Monthly Archives: September 2017

Ex-Cavs GM David Griffin believes Kyrie Irving will be traded, applauds ‘courage’ to make request

Kyrie Irving has come under fire since his trade request became the biggest NBA news of the summer, but he has one man in his corner.

Former Cavs general manager David Griffin, who parted ways with the franchise only days before the 2017 NBA Draft, says Irving handled a difficult situation the right way. Griffin sees Irving eventually being traded by Cleveland, but he doesn’t agree with former Cavs guard Ron Harper, who told the Akron Beacon Journal that Irving made the decision because of youth and ignorance.

I think Kyrie is going to end up getting traded. But I think what Ron was saying is really unfair to Kyrie, Griffin said during Monday’s edition of The Jump on ESPN. I don’t think this is ‘youth’ and ‘ignorance.’ This is a guy who handled this situation exactly like he was supposed to. He went to (Cavs owner) Dan Gilbert privately, told him that he thought he would be happier somewhere else. The absolute worst thing this guy could have done was pretend to be all in and sink the ship from within.

I don’t think they can (keep Irving), Windhorst said during an appearance on SportsCenter. Kyrie told Dan Gilbert when they sat down he didn’t want to play with LeBron anymore. LeBron knows that, and I don’t think there’s any coming back. So, eventually, I think the Cavs will trade Kyrie Irving.

Now Steve Mills is acting president and Scott Perry has assumed the role of general manager. However, whether the changes are good or bad remains to be seen, and Porzingis isn’t making any outlandish statements that the Knicks will turn into a super team.

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John Wall agrees to four-year, $170 million supermax extension with Wizards

John Wall has agreed to the designated player veteran exception with the Wizards, meaning the All-Star guard is on board for a a four-year, $170 million extension starting in 2019, David Aldridge of NBA.com reports. Including the final two years and $37 million left on his current deal, Wall is set to earn $207 million through 2023.

Per Dave McMenamin of ESPN on The BBall Breakdown Podcast:

I think I reported this on SportsCenter this week. He saw Kyrie Irving in the playoffs this year – in between the first round, when they beat Indiana, and the second round, when they played Toronto – go consecutive days without speaking to a teammate at practice.

On that stage. It’s one thing to say people go through their ups and downs in the regular season. But when you get to the playoffs, when the main thing is the main thing, and we’re brothers, and we’re pulling together to get this thing done – even at that level, there were still things that made him sullen or reclusive from his teammates.

Irving approached Cavs owner Dan Gilbert in July and asked to be traded, though there have been no offers so far that Cleveland would truly consider as an option.

Despite setting career highs last season with 25.2 points per game and a 47.3 field goal percentage, the 25-year-old is hoping to move on from Cleveland in an effort to escape the shadow of LeBron James.

Reduction in single-game road trips over 2,000 miles by 67 percent; there are only 11 of them on schedule.

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Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas won’t undergo hip surgery

Isaiah Thomas’ rehabilitation will start sooner than expected.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge disclosed Wednesday that hip surgery has been ruled out for the star point guard.

However, a resolution of his status with the Knicks still hasn’t been reached. Even though Anthony said he wants to stay in New York to be near his son, his issues with the team have led to reports that he wants to waive his no-trade clause so he can play with another team.

One of his preferred landing spots reportedly has been the Rockets, but Anthony remained tight-lipped when asked if he has been in negotiations with the team.

You know I can’t comment on that, he said.

He also remained cordial when asked about Phil Jackson’s firing, calling it a business decision by owner James Dolan. Jackson, while in charge, was not shy last season in saying the Knicks needed to get rid of Anthony sooner rather than later.

On July 29, he celebrated his father’s legacy with a joint venture between his clothing line FallN Apparel and Ewing Athletics, the rejuvenated brand of his old man’s most famous teammate Hall-of-Fame center Patrick Ewing. The two entities collaborated to release a limited edition remake of the Ewing Concept, originally released in 1991, the first year Mason Sr. and the now Georgetown head coach were teammates in the Big Apple.

Mason Jr. designed the shoe, a vintage high top that comes in Knickerbocker blue and orange and features MASON stitched onto the heel as well as a pair of T-shirts as tributes to his pops.

It’s just been a steady process, said the 30-year-old Mason Jr., the eldest of his father’s four children. It came out of my passion for creating and a love for my pops, wanting to leave some type of mark that continues his name because his life was cut short.

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Timberwolves owner wants meeting with Andrew Wiggins before sealing max deal

The Timberwolves are willing to dish out the money for Andrew Wiggins, but they want to make sure Wiggins is just as serious about them.

Team owner Glen Taylor said he wants to have an in-person meeting with Wiggins about his future with the ‘Wolves and how he plans on working to getting the team to a playoff level.

To me, by making this offer, I’m speculating that his contribution to the team will be more in the future, Taylor told The Associated Press. We’ve got to be better. He can’t be paid just for what he’s doing today. He’s got to be better.

