Storyline: Kevin Love Trade?

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Would Love still prefer to play for a contender? Of course. It’s incredibly challenging to go from four years of chasing titles to two straight of chasing lottery ping-pong balls. The Cavs being more competitive, just as they were in the 11 games under Bickerstaff before the league shutdown, helped. How the Cavs start 2020-21 — if Love is still on the roster — will be key. But enough has changed since his desire to be traded that it won’t be harmful to keep Love around and the veteran won’t force his way out.

Those are the kinds of numbers the Cavs continue to focus on. They see plenty of value in keeping Love, whose bloated contract, injury history and age play into being the centerpiece of trade chatter. If the Cavs get what they deem a fair offer, they will pursue some combination of draft picks and young players — as unrealistic as some NBA officials consider that demand. That’s the rub. The Cavs’ view of Love doesn’t align with the rest of the league. Until that gap narrows, Love is likely to stay in Cleveland.

The thing is, the reality of Cleveland’s situation may prevent that from happening. Right now, Love, Drummond and Larry Nance Jr., all staples for the Cavaliers’ big man rotation account for roughly 52% of the team’s payroll at $68.7 million. Next season, Nance will be here under contract and the team will likely have both Love and Drummond here as well, per league sources. Drummond plans on opting into his $28.7 million player option and Love will be hard to move with the NBA salary cap expected to go down due to the coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, all three aforementioned players will combine for $78.1 million total next year.

The thing is, the reality of Cleveland’s situation may prevent that from happening. Right now, Love, Drummond and Larry Nance Jr., all staples for the Cavaliers’ big man rotation account for roughly 52% of the team’s payroll at $68.7 million. Next season, Nance will be here under contract and the team will likely have both Love and Drummond here as well, per league sources. Drummond plans on opting into his $28.7 million player option and Love will be hard to move with the NBA salary cap expected to go down due to the coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, all three aforementioned players will combine for $78.1 million total next year.

If the Cavs get an offer they deem worthy then they will consider it. But they still see him as a valuable piece, one that threads the needle between their present and future. They aren’t going to give him away for nothing. They aren’t going to accept a salary dump either. Sources maintain it will take a combination of picks and players for the Cavs to send him elsewhere. Get ready for more Love trade rumors this summer, especially given the dearth of impact free agents available. Listening and accepting are two different things.

As for trading Love for “peanuts,” that wont happen. The Cavs continue to value him. They don’t regret the contract extension. Plus, they have no urgency to dump salary. The potential restricted free agent market dried up with contract extensions for Buddy Hield, Domantas Sabonis, Jaylen Brown, Dillon Brooks and others this season. The one restricted free agent with appeal is Brandon Ingram. Multiple sources expect the New Orleans Pelicans to match any offer sheet. So, that path, one that changed with the Drummond addition, is no longer available.

As for trading Love for “peanuts,” that wont happen. The Cavs continue to value him. They don’t regret the contract extension. Plus, they have no urgency to dump salary. The potential restricted free agent market dried up with contract extensions for Buddy Hield, Domantas Sabonis, Jaylen Brown, Dillon Brooks and others this season. The one restricted free agent with appeal is Brandon Ingram. Multiple sources expect the New Orleans Pelicans to match any offer sheet. So, that path, one that changed with the Drummond addition, is no longer available.

“There’s a lot of bad contracts they could have traded him for. The Sixers would have traded Al Horford for him, but why would Cleveland do that? They want expiring money and picks,” the former GM said. “Portland could have made a deal work, but for what? They would have really had to look at their cap space and tax money for next year and asked how far a trade for Love would really push them. Would it make them a top-four seed in the West? I don’t think so.”

Clippers interested in Thompson, Love and Dedmon

The Clippers have been aggressive, no surprise considering they have the $11.5 million Mo Harkless contract and a first round pick to deal. Considering if LA doesn’t trade the pick it can’t deal another one until we colonize Mars, there is some urgency in the LA front office to get a deal done. The Clippers have kicked the tires on Kevin Love and could grab disgruntled Kings center Dewayne Dedmon, but neither are preferred options. There is some interest in Tristan Thompson in LA’s front office, per sources, as LA’s coaching staff has fretted about the team’s rebounding, particularly when Ivica Zubac is off the floor. Wing depth is a consideration for the Clippers, with Robert Covington and Iguodala among the possibilities discussed.

