Storyline: D'Angelo Russell Free Agency

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The Nets moved swiftly to secure four-year agreements from new franchise cornerstones in Durant and Irving along with DeAndre Jordan. Brooklyn also agreed to a two-year deal with veteran swingman Garrett Temple. And before the clock struck midnight on the East Coast, the Nets were working towards a sign-and-trade that would send D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham to the Warriors. Brooklyn is expected to receive draft pick compensation as part of the sign-and-trade, a league source told The Athletic. The specifics were still being ironed out late into the night.

Towns and Russell were taken Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the 2015 NBA draft and have been close friends since high school. Towns is really high on adding Russell, sources said. It would take moving Andrew Wiggins or a combination of Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng to open the space needed for Minnesota to sign Russell. The Nets would have two days to match a signed offer sheet to retain Russell.

During Tuesday’s “Woj and Lowe Free Agency Special” on ESPN, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said the Lakers are targeting the 23-year-old All-Star in free agency — so much so that they’re reportedly hoping another target of theirs, Kyrie Irving, signs with Russell’s current team, forcing him into unrestricted free agency: “It is a legitimate scenario, Zach. The Lakers now, at this point, are rooting for Kyrie Irving to go to Brooklyn because then Brooklyn renounces D’Angelo Russell, who’s a restricted free agent. He becomes unrestricted and then the Lakers could sign Russell as their third star in L.A. and they get back a much more mature, polished player who’s been an All-Star, who’s put a team into the postseason.”

Wolves to pursue D'Angelo Russell?

ESPN’s Zach Lowe poured gasoline all over the fire, saying the Wolves were “up to something” on his most recent podcast with Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony. Lowe said they’ve have let the league know they have path to landing Russell as the franchise point guard of the future they desperately want. The social media recruiting by Towns isn’t simply some harmless fun with a close friend, either. “There has been a lot of Minnesota (signing) D’Angelo Russell noise,” said Lowe.

Do you have a prediction on what’s going to happen with you, D’Angelo Russell and the rest of the guys? DeMarre Carroll: No prediction, but we’ll see. My agent, Mark Bartelstein, he’ll make sure he gets me in the right position and the right place. If it’s in Brooklyn or if it’s not, he’s going to make sure that I’m taken care of and I’m successful. Hopefully for DLo – if it’s not here if it’s somewhere else – I think he earned himself a max deal. He earned himself a max deal to take care of his family for the rest of their life. He’s just got to enjoy the moment and enjoy whether it’s here or somewhere else.

You’ve been vocal about the Timberwolves having a chance to make major improvements via free agency. You’ve done some D’Angelo Russell whispering on Instagram. Have you paid attention to all the player movement and rumors this summer? Karl-Anthony Towns: Yes. I pay very close attention to free agency. And D’Angelo is not getting whispers, he’s getting more of a yell from a microphone. This is a big free agency period for us as an organization, so we’re taking every step and exploring every avenue. How long have you known Russell? Karl-Anthony Towns: Forever. Me and D’Angelo have known each other for a very long time. We’ve talked about how much we want to play with each other, not even just in the NBA or college, but in high school. Who would’ve thought we’re at this moment now.

But thanks to general manager Sean Marks paying a heavy price to clear Crabbe’s contract — one of his few mistakes since taking the job — the Nets have $68 million to spend if they renounce point guard D’Angelo Russell, and $48 million even including his cap hold. Sources have said the Nets would consider pairing Russell with Irving, and Kevin Boyle — who coached both in high school — insists they’re friends and would thrive together. Russell liked and commented on an Instagram post showing his jersey next to an Irving Nets jersey.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of system fits,” said Rosas when asked what types of players the franchise needs to add. “I think there’s a lot of diversity in terms of the wing position. There are some questions that we have to answer at the point guard position. At the bigs position, there’s a good strength, there’s good depth there. But a lot of it is going to be what the market bears in terms of trades, what the market bears in terms of free agency.” Russell plays a position that the 2019-20 Timberwolves need to address. Because of that, it makes sense to pursue the possibility of his acquisition, even if the odds are stacked against Rosas in terms of feasibility. The improbable is worth pursuing. That is the job of a diligent front office.

Sources told The Post that even if the Nets don’t get Durant, they would still sign Irving and willingly pair him with Russell. But how willing is Russell? “If we’re being completely honest, I enjoyed the team that we had this whole season,” Russell told The Post. “If the situation was to come up to have pieces of his caliber around, it’ll make us a better team obviously. But I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy our team, and the pieces we had around.”

