Mychal Thompson repeats no need for negotiation between Klay, Warriors
Drew Shiller | NBC SPORTS
Back in late October, Klay Thompson’s father, Mychal, explained why there’s no need for his son and the Warriors to negotiate in free agency this summer.
“The money thing is basically set in stone,” he said on 95.7 The Game. “Everybody knows what the salary cap is, everybody knows what a player of Klay’s caliber and tenure in the league is supposed to get on his next deal.
“So basically, there’s no need to negotiate — everybody’s number is set because of the salary cap rules.”
On Wednesday night, Mychal doubled down when he was asked if Golden State needs “to bring the bag” on July 1.
“Well that’s all set. You have a payscale. Everybody knows what it is,” he said on KNBR 680. “Your listeners can Google it. It’s not even a negotiation. It’s not even an issue.”
Translation — the five-time All-Star feels like he deserves the max, he wants the max and the Warriors better be prepared to offer the max.
“You can, if you’re willing, take less to help the team absorb some of the cost. So it’s all up to you as a player,” Mychal added. “Tim Duncan used to say all the time that he was set to make a certain amount but he would take less — sort of like what Tom Brady does for the Patriots.”
“It’s a set number and either you agree to it or not.”
Well, it certainly doesn’t sound like the two-time All-NBA selection is willing to take less. Multiple reports over the last couple of months have indicated that Klay will seriously consider signing elsewhere if Golden State doesn’t offer him a max contract.
In early February, owner Joe Lacob made it clear that the Warriors “can do whatever we want” financially. “We have the capital to pay our players what they deserve. And we will.”
And after Golden State beat Houston in Game 6 last Friday night, Lacob said: “I have a special bond with (Klay). I always have. He’s the first player, since I bought the team, that we drafted. The very first one. And I just have always felt an incredible attachment.
“People make fun of me a little bit — I always say I love Klay. I love Klay. I just do. He’s so real. He’s so real. There’s no BS. And there’s something about him, I have a very special relationship with him.”
In summation, you shouldn’t worry about Klay leaving. The end.
Seth Curry, Steph’s little brother, put Portland ahead on a 3-pointer with 1:03 left before Kevon Looney‘s dunk on the other end put Golden State back on top at 112-111.
Stephen Curry posted his third straight 30-point performance while Splash Brother Klay Thompson needed a half to heat up, scoring 13 of his 24 points in the Warriors’ 39-point third quarter — reminiscent of those old third-quarter outbursts that have long defined this group.
McCollum scored 22 points for Portland and Lillard overcame a slow start to add 23 points and 10 assists as the Blazers looked far more in sync than in a 116-94 defeat two days earlier.
Green made a pretty bounce pass through the paint to a cutting Iguodala for a dunk with 3:06 left to make it 108-105, then Green assisted on a layup by Looney the next possession.
Green had 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks. His seven straight playoff games with at least 10 rebounds are a career high.
The Warriors missed Kevin Durant for a third straight game because of a strained right calf and he isn’t likely to return at all this round.
Curry scored Golden State’s first eight points of the third to get his team back within 69-58 then Thompson hit two straight 3s.
The Blazers had built a 65-50 halftime lead, capitalizing on 10 Warriors turnovers for 18 points.
Then two of the top backcourts in the Western Conference went at it in an entertaining final two quarters. The game was tied at 89 to start the fourth.
The Warriors already got past James Harden and Chris Paul in the last round — now it’s McCollum and Lillard standing in the way of a fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals.
“They’re a nightmare to have to cover,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before the game.
Curry made 5 of his initial 8 shots but Thompson struggled in the first half at 3 for 11 and missed 3 of 4 3-point tries.
Portland showed it made adjustments from Game 1 and came out with energy on both ends from the opening tip after the Blazers had regularly left Curry wide open on the perimeter off the pick-and-roll and he scored 36 points while matching his postseason high with nine 3-pointers.
Durant will miss at least Games 3 and 4, scheduled to be re-examined by doctors in another week. That means he wouldn’t be expected to return until the NBA Finals if Golden State advances.
Durant was re-evaluated Thursday and is not yet ready for on-court work — a necessary step before the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP can return to game action.
Golden State center DeMarcus Cousins will be re-evaluated again in a week as he works back from a strained left quadriceps muscle sustained in Game 2 of the first round against the Clippers on April 15 in just his second career playoff game.
Cousins has begun doing extensive on-court work such as running, shooting and agility moves.
Trail Blazers: Seth Curry stole the ball from big brother Steph in the second quarter. They are the first brothers to ever face each other in a conference final. … The Blazers are 1-10 all-time against Golden State in the playoffs.