Maybe that strong offer the Cavs aren’t currently expecting — a combination of picks and players, perhaps both — comes Thursday. If that’s the case, that would obviously change their plan. But the Cavs, sources say, will not do a salary dump — even if other teams view a Love deal as them helping the Cavs, not the other way around. Cleveland isn’t interested in attaching a pick to Love. The franchise still views him as its best player, the most valuable trade chip. “Since the second I got here I’ve been in those talks,” Love said with a smile. “It’s easy for me, I’ve settled into who I am as a basketball player and a person, so I’m easy.”

The Twitter-sphere has already dealt him to Portland, Miami, Phoenix and Denver at various points. That’s one of the many things that makes this time of year tough on guys. “It always is,” Love admitted. “In the past it was a little bit different feel because I knew 100 percent nothing was going to happen with me. It’s just a weird time every year with teams that feel they like they have a chance or are that one piece or two pieces away. The trade deadline comes in every sport, I’m sure guys are kind of sitting there waiting, have half a bag packed. You never know.”

For lottery-bound groups, this time of year is brutally tough because the primary decision-makers have to do what’s best long term. More than a few guys in that locker room sense the organization wanting to make a big shakeup, that the front office is “trying to trade Kevin and Tristan.” While it’s their job to block out any noise and focus solely on basketball, they are also human. On top of that, losing is really hard, especially home blowouts against lousy teams. There is such a thing as an acceptable loss in a rebuilding season. Saturday night, however, was not one.

So if Love’s short-term future may actually be with the Cavs, how would that sit with him? “I will be happy if I’m still here,” Love said following the Cavs’ 124-112 loss to the Washington Wizards on Thursday night. “I fully plan on continuing to help these guys, continuing to help — Tristan (Thompson), myself, Larry (Nance Jr.) these guys, being a leader with all the veterans. And this place, Cleveland, the fans, they’ve been really, really good to me. So, yes.”

While he’s not unhappy every day, plenty of aspects this season — and Cleveland’s general direction — have “driven him crazy,” according to a source. He’s been most irritated with team’s “selfish” playing style and hasn’t handled that growing frustration in the best, most mature way. He’s admitted as much. It’s also fair to wonder whether the Cavs’ thinking has shifted as well. From the very beginning, they’ve wanted to be “blown away” by an offer for Love, believing he has immense value both in the short term and long term. They believed he would be a positive influence on the young players, showing them the way off the floor while also helping alleviate some of that pressure on the court.

Everyone is wondering the same. I could see both. I know it’s not the answer anyone wants, but the Love situation is complex. The most challenging questions to answer, in no particular order, are these: Have his actions this season — on and off the court — necessitated a move? Is the relationship with him and the Cavs so dire that keeping him around would actually be harmful? Would he be understanding and stay locked in if the Cavs didn’t trade him in a few weeks? […] Internally, the Cavs were hoping his value would rise, believing Love would rebound and put up big numbers in Beilein’s system after an injury-riddled season a year ago. There were even some who felt the best offers would come after this season.

Part of the barrier is the Cavs’ view of Love doesn’t match the NBA’s view of him. Love wants to be traded. That has been his preference for at least a month. He wants to play for a winner, with teammates that are at the same stage of their career — or at least closer — when it comes to knowledge, experience and talent. The growing pains, both with young players and Beilein trying to make the transition from college to the pros, have worn on Love. He’s still trying to manage his frustration. Sticking around beyond the deadline could cause him to explode again.

Love certainly could help the Blazers, or Pacers, or Rockets. But that contract is hard to match up in a way that makes sense for Cleveland, which understandably is asking for a lot in return. “I don’t think Kevin has a lot of value,” a Western Conference executive said Monday. “The contract is obvious, but you know he is going to miss games with the toll on his body… I don’t see teams taking Kevin on (without) at least taking back a first-round draft pick or multiple seconds.”

Love apologized Tuesday for some of his recent behavior on the court, then went out and scored 30 points in a loss to the Detroit Pistons. He finished 12-of-15 shooting from the field — but attempted just two shots in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers blew a 12-point lead. He is averaging 16.4 points and 10.3 rebounds on the season. “The Cavs have communicated to him, ‘Help us help you,'” Windhorst said. “Do you want to get traded? Then come in and have a good attitude every day and put up numbers. And there have been periods this season where Cavs has done that. But there have been several times this season where he’s lost his cool a little bit, and we’re all watching for it.”

