Dan Feldman

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Report: Lakers claim Kostas Antetokounmpo off waivers

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is a 24-year-old MVP playing in Milwaukee and heading toward a super-max decision that could have him hit 2021 unrestricted free agency.

Big-market teams are licking their chops.

That probably has something to do with the Lakers adding his brother, Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Kostas Antetokounmpo was the last pick in last year’s draft. He spent the season on a two-way contract with the Mavericks, who just waived him. He’ll remain on a two-way deal with the Lakers. The 21-year-old was alright in the NBA’s minor league, but he’s not a tantalizing prospect.

Except for his connection to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said he could never see himself playing for Los Angeles. But maybe he’d change his mind if someone close to him has a positive experience there. That must be the Lakers’ hope, at least.

It’s worth a shot, and the Lakers aren’t the only team trying this angle. The Bucks also signed Thanasis Antetokounmpo this summer.

Rumor: Chris Paul would’ve had to decline $44M player option to facilitate trade to Heat

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Chris Paul will probably start the season with the Thunder.

It’s not an ideal fit. Oklahoma City doesn’t need an expensive veteran as it begins to rebuild. Paul would probably prefer to play for a better team.

The Heat appeared interested in Paul. But they wanted draft picks to take on the three years and $124,076,442 remaining on his contract. The Thunder obviously deemed the cost too high.

But maybe the teams could have found a middle ground if Paul’s contract were $44,211,146 cheaper and one year shorter in Miami.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

The other thing I heard was that it was basically, if Chris wanted to get traded to the Heat now, he would maybe have had to been willing to decline his player option.

Paul would probably prefer Miami to Oklahoma City. But the Heat would still likely be just a middling playoff team with him. Staying with the Thunder isn’t so bad when it keeps that $44 million-plus guaranteed.

Still, it was worth the teams asking. Just in case Paul wanted to join Miami that badly.

Paul would probably recoup some of that money in 2021 free agency. He might even get more in a multi-year deal than he would by exercising his option and hitting the market a year later.

But Paul can’t count on any payday in free agency at age 36. Even great players can be completely finished by then.

The only way Paul can guarantee himself money is keeping that player option intact, which he will.

James Harden not playing for Team USA in World Cup

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James Harden said he wanted to play for Team USA in the 2019 World Cup.

But the Rockets star has apparently changed his mind.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Houston definitely has a big season ahead. A Harden-Russell Westbrook backcourt is unlike any in NBA history. There’s a lot to figure out.

The Americans will still be favored in China. But they’re down to just six five 2019 All-Stars in consideration for the final roster:

And Lowry is injured.

At least the U.S. is loaded at point guard with Lillard, Walker and maybe Lowry. Plenty of wings and even bigs set to attend USA Basketball’s training camp are stars who are also comfortable handling the ball.

Report: Pacers signing Justin Holiday to one year, $4.8 million contract

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It’s Christmas in July for the Pacers.

Well, it’s at least some Holiday.

Indiana is signing Justin Holiday, brother of Pacers point guard Aaron Holiday.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Beyond the sibling connection, Justin Holiday should help the Pacers.

Bojan Bogdanovic left for the Jazz. Victor Oladipo is injured.

But Indiana found depth on the wing with Jeremy Lamb (three years, $31.5 million) and now Justin Holiday both incoming on team-friendly contracts. Likely starting point guard Malcolm Brogdon can also play on the wing when T.J. McConnell or Aaron Holiday runs the point.

The 30-year-old Justin Holiday is a solid defender and 3-point shooter. He’s not the most dynamic player, but he’ll fit in well.

The Pacers have resiliently earned a middling playoff seed the last two years. Expect the same next season.

Report: Spurs pissed about Marcus Morris reneging to sign with Knicks

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Marcus Morris backed out of a two-year, $20 million agreement with the Spurs to sign a one-year, $15 million deal with the Knicks. (Don’t blame Rich Paul.)

Occasionally, teams allow committed players to look elsewhere. But that apparently wasn’t the case here.

Frank Isola of The Athletic:

the Spurs didn’t like it.

“They’re pissed” is how one general manager described it.

Pissed at Morris? Pissed at the Knicks? Pissed at both?

I don’t blame the Spurs for being upset. They traded Davis Bertans in anticipation of signing Morris and watched other quality free agents go off the board. San Antonio settled for Trey Lyles.

At some point, Morris should explain himself. It’s a major breach of decorum to renege on an oral agreement in free agency. Why did he feel strongly enough about ditching the Spurs for New York to go back on his word?

The Knicks should also explain themselves. They got extra cap space when Reggie Bullock‘s spine injury shuttered his original deal. But poaching an already-committed player at least raises eyebrows.

Unfortunately for San Antonio, there’s nowhere productive to direct this anger. Shortening or eliminating the moratorium would help in some similar situations. But Morris agreed to terms then backed out all after the moratorium.

The Spurs just have to eat this one.