Grant Hill, whose father is from Baltimore, slams Donald Trump over offensive tweets about the city
Ryan Young | Yahoo Sports
While he wasn’t born in Baltimore himself, NBA Hall-of-Famer Grant Hill’s connections to the city run deep.
His father was born in Baltimore, and Hill would often spend time in the city with his family and friends.
That’s why, when President Donald Trump slammed the city and its congressman in a series of posts on social media this weekend, that Hill was one of many around the country who took offense
“It hurts. It’s unconscionable to think that the President of the United States would say that about a segment of the population,” Hill told CNN’s Van Jones on Sunday afternoon. “I have great memories and fond memories of my time in Baltimore, my grandparents, and spending summers there.
“Obviously Baltimore has gone through some challenges and struggles, like most cities have, in recent years, but the people there are good people.”
Hill played in the NBA from 1994-2013, most notably with the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns. The 46-year-old, who was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1994 NBA draft, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018.
One of the biggest things Hill took issue with was having to explain Trump’s words to his two daughters — something he doesn’t quite know how to do.
“It’s one of those things that, as a parent with young children, it’s hard to sort of explain,” Hill said on CNN. “It’s been ongoing. It’s been that way for the last three and a half years, really since the last election cycle.
“The idea that, regardless of who voted for you or not, you’re president for the entire country.”
Players move around constantly in today’s NBA, bouncing from team to team.
While fans may not always like the ever-changing landscapes in the league, that’s just how it has evolved over time — which, admittedly, makes for some extremely interesting free agency periods.
Zion Williamson, however, isn’t interested in following the status quo.
If he has it his way, he’ll spend his entire career with the New Orleans Pelicans.
“Personally, I’ve always told myself I want to stay with one team,” Williamson said, via Complex. “Growing up, I loved what Kobe did and Dirk did … Some people want to stay with one team but they get traded.
“My intentions are to stay with the Pelicans my whole career, but if something happens, I wouldn’t leave because I hate the place. It’s just the business.”
Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki, two of the best to ever play in the league, both spent their entire careers with one team — Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 seasons and Nowitzki with the Dallas Mavericks for 21 seasons, an NBA record.
Though it may seem simple, that’s not an easy task by any means. It takes a lot of factors, and a very special player, to remain in one city for an entire career. Even LeBron James, the best player in the league, has jumped around the NBA multiple times.
Yet after everything Williamson has shown the basketball world, it’s very plausible that the No. 1 overall draft pick has the pieces in place to be a one-player team. If he does, he could go down as one of the best professional athletes New Orleans has ever seen.
To be fair, however, the 19-year-old has only played in a single Summer League game. He may feel very differently after his initial contract is up and he hits free agency for the first time.
The last two summers have been dominated by “China Klay,” but Klay Thompson’s recovery after tearing his left ACL has given way to “Rehab Klay” this summer.
And “Rehab Klay” is nothing without man’s best friend.
Lorne Jackson, a friend of the Warriors guard, posted video on his Instagram story Friday of Thompson rehabbing. His bulldog Rocco was in the middle of it all.
Literally, as the dog lied down between Thompson’s legs.
After tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the Warriors’ season-ending loss to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Thompson’s bulldog has been a fixture in his rehab since undergoing surgery July 2. Thompson posted a picture of Rocco hanging out with him during his rehab earlier this month.
Drake’s starting bars in “Gold Roses,” one of the first singles of Ross’ new “Port of Miami 2” album, quickly described Durant’s Achilles injury and the trials he must endure by missing the upcoming 2019-20 season recovering from it:
You can listen to the song here, with Drake’s verse on KD coming at the 45-second mark:
Drake was among the fans witnessing the soul-crushing injury to Kevin Durant, who played 12 of the first 14 minutes of action in Game 5 before his tendon went out on a drive against former teammate Serge Ibaka.