Russell, 23, will become a restricted free agent this upcoming summer. However, reports indicate the Nets would like to strike a deal before he hits the market. Russell became an All-Star and is currently a candidate for the Most Improved Player award after averaging a career-high 21 points and seven assists per game. The Nets think very highly of Russell. Between his development on and off the court and his desire to be great, the Nets would like him to be a part of their future going forward. “Without D’Angelo, the Nets don’t make the jump they made,” one league source said.

So much so that Russell, who is entering free agency for the first time, acknowledges that he’s looking forward to at least tasting the open market at age 23, with a well-delivered “hell yeah,” when asked about his excitement. And Brooklyn will be in the lead come first of July. “I don’t know any other teams,” offered Russell, the former Los Angeles Laker. “I don’t know any other GMs or coaches. I don’t know any of those people. I know where I’m at. So it definitely gives you that advantage.”

And here’s what Sean Marks had to say about talking to the franchise’s only All-Star in the last five years as July 1 approaches. “I think the conversations that have taken place are over the entire time that he’s been here. And those conversations are between he and Kenny (Atkinson), they’re between myself and D’Angelo, they’re between the doctors and the performance team, the staff. And it’s really about a holistic view about how we care for our guys,” Marks told a dozen or so reporters. “And I would think I could put D’Angelo and the rest of our guys, lump them all together; l think they know how we appreciate them, how we care for them, how we want to develop them. And that’s part of the restricted free agent pitch, if you will, for him.

“It looks like he’s arrived and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere,” Boyle said of Russell. “He’s going to be an All-Star for a long time. The confidence that he has in himself and the way that he’s playing, and you can feel the team also feels that way about him the way they’re interacting it seems like they have great trust in his ability and they all bought in that he’s a really good distributor, excellent player, and I think he and the team like each other.”

Later this summer, the tables will turn for Brooklyn’s front office as Russell enters restricted free agency once the Nets extend a one-year, $9.16 million qualifying offer to him, as expected. He will count as a $21 million cap hold until he either signs the qualifying offer, signs an offer sheet with another team or negotiates a new long-term deal with the Nets. “I think D’Angelo is worth around $20 million (annually),” one long-time Eastern Conference executive said. “Is this payback time for the Nets? Will teams offer him the way they (Nets) did for Crabbe, Porter, and Johnson? I think he turned the corner. I think he has a chip on his shoulder.” “He’s going to be in high demand and will get close to max with his overall improvement,” a Western Conference executive said.

With each game this season, Russell’s free agent stock has improved. Russell, who turns 23 on Feb. 23, is eligible for restricted free agency this summer if the Nets extend a $9.16 million qualifying offer to him, as expected. He will count as a $21 million cap hold until he either signs the one-year, $9.16 million qualifying offer, signs an offer sheet with another team or negotiates a new long-term deal with the Nets. “I understand that it’s a business and I would love to be here, but I’m not going to say anything more than that because I don’t know what the situation may be,” Russell said.

The second is a function of the market as it stands. According to league sources, while there are certainly teams interested in Smith, there is some reluctance to make a commitment to him because there could be other more traditional young point guards on the market this summer. There will be the likes of Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker in free agency, of course. But for rebuilding teams in need of a point guard — Orlando and Phoenix have been mentioned as possible Smith suitors — the preference is to take aim at young restricted free agents like Terry Rozier or D’Angelo Russell this summer rather than gamble on whether Smith can develop into a point guard. “He is very athletic, but he’s not a playmaker and not a great shooter,” one front office executive told SN. “If you have money under the cap this offseason (the Suns and Magic will), there are other guys you can pursue who fit better, who can pass and score.”
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April 9, 2020 | 9:12 pm EDT Update
Will the NBA’s indefinite suspension limit what the Warriors do with the checkbook in the offseason? “We’re looking at all of those questions and the possible answers. But I don’t really have a good sense yet because I really have no idea how this is gonna shake out,” Lacob told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on Thursday morning. “We don’t know what the salary cap is gonna be, we don’t know what the luxury tax is gonna be. We don’t really know what we can plan on at this point. We just have to look at a lot of different scenarios. That’s what we’re doing right now. It could make a huge difference, it might make no difference.”
Storyline: Season Suspension
As Illinois goes through this together, the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, is proud to be playing a critical role with our city, state and federal response to the pandemic. As announced on March 25, our arena and outside campus will be transformed into a logistics hub where we will be assisting with food storage for hunger relief, first responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.

