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Bernie Sanders says LeBron James is the GOAT over Michael Jordan (VIDEO)

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Everyone has an opinion about who is the greatest player of all time between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Most folks still seem to pick Jordan, although it’s been hard to argue with the type of player that James is in a vacuum outside of measurements like championship rings.

In any case, we now have one more person who has tossed their opinion into the ring of public consciousness. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has now said that he believes that LeBron is the GOAT thanks to his public service.

Via Twitter:

“I think LeBron has been willing to do what a lot of athletes are not and get involved in the political process, put money into education, and I respect that.”

James has certainly done a lot politically, socially, and as an activist. He’s supported things like entire schools, and he’s been on the bleeding edge of NBA activism against things like police brutality.

Jordan has also done his part, including a recent pledge for $1 million in funds to aid Bahamanian hurricane relief. Folks like to bag on MJ for his purported “Republicans buy sneakers, too” comment, but it’s unclear whether he actually ever said or felt that.

In either case, it appears that we know who Sanders thinks is the GOAT. Next someone should ask Elizabeth Warren if she would have taken Kobe or Shaq in 2004.

Bucks GM confirms team will offer Giannis Antetokoumpo supermax next summer

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This is about as big a secret as President Donald Trump’s feelings about Joe Biden:

Next summer the Milwaukee Bucks are going to offer Giannis Antetokoumpo a supermax contract, worth five-years and an estimated $247 million.

But if you need proof, here is Bucks GM Jon Horst at a recent town hall event in Milwaukee, courtesy Fox Sports Wisconsin.

Here’s your money quote:

“First of all, the answer for now is that we can’t talk and negotiate anything. So Giannis, basically, a year from now will be eligible for a supermax extension. At that time, of course, he will be offered a supermax extension.”

While Antetokoumpo is under contract for two more seasons (at $53 million, total) next summer he can be offered an extension. After winning the MVP last season, he is eligible for the “supermax,” giving him 35 percent of the Bucks salary cap space.

Of course the Bucks were going to offer the max. That was never in doubt. The question is, will Antetokoumpo accept it?

Very likely, yes.

There have been rumblings that if he doesn’t feel the Bucks are doing all they can to win a title, he could look around.

That may be mostly wishful thinking from some quarters. Talking to sources around the league, teams are watching the Antetokoumpo situation but widely expect he will re-sign in Milwaukee. Unlike Anthony Davis and others, there are no meaningful signs of discontent.

The rumors Antetokoumpo wants to make the finals may be simply a warning to the Bucks front office. This is a team that heads into the coming season as a title contender and Antetokoumpo wants to keep the pressure on so the team doesn’t make cost-cutting moves that hurt them on the court.

Horst seems to get that in his comments, mentioning coach Mike Budenholzer.

“Bud and I talk about this all the time. It’s our responsibility to create an environment, a culture, a basketball organization where our players want to come to work everyday, players that they want to play with everyday, and they want to win at the highest level. And we’ve taken great steps towards that last year. We’ve continued to build on that. We’re going to continue to build on that. I think we all fully believe that if we continue to put the right things in place and give Giannis the right opportunities — he loves Milwaukee, he loves the state of Wisconsin — I think he’ll be a Buck for a long time.”

Giannis is a loyal person and considers Milwaukee his home in America — it’s the only place he’s lived and played. He almost certainly takes the big paycheck and stays, but in this NBA nothing is 100 percent certain.

With this era’s flame still flickering, Pistons load bench with name recognition

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NBC Sports’ 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.

Just three teams have had the same trio of $16 million-plus-salary players each of the previous two seasons and next season:

Golden State won a championship, returned to the NBA Finals and enters next season with four-ish stars in a two-star league.

Detroit missed the playoffs, got swept in the first round and enters next season with, um, a reasonable chance at making the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Pistons’ expensive core has underwhelmed while limiting flexibility. Drummond and Jackson are paid too much to trade for value and too good to tank with. The best option is probably the least drastic, keeping this group together and hoping for the best.

Same story last summer. Same story this summer.

But maybe not same story next summer.

Jackson’s contract expires after next season. Drummond has a player option he sounds ready to decline. At that point, the Pistons must decide what to do with Griffin – keep his top supporting players, find new ones or trade him to kickstart a rebuild.

In the meantime, Detroit added yet another expensive potential starter and a few recognizable reserves. This far into the plan – no matter how lackluster the results so far – the present remains a high priority.

The Pistons turned Jon Leuer‘s deadweight contract and the No. 45 pick into Tony Snell, No. 37 pick Deividas Sirvydis, No. 57 pick Jordan Bone, the Trail Blazers’ 2023 second-rounder and $3 million. I would’ve rather kept Snell and the No. 30 pick sent by the Bucks for taking his undesirable contract (and Detroit’s original second-rounder, No. 45). But that wouldn’t have generated the $3 million cash.