In the last few seconds of the clip below, Drake can be seen consoling Durant as he made his way to the locker room, visibly frustrated right after he walked past him and into the bowels of Scotiabank Arena:
It was only a matter of time before Drake put those emotions into his lyrics, keeping a friend in mind despite the short-lived rivalry they’ve had through the course of the NBA Finals.
Judging by Durant’s “like” on Instagram, it seems KD and Drizzy are back to being old friends once again.
Thanks to a report from ESPN about the board of governors’ meetings earlier this month — just after the wildest NBA offseason ever — we know that there’s a lot of hand-wringing going on among the league’s owners over free-agent tampering.
Just look at what happened when the moratorium was lifted. Everyone mocked the rules and made tampering jokes when they saw reporters like Adrian Wojnarowski were breaking deals with full contract terms just minutes into the legal free agency period — even though teams were supposed to be barred up to that point from recruiting players and speaking with agents.
So how do you fix the problem that might have owners — particularly those who just saw their stars jump ship — alarmed?
The league could crack down more and enforce the rules it has in place, but as the ESPN report notes, NBA general counsel Rick Buchanan “asked the group if they were comfortable with the league ‘seizing servers and cellphones.’”
You also can’t somehow bar players from speaking with each other and conspiring to play together. That’s both ridiculous and impossible to police.
Here’s my idea, and it’s sort of inspired by something commissioner Adam Silver said on the subject (via the New York Times):
“I think it’s pointless at the end of the day to have rules that we can’t enforce. I think it hurts the perception of integrity around the league.”
So how about we just get rid of the idea of tampering altogether?
If teams and agents are all communicating with each other at various times throughout the year and discuss free-agents-to-be or perhaps how a disgruntled player might want out, then just make a full-on free-for-all to fit where we’re at now.
There is an argument to be had that this is troublesome for small- and mid-market teams who might not have the same shot at signing free agents that others do like we saw this offseason. The Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Heat and Celtics were among the teams who nabbed the big stars, and that included Paul George forcing his way out of Oklahoma City just after signing a long-term contract with the Thunder a year ago.
But look at what Thunder general manager Sam Presti wrote on Thursday in a fantastic column for The Oklahoman:
Given the way the league’s system is designed, small market teams operate with significant disadvantages. There is no reason to pretend otherwise. This in no way means we cannot be extraordinarily successful — we, and several other small to mid-market teams, are our own best examples of the ability to overcome these realities. It simply means we must be thinking differently, optimistically, finding our advantages by other means.
What he said! Some of these teams like the Thunder are inevitably going to be the team that unearths incredible talent, attempts to win with those players and then watches them either walk or be traded. They might not be the destination for a superstar, sadly, and we know the supermax contract isn’t working the way it was supposed to. So there’s a level of acceptance here that Presti’s pointing out, and that comes along with, say, a free agent like Kawhi Leonard getting George to force a trade to come play with him in L.A. Find a way to build your team a different way — I point to what the Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers did over the last few years and finally cemented this summer with some smart signings of non-superstar talent and good trades.
This solution also makes sure that the league doesn’t do anything to damage a free agency system that captivates fans like no other sport’s offseason. We refreshed Twitter for days on end as July began, watching as the league mutated by the minute and ended with parity, something the NBA hasn’t had in years.
Is it imperfect? Sure. But we’ve opened Pandora’s box with free agency. Players have most of the control and they’re not about to cede it. The next best thing is to simply accept the situation we’re in now and make it legal.
Why Shaun Livingston ending NBA career with Clippers is ‘ideal fit’
Marcus White | NBC SPORTS
Shaun Livingston is looking for one last NBA home.
The veteran guard, whom the Warriors waived about two weeks ago, told the Peoria Journal Star at his Pride of Peoria basketball camp Thursday that he is hoping to play one final season. Although he still is considering retirement, the 33-year-old told the paper that he has an ideal spot in mind.
Livingston said he wants to return to where his NBA career began and join the Los Angeles Clippers.
