Kevin Love: NBA Champion X3. 7 straight Finals. Came to work and proved his worth every day. A mentor to me. Someone who understood what it took to win in this league. A difference maker. A true professional. So much to say about Champ…man, more than anything I’m gonna miss bouncing ideas off of you and learning from your experience. Best teammate I’ve ever had and proud to call you one of my best friends.
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The Phoenix Suns announced today they have agreed to a multiyear contract extension with General Manager Ryan McDonough and added former Suns forward and 14-year NBA veteran James Jones as Vice President of Basketball Operations. Jones will report to McDonough and work alongside him to oversee all basketball-related matters for the Suns, including the draft, free agency and trades.
“James has a wealth of experiences that will greatly benefit our organization. He is a three-time NBA Champion and has been one of the top executives with the National Basketball Players Association over the past few years. We welcome ‘Champ’ and his family to our Phoenix Suns family.”
Richard Jefferson is returning to the Cavs for another season, but James Jones may not be back. Jefferson, 37, said on his podcast, “Road Trippin’,” that he would indeed return for his 17th season. He had previously mentioned he was considering retirement.
Jones, 36, is a free agent after 14 pro seasons. A source close to the Cavs said Jones would not be back in 2016-17. Jones’ agent, Joel Bell, said neither the team nor Jones had made a decision about his return. Jones has been LeBron James’ teammate for the past seven seasons — four years in Miami and three in Cleveland. It means that like LeBron, Jones has gone to seven straight Finals.
Jones told the Beacon Journal he will retire after next season, which will be his 15th in the NBA. His ultimate dream is to ride off following three consecutive championships in Cleveland, he said Friday, although clearly there is a lot of work to do before that happens. “I know playing 15 years is a number where I can look back and I can be like, ‘I accomplished something,” Jones said. “Fourteen vs. 15 may not be much, but to be able to say I played 15 years, that’s enough for me to hang ‘em up.”
Jones has openly pondered retirement in the past. Most of the talk was previously due to his recurring foot issues, but with those problems in the rear-view mirror, he is now focused on a goal of playing 15 seasons and then walking away from the game for good. “I feel great right now,” James told Basketball Insiders. “This is [year] 14 for me. I’ve always said if I get to 15, that’ll be the point where [I retire]. For me, as a kid who just dreamed of making it to the NBA and hoping to play for a couple years, to be able to say I played 15 seasons in the NBA, that’s a personal milestone. That would give me great personal satisfaction. “I’ve always said that when I feel my teammates aren’t challenged by my presence, then that would be an external sign to leave. The way I’m rolling and feeling now, I don’t think that will be an issue. I won’t have to walk away from the game. I think 15 years will be plenty for me.”
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September 25, 2021 | 3:23 am EDT Update
Sources maintain the Cavs don’t have any “untouchables.” However, prized rookie Evan Mobley and rising point guard Darius Garland are closest to that designation. The likelihood of either player being moved is incredibly low. That leaves Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro and future first-rounders to help cajole a Simmons deal.
LaVine is eligible for an extension but he likely won’t sign it. This is solely because the four-year, $105 million extension he is currently eligible for is far below the projected five-year, $207 million maximum contract he can re-sign with the Bulls for next summer. While Chicago could’ve used cap space to renegotiate LaVine’s $19.5 million salary to a maximum salary and extend him for an additional four years, they correctly utilized their flexibility to build the best possible team they can around him.
Even if the Bulls fail to make the playoffs again, he is still a good bet to re-sign with them given how little cap space there is elsewhere. Vucevic is also currently eligible for an extension worth up to three years, $85.5 million. He can only sign it during the offseason.
According to sources, the 76ers would want limited or no protections on those firsts in hopes of flipping them for an All-Star caliber player around the deadline. That, alone, would be incredibly risky for Cleveland — a still-rebuilding team that’s won 60 combined games over the last three years and is only projected to win around 26 this season. Even the addition of Simmons wouldn’t change the 2021-22 forecast that much, as the Cavs wouldn’t have enough short-term floor-spacers or shooters around the limited Simmons. Any deal would mean rejiggering the roster quite a bit.
Because Gupta has been elevated from inside the organization, it is conceivable that the Wolves can move right along and continue their talks with the Sixers without much of a diversion. Gupta and Morey worked together for years in Houston so there is background there, and sources say Gupta was involved in some of the talks with the Sixers earlier this summer before the conflict with Rosas reached its head.
The Raptors acquired Dragic in exchange for Lowry and his status with them has been reported as potentially headed towards a buyout. While Dragic is too talented to simply be waived, the Raptors will be hard-pressed to find a team eager to pay him $19 million this season. He could be headed towards a buyout if he’s still on the roster past thetrade deadline. Alternatively, he could be used as salary ballast as part of a larger deal and then subsequently bought out by his new team.