Milwaukee dumped Snell because he’s too expensive for a fringe rotation player there and due $12,178,571 in 2020-21. Leuer’s contract was expiring. But the Pistons are so desperate on the wing, they might start Snell.

The Pistons also signed Derrick Rose (two years, $15 million), Markieff Morris (two years, $6.56 million) and Joe Johnson (partially guaranteed, surely minimum). That’s a former MVP, someone who finished fourth in Most Improved Player voting at age 24 and a seven-time All-Star.

But those likely backups are past their primes. Rose looked like he’d fall out of the NBA before a resurgent/outlier-shooting season last year. Though helpful more often recently, Morris didn’t crack the Thunder’s playoff rotation. Johnson has been playing in a 3-on-3 league for NBA retirees.

Expectations shouldn’t be too high. But there’s at least hope this group packs more punch than departed Ish Smith provided off the bench. More bench scoring could limit the load on Griffin, who – even in his best season in years – wore down by the playoffs.

Because of Rose’s injury history, it was important to sign Tim Frazier (minimum) as third point guard. Claiming Christian Wood off waivers was another a good under-the-radar move. But signing Joe Johnson will make it harder for Wood to make the regular-season roster.

If all goes well, Detroit’s best move of the offseason will be drafting Sekou Doumbouya No. 15. I rated him No. 7 on my board. But that was because I like his raw talent in a weak draft, not because I’m convinced he’ll become a good NBA player. It’ll take a while to assess that pick.

This summer wasn’t easy for the Pistons, but it was simple. Their status quo could change soon. If they play well next season, they’ll face difficult choices with Jackson and maybe Drummond. If they don’t play well next season, that’ll invite its own problems.

They’re hoping to face the play-well issues and built this team accordingly. But with limited flexibility, the outlook remains similar, with next summer looming as the major inflection point.

Offseason grade: C

Report: Pistons signing Joe Johnson, not Michael Beasley

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Remember when the Pistons were signing Michael Beasley to an unguaranteed contract? Well, they found a better option than a 30-year-old coming off a difficult season and facing a five-game suspension.

Detroit will instead sign a 38-year-old who has been dominating a 3-on-3 league for NBA retirees – Joe Johnson.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Bobby Marks:

A seven-time All-Star, Johnson is a bigger name. But not much should be expected of him anymore. He didn’t even play in the NBA last season.

Still, the Pistons could use another bigger wing. Johnson can still sometimes get buckets. There will be nights Johnson’s scoring would make a difference for Detroit.

Johnson is positioned to compete with Christian Wood for the Pistons’ final regular-season roster spot. Wood, who has an unguaranteed deal, is younger and probably better. But Johnson’s partial guarantee indicates Detroit’s interest in keeping him.

I wonder whether Beasley can still accept his reported $2.6 million-guaranteed offer in China. Not only might the interested team have already moved on, the Chinese Basketball Association is reportedly now barring its teams from signing players facing drug suspensions in other leagues.

If China doesn’t work out for Beasley, there’s always the Big3. As Johnson showed, that might be a pathway back to the NBA.

Scottie Pippen doesn’t agree with Kevin Durant’s complaints about NBA (VIDEO)

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Kevin Durant has said a lot of things this summer. The current Brooklyn Nets superstar said in a recent Wall Street Journal story that he no longer feels a connection to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the reasons why he decided to leave the Golden State Warriors.

Included in Durant’s recent comments were those decrying the state of a basketball player’s life, saying that sometimes he, “hate(s) the circus of the NBA.”

Folks responded strongly to Durant’s comments, with many understanding the mental strain an outsized, constant media attention would put on any person.

Then again, others felt as though players had to accept that attention in exchange for the hefty salaries and sponsorship deals they gain because of it.

You can put Scottie Pippen in that second category, by the way.

Speaking on ESPN’s “The Jump”, Pippen said that Durant ultimately had to have the right perspective.

I understand what Kevin is saying, but I also want to let him know that this is a part of our business. This is why he’s making all that money. Because, we’ve been able to globalize the game through our players. Not just what they do on a basketball court, but, you know — using digital stuff of them talking, travelling abroad, to help promote our game. It’s part of our package to help promote our game, because that helps our salaries grow. So I don’t get what he’s saying, especially with a player that’s been in the league as long as he has.

That’s a pretty reasonable expectation. Every person is allowed to have their mental headspace in balance, but the undeniable context of professional sports is of imbalance.

If he’s going to cash the big checks, he’s going to have to “play the game” as it were, even if that means not playing the actual game. And of course, he’s welcome to step away. People — musicians, sports stars, actors — have decided to simply call it a day after making a certain amount. It’s other factors that keep Durant in a uniform: he certainly doesn’t need any more money.

But this is largely a thought exercise. There’s no sense admonishing Durant in any real way, and we can’t live inside his head. He’s welcome to his experience, and at the very least Durant appears like he’s trying to deal with that every day. He’s allowed to be sick of the “circus” from time-to-time.