The Knicks have 10 roster spots to fill, and Brand said he hopes to hear from Jackson again. According to a friend of his mother’s, Daisy always hoped Brand would finish his career with the Knicks. Brand said he also may consider hanging it up after 16 seasons.
October 13, 2015 | 12:41 pm EDT Update
Basketball Insiders: Let’s talk about your free agency process. First of all, congratulations on your five-year, $82 million contract. What was it like to go through free agency? I know some players love it and some players hate it. And restricted free agency is obviously pretty rough for some guys. Fortunately for you, your deal got done pretty quickly and all along it was pretty clear you would be going back to the Warriors. What was your free agency process like? Draymond Green: “It wasn’t much. I talked to one other team and that was really not a serious conversation at all [because] I knew where I wanted to be. I knew where I was going to be and my focus was to have my agent, B.J. Armstrong, work with the Warriors and get a deal done. That was the main focus. I talked to Joe [Lacob]. I talked to Peter [Guber]. I knew where I was going to be, I knew where home was, and we got it done. It was great that the Warriors stepped up to the plate and got it done in the fashion that they did, where I didn’t have to sign an offer sheet or anything like that and we just got the deal done. It says a lot about the Warriors as an organization, it says a lot about Peter and Joe as an ownership group, it says a lot about the front office with Bob [Myers], Kirk [Lacob], and Travis [Schlenk] and everyone else. I’m one of their guys and they stepped up to the plate and got it done. That meant a lot to me.”
Basketball Insiders: Was that other team you talked to the Detroit Pistons? I’m just curious because there was some talk about you going home and you had some other connections to the Pistons as well [Editor’s Note: Green’s former agent, Arn Tellem, joined Detroit’s ownership group as Vice Chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment.] Draymond Green: “That other team was not Detroit. I’d rather not say [the team.]”
October 13, 2015 | 12:07 pm EDT Update
“Our relationship was fine,” Lillard says. “Me and LA never had an argument. People are searching for something that’s not there. When you have two All-Stars on the same team and one of them decides to leave, it’s automatically, ‘They didn’t get along.’ We had back-to-back 50-win seasons. We both made the All-Star team. We played through him and after that it was me and that was that. We played well together. We never had an issue.”
In the wake of Aldridge’s departure, Olshey asked his new franchise player if he was comfortable with the direction they were going to take. “This was not done without Dame’s participation,” Olshey says. “If he was at all reticent, if he said it would be great if you could get me another vet to help out, we would have gone out and found a couple of other guys to take the pressure off of him. He’s not that kind of kid. He embraces it. He thrives on it.”
Olshey had scouted Lillard for several years as GM with the Clippers before landing in Portland in 2012. He loved Lillard’s shooting ability and the way he carried himself. He had been in town barely a week when Lillard arrived for his pre-draft workout. The two went out to dinner and promptly got lost, which gave them a chance to really talk. Olshey was impressed by what he called Lillard’s “gravitas” and “composure.” He had seen the same qualities in Chauncey Billups during his final season with the Clippers, and he saw them in the 21-year-old point guard. “By the time I got to the restaurant,” Olshey says. “I knew he was our guy.”
Q: I want to take you back to this summer. You had a verbal commitment with the Mavs, and then the Cavs opportunity came up. Can you just walk me through what went down? Richard Jefferson: Well, I was with Mark Cuban and Chandler Parsons in L.A. As soon as I meet them, they tell me, ‘Hey, we got two of them.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ Because they pretty much had tried to retool the whole team. They had let Tyson [Chandler] go, they let Monta [Ellis] go, so it was like, [I was] not going to re-sign there unless they actually have a team. So when they tell me they got DeAndre [Jordan] and they got Wesley [Matthews] … Right then, I pretty much verbally commit. I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m going to come back.’ We were sitting there just kind of chatting it up, and I was like, ‘Mark, I was going to have to leave.’ And he was like: ‘Richard, I wouldn’t have blamed you. I would have understood.’ I was like: ‘I’m glad, because I wanted to come back. I’m glad we got some free agents and there’s something to build on.’
Q: How did the Cavs opportunity present itself? Richard Jefferson: Once the Dallas thing with DeAndre kind of started to happen, I talked to my agent [Jeff Schwartz] and I was just like, ‘I feel uncomfortable about this.’ I was like, ‘I’m only planning on playing one or two more years, and if a year of that’s in a rebuilding year with Dallas …’ And so, he was like: ‘Well, Rich, I can call, but we should probably tell the Mavs first. And let’s see. Because I don’t want to call the Cavs and all of the sudden the Cavs call the Mavs about what’s going on and it comes back on me and it looks like I’m trying to do stuff behind their back.’ And so, we talked to Mark first and I asked him for permission, and he said, ‘That’s fine.’ And then there was some interest here [in Cleveland] and it was pretty much a no brainer.”
Q: These people that you’ve had such strong connections with in Luke and Jason are head coaches. Is that your next step? Richard Jefferson: Um, I truly don’t know. There are some other interests I have outside of basketball, and I respect the game and how much time it takes to be a head coach. I definitely respect that, and knowing Steve and all these guys, if I were to get into coaching, it would be either player development or head coaching. I really like to work with guys on a day-to-day basis, being in the gym, helping guys get better. Or trying to oversee a whole project. But we might go the Steve Kerr route. We might go the broadcast booth for 10 years, GM, back to broadcasting and then, ‘OK, I’ll take over a playoff team’ job. That might be the route I go versus going straight into coaching like Luke or J-Kidd.
