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Kemba Walker tried to sign for even less money on 2014 contract extension

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In 2014, Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension. He’s earning just $12 million this season in the final year of that deal.

Meanwhile, many lesser players are earning far more, because they signed after new national-TV contracts skyrocketed the salary cap in 2016.

I asked Walker last season whether he regretted locking in for so long rather than signing a short extension that would’ve positioned him to receive the new-TV money sooner.

“At the time, I thought the deal I signed was great for the way I played,” Walker said. “I was still shooting 30 percent from the 3-point line and things like that. And I wasn’t really not mentioned when they mentioned a lot of top-tier point point guards.”

Now, Walker is averaging 27.4 points and 6.4 assists per game, shooting 38% on 3-pointers and ranks third in offensive real plus-minus.

But that humble attitude apparently apparently affected 2014 negotiations between his agent, Jeff Schwartz, and Charlotte – and how Walker sees himself now.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Schwartz wanted $12 million per season. Charlotte’s offer topped out at $10 million. As the Oct. 31 deadline approached, Walker pushed Schwartz to accept Charlotte’s offer. If Schwartz wouldn’t, Walker threatened to call the team and do it himself, according to both.

He might be more than an All-Star. He might be a superstar.

“I don’t think of myself that way,” he says. “It’s strange.”

I don’t think Walker is a superstar, though Lowe excellently details Walker’s rise in a story I recommend reading in full. Walker is still limited defensively due to his 6-foot-1 frame and heavy offensive burden. Plus, he hasn’t maintained this elevated level of play long enough.

But Walker might soon get paid like a superstar.

The Hornets are built around him and apparently intent on staying that course. Walker will enter unrestricted free agency next summer. His max contract projects to be worth about $190 million over five years – or, if he makes an All-NBA team this season, about $221 million over five years.

Will Walker push for that much? His max from another team projects to be about $141 million over four years. But the Hornets are so jammed if they lose Walker, he might not need outside leverage to get Charlotte’s max – if he has the stomach to drive a hard bargain. Not every player does.

Also keep in mind: Walker will be 29 when his next contract begins. That’s an age many small guards begin to decline. A five-year max – let alone super-max – deal could look quite ugly before it ends. If the Hornets give that much money to Walker and he declines over the contract, the quote about him not even viewing himself a superstar – even if said with a pleasing humbleness – could be haunting.

Report: Luke Walton sued for sexual assault

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Luke Walton is being sued by a female reporter claiming sexual assault from a hotel room incident that dates back to before he was hired as the Lakers’ head coach (he was recently let go from that position and is currently the coach of the Sacramento Kings).

Kelli Tennant was writing a book and wanted Walton to write the forward, according to a lawsuit obtained by TMZ. The two had a business relationship and she agreed to meet him in a Santa Monica hotel to discuss him writing the forward to the book, according to the report. We’ll let TMZ take it from there:

In the suit, Tennant says when she arrived at Walton’s hotel, he convinced her to come up to his room so they could discuss the book. She claims when they got up to his room, Walton suddenly pinned her to the bed, placing his hips and legs over her body.

In the docs, Tennant claims Walton then began forcing kisses on her neck, face and chest. She claims she screamed for him to stop and tried to free herself, but he held her down, groped her breasts and groin, and rubbed his erection on her leg.

She says he eventually relented and let her get up from the bed, but as she was walking towards the door to leave he grabbed her from behind and again forced his body up against hers.

The lawsuit goes on to say Walton and her would interact after that, because of her job, and he would give her exaggerated hugs, kisses, and would make lewd comments to her.

Walton took over coaching the Lakers for the 2016-17 season, while the TMZ initial story said the incident happened before he was the coach, other reports have it happening in May of 2017 (after the end of his first season).

Walton has yet to comment on the lawsuit. The Kings and Lakers also have not commented.

NBA fines Brooklyn part-owner Joe Tsai for Tweet backing his GM challenging referees

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I just hope he can afford this.

Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks was suspended and fined by the league for breaking a taboo and going into the officials’ locker room after the Nets’ Game 4 loss at home to challenge the referees. Marks — along with pretty much every Nets’ fan — was livid about how Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has been officiated in the series.

Brooklyn minority owner (for now) and alternate governor Joe Tsai Tweeted this about Marks.

The NBA has fined Tsai $35,000 for “making public statements detrimental to the NBA.”

Tsai is the second-largest shareholder of online shopping powerhouse Alibaba and is worth an estimated $10.2 billion. He owns 49 percent of the Nets.

Virginia’s Kyle Guy staying in NBA draft, not returning to Virginia

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Virginia is going to lose three starters from its national championship team. De'Andre Hunter is a likely top-7 pick that a lot of teams think can be a good “3&D” NBA player. Ty Jerome is a bubble first-round pick expected to stay in the draft. Mamadi Diakite also has his name in the mix.

Now it’s official, Kyle Guy says he is keeping his name in the mix.

Guy had 24 points in the title game against Texas Tech and was named the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for leading the Cavaliers to a title.

What he brings is shooting — he hit 42.6 percent from three this past season. He moves well off the ball and can catch-and-shoot, skills that NBA teams want. However, while he was a playmaker in college his handles and passing need work to be NBA ready, according to scouts. There also are concerns about his athleticism at the next level, and with that how well he can defend.

Guy is likely a second-round pick if taken at all, but he’s all in and going to take his shot while at the hight of his college career.

Hawks’ Lloyd Pierce replaces Pacers’ Nate McMillan as Team USA assistant coach

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is taking over Team USA, and he has assistant coaches for the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics:

  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr
  • Pacers coach Nate McMillan
  • Villanova coach Jay Wright
  • Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce

USA Basketball release:

Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce was named to the USA Basketball Men’s National Team coaching staff today. Pierce replaces Indiana Pacers head coach Nate [McMillan] who withdrew because of scheduling conflicts.

This is a pretty big honor for Pierce, who just completed his first season as an NBA head coach. He guided Atlanta to only a 29-53 record.

But the young Hawks, especially Trae Young, improved throughout the season. Atlanta pushed the pace, hoisted 3s and defended aggressively (though not well). An identity is forming.

Though it’s far too early to say much about Pierce’s head-coaching acumen, he acquitted himself well in his first year.

Working with Team USA could even help Pierce ingratiate himself with stars. This could eventually pay off for the Hawks in free agency.