Storyline: Kemba Walker Free Agency

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“The Hornets offer, I’m told, wasn’t even really close to the max contract offer of $190M.” NBA Insider @ShamsCharania on Kemba Walker leaving his longtime Charlotte organization for a “fresh start” in Boston.

Kemba Walker is eligible to re-sign with the Hornets on a five-year super-max contract that projects to be worth $221 million. Instead, he sounds increasingly likely to join the Celtics. Stephen A. Smith on ESPNews: “My sources tell me that Kemba Walker has informed the Charlotte Hornets and Michael Jordan he does not want to be there. He was offered a five-year deal. It wasn’t the super-max deal he was qualified for. It was somewhere in the ballpark of 160-plus million.”

Kupchak reinforced that everything else this off-season is secondary to re-signing Walker, who is eligible for a new contract of up to $221 million over the next five years. “You’re talking about a substantial contract that goes out many years. When that happens, it creates some financial inflexibility that you have to deal with,” Kupchak said. “We have to be mindful of a Kemba contract, should we be lucky enough to re-sign him. There could be limitations (on other roster moves), absolutely.”

Because of salary cap rules, if the trade is consummated in late July, the Lakers would have the space to add another maximum contract. That cap space could be used on players like Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, all-star point guards who will be free agents. That scenario would require the Lakers to draft the fourth overall pick for the Pelicans, or whatever team has its rights by the time of the draft, then sign that player as quickly as possible. League rules do not allow a signed draft pick to be traded for 30 days, which would make July 20 the earliest date the trade could be consummated.

With free agency less than three weeks away, the situation in Charlotte certainly bears watching. If the Hornets offer Walker a max deal, it seems logical to assume that he stays there. Of course, only Walker — and Walker alone — knows what he wants to do this summer. And he probably won’t have a strong idea about where he wants to sign until he meets with the Hornets or other suitors in a few weeks. But some opposing execs monitoring Charlotte’s free agent situation believe, currently, that if Walker chose to sign somewhere outside of Charlotte, going to New York isn’t a likely outcome for the point guard, per SNY sources.

“I try to keep things pretty light, but in all reality it’s a pretty serious situation for all of us,” Zeller said. “I mean, our careers and a lot of the organization to be honest with you depends on what Kemba decides this summer, whether he stays or goes. I think it really depends on his choice. But our team and our future can go two very different ways depending on what he decides. So I was kind of trying to make light of a serious situation. But I think for Kemba, he’s been great. I’ve been fortunate to play with him for all six years of my career, and a lot of minutes on the court together, and he’s been great.”

The Hornets and Kemba Walker both have each other as top priorities entering July 1, league sources said. Walker confirmed to Jared Weiss of The Athletic that the Hornets remain his “first priority” during his tour of Tokyo as an NBA ambassador there during the NBA Finals. Walker made the All-NBA third team this year after another spectacular season, allowing him to sign a five-year, $221 million super maximum contract. There is doubt around the NBA that the Hornets will reach that high amount, but owner Michael Jordan’s loyalty has always been with Walker.

Charlotte 'first priority' for Kemba Walker

For Walker, the decision is easy. “Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority,” he said. “That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. When I go on my Instagram, I see, ‘Kemba leave! Kemba get out of Charlotte!’ People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.”

He’s heard the reports that teams like New York and Dallas may be lining up to make a max offer, and he’s heard even more speculation that a return to his hometown plays to his heart. But he cherishes how his career and relationship with his new home have flourished. “Charlotte is my home, man,” Walker said. “I’ve been there for eight years and it’s been the most amazing eight years of my life. My family, they love it. The fans love me. The organization has been great and gave me my opportunity.”

Walker is in the middle of his prime now. So is that fifth year vital to him? “I think so,” he said. “I think at my age, whoever is my age in this situation, I think the fifth year is always important to them. So yeah, it’s important for sure. But I don’t know, we gon’ see if we’re gonna work something out and figure it out. Hopefully, things work out, but it’s all about that god knows where I’m gonna go. He’s the only one who knows where I’m going right now, honestly. So I’m just going to let this thing play out.”

