I can give you 6.7 million reasons this was going to happen, no matter what Kevin Durant decided to do this summer.
Durant has opted out of the $31.5 million final year of his contract with the Warriors, clearing the way to sign a $38.2 new max contract with the Warriors or someone else in July, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Durant had to do this to maximize his earnings. Since coming to the Warriors, he has always signed short deals, both to give himself options and leverage, and to keep making the new, higher maximum when the salary cap went up.
While Durant tore his Achilles that dynamic didn’t change. He still has multiple teams lined up to offer him max contracts, and whether he signs for four years with another team or five with the Warriors, or takes another shorter deal, his new starting salary will be $38.2 million.
Durant, along with Kawhi Leonard, will be one of the franchise-changing players whose decision will shape both the balance of power in the NBA and this summer’s free agency. All season long, most around the league thought he was going to be a New York Knick, but that dynamic seems to have changed. He could re-sign with the Warriors (although there appears to be some issues in his camp, and maybe with Durant, on how the Achilles injury went down after Warriors’ doctors told him all he could do was re-injure his calf). Brooklyn has emerged as a possible destination, and the Clippers were always in the conversation on some level. Durant’s camp is playing this close to the vest right now and may take multiple meetings.
Durant is going to be in the spotlight again this summer, as he was a few years back when the Warriors players and management went to the Hamptons to convince him to come West. Opting out of his contract was just the first step in making that happen.
Brandon Clarke made his mark in Las Vegas.
The No. 21 pick in June out of Gonzaga, he averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in leading the Grizzlies to the championship game, and for that he was named the Las Vegas Summer League MVP.
(That award has been won by Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin and John Wall, but also Josh Shelby and Glen Rice Jr. Most winners of the award had good careers as role players — Randy Foye, Jerryd Bayless, whatever Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart become — but it’s a mistake to think it’s a precursor of NBA dominance.)
Clarke wasn’t done, he had 15 points and 16 rebounds in the championship game, leading the Grizzlies past the Timberwolves 95-92. Memphis is your 2019 NBA Summer League Champions.
Memphis raced out to a 15-point lead early in the title game.
In the end, it was a balanced attack that won Memphis the game. Grayson Allen led the way 17 points, but Clarke, Bruno Caboclo, and Dusty Hannah’s all had 15 points, while Tyler Harvey added a dozen.
Minnesota was led by Kelan Martin with 19 points.
The first rule of NBA ownership: Don’t talk about NBA ownership.
Or the business you do as an owner until it becomes official, even if by then everyone else has known for days and already moved on from the topic.
Monday was an expensive day for two of the NBA’s owners of teams in Texas. Mark Cuban was fined $50,000 for leaking information from the league’s Board of Governor’s meeting about the new coach’s challenge — even though everybody knew what was going to happen — before the meeting officially ended. Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported this story and had maybe the best quote of the summer to go with it.
The NBA office fined Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $50,000 after he admitted to leaking information from last week’s Board of Governors meeting to a reporter, sources told ESPN…
“I appreciate the irony of your reporting on a fine that someone should, but won’t, get fined for leaking to you,” Cuban told ESPN.
Sources said Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive expressed concern that information about the vote to allow coaches’ challenges was being reported while the meeting was still in session. Cuban immediately admitted that he had leaked the information, sources said.
Well played, Cuban.
This is a letter of the law fine, but was it a big deal that this got out? The vote was all but assured, a formality, but Cuban gets fined for telling people? Thanks, Vivek.
From the same “is this really a big deal” file we have the fine Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta got on Monday, $25,000 for talking about the Russell Westbrook trade before it was official. Even though everybody was talking about it. From Mark Stein of the New York Times.
Here is the oh-so-damaging quote:
Again, I get Fertitta crossed the official line because the trade had not gone through yet, but does that line really need to exist in these cases? It feels like the silly hat thing at the NBA Draft.
Damaging or even interesting information was not divulged in either case. The fines were not steep because of it, but the NBA’s process of what is and is not allowed around trades and free agency — and the odd Board of Governors meeting — seems behind the times.
The Memphis Grizzlies don’t want to just waive veteran Andre Iguodala, they want to get something back in return. That is just turning out to be challenging.
The Clippers and Rockets are still interested, but both teams are at a stalemate, something Shams Charania of The Athletic broke down in a new video.
The story in a nutshell:
• The Rockets are interested, but Iguodala’s $17.2 million would take the team deep into the luxury tax (Houston is currently just shy of the tax line). Charania says any deal likely would involve a sign-and-trade, which implies Iman Shumpert, probably with a draft pick attached.
• The only Clippers’ salary that lines up cleanly is Mo Harkless (with some other players), but Los Angeles doesn’t want to give him up.
Memphis can afford to be patient and say they will just bring Iguodala into training camp, that they are willing to start the season with him.
This may take some time to get done and could ultimately involve a third team. Maybe Dallas gets back in the conversation, or other teams look at their roster and decide they want the veteran wing. This also could be something that drags into training camp, there are no easy answers lined up or the deal would be done already.
From the moment the Warriors acquired D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade deal that cleared the path for Kevin Durant to go to Brooklyn, speculation about fit and an eventual trade cropped up. Does Russell’s game really fit with Stephen Curry and, eventually, Klay Thompson‘s, in a three-guard lineup? If not, how fast will they trade him? February at the trade deadline? Next summer?
From the start the Warriors have shot down the idea that they just planned to trade Russell, and on Monday Warriors GM Bob Myers repeated the same thing.
The Warriors plan has been to play Russell and Curry next to each other — they got an All-Star guard to soak up the minutes until Thompson can return (likely sometime after the All-Star break, if at all next season). Maybe the fit works, maybe it doesn’t, but the Warriors aren’t putting limitations or preconceived notions on the possibilities.
If it doesn’t work out, the trade option will still be there.
The Warriors do not head into this season the same juggernaut to be feared, but sleep on them at your own risk. As Meyers said, they believe they have a team that can compete with anyone.