Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Aug. 3) -- Stephen Curry was open to taking pay cut this summer Staff

This morning’s headlines:

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Curry offered to take pay cut to keep Warriors together — Ian Clark is reportedly headed to the New Orleans Pelicans, but he marks the only somewhat significant offseason player loss for the Warriors. From superstars Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry to role players such as Zaza Pachulia and Andre Iguodala, Golden State’s core is back for 2017-18. Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic reports Curry was willing to take less to keep the Warriors’ core together (as transcribed by the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Drew Costley):

Steph Curry’s historic payday when he re-signed with the Golden State Warriors almost didn’t reach the $201 million mark that made him the highest paid player in NBA history.

In an article from Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic, Curry said that he offered to take a pay cut to help the Warriors keep their core players together. But he was turned down.

“I actually asked [Warriors GM] Bob [Myers],” Curry told The Athletic. “If I were to take a discount — at any number, I don’t know what it would be — how much of a difference would that make for us to be able to sign other guys…. But mine didn’t matter.”

It ultimately didn’t matter that Curry was willing to take a pay cut was because the Warriors had what are known as “Bird rights,” named after NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird, over Curry. Bird rights allow an NBA team to go over the league’s salary cap in order to re-sign a player who has been on the team for more than a year.

There are two types of Bird rights – early bird rights, which allow a team to go over the cap to re-sign a player who has been on the team for two years — and Bird rights, which allow a team to go over the cap for a player who has been on the team for three or more years.

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Rubio sees fresh start in Utah — In one of the many key roster moves of the offseason, the Jazz landed point guard Ricky Rubio in a trade with the Timberwolves. After six up-and-down seasons in Minnesota, Rubio is embracing the new start, new teammates and new opportunity the 2017-18 season in Utah will provide. Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News has more:

Thanks to a number of commitments in July, across various parts of the world, Rubio didn’t formally meet with local media until a conference call from his native Spain on Wednesday afternoon, where he discussed both the past and the future.

“To get traded, it’s not fun, but I was really excited to go to an organization that really believed in me,” he said. “It’s a great basketball organization with a good tradition. It was a little weird. I was six years in Minnesota. My name was in the papers with rumors and all that stuff for the last couple years, but never traded. This summer, I guess it was time. I have no regrets. I had a great time in Minnesota, but I think it was time for the both of us to move on. I think it was that time of our relationship that it didn’t work out the way we wanted, and we move on.”

Rubio enters an organization that has already put rather high expectations on him, as Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey said in early July that the Jazz’s new floor general compares favorably to Jason Kidd.

For his part, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Rubio shied away from that comparison Wednesday but appreciates Lindsey’s belief in him.

“Having the GM talk that good about me, it’s great,” he said. “The confidence that they showed in me from the beginning, it’s awesome, and now I have to answer that confidence with good games. I have confidence in me, and I’ve worked hard this summer. I think I can bring a lot to that team.”

With the Jazz, he’ll be the first line of what could be an even better defensive team from a squad that gave up the fewest points per game in the league last season

“I know what I can bring to the table,” Rubio said. “Of course my defense is a strength of mine. I’ve been working on my body this summer to be stronger and to be ready for this league that has so many good point guards and so many athletic point guards that every night you face top point guards and you have to be ready for that. I feel confident in my defense and I think I can really help the team to improve even more.”

Having been summoned from Spain just a few days after the trade to be part of Utah’s pitch to keep Gordon Hayward, Rubio acknowledged the Jazz will miss the All-Star, but Rubio says he’s looking forward to what’s next both for him personally and for his new team.

“We’re going to move forward,” he said. “We’re going to try to be a better team than we were last year if that’s possible. Being in the Western Conference semifinals is not easy, but we’re going to move forward and just think about the players that we have.”