By being All-NBA, point guard Walker would become eligible for a “supermax” contract, worth as much as $221 million over the next five years. That would increase the potential advantage the Charlotte Hornets have to re-sign him in July. But it could also raise the cost of retaining him by more than $30 million. The three All-NBA teams include six guards. Five guards appear to be locks to make the cut, in voting by media who regularly cover the NBA: James Harden, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving. That last spot probably comes down to a close call between Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson and Walker, who averaged a career-best 25.6 points and was an All-Star for the third consecutive season.

Since Kemba is one of the top free agents on the market and it’s his first time experiencing what it’s like, I don’t think we will get an answer until after free agency opens at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1. That’s when teams can officially begin negotiating with free agents and come to verbal agreements. Teams can officially sign free agents and complete trades on July 6 once the league’s moratorium period ends. But even when teams can really start throwing money around, I don’t think Kemba’s status is going to come to light until the first couple of dominoes fall (ie: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, etc.). Kemba is in that next tier just below those guys. It’s honestly all up to Kemba and his agent Jeff Schwartz. They will set the timeline. But the longer it drags out, the more concerned Hornets’ fans should be about his chances of returning.

One source close to Harris’ camp explained how Tobias likes his role in Philadelphia, but the idea of returning home is something he will likely consider this summer. Other names have been mentioned, such as Jimmy Butler, who put the Nets atop his list of destinations when demanding a trade out of Minnesota. Similar to Tobias, a source close to Kemba Walker said the star point guard is intrigued by the idea of coming back to play in his home state — including both the Knicks and Nets.

Ask people in the NBA which teams might come after Walker, and the responses are what you’d expect: The Knicks, especially if Irving remains in Boston. The Lakers, who will be desperate to surround LeBron with talent and might be stuck choosing between second-tier stars like Walker, Jimmy Butler and DeMarcus Cousins. There are whispers around the NBA that the Mavericks are intrigued by Walker, but it’s hard to discern where that rumor arose and if it’s anything more than another game of NBA telephone.

Contradictory as it sounds, Walker being named All-NBA could be detrimental to the Hornets. “They’re fucked either way,” is how three (!) different NBA front-office people described the situation. Let Walker go, and, as one scout said, “They’d be like an expansion team.” Ink him to the supermax and Charlotte would be diving into dangerous waters. As great as Walker is, he’s proved that he’s not capable of carrying a team deep into the playoffs on his own. He’ll also turn 29 in May, bringing him right up to the age where players often begin declining. “It’d be like the John Wall deal,” one front-office person said. “They should have traded him last year, when his value was high. They could have just reset.”

The contract would also push the Hornets right up to the tax line, a threshold team owner Michael Jordan has always avoided crossing. In other words, signing Walker would force the Hornets to run the same group back next year. “They’d be saddling themselves up to mediocrity for years,” one of the front-office people said. The only path out of NBA purgatory would be Walker remaining healthy, promising prospect Miles Bridges continuing to develop, and Charlotte finding Walker a worthy No. 2 next summer, when the weighty contracts of Marvin Williams, Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($45 million in total cap space) come off the books. “The surrounding pieces aren’t so bad,” another of the front-office people said. “They just need another guy in there so they can all slide down a role.”

The Charlotte Hornets had a chance to swing the table and prove to Kemba Walker they’re capable of acquiring talent by trading for Marc Gasol. Yet when a potential deal slipped from their grip, the Hornets star was deflated to see he would no longer be getting help to chase a spot in the postseason. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski detailed the incident in The Woj Pod: “I got the sense in talking to people, that trade deadline really deflated him,” Wojnarowski said of Walker. “When they were pretty close on a Marc Gasol deal, and it fell apart. It didn’t happen. He goes to Toronto. And he looks around and goes, “Come on, what are we trying to do here?”

Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak offered two absolutes Friday concerning Kemba Walker’s free-agency: that Walker is a “once-in-a-generation kind of player” and that “we’ll do everything we can to bring him back here.” … Sure, Walker wants to get paid. But lots of other NBA teams can do that, too. He wants proof the Hornets will surround him with enough talent to win sooner than later. That hasn’t happened in Walker’s eight seasons in Charlotte and there are three months left to demonstrate progress.

