Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Report: Celtics favored to sign Kemba Walker, who’s apart from Hornets in contract talks

Leave a comment

Kemba Walker and the Hornets have called each other their priorities in free agency. Walker even said he’d take a discount from the super-max contract – projected to be worth $221 million over five years – he’s eligible to sign with Charlotte.

But apparently Charlotte still isn’t offering enough.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Celtics have jumped into the Walker chase after it became apparent Kyrie Irving and Al Horford would depart. Boston can open max cap space by renouncing all its free agents.

Walker would replace Irving at point guard, maintaining a star level at the position. Though less talented than Irving, Walker brings far less drama. It’s easy to see the Celtics making up for the talent drop with better cohesion.

Barring other moves to open cap space, Boston signing Walker would push Terry Rozier into unrestricted free agency. That sounds like what Rozier wants. But by holding Rozier’s matching rights until his qualifying offer gets pulled, the Celtics can keep him as a fallback option until Walker decides.

For Walker, playing in Boston would mean returning to New England after starring in college at UConn. He’d also upgrade supporting casts. The star guard has made the playoffs just twice in eight seasons with Charlotte. The Celtics would be strong favorites to make the postseason and maybe good enough to make a deep run, depending how Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown develop and whom Boston gets at center.

The Celtics’ max offer projects to be worth $141 million over four years. That leaves plenty of room for the Hornets to come over the top – if they so choose. But Charlotte will be capped out and mediocre with or without Walker. With him, the luxury tax becomes a significant concern.

This leak sounds like an attempt to pressure the Hornets into a bigger offer. I’m not sure whether they’ll go for it.

When free agency begins Sunday, Walker can also hear pitches from teams like the Mavericks and Lakers. Walker has specifically said he couldn’t see himself playing for the Knicks, and New York will reportedly roll over cap space if Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard don’t come.

But people sometimes change their minds.

Estimates on NBA players using marijuana: 50%-85%

Marijuana enthusiast and former NBA player Stephen Jackson
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Even as marijuana becomes increasingly legalized around the country, the NBA still bans the drug.

Why hasn’t the players’ union fought harder to eliminate draconian penalties for weed?

Maybe because so many of its members just use marijuana, anyway.

Tom Haberstroh and Monte Poole of NBC Sports:

Six different NBA players, who did not want to be identified, estimated that the percentage of active players using marijuana in some form – buds, edibles, concentrates, CBD oils, lotions, patches – was at least 50 percent and as high as 85 percent.

We don’t know how often players get caught violating the NBA’s marijuana program. The first (no penalty) and second ($25,000 fine) violations aren’t announced. The third violation (five-game suspension) is announced but not as specific to marijuana. I found just five suspensions in the last three years that match a marijuana violation.

Any discussion of the NBA’s marijuana policy ought to include a question: Why ban the drug?

Some want to present a clean image to fans. Some want to set a trap for players who are irresponsible enough to get caught.

But it’s hard to make the case this is about actually keeping players off marijuana. If so, the policy is drastically failing.

That survey was part of Haberstroh’s and Poole’s deep dive into marijuana in the NBA. I recommend reading it in full. The story of the one time Stephen Jackson – who said he smoked marijuana his whole NBA career – tried pain pills is particularly memorable.

Celtics assistant coach hit with 15-year show-cause penalty by NCAA

Celtics assistant coach Jerome Allen
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Celtics reportedly suspended assistant coach Jerome Allen about two weeks after he pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe while at Penn.

Now, Allen will have a tougher time if he ever wants to return to college basketball.

Allen was hit a 15-year show-cause penalty after he accepted $300,000 in bribes to get a wealthy Florida businessman’s son into the University of Pennsylvania.

The Quakers, out of the Ivy League, also were slapped by the NCAA with two years of probation, fined $5,000 and given recruiting punishments. Allen’s show-cause penalty is meant to limit a coach’s ability to work in college sports after breaking NCAA rules.

“While Penn Athletics and its men’s basketball program accept the penalties handed down by the NCAA, it is unfortunate that this process did not fully differentiate wrongdoing for personal gain versus wrongdoing for competitive gain in penalizing the institution in addition to the involved individual,” Penn said in a statement. “he University of Pennsylvania was harmed by the actions of its former head coach and the men’s basketball program received no competitive advantage. We are hopeful that this case will lead to changes in how the NCAA processes similar situations moving forward.”

Allen played for the Quakers between 1992–95 and coached the team from 2009–15. He went 66-104 with the Quakers. He was hired by the Boston Celtics in 2015 and remains on the coaching staff.

Allen was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a fine last July in the college bribery case. Allen received a lenient sentence after testifying for prosecutors against Philip Esformes in a $1 billion Medicare fraud trial. Esformes was convicted in April of 20 counts including money laundering and obstruction of justice and awaits sentencing.

Allen testified that he accepted Esformes’ money to help the businessman’s son, Morris, gain acceptance as a “recruited” basketball player at Penn.

Rumor: Pistons told Lakers that Derrick Rose was unavailable in trade

Pistons guard Derrick Rose vs. Lakers
Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Lakers were interested in trading for Derrick Rose.

Why didn’t the Lakers land the Pistons guard?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

From what I understand, when the Lakers called the Pistons and expressed an interest in trading for Derrick Rose, the Pistons said, “Hey, we appreciate you calling. But we’re not trading him. Dwane Casey likes him. We think he’s going to be important for us next year.” It’s not even about what the Lakers offered, it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t available.

The Pistons definitely had a high asking price for Rose, who’s locked up for a reasonable $7,682,926 next season. Rose is Detroit’s biggest draw and has a strong bond with Pistons executive Arn Tellem.

If the Pistons absolutely refused to trade Rose, that was an error on their part. They’re going nowhere this year, and it’s far from certain Rose will maintain his production at age 32 next season. Even if he does, the lacking rest of the roster probably won’t create a winner. The trade deadline might have been the time for Detroit to maximize its return from Rose. At the very minimum, it was worth seriously exploring.

But there are several possibilities that should stop you from blindly accepting this report at face value:

  • This might have been a negotiating tactic by the Pistons. Though that approach would have also made it more difficult to negotiate a satisfactory Rose trade, it could have pushed the Lakers into a great offer.
  • Maybe Detroit just didn’t like Los Angeles’ limited collection of tradable assets. Kyle Kuzma isn’t for everyone. What the Lakers interpreted as Rose being unavailable might have been more specific to them than they realized.
  • Perhaps, the Pistons – with Rose still in the fold – leaked this to show their commitment to him. That’d make them look bad in some corners for their stubborn loyalty to an aging veteran. But it’d sure make Rose feel appreciated.
  • Perhaps, the Lakers – who made no in-season trade – leaked this show their commitment to chasing a championship. This shows they tried and paints Detroit as unreasonable. Negotiating trades can be difficult (especially after Kobe Bryant’s untimely death). The Lakers have made only one real trade with Rob Pelinka running the front office, for Anthony Davis. That saga was full of complications. In the end, Los Angeles got Davis, but the Pelicans secured maximum return. If the Lakers look back and regret not adding a helpful player, this report pins blame on the Pistons rather than Lakers management for not getting a deal done.

Collin Sexton puts Josh Richardson on skates for 20 feet (video)

Leave a comment

The 76ers just can’t keep their top players on the floor.

Ben Simmons hurt his back. Joel Embiid hurt his shoulder. And Josh Richardson… got sent flying right off the court by Collin Sexton.

Sexton finished with 28 points in the Cavaliers’ 108-94 win over Philadelphia last night.