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Blazers’ Turner hoping Anthony comes to Portland — Carmelo Anthony said yesterday he’s at “peace” with his life, even as trade rumors have swirled around him all summer long. Reports indicate he’s only willing to waive his no-trade clause for a move to the Houston Rockets, but the Portland Trail Blazers have quiet hopes of landing him. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Portland’s Evan Turner is trying to recruit Anthony to the Blazers:

Turner appeared at Coppin State for the Anthony-sponsored “Basketball Tournament,” rooting on the alumni team from Ohio State (his alma mater) in the semifinals Tuesday.

The Blazers have interest in Anthony, who has a no-trade clause and currently won’t waive it for Portland. But Blazers star Damian Lillard has recruited Anthony by phone and C.J. McCollum has lobbied for him on Twitter.

Turner said he understands Anthony and a small market may not fit, but …

“I can’t image Melo in Portland just because he’d stick out walking down the street — he’s Melo, a celebrity,’’ Turner said after Ohio State’s double-overtime loss to Team ALS. “As a player he’d love things. The crowd’s crazy. There’s a special crowd in Portland where if we have the right pieces, we can make a lot happen.’’

“If he waives it and wants to come, it would be great,’’ Turner said. “He’ll lock in because he made the decision to come. He’s got all the power in a certain sense. It’s not a guarantee. The positive is if we did get him, that means he wanted to be there and accepted the trade and buckle into what we’re trying to do.

“Obviously he’s 6-8. He walks in a gym and he can throw 20 points up in the books. He’s so talented, so big, you can’t leave him alone. He doesn’t miss easy shots.”

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Cousins, Pelicans face big season ahead — New Orleans big man DeMarcus Cousins and his All-Star teammate, Anthony Davis, have been working out together in the offseason. It’s all part of their plan to get the Pelicans off to a solid start in 2017-18, something that will benefit not only the team, but also Cousins’ contract future. Chris Mannix of The Vertical has more:

“I think the game is actually playing into our hands,” Cousins said. “I think me and A.D. have a skill set that a lot of bigs don’t have in this league, or the league hasn’t seen in some bigs throughout the history of the game. I think it actually plays into our hands, and we’re just rolling with the punches. I don’t think [a smaller game] will effect me or A.D. at all.

“That sample size we got last season is the reason I’m so confident this season. I believe we can make it work, and I think we’re going to surprise a lot more people than people actually expect. For some reason we’re being counted out, but that’s actually OK. We’re going to surprise a lot of people this season.”

So much is at stake for Cousins, who will be a free agent after next season. This time last year, Kings management was signaling that it was committed to locking up Cousins with a five-year, max-level contract. Today, Cousins’ future is shrouded in uncertainty, with executives across the league keeping a close eye on how his first full season in New Orleans plays out.

“This season is huge,” said a Western Conference team executive. “He has to prove he can win. He has never played with anyone near the talent of Davis. He has to show he is willing to sacrifice for the team and do what is best for the team first. He really needs to turn a corner. If he acts up, he will cost himself a lot of money.”

Added another Western Conference exec, “There’s no way to overstate it – there is huge money on the line.”

Cousins refuses to address anything beyond next season. “I’m not real concerned,” Cousins said. “I know people know my talent. I’m past all that.”

Shooting was a significant weakness for New Orleans – the Pelicans were 19th in the NBA in 3-point percentage last season (.350). New Orleans did nothing to address it, instead adding Rajon Rondo, a former teammate of Cousins in Sacramento, and pledging to experiment with a Rondo-Jrue Holiday backcourt.

“Rajon is like a big brother to me,” Cousins said. “He taught me a lot in that one season we had together. Our relationship remained strong and we always thought we’d wind up being teammates again later down the road. I never expected it to be this soon, but I’m also happy about it. The addition of him, I think, that takes our team to the next level. I think he’ll have guys like myself, A.D. and Jrue and the rest of the team playing at an extremely high level. That’s one thing he does is bring out his teammates’ confidence. Every guy around him is a lot more confident.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Celtics boss Danny Ainge had a question for Isaiah Thomas about his Brinks truck-themed sandals … The Heat’s Tyler Johnson has some big hopes for 2017-18