NBA free agency: Winners and losers from Day 1

NBA free agency officially tipped off around the league Sunday evening. It’s been one of the most highly anticipated free agent classes in modern history.

We got answers to some pretty big questions as free agency got going on Day 1. The Boston Celtics netted All-NBA guard Kemba Walker to replace Kyrie Irving, who ended up signing with the Brooklyn Nets.

Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic retained star center Nikola Vucevic on a less-than max contract. More than anything, the Nets’ ability to team Kyrie Irving up with Kevin Durant changes the entire dynamic around the Association.

It’s in this that we give you the biggest winners and losers from the first day of NBA free agency.

Winner: Kemba Walker

Walker traded the small market of Charlotte for the bright lights of Boston. While that’s going to come with a lot of pressure as the face of the Celtics’ franchise, Walker appears to be more than up for the task. He also joins a championship contender after toiling in mediocrity with the Hornets over the past eight seasons.

Equally as important, Walker netted a max four-year, $141 million deal from Boston after the Hornets low-balled him with a five-year, $160 million contract. Now the face of a contending team, Walker is a major winner.

Loser: Free agent big men

Nikola Vucevic receiving less than the max from Orlando represented a major hit for other free agent big men. In fact, his four-year, $100 million contract is well below market value. The same thing can be said about the three-year, $45 million contract Jonas Valanciunas signed with the Memphis Grizzlies.

This does not bode well for other free agents at the center position. Specifically, the market is going to be bare for DeMarcus Cousins.

Winner: Golden State Warriors

Even after both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson suffered serious injuries in the NBA Finals, it was reported that Golden State would extend max-contract offers to both free agents. While Durant ultimately signed with Brooklyn, the Warriors did in fact offer him a five-year, $221 million deal. Meanwhile, Thompson committed to a five-year, $190 million max deal with Golden State.

It’s rare in today’s sports landscape to see a team show this type of loyalty to players. Thompson’s ACL injury is less severe than Durant’s ruptured Achilles. But both are serious. Offering up $411 million in guaranteed cash represents a major commitment for a team that’s facing billions in payroll over the next few seasons, even with Durant on his way to Brooklyn.

Loser: Kyrie Irving

Irving might have received a max contract from the Brooklyn Nets Sunday night. But it did not come without his reputation being tainted big time. Reports of his diva-like mentality ruining the Boston Celtics gave way to Irving’s former team not showing any real interest in re-signing him. That’s a major black eye for the NBA champion.

It’s also important to note that Boston did not waste any time replacing Irving with fellow All-Star Kemba Walker. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how all of this plays out. Should Walker lead Boston to championship contention with Irving’s Nets struggling while forming a super team, it would represent another major hit for the veteran.

Winner: Brooklyn Nets

Irving as a loser with the Nets as a winner? Both can be true. Brooklyn targeted Irving immediately after the 2018-19 season. It culminated in a max contract agreement Sunday evening. It also represents the biggest free-agent signing in Nets history.

Well, that was until later on Sunday when Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Nets . He’s going to be joined by best bud DeAndre Jordan to form a new big three in the Big Apple. While KD is out for all of next season, the Nets still have a team worthy of competing in the Eastern Conference until he returns the following season. It was a memorable day Sunday in the Mecca of the basketball world. That’s putting it lightly.

Loser: Charlotte Hornets

Michael Jordan’s tenure as the Hornets’ owner has been an unmitigated disaster. The latest example of this is Charlotte offering Kemba Walker a five-year, $160 million contract, about $61 million less than it could have offered the All-NBA performer.

Instead, the Hornets head into next season with Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller counting a combined $71-plus million against the cap. That’s just horrible stuff right there. And it’s certainly enough to make MJ and Co. major losers in free agency. But hey, at least they’re now paying Terry Rozier nearly $20 million annually.

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By: Vincent Frank

Raptors roar: Winners and losers from Game 1 of the NBA Finals

The long-anticipated 2019 NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors tipped off Thursday night in Canada.

Coming into the series, Toronto found itself as the overwhelming underdog. Though, Kawhi Leonard and Co. were favored to win the opener at home.

From pretty much the start, Toronto played like the better and more hungry team. Pascal Siakam dominated all four quarters. Leonard came through when it counted the most.

