Storyline: D'Angelo Russell Trade?

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Sam Amick: Now, there’s still time for Minnesota to use some of these new pieces to pull off a D’Angelo Russell trade with Golden State, right? Technically, yes. But at last we checked, the Warriors are moving on for two reasons. Russell has been a good fit within their walls, meaning there’s no urgency to move him now. Secondly, the established price tag just simply hasn’t been met. The third part – and this is me talking here – is that there simply has to be serious reservations about the idea of Andrew Wiggins playing a pivotal part of their future (he was expected to be in the possible deal). A source confirmed reports of New York’s pursuit of Russell, but indicated that the proposals – as of Wednesday afternoon – weren’t even remotely appealing to the Warriors.

The Wolves initially were hoping that the extra draft picks they were hunting for Covington would be attractive enough to flip for Russell, the Warriors’ star guard who also happens to be tight with Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. But those talks have stalled, with the Wolves so far unwilling to meet the Warriors’ demand to include their own unprotected 2020 first-round pick in the deal, sources said. The Warriors were preparing to move on from the talks as of Tuesday night, sources said. But negotiations are always fluid in the week leading up to the trade deadline, and things can change both big and small, with just one phone call from either side.

There’s a hold-up: Minnesota isn’t offering enough draft compensation. As it stands, the Warriors have been offered Minnesota’s 2020 first-round pick and Brooklyn’s 2020 first-round pick, which would be sent via Atlanta as part of what is effectively a four-team trade with the Hawks and Rockets. But the Warriors want future firsts instead of picks in 2020—most importantly, they want an unprotected first-round pick in 2021, which will have a much stronger draft class than the one coming this June.

As far as potential landing spots for Russell, there were a few teams that consistently popped up in responses from league execs. One Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype: “With D-Lo, I could see a lot of teams at least discussing him. I could see the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Pistons all trying to see if there would be a deal – and probably some other teams too.” Another responded to us: “Minnesota is possible and, I agree, they make sense. If not Minnesota, New York could be a possible landing spot.”

Kevin Knox available

Shams Charania on the Knicks’ pursuit of D’Angelo Russell: “As I reported this morning, the Knicks are another team that has engaged the Warriors in the last few days on D’Angelo Russell, trying to put together a package of expiring players, young players and picks. But none of their [offered] picks include their own first-rounders, which are going to be lucrative draft picks. One player that I am told they have included in talks is Kevin Knox, which is interesting – his inclusion in these potential deals. For a team like the Knicks that were in position to go after D’Angelo Russell in the summer.

Shams Charania: “I had heard there was interest from him in playing in New York after playing for the Nets and they didn’t do that. So now, they’re trying to put together a package of, potentially, Kevin Knox and Bobby Portis and different players like that and maybe throw in a draft pick. I don’t think that has shown any appeal to the Warriors and I haven’t gotten the sense that the Knicks would add Mitchell Robinson either, and that’s a player who I think would appeal to any team in the league. With both scenarios, with Minnesota and New York, there are hurdles but these teams have until Thursday to figure out who will bend between now and then.”

Shams Charania on the Warriors-Timberwolves talks for D’Angelo Russell : “The Timberwolves have engaged the Warriors since last month, when me and Jon Krawczynski reported that they had intensified their pursuit of D’Angelo Russell. They obviously went after him last summer as well, trying to sign him to a deal after wooing him in free agency. But they are pursuing him again and trying to make something happen. The reason issue with the Minnesota-Golden State talks stems from Golden State’s asking price being Minnesota’s picks – their first-round picks either this year, next year or the year after that, I’m told. That’s not something that the Timberwolves want to do, as far as them being unprotected.”

At the center of the storm is Russell, who does a terrific job of seeming pretty unbothered by it all. When he took the max from the Warriors this summer — knowing they already employed Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, two max guards and franchise pillars — he signed up for the label of trade chip. “It bothered me when we were further away from (the deadline),” Russell said. “But when we’re closer to it really happening, I’m numb to it. I’m just expecting a phone call. Let me know.” Will the days and hours before be anxious ones? “I’m ready for war,” Russell said. “Let’s get it. I’m ready for it. I don’t have no feelings toward it. I’m just ready for whatever happens.”

Trade conversations between the Warriors and Timberwolves have reached an impasse, according to league sources. Minnesota has long been interested in acquiring point guard D’Angelo Russell, and it recently offered Golden State a package for Russell that included shooting guard Andrew Wiggins. But to seriously consider dealing Russell to the Timberwolves, Golden State would need a compelling haul of draft picks, per league sources.

Minnesota has been unwilling to include its 2020 first-round pick, which, given that the Timberwolves own the NBA’s fifth-worst record at 15-33, will likely land in the top-10. To contemplate shipping Russell to Minnesota, the Warriors would need that pick included. And if the Timberwolves did add it to their package, Golden State still wouldn’t necessarily be sold on trading Russell before the deadline. Though Wiggins has eased concerns this season about his ability to play in a team concept, the Warriors aren’t convinced that he could be a key cog on a title contender. Golden State also isn’t high on the pool of prospects expected to be available early in June’s draft, and it worries that top-10 picks this year won’t have the trade value they normally bring.