The Cavs want to trade Love, who is obviously unhappy in Cleveland, but he’s in the first year of a four-year, $120 million contract. The others who are on expiring deals are Tristan Thompson (arguably their most attractive trade asset), Matthew Dellavedova and Ante Zizic. Dellavedova has playoff and championship experience as a backup point guard, but he’s averaging 2.7 points and shooting 31 percent, including 12.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I think there’s teams that would do it,” said Windhorst. “One of the things that’s been remarkable to me as I’ve talked to some people around the league about Kevin in the last 48-72 hours is there’s a lot of people who really, really value him and really like him, but the problem is because of the contract, it’s a difficult to come up with a trade for. Because the Cavs are viewing trading an All-Star level player. The other teams are saying ‘Yeah, he’s a good player but we’re taking on this money.’ They think they’re bailing the Cavs out.”

This is now the second time this season Love and Altman have had a talk about attitude, engagement and body language, sources tell cleveland.com. The first time, sources say, was in early December following a string of awful, disengaged single-digit performances by the five-time All-Star. After that first chat with Altman, ahead of Cleveland’s Dec. 11 home game against Houston, Love went on an impressive run, scoring double figures in eight of the next nine games. His attitude shifted as well.

Love was fined $1,000 by the Cavs for an outburst on the bench on Dec. 31 in Toronto, sources said, and disagreed with the fine. He was spotted by cameras slapping chairs on the Cavaliers bench away from the team huddle in the third quarter of the blowout. He asked a Cavs coach to take him out of the game so he could cool down. During the next timeout, when a coach asked what was wrong, Love said he didn’t like how selfish the first unit was playing, sources said.

Sources say the Cavs didn’t feel confident about their chances of getting a first-round pick for Clarkson in this market, so they took a pair of future seconds — a 2022 from San Antonio and a 2023 from Golden State, sources say. The move puts Cleveland about $5.1 million below the luxury tax threshold, which gives the team more financial flexibility when it comes to other deals. Make no mistake, more are coming between now and the trade deadline on Feb. 6. Players are already bracing for those shakeups.

Could I see it? I could see … I just don’t … What’s going to happen with us this summer? Or at the trade deadline? I just don’t know. It’s just tough because, and I’m not a religious guy by any means, but the old saying “You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.” Listen, obviously it’s a tough go right now. We’ve got (six) wins. But in some ways, the grass isn’t always greener. You just don’t know how the shit is going to shake out. Ever. In anything.

It is difficult for Boston to cobble together enough salary to add a major piece without including one of its core players. Boston does have Daniel Theis ($5M), Enes Kanter ($4.8M), all its own first-rounders and additional picks from Milwaukee and Memphis, but that’s not enough money to target a player like the Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge or the Cavaliers’ Kevin Love — unless Boston is willing to put Marcus Smart or Gordon Hayward in a deal, which is unlikely to happen.

Sunday, of course, is the first day players who were acquired in the offseason are eligible to be traded, even though Neil Olshey, the team’s top executive, said this week there is nothing brewing. That hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from heating up, which has included one report saying Kevin Love would prefer a trade to Portland. That rumor apparently reached the eyes and ears of Whiteside, who during Tuesday’s game against New York was shouting during play to Anthony that “Kevin Love doesn’t rebound like that!” “And Kevin Love doesn’t block shots like that, either,” Whiteside said Thursday when asked about the Tuesday exchange. “The trade talk … it don’t enter my mind a lot. I was more just messing with Melo. I’m not thinking about it. If we are struggling on defense and you want to (trade him), I mean, good luck. Good luck with that.”

As the Cavaliers figure out their direction under new coach John Beilein, Kevin Love is in limbo. He is the most notable veteran player on a team that is in a transition period, but he has three years and over $90 million left on his contract. As we reported in our Inside Pass on Monday, Love prefers a trade to a contending team. He has his contract extension, but that deal and the Cavaliers’ asking price is what is giving interested teams major pause, I’m told.