In the meantime, Charlotte has won three straight – including yesterday’s big victory over the Pistons – to remain in the playoff race. Walker insists he’s focused on finishing this season strong, not setting up his next contract. “There’s no way I could play basketball thinking about those kind of things,” Walker said. “You know what I mean? Yeah, I just can’t. I just can’t go on the court thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get 30 because I need to.’ I just can’t think about those kind of things. I mean, I see it, hear about it. But it’s nothing that comes to my attention too much.”

Walker will hit unrestricted free agency for the first time. “I don’t know how it goes,” he said. “Me and my agent will sit down and get it right.” It appears he has plans to stay. He recently bought land on which to build a home outside of Charlotte. “I feel like it’s a normal life for me,” Walker said. “I’m never overwhelmed here whenever I do want to get out of the house – walk around, walk around the mall, be me. That’s what I love the most.”

Walker prefers it this way. On the court, his game is the embodiment of the New York City product he is, full of pull-ups, hesitations, crossovers and dimes. Off the court, he would rather be as he is now, in a familiar setting and out of the spotlight. “I love it,” he said of Charlotte during a conversation the previous week before repeating himself for emphasis. “I love it. It’s perfect for me. The pace of the city is pretty slow, which I love. It’s not fast-paced like New York. … I’m able to just live pretty much a normal life. I’m able to go out and eat and not really be bothered. Go to the mall and walk around, not really be bothered. That’s what I like, personally. That’s the kind of life I like to live.”
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September 15, 2019 | 4:39 pm EDT Update
If a team enters into an unauthorized deal with a player, it can be fined up to $6 million — and the player can get hit with a $250,000 fine as well. Statements or conduct detrimental to the NBA could come with a $5 million fine now, up from the previous ceiling of $1 million. And a rule violation with no specific penalty could merit a $10 million fine, up from $2.5 million — the amount that Silver fined former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling while banning him for life from the NBA in 2014 after he was found to have made racist remarks.
23 mins ago via ESPN
Other proposals that the board of governors will consider: a requirement that a team report, within 24 hours, any instance of an agent or player representative asking for a benefit that is not allowed under the salary cap or collective bargaining agreement (“unauthorized benefits”); a requirement that teams preserve communications with players and their agents for one year; new channels for teams and team employees to anonymously report rules violations or tampering; prohibiting players from inducing players under contract to request trades.
23 mins ago via ESPN
In reality, a source told the Daily News that the Nets were confident deals for Durant and Kyrie Irving were done the day before free agency. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Nets organization tampered. There are many different avenues for recruitment and information without a direct line between player/agent and team. People are connected everywhere in 2019. But it does underscore that tampering is difficult to prove or enforce.
September 15, 2019 | 1:07 pm EDT Update
“But everyone has ideas of what they want their role to be, and for most people it never fits what they want,” Winslow added after saying he wants to play as a point guard this season. “Everyone always wants a bigger role, whatever team you’re on. So you just have to understand that as a basketball player — everyone wants the ball late in the games, everyone wants the ball in their hands, everybody wants every play to be run for them.”
With the Heat trading Josh Richardson to the 76ers as part of the Butler deal this offseason, Winslow said of the departure of his close friend and fellow member of the Heat’s 2015 draft class: “Just the emotional standpoint, that’s someone I grew close to. So even more than just having him as a teammate, just having him around the city, being able to go to his house, go out to eat, having that just easy communication, I’ll always have by my side. As a competitor, it won’t be too hard. It’s part of the business, but the emotional part is a little hard, but we’ll be Rook 1 and Rook 2 forever.”
“That’s super-sweet,” Nowitzki said Sunday at his Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic on the SMU campus. “That was a surprise to me. It’s of course an honor. I don’t think anybody else has done that before. I’m super, super thankful to Mark (Cuban). I think it was actually his idea for the Mavericks to execute that. It’s going to be surreal going to games and seeing that right there. It’s definitely special.”
He’s the NBA’s sixth-leading all-time scorer and will have a stretch of Olive Street in front of AAC renamed Nowitzki Way. While no word has come yet about when a statue will be erected in front of the building, it’s fair to say that the day will come sooner than later. “Yeah, it’s a lot, but of course, that will be something I’ll always be proud of,” Nowitzki said of all the honors. “If I take my kids to the game in 10 years and driving on Nowitzki Way, I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s been a beautiful summer, I got to say. Getting honored everywhere. All the sports teams here and went to all sorts of galas and they honored me. It’s been special.”
September 15, 2019 | 11:40 am EDT Update
September 15, 2019 | 11:23 am EDT Update