“That would be awesome, the ideal fit,” Livingston said Wednesday. “That would be a part of coming full circle. But it has to work on their end. If there’s a spot, an opportunity, that would probably make the most sense. There’s been some interest (on the Clippers’ part). It’s about whether they’re ready to pull the trigger.”
Livingston joined the Clippers straight out of high school, getting selected No. 4 overall in the 2004 NBA Draft. In the middle of his third NBA season, Livingston simultaneously tore the ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus in his left knee and dislocated his patella, tibia and femur. He missed the entirety of the 2007-08 season as he recovered, and played for seven teams over the ensuing six seasons. He signed with the Warriors in 2014 and proceeded to win three NBA titles with Golden State.
The Warriors waived Livingston early this offseason so the team could stay below the “hard cap” in the aftermath of D’Angelo Russell’s sign-and-trade. Livingston’s minutes declined in each of the last three seasons, but Steve Kerr told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami earlier this month that Livingston will leave behind a void.
“Man, I am sad,” Kerr said at the time. “Shaun is just an incredible human being. So poised and measured, mature, smart. We are going to miss him.”
There is a chance Livingston does not play next season. He detailed to the Journal Star that his body requires maintenance on a daily basis as the devastating leg injury “has become more troublesome with age.” Livingston thinks he can be a valuable mentor and veteran contributor but is OK with the possibility that he has played his last NBA game.
“Rosters are being filled up right now,” he said. “If an opportunity comes up and it makes sense on my end, I’ll jump at that opportunity. If it doesn’t, it’s been a helluva ride.”
The Clippers are in a much different position than when Livingston began his career with the team. The franchise now is owned by Steve Ballmer and brought in reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and two-way star Paul George in a blockbuster summer. They have 14 players under contract, but nearly $5 million in space below the luxury tax. That’s more than enough to sign Livingston for the veteran’s minimum (just over $2.5 million).
Whether or not Livingston suits up for the Warriors’ re-loaded division rival remains to be seen, but it’s easy to see why the prospect of winning one more ring in the place his career began — and nearly ended — appeals to the veteran guard.
Bucks’ Kyle Korver helping Giannis Antetokounmpo improve his shot
Noam Bernstein | CLUTCH POINTS
New Milwaukee Buck Kyle Korver is already proving useful to his new team by helping MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo work on his jumper. Here’s a clip of the two teammates running through some shooting drills together:
Last season, Korver averaged 8.6 points a game, splitting the season between the Utah Jazz and the Clevland Cavaliers. He shot 38.4 percent from downtown, a little below his career average of 42.9.
Korver was recently signed by the Bucks to a one year, $2.5 million contract. He is already considered one of the best shooters of all time and gets a chance to advance on the all-time most three-pointers made list. The veteran sniper currently sits at fourth on the list, 131 behind Stephen Curry and 209 behind Reggie Miller.
On the other hand, the one weakness in Antetokounmpo’s game has been his jump shot. The Greek Freak managed to win the MVP in a league dominated by the three-point shot while only shooting only 25.6 percent from three. Opponents frequently leave him open beyond 26 feet, daring him to shoot. If Antetokounmpo can develop even an average stroke from deep, he will become the most deadly player in the league.
Besides knocking down triples, Korver can help the Bucks by training Antetokounmpo and ensuring he gets his shots up. Having the legendary shooter on the roster could greatly improve Giannis’ stroke and hopefully his shooting percentage.
Player empowerment is reaching new peaks. How will the league and the players respond?
Zach Lowe | ESPN
Kawhi Leonard nudging Paul George out of Oklahoma City with two years remaining on George’s contract will go down as a watershed moment in the NBA — for the teams it built and tore apart; for the bounty the Thunder received; but mostly for what it signified about the degree to which superstars now control roster-building.
Leonard lending George leverage is a new extension of player empowerment. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar demanded a trade in 1974. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh synchronized their free agencies to build their own team in a city of their choosing.
