Associated Press

Klay Thompson says he may take discount in two years to keep Warriors together

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While a few teams with star players in their primes went all in this summer to chase the Warriors — Houston, Oklahoma City, Cleveland — there is a sense for many teams around the NBA they would rather spend the next couple of seasons building a core and aim for being good in three or four years when these Warriors may be vulnerable. While Golden State has Stephen Curry locked up long term and will do the same for Kevin Durant next summer, in a couple of summers Golden State will have to pay Klay Thompson, then the summer after that Draymond Green. There is hope around the league that those other two stars decide to want max money or larger roles the Warriors will have to move on.

Or, maybe not.

Thompson told Marcus Thompson and Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on their podcast he would consider taking less than the max to keep the team together. What about a Durant-level $9 million cut?

“I probably could, yeah. That much? I don’t know. I don’t make as much as Kevin off the court…. If it’s a few million … It’s a blessing whatever contract I sign. I would definitely consider it cause I don’t want to lose anybody.”

Maybe it’s because he grew up with a father who was a former No. 1 pick and a guy who got to win rings with Magic Johnson’s Showtime Lakers, but Thompson has not always treated money as the status symbol and sign of respect other players do. Don’t get me wrong, he wants to get paid, but he values winning more than most young players and he has said before he might consider a haircut on his salary to help keep the team together.

Ultimately, this becomes a question for Warriors’ ownership — how much tax are they willing to pay? They bit the bullet this summer re-signing Andre Iguodala and Shawn Livingston, but they got a little assist from Durant. The Warriors’ tax bill going to go up heavily in future years — Durant will opt out next summer and want a max after his one-year discount, then Thompson and Green eventually need to be paid. That said, the Warriors made $91 million in profit last season (according to leaked NBA documents) and soon they will move into a new home arena that will be a revenue generation machine. At what point does Warriors ownership balk at the price tag?

The problem for the NBA’s other 29 teams? They don’t have to answer that question for a couple of seasons, and in the interim they will be a force.

 

Report: Lakers eager to use LeBron James at center flanked by top four young players

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Why did the Lakers, after securing LeBron James, sign Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson? Their explanation leaves plenty to be desired.

What will the Lakers do with Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma now that none of those four are being traded for Kawhi Leonard? Their plan there is far more intriguing.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:

“We may not see this on day one, but the coaching staff is eager to see our version of the [Warriors’] Death Lineup with Lonzo [Ball], Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, [Kyle] Kuzma and LeBron,” a second Lakers executive said.

LeBron at center is a dangerous weapon. The Cavaliers showed it more during the 2017 playoffs – to positive effect.

But LeBron isn’t Draymond Green, who makes Golden State’s Death/Hamptons Five Lineup function. Green possesses a unique combination of rim protection and – through his ball-handling and especially passing – ability to get into offense quickly. LeBron isn’t as good at protecting the paint, and though he’s lethal in transition when he wants to be, he’ll be fighting years of slow-down habits.

I also wonder how much LeBron embraces the physical toll of playing center. The Lakers have only JaVale McGee, Ivica Zubac and Mo Wagner at the position. Are they banking on LeBron playing there a significant amount during the regular season?

LeBron would likely accept the role more enthusiastically in the playoffs. But Ball, Hart, Ingram and Kuzma will be tested – at least initially – by the heightened level of play. I’d be wary of overly relying on that lineup.

But this is the best way for the Lakers to get talent on the floor and overcome spacing concerns. I’m absolutely excited to see it in action. Whatever concerns I have about it are only multiplied with other potential Lakers lineups.

Report: Nuggets lottery pick Michael Porter Jr. undergoes another back surgery

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Michael Porter Jr. underwent back surgery in November, missed nearly his entire freshman season at Missouri then slipped to No. 14 in the draft amid injury concerns.

The Nuggets have been noncommittal about their plans for Porter, but they’ve given an eyebrow-raising update.

Nuggets release:

Michael Porter Jr. has undergone surgery of the lumbar spine at The Carrell Clinic in Dallas, Tex. The Procedure was performed by Dr. Andrew Dossett. There is no timetable for his return to basketball participation.

Porter is a talented forward with the length and skill to make a major impact as a scorer.

But, as this latest surgery underscores, drafting him carried terrifying risk. Denver will have to bear that for a while.

Report: Dirk Nowitzki to re-sign with Mavericks for $5 million

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Dirk Nowitzki is set to play his 20th season – breaking Kobe Bryant’s record for most seasons with a single franchise and tying Kevin Garnett, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis for most seasons in the NBA.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks declined Nowitzki’s $5 million team option, but he was never signing elsewhere. He was either going to retire or play for Dallas.

Once he decided to return, the only question was money.

The Mavericks declined Nowitzki’s option to maximize their flexibility for upgrades, namely signing DeAndre Jordan. Once Yogi Ferrell agreed to an absurdly team-friendly contract, Dallas had enough cap space left to give Nowitzki his team-option amount. If necessary, he would have taken the $4,449,000 room exception.

Nowitzki has had a great career, and this could be his farewell tour. But he also remains a helpful rotation-level player. Though he’s a defensive liability, his outside shooting as a big goes a long way toward floor spacing.

Report: Mavericks re-signing Yogi Ferrell for less than qualifying-offer salary with second year unguaranteed

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The Mavericks expected Yogi Ferrell to accept his qualifying offer.

Turns out, they’ll keep him on an even more team-friendly deal than the one he could have unilaterally signed.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This is an awful deal for Ferrell.

As reported, he’ll earn between $2,548,077 and $2,760,417 next season. That range is less than his qualifying offer – which would have paid him a fully guaranteed $2,919,204 next season.

That reduction is acceptable if Ferrell got something in exchange – but he gave Dallas the concession by adding an unguaranteed second year. If he plays well, the Mavericks will keep him at a cheap salary. If he doesn’t, they’ll waive him for no cost. They have all the control.

The promise of the backup shooting guard job is probably just lip service. Teams don’t stick by that if the player struggles. If he produces, he would have gotten the job anyway.

Dallas has plenty of point guard types – Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic, J.J Barea, Jalen Brunson and Ferrell. Rick Carlisle uses two of them simultaneously often enough that Ferrell should land in the rotation. But it’s far from a lock.

With this deal, Ferrell is taking all the risk and the Mavericks are getting all the upside.