Dan Feldman

Andrew Wiggins on coronavirus vaccine: ‘I still wish I didn’t get it’

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins
Josh Leung/NBAE via Getty Images

Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins didn’t want to get vaccinated.

However, facing a San Francisco mandate that required him to be vaccinated to play home games, he relented before the season.

Wiggins then became an All-Star for the first time in his career. He shined in the NBA Finals and won his first championship.

But Wiggins still isn’t happy with how the situation unfolded.

Wiggins, via FanSided:

I still wish I didn’t get it, to be honest with you. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I feel like I did it, and I was an All-Star this year and champion. So, that was the good part, just not missing out on the year, the best year of my career. But for my body, I just don’t like putting all that stuff in my body. So, I didn’t like that, and I didn’t like that it wasn’t my choice. I didn’t like that it was either get this or don’t play.

You can think both the vaccine has been an effective tool in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and that there’s something uncomfortable about the government effectively forcing people to inject something into their bodies.

Wiggins’ union ensured the NBA wouldn’t require vaccination. However, San Francisco superseded labor rights and individual rights many thought Wiggins should have held. To protect his livelihood from a private company, Wiggins had to get an unwanted medical procedure required by the local government.

Vaccinations have made people less likely to contract coronavirus, less likely to spread coronavirus and less likely to suffer severe outcomes if they contract coronavirus. But the government compelling vaccination is a different step, one Wiggins – even with the benefit of hindsight – still opposes.

JaMychal Green taking Thunder buyout, signing with Warriors

JaMychal Green and Stephen Curry in 2022 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Thunder acquired JaMychal Green from the Nuggets in a salary dump just to get a draft pick. Green was never long for Oklahoma City. The 32-year-old just doesn’t make sense on a rebuilding team with plenty of young players to fill roster spots.

Green will be a more-logical fit on the Warriors.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Golden State continues to replenish depth after losing several contributors from last season’s championship team.

The Warriors want youngsters Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman to assume larger roles in the frontcourt next season. But Green is a steadier veteran option in case Kuminga and Wiseman aren’t ready.

A 6-foot-8 power forward who can play up or down a position depending on matchups, Green shoots 3s and competes defensively. He’s a solid pickup for the minimum.

Report: Hawks, De’Andre Hunter $20M apart on contract extension

Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter
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The Hawks were expected to sign De'Andre Hunter to a contract extension this offseason.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:

Early indications are that Atlanta and Hunter have not found much progress in extension talks, where both sides stand roughly $20 million apart on salary terms over a four-year deal, sources said.

A $20 million gap is large – but not insurmountable. It can be bridged through incentives, options, partial guarantees, trade bonuses and good old fashioned compromise. The extension deadline is months away. Neither side should necessarily cave much this soon.

The Spurs just signed Keldon Johnson to a four-year contract extension that’ll be worth $74 million-$80 million. That’ll draw comparisons. However, Hunter has not been as good as Johnson. Hunter should argue that just because Johnson signed a team-friendly deal doesn’t mean Hunter should. But the comparison will get made.

Hunter has missed 78 games due to injury the last two seasons. He looked better in 2021 than last season. Those are troubling trends.

Maybe the 24-year-old will stay healthy, show his value as a 6-foot-8 long, mobile and physical defender and continue to hit 3-pointers. Hunter could be an ideal-fitting forward between Trae Young, Dejounte Murray and whichever of Clint Capela/Onyeka Okongwu is Atlanta’s center.

The Hawks might make Hunter prove he can handle all that before paying him top dollar. Even if they don’t extend him this offseason, they’d hold matching rights on him in 2023 restricted free agency. That’s significant leverage.

Atlanta just refused to meet John Collins‘ price on an extension then re-signed him (for more money) as a restricted free agent. The player can win this situation – if he’s willing to risk it.

If he wants to secure a life-changing payday now, Hunter has more reason than the Hawks to bend in negotiations. Atlanta can more easily wait until restricted free agency.

Report: Heat prioritizing trading for Kevin Durant over Donovan Mitchell

Kevin Durant in Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat
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The Heat are trying to trade for Nets forward Kevin Durant or Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell.

Which star is more likely to land in Miami?

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:

multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told B/R that Miami has prioritized pursuing Durant over Mitchell.

Utah’s asking price for Mitchell is probably lower than Brooklyn’s for Durant. Mitchell is also younger than Durant.

But Durant is the better player. The Heat usually press to win immediately. They’re especially incentivized to do so with Jimmy Butler turning 33 before the season.

Plus, the Jazz are reportedly prioritizing draft picks in a Mitchell trade. Miami’s prime trade asset is Tyler Herro, whom Utah probably isn’t eager to pay. The Heat can trade only two future first-round picks (three if unprotecting a 2025 first-rounder already owed to the Thunder).

Much of their future draft capital sent to the Rockets in the James Harden trade, the Nets have less reason than the Jazz to bottom out. Herro could appeal more to Brooklyn. However, probably not enough to get Durant.

Would the Heat trade Bam Adebayo to get Durant? Miami is clearly fond of Adebayo and would certainly prefer to pair him and Durant. But acquiring Durant would obviously require paying a substantial price.

Another complication: Adebayo and the Nets’ Ben Simmons can’t end up on the same team because they’re both designated players. Multi-team deals are even more difficult to execute (a reason using Herro to acquire Mitchell would be difficult).

But the Heat have immense experience chasing and landing stars. If Miami is even hotter on the trail for Durant than Mitchell, it’s worth watching.

Suns say they told Deandre Ayton on July 1 they’d keep him

Suns center Deandre Ayton
Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

Many doubted the Suns would keep Deandre Ayton in restricted free agency. The Pacers certainly did. They waived and stretched three players (and maybe traded Malcolm Brogdon in part) to clear cap space to sign Ayton to a max offer sheet.

Phoenix nearly immediately matched.

Apparently that would’ve been completely expected if you took the Suns at their (previously unrevealed) word.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

Phoenix general manager James Jones said he told Ayton through the entire free agency process that he planned to re-sign him, including during a videoconference on July 1.

Jones noted “negotiation” as the reason the Suns didn’t offer a maximum contract to Ayton.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a team using the leverage of restricted free agency over a player. The Suns knew they’d always be able to keep Ayton – ideally for cheaper. But if it cost this much, so be it.

However, after Phoenix didn’t offer him a max extension before last season, Ayton had focus issues throughout the year, boiling over in the Suns’ season-ending Game 7 loss to the Mavericks. It’s fair to question whether Ayton’s problems would’ve still existed – or even been worse – with a max extension. But he was bothered by not getting the extension.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, there’s still “some mending that has to go on” between Ayton and the Suns. Phoenix quickly matching the offer sheet didn’t solve everything.

At least both Ayton and the Suns are saying all the right things now. Spears’ article includes plenty of positive quotes from Ayton and Jones. That isn’t nothing. No matter how they actual feel, the people involved being content enough to say niceties is something.

Bigger tests will come later. Ayton can be traded Jan. 15. He holds the right to block a trade for a year. Few are convinced Phoenix values Ayton at a max salary as much as matching was about maintaining an asset.

But for now, everyone at least wants to give the impression of harmony in Phoenix.