Love has been mentioned frequently, but is a question mark. There was a report that Portland is his favored destination, but I have not been able to substantiate that and, in fact, have been told by people close to him that the report is not necessarily true. And the other concern with Love – who is obviously a terrific player with championship pedigree – are his injuries. Over his last three seasons, he has played 60, 59, and 22 games. At an average salary of $30.1 million over the next three seasons, his availability is a concern.

Love would prefer to play for his hometown Portland Trail Blazers, according to multiple league sources. The Blazers make perfect sense as a destination for Love; they need help for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum after the team has been decimated by injuries. Last week, Rodney Hood suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon, joining Jusuf Nurkic (broken leg) and Zach Collins (dislocated left shoulder) on the sideline. Nurkic will return this season, and Love would be a terrific frontcourt partner because of his perimeter shooting and playmaking ability. Portland could then play big upfront, which would be valuable in a series against a team with a bigger frontcourt, like the Lakers. Or, it could go with Love at center, which could be useful against the Rockets, who often size down with P.J. Tucker at center.

“Nothing’s changed,” Love told ESPN after Cleveland’s morning shootaround at TD Garden. “What I mean by that is, since I got here they’ve been … since I f—— got here there’s been talk of me being traded, so it’s nothing different. If they decide to go that way, I’ve just got to know it’s part of the business, or if we decide to go that way, it’s part of the business.” “Truthfully, I don’t know how it’s going to play out, because I see both sides,” he added.

As the lone player over 30 on a roster featuring six players under 25, four players in their first or second-year and a first-year coach in John Beilein, Love’s name stands out as Cleveland’s most obvious trade candidate. “I imagine, in a rebuild, it’s easy to look at it, especially when it’s down and out at this point, and say, ‘Hey, we want to completely reset the deck and go young,'” Love told ESPN. “I understand that. “But despite that, whether it’s five months or five years, I’m always going to be able to come back to Cleveland no matter what, and I’ll always love the fans, and be part of this organization, one way or another.”

His journey to the Trail Blazers was less complicated. Portland had a clear need for a four-man, and many rival executives believed the organization would target Oklahoma City’s Danilo Gallinari or Cleveland’s Kevin Love in a trade after the loss of Collins. But as the losses piled up, and its franchise star Damian Lillard clearly needed more support, Portland needed to acquire someone immediately. The Trail Blazers made the call to Anthony and his representative, and one question remained within Anthony: Is this real — or a waste of time?

Kevin Love will not force trade

Even with him, the Cavs are likely a long shot for a playoff spot in the East. But Love insists that he isn’t forcing a change. “I’ve been committed to Cleveland since Day 1,” Love said. “I know it’s been a little shaky at some points. It’s been really great at some points. But now I’ve found some semblance of balance in my life, not only on the court but away from it.”

But going public with the details of his panic attack — and his ongoing involvement in the conversation about the need to take care of mental health — has not left Love feeling vulnerable. He’s more at peace than anything else, and that’s why the rumors that are out there aren’t gnawing at him. “I’m just going to let the chips fall,” Love said. “I know that this is a young team. I think I can help them. I’m going to do right by Cleveland, the organization. This is a league where teams want to rebuild, teams want to go young but certain teams are looking for a piece, a guy who’s played in the finals, a guy who has playoff experience. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think it definitely lessens the burden and the anxiety.”

After the departures of James and Irving, Love became the face of the franchise when he signed a four-year, $120-million contract extension last year. Cleveland, however, is a rebuilding team and there has been talk Love could be dealt to a team looking to make a championship push. “I know there’s talk about me possibly being the missing piece somewhere,” Love said. “There’s been constant chatter since I signed that I could be traded. It’s one of those things where I’m going to keep doing right by the team, by Cleveland and by the organization. If my number is called, so be it, but I’m going to stay true to my commitment and let the chips fall where they may.”

The Cavs continue to get calls about Love. The phone will likely ring throughout the season, up until the trade deadline and then again in the summer — if he’s still in Cleveland that long. Signing Love to a lucrative four-year extension was Altman’s first big move, the tone-setter after James left for Los Angeles. Some scoffed at the decision, believing Love didn’t fit — and still doesn’t — on a young team not positioned to win for a few more years. The NBA is unpredictable, but Altman talks the same way he did more than a year ago — seeing Love anchoring this turnaround.

