Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas

The Boston Celtics have acquired All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers for point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 unprotected first-round pick, sources tell ESPN.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN is reporting the deal is done and official. The trade finally adds closure to the trade request Irving shockingly made in Mid-July. Irving joins the Celtics with Gordon Hayward who signed as a free agent this summer.

Thomas is recovering from hip surgery this off-season and entering his final year under contract. The Cavaliers will have to make a decision on LeBron James and Thomas at the end of the 2018 season. With the speculation of James booking it to Los Angeles the 2018 unprotected first-round pick can favor Cleveland achieving a top draft pick to recoup the loss of its superstars.

The Celtics and Cavaliers will open the season in Cleveland on Oct. 17.

Source: Jeff Goodman of ESPN

What Marvin Bagley Reclassifying Means For The Celtics

A live look at Celtics fans right now.
Image result for happy gif

Marvin Bagley is the best NBA prospect in at any level. He was the favorite to be the #1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. Unfortunately for the Celtics their last pick from the Nets comes in 2018, so they were primed to just miss out on him. Until he reclassified. I’m not sure how exactly he managed to move up a grade during the middle of August, but I don’t care, I’ll take it. 


In case you were curious why people are so excited about this kid here are some highlights:

 

The 2018 draft class is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS and Marvin Bagley is the best of the bunch. Bagley vs Porter will be an interesting debate all year, but I think Bagley will end up being the better all around player. The 2018 draft has five players that could legitimately be #1 draft picks in other years. Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter, Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton and Mohamed Bamba are all #1 level guys and the Celtics will likely have two top five picks next year.

 

 

Imagine the Celtics getting Bagley and Ayton! Adding those two the young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart is downright scary for other teams. That starting lineup has the potential to be dominant on both sides of the floor. If the ping pong balls were to fall the Celtics way again, we could be looking at a potential homegrown dynasty. Not to mention the stars they already have in place like Isaiah Thomas and Gordon Hayward.  Celtics fans should be salivating at the potential of this team because things are looking really good for the guys in green.

 

NBA releases full schedule for all 30 teams

The NBA has released the full schedule for the upcoming 2017-2018 NBA Season. Last week the opening week and Christmas Day games were announced.

The schedule will come with an earlier start with the season set to kick-off on October 17th this year. Commissioner Adam Silver promised a more favorable schedule in order to accommodate more rest. Teams will see a reduction in games played per week and some adjustments made to the travel plans to compensate for the extra rest. No team will be playing four games in five nights.

The season will kick-off with the Boston Celtics visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, October 17th. The defending champions, Golden State Warriors will follow-up and host the Houston Rockets that same night. Both games will be broadcasted on TNT.

As a few star players have exchanged zip codes there are a few notable games to take note of with their return to their former city. Paul George will get his first look in a Thunder uniform when he faces his former team in Indiana on December 13th. The game will be featured on ESPN. The Bulls reunion in Minnesota will make its way to Chicago on February 9th. Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson coached by Tom Thibodeau will make their only trip to Chicago then.

Gordon Hayward who opted to sign with the Boston Celtics will return to Utah on March 28th, that game will also be featured on ESPN. Chris Paul who was traded to the Houston Rockets will face his former team the Los Angeles Clippers on January 15th.

Other notable match-ups

October 26th: Pelicans @ Kings – DeMarcus Cousins was traded on All-Star Sunday and never got a chance to play against his former team, the Sacramento Kings.

November 15th: 76ers @ Lakers – The no.1 and no.2 pick respectfully will face off for the first time. Lonzo Ball and Markell Fultz are the top two picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. The match-up also comes with a little bit of social media trash talk as Joel Embiid was outspoken on his thoughts with LaVar Ball.

November 22nd: Warriors @ Thunder – Kevin Durant makes his return to Oklahoma City yet again. This time instead of a cherry on top of a cupcake there is a ring. Does the OKC crowd warm up to a champion?

January 15th: Warriors @ Cavaliers – The second game of the two-game series will be played in Cleveland. The interesting part about this game is if Kyrie will still be a member of the Cavaliers this late in the season. Should he not be traded prior to the start of the season.

January 3rd: Thunder @ Lakers – Only because Paul George is supposedly only considering to head home after this season. Laker fans will be showing up in already made PG-13 Laker jerseys attempting to woo him over to the dark side.