Nine years later, James publicly lusted after Anthony Davis — a player under contract to another team who soon requested a trade. Rich Paul, the agent James and Davis share, cooled some of the broader market in a way that ended up favoring James’ Los Angeles Lakers. Leonard’s ploy with George to join forces on the LA Clipperswas essentially a stealth, sped-up version of that — though with George under contract for at least one season longer than Davis.
Under the terms of an NBA contract, a team agrees to pay a player in exchange for basketball services — with the understanding that the team can trade that player whenever it wants. The best players trading themselves reverses that dynamic. Trade requests don’t tilt the playing field out of balance. They even it.
Some officials — and even some agents — argue players put teams at an unfair disadvantage when requests come with short destination lists intended to chill the market. That is unpersuasive. Suitors understand their odds of re-signing traded stars. A lot of teams cornered into dealing stars have done well despite such lists becoming public.
The best players have few ways to leverage their stature. They get drafted and sign four-year contracts. After four seasons, they enter restricted free agency; their team has a right to match any offer. It takes at least seven years before the world’s best players have total freedom in choosing where to play.
All along, the NBA’s maximum contract limits their salary to something below what they would earn in an open market. They have few levers to pull. A trade request is the most potent.
In theory, trade requests grow more effective as a player approaches free agency: I can leave soon, so you might as well trade me now. The NBA and the players’ union accelerated that process by agreeing to reduce contract lengths. Players are bolder about taking two- and three-year deals if doing so means reentering free agency after their 10th season — when most become eligible for the largest possible contract.
The NBA knew shorter deals would generate more player movement, if only because players would cycle in and out of free agency more often. I’m not sure they expected something like what transpired with Leonard and George.
But acting with so much time left on George’s deal juiced that return. Agents defend trade requests by pointing out it is better for the jilted team than having a superstar walk for nothing. They are inarguably right. The Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans — after their trade of Davis to the Lakers — have futures that were otherwise closed off to them. They might end up the ultimate “winners” of their respective trades.
But this is basketball, not asset-ball. The point is to build actual teams. The combination of shorter contracts and more frequent trade requests probably compresses the window to build and replenish teams, executives say.
I wonder if we are losing something — from the perspectives of team-building, basketball style and fan engagement. It probably is harder now to build great teams that can sustain for six, eight, even 10 seasons. The apex of basketball happens when great players stay together for a long time — when they develop chemistry and mutual understanding so deep that they almost act as one shape-shifting entity. They communicate in winks and nods. They anticipate where each teammate will be before he gets there. It is almost as if they can pass and cut blindfolded.
Are we losing that? Some executives have speculated for years that coaches might simplify schemes as a way of adapting to roster churn. Others find this concern a little naive. One executive from a team with a fairly intricate offense noted his team hasn’t had trouble finding free agents with the feel and smarts to pick it up fast.
But that same executive — and several others — cited the “beautiful game” of the 2013 and 2014 San Antonio Spurs as the sort of stylistic achievement, almost a basketball euphoria, that will be harder to reach if the league trends toward more superstar player movement. San Antonio coaches and executives were adamant they needed years to master the style that obliterated LeBron’s last Miami Heatteam into abject, shoulder-sagging surrender. Even San Antonio’s role players — Patty Mills, Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, Danny Green, Cory Joseph — were in at least their third seasons with the Spurs when they found nirvana in 2014.
The counterpoint, of course, is the Golden State Warriors. They redefined basketball style. Their core players stuck together for a half-decade, and their three founding superstars remain. They just made five straight NBA Finals. They might not have made all five without the fluky cap spike that allowed them to add Kevin Durant, but they are damned good without him.
The Warriors drafted those three stars, including one all-time great player in Stephen Curry. They rose to prominence with all three still on rookie contracts, leaving flexibility to dot the roster with win-now veterans. They re-signed Curry and Draymond Green to extensions below their respective maximum salaries — way below in Curry’s case. Teams rearranging entire rosters to add multiple max-salaried veteran stars cannot replicate that model.