While Love is Cleveland’s most valuable trade chip, there are others. That list starts with five players on expiring contracts: Knight, Henson, Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson. “We are still in evaluation mode with our team, with the new parts, the staff and the offense. We like our guys,” Altman said. “There’s no sense of urgency to rush to do anything. I think last year was a little bit different in terms of we knew we wanted to recoup a lot of different draft assets. Where we are now: We have great flexibility, we’re one of four teams that has over $20 million in cap space next summer, so we’re not in any rush to do anything drastic.”

Kevin Love wants to stay in Cleveland

He’s no longer the willing follower. He’s the quiet leader. While rumors constantly fly about his future, Love is exactly where he wants to be, where he chose to be two summers ago. He has no interest in that changing. “I do want to be here. I always have,” Love told cleveland.com in an exclusive one-on-one interview. “I say that knowing it’s the NBA and it’s a business. I think especially after seeing last year, the summer leading up to last year and this summer, the changeover is like unprecedented so you don’t know what is going to happen.

“It’s kind of like the same thing with rumors. I know things come up, you would see certain things or people would ask me and I would just be like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t have a call. Nobody has been having this conversation with me.’ Until that time comes just keep my head down and keep moving.” That’s what Love has done. A few days ago, while talking with teammate Matthew Dellavedova, it hit him — He’s the oldest player on the roster.

Of course, Boston is a potential player in any trade negotiation because of its two young wings, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum is likely untouchable, but with Brown entering a contract year and playing a similar position, he could be the centerpiece of a deal for Beal or Love. Even without those two, a package such as the Memphis pick, Boston’s own first and either Grant Williams or Romeo Langford would be a compelling asset package, one that would potentially tempt teams to swallow the rest of Hayward’s deal and send the Celtics a high-level starter.

The answer still hasn’t changed. While it’s not wise to use the never term in this ever-changing league, the Cavs don’t want to trade Love. No, there aren’t any untouchables on this roster. Prized rookie Darius Garland would be the closest to that. If the Cavs are blown away by a Love offer and receive the package that meets their demands then, of course, they would consider it. It would be foolish not to. According to sources, the Cavs would want some combination of young players and draft picks. Not one or the other. Both.

“Last summer, the Blazers went into the offseason with very little of value. They had a bunch of big contracts with multiple years left. They didn’t have many enticing young players to make trades, they did not have a high draft pick to do things. But the thing they did have was a fairly large trade exception that was going to expire. And they spent much of the early part of the offseason calling around to teams trying to get them to give away big contract money so they could absorb it with that trade exception. And the Blazers were willing to pay a fat luxury tax and figure it out. One of the teams that they called last summer was the Cleveland Cavaliers… At that time last summer, the Cavs told the Blazers they did not want to make that trade.”

You’re not the only one sending the Kevin Love trade questions. But I don’t know how many other ways I can write this response before it resonates. Love is not one of the players the Cavs are looking to deal. They want him here. They believe his professionalism and leadership are important. He’s the kind of player any team should want around a young group because of the daily example he sets. Would the Cavs move him in the right deal? Sure, they would consider it. No one should be labeled untouchable this early into the rebuild. But each time the Love question is raised, the same response quickly follows. “How are we a better team without Kevin?”

I did a quick survey among five NBA executives asking in the abstract if they would trade for Love’s contract in a deal this summer without the Cavaliers adding additional value to sweeten the pot (for example: by Cleveland taking on a bad contract from the opposing team or by adding a draft pick in addition to Love). The five executives all said no, variously noting that the length of the deal, Love’s potential regression curve as a player because of age, and the uncertainty regarding his injuries as significant deterrents to such a move. Two of the executives noted that it only takes one team and one general manager to look back at Love’s productive history and think that it would be a valuable move. All of them noted that they still thought Love was a good, useful NBA player. But the overall tenor was that it would be difficult to move him on this contract for a positive return.

In order to try and ballpark a valuation on how under water Love’s deal is, I additionally crowdsourced from the executives what contract they thought Love would get on the open market if he was a free agent this season. Nobody thought he would get four years due to the age and injury history, with the estimates falling in the three year, $60-65 million range. Three executives said they would not go beyond two guaranteed years, but two of those noted that they would be willing to add a non-guaranteed third year (Paul Millsap’s deal came up as an example with both). When asked to specifically ballpark a four-year deal, executives put it in the $70 million range, given the significant diminishing returns of a potential fourth season at 34 years old. No one said more than $75 million. Therefore, it’s fair to say that NBA teams around the league see Love’s deal as about $50 million under water.