View the full 2017-2018 schedule here

Chevall Kanhai
NBA Baseline Times Contributor
@BaselineChevy

The Fantasy of an NBA Buyout Clause

In the foreign market of Soccer or better known as futbol, an expensive transaction is about to go down with one of the world’s best players. Barcelona’s Neymar Jr. is expected to have his buyout clause paid by Paris-Saint Germain. The €222 million buyout clause is expected to be paid in full. Neymar Jr. is now expected to move on and make €30m a year after taxes as a member of PSG. The trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar Jr. is broken up as they were a dominating super team of their own.

In 2014-2015, their first season together the trio won the  La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles respectively. Messi, Suárez, and Neymar scored 122 goals in all competitions, the most in a season for an attacking trio in Spanish football history. In the midst of their run Barcelona won 39 games in a row until April 2nd, 2016 with a 2–1 defeat to Real Madrid at Camp Nou. One-third of the trio is expected to disband as Neymar Jr. seeks a higher paying gig over the dominance of Barcelona in the La Liga. Although as of late, La Liga refuses to accept the buyout money, this idea of buying-out superstars is a curious invention in another league.

In the time and day of an NBA super team flexing their almighty strength, the Golden State Warriors currently have four All-Star players under contract. Stephen Curry signed the NBA’s first “supermax” deal this offseason in which he will be making $201 million over 5-years. The landscape of the NBA has shifted greatly in one summer after the Warriors showed how dominant they can be against a Lebron James lead Cavaliers and a 4-1 NBA Finals victory this past June.

Let’s think about this summer so far in the NBA. All of the superstar exchanges were a result of trades that occurred in a span of three weeks.  A domino effect of Kevin Durant choosing to join the 73-win Warriors last summer trickles into the summer of 2017 and 2018 the speculation gets even greater if Lebron will jump ship again from Cleveland. Signs of the times carry on as Kyrie Irving has requested a trade from the Cavaliers and would rather run game by himself instead of in Lebron’s shadow.

I’m never really a fan of “what if” but let’s play a game this summer shall we?

Money talks and bullshit walks. The possibility of an NBA franchise showing up to a player and saying we can buy you freedom if you come play with us is intriguing, right? The potential suitors Stephen Curry or Draymond Green could have makes you wonder. Anyone willing to spend some serious cash to break-up a super team?

The Carmelo Anthony drama continues in New York and with a no-trade clause in place the All-Star forward has his way in determining his future team. The Knicks may not be keen to buy out his contract as it does not allow them to have pieces in return for Anthony. Since the current NBA provisions only allow for their respective teams and a player to agree to the buyout no outside negotiations with other teams can be done with said player. Imagine if a team could just swoop in and save Anthony the trouble? Sure the Knicks could be relieved of a contract and they wouldn’t get any thing more in return but Anthony ultimately would have his full rights to go where he pleases with who ever he negotiates with.

Irving would certainly have more leverage in determining where he can play. He would be allowed to meet with suitors and settle on a new contract while negotiating his buyout amount with the Cavaliers. A trade request to the front office isn’t necessary and potential suitors would line-up to “buy” the All-Star guard. Of course, likewise in the soccer world, only the rich can succeed in buying an All-Star guard from an NBA team.

Could player buyout clauses help keep a check and balance system going in the NBA? The salary cap already provides a restriction on NBA franchises from overspending and buying whoever they’d like. Luxury tax penalties aren’t the greatest on an individual owner’s pockets as well. Yet, the Golden State Warriors are still intact and plan to be for the next 4-5 years in the NBA.

Paul George is now playing next to the NBA’s reigning MVP in Oklahoma City. The Houston Rockets were able to snatch away Chris Paul from the Houston Rockets to play next to MVP Candidate James Harden. Jimmy Butler is now in Minnesota next to Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Gordon Hayward joins his former college coach Brad Stevens in Boston as the first place team in last’s year Eastern Conference also grabbed Jayson Tatum at no. 3 in the 2017 NBA Draft. The rich just keep getting richer.

There are two realistic ways super teams currently break-up like a boy band. First, a player becomes unhappy like a Kyrie Irving who then would like to jump ship regardless of how dominant the Cavaliers are in the Eastern Conference. So, a trade request is put in while the team shuffles around for the best deal. Second, a free agency summer opens up for said superstar and they decide to take their talent elsewhere.

