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Agent: Luka Doncic has ‘no particular thought on any NBA teams’

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Every year, right before the NCAA Tournament — or, in football, right before a big bowl game — a media member will ask a team’s star player “are you coming back next year or turning pro?” To which said player says something generic along the lines of “I love it here at State, it’s been the best year(s) of my life, but I’ll make that decision after the season.” Even though we all know the decision is made and he’s gone.

Enter Luka Doncic.

He is at the EuroLeague basketball Final Four this weekend with Real Madrid, the team he has played for since he was 16 and stars for now. After that, he and his teammates head off to the ACB — Spanish League — playoffs. At a press event before the EuroLeague games tip-off, Doncic was asked if these were his final games for Real Madrid because his contract is up and he’s expected to go to the NBA. His response was right out the book used by NCAA players above.

“Ι’m not sure if these are my last two games [in EuroLeague]. We have yet to make this decision. Perhaps after the season.”

Right after the draft lottery, with Deandre Ayton expected to go No. 1 to the Suns, that was read by some fans as Doncic trying to put leverage on Sacramento not to draft him at No. 2. Not the case, his agent told Sean Deveney of the Sporting News.

“Luka has stated no particular thought on any NBA teams,” his agent, Bill Duffy, told Sporting News on Thursday.

In other words, if Sacramento — or any team — were to draft Doncic, the location of that team would have no bearing whether he continues in Europe or comes to the NBA.

Let’s put this another way.

If Doncic were to re-sign with Real Madrid, it would be for $2 million to 2.5 million euro a year, which means a max of about $3 million a year (and remember European teams pick up the taxes for players). However, if the Kings draft him his starting salary next season would be $7.2 million (with more than $35 million guaranteed over the first four years), which even after California taxes is more money. Plus Doncic would be starting the clock to get to his second NBA contract in four years, the one that likely will be much larger. On top of all that, with a return to Europe, Doncic would risk a potential injury that could hurt his NBA stock and cost him millions and millions.

Which means, if you’re reading Doncic’s comments as him trying to leverage Sacramento, you’re doing it wrong. He loves Real Madrid and is trying to let them down easy, but he’s taking the cash and coming to the NBA. Wherever that lands him.

Kobe Bryant dropped from film festival after backlash due to his 2003 rape charge

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Kobe Bryant has become acclaimed for his filmmaking, even winning an Oscar.

But his sustained prominence in basketball retirement, especially considering his new industry, has sparked questions about why he hasn’t been swept up by #MeToo. After all, Bryant admitted in 2004 to having sex with a woman who didn’t view the encounter as consensual the year prior. (That statement part of Bryant moving on and readily accepted by the public, which shows why a reckoning in our handling of sexual misconduct was so necessary.)

Bryant was selected to judge a film festival, but a petition emerged to prevent his participation. Apparently, 159 signatures were enough for the festival to change course.

Evan Real of The Hollywood Reporter:

Kobe Bryant has been removed from the Animation Is Film Festival jury following backlash stemming from a 2003 rape allegation. Though the former L.A. Lakers star was set to serve as a juror at the annual event this weekend in Hollywood, organizers announced on Wednesday that he will no longer participate.

On one hand, it’s not surprising the petition received just 159 signatures. Bryant remains highly popular and is beloved by many.

But this also shows the power of a relatively small number of voices speaking up.

 

Blake Griffin’s dunk attempt stuffed by Jarrett Allen. Again (video)

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Pistons star Blake Griffin learned his lesson after getting his dunk blocked by Nets center Jarrett Allen in the preseason. In the regular-season opener, Griffin went up even harder.

And Allen still stopped him!

Kevin Durant’s brother says Instagram comment wasn’t about star leaving Warriors this summer

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Rumors about Kevin Durant leaving the Warriors are intensifying. Even people within the Golden State organization are bracing themselves for him to depart in free agency next summer.

Not even the Warriors collecting their championship rings could stop the momentum.

In fact, last night’s celebration contributed to the noise.

Kevin’s brother, Tony, commented on Kevin’s Instagram post featuring the rings, “Filling the hand up before we get outta here!”

Rob Perez of The Action Network:

My best guess was “here” meant the Warriors’ arena in Oakland. This is their last season there before moving to a new arena in San Francisco Francisco.

Or maybe “here” meant in the NBA. Careers in the NBA are finite.

Another thought that crossed my mind: “Here” could have meant in this world. Lives, too, are finite.

The only clear part: Tony wants Kevin to win a handful of rings. The deadline is nebulous.

Of course, the loudest speculation was “here” meant playing for the Warriors and this being the last run. But Tony sharply denied that.

Perez:

If you want to be a conspiracy theorist, perhaps Tony meant leaving Golden State after this season but Kevin just instructed him to downplay it to quiet chatter. I suppose that’s possible, though it wouldn’t jibe with Kevin’s tell-the-truth-about-free-agency approach.

Occam’s Razor suggests taking Tony at his word, and that’s what I’ll do.

Report: Tom Thibodeau raised asking price for Jimmy Butler after infamous practice

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After sitting out while awaiting a trade rehabbing after injuring his wrist, Jimmy Butler practiced with the Timberwolves for the first time last week. He reportedly showed up late, talked a ton of trash and led third-stringers to a win over the starters then left early.

Amidst widespread speculation they had to trade Butler after that, the Tom Thibodeau-run Timberwolves put out word they considered it their best practice of the year.

Maybe Thibodeau is that insanely competitive. Maybe he was just trying to preserve leverage.

If it were the latter, he sure stuck to his story.

Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:

Teams who talked to Minnesota after his first practice, literally the day after his practice, Minnesota was asking for more then than they were before the day. Which tells you this: Minnesota is not trading him. They’re asking for packages that know teams aren’t going to agree to.

The Timberwolves are in a though spot. Butler is an excellent player, but everyone knows he wants out. I don’t blame them for trying to maximize their limited leverage.

How will Butler react to this revelation, though? Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he told Butler the team would seek a trade. Butler pledged to play hard in the meantime.

But if Butler playing hard just makes it less likely Minnesota will trade him, will he feel as if the team isn’t holding up its end of the bargain? Then what?

It has long seemed Taylor and Thibodeau are on different pages on several issues. Though Taylor just backed Thibodeau, Butler could drive a wedge even deeper between the owner and president-coach.