The most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us: NBA Free Agency! This year, there are some significant moving parts and major players looking for new homes. The next 24 hours prove to be extremely crucial, since there are multiple players with option deadlines today. Let’s do a quick recap!
LeBron James: LeBron has a $35.6 Million player option, which he just opted out of and now is a free agent. I would expect his decision to come sooner rather than later, but he may wait for other dominoes to fall (ie. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George).
DeAndre Jordan: A seriously under-the-radar decision could be DJ’s departure from the Clippers. The irony? The team rumored to be targeting the big is the Dallas Mavericks, who notoriously missed out on Jordan when he went back on his word in 2015 and rejoined LA. Three years later, the vision Mark Cuban had may become feasible. Jordan opting into his $24.1 Million option may do the trick, since it’ll be easier to create room for him by shedding salary via trade.
DeMarcus Cousins: I’m honestly not really sure where his free agency is going to take him. Boogie recently suffered an Achilles tear this past season, which unfortunately threw all of his free agency worth out the window. He might not be ready to play basketball until November, at the earliest. His best move might be to just resign for a shorter deal with less money with the Pelicans, who are open to the idea. This might be the best option for both sides, as Cousins can earn more down the line if he can prove his health and the Pelicans don’t have to immediately commit long-term to a player coming off a major injury.
Paul George: George has already opted out of the final year of his deal with the Thunder, making him a free agent. While this doesn’t rule out a return to OKC (who could pay him more), the specter that is the LA Lakers looms in the background, waiting to lure PG away. George has been rumored to join the Lakers for almost three years now, and while it’s expected for him to finally wear purple and gold, nothing in free agency is certain. I’d expect the three-part tv special he’s making to end with his free agency decision. Interestingly enough, he mentioned the Clippers and Celtics as possible destinations in part two of “My Journey” while talking with Dwyane Wade about his future.
Other potential moves
There are multiple restricted free agents on the market, such as Clint Capela, Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, and Zach LaVine, to name a few. The Sacramento Kings have expressed interest in LaVine, who are deeply considering throwing an offer sheet at the athletic 23 year old guard. The Pacers have also been rumored to be in on both Marcus Smart and Aaron Gordon, but these plans might be thrown to the wayside with Thad Young picking up his $13.7 Million option and diminishing their cap space.
Clint Capela is seeking a max contract, or as close as he can get to it. This sort of handcuffs the Rockets if they plan to pursue LeBron, however the Suns were supposedly interested at the beginning of May. Drafting DeAndre Ayton might have changed those plans, unless they’re aiming to pair the two bigs together.
And of course, Kawhi Leonard activity has picked up significantly today, with rumors flying out of all directions. While Kawhi has clearly made LA his preferred landing spot, rumors have emerged that he’s open to playing in other big markets such as Boston and New York. Trading for a star like Kawhi isn’t a no-brainer when he’s non-committal on staying with his new team, but the Spurs have made clear that they’re listening to offers.
It’s time to turn on notifications for Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania. I expect more big news to drop in the next 24 hours.
Celtics’ Brad Stevens Praises Kyrie Irving
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens heaped some incredible praise on Irving for his impressive performance.
Kyrie gets the highest Stevens praise: The 'joke.'— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) April 20, 2019
"The little floating shot he hit was just a joke. He’s ridiculous."
Celtics’ Kyrie Irving Credits Long Plane Ride for Big Win Over Warriors
Celtics guard Kyrie Irving credits a long plane ride, in which he had a lengthy talk with Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens, for helping the team snap out of their recent funk, and the good feeling has spread throughout the team.
“I understand it’s one game,” Hayward said, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “You are going to have ups and downs in the season. I’ll try to build off the things I did correctly tonight, and the next time you have a bad game, try to learn from that one.”
Hayward’s recent play has provided a spark for the team.
“It makes our team even better when he’s the confident Gordon and playing like the Gordon we know,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said.
“We know it’s been tough on him. That’s one thing about him, you have to give it to him: That man keeps working and working. Even though things aren’t going for him, he continues to work, he doesn’t quit, and that’s why we’re so, so optimistic about getting the old Gordon back, because we see how hard he works.”
“That long plane ride helped us out,” Celtics guard Kyrie Irving said. “I’ll just say that. That long plane ride helped us out.
“We needed it. It was just we were going to get to a point where we were just going to get tired of fighting each other, fighting the outside world. And it doesn’t even really matter. So, we just wanted to come out here and just play basketball. This is our sanctuary. And we have to do everything to protect it. We can’t let anybody infiltrate it.”
Irving opened up about the conversations he had with both Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
“Well, I mean, it gets a little overwhelming, like I said, but this is just the business I’m in,” Irving said. “The business part of it is what makes it terrible for me, honestly, dealing with all this s—. I’m going to be honest with you guys. The basketball part, I have to keep that fun. That’s where I’m great, that’s where I love to play and be around my teammates, that’s what makes me happy.
“The business part of it is going to be the business. Personal side of being out here with my teammates is the only thing that should matter. It wasn’t really a change of perspective; it was letting the guard down completely and just not thinking I’m at odds with everybody. It’s not a competition in this locker room; it’s a competition out there. That’s the most important thing.”
“Talking with Brad was very helpful, talking with Danny was very helpful, and just expressing myself rather than keeping it all in,” Irving continued. “That made it very easy to just go out and just have fun playing basketball.”
Celtics’ Marcus Smart Says Team Needs Short Memory for Turnaround
The Boston Celtics have been a bit disheveled this season and there seems to be some discord within the organization, centered on superstar guard Kyrie Irving who appears headed for free agency this summer.
During their recent struggles, the Celtics continue to show consistency, and show that they can make a legit run at the NBA title this season, despite a strong showing in 2017-2018 season.
Celtics guard Marcus Smart believes that in order to see a turnaround the team must adopt short term memory.
“Right now, it doesn’t surprise me because that’s just how things are going for us,” Smart said, according to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz.
“It surprises me in the fact that that’s not who we are, but at this moment, it doesn’t. We’ve just gotta fix it. Like I said, it’s going to be fixed. It can and will be fixed. It’s just not going at the pace we expected it to.”
Following a recent blowout loss to the Toronto Raptors, Smart was vocal about his views.
“That’s the thing about this game,” Smart said. “You’ve got to have a short memory. This game’s over with, and we’ve gotta focus on tomorrow and get ready to come out and play.”
“Because everybody here’s professional,” Smart continued. “Everybody here plays basketball, and everybody is really talented on this team. And I know the potential that we all have. So, it’s just a matter of time.”
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