Those kinds of microwaved teams might just have a limited shelf life. Veteran superstars are about 30, or older. Upending rosters to fit them often leaves little depth or means of adding any. Great teams draft at the bottom of the first round. Most one-and-done prospects selected in that range will not be ready to play real postseason minutes until the core superstars have aged.
Teams deal picks in acquiring stars anyway. After years of teams hoarding first-round picks like gold, the Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets tossed away at least two apiece this summer. Most did so in pursuit of legitimate stars, and for the L.A. teams, three of the top 12 players in the league — and two of the best half-dozen. You gather picks precisely to get those sorts of players when you have a window to win big. The difference is you used to get them for longer.
The Clippers traded an unprecedented bounty — five picks, two swaps, Danilo Gallinari and one good young player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who might be more valuable than all that stuff — to effectively acquire both George and Leonard. Leonard ended up signing for only two guaranteed seasons; he and George can both hit free agency in two years.
Two years is nothing. If one star tweaks a knee in May, Year 1 is toast, and they are instantly on expiring contracts. Maybe George and Leonard — natives of the L.A. area — have indicated a willingness to re-sign in 2021; Leonard might have insisted on the two-year deal to get back into free agency after his 10th season. But things can change. If Year 1 goes sideways, the noise about the future of the George-Leonard partnership will intensify.
As one rival executive put it, the Thunder-Clippers trade could go down as “one of the two or three most lopsided deals ever, and also one the Clippers were right to do anyway.”
Elsewhere in the league, continuity lives. The Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers are banking on it. They have to. An underplayed subplot of this summer is that five superstars relocated to New York and Los Angeles. You can gloss over it by pointing out that the Nets and Clippers were never free-agent destinations and that the Knicks whiffed again. Fair.
But the photo negative almost never happens. Multiple top-10 players do not conspire to get to Indiana, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, Portland, Detroit, Minnesota. It has rarely happened other than (kind of) in LeBron’s second Cleveland stint, and waiting for a generational player to be born near your non-glamour market — and to feel the pull of home — is not a replicable plan.
Teams in those markets can’t afford to hemorrhage picks the way Houston, Golden State and the L.A. teams just did.
Those teams — and the league office — are reckoning post-Kawhi with what the endgame of player empowerment might look like. When will a superstar coming off his rookie deal sign the one-year qualifying offer — allowing him to enter unrestricted free agency after his fifth season and signaling his intention to leave?
Qualifying offers are getting huge now — into the $15 million-plus range for top draft picks. That is about half of what those players could earn in that one season by signing new long-term max contracts, but it’s life-changing money. What if a player really wants out? What if he has a huge shoe deal?
What if the players’ union pushes for the abolition of restricted free agency in the next round of collective bargaining agreement talks?
“We have always strove to loosen the restrictions in free agency,” says Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. “We will do that again in the next CBA negotiations.”
On the Bill Simmons podcast last week, Simmons and I discussed what Gersson Rosas, Minnesota’s new president of basketball operations, might say if Karl-Anthony Towns requested a trade tomorrow. My response: Remind Towns he is under contract through 2023-24 and reassure him the Timberwolves will build a better team around him.
That would probably work. Time is on Minnesota’s side. But what if a player in Towns’ position pouts in practice and decides to play at three-quarters speed until his request is granted? What if he complains of general soreness — back, knee, whatever — and asks to sit out for maintenance?
Requesting a trade does not (to me) amount to breach of contract; teams trade players all the time. But some of the above scenarios at least approach that territory. Teams can fine players for sitting out without good cause. They never will, because they know doing so will alienate other stars.
These kinds of doomsday scenarios sound far-fetched. In the aggregate, that is probably correct. Few players are prepared to toss away entire seasons and stain their reputations. Teams with time on their side can wait players out. But basketball is a sport of stars. It takes only one or two veering into this area every decade for it to be something that matters. People around the league are absolutely scared of it becoming a thing.