Again, what if teams can woo players by dangling millions more on their doorstep including a buyout clause sponsored by the buyer? Oh, I do realize that Kevin Durant did take about $9-$10 million less this summer to give the Golden State front office salary cap flexibility. However, Durant only signed a two-year deal in which he can still opt-out next season and potentially could demand a long-term deal. Stephen Curry is set to make near $40 million with his new contract. Durant’s deal is around $50 million for the two years. At $25 million a year, Durant is coming off an NBA Finals where he averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.6 blocks in five games. Also, KD is the 2017 NBA Finals MVP, something Stephen Curry did not even achieve in the 2015 NBA Finals.

Sure enough, endorsements may favor KD over Curry. However, he’s already taking $10 million less and a gap of $15 million less than Curry’s super max deal. How long and how many millions will Kevin Durant wait to hold out on before seeking more money?

Now, of course, all the dynamics of a salary cap in place and the big market teams having the most money would only make the richer even richer. Perhaps the league can sponsor some of the revenue to the smaller markets? Alright, the sun is out any my eyes are awake.

As the summer high winds down and my adult beverage wears off I’m back to reality. Regardless of buying players the NBA still can mount super teams but the options to break them up is slim to none. Of course, unless you’re Kyrie Irving and demand your way out from a championship caliber team.

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times NBA Contributor
@BaselineChevy

Why the Celtics are a dynasty with Kyrie Irving

So Jason McIntyre tweeted this earlier and the city of Boston lost its collective mind.

Look Celtics fans, I love Isaiah as much as the next guy but Kyrie is a better player plain and simple. Not only is Kyrie a better player than Isaiah he’s younger and he’s cheaper. Isaiah is going to want max money entering his 30-year-old season after next year. Kyrie is under team control for two years and is only going to be 27 when he is eligible for a new contract.

Let me preface this by saying McIntyre’s offer is too high on Boston’s side. Players who publically demand trades don’t usually get fair returns (see George, Paul). A more likely scenario is IT4, Jae Crowder, the Lakers/Kings and the Clippers/Memphis pick for Kyrie.

However, the Celtics can afford to overpay for a superstar as they still have a ridiculous collection of assets. They can afford to throw in a player like Yabusele or Ante Zizic or some of the SEVEN first round picks they have in the next 3 years to get a deal done. The Celtics can’t draft all those players; they just simply don’t have the room for all those rookies on a team that is trying to compete for a championship. They need to consolidate some of these assets into star players. Kyrie is a star player.

I get the argument for Isaiah, I really do. Kyrie’s and Isaiah’s the numbers last year are very comparable, with Isaiah having a slight edge in some categories. It’s important to remember when looking at these stats that Isaiah is playing in an offense that Brad Stevens has tailored to him. Kyrie is playing on a team and in a system that is centered around Lebron. While Lebron is the 2d best player to ever play basketball and he frequently makes those around him better, sometimes players don’t maximize their ability because they are deferring to him. Look at Kevin Love. K-Love was a double-double machine in Minnesota, in Cleveland he is a glorified spot up 3 point shooter. The point is Kyrie and Isaiah’s numbers are comparable now, but what would they be like if Kyrie was put in a system that maximizes his talent.

Even Isaiah and Kyrie’s defensive stats are pretty similar

While their numbers are similar, there is a huge difference between these two players defensively. Isaiah is a bad defender because he is undersized, Kyrie is a bad defender because his effort is lacking on that side of the ball. Effort can be improved, height cannot.

The Celtics are in a position to get a 25-year-old superstar. It’d cost them a 28-year-old dynamic scoring point guard, one of the leagues best contracts and some picks to get it done but that is a price worth paying for Kyrie. Isaiah’s hip injury scares me more than it does most, this is the same injury that derailed Jonny Flynn’s career. I get that Jonny Flynn was never of Isaiah Thomas’s caliber but he was very good in his rookie year before the injury and relied on his speed and quickness as a smaller guard, sound familiar? Those physical attributes never returned after the injury. I am rooting for Isaiah, but there is no guarantee he is going to ever be the player he was before the injury. Jae Crowder needs to go, he’s on this team because of his contract. The truth is the Celtics have way too many SF’s. Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, Abdel Nader, their primary position is the 3. Sure they can play other positions but that’s still way too many guys who basically play the same position. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are the future of this team, they need minutes to develop.

