Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (July 10) -- David Griffin reportedly out of New York Knicks' GM gig

Plus, Mark Cuban has some thoughts on his Mavericks and more from around the NBA

NBA.com Staff

This morning’s headlines:

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Report: Knicks would not give Griffin control of rebuild — Four straight seasons of missing the playoffs is evidently not reason enough for the Knicks to shake up the status quo. The bid to hire former Cavaliers exec David Griffin as the next general manager in New York broke down because the club would not grant him autonomy to do the job. That’s the word from Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

In a move that was as baffling as it was predictable, the Knicks reportedly refused to grant control over basketball decisions to David Griffin, who, as a result, took his name out of the running for the GM job, a source confirmed.

In addition, Griffin’s preference to bring in his own front-office staff was an issue with the Knicks, whose current group of Steve Mills (the GM), Allan Houston (assistant GM), Jamie Mathews (vice president of basketball operations) and Kristian Petesic (director of scouting) have kept jobs at MSG and James Dolan’s trust through multiple regime changes.

A source told the Daily News that one of Griffin’s requests was to remove Houston, who has been with the Knicks as a player or an executive for the majority of the last 20 years. With Dolan’s support as one of the owner’s all-time favorite players (remember that $100 million contract extension), Houston rapidly ascended in New York’s front office and many believe he’s being groomed as the next GM under Mills.

According to ESPN, an insistence on Mills’ continued influence over basketball decisions was another reason Griffin turned down the job. Last month, when Griffin’s name first surfaced, a source told the News that the only way a partnership with Mills would work is if they operated separately — with Griffin in charge of personnel, and Mills tasked with the business, budget and politics of the team.

“Steve acting as a buffer between Dolan and the GM,” the source said.

Further, multiple sources close with Griffin said he’d require hiring his own front-office staff from Cleveland, including Trent Redden, the Cavs former VP of basketball operations. But apparently Mills’ power is not only persisting, it’s growing. He already left a lasting imprint on this team by signing Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71 million deal.

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Cuban would like Mavs in East — What’s that old real estate mantra? Location, location, location. The way things stand right now, the Mavericks are in rebuilding situation in the super-stocked Western Conference. That has team owner Mark Cuban fantasizing about what it would take to get his team relocated to the Eastern Conference, where he thinks the Mavs could compete for the playoffs, says Tim McMahon of ESPN.com:

“We’re rebuilding. Right?” Cuban said during the ESPN broadcast of the Mavs’ 88-77 win Sunday over the Phoenix Suns in the Las Vegas Summer League. “There’s no question about it. If we were in the East, we would not be rebuilding. We’d be handling things completely different. I think I’m going to kidnap [commissioner] Adam Silver and not let him out until he moves us to the Eastern Conference.

“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.”

The Mavs had dual goals last summer: attempting to acquire players who can be part of the franchise’s foundation after Dirk Nowitzki’s retirement but trying to build a team that gave Nowitzki a chance to compete in the playoffs during his golden years. A slow start, which occurred in part due to an Achilles tendon injury that sidelined Nowitzki for most of the first two months of the season, contributed to the Mavs’ midseason decision to emphasize the youth movement.

Dallas parted with two stopgap veterans at the trade deadline, waiving point guard Deron Williams and dumping center Andrew Bogut in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers that sent center Nerlens Noel to Dallas.

The Mavs have been mostly spectators during this free-agency period, aside from re-signing the 39-year-old Nowitzki to a hometown-discount, two-year, $10 million deal and acquiring Josh McRoberts in a salary dump from the Miami Heat. They intend to re-sign Noel, a restricted free agent who hopes to drive up his price by receiving an offer sheet from another team.

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Sixers’ depth makes things hurt less — Admit it. When you saw Markelle Fultz getting helped off the floor at the Las Vegas Summer League, you figured it was just another off-season of gloom and doom in Philly. The first good news was the Fultz merely suffered a sprained ankle. But Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News also says the Sixers are more capable of withstanding injuries than in the past:

If you’ve played any kind of basketball in your life, from playground to high school or college, you’ve seen it happen – and probably had it happen – a million times. A rolled ankle is as much of the sport when it comes to injuries as dunks are to scoring. So when rookie Markelle Fultz went down on Saturday night after rolling his left ankle chasing down the ball against Golden State and a play where Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot also got hit and required stitches above his lip, Lloyd Pierce insisted he didn’t bat an eye. The 76ers assistant coach who is overseeing the coaching duties in the Las Vegas Summer League probably had flashes of horrific thoughts blast his mind, but not really.

