be answered, but the Knicks are on the path to doing something smart:

Hiring David Griffin as their new general manager.

From the moment Phil Jackson was let go by Knicks’ owner James Dolan — just a couple of days before the start of free agency — it seemed the smart move was for the Knicks to call up Griffin and talk. Griffin is available because Dan Gilbert didn’t want to pay the going rate and saw the direction of the team differently, that despite Griffin playing a key role in putting together the team that brought Cleveland its first NBA title ever (and Gilbert pissed off LeBron James in the process). Griffin is smart and well respected around the league, the smart thing was for the Knicks to call him up and talk.

Of course, this is the Knicks, so the question is would they do the smart thing? Yes, they did. The sides are at least talking, reports Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

After several conversations and a dinner meeting with franchise executive Steve Mills on Friday, the New York Knicks are progressing toward opening contract negotiations with David Griffin to become the team’s next general manager, league sources told ESPN…

Griffin is also expected to meet with owner James Dolan in the near future, league sources said….

One potential stumbling block to the Knicks’ pursuit of Griffin, league sources said: the willingness of the organization to allow Griffin to bring his own front office and staff into Madison Square Garden. Much of the Knicks’ front office has survived several unsuccessful regimes, and the organization has been hesitant to make sweeping changes to the group, league sources said.

Mills, who was Jackson’s GM and has been Dolan’s trusted man in the front office since 2003, is expected to be the new team president. He was the guy behind New York overpaying for Tim Hardaway Jr. Still, Hardaway fits with the Knicks’ plan to build a young, athletic team around Kristaps Porzingis. Griffin could do that better and faster.

This should be simple, the Knicks should make sweeping changes to the front office. They should hire Griffin and give him nearly unfettered power to make basketball decisions — and let him bring in his loyal staff. The basketball staff the Knicks have had for years has not done the job it’s time for a change (and to keep Dolan out of the basketball side of the building). Griffin would be a quality hire.

It’s the smart thing to do. The question is, will the Knicks do it?

Danny Ainge unwittingly leaks Celtics’ draft pick on call with Terry Rozier during live show (video)

AP Photo/Bob Leverone
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Terry Rozier takes solace in how much Danny Ainge believes in him.

But I didn’t appreciate how deep their bond went.

Appearing on Bleacher Report’s live draft show, Rozier was asked to predict the Celtics’ No. 27 pick. So, Rozier called Ainge to ask. Shockingly, Ainge answered – with Boston on the clock. Almost certainly not knowing the call was public and live, Ainge revealed the likely selection:

Good thing the Celtics stuck with Robert Williams. That would have been extremely awkward otherwise.

As is, it was only a little awkward. Williams said today he doesn’t like to be called Bob.

Report: Rival teams expect Paul George to consider 1+1 contract with Thunder

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Paul George has openly stated the appeal of playing for his hometown Lakers. He has also openly stated the appeal of staying with the Thunder.

That has created significant confusion about his upcoming free agency.

Could George find a compromise outcome?

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

More than one rival team has suggested to me that they expect George to strongly consider a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and $32.7 million in 2019-20 that includes a player option to return to free agency next summer.

This makes sense on paper.

A 1+1 contract would give George more time to determine whether he and Russell Westbrook can win together in Oklahoma City without getting stuck there long-term if they can’t. The Thunder were starting to put it together when Andre Roberson got hurt. Perhaps, Roberson getting healthy would swing Oklahoma City’s fortunes.

George would also be eligible for a higher max salary in two years – 35% of the salary cap, up from 30% if he signs now. So, a short-term contract would allow him to maximize his potential earnings.

But George said he wanted to sign somewhere long-term this summer. He also suffered an extremely gruesome leg injury just a few years ago. He might not want to bypass guaranteed money to gamble for a little more later.

Are these rival teams just looking at the general outlook for a player in George’s position without considering his specific circumstances? Or do they know something? George could have informed teams he might become available in 2019 or 2020 so they should prepare.

I’m skeptical this is more than speculation by opposing teams. But the possibility that they’re basing their expectations on inside information makes this worth monitoring.

Heartbreaking: Watch Mikal Bridges explain joy of joining hometown 76ers while they trade him to Suns (video)

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Mikal Bridges‘ mom jumped up, pumped her fists and screamed “Yes!” through her giant grin.

The 76ers – the organization she works for in human resources – had just drafted her son No. 10 overall. Bridges, a Philadelphia native who played at Villanova, seemed as if he’d stay home for his pro career.

Bridges:

She’s very, very excited. She’s been wanting this. She’s probably more excited than I am. She was about to cry and all that. She said she didn’t want to ruin her makeup, so she’d try to hold it in. But no, she’s very excited. I’m her only son. I’m a little mama’s boy. Her son is right there around the corner again, and it’s just really cool.

Except, as Bridges was talking, the 76ers were trading him to the Suns for No. 16 pick Zhaire Smith and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder.

That extra pick carries major value. Even if you like Bridges much more than Smith – which I did, especially considering their fits in Philadelphia – that’s hard to pass up. The NBA is a business after all.

But it’s lamentable how this played out.

Kings GM Vlade Divac: ‘My team is a super team. Just young’

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The Kings drafted Marvin Bagley No. 2 last night (seemingly for bad reasons, which doesn’t at all eliminate him from being the right pick but makes it less likely he is). He’ll join a young core also comprised of Bogdan Bogdanovic, De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles.

That group excite you?

Kings general manager Vlade Divac isn’t reducing expectations.

Lina Washington of ABC 10:

To be fair, in 2012, the Warriors were coming off a 23-43 season with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson already on the roster and had just drafted Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes. Everyone would’ve laughed at calling Golden State a “super team, just young” then. But those four (plus Andre Iguodala) eventually led the Warriors to a championship.

But, really: Nah.

Entering the 2016-17 season, then-Knicks guard Derrick Rose said, “They’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams.” We mocked Rose relentlessly, and of course, the Warriors went 73-9 while New York finished just 32-50.

How long until Divac’s young super team reaches even 32-50?