Cavaliers keeping Kevin Love?

Six months after signing his massive four-year, $120 million contract extension, the Cleveland Cavaliers can legally deal their injured power forward if they so choose. According to sources, the Cavs’ stance on keeping Love hasn’t changed. They want him in Cleveland. They value what he can bring on the court when healthy and his leadership and set-the-tone work ethic behind the scenes has been very important. He wants to stay with the team as well.

Who are the next Cavaliers to get moved? Chris Fedor: This is the question that so many are asking. So let’s start here: There’s interest from other teams in All-Star power forward Kevin Love. Sources tell me that the Cavs have received calls about him. It’s the same thing that typically happens with him around this time of year. He’s used to it. As I’ve written numerous times, it will take close to the perfect deal for the Cavs to pull the trigger.

Chris Fedor: They want Love around, hoping he can be the rock during this new era. He’s their All-Star. Those inside the organization recognize his value. The decision-makers also understand how difficult it is to acquire those high-level players. When you have one, and he is under team control for a number of years, why give that up? What’s the rush? Of course, teams will continue to show interest. He’s a floor-spacing double-double machine. He’s a five-time All-Star. He’s an Olympic gold medalist. When he returned to the practice floor recently, it struck me how much more talented he is than every other player currently on this Cavaliers roster. Unless the Cavs get a treasured offer from an asset-heavy team (rumored teams like Dallas and Charlotte don’t really fit this criteria), one with some combination of high draft picks and young, controllable players on team-friendly deals, Love will likely stick around.

“It’s a lot to ask someone to take on $144 million for a 30-year-old with an injury history,” one of the execs told Bleacher Report. “You’re dealing with a very small, narrow marketplace for him.” Love’s extension, which kicks in next season, brought his five-year guaranteed salary to $144 million. He’ll make $28.9 million next season, then the deal levels off at $31.3 million the next two years and goes back to $28.9 million in the final season, when Love will be 34.
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Storyline: Nets Coaching Job
Jamaal Wilkes said he’s proud to be an American and wants law and order while at the same time seeing the need for change in the wake of demonstrations after the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. “I’m not an activist. I’m not in the guts of the stuff, but we need some kind of reform with the police department (while) recognizing that the majority are good police,” Wilkes said in a recent conversation with the Bay Area News Group’s Wes Goldberg. “And they are probably as sick and embarrassed and disgusted with the Floyd incident as most of the country is.”
The Floyd murder during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jamaal Wilkes: “On one hand, it was very shocking and disturbing. On the other hand, it’s nothing new . . . it was unbelievable. It was horrible and no one could deny it because there was footage. That, along there being no sports, brought it to a head. I think that all lives matter, of course, but it’s only black lives that are being murdered. We can no longer tip-toe or ignore the elephant in the room, which is systemic racism, white privilege.”
July 5, 2020 | 12:42 pm EDT Update

