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Kemba Walker: ‘As far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it’

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Kemba Walker is an All-Star level point guard who is heading into a contract season — he is a free agent in 2019. Walker is also a New York native, born in the Bronx he attended Rice High School in Harlem.

Combine all that with the fact both the Knicks and Nets will have enough cap space for a max (or more than one max) contract next summer, and you’ve got yourself a rumor.

One Walker shot down talking to Michael Scotto of The Athletic.

“As far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it,” Walker replied. “I’m a Hornet, and I’m planning on being a Hornet for a long time, so, yeah, I’m not sure about that (New York).”

Walker has said many times he wants to stay in Charlotte (providing they pay the market rate and are trying to compete).

That said, this is the NBA, so never say never.

A lot of NBA teams have been poised, waiting to see if new Hornets’ GM Mitch Kupchak — with the approval of Michael Jordan — decided to go full rebuild and trade Walker this summer. He has not, talking only about keeping this squad together. The Hornets are a solid team with Walker and Nicolas Batum leading the way, one that could make the playoffs in the East if things break right for new coach James Borrego. However, they will not be anywhere near contenders and if things don’t fall their way they may well miss the playoffs next season. Again. The Hornets also are not a bad team, meaning they are not going to get a high pick (without some lottery luck). They are stuck in the NBA’s middle ground, a place most GMs want to avoid.

Trading Walker could jump-start the rebuild in Charlotte, but the Hornets don’t seem to be going that direction. Yet. This summer they signed Tony Parker, Malik Monk looked good in Summer League, and they got Dwight Howard out of the locker room. They say they are a team poised to make a playoff push.

If that push falls apart early in Charlotte, watch and see if their plans change. And what that could mean for Walker. And the Knicks.

However, as of now, Walker wants to remain a Hornet, and they want to keep him. Which crowds New York out of the picture.

 

Reversing reported course, Clippers fully guarantee Milos Teodosic’s salary

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The Clippers reportedly wanted to move on from point guard Milos Teodosic.

Teodosic opted in anyway, guaranteeing $2.1 million of his $6.3 million salary. Why not get as much money as possible on the way out?

But apparently Teodosic isn’t leaving L.A., as his contract became fully guaranteed yesterday.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

The Clippers are expected to keep guard Milos Teodosic despite their crowded backcourt, according to an NBA official not authorized to speak publicly.

The Clippers traded guard Austin Rivers for center Marcin Gortat since the initial report, but that hardly ended the backcourt logjam. Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Lou Williams, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson, C.J. Williams and Jawun Evans remain at guard.

The bigger logjam is with the overall roster, though. The Clippers now have 17 players on standard contracts, two more than the regular-season limit. That doesn’t bode well for Williams, whose salary is unguaranteed. Without another trade, Evans or Sindarius Thornwell could get cut.

Why the change of heart on Teodosic? Perhaps, he’s progressing better than expected medically. The 31-year-old missed 37 games last season with a foot injury, and there was concern about his long-term health. But when on the court, he’s a dazzling passer and long-distance shooter. Being slowed won’t help his already-woeful defense, though.

The Clippers were already over the cap, and they’re in little danger of entering the luxury tax. So, the only costs of guaranteeing Teodosic are owner Steve Ballmer’s real money, a roster spot and him potentially blocking playing time of L.A.’s lottery-pick guards. But the Clippers could even cut Teodosic in the preseason if someone else emerges as more deserving of the roster spot, and Doc Rivers can choose whether to play Teodosic or Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson.

So, the biggest development is the roster spot. Teodosic is now extremely likely to hold it into the season, which means monitoring who gets dripped.

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown: I wanted LeBron James to stay in Eastern Conference

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The 76ers’ Dario Saric and Wizards’ Tomas Satoransky each said they wanted to avoid LeBron James in the playoffs – and both got their wish. Philadelphia and Washington got eliminated before facing LeBron’s Cavaliers.

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown is taking a different approach with LeBron leaving Cleveland for the Lakers.

