Udonis Haslem

David Ramos/Getty Images

Report: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving taking discounts so Nets can give DeAndre Jordan four years, $40M

Leave a comment

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan will sign with the Nets.

But Durant and Irving won’t get max contracts – just so Jordan can get a lucrative deal.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Brooklyn added two stars. That’s what matters most.

But this is a ridiculous overpay for Jordan. He turns 31 next month and has already shown signs of decline. Maybe he’ll play more energetically with his new star teammates. But mere motivation isn’t enough to create assurances someone his age will live up to this contract.

Durant and Jordan are friends, and that’s what seemed to drive this arrangement. It reminds me of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh taking discounts their first season with the Heat so Miami could sign Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller.

That Durant and Irving are footing the short-term cost of Jordan’s contract is a boon to the Nets. There are ways to structure Durant’s and Irving’s contracts with incentives to get them close to their max salaries. But they are not getting guaranteed maxes.

Brooklyn will have to deal with Jordan’s contract over the long run. It will likely make it more difficult to build a supporting cast around Durant and Irving.

But that’s a perfectly acceptable burden considering the upside of getting Durant and Irving.

Mike Conley, Khris Middleton, Steven Adams among 12 nominees for NBA’s Teammate of the Year

AP Photo/Aaron Gash
1 Comment

Chauncey Billups, Shane Battier, Tim Duncan, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Jamal Crawford have won the Twyman–Stokes Teammate of the Year Award.

Who’ll claim it next?

NBA:

Each of these players is a good teammate in his own way.

Steven Adams does all the dirty work to make the Thunder – especially Russell Westbrook – operate smoothly.

Mike Conley has remained steady amid a losing season full of trade rumors.

Jared Dudley is smart, always willing to share his opinion and happy to help younger teammates.

Channing Frye fosters better communication and relationships within the locker room.

Rudy Gay showed great determination recovering from a torn Achilles.

Udonis Haslem oozes veteran wisdom.

Andre Iguodala is highly intelligent, on and off the court, and tries to use his knowledge to help his teammates.

Kyle Korver continued to do his job after what could have been an ugly end with the Cavaliers, and he remains steadfast with the Jazz.

Khris Middleton set a tone for the four Bucks starters who entered this season on expiring contracts to remain focused and unselfish.

J.J. Redick is the 76ers’ veteran voice.

Garrett Temple is a bit of a surprising inclusion considering he got into a fight with Grizzlies teammate Omri Casspi earlier this season. But Temple, who was since traded to the Clippers, is renowned for his professionalism.

Thaddeus Young keeps becoming an even more complete player for his team. With Victor Oladipo sidelined, more of a leadership role has fallen on Young.

Grade-school phenom Allonzo Trier took winding road to success with Knicks

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
8 Comments

Allonzo Trier appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine as a sixth grader. By then, the Seattle native was already spending his weekends jetting around the country for basketball games. In high school, he moved to Oklahoma then Maryland then Nevada to join teams.

“It’s become normal for the top high school, premier athletes,” Trier said.

Should it be normal?

“We’re not normal people,” Trier said. “You know what I mean? Who’s to say for the normal tech person, the normal other people that are at the top of what they do in their lives and their careers? So, I don’t really think there’s a limit you can put on somebody.”

The top-rated player nationally in his class in elementary school, Trier’s potential seemed limitless, and he worked tirelessly to fulfill it. But spending an up-and-down three years at University of Arizona and going undrafted left doubt about his NBA career as of just a few months ago.

Yet, Trier – who signed with the Knicks – is already proving he belongs.

He’s averaging 11.3 points per game. That’s one of the highest scoring averages ever for an undrafted rookie in his first professional season (minimum: 10 games):

image

*Don Barksdale finished at UCLA in 1947, but he spent a couple years playing AAU in Oakland while waiting for the NBA to integrate.

Trier just gets buckets. The 6-foot-5 guard is a methodical dribbler, capable of pulling up or slashing. His crafty moves draw plenty of fouls, especially for a rookie, and he’s a solid shooter.

Trier has a good chance to become just the 13th undrafted player to make an All-Rookie team, joining Yogi Ferrell, Langston Galloway, Gary Neal, Jamario Moon, Walter Herrmann, Jorge Garbajosa, Marquis Daniels, Udonis Haslem, J.R. Bremer, Chucky Atkins, Matt Maloney and Larry Stewart. Only Ferrell, Galloway, Daniels, Bremer, Stewart did it in their first professional season.

In some respects, the biggest surprise is how long it took Trier to reach this point. 247 ranked him No. 6 in his high school class, and everyone ahead of him – Ben Simmons (76ers), Skal Labissiere (Kings), Brandon Ingram (Lakers), Cheick Diallo (Pelicans) and Jaylen Brown (Celtics) – went one-and-done in college.