Moving forward, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, will be utilizing the United Center as a satellite storage facility in response to the increased need for food. By alleviating space in the food bank’s warehouse, the Food Depository can bring additional volunteers into their facility to build more family food boxes in an environment that adheres to social distancing protocols. These boxes will continue to be distributed to those in need by the Food Depository’s partner network throughout Chicago and Cook County.
Storyline: Coronavirus

April 9, 2020 | 7:56 pm EDT Update

Pau Gasol contemplating retirement

With the league’s current campaign suspended indefinitely due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus, Gasol, who will turn 40 years old in July, is contemplating retirement at this point of his career. “With this recovery process and the injury that I have been dealing with for more than a year, it’s undoubtedly inevitable to think about retirement,” Gasol said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, via NBC Sports. “Also, taking into account that I will be 40 years old in a few months. So, [retirement] is definitely on my mind.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 14 more rumors
“It’s something that will come one time, sooner or later,” Gasol said of retirement. “We hope that time hasn’t come yet. But I also take the opportunity to focus on the Gasol Foundation and other off-court projects. And also think of what my next professional stage may be, my next challenges. All this while I’m still recovering, trying to give myself a chance to keep playing. Now, the priority is to overcome this pandemic among all. Everything else is completely secondary.”
In 2011, Jacob Hamilton was a 26-year-old cinematographer looking to expand his portfolio by directing a documentary. He came across a two-minute interview online titled, “The Man Who Invented the Jump Shot.” Four years later, Hamilton was screening his short film in Kevin Durant’s backyard, shocked to see one of the NBA’s best-ever jump shooters geek out over footage he’d gathered of Kenny Sailors from the 1940s. The film was still only halfway to the finish line. “Jump Shot” premiered at South by Southwest in 2019, but still hasn’t been released to the public. That will change next week, when the feature-length documentary will be available online April 16-18. Pre-order is underway at jumpshotmovie.com.
“Jump Shot” got two of its most important assists from NBA superstars Steph Curry and Durant. Hamilton had simply hoped for an interview when, through a connection between an executive producer and a chaplain for USA Basketball, the former Golden State Warriors teammates were introduced to Sailors’ legacy. The crew flew to Oakland and were invited to Durant’s home. Partway through the screening, KD asked for the film to be paused. Hamilton feared the worst, a bored millennial. In reality, the former Longhorns star was mesmerized. “These are moves that I’m doing today,” Hamilton recalls Durant telling them. “I was literally working on this in practice this week, and Kenny was doing this 60-70 years ago? This is unbelievable.”
Curry took his adoration a step further when he told Hamilton he was not only up for an interview, but wanted to get more involved. That’s how basketball’s greatest jump shooter became an executive producer. Both players are interviewed in the film, along with a lineup of basketball legends — from Dirk Nowitzki to Bob Knight, Nancy Lieberman and Clark Kellogg. Their astonishment at Sailors’ pioneering shot, particularly a photograph that appeared in Life magazine in 1946, will resonate with basketball fans.
April 9, 2020 | 6:35 pm EDT Update
When this all ends, whenever that is, what’s the one thing you’re most looking forward to doing on that first day? Dion Waiters: Just trying to hoop. Just vibe out and hoop. I’ve had damn near the whole season off. I’m trying to get back and hoop. I got something to prove at the end of the day. During this quarantine I’ve been dieting, getting my weight down, getting in shape. For me, it’s just playing basketball.
“I am in such debt to the people who worked so incredibly hard on the technical side to make what I believe is still magic — there might be some elves involved, it is Disney after all,” ‘The Jump” host Rachel Nichols told Insider. “I can’t believe that they were able to figure out a way to produce an entire television show with everybody at home, not a single person in our television facility.”
April 9, 2020 | 6:29 pm EDT Update
If nothing else at a time when the Clippers have more questions than answers amid the NBA’s hiatus because of COVID-19, the team is confident in at least one thing to be true. Should the season resume, the same roster that had been dogged by injuries since last summer is on track to be the healthiest it has been. “The Kawhi [Leonard] we’ll see will be in phenomenal shape,” coach Doc Rivers said, adding that Paul George “is another guy that’s goig to be in phenomenal shape. Reggie [Jackson], who was injured when we got him, will now be healthy.”
Since there is a pause on all roster transactions across the league, the 10-day contract Noah signed remains in effect one month later. That has left the former defensive player of the year able to work into shape under the supervision of the team’s medical and performance staffs. “It’s been great for him,” Rivers said. “There are certain individuals who this rest period, or whatever this is called, has been a benefit, and Jo is one of them for sure because he’s got a chance now to get healthy, and to get in shape and that will be a factor for him. He will be a guy that will be able to help us.”
A whopping 72% of Americans polled said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus. The poll, which had a fairly small sample size of 762 respondents, was released Thursday by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business. When polling respondents who identified as sports fans, 61% said they would not go to a game without a vaccine. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.6%.
Storyline: Coronavirus
NBA star DeMarcus Cousins first hired Noordin Said to be his personal security guard in 2015 during All-Star weekend in New York. From there, the two hit it off, and Said worked the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2017 All-Star weekend in New Orleans at Cousins’ side. Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green hired Said to be his personal security guard during the 2018 playoffs, and Said worked this season with Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo at most home games.
Storyline: Coronavirus
April 9, 2020 | 5:21 pm EDT Update
As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the world, NBA owners are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. The league plans to keep all options to resume the season available for the time being, sources told ESPN, but the financial realities of the situation demand near immediate action. That has become clear in talks between the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and player agents, sources told ESPN, as the league tries to get its finances in order in the event the rest of the season must be canceled.
Storyline: Salary Reductions
The league’s CBA includes a force majeure clause, enabling owners to cancel games and recover salary in the event of a pandemic. This clause also gives the league a 60-day window within which it can rip up the CBA entirely — effectively beginning a work stoppage. No one wants to do that. But it underscores the gravity of the situation. Still, in recent years the two sides have worked as well together as ever, and the CBA isn’t set to expire until 2024.
The agreement between owners and players in the last CBA calls for roughly splitting revenue 50/50 and also splitting the coming losses. So, the owners want to hold back a percentage of players’ checks going forward — both giving them extra money they can use now, if needed, and also to help balance the books in the event some, or all, of the remainder of the season is canceled. From an economic standpoint, both sides would prefer to limit the pain of the shutdown to only this season and not start next season with IOUs on the ledger. Setting the money aside now would help do that.
Karnisovas will have full decision making over basketball operations, including the futures of Forman, head coach Jim Boylen, and the entire coaching staff. He was even asked about Paxson, and had the option of having the organization move on from the long-time Bulls executive if that’s what he desired. However, a source indicated that Karnisovas had no issues with the Reinsdorfs keeping Paxson around.
There were multiple reports that the search angered a handful of African American executives around the league, who felt like people of color weren’t involved in the searching process by the Bulls. A source close to the situation, however, indicated that not only did Michael Reinsdorf reach out to multiple minority candidates to try and get interviews – but was denied permission to do so by their current organizations, and in some cases simply turned down.
April 9, 2020 | 5:10 pm EDT Update
One of the most indelible images from the night the NBA shut down was a young girl crying at a Sacramento Kings game. Her tear-stained face and broken heart reflected how many people felt about the temporary end of life as we knew it and the indefinite stoppage of sports. That girl’s name is Sophie, and Kings player Harry Giles wanted to make her feel better. So he recently sent her and her brother a sweet video message. He apologized for the way their last game ended, and to make up for it, he invited them to a Kings game when sports are back underway. Not surprisingly, Sophie was extremely excited.