Warriors: The Warriors are 31-4 in the postseason when Curry scores 30 or more points. … Golden State shot 3 of 13 from deep in the first half and 9 for 29 overall on 3s. … The Warriors are 15-4 in Game 2 of postseason series dating to the 2015 title run.
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Saturday night at Portland.
The Los Angeles Clippers have one of the best front offices in the NBA, and now it should remain stable.
After a rough start to his tenure owning the team, Steve Ballmer decided to let the basketball experts do what they do best, hiring a front office squad that included Jerry West. As a special consultant, West has been part of the team with GM Michael Winger that helped Los Angeles to be more than the sum of their parts this season.
According to a report from Shams Charania, West will remain with the Clippers after signing a new deal with the team.
The Clippers have a big offseason coming up, with a lot of cap space available and of course Kawhi Leonard or Kevin Durant potentially on their horizon as free agents.
West holds some serious weight, not only in the Los Angeles basketball sphere but around the NBA. The Clippers will need him as they try to angle their way to the next step after a quick rebuild.
Zion Williamson likely went into Tuesday’s NBA Draft lottery with the expectation that he would end up somewhere like New York, Phoenix, Chicago or maybe even Atlanta. These were big-market teams with double-digit odds of landing the top pick.
But, of course, it didn’t work out that way on Tuesday night.
The Pelicans’ 6 percent chance of landing Williamson proved to be enough on this night. And just like that: Williamson’s hopes of becoming a box-office hit in New York were dashed.
Instead of heading to the Big Apple, the former Duke star is — in all likelihood — off to the Big Easy. He will call the Smoothie King Center home and not Madison Square Garden.
But … what if Zion Williamson simply does not want to play for the Pelicans? He doesn’t have to.
Sure, the notion is farfetched at this stage, and Williamson said all the right things leading up to the lottery. He wouldn’t name a preferred destination. He said he would be happy with any team that drafted him.
Yet, you have to think that he said those remarks with, at worst, the Atlanta Hawks in mind — not New Orleans. He’s supposed to be entering the league as the most marketable player since LeBron James, and going to the NBA’s second smallest market doesn’t serve his interests.
This is where Zion could leverage a move out of New Orleans. It would cause mayhem across the league and lead to some very angry calls into the Pelicans ticket office, but this is Zion’s life. If New Orleans isn’t where he wants to be, there are ways to bring about a change.
Let’s break down the options.
Return to Duke
It’s hilarious to think that when Williamson suffered a knee sprain thanks to an exploding Nike sneaker, there were calls for Williamson to leave Duke and prepare for the NBA. And now, we’re starting to hear a complete reversal on that sentiment. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst brought up the possibility during Wednesday’s The Jump.
Under new NCAA rules, players are allowed to hire agents for the NBA Draft process and still return to school. And Williamson hasn’t even gone that far. He remains without an agent, and his eligibility is intact.
Williamson would have until the June 10 deadline to remove his name from the draft. This would be the most shocking scenario. As much as playing in New Orleans might hurt Zion from a marketing standpoint, an extra year of unpaid basketball (albeit at Duke) would prove too risky and unlikely.
Williamson could use Duke — an experience that he considered the best year of his life — as leverage to force New Orleans to trade the pick. It would just be difficult to see Duke being used as anything other than a prop or a bluff.
The option is on the table, though. Coach K wouldn’t say no.
Pull an Eli Manning
You may remember that back in the 2004 NFL Draft, Eli Manning made it known that he would not play for the then-San Diego Chargers. He demanded that the Chargers either trade the pick or pass on him. The Chargers opted to draft Manning, which led to an awkward draft-day photo, but ultimately traded him to the Giants.
Williamson could communicate a similar message to the Pelicans brass and work out a deal to a larger market. The Pelicans wouldn’t have much reason to abide by such a request after the June 10 deadline, but they could certainly try to shop the pick for franchise-building value.
Withdraw from the draft
If Williamson doesn’t want to play in New Orleans but also doesn’t want to spend another year of unpaid basketball, he doesn’t have to.
He can withdraw from the NBA Draft altogether before the June 10 deadline and dedicate the next year to training, playing for Team USA basketball or even explore options overseas.
Then, when the 2020 NBA Draft lottery arrives, he’ll have another shot at landing with a desired franchise. Still, there’s no guarantee that a more desirable city would land next year’s No. 1 pick. It could be New Orleans again, which would be hilarious.
As interesting as the idea would be, it’s not worth sacrificing a year of an NBA career for something so unknown. At the very least, this possibility could be used to leverage a trade — just that leverage disappears once the June 10 deadline passes.
Unless something absolutely absurd unfolds, Zion Williamson will be in New Orleans next season. Sorry, Knicks fans.
