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Kristaps Porzingis’ brother sees Knicks’ summer moves as just start

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We need to start with this bit of context: Kristaps Porzingis and his brother Janis Porzingis are very close. The Janis, the elder brother who played some pro ball in Europe, essentially serves as Kristaps’ confidant and advisor. He’s not Kristaps’ agent, but in terms of influence he is bigger than that.

Which makes what the elder Porzingis told Sporta Avize (as translated by Europhoops.net) very interesting (hat tip Ball Don’t Lie). It started with a discussion or Porzingis’ well-documented skipping of his exit interview with Phil Jackson, and evolved into his plans for his next contract (he has this season and next on his rookie deal, but this summer New York can offer a max extension to him starting in the 2019-20 season).

“That wasn’t an emotional decision,” said the elder Porzingis (about skipping the exit meeting). “It wasn’t a spontaneous action. We had been thinking about it for a long time and it was considered an honest, well-thought decision we came up with together. It was a logical next step for us, without which we would’ve been in one situation, but now after we did — we are in another….

“First, it’s a long time before signing a new deal. Second, there are so many things that can happen in the season, so it’s a waste of time thinking about it now. He needs to be healthy and play his game. And even that is conditional since we know that (Joel) Embiid was recently awarded a maximum contract for 30 games.

“The most important question here is this: What do you really want to achieve in your career? Because money, if Kristaps performs at least on his normal level, is gonna come. We are more focused on some other values and not just to quickly sign a new contract so we can collect the money. That’s definitely not our goal, so we won’t be feverishly counting minutes or counting points. You can’t escape the reality and the Knicks must also see that. From their point of view, Kristaps is the focal point at the moment so you cannot upset him much or otherwise, at the end of the season, he will say, ‘It’s not so cool here.’ The second question is: Who is the New York audience coming to watch now? To a large extent, it’s Kristaps. So the organization has to take that into account.”

First off, that comes off a “max or else” warning shot (whether he intended it that way or not). Which is fair, if the Knicks don’t max him out they are foolish and risk a Kevin Love situation (sowing the seeds of discontent that become an issue when the next contract comes up). There can be questions about Porzingis’ durability and if can he be a true No. 1, but he’s so good you pay to find out where that ceiling is. He will put in the work to reach it.

Janis also seems to suggest the goal of skipping the meeting was to push Phil Jackson out the door. If so, well played. It worked. Jackson is on his ranch in Montana and the franchise is being run by Steve Mills and Scott Perry. Those two see Porzingis as the future, not a guy to trade away out of frustration (ala Jackson’s attempts to test the market). Janis also likes the direction the franchise seems to be going, for now.

Also in the interview,  Janis says that if Carmelo Anthony and his group had been stronger, more forceful leaders off the court and with management KP would not have been forced to skip his exit meeting. Either way, Porzingis got his wish and is the core of the franchise. The question now is what does he do with it?

It may be moot, but Kawhi Leonard now eligible for super-max contract with Spurs

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Early on in the Kawhi Leonard saga with the Spurs, there was a sense in some (even many) quarters of the NBA world that the two sides would work things out. Why? Because the Spurs can offer Leonard way more money than anybody else — $221 million. That’s thanks to the “Kevin Durant rule” added to the most recent CBA that allows the team that drafted a player who meets the criteria (twice All-NBA, MVP, etc.) to get 35 percent of the salary cap at a younger age.

Money did not solve this problem — Leonard and the Spurs are farther apart than ever.

That said, Leonard did just become eligible on Sunday for that massive payday. From Bobby Marks of ESPN.

Kawhi Leonard is now super max eligible (third year anniversary of the contract signed on July 16, 2015) to receive a five-year $221 million extension from the Spurs. If Leonard is traded, the most he could receive in an extension (six months after the trade) would be $108 million over four-years (starting in 2019-20). Leonard would be eligible to sign a five-year $190 million contract as a free agent with the team acquiring him or four-years $141 million with a team that has cap space. Leonard would not be super max eligible as a free agent with the new team acquiring him even if he earned All-NBA honors in 2018-19.

Leonard is still trying to force a trade, and that remains at a standstill.

Where do things stand? Everyone involved is waiting for someone else to blink

San Antonio is waiting for the L.A. Lakers or Philadelphia (or anyone else, such as Toronto) to make what they see as an acceptable offer. Those other teams are holding out their best trade pieces — the Lakers with both Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, the Sixers with Markelle Fultz, etc. — waiting for the Spurs to accept less, closer to what recent big name player trades (DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George) went for. Complicating it all is Leonard’s inexperienced management team, which does not have long-standing relationships with teams, has communicated different things at times, and teams just do not know if they can trust them.

There are conflicting reports and I’ve heard conflicting things from sources, down to the most fundamental issues: Does Leonard want to be a Laker, or does he not want to play with LeBron? Whatever the answer, every day this drags out the Spurs lose leverage.

Even so, this could drag out into training camp. Or longer.

Grizzlies sign second-round pick Jevon Carter to multiyear contract

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies have signed second-round pick Jevon Carter to a multiyear deal.

Terms of the contract announced Sunday were not disclosed, but Carter himself confirmed the deal.

Carter has impressed at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and in Utah. His dogged, aggressive defense has slowed players — Trae Young had some of his worst games against Carter — and on offense his game has improved, including him dropping 26 points on the Jazz recently.

Carter was taken with the No. 32 pick after winning the Naismith defensive player of the year last season at West Virginia. The point guard was second in the nation with 3.03 steals per game and is the Mountaineers’ career leader in that category.

“Ray Allen from long distance” with chip shot to save par at American Century Classic

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“Ray Allen from long distance, how many times have we said that?”

Ray Allen had a good weekend at the American Century Championships, the former NBA sharpshooter and future Hall of Famer finished third in the celebrity golf event. One of the reasons he was there, this chip shot on 13 Sunday.

Former Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo won the event, with former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder was second.

LeBron James sits courtside for Lakers’ Summer League win

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There are two, maybe three guys playing for the Lakers in Summer League likely to be sharing a locker room with LeBron James next season — Isaac Bonga and Josh Hart, with maybe Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and/or Alex Caruso. Only Hart could see the court much.

LeBron was still courtside on Sunday for a quarterfinal game at Summer League, showing his support and being a good teammate. He gave Hart a hug on the court. Brandon Ingram stopped by and talked with LeBron for a bit.

LeBron watched the Lakers continue their strong run through the Summer League, racking up a 101-78 win. LeBron was into it, when Mykhailiuk took a shot midway through the first quarter LeBron yelled, ‘cash only!”  The shot was nothing but net.

The Lakers are on to the Summer League semifinals. Los Angeles won the Vegas Summer League last year.