Shelby Delaney of the Summit Medical Center in Oakland was one of the first nurses to volunteer to help coronavirus patients at the hospital. Curry made sure the 27-year-old knew how important that was. “I can’t thank God enough for what you’re doing and just the sacrifice, the selflessness and the way everybody’s coming together,” Curry told her on the call. “Thank you so much for just what you do, your heart and the inspiration you provide for everybody.”
April 9, 2020 | 5:02 pm EDT Update
“I have an organization who basically gave me the keys,” Beal said. “‘We’re going to build around you. We’re going to get guys around like’ – if I go anywhere else, granted, it may be a good team, but I would be a piece. Who knows if my role would be the same? My role here is, I love what it is. I love [Scott] Brooks. I love what we have. I love our young guys. I think the fact that we actually have guys that are committed to getting better.”
Lowe opened the podcast by giving Beal the opportunity to address the omission: “I was angry, but I wouldn’t say I played angry because of that,” Beal said. “At the end of the day, I wanted to make the playoffs. The All-Star game was what it was. I’m not mad at you for your votes. For me, I will never take that moment away from the other 24 guys. Because that was me two years ago and a year ago. I can’t sit here and take that moment away from Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell and guys who got their first one.
April 9, 2020 | 4:50 pm EDT Update
Eric Gordon said he would not object to having a season restarted in a sequestered location, one of the ideas the NBA is considering. But he also indicated it is too soon to know if even that will be possible. “That sounds like almost our only option,” Gordon said. “That’s the only thing that can make sense. Just coop us up in a hotel for months and see if we can have that chance to have the season. It’s still a dicey situation, so we’re just hoping this virus calms down and goes away quickly. As of right now, it doesn’t seem like it is.”
Storyline: Season Suspension