Meanwhile, the Warriors couldn’t get any secondary scoring behind Stephen Curry. Klay Thompson struggled and was visibly frustrated. Draymond Green found himself in foul trouble.

Here are the biggest winners and losers from Toronto’s 118-109 Game 1 win over the defending champs in the 2019 NBA Finals.

Winner: Marc Gasol 

A lot was made of Gasol’s struggles on offense in the Eastern Conference Finals. He also didn’t seem to have a great matchup against Golden State’s bigs in the NBA Finals. If Game 1 is any indication, that was nothing more than narrative.

Gasol led Toronto in scoring with 14 points in the first half, finishing that span plus-11 in the process. Showing improved defense, his all-around game was excellent. In the end, the borderline future Hall of Famer scored 20 points and grabbed seven boards before fouling out.

Loser: Klay Thompson

 With Kevin Durant out of action, it was rather apparent that Thompson needed to step up behind Stephen Curry. That certainly wasn’t the case in Game 1.

Klay just didn’t have it on either end of the court. His frustration boiled over with a dumb technical in the final stanza. Thompson was ultimately minus-10 on the court and didn’t show the same long-range sniper ability that has defined his career. Maybe he should start listening to Drake music again.

Winner: Danny Green 

This NBA champ entered Game 1 having hit on just one of his past three 15 three-pointers. But proving himself to be the solid veteran we saw in San Antonio, Green did not hesitate to take big shots at big times.

Still getting the starting nod for Nick Nurse, Green drained 3-of-7 three-point attempts and played some absolutely great perimeter defense against the likes of Curry and Thompson. Green could very well be an X-factor moving forward in the series.

Loser: Draymond Green

The aggressiveness we saw from Green during Golden State’s four-game sweep of Portland in the Western Conference Finals just wasn’t there Thursday night. He attempted three shots in the first half, committing as many fouls and turnovers in the process.

Green might have finished the evening with a triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists), but he was not the same overall presence we’ve seen through the playoffs. That’s magnified by the performance Siakam put up on him offensively.

Winner: Pascal Siakam 

Not enough can be said about this youngster. He might not be the best player in Toronto, but Siakam continues to perform like a king. Thursday night’s action was no different.

At one point that spanned the final three quarters, Siakam hit on 11 consecutive shots. He did so with elite defenders such as Draymond and Kevon Looney on him. With Kawhi laboring a bit, Siakam’s 32 points were the difference in this game.

Loser: Warriors other bigs

While DeMarcus Cousins was performing well in limited action, the likes of Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell did not do their thing. Bell got the start over his counterparts, playing a combined 12 minutes and scoring two points. Meanwhile, a previously impressive Looney scored nine points but was negative-four in 28 minutes of action.

We’re highly intrigued to see how Steve Kerr employs his bigs in Game 2. The rotations clearly did not work Thursday evening. There’s now a good chance that Cousins will get the start over the others Sunday evening.

Winner: Stephen Curry 

Pretty much the only member of the defending champs to do anything on offense Thursday night, Curry was hassled by both Toronto’s defense and some bad officiating. Despite this, the two-time former MVP was still able to do his thing.

Curry scored 34 points on 8-of-18 shooting, including a ridiculous 14-of-14 mark from the free-throw line. He continued to display aggressiveness while not settling for threes. That’s what the Warriors need with Durant sidelined.

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By: Vincent Frank

 

Pacers Offered PG-13 To Golden State For Klay Thompson, GSW Said Nah

Written by ESPN Staff at ESPN.com

Before All-Star forward Paul George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunderlast month, the Indiana Pacers talked to the Golden State Warriors and offered him for Klay Thompson, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to the source, Golden State said no to the offer, and the talks with Indiana ended there.

Appearing on Thursday’s SportsCenter, George told Wojnarowski he was aware the Pacers had talked to the Warriors.

“I would’ve looked forward to it, of just being in a good situation and a chance to compete for a championship,” he told Wojnarowski. “But it didn’t happen. It’s still fun to team up with a special talent and have a chance to compete against that team.”

George joked that he didn’t think a trade to Golden State would fly with the league.

“Yeah, I think that would’ve been the Chris Paul-to-L.A. situation where they denied that trade,” George said with a laugh, referring to the infamous 2011 deal that was vetoed by then-NBA commissioner David Stern.

The Pacers sent George to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis on June 30.