D'Angelo Russell trade unlikely for now

Although the Warriors politely avoid discussing or leaking details of prospective trades – consistently adhering to team policy – there is no question D-Lo will be traded. But, according to multiple NBA sources, probably not before next Thursday. “It’s possible, but I think they’re smart enough to wait until summer to get serious,” one league source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Friday. “Doubt it,” said another. “The only way it happens is if the Warriors get nervous and accelerate their plan. The old Warriors might have done that. I don’t see these guys doing that?”

Part of the motivation for Minnesota’s Russell chase, quite clearly, is his relationship with Towns. They are close friends. Towns was part of the contingent that pitched Russell hard this summer. The Wolves know that acquiring Russell not only gets Towns his preferred pick-and-roll partner but also buys them time and faith. The Warriors are aware of this dynamic. It automatically bumps up Russell’s market value in conversations with the Wolves. Minnesota has dangled Andrew Wiggins, who is on a similar contract as Russell and fills a greater positional need. But from a Warriors’ perspective, that’s still a questionable talent-for-talent swap. Most around the league view Russell as better than Wiggins. It’s a move only a panicked front office would make.

The Warriors are aware of this dynamic. It automatically bumps up Russell’s market value in conversations with the Wolves. Minnesota has dangled Andrew Wiggins, who is on a similar contract as Russell and fills a greater positional need. But from a Warriors’ perspective, that’s still a questionable talent-for-talent swap. Most around the league view Russell as better than Wiggins. It’s a move only a panicked front office would make. But the Warriors aren’t in a panic about Russell. Unless the Wolves unload the vault — something like Robert Covington and Josh Okogie plus a basket of appealing, unprotected picks — it’s wiser for the Warriors to wait until past this deadline on Russell and perhaps well beyond.

The deal moves the Wolves $2M further away from the tax line, but they were $7.9M below that line already – it’s hard to construct a trade where that ends up mattering. Which is where we get to the more specific opportunity cost involving Russell. If anything, Minnesota reduced its flexibility in this regard. Teague’s $19M contract could be aggregated with others as a salary match, which potentially matters quite a bit if there happens to be a certain player who makes $27.5M that you want to acquire. However, Crabbe’s $18.5M cannot be aggregated. A deal of Teague and Covington for Russell and Kevon Looney, for instance, seemed highly plausible (with draft picks thrown in). That is no longer on the table; now the only other contract they could pair with Covington’s in such a trade is the much less desirable one of Gorgui Dieng.

Wolves to intensify D'Angelo Russell pursuit

New team president Gersson Rosas and the rest of his front office have been actively pursuing deals on a number of fronts to try to remake the roster to better fit their vision for the team moving forward, league sources told The Athletic. That includes intensifying their pursuit of Golden State Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell. Discussions have yielded no traction to this point, league sources said. So far, Golden State has been inclined to keep Russell.

The good news for Russell, who has battled injuries of his own this season while averaging 23.2 points, six assists and 3.4 rebounds in 22 games for the floundering Warriors? A source with knowledge of the Warriors’ thinking deems it “unlikely” that he will be moved. And for those Magic fans who have been hoping for a Gordon-for-Russell swap, another source with knowledge of the Warriors’ dealings offered a hard “no” when asked specifically about that scenario.

Ben Simmons for D'Angelo Russell?

One of the interesting possibilities I’ve heard being kicked around is Russell for Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons. The 76ers could use a point guard who can score and run the show — and shoot. Some believe the pairing of Simmons and big man Joel Embiid isn’t viable in their pursuit of a championship. Simmons, as one source told me, is probably the best player the Warriors could possibly get for Russell, just considering the needs of the Warriors and their potential trade partners.

D'Angel Russell wants to stay in San Francisco

In less than three months with the Warriors, Russell has found an environment that encourages his strengths. He is continuing to put up prolific stats, but has also become a mentor to several young players while trying to expand his game to complement Golden State’s championship core. “I would love for this to be home,” Russell said from his chair in the Warriors’ San Francisco practice facility. “I have a four-year contract. I would love to be here even three years. That would set my record.”

Russell isn’t comfortable talking about the Feb. 6 trade deadline. “Money doesn’t buy peace of mind, it doesn’t buy a sense of belonging, a sense of ‘This is my team,’” Kerr said. “If there’s speculation that you’re going to be traded all the time, I don’t care how much money you make, I don’t care who you are, that’s tough.” That hasn’t stopped Russell from bonding with his teammates, including Marquese Chriss, a 22-year-old former lottery pick who has played for three teams in four years. He goes to Russell’s home almost every day to watch basketball and play “Call of Duty.”