“We thought I was going to be out in one year,” Trier said.

But Trier broke his hand during his freshman year, wasn’t quite as sharp upon his return and stayed for his sophomore season. That came with expectations from Arizona coach Sean Miller.

“Coach Miller told me that was going to be my last year,” Trier said.

Then, Trier got into a car crash before the season. He failed a drug test, but won his appeal, the NCAA agreeing he unknowingly took Ostarine while recovering from the crash. Still, the NCAA ruled he couldn’t play until the drug completely left his body. “It was really dumb,” Trier said. “It was really tedious.” He missed most the season and again forewent the draft.

In his junior year, Trier got suspended yet again for trace amounts of Ostarine. “A joke,” Trier said. “C’mon now. You guys know what the deal was.” He appealed, and this time, the NCAA allowed him to return to the court within a week.

Trier finally turned pro this year, but he went undrafted.

That “undrafted” label is harsher than it sounds. The Knicks called him during the draft and offered to sign him if he went undrafted. Trier said “a few” teams would have drafted him contingent on him accepting a certain contract, but he turned them down in order to get to New York.

Still, more teams could have called. Someone could have liked him enough to draft him despite his unwillingness to pledge to contract terms beforehand.

“I’m angry. I was upset,” Trier said. “I thought it was like a joke that I didn’t get picked.”

He signed a two-way contract with the Knicks – importantly, for only one season. He earns $4,737 every day he’s on New York’s active list for a game or works out/practices with a teammate at the team’s discretion. On other days, he gets paid $544.

Between the start of G League training camp and the end of the G League season, Trier can spend 45 days with the NBA club. Today marks 45 days since G League training camps opened. Surely, the Knicks have had enough travel days and days off to extend Trier’s deadline at least another week. But it’s looming.

By then, the Knicks have three options:

  • Convert Trier’s contract to a standard contract. He’d get paid $4,737 daily the rest of the season and be eligible to play all New York’s remaining games. But next summer, he’d become a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer $200,000 above the league minimum – meaning his qualifying offer would project to be about $1.6 million.
  • Leave Trier on a two-way contract. He couldn’t play for New York until the G League season ends, but his qualifying offer next summer would be cheaper – a two-way contract with just $50,000 guaranteed.
  • Negotiate a new, longer contract with Trier. The Knicks have enough of their mid-level exception left to offer Trier a minimum salary on a contract that could last up to four years. New York also has the bi-annual exception, which could give Trier a starting salary up to $3,382,000 – but on a deal lasting only two years.

Whether he hits restricted free agency with a minimum+$200k or a two-way qualifying offer, Trier appears likely to command standard-contract offer sheets. So, the second option is likely off the table unless the Knicks are trying to scare Trier into accepting a more team-friendly multi-year deal.

But how could New York not reward an undrafted player who has shown so much determination, even outplaying teammates No. 9 pick Kevin Knox and No. 36 pick Mitchell Robinson?

“He basically just came into training camp and said, ‘I’m going to make this team.’ And then, once he made the team, he said, ‘I’m going to get in the rotation,'” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “That’s the kind of kid he is. He’s a super competitor.”

Two-way contracts give teams immense control, but Trier’s play has given him unusual leverage. He has scored more than triple the points of any other two-way player this season. His ability to become a free agent this summer presses the Knicks to pay him more now.

But Trier, who turns 23 next month, is older than everyone drafted this year besides George King, Devonte' Graham, Devon Hall, Jevon Carter and Grayson Allen. Maybe Trier should be better than his rookie peers.

Trier’s all-around game is also lacking at this point. And his scoring often comes in isolation after taking his time with his moves. So, when he gets stifled, the shot clock has run down considerably before the Knicks can try another plan of attack. Trier must main very efficient as a scorer to justify continuing to play this way. Even as a two-way rookie, Trier plays with a star’s style.

Probably because he has spent so long as a star.

The New York Times Magazine featured him as an example of the trappings and pressures of high-level grass-roots basketball. The most telling quote in the story came from his mother, Marcie: “They’re doing nice things for my son, things that he needs and I can’t afford. So how can I say no?”

Trier was such a big deal as a kid, it was arranged for him to meet Kevin Durant during a media event Durant’s rookie year in Seattle. Durant and Trier had a mutual friend in Oklahoma, and then Trier transferred to Durant’s former high school in Maryland (Montrose Christian). Through those connections, Durant and Trier developed a friendship.

“I think he just dove into basketball, and it was therapeutic for him,” Durant said. “You can tell.

“He’s one of those kids that really, really, really loves basketball. He’s not doing it for money. He’s not doing it for fame. He’s not doing it for attention. Or to get girls. Or to buy s—. He’s actually a hooper. It’s rare in this league to have guys like that.”

That’s clearly why Trier has persevered through the bright lights , dark days and everything in between. That New York Times Magazine article took Trier to a wider audience, and he just kept plugging away.