In Oklahoma City, he’ll be teamed with Russell Westbrook. George talked Thursday about how the Warriors have changed the game.

“We love being the alpha of our teams, but it’s just not realistic that you’re going to be able to do it alone,” George said.

“You need help in this league. Back in the day, that’s what made the league. Guys were winning championships, making their team better by themselves. They had pieces and they had a lot of help. But the league was spread out.

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All Star Rosters Revealed

Written by Lang Whitaker at NBA.com

  • East Reserves: Paul George, Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap, Isaiah Thomas, Kemba Walker, John Wall
  • West Reserves:  DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward, DeAndre Jordan, Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook

Winning matters.

That seems to be the message from the coaches who selected the reserves for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers each lead the Western and Eastern Conferences, and today we learned they will get a combined seven players in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.

And it wasn’t just them: Every player among the All-Star reserves named plays for a team currently in playoff contention. The starters for the 66th NBA All-Star Game, which will be played Sunday, Feb. 19, in New Orleans at the Smoothie King Center, were selected after voting by fans, players and select media members, while the seven reserves for each conference were selected by a vote from each conference’s coaches.

Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry made the starting lineup, and Thursday their Warriors teammates Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were each selected as Western Conference reserves. After making his All-Star debut a season ago, Green will return this year, averaging 10.7 points, along with a team-leading 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists. Heading south along with Green will be Klay Thompson, the sharp-shooting guard who is averaging 21.1 points for the NBA-best 39-7 Warriors.

If there were anyone who was a lock to make the All-Star reserves, it was Russell Westbrook. Although Westbrook finished first among Western Conference guards in voting from media and current players, he finished third in fan voting, which kept him from the starting five. Through his first 46 games this season, the electrifying Oklahoma City point guard is averaging a league-leading 30.7 points, plus 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds. If Westbrook is able to sustain those averages, he’d be the first player to average a triple-double over an entire season since Oscar Robertson in 1962.

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Klay Thompson Went For 60 Last Night


Written by Sam Amick at USAToday.com

You simply must take a few minutes to watch thoseridiculous Klay Thompson highlights.

Don’t go YouTubing just yet, of course. Be sure to read all these head-spinning stats that shed light on the true absurdity of his 60-point outing, that glorious 21-of-33 shooting night (8-of-14 from three-point range) in which the Golden State Warriors’ “other” Splash Brother cannon-balled the Indiana Pacers in a 142-106 win on Monday night.

But sooner rather than later, all self-respecting NBA fans simply have to see this for themselves. It was that great, that historic, with shots of every shape and kind falling true and the fun factor going through the Oracle Arena roof. And as the Thompson tape plays, be sure to remember the ironic context of Thompson’s memorable night.

For most of his 29 minutes, it was the Pacers’ Monta Ellis chasing him to no avail — the same Monta Ellis whose departure from the Warriors to the Milwaukee Bucks via trade in March 2012 paved the way for Thompson’s ascent. That deal, which brought big man Andrew Bogut the Warriors’ way went down near the end of Thompson’s rookie campaign, likely never would have happened if the then 22-year-old hadn’t already convinced Golden State management by that time that he was worthy of filling Ellis’ big shoes.

And now this. So much for having to sacrifice because Kevin Durant came to town.

Folks on social media were even invoking the name of the late, great Wilt Chamberlain, for goodness sake — and with good reason. In terms of points per minute, Thompson’s shooting showcase was slightly less prolific than “The Big Dipper” on that March 2, 1962 night in which he became the first and only player to hit the century mark (60 points in 29 minutes, or 2.07 points per minute, vs. 100 points in 48 minutes, or 2.08). The fact that Thompson put up these kinds of numbers as a shooter, as opposed to a dominant big man like Chamberlain, makes it all the more improbable.

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Kevin Durant Just Murdered the Entire Thunder Roster.


Written by Matt Moore at CBSSports.com

There would be no sequence as if out of a movie on this night. This is sports, where the better team almost always wins.

A night after the Chicago Cubs completed the feel-good story of the century with a dramatic Game 7 victory in the World Series, there would be no such dramatics in Oakland, California. The Golden State Warriors faced the franchise from which they took the second-best player in the league– Kevin Durant– and beat them into oblivion. The Warriors beat Oklahoma City 122-96, but led by as many as 31.

