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Rumor: Kawhi Leonard keeping an open mind about re-signing with Raptors

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Lakers or Clippers?

That has become the preeminent question about Kawhi Leonard‘s future.

He was reportedly unenthused about joining Toronto after the Spurs traded him there, and he also reportedly still prefers Los Angeles in unrestricted free agency next summer. So, debate has mostly centered on whether he favors LeBron James‘ Lakers or the blank-slate Clippers.

But don’t rule out the Raptors.

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News, via TSN:

Based off of me talking to people within his circle, they’re going to go into this thing with an open mind and give this thing every last opportunity to work. And at the end of the day, if that’s the case, then it would be great if he stays. Obviously, I think part of his mind, yes, let’s keep real: I think he still feels like L.A. might be the destination. At the same time, he plans to go into this thing with an open mind, giving it every single shot in the world to make it work.

That would be the best thing Leonard could do for himself.  He might want to be with a Los Angeles team right now, but the NBA doesn’t allow it. He must complete his current contract. So, better to enjoy the next year as much as possible. Maybe he’ll even like Toronto more than expected, even more than Los Angeles. That’d be a great outcome for him, as the Raptors can pay him the most. If not, Los Angeles will always be there next summer.

Paul George is the most famous example of this. When everyone expected him just to pass through until signing with the Lakers, he kept an open mind about Oklahoma City. He enjoyed it so much, he re-signed with the Thunder. Stubbornness about his situation last season would have left him worse off.

That’s the example Leonard should follow up to free agency, and it sounds as if he will.

But I’m still somewhat skeptical of this report. Leonard is so reclusive. Does anyone truly understand his attitude? In the void created by his public silence for the last several month, people with their own agendas and biases are speaking up. Maybe Young has dug through all the noise, but Leonard sure doesn’t make that easy.

Report: Rockets lure assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik out of retirement with ‘significant raise’

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After a slow start, the Rockets got assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik to come out of retirement.

How?

The usual way employers attract someone to a job.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Fertitta was alarmed enough to personally recruit defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, who retired just before training camp, to return, offering what sources say was a significant raise that pushed his salary to a range that ranks among the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coaches.

Good for Bzdelik using his leverage. He looked like a defensive whiz last season, and Houston slipped without him. Of course, personnel matters, too. There’s no guarantee these Rockets – minus Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute – reach last year’s defensive level.

Bzdelik has been back around the team, but isn’t working full-time yet. It’ll take a while to assess his impact on Houston.

And good for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta paying up. Fertitta is still trying to determine the right amount for him to spend, but the team is better off if he’s willing to pay what’s necessary to attract the most desirable coaches.

Charles Barkley addresses Draymond Green-Kevin Durant dynamic (video)

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Want to hear an entertaining guy address an entertaining topic? Here you go.

Trae Young: I’ll be better than Luka Doncic

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Trae Young and Luka Doncic will be forever linked by their draft-night trade.

The Hawks took Doncic No. 3 then traded down with the Mavericks for No. 5 pick Young and a future first-round pick.

Young, via Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated:

“The thing with Luka,” Young says, “he’s a great player. I don’t understand why it can’t work out for both situations. I hear [Atlanta made a mistake] all the time. Luka’s a great dude, and I think he’s going to be a really good player. But at the same time, I’m going to be a better player. Just because of my ability to stretch the floor, get others involved, I think I’ll be better.”

Of course, Young was never going to say Doncic would be better than him. But Young didn’t have to address this so directly at all. By going out of his way to make such a bold statement, Young puts more pressure on himself.

So far, both Doncic and Young have impressed. I’ll still stick with Doncic, though. Enough to justify Dallas surrendering that extra first-round pick? That’s a far tougher call and the one the Hawks will be judged by.

Young doesn’t want that leniency, though. He’s aiming to be better than Doncic straight up and unafraid to say so publicly.

Markelle Fultz’s new free throw stroke is… different.

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Philadelphia’s Markelle Fultz is in his own head with his free throw stroke now. (And, likely much more than that, but we’ll stick with the free throws for now.)

Earlier this week Fultz double-clutched a free throw attempt and his stroke was a mess.

Each game that stroke seems to change and the latest one is… different. Very different.

As Vecenie notes, this is actually an improvement in terms of the release, but that doesn’t make it good. Fultz was 1-of-2 in his one trip to the stripe (as of this writing).

Still, I have never seen someone pass the ball back-and-forth between their hands as they go into their shooting motion like that. Very, very odd.