The Celtics best chance at a title is going to be a core of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and the 2018 Nets pick. Kyrie Irving will still be in his prime when those guys come into their own as NBA players. Gordon Hayward will still be a very good NBA player at that point as well. That version of the Celtics has a chance to not only be a title contender but a title favorite. Beating the Warriors in the next few years is going to be near impossible, Trading for a player like Kyrie extends your title window exponentially. He has the ability to be a superstar player in both your current title window and with the future core. Losing players like IT4 and Jae Crowder hurts but if you look at the big picture and what Kyrie can bring to your team, in the long run, it’s an opportunity definitely worth exploring.

 

Matt McKenna
Baseline Times NBA Contributor

 

Potential trades the Cavaliers can make for Kyrie Irving

As reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Kyrie Irving reportedly has met with the Cleveland Cavaliers front office last week and requested a trade. The news also comes with the notion that Irving is seeking an opportunity where he can be the focal point of an offense and does not want to continue to play alongside Lebron James. The news comes within the mix of the Cavaliers promoting assistant GM Koby Altman to the GM role. The Cavaliers chose to forgo extending former GM David Griffin’s contract last month as the Cavaliers were in talks of trading for Paul George.

Some of the teams Irving is rumored to favor are New York, Minnesota, San Antonio and Miami. Per Irving’s agent, “Kyrie and I had a meeting with Cavs leadership where we discussed many different scenarios in reference to Kyrie and his future with the team,” Jeff Wechsler told ESPN. “The basis of those discussions and what went on in those discussions are between the Cavs and us. We are respectfully going to keep those private.”

While it seems the NBA’s landscape looks entirely different the Cavaliers have made a few quiet moves this summer. The Golden State Warriors kept their core super team in power by signing Stephen Curry to a supermax deal and Kevin Durant to a two-year deal. The neighboring Boston Celtics acquired Gordon Hayward in free agency, the Houston Rockets acquired Chris Paul via trade, and the Minnesota Timberwovles received Jimmy Butler from Chicago. The Cavaliers summer has only been signing free agents Jeff Green and Jose Calderon in addition to re-signing Kyle Korver. Cleveland also signed Turkish forward Cedi Osman to a three-year deal.

Should the Cavaliers attempt to pull the trigger early and trade Irving prior to the start of the 2017-2018 season here are a few ideas that might make sense for each team.

San Antonio Spurs
In this deal, the Cavaliers get rid of the Tristian Thompson contract and could potentially be renting LaMarcus Aldridge for one year. Aldridge would have one year remaining and could opt out and leave Cleveland to seek another opportunity elsewhere. Previously, it has been that the Spurs are placing Aldridge up on the trade block, uncertain if he would sign long-term. The risk but the high reward is that Lebron James has an All-Star next to Kevin Love. Now I know what you’re thinking, why would the Cavaliers need two big men? As teams begin to play smaller the Cavaliers could play Aldridge at the center spot and have Love play his traditional stretch-four position. Danny Green is a filler who will also have a player option in 2018. This could free up cap space for the Cavaliers should this go awry and the rest button is the next best choice.

New York Knicks
This wild thought isn’t Rihanna here. However, LeBron is close with Eric Bledsoe and Carmelo Anthony is a banana boat buddy. This could be the savior for the Cavaliers not to lose a direction of contending for a championship. The Suns will have to take on the salary dump of J.R. Smith and Frye would be expiring as he has one year left. Throw a few draft picks their way to call it a deal. The Knicks reunite with Tyson Chandler who the Suns have previously tried to move. The Knicks would get Irving as their centerpiece next to Kristaps Porzingas.

Miami Heat
If the Miami Heat is a team Irving is strongly considering then there isn’t a whole lot that can be offered for Cleveland unless a third team is involved. Straight up the Cavaliers can obtain Goran Dragic and Justice Winslow. The Heat also has a 2019 and 2020 first-round pick they can send to Cleveland or another destination if a third team is in play. The Cavaliers would have to take on an aging Dragic but also locked into a three-year deal still. Not a favorable deal for Cleveland and they may want to include a third team to recruit more talent their way.

Minnesota Timberwolves 
Since the Timberwolves just signed Jeff Teague to a three-year deal this summer they will have to wait until December 15th before they can trade him. If the Cavaliers can hold off and would prefer to send Irving to the Western Conference and out of the East then, Minnesota would be a preferred destination. It is rumored that Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns both are actively recruiting Irving. The chances of Irving heading to Minnesota would be low if a third team cannot be brought it and the Cavaliers would like to make a deal done before the summer is over.