Q: Your initial thoughts of David Blatt? Richard Jefferson: Aw, hilarious. Really funny. Really funny. Really funny. That’s just my initial thoughts. He’s a good coach. It’s good. The best coaches I’ve seen, that I’ve been around are people that are stern but they also have a personality to make you laugh. There’s some guys that walk in and they just know numbers and they know basketball, but their personality is s—. And then there’s some people that are great guys and you love them to death and you’d have them over your house for dinner, but you wouldn’t want them coaching your kids’ basketball league. He has a great personality, he’s funny. He’ll yell at you, and then two minutes later he’ll say something to make you laugh and make the whole group laugh; that’s a rare combination in coaches today.
Q: And how about your college teammate Luke Walton? Richard Jefferson: The luckiest man alive? Oh, yeah, Luke. No, man [laughing], good for Luke. People look at it like, ‘Oh, he’s this, he’s that, he’s so lucky.’ I’m like, ‘Yes, he is lucky, but part of luck is preparing yourself and being a good person.’ When you look at his situation, the Lakers wanted him to come, because he took a year off [from playing] and he had been working with their D-League staff. Phil Jackson wanted him to come and help with Derek Fisher. And obviously there’s his relationship with Steve [Kerr]. So it was like, this dude took a year off and had the Lakers, the Knicks and Golden State calling him. So that just shows pretty much his character, how people respected his basketball mind and his knowledge of the game. So, as much as he is lucky, he was able to look at the situations and pick the best one and it excelled and now he is the interim head coach for the Golden State Warriors. Jesus. I told him he’s going to have to hire me.
October 13, 2015 | 11:31 am EDT Update
“All that stuff is behind him,” Casey insisted. “He’s got a clean slate. The financial part of it is not involved right now. It’s an incentive for him now to play to get that next contract or whatever. But again, playing basketball, just forget everything else, clean slate, start from scratch and go from there.”
“Like I always said, when I got drafted [by the Minnesota Timberwolves] they picked me, I didn’t pick them,” Williams said after putting up his second straight 20-plus point game with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting as the Knicks beat the 76ers, 94-88, to improve to 3-0 in the preseason. “I chose to be here and Phil [Jackson] wanted me here and Derek [Fisher] wanted me here and as soon as I was done with the meeting I called my agent,” the 6-foot-8 Williams added. “Ten minutes after the meeting, I said I’m signing up.”
Upon his arrival, Williams spoke about his love for Cleveland fans and keeping tabs on his old team even while he was bouncing around the league. The allure of playing for a title contender and alongside James is always appealing, but Williams’ decision to sign with the Cavs this summer was about more than that and he is proving it at every turn, raving about Cleveland fans.
“We try to just get the best shot available. Our coaches emphasize that we want easy layups, easy transition buckets, and then open threes. We penetrate, we attack the basket and we get the quickest for open threes and open layups. We try to eliminate tough twos and taking just contested shots. But for me, I don’t really try to think about that too much throughout the game, I just try to go out there and just get the best available shot for myself or for my teammates, and that’s how I think we’ve been able to be successful.”
Do they show you anything super-detailed like ‘hey, when you hold the ball, or when you dribble this many times, your shooting percentage is X?’ “No, no.” Or do they stay away from that stuff? “That’s too much [laughs]. I don’t need to be thinking about none of that. I just need to go out there and play my game and attack.”
“Space! Space!” Donovan yelled to the other Thunder players on the floor around Westbrook. Donovan is planning a specific package of personnel to complement Westbrook when he operates as a deeper scoring threat alongside point guard D.J. Augustin. There figures to be another package to help Durant when he bumps up to play power forward.
“The one thing that makes this place really, really special, in my opinion, is the people,” Donovan said. “That’s the one thing I would say now. They’re very, very competent in their job[s], and they’re really, really, really great people—people you enjoy going in and seeing every day. “That’s very, very important. It was important to me with the relationships I was leaving in Florida.”
October 13, 2015 | 10:01 am EDT Update
It could’ve degenerated into an ugly back-and-firth. But Durant let it go after that. He’s trying to stay disciplined about his vow of silence. The season will be chaotic and emotional. Durant knows that. He doesn’t want to get swallowed up in it by giving thoughts of free agency too much weight too soon. “I hope that every time he’s asked about it this year, every single time, he will say, ‘I’ll talk about this after the season,’ ” teammate Nick Collison says.
Speaking of time, Zeller hopes he has a lot of it in Boston. The 25-year-old is in the final year of his rookie contract, and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said there have been discussions about an extension. Ainge has until the end of the month on the extension, and he likes to wait as long as possible on these things. “I’ve heard that,” said Zeller with a smile. “Look, it’s one of those things that, would it be great to get one? Yeah. But at the same time, you know, I’ve got one more year on my contract. I love playing, and I’m just going to try to do whatever I can to play as well as I can. Whether I’ve got one year left or six years left, I’m just going to keep playing hard. . . . “Obviously I’d like to be around here a long time. I think it’s a great organization. But I’m a very religious person, so I just kind of have to see what God’s plan for me is, and whatever it is, it’ll play out and I’ll end up exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
Presti has been studying Durant, and those questions, for more than a decade. “I don’t know if anyone could’ve done more due diligence on Kevin Durant than Sam Presti did,” says Rick Barnes, Durant’s coach for his one season at Texas. “I’ll never forget him saying to me, ‘I’ve got to get this right. I’ve got to be right.’ ”
“Every guy is loyal to a certain extent,” says Wade, who had workouts with Durant this summer. “Look at [Kevin Garnett]. He was loyal to a fault in Minnesota, but he left to win. “As a player, when you have the muscle, you better use it,” adds Wade, who was with James on a charter flight from Las Vegas to Miami on the night he decided to return to the Cavs. “It’s a business.”