In what was billed as a high-stakes matchup in the feud between Durant and Russell Westbrook, Durant left no doubt who came out better of the exchange when he left to join the team that beat him in the playoffs last spring. It was a total evisceration. The Thunder played well to start the game, but the Warriors put on a blistering show, the kind we had been expecting since Durant signed with Golden State. Durant was a human inferno, smiling and laughing as he burned his former teammates for 39 points on 15-of-24 shooting and 7-of-11 from 3-point range.

Durant even stayed in during the fourth quarter when the game was well out of hand. There was no mercy, there was no notion of being beyond needing to rub it in. For Durant, this was clearly about the little jabs that had come from former teammates, critics and whoever else. All those critics he yelled at in his post-practice workout? They were in flesh and blood, and Durant let them know who he is.

Kevin Durant. Former MVP. Second-best in the world. Golden State Warrior.

The Warriors were merciless. They egged on Durant, constantly finding him on cuts to the rim for dunks, 3-pointers on the perimeter and celebrating with jubilation whenever he did anything. Durant embraced the Warrior’s aura of embarrassing teams and letting them know about it. When Enes Kanter chirped at Durant during a stoppage, Durant responded. Durant was spotted later saying, “Keep talking.”

Durant let his game do the talking, and he talked, and his teammates talked. There was a lot of talking.

The message, though, was clear. Durant joined the Warriors to take a special, once-in-a-lifetime team and make them better. They looked the part against OKC.

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LeBron and Kyrie Carry Cavs to Game 6


Written by J.A. Adande at ESPN.com

On the campus of the Old School, they will pass out mimeographed copies of the box score from Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals and point to this as a moment that the tried-and-true ways prevailed, that inside beat outside and that the star system stayed intact.

The Golden State Warriors spent most of the past two years subverting all of those steadfast NBA truths, raining in 3-pointers and sending LeBron James to defeat after defeat on many nights when he was the best player on the court. Not in Game 5. Not when James controlled the floor with 41 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocked shots — owning or sharing the game-high totals in each of those categories. And not when Kyrie Irving was the next-best player — more valuable in the fourth quarter, actually — with 41 points of his own.

James called Irving’s game “probably one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen live.” LeBron’s visual history would have to include his own 45-point, 15-rebound, 73 percent shooting Game 6 in Boston in 2012 to keep his first championship run in Miami alive. That one still ranks higher for its singular majesty; Dwyane Wade was the Heat’s next-highest scorer that night with 17 points.

Monday night was the first time a pair of teammates went for 40-plus points in the same NBA Finals game. And now the Cavaliers still have hopes of another historic achievement: becoming the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the Finals.

It helped that this wasn’t exactly the same Warriors team that won three of the first four games in this series. Draymond Green served his one-game suspension for exceeding the flagrant foul points threshold in the playoffs for his whack at James near the end of Game 4. Without him, the Warriors were lost on defense and couldn’t go to the lineup configuration featuring him at center that had wreaked havoc on the league since last year’s Finals.

Their roster was further depleted by a left knee strain suffered by center Andrew Bogut early in the third quarter. With none of their backup centers making contributions, the Warriors went supersmall by sending Shaun Livingston in with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes. They couldn’t provide enough offense to make up for their defensive shortcomings.

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James and Thompson Trade Words

Warriors enforcer Draymond Green is out, but the NBA Finals bad blood may have just begun brewing, particularly between Splash Brother Klay Thompson and LeBron James.

Green’s one-game suspension from Monday’s potential Game 5 clincher at Oracle Arena for his altercation with James drew angry reviews from the Warriors Sunday, especially Thompson, who tweaked The King for being overly sensitive. James appeared bothered by Thompson’s insinuation that “his feelings just got hurt.”

Uncharacteristically, James started yapping at Green toward the end of the Cavs’ Game 4 loss after an incident in which Green took a “retaliatory swipe of his hand to the groin” of James, according to the NBA. The swipe occurred only after James stepped over him. After the game, “The Chosen One” complained certain stuff shouldn’t be uttered on the hardwood.

Thompson was bewildered.

“Guys talk trash in this league all the time,’’ Thompson said. “I’m just kind of shocked some guys take it so personal. It’s a man’s league, and I’ve heard a lot of bad things on that court, but at the end of the day, it stays on the court.