Jared Sullinger wants back in the NBA

On Saturday, The Basketball Tournament kicked off and Jared Sullinger was on the sideline for Carmen’s Crew. He was the coach of the team filled mostly with Ohio State alumni. It’s a role he relishes. Yet it’s not a role he wants to assume permanently. Sullinger, the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2012 who enjoyed four solid seasons with the club, still has aspirations of returning to the NBA. He’s only 28 but hasn’t played in the league in three years. His post-Celtic career lasted just 11 games with the Raptors, and then Sullinger learned about the harsh reality of being injured and considered damaged goods.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 75 more rumors
He has recovered fully. Sullinger is married and the father of twins. He reflects on his Celtics years fondly but hopes he’s not done gobbling up rebounds with his burly frame. “I want to play and, of course, the NBA is the ultimate goal,” he said. “The last two years I just felt like I had to find myself. I had to find something that drives me and makes me want to play. In the NBA, you kind of get lost in the shuffle because you have so many games, and when I got out there in [the Chinese Basketball Association] it was kind of a retreat for Jared Sullinger to learn himself and fall in love with the game again.”
Smith aspires to be a general manager, but the NBA has had issues in recent years with diversity in front offices. He hopes that recent events will cause the NBA power structure to closely examine hiring. “To think people don’t gravitate toward people who are like them, look like them, or are like-minded, then you don’t understand the basis of stereotypes and racism, which is two different things,” he said. “If I make my decisions based on race and not having the ability to have the opportunity, then I’m a racist. It’s a simple process. White America is like how do I figure it out? You’re making the decision and you’re taking into account that it will hinder someone based on their race. That’s a racist act, period.”
What bothers Smith and many other former players is that front office candidates who did not play the game but are astute analytically are somehow seen as more qualified than former players. “You mean to tell me LeBron James couldn’t put a team together? He puts it together now. You’re telling me his production and consumption of information is not more valuable than someone who’s never played the game? It’s impossible. It’s an awareness.”
Though Marlowe said he would’ve preferred the NBA scrap the regular-season games and jump straight to the playoffs, he did find an advantage for the Nuggets. Their grueling schedule, featuring games against both Los Angeles teams, the Raptors and the Thunder, is a perfect primer for the postseason, he said. The Nuggets were 15-11 against teams that were .500 or better throughout the season, which was a better record than all but three teams in the NBA. In addition, as Marlowe pointed out, seeding doesn’t really matter since there’s no homecourt advantage. “I think the eight play-in games are interesting because I believe six of the last eight for the Nuggets were going to be played away from Pepsi Center, so the Nuggets don’t have to do that,” he said. “That being said, I don’t think winning is the preeminent goal in these (seeding) games. I don’t think it really matters to the Nuggets to finish third, fourth, fifth or sixth. I think the key is, can coach Malone and the rest of the coaches get this team playing at its zenith in these eight games and going into the playoffs?”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Meanwhile, high atop the Chicago skyline, Bosh was in a conference room receiving a pitch from the Heat — a meeting punctuated by Pat Riley unfurling a small velvet carpet onto the table, followed by the presentation of a small velvet bag. “Oh, yeah, Pat brought his rings out. It looked just like a Crown Royal bag,” Bosh said. “He puts it down, like boom. Big boy talk. When he ended the meeting, Pat gave me a 2006 Heat championship ring.” “Take it. Keep it. Give it back to me when you win one,” Riley said to Bosh. “I still haven’t given it back,” Bosh said. “I wonder if he even remembers that? I think I mentioned it once, like, ‘Yo, do you want that ring back?’ And he said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And I kept it moving.”
A generation ago, it was tough to find any Warriors fans outside of the Bay Area, let alone at some desolate outpost in Southeast Europe. But by now, such encounters no longer count as shocking. After five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, with a roster that features some of the game’s most marketable players, and after a concerted effort to raise their profile abroad, the Warriors emerged as a certifiable global brand. According to the team’s internal tracking, the majority of the Warriors’ social media followers reside outside the United States — that’s 80 percent of their followers on Facebook, 70 percent on Instagram, 52 percent on Twitter.
He recalled over the phone last week that in the late ’80s, growing the NBA meant Stern handing a baffled TV executive from Italy a stack of videocassette recordings in hopes the exec would air them when he got back home. “The victories were getting a game that was played 10 days ago aired at a terrible time on Italian television,’’ Welts said. “That’s the kind of thing we considered a victory back then.” Around that time, league officials also attended an international market show in Cannes. “With pretty much a cardboard table and a bunch of business cards,’’ Welts said. “We just tried to grab any television programmer who was there to try to explain to them what the NBA was and why it would be such a great property for their company to air on television.”
July 5, 2020 | 4:34 am EDT Update

Nets to make 'godfather offer' to Gregg Popovich?

In an appearance this week on the “Let’s Get Technical” podcast with retired NBA stars Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, Gerald Brown of SiriusXM NBA Radio noted the presence of rumors linking Popovich to the Brooklyn Nets. The rumors state that Nets owner Joe Tsai is looking to make a “godfather offer” to Popovich for him to come coach the team.