“I was young, so I don’t think I understood it fully,” Trier said. “But now that I – I’m still young, so I still don’t understand it. But, one day, I think I’ll get a chance to look back and see the journey I went through and see, man, started at a young age, and it was a hell of a journey.”

Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem get big cheers at Heat end-of-camp scrimmage

Getty Images
Leave a comment

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Dwyane Wade‘s first touch of the game was a lob to set up a dunk. His first shot was a corner 3-pointer. And his first trip into the lane resulted in getting his shot swatted away.

All three of those plays left him smiling.

Wade’s 16th and final season – his “last dance,” as he calls it – got off to an unofficial start Saturday, when the Miami Heat broke training camp at Florida Atlantic University with their annual scrimmage. His stats, as if they even mattered: eight points on 2 for 7 shooting, with three assists and a steal in 23 minutes.

“It was cool,” Wade said. “We’ve been working hard in practice, obviously. But to be out here today in front of some fans, getting to play in a different energy, you could see it in everybody. Guys were moving quicker. Guys were into it.”

Wade got the big cheer at the start, and his fellow 16-year veteran got the biggest cheer at the end: The final play of the scrimmage was Udonis Haslem hitting a game-winning jumper, one that gave his team a 15-13 win in the final 10-minute period.

“It’s always fun, man,” Haslem said after the final shot, a play drawn up by Justise Winslow in a time-out with about 3 seconds remaining. “It’s always enjoyable to win a game. I still take it seriously. I still play the game at a certain level and compete, so when you have an opportunity you want to make good.”

The “Red, White and Pink Game” is an annual Heat tribute to breast cancer survivors, two of whom were honored at Saturday’s game. Jeanine Werner is a fifth-grade teacher and a two-year survivor, and Michelle Rohloff is a former teacher and a three-year survivor – both having beaten triple negative breast cancer.

“It’s very close to us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We want all the survivors to know we’re right there with them on this fight and we’re going to continue to do more each year.”

There was a serious cause, even if the game wasn’t exactly played with playoff intensity.

There were plenty of moments of real up-and-down play and blowing off steam, with a four-minute span of Winslow’s third quarter perhaps the best illustration of both. He and Bam Adebayo took part in a midcourt dance-off during a time-out, and not long afterward Winslow got called for a technical after throwing the ball at a basket stanchion.

Scores were reset after every quarter, and players bounced between teams. Derrick Jones Jr. led all scorers with 21 points, Adebayo finished with 17 and Duncan Robinson scored 16.

“It’s great to be back,” Wade said.

The game ended five days of work by the Heat at FAU. Wayne Ellington didn’t play because of ankle soreness, Josh Richardson departed mid-game with what was described as a left thigh contusion. Dion Waiters (ankle) and James Johnson (sports hernia) remain sidelined to continue rehabbing injuries from last season.

Miami opens its preseason Sunday at San Antonio.

Without better options, Heat settle for sentimentality

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
2 Comments

NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Dwyane Wade took discounts from the Heat for years, seemingly expecting a larger windfall down the road.

It won’t come.

But Wade and Miami will enjoy one last dance together.

Wade is re-signing with the Heat on a one-year minimum contract he said would be for his final season, concluding a nostalgic summer in Miami. The Heat also re-signed local legend Udonis Haslem to another one-year minimum deal.

I wouldn’t expect much from either player on the court. If anything, Wade might prove destructive if the the 36-year-old uses his cachet to assume a larger role than he should handle. Haslem has barely played the last couple years, and that probably won’t change.

Still, there’s something to be said for proper sendoffs. Considering the high standards Wade and Haslem helped set for the franchise by winning three championships, this was unlikely to be a banner year in Miami, anyway. There’s value in honoring Wade and Haslem one more time.

Mostly, the Heat acted like a solid, stuck team this summer – because that’s what they are. That probably contributed to them not rewarding Wade for his prior sacrifice.

Yet, Miami eclipsed the luxury-tax line to sign Wayne Ellington, a helpful cog, to a one-year, $6.27 million deal. The tax isn’t assessed until the final day of the regular season, so there’s still plenty of time for the Heat to dodge it. In fact, I predict they will. But by at least temporarily exceeding the tax line, Miami gave itself its best chance of maintaining its level of play.

The Heat sure didn’t upgrade, though. They made no draft picks, didn’t touch their mid-level exception and signed no outside players to guaranteed salaries.

The biggest status change was for Derrick Jones Jr., who went from a two-way deal to a minimum contract with a second year unguaranteed. The 21-year-old athlete is a worthwhile flier, but he sure isn’t a difference maker.

Neither are Wade and Haslem anymore – outside of our fond memories of the pair, and that counts for something. Just not enough to change Miami’s trajectory.

Offseason grade: C