Irving has been heavily linked with a move to either the Knicks or Spurs. In New York, Irving would be the focal point — as long as Carmelo Anthony goes the other way — which means he could be the man to save the dysfunctional franchise.

Irving would likely run into a similar problem in San Antonio, as Kawhi Leonard has reached superstar status. The Spurs are Leonard’s team.

The actual process of moving the two stars could become complicated. The Cavaliers are stuck with a number of large contracts, so they don’t have much salary cap space to add another piece. Losing Irving’s contract would help, but the star point guard could end up stuck in Cleveland if the Cavs are not comfortable with the offers they receive.

Players seeking a transfer in European football are first at the mercy of their current teams. In Neymar’s case, Barcelona has set a €222 million (that’s roughly $258 million in U.S. dollars) buyout clause on the player, which means PSG has to pay that huge sum to the Catalan Giants before paying Neymar.

While there is no salary cap in European football, financial fair play helps even out spending throughout Europe’s biggest leagues. PSG has already spent money during the summer transfer window, which means they would be hard-pressed to fund a spending spree on Neymar.

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LeBron James invites Derrick Rose to work out in Las Vegas, report says

LeBron James and Derrick Rose will be heading to Las Vegas to work out together as teammates, ESPN.com reported.

James extended the invitation to Rose, who accepted. The pair could work out as early as Wednesday, according to the report.

James is already in Sin City on vacation and doing workouts on his own.

The timing comes a day after Rose signed a one-year contract with the Cavaliers after spending last season with the Bulls.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers are still trying to deal with Kyrie Irving, who has requested to be traded from the team so he wouldn’t be in James’ shadow.

Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, who has been tied to the trade talks with Irving, has also agreed to meet James and Rose for workouts in Las Vegas.

In terms of basketball, Rose is still solid as an attacker with the ball in his hands. He finished in the top 20 among all players in terms of possessions in the pick-and-roll (7.5 per game) and scored at a rate of 0.90 points per possession in such situations, not far behind the likes of Jimmy Butler (0.91), Goran Dragic (0.93) and C.J. McCollum (0.94). Rose also averaged 10.1 points per game in the paint, tied with Russell Westbrook for the third-best mark among NBA guards behind DeMar DeRozan (10.3) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (13.1).

He’s not 2010-11 Derrick Rose — and he never will be again — but he did enjoy a bit of a resurgence last season with the Knicks in the scoring (18.0 points per game, highest since 2011-12) and efficiency (47.1 field-goal percentage, highest since 2009-10 and 47.7 effective field-goal percentage, highest since 2011-12) departments. Running Rose out with the second unit as a playmaker could benefit the Cavs’ Big Three down the road, allowing them to get precious rest (particularly James, who led the league in minutes at 32 years old).

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Steven Adams’ secret to successful free-throw practice is punch to gut

Steven Adams has a unique method to practice his free throws.

To improve his form, the Thunder big man has one of Oklahoma City’s assistant coaches sneak up and punch him in the gut when he’s least expecting it.

Here’s how Adams’ practice sessions go, via the Norman Transcript:

He plays one of the most physical styles of any NBA player. And he owns an unmatched, eccentric personality. So, when he’s working from the charity stripe, he has Thunder assistant coach Darko Rajakovi? come out of nowhere and, every once in a while, upper-cut him in the stomach just when he least expects it.

Then, it’s free-throw time.

Adams, 24, ranks as one of the worst free-throw shooters in the NBA. The New Zealand native finished 109th out of 114 qualified players with a 61.1 percent free-throw percentage last season.

Here’s to hoping his punch-packing practice pays off and produces better numbers next season.

The success of those plays obviously hinges on Griffin’s ability to establish himself as a scorer as well as a passer. Despite not developing as reliable of a 3-point shot as many expected him to have by now he is coming off his best season from the perimeter in which he made 38 3-pointers in 61 games at a decent success rate Griffin can put up numbers in a variety of ways. As you can see in the table below, he ranked in the 65.0 percentile or better in four categories last season. He was even more dominant the season before when he finished in the 80.0 percentile or better in three of the same four categories.

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NBA trade rumors: One Draymond Green quote offers Kyrie Irving important lesson

And before you write off those early years as Irving being a youngster trying to carry an awful roster, keep in mind what happens to his current team when LeBron leaves the floor.

At 25, Irving is just a year younger than Bryant was in 2004 when the Lakers handed him the keys to the kingdom and traded away O’Neal, the most dominant force in the game at the time much like James is today. And he’s got the same insane confidence/cockiness at three inches shorter and about 25 pounds lighter.

In a 2012 Team USA scrimmage, before injuries robbed Bryant of his powers, Irving was willing to bet $50,000 he could beat the future Hall of Famer in a game of 1-on-1.

That’s not to say Jackson will become a shutdown defender overnight or nearly as good as Green, as they are different in terms of position and play. But Jackson displayed flashes of brilliance playing only one year with new teammates, and the fact that he compares somewhat favorably to a senior deeply immersed in Tom Izzo’s system shows the 20-year-old is just scratching the surface.