Other suitors
With Danny Ainge stockpiling assets Boston is always going to be in the mix for potential trade destinations. Since John Wall has just signed his four-year extension with the Wizards it is now unlikely that he will be moved. As this news comes with shock there could be many other teams that come out of left field and become involved.

2017 NBA Vegas Summer League: A Purple and Gold Affair

“The Lakers are back”

After the summer league roster of the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Portland Trailblazers 110-98, Magic Johnson had those very same words. Johnson would be interview center-court as the young Lakers celebrated their summer league championship in a poor man’s fashion as to the Golden State Warriors celebration just about a month ago.

Kyle Kuzma was announced the MVP of the Finals game with 30 points and 10 rebounds. The Lakers No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball did not play due to an injury in the final game. However, Ball would receive the overall MVP for the Vegas league as he averaged 16.3 points, a summer 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. The 9.3 assists per game is a summer league high and a record that Ball now holds.

The past couple of weeks the feature of ESPN turned into Lonzo Ball. Every game the former UCLA guard played there were eyes on his footwear. His first game was a disappointing 2-15 shooting performance and only scoring five points. The shoes of choice were a pair of Big Baller Brand sneakers. Game two featured Ball in a different pair of shoes and a different result. 11 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds. A triple-double with an all purple pair of Kobe’s.

If you’re accustomed to ESPN’s NBA notifications then make no mistake that those also featured updates on when to expect Ball to play. Actually, my phone buzzed and there is a notification popping up that Lonzo, in fact, would not play in the summer league final. No new shoes, no triple-double and a chance for the Lakers other first-round pick, Kuzma, to show his talent.

Can we all say that one man alone could be responsible for the Laker loving? Mr. LaVar Ball?

With Lonzo dominating headlines whether it was his kick game or his dazzling play his father still remained loud and proud on the sidelines. LaVar kicked off the summer games by announcing his opinion that Lonzo could, in fact, be better than Magic Johnson. Things got hostile as Joel Embiid of the 76ers was caught on social media cursing LaVar. Nonetheless, a rebuttal from LaVar as expected: “when you working for somebody shut your mouth”.

When Lonzo started to sport different brands such as the purple Kobe’s, Adidas, Under Armor and, a pair of Jordan’s then came the questions. LaVar quickly fired back and advised that if the price is right a potential suitor could have the rights to the Lakers rookie. The most recent comments coming from LaVar is the ongoing battle between De’Aron Fox and Lonzo.

“Have you heard about De’Aaron Fox? Hell nah,” LaVar said on Fox Sports Radio . “You can’t hear about him unless he puts my boy’s name in his mouth. He been doing all this stuff and ain’t nobody been talking about him. So he and his dad gotta link themselves to us to be relevant. De’Aaron Fox had a whole season and the only thing they talk about is 39 points against Zo. You don’t put Zo in a sentence, nobody cares about him.”

With ESPN owning the ability to feature summer league games, the sideshow continued with father and son. Let’s not forget that Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith Jr, and Josh Jackson played in this tournament. Although their teams did not make the finals, Ball respectfully was not the only lottery pick dazzling the crowd. Tatum would manage to play in three games and averaged 17.7 points and eight rebounds while shooting 42-percent from the field. Smith Jr. averaged 17.3 points, five rebounds and, two steals in six games.

In the end, the summer league has grown its brand which the NBA proves its forever progressing. Their future stars are giving a promising hope for the start of the season in October.

A Boston Celtics Farewell to Avery Bradley

Baseline Times NBA Staff Contributor Matt McKenna is a lifelong Boston Celtics fan. Here is a raw and honest opinion from the Celtic fan within.

Avery Bradley has long been my favorite Celtic. Avery embodied what it meant to be a Boston Celtic. He started his career as a defensive specialist and worked tirelessly to become the two-way player he is today. Given my personal bias for Avery, I wanted to wait a few days before trying to give a fair and impartial opinion for the trade. That being said I still believe Danny fucked up. I understand that Avery was going to be hard to keep next year especially with Isaiah’s contract being up as well but the team did have his bird rights and could have gone into the luxury tax to keep him. If you look at championship quality NBA teams (Warriors, Cavs) they are frequently paying the luxury tax and that is just a price you have to pay to assemble a championship quality team. The Celtics with a starting lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Aron Baynes, that lineup has the potential to beat the Cavs. The current lineup of Isaiah, Gordon Hayward, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Aron Baynes, that lineup has no shot against the Cavs. NO FUCKIN SHOT, even in Danny Ainge’s wildest wet dreams.