Stone Cold Shea Jackson: It’s mostly trolls I guess. But even homie callin him entitled. Earlier in June and people siding with him. Now they talkin bout him demanding a trade and shit but it ain’t never from him. And that got niggas callin him a bum. And he the realest dude you could find in the league. Damian Lillard: My stance ain’t changed. This is a result of a pandemic and lack of content lol.
Storyline: Damian Lillard Trade?
Add in Nic Claxton’s season-ending injury, and that leaves Jarrett Allen as the only healthy Net taller than 6-foot-9. Expect GM Sean Marks to sign a big man as a substitute player for Jordan. “We have to definitely think about that,” Vaughn said. “Sean and I talked this morning on a call and we talked about addressing our size and not putting extra demand on Jarrett. So that could definitely be a route we take for sure.
From the moment he and his teammates reconvened in Florida last week, Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka said everyone was “locked in” and ready to get to work. “I saw just how everyone is in great shape,” Ibaka said on a conference call with reporters Saturday. “They came here in great shape and as soon as we got here everyone was starting to put in work. “I’ve been in the league for 11 years. You can see when people’s locked in and they are ready mentally, and when they are not. “So I can tell you right now, mentally, everybody is ready. Everybody is ready.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Josh Lewenberg: Serge on COVID-19 numbers in Florida: “Honestly, it’s a little concerning. Hopefully everybody follows the rules when we get into the bubble in Orlando… I have my daughter, who lives here. It’s kinda scary a little bit.” Ibaka on Raptors: “Man, listen, we believe in us. We have the experience, we have the championship mentality already, we’ve got confidence. It’s time to go to work. We’re ready.”
“I’m happy now. I’m in a good place, you know,” Gobert told reporters Friday. “And I’m happy that I get the joy back from playing basketball with my team and the competitiveness is back. I’m ready to try to go out there and try to win the championship. That’s the goal. And to be honest, after everything we’ve been through as a team and as human beings, it would be a great comeback.” Gobert answered questions for about 11 minutes. He talked about the relationship with Mitchell. (“It’s never going to be perfect,” he said, acknowledging strains that have been no secret.) He talked about the potential of signing a lucrative extension — he’s supermax-eligible — with the Jazz, which could happen before next season. (“I don’t plan on leaving right now,” he said.) He talked about his recovery from the virus, which is ongoing, at least in how his sense of smell hasn’t totally recovered. (“Smelling, I took that for granted too. It’s back now, it’s back at 80%, I’m not worried,” he said.)
Brett Brown has said his hope is that the 76ers will leave for Orlando with their fitness level at a B level, while looking to upgrade to an A during the official training camp portion of the ramp-up. It’s clearly a message he’s shared with his players too. “In a matter of two weeks, I feel like I’ve gotten back into really good shape,” said Thybulle. “I think it’s going to be easier to build on after this. Like Coach [Brown] said, being at a B, I feel like I’m definitely there, and once we start playing, it’s going to fall into place,” Thybulle said.
Turner’s father, David, contracted the COVID-19 virus and was quarantined in a bedroom in the family home in Dallas for about 10 days. He’s doing well now according to Myles, but the episode had an obvious impact on his feelings toward going back to basketball when the number of cases of infected people continues to rise. Turner moved back into his parents’ house when he returned to Texas after the season was put on hold. His father hadn’t been feeling well and was discovered to have the virus the second time he was tested. “I saw it firsthand and how it affected my family and I couldn’t imagine how it’s affected other families,” Turner said Friday during a Zoom call with media members. “I definitely wasn’t a big proponent of playing at first. I still have questions now, but most of the questions have been answered.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
She quickly became aware of Paul’s reputation as Paul became aware of hers. Despite living in Los Angeles, Paul knew other D.C. lawyers. “I couldn’t figure it out,” Roberts said. “How does this guy know people in my circle?” Roberts laughs about it now, realizing how extensive Paul’s list of contacts is. “In the last few months we’ve gotten closer,” Roberts said. “I count him as one of my favorite people on the planet. And not because he’s making my life easier, though God knows he is, but because his concern and commitment to this game, to his brothers, is extraordinary.”
Some might question if a future hall of famer is working in the best interests of players buried on the end of the bench, but Iguodala said Paul always falls back on the same mantra: “How can we amplify every player’s voice?” “He’s the definition of a leader, man,” said Grizzlies forward and NBPA secretary-treasurer Anthony Tolliver. “I don’t think there could be a better combination of leadership and superstardom and work ethic when it comes to leading this union. “Whoever comes next is definitely going to have pretty big shoes to fill.”