Bucks finish with a flourish, rally to top Raptors 108-100
MILWAUKEE — Down for most of the game, clearly rusty at times after nearly a full week off, the Milwaukee Bucks looked very much like a team in trouble.
Until the fourth quarter.
The team with the NBA’s best record this season found its stride at the perfect time.
Brook Lopez scored 13 of his career playoff-high 29 points in the fourth quarter, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 24 points and the Bucks closed the game on a 10-0 run to beat the Toronto Raptors108-100 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee forced Toronto to miss its final eight shots and outscored the Raptors 32-17 in the fourth.
“I think it speaks a little bit to the character of the group,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “They just stick with it. I think it’s become a little bit of a theme in the playoffs: I think eventually, hopefully, we feel like if we stick with what we’re doing good things will happen for us.”
Lopez had a dunk with 2:20 left to put the Bucks ahead for good, added a 3-pointer on the next Milwaukee possession to push the lead to four and the Bucks — after trailing for the overwhelming majority of the game — did just enough in the final minutes to grab the series lead.
“I think this game definitely made us better,” Antetokounmpo said.
“We just did a great job of sticking with what we’ve been doing all postseason long,” Lopez said.
Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points and Kyle Lowry added 30 for the Raptors, who led by as many as 13 early and took an 83-76 lead into the final quarter. Lowry was 5 for 7 in the fourth — and his teammates were 0 for 15.
“Fourth quarter killed us, 32-17,” Lowry said. “They outplayed us in that fourth quarter. They got a little bit more aggressive. They made some big shots, made some big plays. It sucks when you lose like that. But we had our chance and we’ve got to learn from it.”
Lopez added 11 rebounds for the Bucks, who had three players post double-doubles. Antetokounmpo had 14 rebounds and Khris Middleton finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee, which is now 9-1 in this postseason.
The Bucks trailed for 37 of the game’s 48 minutes.
Didn’t matter. They stayed just close enough until they could finish with a serious kick.
“The way guys competed and just got after it … stands out to me,” Budenholzer said.
Pascal Siakam scored 15 for Toronto, including a 3-pointer over Antetokounmpo to end the third quarter and give the Raptors a seven-point lead with 12 minutes left.
It unraveled quickly from there. And now the Raptors, who came in on the high of winning a second-round Game 7 on a buzzer-beater by Leonard, have two days to regroup.
“The game is over,” Toronto’s Marc Gasol said. “We got to look back at it and learn but we can’t think too much about it. You come out Game 2 and try to win. You can’t replay this one.”
With the chants of Milwaukee’s motto — “Fear the deer! Fear the deer!” — bouncing throughout the building, the Bucks predictably came out flying.
The flurry was brief.
The Bucks missed seven consecutive shots, the Raptors made four 3-pointers in a span of three minutes, and that all helped become a 16-0 run by Toronto that turned an early 8-3 deficit into a 19-8 edge. The lead got as big as 13 later in the quarter on a fadeaway jumper by Leonard, and the Raptors held the lead the rest of the half.
Milwaukee had a chance to take its first lead since the opening minutes when Antetokounmpo went to the line for a pair of free throws with 8:17 left in the third and the Bucks down by one. He missed both and the Raptors peeled off the next nine points to rebuild a 10-point lead again.
But Toronto shot 5 for 22 in the fourth, the Bucks finally reclaimed the lead, and the Raptors’ chance to steal home-court went awry.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win on the road in an Eastern Conference final,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “And it didn’t turn out.”
Raptors: Toronto is now 3-15 in Game 1s. … The Raptors fell to 8-1 in these playoffs when leading at halftime. … Lowry’s seven 3-pointers were a season high, a playoff career high and one off his career high. … Leonard, who made the already-immortal four-bounce-off-the-rim jumper to win Game 7 of the second round against Philadelphia, got a friendly bounce in the third quarter — when a jumper hit the iron three times before falling.
Bucks: Oscar Robertson, part of Milwaukee’s lone NBA title team, was recognized in the first quarter and held the 1971 championship trophy — a large silver bowl atop a wooden base, not the golden Larry O’Brien Trophy of now — for the fans to see. … Antetokounmpo started super-fast with two baskets, a steal, a rebound and a blocked shot, all in the first 85 seconds. … Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament was courtside.
With Pau Gasol injured, George Hill is the only Milwaukee player who had appeared in a conference finals game before Wednesday. The Raptors have seven players who had been in at least one previously: Leonard, Danny Green and Serge Ibaka are all in this round for the fifth time, while Lowry, Marc Gasol, Norman Powell and Patrick McCawhave also been in this round before.
Leonard became the 14th player in NBA history to score 400 points in his team’s first 13 games of a postseason run. He now has 413 so far in these playoffs.