Posts Tagged ‘2018 NBA Season’

 NBA: Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings
Gordon Hayward is officially bound for Beantown, with the Boston Celtics announcing Friday they signed the prized unrestricted free agent.

After spending the first seven years of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz, Hayward tested the open market for the first time this summer, meeting with his incumbent team in addition to the Celtics and Miami Heat.

In a saga documented by his agent, Mark Bartelstein, Hayward changed his mind multiple times before making the “gut-wrenching” choice to leave the only club he’s ever known for greener pastures in Boston.

Hayward personally announced the decision with a post on The Players’ Tribune, indicating he thinks he can win a title with the Celtics, who reached the Eastern Conference finals this past season. The Indiana native is also excited to reunite with Brad Stevens, who was his coach at Butler and currently mans the sidelines for the men in green.

The Jazz and Celtics reportedly discussed sign-and-trade options involving Hayward and small forward Jae Crowder, but Danny Ainge ultimately elected against compensating his new star’s former club.

Although nothing materialized on that front, Boston did need to clear cap space in order to pay Hayward the max, so the organization shipped off starting shooting guard Avery Bradley – who has one year and $8.8 million left on his contract – to the Detroit Pistons.

The Celtics rolled out the red carpet for the 27-year-old Hayward, enhancing their recruiting meeting with a video at Fenway Park and appearances from stars he’d join in Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford.

Hayward’s coming off his best season yet, as he averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and a steal over 73 games. He also earned his first All-Star nod and led the Jazz to the West semifinals.

In Boston, he’ll round out a talented Big Three and boost the club’s chances of taking down the Cleveland Cavaliers, who eliminated the Celtics in five games in the East finals.

OKC Thunder Paul George

Just like the rest of the NBA world, Paul George was stunned to learn he’d been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the eve of free agency.

While the move may have caught the 6-foot-9 forward by surprise, George said he’s happy to be part of a true contender, believing the combination of him and Russell Westbrook will give the Thunder a solid shot at winning a championship.

“It was surprising. This team wasn’t one of the teams that we had in mind,” George told ESPN’s Royce Young. “I thought I was going to four or five other teams that were pretty active in trade (talks). When I found out it was OKC, I was quite surprised but at the same time I was happy about the trade. I was thrilled, I was looking forward to it. All I wanted was a chance and an opportunity to play for something special and ultimately to try and win a championship and right off the bat I think I can do that here playing alongside Russ.”

The Pacers began engaging teams about potential deals for George after the four-time All-Star reportedly told the franchise he intended to leave Indiana as a free agent in 2018. While a number of teams expressed interest in the 27-year-old, Oklahoma City rarely came up as possible destination.

George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.6 steals on 46.1 percent shooting this past season.

riley

Everyone in the league has their own solution to address tanking, but Miami Heat president Pat Riley’s suggestion might be the most entertaining.

Riley wants non-playoff teams to play a tournament for the right to select first overall, instead of having a random lottery with weighted odds determine their fate.

“What I’d like to have is a two-out-of-three lottery playoff … The lottery teams play a tournament for that (No. 1) pick,” Riley told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel on Monday.

Riley added, “No more tanking at the end … so play for it. Let’s have a little playoff for the top pick in the draft.”

The current rules reward those at the bottom and penalize teams that come closest to making the playoffs. A franchise like the Los Angeles Lakers that had no aspirations of winning landed the second pick for a third straight year, while a team like the Heat that refused to tank after a 11-30 start got the No. 14 selection following a brilliant finish.

Under Riley’s structure, there would always be an incentive to build the strongest roster possible. The Heat didn’t make the playoffs, but their roster would have ranked as a favorite to win the lottery sweepstakes and take the top pick. At the very least, it would create an entertaining product.

But there are flaws, too, with Riley’s plan. Low playoff seeds might choose to tank into the lottery if they prefer a strong chance at a pick over a small chance in the postseason. This structure might also leave poor franchises without any chance of upward mobility through the draft.

hero

The cost of doing business has risen significantly for the Golden State Warriors this offseason, and it’s put the team over the budget that owner Joe Lacob set.

“Joe is good in that we had a number heading into free agency as to what the budget was, and we’re way over it,” general manager Bob Myers told the Warriors Plus/Minus podcast with Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson.