Brown, via Tom Westerholm of MassLive:

“To be honest, I wanted him to stay,” Brown said. “I was kind of mad, I wanted to be the team to go through him. I feel like we could have had it last year, but we fell a little bit short. But I applaud someone doing what’s best for him. He did what’s best for him in that situation. I wanted him to stay in the East. People say, I don’t like when people say ‘Now that LeBron’s gone, y’all are the favorite.’ That irks me. A lot of us, we feel the same, because we feel that whether he was there or wasn’t there, we was coming out.”

LeBron has looked back fondly on his rivalry with the Celtics during his first Cleveland tenure and time with the Heat. It was just beginning to reignite. The Cavs swept Boston in the 2015 first round, beat Boston 4-1 in the 2017 Eastern Conference finals then escaped Boston 4-3 in the 2018 conference finals.

The younger Celtics would have eventually overtaken Cleveland, even if LeBron had stayed, but this hastens their ascent. Boston will battle the 76ers (and maybe others) for Eastern Conference supremacy, but the road is far clearer with LeBron gone.

Yet, Brown opposes in a commendable display of competitiveness. That’s part of what makes him such a promising player.

But I bet he’ll still appreciate all the winning the Celtics do with LeBron in Los Angeles.

Nets reportedly not talking contract extension with D’Angelo Russell

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The No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Karl-Anthony Towns, is in talks to get a max contract extension with the Timberwolves. The No. 4 pick in that draft, Kristaps Porzingis, will get a max one as well. Devin Booker, who was taking 13th, just got one from the Suns.

And then there’s the No. 2 pick, D'Angelo Russell. Drafted by the Lakers but shipped to Brooklyn as the sweetener in the Timofey Mozgov salary dump (the Lakers had drafted Lonzo Ball and were moving on), he is coming off some nice-but-not-thrilling NBA seasons and a knee surgery. That’s not going to get him an extension in the range he wants.

The two sides are not even talking, according to Michael Scotto at The Athletic.

Brooklyn and Russell’s camp have not discussed an extension yet a league source told The Athletic. The 22-year-old guard is owed $7.02 million this upcoming season and is eligible for a $9.16 million qualifying offer and restricted free agency next summer if he doesn’t agree to a rookie scale extension before the start of the regular season in October.

Russell, who attended the Nets’ NBA Summer League games, burst out of the gate on a tear last season averaging 20.9 points on 46 percent shooting, 5.7 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game in his first 12 games played before undergoing arthroscopic left knee surgery.

The Nets like Russell, but this is the correct play — make him earn a big contract next season. Brooklyn will have him as a restricted free agent, let the market set the price.

Russell is playing for his contract next season — whether he does that within the system or breaks out of it to rack up numbers will be something to watch.

Report: Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns talking max extension

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Karl-Anthony Towns was the Third Team All-NBA center last season, averaging 21.3 points and 12.3 rebounds a game, shooting 54.5 percent from the floor.

That in just his third NBA season.

He is the definition of a no-brainer max contract extension, and the two sides are talking about it according to Michael Scotto and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

The only negotiation is about what kind of contract Towns wants. He likely will sign the “designated” rookie-scale extension — what Andrew Wiggins signed with the Timberwolves last season — and that means five years and $158 million (25 percent of the salary cap). However, if he makes All-NBA again next year he can get 30 percent of the cap, or $190 million over five.

Offensively, Towns is going to earn that contract. However, if he really wants to lift Minnesota to contender level is defense has to get better and more consistent. He still does not read that end of the floor well, and the effort is not there nightly.

This deal is going to get done, but it leaves a lot of questions about the future of the Timberwolves. Towns is an elite-level player who Minnesota has to bring back, unquestionably, but Jimmy Butler is not a fan of Towns and his work ethic. There appear to be factions within the Timberwolves locker room, with the hard-driving Tom Thibodeau and his backers like Butler on one side, Towns and the younger players on another, and Wiggins off in his own world (everyone seems frustrated with him, especially after his lackluster effort and focus after signing his big deal a year ago). One way or another changes are coming to that team in the next year, the chemistry is rough, and signing Towns to a max extension may signal where the franchise is going to plant its flag.