The Suns finished dead last in the West last season. They are attempting to build a foundation for the future in order to eventually compete in a loaded conference. Trading for Irving isn’t going to fix everything that’s wrong in Phoenix, but it could send them down a dangerous path for years to come depending on what the team is willing to give up. The Cavs might be willing to bring down the asking price once the season approaches and that locker room becomes a little more tense. For now, the Suns shouldn’t be in a rush to make a move.

That’s why Irving and Jackson haven’t gone anywhere yet.

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Knicks owner James Dolan hasn’t spoken to new GM Scott Perry since hiring him

James Dolan is not known to be the most personable man in the world. Charles Oakley can attest to that. But most people would assume he would go out of his way to meet his new hires, since he, you know, owns the Knicks.

But he has yet to meet with new general manager Scott Perry, who was introduced as a part of the organization on July 17.

Now owners don’t always meet with every employee that is hired onto their business, but normally an owner of a professional sports team will have met with his GM, especially within five days of hiring him.

But apparently Dolan hasn’t taken time out of his busy day to show up to Perry’s introductory press conference or, you know, just to say hi. Maybe his band is out on tour and he just can’t spare a moment.

Either way, it’s just more of James Dolan being James Dolan.

Irving’s preferred destinations include San Antonio, New York, Miami and Minnesota. The Spurs are always a contender in the West. The Timberwolves are on the rise after adding Jimmy Butler to an exciting core which includes Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. You know Pat Riley is always gunning for another ring with the Heat. The Knicks are… the Knicks.

As Barkley notes, none of these teams offer the kind of direct line path to the NBA Finals as the Cavs for one simple reason — LeBron does not play for them.

You wanna share the glory. You wanna win. Right now, there’s only two, three, four maybe legitimate teams in the NBA, Barkley said. If you’re not on one of those four or five teams, you’re really just wasting your time for like seven months. So I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to play with LeBron. Listen, I wanna play with LeBron now!

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NBA free agency: Dan Gilbert clearing path out of Cleveland for LeBron James

James is not one of those. He’s keenly aware of what’s gone on with the Cavs, and the messages Gilbert has been sending no meaningful roster additions, no firm hand at the top of the basketball operation are being read loud and clear by the Cavs’ bedrock star.

Don’t be surprised, then, when James sends his own message next summer, and it goes something like, G’bye! And, this time, don’t blame him. The owner has done too much to clear an easy path for James to take out of town.

The Clippers can also use Griffin like the Cavaliers use LeBron James by having a point guard or shooting guard act as the roller to get a smaller defender switched onto him. From there, Griffin can use his strength to overwhelm his opponent in the post for scoring opportunities.

When defenders clog the paint to take away an easy look, Griffin can then look to pass to someone on the perimeter for an open shot.

The same goes for how Griffin operates in the open court. He’s a one-man wrecking crew in transition because of his ability to grab a rebound and push the ball himself. If nobody stops him before he gets a full head of steam, Griffin will score at a rate of 1.26 points per possession. If they cut him off before he’s able to get in the paint, he will hit a cutter or shooter for an equally good look at the basket.

We’re working on it right now, team president Tom Thibodeau said at an introductory press conference for Jamal Crawford.

The former University of Kansas guard is locked up through the 2018-19 season, and the extension is for five years worth some $148 million, ESPN reported.

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Lonzo Ball will wear Big Baller Brand in ‘NBA 2K18’

2K Sports has announced that Lonzo Ball will be wearing the Big Baller Brand in NBA 2K18.

His approach. He is an all-out player. I can see him being your first big man off the bench right away in the league. He is not going to short you on hustle. But he does have some skill, too. He can shoot the ball and he is very intelligent as a rebounder.

Love to see him be a stretch-4, he showed some flashes of that in college. But he needs to be quicker with his outside shot and a lot more consistent.

I saw him have two bad games, really. And both times he bounces back and was really good the next time out. He has an effortless shot, and he should be able to get on the floor right away. He can stretch a defense.

He needs work defensively, but I think a lot of that is between the ears, just understanding NBA defense. Offensively, you don’t see him put it on the floor much, just about all his shots come off of teammates creating.

It’s how Mason Sr. was able to rise from a third-round pick in 1988 (the draft was reduced to the current two-round format the next year) out of tiny Tennessee State to an All-Star and All-NBA level player. Mason Sr. just wanted it worse than his competition. His son is applying that same type of pressure in different spheres.

That wasn’t always the case with Mason Jr., who admitted to relying on his God-given talent more often than his toils during his playing days. Exposed to the spoils of the NBA nightlife as a teenager in the twilight of his dad’s NBA career, Mason Jr. has been almost everywhere and done almost everything. His experiences have provided a platform from which to warn youngsters still working to fulfill their dreams. They’re also what keeps him motivated these days.

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