This had been expected for some time, however. The Warriors were fortunate enough to have Stephen Curry on a bargain contract the last few years, something that helped them sign Kevin Durant last summer.

Yet in the last few weeks the Warriors locked up Curry to a five-year super-max contract, inked Durant to a two-year, $53-million deal, and re-signed Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and Zaza Pachulia. They’ve also added players in free agents Omri Casspi and Nick Young.

In all, approximately $335 million has been spent by the Warriors since July 1, putting their salary commitments for 2017-18 alone at about $136 million. That’s well into tax territory, with the luxury tax threshold set at $119.3 million next season.

Still, Myers says as long as the Warriors are winning, it’s worth it to Lacob.

“Here’s the thing to know about Joe,” Myers said. “He’s really competitive, and he wants to win. And so you have to balance that, like anyone does, with running a business. … you have to balance spending with running a business with trying to win championships.”

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The Dallas Mavericks may be entering a full-on rebuild, but the franchise likely would’ve treated this year’s offseason much differently had it been in the Eastern Conference, according to team owner Mark Cuban.

“We’re rebuilding, and there’s no question about it,” Cuban told ESPN during Sunday’s summer league game. “If we were in the East, we would not be rebuilding. We’d be handling things completely different.”

After whiffing on several big-name free agents in recent years, the Mavericks have taken a less aggressive approach this offseason, with longtime power forward Dirk Nowitzki serving as the team’s lone free-agent signing.

“I think I’m going to kidnap Adam Silver and not let him out until he moves us to the Eastern Conference,” Cuban joked. “Given where we are, given where the Warriors are, and what’s happening in the Western Conference, it kind of sealed what we have to do.”

Cuban hasn’t been afraid to share his thoughts on the imbalance in the two conferences, recently suggesting that the league should consider tweaking the current playoff format to help solve the disparity.

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The NBA is in no hurry to address the issue of conference imbalance.

It was reported recently that multiple Western Conference team owners reached out to the league to propose ways to solve the power disparity, with their half of the league being so much stronger than the East.

It’s a problem the NBA has had for some time, and delved into two years ago only to find that abolishing conferences would be infeasible.

“We concluded that given all the focus on sports science, health of our players, impact of travel, it didn’t make sense, at least at this time, to move to a balanced schedule, because again, we play an imbalanced schedule,” commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday at the Board of Governors presser, as quoted by ASAP Sports.

“Teams in the East obviously play each other more than teams in the West, and the notion is if you’re going to see one through 16, the only fair way to do it is then have a balanced schedule throughout the season.”

Silver explained that balancing out the schedule league-wide would necessitate far too much travel.

“The conclusion was that at least given the state of travel, the state of science on travel, we’re better off staying in the conference system the way we have it, and of course same implications for the playoffs; the notion, again, of having teams crisscrossing the country in the first round didn’t seem to make sense to our teams,” he added.

That said, the NBA isn’t ruling out the possibility of someday realigning conferences or changing the playoff format. In fact, Silver said he assumed the league will eventually look into it again.

“I think for the league, I think many of us felt a 1-through-16 playoff made more sense. And maybe there’s also the potential – it’s in some ways a separate issue, should you reseed after every round as some leagues do? I think those are the things we’ll continue to look at, but it’s not at the top of the agenda right now.”

Utah Jazz v Milwaukee Bucks

Rudy Gobert plans to stay in Utah for the long haul.

While circumstances can certainly change, the 7-foot-1 Frenchman appears to have every intention of remaining with the Jazz for the entirety of his career.

“Yeah. Why not?” Gobert told Jody Genessy of the Deseret News.

“To me, I think it would be stupid for me to leave right now,” he added. “I really love the organization. I love to live in Salt Lake.”

With Gordon Hayward now in Boston, Gobert undoubtedly ranks as the Jazz’s top player after being voted to both the All-Defensive first team and the All-NBA second team this past season.

Even after enduring a rough offseason, Gobert has high hopes for the Jazz going forward and remains optimistic that Utah can capture a title one day.

“My vision is to win a championship,” Gobert said. “It hasn’t changed.”

The Stifle Tower is coming off a season in which he averaged career highs in points (14), rebounds (12.8), and blocks (2.6), while shooting a blistering 66.1 percent from the floor.