“This is sport. Any sport you play in and you’re in a competitive atmosphere and you’re athletic and moving around, that’s just the challenge,” Pierce said. “It’s easy to put that on the history of what we’ve gone through, but it’s just part of the game, it’s part of the sport. You get two guys banged up on one play, it’s just a freak situation. That’s part of sport.”

Luckily, which isn’t a word usually used referring to a Sixers injury, Fultz just sprained the ankle and was walking only a bit gingerly Sunday morning during the team’s shootaround. He said he was fine and the team announced that though he’ll miss the remainder of the Las Vegas games, Fultz should be back to basketball activities in one to two weeks.

All of Philadelphia, including Fultz’s teammates, held their collective breaths. But unlike years past, had this been a significant injury, the depth that has been collected by this organization would have made it a lot easier to carry on than in years past. A serious injury would have brought about angst more so because it would have been the third one the fan base would have had to deal with after Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. But the reality is that the team probably could have carried on quite well had Fultz needed a long recovery time. The likes of Jerryd Bayless, Simmons and T.J. McConnell no doubt could have admirably filled Fultz’s spot had he been sidelined for significant time. That just wasn’t the thinking in the past when Embiid and Simmons were sidelined for a total of three seasons. But that is where the Sixers are now.

Thankfully for fans and the organization, no one will know how much Fultz would have been missed.

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Celtics, Baynes reach reported 1-year deal — The Boston Celtics have been busy in the offseason and aren’t showing signs of slowing down just yet. After trading Avery Bradley on Friday to the Detroit Pistons to clear cap space for Gordon Hayward’s impending signing, they also reached a reported deal with big man Aron Baynes (who last played for Detroit). Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com has more on the move, which was first reported by The Vertical:

The Boston Celtics plan to sign free-agent center Aron Baynes to a one-year, $4.3 million contract, according to a league source.

The 6-foot-10 Baynes, born in New Zealand but an Australia national, averaged 4.9 points and 4.4 rebounds over 15.5 minutes per game last season in Detroit. Baynes provides much-needed help on the defensive glass, grabbing 21.6 percent of all defensive caroms when he was on the floor last season.

The Celtics can’t officially sign Baynes until a sequence of moves that will include first signing Gordon Hayward. Boston traded Avery Bradley to Detroit last week to generate the necessary cap space to sign Hayward to a maximum-contract salary that starts at $29.7 million for the 2017-18 season.

While the Celtics have a bunch of players capable of playing as undersized 4s, the team is thin on pure centers. Boston’s frontcourt is likely to be filled out with first-year players Ante Zizic (2016 first-round pick who played last year in Croatia and Turkey), Daniel Theis (undrafted, played last year in Germany) and Guerschon Yabusele (2016 first-round pick who played last year in China and the G League).

The Detroit Pistons owned a net rating of plus-5.2 with Baynes on the court last season, best among the team’s regulars. Detroit posted a defensive rating of 105.3 for the season, but that number plummeted to 98.5 with Baynes on the court. Baynes’ overall rebound rate of 15.8 was third on the Pistons — trailing Andre Drummond and little-used Boban Marjanovic — but that number would have easily led the Celtics. Olynyk topped Boston regulars with a rebound rate of 13.1 last season.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Stephen Jackson claims the Big3 could take down a real NBA team … Never mind Kevin Durant. It’s Dirk Nowitzki who has sacrificed the most for his teammates … A healthy Jamal Murray is now ready to show what he can really do … Ryan Kelly has had a strange couple of weeks and a long, strange trip to the Las Vegas Summer League … Jason Kidd calls Lonzo Ball comparisons a compliment … In Chicago, Cameron Payne and Kris Dunn are both battling for the starting gig …

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