Nobody expects the Warriors to trade Russell right when the clock strikes Sunday. But a crossroad awaits before August. When the Warriors eventually reform this team, with eyes on a 2020-21 title run, opposing executives wonder whether they’ll keep three guards who earn more than a combined $100 million per season or swap one to better balance the roster. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are the franchise staples, locked into multiyear pacts, cozy in their Bay Area mansions. They aren’t going anywhere. So the vulnerable one is Russell, the highly-paid newcomer with a tenuous future, unable to control where exactly he will spend the final three seasons of his recently signed four-year deal.

But Russell took the Warriors’ immediate $117 million max offer and a chance, however brief, to learn under NBA greatness, calculating that the extra cash and gained knowledge would be worth stepping into a storm of immediate trade chatter and a fourth possible NBA relocation. “I just don’t care (about the buzz),” Russell said. “Simple as that. I just don’t care. “When you say max contract to come in and learn from these guys as much as you can as quick as you can — because you don’t know when you’ll be gone, shipped out — that’s what I’m doing. I can’t control that. I can’t control if Bob Myers is like, yo, let’s go get such and such for this and make this pick. That’s his job. I can’t control it or say anything about it, especially if I’m a part of it. So I don’t waste energy worrying about it.”

Yet as December 15 looms, the Warriors have been decidedly quiet on the Russell trade market, according to sources around the league. “If it is something that they’re going to do quickly, like before the end of this month, I wouldn’t say they’re pushing for it,” one general manager said. “Maybe they have a deal in mind, maybe they’re sitting on something and laying low. But I’d be surprised. That’s not how they’d approach it, I’d think. You want to create a market if you are going to trade a player like him, you want to pit teams against each other, drive up the price. You don’t want to lock into one deal. But the market thing, that’s not really happening yet. They’re not pushing the market for him.”

There is the option to trade Russell starting Dec. 15, something the Warriors have rejected as a possibility. There’s a long time between now and then, and such a move would really open up a lot of questions. So let’s wait on that topic and see how things develop. Short of that, though, the Warriors’ roster is what it is, and they have to hope to get healthy and stay healthy. The Warriors have three centers — Willie Cauley-Stein, Kevon Looney and Alen Smailagic — out with significant injuries and are scrambling to fill minutes in the frontcourt.

D'Angelo Russell a keeper?

Breaking news: There’s a strong possibility that the Warriors actually want their newest big acquisition for seasons beyond this one. Their front-office leaders, Joe Lacob and Bob Myers both, are as smitten with him as any team that just selected a top-5 player in the draft. Myers has heard the assessments of his trade and they appear to grate on him. As a general rule, the usually placid general manager dislikes the focus on the future at the expense of the present. On July 15, Myers told attending media of Russell, “We didn’t sign him with the intention of trading him,” before launching into an exasperated aside on how he understands that the modern media must jump along to an assume otherwise, that we are always engaged in a game of “what’s next?”

Since July, I kept hearing it consistently from Warriors officials: They didn’t get Russell just to trade him. I initially shrugged off this messaging as the Warriors pushing a narrative. They want Russell fully invested, I figured. If the Warriors aren’t perceived as bought into the new guy then he might be less inclined to buy into them. Plus, this could be a good initial position in negotiations. “Hey, I realize you want to trade for this guy, but our heart is set on him. You’d have to bowl us over.”

So they maxed him out, with both sides aware that, should it not work, the Warriors can always ship him elsewhere for value and Russell will still get his money. Russell acknowledged this possibility last week. Myers, on Monday, tried to downplay it. “We didn’t sign him with the intention of just trading him,” Myers said. “We haven’t even seen him play in our uniform yet and a lot of people have us already trading him. That’s not how we’re viewing it. Let’s just see what we have, let’s see what he is, let’s see how he fits.”
9 months ago via ESPN

Speaking for the first time since acquiring Russell in a sign-and-trade that sent Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets, Myers said the organization hasn’t decided whether Russell fits into the team’s long-term plans, despite speculation throughout the league that Russell could land somewhere else in the next year. “I know it’s been written and speculated. That’s fine,” Myers said Monday. “That’s what everybody’s job is to do. We didn’t sign him with the intention of just trading him. We haven’t even seen him play in our uniform yet, and a lot of people have us already trading him. That’s not how we’re viewing it. Let’s just see what we have. Let’s see what he is. Let’s see how he fits.

While training in Los Angeles this summer, Russell plans to practice various situations he’ll see with Golden State. This is the type of preparation from someone who believes the Warriors could be his long-term home. And if it’s not? Russell won’t be shocked. If a chaotic NBA free-agency period has taught him anything, it’s that circumstances can change fast. “You put yourself in a position to go somewhere for a long period of time,” Russell said. “That might not be the way it is, and that’s the business. “Whatever situation I’m in, I understand the business side of it.”

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.
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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
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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.”
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April 9, 2020 | 5:21 pm EDT Update
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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.
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