The strength of the Celtics over the last few years has been their perimeter defense. They weren’t great during the first half of last season but over the three-season stretch in which they made the playoffs, perimeter defense has been their strongest attribute and that started with Avery Bradley. I’m not saying that Avery Bradley is the only reason that the Celtics excelled on defense because players like Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder are good defenders in their own right but they simply aren’t on Avery’s level. There is a reason those guys didn’t get the massive outcry Avery did from other NBA players when they didn’t make all-defensive teams.

To get to the finals the Celtics are going to have to go through the Cavs and Lebron James and Kyrie Irving. If you are going to beat the Cavs don’t you think you’d want the guy who Kyrie has said does the best job guarding him of anyone in the NBA on your team? Even if the Celtics were to get past the Cavs they would still most likely have the Golden State Warriors waiting for them in the NBA Finals. Luckily the Celtics match up well with the Warriors, splitting the season series with them in each of the last two years. One of the reasons the Celtics matched up so well with the Warriors is their perimeter defense and having a player like Avery Bradley who has the lateral quickness to stay in front of Steph and bothers bigger guards like Klay when they have to put the ball on the floor. No other perimeter defender on the Celtics has the lateral quickness to do things like that (maybe Terry Rozier on a good day).

On top of being hands down the best defensive player on the Celtics Avery was the second most dependable Celtic on the offensive side of the ball. Avery shot 46% from the field and 39% from three. He also showed an improved handle in his seventh season, showing signs of being able to create his own shot. Avery has improved offensively every year in the league, a trend that can only be expected to continue.

At the end of the day, I understand the decision to trade Avery Bradley, it came down to salary and Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart are going to be more affordable to keep on the team. That being said it isn’t a decision I agree with. Marcus Smart has shown almost zero signs of offensive growth in his first three years (slightly improved handle and passing in the pick and role), and Jae Crowder has gone from severely underrated to borderline overrated. If I ran the Celtics I would have considered trading both of those players and letting young guys with higher upside like Jaylen Brown, Jason Tatum and Terry Rozier absorb their minutes. A Crowder – Smart package would likely also have resulted in a better player in return than Marcus Morris. Marcus Morris a solid NBA player but there is a clear step down in quality from Avery Bradley. Avery Bradley is not a star player, but he has almost a star-level impact for this Celtics team. If the Celtics have true championship aspirations with their current core dealing Avery Bradley was a huge mistake.

Matt McKenna
Baseline Times NBA Contributor
@m_mckenna2

The NBA’s Summer League is a growing brand

The NBA Summer League kicked off July 1st in Orlando, July 3rd in Utah, and is currently in its final rounds out in Las Vegas until July 17th. The Vegas tour has gained popularity in recent years as current NBA stars, celebrities, coaches, and team executives spend some time in Sin City as a part of their off-season agenda. Of course, there is still work to be done as teams feature top draft picks but also players who are hopeful that their game catches the eye of a coach or general manager for a shot at a contract conversation.

One attraction this year is Lonzo Ball as the no. 2 pick is drawing quite the crowd in Vegas. Plenty of purple and gold fills out the stands each game the Lakers have showcased their first-round draft picks. Of course, it’s not a party without his father LaVar Ball who has made claims such as Lonzo being the best “guard ever”. In the first game of the Lakers match-up against the Los Angeles Clippers, second-year player Brandon Ingram comes up short on a potential game-winning shot. As he comes down without any kind of awkward landing, he stays down with an apparent cramping issue in his leg. Across the court, the newly minted Lakers President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson signals that he’s done.

As bad as Ingram wanted to remain in the game for the two-minute overtime per Summer League rules, the boss had the final say. The Lakers would play without their best player on the roster and eventually lose the game. Although, a big Laker fan affair in the stands stayed and cheered their team until the final buzzer. It was the first NBA action for Lonzo Ball but one he quickly would forget as a national audience captured the horrific 2-15 shooting performance. I was curious to watch Ball play his first NBA action but keep in mind I watched all this live which allowed me to give you my brief play-by-play here.