“I don’t know how the man feels, but obviously people have feelings and people’s feelings get hurt even if they’re called a bad word. I guess his feelings just got hurt. We’ve all been called plenty of bad words on the basketball court before. Some guys just react to it differently.”

When a reporter repeated Thompson’s remark, James laughed and bit his lip, but not without conveying his anger.

“Oh, my goodness,” James said. “I’m not going to comment on what Klay said because I know where it can go from [here]. It’s so hard to take the high road. I’ve been doing it for 13 years. It’s so hard to continue to do it, and I’m going to do it again. At the end of the day, we’ve got to go out and show up and play better [Monday], and if we don’t, then they’re going to be back-to-back champion. But I’ve taken the high road again.”

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Warriors Are the Fastest Team to 50 Wins

Written by Tim Cato at SBNation.com

Feb. 6, 2015, the Golden State Warriors played the Atlanta Hawks. It was the most eagerly anticipated game of last season after the two teams had unexpectedly paired up to dominate their respective conferences. The Hawks won that early February game, 124-116, shooting 49 percent with 15 three-pointers while Jeff Teague led the way with 23 points.

Somehow that game, played just over a year ago, feels more like a decade.

On Monday, the two teams clashed again. The Warriors are champions now, threatening to win the most games in any NBA season ever, somehow even better than before. On the other side is Atlanta, just 31-27, which has them sitting as just the sixth-best team in the conference. They tried to trade Teague, gone from leading scorer to expendable, and Al Horford at the deadline this year. Even more damning is the fact that they couldn’t pull off a deal, deciding instead to wallow in the middle of the pack. The circumstances could hardly have changed more drastically.

Given all that, it’s no surprise the Warriors won, 102-92. Stephen Curry pulled his usual magic tricks, dropping 36 points and eight assists on a night where it didn’t even feel like he had his best stuff. Golden State is 50-5 now, which is a record that deserves to be spelled out. Yes, FIFTY and FIVE.

But for one long stretch in the third quarter, it wasn’t about Golden State, which is rather surprising. Third quarters are the Warriors’ thing. That’s when they turn tenderized teams into minced meat. Up 63-41 two minutes into the frame, it looked like that was on the verge of happening yet again.

It didn’t. Something happened in Atlanta that directly resembled the team that took the Eastern Conference by storm last year. Down 22 points, the Hawks scored 36 in the third quarter, holding the Warriors to six points in the period’s final seven minutes and pulling within one by the time the buzzer sounded. In the fourth quarter, Atlanta surged ahead, briefly taking a four-point lead. The Warriors came back, nailing a few too many shots, because this is what they always do. But for one nostalgic moment, all we could think about was that hyped meeting of last year.

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Harden and Beverley to be in All-Star Saturday Night

Written by Tamberlyn Richardson at SpaceCityScoops.com

Event Participants for 2016 NBA All-Star Game

As the calendar turned to February it signaled the closing in of the NBA All-Star Break. Living in Toronto literally minutes from the Air Canada Center I can tell you preparation for the big event in is full effect and people are extremely excited in anticipation of  the festivities to be featured over the Valentines Day weekend.

Tonight on TNT the players who’ll participate in the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night in each of individual events were announced:

Beverley will defend his Taco Bell Skills Challenge win

Last season Patrick Beverley shocked many when he won this event beating out a bunch of top ranked point guards known for their speed (Teague) or ball handling (Knight) as he went on to win the event.

This year he’ll defend his title versus guards CJ McCollum, Isaiah Thomas and Jordan Clarkson. But in perhaps the most interesting and exciting change to the Saturday night events the Skills Challenge will also feature big men: DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis and Draymond Green.

I’m dying to know how the pairs will line up, that is to say will the guards pair off and big men pair off running 2 sets of the course to get down to a winner on each side advancing? Or will they have one guard face a big in each heat? Kind of hope it’s the latter as that would be fun to see the bigs trying to beat the guards. All 4 big men are highly skilled and in fact trying to handicap the bigs is actually much more difficult than the guards.

Harden featured again in 3-point contest

Many of the contestants this season are repeat performers from last season such as reigning champ Steph Curry and his Golden State Splash Brother Klay Thompson along with Houston Rockets’ James Harden and Clippers guard JJ Redick (leads league in 3 point shooting percentage). New to the comp is the star from the host city Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry along with Bucks Khris Middleton.

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