As for the nuts and bolts of it all, there are some tweaks under discussion, including returning to longer contracts or providing incumbent teams even more of a years-and-money advantage. Not long ago, a lot of teams agitated for a move away from longer deals; bad six- and seven-year contracts locked them in cap prison.
But one key variable has changed: The cap goes up every season. From 2005 through 2014 — almost a full decade — the cap rose only from $49.5 million to $58.6 million. It stayed at almost exactly $58 million for six consecutive seasons. It has almost doubled to $109 million over the five seasons since. A bad long-term deal is a little less damaging now.
(A bad max deal starting at 35% of the cap is still crippling. Ask the Washington Wizards. I proposed a few cap-related remedies for that here: tax relief; one-time-only supermax amnesty provisions; small cap exceptions for teams that sign players to supermax deals; making deals that start at 35% of the cap count for exactly that much in every season, even if the cap holds flat; and more.)
The union might push back on any move to lengthen contracts that chips away at any of the short-term flexibility stars currently enjoy.
“We have heard the grumblings about players ‘running the league’ and how the league might try to rein things in by further modifying and restricting free agency,” Roberts says. “We will fight any effort by the governors to revert back to the olden days.”
The league could broaden access to contract extensions. Boston would have offered Irving an extension last fall, sources say, but rules capped Irving’s first-year salary in such a deal at 120% of his 2018-19 salary — well short of what he stood to make by entering unrestricted free agency.
Right now, players who sign new contracts in free agency cannot be traded until Dec. 15 of the following season at the earliest. A few team executives proposed extending that no-trade period to two full years after a player signs a four- or five-year contract. I suspect a lot of teams and stars would object.
It’s too early for anything so drastic. Leonard coaxing George into a very early trade request is not indicative of any widespread problem. But it was a remarkable moment in NBA history and one that has insiders of all stripes — players, agents, team executives, the league office — wondering what comes next.
After Kawhi Leonard left them at the altar to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers filled out the rest of their roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis with a host of solid veterans like DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green and Avery Bradley.
While the Lakers’ current roster makes a lot more sense than last season’s iteration, Rob Pelinka reportedly is leaving the final spot on his roster open for a guy he believes can be an “X-factor” for the Lakers.
“There are no regrets about the way they pursued Kawhi Leonard,” McMenamin said Tuesday on “SportsCenter.” “Now, they have a roster they feel happy about. They feel good about the way they were able to build post-Kawhi, getting Danny Green, getting a guy like DeMarcus Cousins, bringing back some continuity from last season, but leaving a roster spot open to potentially get Andre Iguodala if he is bought out of his $17.2 million deal.
“A 2015 Finals MVP, a guy who was repped by Lakers GM Rob Pelinka when he was an agent, and a guy who just as recently as Game 6 of the NBA Finals, dropped 22 points, almost bringing it back to Toronto. They feel like he could be an X-factor type of guy to add with the group they already have.”
Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, was traded by the Warriors to the Memphis Grizzlies in order to be able to clear enough cap space for the Dubs to be able to complete the sign-and-trade that netted them D’Angelo Russell in exchange for Kevin Durant and a first-round draft pick.
The Grizzlies reportedly have no plans to buy out the veteran swingman, hoping instead to swap him to a contender for assets. If the Grizzlies do buy out Iguodala either before the season begins or shortly thereafter, he should have no shortage of suitors for his services, including the Rockets and aforementioned Clippers.
If the Lakers somehow land Iguodala, it would be yet another perfect complementary piece alongside James and Davis.
As for the Warriors, the five-time defending Western Conference champions are hoping the combination fo Steph Curry, Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell can keep them in the West hunt until Klay Thompson can return from injury.
If both the Lakers and Warriors make the playoffs (they should), it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like for Iguodala to face his old mates now looking to help James secure another ring instead of trying to derail his title quest.