The Toronto Raptors center becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year, joining Lamar Odom — who did it for the Los Angeles Lakers and USA Basketball in 2010. Gasol also became the 19th to win either an NBA or WNBA crown along with a gold medal, either of the Olympic or World Cup variety, in the same year. The first 18 all did it for the U.S. This time, Vamos España! “NBA champion and a World Cup champion as well,” Gasol said. “What can I say? How does it sound to you? I feel very fortunate to be in this position and be able to play this game and help these guys be part of history of Spanish basketball.”
September 15, 2019 | 9:55 am EDT Update
September 15, 2019 | 7:18 am EDT Update
Globally, there has been a lot of talk about Team USA’s absences, and the 32 players who withdraw their names from the preliminary roster. Fournier, 26 was critical of his competitors in the NBA: “It does [bother me]. To be honest, when you look at LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and all these guys… they came here already and won, so it’s fine. But for friends of mine like Tobias [Harris], I thought it was a great opportunity for him to see something different and compete. I think they don’t realize how beneficial this is for their career. It’s a great tournament, great basketball, super intense. I know you have to work on your game, but this is way better.”
September 15, 2019 | 5:35 am EDT Update
Of course, everyone in Milwaukee wants Giannis to stick around until the day he calls it a career. If he were to sign the deal, it would prevent him from entering free agency in July of 2021, when his current contract is set to expire. It’s long been assumed that the Bucks will give him anything he wants, and on Saturday, it was confirmed by general manager Jon Horst at a town hall with fans of the team. “First of all, the answer for it, right now, is we can’t talk and negotiate anything,” Horst said. “So Giannis, basically a year from now, will be eligible for a supermax extension. At that time, of course, he will be offered a supermax extension.”
LiAngelo entered the G League player pool last season and went unsigned, without a peep of interest from teams the entirety of the season. During a recent radio interview with Big Boy, Lonzo Ball gave some interesting thoughts on LiAngelo’s game and whether he could hang in the NBA. “I think he can make it. He’s 6-foot-6, he can shoot, he’s 240 pounds, so he’s strong enough to guard anybody. I mean, as long he gets healthy and works on his handle, he should be alright.”
A mere three months after helping the Toronto Raptors win the NBA Finals, Gasol has led Spain to the gold medal game at the World Cup. It’ll be Spain against Argentina on Sunday, with both nations looking for their second title. Spain won the world championship in 2006 when Gasol was a 21-year-old backup, and Argentina won the inaugural tournament in 1950. “I’m so deep in the rabbit hole right now that I don’t get to see much light,” Gasol said. “You’re so focused on your opponent, your next rival, recovering, doing whatever’s necessary to win games that you don’t look at the big picture. It’s been great. I’m very fortunate. “I knew that committing to the national team this summer would not be easy physically. But it’s so worth it, and not just because we’re in the final game.”
Sanders was asked during an appearance on “The Kyle Kulinski Show” who he’d pick between James and Jordan, and unsurprisingly this is another area where his opinion differs from the current president: Kulinski: Last question: Michael Jordan or LeBron James? Sanders: LeBron James. Kulinski: Is that because of the policy he just supported with you? Sanders: Well actually, yes, I think LeBron has been willing to do what a lot of athletes are not and get involved in the political process, put money into education, and I respect that.
Storyline: LeBron vs. Jordan Debate
September 14, 2019 | 6:36 pm EDT Update
Conley spent 12 seasons with the Grizzlies, more than a third of his life, and so “this is still home,” the 31-year-old said. “It’s all I know.” Still, he arrived in Memphis for the first time since being traded to the Utah Jazz in June, and even the flight Thursday night felt strange. He went to the house he still owns here, where half the furniture has already been moved to Utah and thought, “this doesn’t even feel like my home anymore.”
“Not a lot of players get that connection with the team or the organization. Like I really did care about how the team would fare after I left if I got traded, who they got in the trade,” Conley said. “It was almost like I was negotiating the deal for them, like make sure you get this, that and the other because you want to have more picks or more people, and I’m just thrilled to see the guys they got. They got a heck of a future in front of them because of the trades they were able to make for Marc, or myself, or Chandler (Parsons), and just really turned it over well.”
“I’m excited to welcome Gabe and Dan as my partners in Hornets Sports & Entertainment,” said Michael Jordan. “While I will continue to run the Charlotte Hornets, make all decisions related to the team and organization, and remain the team’s NBA Governor, Gabe and Dan’s investment in the franchise is invaluable, as we continue to modernize, add new technology and strive to compete with the best in the NBA. Both Gabe and Dan are industry standard-setters and proven leaders, with a belief in philanthropy and a passion for the game of basketball. They share my commitment to Charlotte and the Carolinas, and I look forward to working with and learning from them.”
September 14, 2019 | 5:03 pm EDT Update
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September 14, 2019 | 4:56 pm EDT Update
Horst’s response: “First of all, the answer for now is that we can’t talk and negotiate anything. So Giannis, basically, a year from now will be eligible for a supermax extension. At that time, of course, he will be offered a supermax extension.”