ESPN 2 is featuring Summer League games alongside NBA TV which alternate match-ups of the Vegas League. The current deal with ESPN even gives more insight and promotion as to when you can see a game. Now that we are in 2017, my phone is buzzing and the ESPN alert is telling me I can watch the no. 2 and no. 3 pick square off in an anticipated match-up. Lonzo Ball is getting his second crack at NBA life and he’s going up against long-time rivals, the Boston Celtics featuring Jayson Tatum.

Beyond the featured future stars of the NBA, the current stars are court side. A familiar face in Vegas is roaming about. That’s Mr. Floyd Mayweather who is preparing to fight Conor McGregor in a few weeks. Looking away from the court itself seems like a sideshow going on court side and backstage.

James Harden and Chris Paul are court side hanging out as the new pair of back-court mates share a little bonding time with Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker.

Good vibes only #nbasummerleague 😎

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As serious Magic can be, he’s still at times soaking up the spotlight.

L E G E N D A R Y 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

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Hip-Hop fans will recognize this face. Another celebrity to add to the mix.

It’s a Cole world at #NBASummer

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It is just another day at the Vegas Summer League but nonetheless, the NBA featured front and center in a time where the Golden State Warriors dominated an NBA Finals in five games. The NBA draft is over and baseball is in full swing. We’re also counting down the days that football returns. The NBA should be shelved until October, right?

When the naysayers advise that the NBA is harmed by super teams, let this be a reminder.

Couldn’t star players be somewhere on an island enjoying the sun and blue waters? These multi-millionaires can take a vacation some of us could only dream of in a lifetime. Perhaps, they may want to seclude themselves from the temptations of Vegas and train privately in a less distracting location?

What is so compelling about attending a game full of young players and a few standouts that may get a non-guaranteed contract?

The availability to market and showcase yourself in a very informal and relaxed summer vibe in Vegas gives a different perspective for fans.

Let’s go back to Magic waving off Ingram from returning to the game against the Clippers. We’d never see that in a regular season game. I’d imagine Ingram would head back to the locker room and Magic would then make the decision behind closed doors right? A Lakers sideline reporter would then relay the message via team representatives.

Never before this kind of exposure was available at the Summer League games and here is why.

Before the recent exposure of the summer games, there was only a box score and maybe post-game highlights available to fans. Unless you lived or visited Vegas only you could see the live action. The Orlando league remained closed to the public and only open to media at the Magic’s practice facility.

Then came the online streams which the NBA allowed fans in recent years to watch on the web for free. No gimmicks, no pricey packages, and all games free of charge. Some of NBA TV’s familiar voices would provide commentary while interviewing coaches, players, and legends in attendance. The internet is a great thing but not good enough.

In 2014 the NBA signed a new nine-year deal in which ESPN and Turner both combined will pay the NBA $24 billion. ESPN even extended the deal to include D-League (now the G-League) and Summer League games. Ah, this is why ESPN takes so much pride in notifying me of the match-ups and promos in between the MLB All-Star Game promos!

Of course, some the NBA’s biggest stars and legends have always attended the summer games. However, now that the national media cameras are out, the spotlight is wider. Patrick Beverly is court side giving high fives to his Clipper teammates but also signing autographs for kids. Jeremy Lin is casually in some flip flops and shorts taking in the action.

Sure enough, ESPN broadcasting Summer League games is a favorable incentive and we knew it would come with creating a sideshow. With that sideshow, out come the stars, the celebrities, and a quality production that somehow puts Lonzo Ball at the front of sports news almost forgetting that the MLB All-Star Game is this week.

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Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times NBA Contributor
@BaselineChevy

 

 

James Harden receives NBA’s largest contract extension

The Houston Rockets confirmed that they have signed guard James Harden to a max, long-term contract. The deal is reportedly expected to be $228 million, through the 2022-2023 season. The four-year deal tops the most an NBA player has received in history.

“Houston is home for me,” Harden said in a statement released by the Rockets. “[Owner Leslie Alexander] has shown he is fully committed to winning and my teammates and I are going to keep putting in the work to get better and compete for the title.”

Due to the new CBA rules, because Harden made the All-NBA team he became eligible for a four-year extension. The luxury teams have with their star players is the ability to pay them more. The Rockets recently traded for Chris Paul to add another All-Star next to Harden and compete for a championship in a strong Western Conference.

Harden is coming off a career year as he averaged 29.1 points, a league-best 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game. He also finished as a runner-up to Russell Westbrook for the MVP Award this past season.

Source: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN