Storyline: Evan Fournier Free Agency

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But DeRozan is more likely to opt in with the Spurs. Among the likely free agents, there aren’t any five-alarm guys, but I do think Evan Fournier has a bit of a warning flag attached. He’s coming off a career year at 27 that featured shooting percentages far above his career norms, so he’s likely to regress. That would have a rebuilding Knicks team buying into a declining commodity. I have him projected at a $12.5 million value next season and likely to go further downward from there, and he’s going to get way more than that if he chooses free agency. (Fournier has a player option for $17.1 million.) He’s not a bad player, but he’s the wrong one for a team like the Knicks.

Evan Fournier ($17.2 million) could also see a nice raise or at least an incremental one. There should be suitors for him despite the dry market. His playmaking and scoring ability gives him a rotation spot on just about every team with or without cap space. He should be considered an extension candidate ahead of free agency as he currently can extend with the Magic for up to a maximum of $92.2 million between 2020-21 and 2023-24. If he opts out and is not offered long-term security, he could probably still earn more than $17.2 million on a one-year deal. Whether he opts out or not, he’s in an excellent position heading into the offseason because of his options.

The Orlando Magic believed in the talents of Evan Fournier so much so in 2014 that they willingly traded their then-leading scorer, Arron Afflalo, for the promising guard. Then, after watching Fournier blossom into one of their core pieces over the past two seasons, the Magic headed into this offseason determined to do whatever it took to retain the restricted free agent. GM Rob Hennigan, who found Fournier two seasons ago and promised earlier this offseason to re-sign Fournier, proved true to his word by keeping Fournier in Orlando.

Q: With Evan Fournier, the team faces a similar scenario to what the team faced with Tobias Harris last year. How will the team approach what appears to be restricted free agency on the horizon for Fournier? Rob Hennigan: We really value Evan. We’ve said that all along, and I’ll say about Evan what we said about Tobias, which is it’s our intention that he’ll be here for many years to come. We really, really like him and think he’s a great piece to continue to grow with our team.

For the first time in his NBA career, Magic SG Evan Fournier is in the last year of his rookie contract and can become a restricted free agent. He admits he can’t help but think about it occasionally. “Of course. It is in the back of your mind,” Fournier said. “You are trying to play your best basketball. When I started playing basketball, it’s about winning championships and being a great player. That’s what really motivates me, being great. I don’t want to be a mediocre player or average. I know if I have a very good season, the money is gonna follow.”

Fournier, who is in his fourth NBA season, was eligible to sign a contract extension with the Magic as long as it was finalized by Monday’s midnight deadline. No agreement was reached, meaning that the versatile wing player will become a restricted free agent on July 1. Orlando will have the right to match any contract offer that Fournier agrees to if it so chooses. “The focus is on winning,’’ Fournier said. “(Not getting the contract extension) is really no difference to me. I’m about playing basketball and winning and not contracts. It’s going to take care of itself this summer.’’
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July 14, 2020 | 9:34 am EDT Update
Chris Grenham: The entire Celtics roster surprised Kara Lawson last night by wearing Duke t-shirts, which made her cry. “These men have changed my life. I have loved my time with the Boston Celtics. Our players are authentic, intelligent, creative and passionate men.” pic.twitter.com/ZqNXHiKEVE

July 14, 2020 | 8:40 am EDT Update
Zach Lowe: I was talking to someone around the league the other day, and we were just sort of spitballing about players. There’s a lot of people within the league that think Donovan Mitchell is still a bit overrated. And this guy was one of them. We were talking about who would you rather have Devin Booker or Donovan Mitchell. And I think the only skill in which Donovan Mitchell is ahead of Devin Booker is defense and I don’t think he’s ahead by as much as you think he’s ahead of Devin Booker.
July 14, 2020 | 3:03 am EDT Update
Even with his upcoming supermax decision full of uncertainty, with the new realities of the league in effect following the pandemic, Milwaukee’s front office isn’t worried about opposing players trying to potentially recruit him. “Zero. We can only control what we can control. If it’s considered tampering or recruiting or whatever it is, in our league people talk, people are connected, people have relationships,” said Bucks GM Jon Horst. “At the end of the day, I have full confidence in my personal relationship, our league’s relationship, our coach’s relationship, his teammate’s relationship with Giannis in what we’re doing and what we’re about.
Storyline: Giannis Antetokounmpo Free Agency
Exactly one month before announcing he’s tested positive for COVID-19, Russell Westbrook was hanging poolside at Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas. Westbrook was with a group of friends, including former NFL running back Reggie Bush, fashion jeweler Greg Yuna, bodybuilders and trainers Mike Rashid and Valeriu Guto and Wynn club host Jai Shaun White at the outdoor dayclub on June 13. The group posed for a photo at one of the party space’s VIP bungalows.
Responding to a question asking if Westbrook had contracted the virus at the hotel, Wynn Las Vegas referred to company policy that it does not disclose personal information about guests. Generally, the statement read: “Any guest diagnosed with COVID-19 while visiting the resort is reported to the Southern Nevada Health District, which conducts community contact tracing. Our internal contact tracing determines who in the resort the guest has had contact with and what areas they visited; relevant contacts are informed for testing and the areas visited are thoroughly sanitized.
Denver Nuggets guard Troy Daniels posted two images of his meal to his Instagram story when he first arrived inside the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World last Tuesday. The post immediately went viral as social media jokes were made comparing the entrees to the meals “Fyre Fest” distributed. “It’s actually not that bad man, to be honest with you,” Daniels tells ClutchPoints from inside the bubble. “I think my picture that went viral really took everything out of context.” He then went on to explain how he really feels about the bubble. “You can tell the NBA put a lot of thought and a lot of money into it,” Daniels said. “Once you get out of the quarantine process, it’s really dope.”

Ben Simmons to play power forward?

Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown said Monday he has been playing All-Star Ben Simmons “exclusively” at power forward in practices inside the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World Resort and has been thrilled by what he’s seen. “He’s so dynamic,” Brown said on a conference call with reporters. “Let’s just talk about running. There’s nobody faster in the NBA. So to always have the ball and dribble it up against five guys … to do that dilutes some of his potent weapons. “So, watching him fly up the floor, watching him and Joel [Embiid] play off each other, has been a really good look. I think they’ve been fantastic together.”
Gratitude to be working during a time when he said “there’s not a lot of hope.” Gratitude for the opportunity to again inspire, playing the game he loves. Gratitude for his basketball career breathing another life. Gratitude for the opportunity to compete for a championship with the team that, just under three weeks away from the restart, owns the third-best record (44-20) and title odds in the league. “I feel really blessed to be in this situation. In September, I had a freak accident and cut my achilles,” Noah said, referencing an incident in which he sliced his achilles — crucially, not rupturing it — while carrying a steel ice tub, which required six-plus months of rehab. “And you know I told myself that’s just not how I wanted to end my career. So the day after the surgery I was in the gym working out, with the hope of making this team.”
“He looks great,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “I don’t know if this stoppage has helped any single player more than him, because he was not healthy when we signed him, and now he is. And so, you know, I think he’s gonna help us on the floor, but even if he doesn’t, he’s just gonna help us with his presence, and his voice. I think he’ll be invaluable for Zu(bac).”
For Conley, this latest round of training camp represents a polar opposite from his initial foray in a Utah Jazz uniform. He’s comfortable now. He knows what to expect from his coach, from his teammates, from the front office. It’s no secret that the season hasn’t been easy for him, especially when it came to adapting to a new system for the first time since matriculating from high school to Ohio State. But what seems to have been a painfully long integration now appears to be a thing of the past. “It feels like I’ve played a full season already,” Conley said. “I’ve had a chance to build chemistry with my coaches and with my teammates. I haven’t had any questions about plays or my role. I have a clear picture on what to expect.”
For the second straight media availability, head coach Doc Rivers was non-committal when asked about Leonard’s health status and the team’s plan with his injury management. “I don’t know that yet,” Rivers said of Leonard’s limitations with minutes and back-to-backs. “But no limits. Kawhi is healthy, for the most part. That still doesn’t mean that we don’t want to maintain him and get him through the first eight games and get ready for the playoffs. We want to be smart about this. Not just for Kawhi. It’s with everybody. “But having everybody healthy was more about training camp. I mean, we really did not have a great training camp because we didn’t have enough bodies and enough of our key guys practicing. We have a virtually new team so we needed our new guys to be on the floor, and we didn’t have that ability to do that. This time, for the most part, we’ll have everybody in.”
Storyline: Kawhi Leonard Injury

Knicks coaching job: Tom Thibodeau still the frontrunner

Tom Thibodeau remains the front-runner for the position, league sources have told The Athletic. The Knicks have 11 candidates in all, embarking on an exhaustive and wide-ranging search that might just land on the same man who has been thought to be their first choice all along. Rose told MSG Network last month that he expects a mid- to late-July conclusion to the search.
The Bulls hired Eversley three weeks after vehement blowback from Black executives over not having any candidates for the open executive vice-president of basketball operations job. Former Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas got the top job, while Eversley was hired as the No. 2 man. Behind the scenes, there’s still skepticism about the Bulls. “I could just see people saying they hired him because they needed a Black face,” said one high-ranking African American team executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Storyline: Bulls Front Office
The NBA has given players the approval to express their frustrations with the inequalities Black people are enduring by allowing them to choose from 28 different social injustice statement options to wear on the back of their jerseys. Troy Daniels said he selected Black Lives Matter as his first choice and Say Her Name as his second. “It’s unprecedented times,” Daniels said. “It’s one of the biggest movements ever. So, I want to shed light on that. It’s very important to me.”
As NBA players arrive at games during resumed play in Orlando, they will have the freedom to wear clothing from their own wardrobes while walking from the team bus to the venue’s locker rooms, according to a league spokesperson. Initially, ESPN was misinformed by a league spokesperson that a “concrete” dress code protocol had been finalized last week, requiring players to fully dress for games in their hotel rooms and “be in uniform and warmups when they arrive” to the game venue.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., suggested Monday he would support a subpoena of NBA commissioner Adam Silver to investigate the league’s relationship with China. Hawley expressed concern that the NBA is allowing players to wear preapproved social justice cause messages on their jerseys for causes such as Black Lives Matter but does not allow for messages relating to China or supporting law enforcement. He called a Senate Judiciary committee subpoena of Silver “a great idea.”
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, in a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Friday, wrote that the league’s policy on social injustice messages “appears to stop at the edge of your corporate sponsors’ sensibilities,” especially when it comes to matters involving China and support of the United States military and law enforcement personnel. In the letter, Hawley said Silver has been “deepening the NBA’s ties to the CCP [Chinese Communist Party]” since Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong in October.
7 hours ago via ESPN
Andrews is one of only 10 or so “Group 1” reporters who will be admitted to the NBA bubble, which started welcoming 22 teams last week to restart the suspended season by July 31. Andrews admits she thought twice about the assignment. Reporters must agree to stay inside the bubble for three months. They must undergo daily COVID-19 testing. They can only move between their hotel and the practice and competition venues. But Andrews seized on the chance to tell the story of the NBA comeback to millions of global basketball fans. “I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. I have bouts with anxiety,” said Andrews. “But first and foremost, I cover sports. I love journalism first. And sports journalism is what I do. This is an incredible journalistic opportunity. There are only 10 reporters and a handful of other folks who are going to be able to experience this and document it first-hand. It’s documenting history.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Harris remains saddened by the loss of Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January. “We talked different times over the years, but he was focused mainly at first just on him and what he could do to be the best. And for a while, he wasn’t the best teammate because he was, you know, in it to be the best. And he didn’t have patience for other players who couldn’t do what he could do. But he developed maturity later in his career. And he became such a man and did things for others,” said Harris. “And the shame of it all is that, at age 41, he was going to make an impact for years. He had a program all set up. But it’s a shame that he wasn’t able to continue on for another 20, 30 years and show just what kind of a man he turned out to be.”

Storyline: Orlando Bubble
July 13, 2020 | 9:55 pm EDT Update