September 14, 2019 | 2:49 pm EDT Update
Popovich said it’s too early to think about what USA Basketball needs to do before getting ready for the Tokyo Games. But he warned — just as two-time gold medalist Kobe Bryant did on Friday — that the days of American romps to gold are done. “There are a lot of great teams in the world,” Popovich said. “It’s not written in stone that the United States is supposed to walk to a championship. That’s pretty old-school thinking. Even the teams that have won in the past had a lot of close calls.”
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September 14, 2019 | 12:04 pm EDT Update
September 14, 2019 | 9:58 am EDT Update
“People want to play the blame game, there’s no blame to be placed anywhere,” Popovich said. “They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn’t win a gold medal? That’s a ridiculous attitude. It’s immature, it’s arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn’t respect all the other teams in the world and doesn’t respect that these guys did the best they could.”
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“I don’t fault anybody that decided not to come — everybody’s got a life,” Popovich said. “Things happen in people’s families. People have things going on. Could be injuries, could be personal commitments that they have. Whoever came, came. “This group I couldn’t have been happier with any other group no matter who would’ve come. They wouldn’t have worked any harder this group.”
September 14, 2019 | 2:22 am EDT Update

Sebastian Telfair out of jail

Sebastian Telfair is FREEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! … for now. The ex-NBA star and former H.S. prodigy is out of prison just days after he was sentenced to 3.5 years in his gun case … but there’s a chance Telfair could end up back behind bars. Here’s the deal … 34-year-old Telfair was convicted of possessing an illegal firearm stemming from a June 2017 incident where he was caught with an arsenal of weapons during a traffic stop.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 12 more rumors
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Storyline: Shaun Livingston Retirement
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The loose ball foul against Andrew Bogut is the one most will point to – he sure did – with the centre apparently making contact with Marc Gasol, who would hit a pair of free throws to give Spain a one-point lead. Patty Mills would split a pair on the other end, sending the game to overtime. “They’re furious. They’re crushed and furious,” Longley said. “Where their fury is directed, I can’t tell you. Probably all over the place. It’s very quiet in there. That’s the team we lost to in Rio, but we felt like we deserved to win it. We felt like we played well enough to win it. Yeah, it’s pretty quiet in there.”
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Former German national team and NBA superstar Dirk Nowitzki has been appointed as Chair of the Players Commission on Saturday at the first FIBA Central Board meeting for the new term. With this appointment, he also becomes a member of the 25-member FIBA Central Board. Nowitzki has had an illustrious playing career for Germany and consistently was a star performer at numerous FIBA tournaments for more than 15 years. He led his country to its best-ever result at a FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2002, finishing in third place, the nation’s only podium finish at the world level. He also led Germany’s run to the Final of FIBA EuroBasket in 2005, finishing in second place.
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NBA star James Harden is being sued by a man who claims he lied about the use of a $30 million mansion in Beverly Hills according to TMZ. The man, George Santo Pietro, owns the mansion which includes 8 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a gym, a spa and a pool. TMZ said Harden signed a contract to use the mansion for one week and he paid over $82,000. One of the things Santo Pietro said that there were details in the contract that stated Harden could not have more than seven adults on the property at any time.
September 13, 2019 | 9:00 pm EDT Update