Shootaround (July 20): Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum reach out to Carmelo Anthony about joining Portland Trail Blazers
Plus, the Wizards turn their efforts toward John Wall and more NBA news from around the league
This morning’s headlines:
- Lillard, McCollum interested in Anthony
- Wizards looking to lock up Wall
- Redick on ‘break-up’ with Clippers
- Suns commit to front office
As Carmelo turns — With Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks seemingly destined to split, in one way or another, the question now becomes, what next? As Jason Quick writes for CSNNW, if Melo doesn’t end up going to Portland, it won’t be from a lack of effort from Blazers backcourt CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard …
Through a series of cryptic and vague comments on Wednesday at Lillard’s youth basketball camp, both Lillard and McCollum said they have been in contact with Anthony in attempts to lure him to Portland via a trade.
“I spoke to him,’’ Lillard said. “Because obviously he makes us a better team. So obviously with that being out there and being a real possibility, I don’t see why I wouldn’t reach out to him and let him know the interest is mutual if he is interested in us.’’
What was Anthony’s response?
“I’m not going to share all that,’’ Lillard said. “We had the conversation about it because it’s something we need to talk about, so he knows it’s not something that just a team (is interested) … it was myself and CJ would love to have him, so we reached out to him, texted him, that’s it.’’
McCollum, who was making an appearance at Lillard’s camp, was more cryptic, saying he has spoke to Anthony “indirectly” through the trainer they both share. He added that he is flying to New York on Thursday to train and will “say hello (to Melo) if he’s there.’’
“If we get him … when we get him … I think we could be top three in the West, easy,’’ McCollum said. “I think he’s interested. Obviously I feel he wants to play with his team – the Banana Boat friends. I know he wants to play with CP (Chris Paul) and LeBron, and those are good options, but I feel we are a good option.’’
Anthony has a no-trade clause, and it is believed he wants to steer his destination toward Houston, where he can team with Paul and James Harden. But to get to Houston, a third-team will likely need to be involved in a trade, which is where Portland has entered the conversation.
The Blazers, however, do not want to help Houston gain another star, and instead are hopeful to convince Anthony that he can win, and perhaps win big now, in Portland alongside Lillard, McCollum and blossoming center Jusuf Nurkic. However, it is unclear whether Anthony would waive his no-trade clause to come to Portland.
That’s why Lillard and McCollum reached out – to change his view of Portland by assuring him he would be wanted.
“He’s Carmelo Anthony,’’ Lillard said. “You add another guy who can score 50. Over the last decade, he’s been one of best players in the league. Playing against him he’s a cerebral player. He’s smart. He played in the triangle. I can only imagine what it would be like to have him isolating on one side, and CJ in the corner, and me in opposite wing and Nurk on the opposite … I could only imagine how tough it would be to guard us.’’
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Wizards sign Porter, look to Wall — After making it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last year, the Washington Wizards have looked to secure their young core moving forward. And with Otto Porter newly re-signed, owner Ted Leonsis said yesterday that the team is committed to spending money as they turn their attention to their long-term future with John Wall, as Candace Buckner writes in the Washington Post …
“I think we’ve proven that we have as much resources and as much tools as anybody in the league and we’re in the tax,” Leonsis said. “We’ll spend whatever we need to get better, but we’re going to get better by keeping our core together and then adding to it.”
By re-signing Otto Porter Jr. to the team’s third maximum contract on roster, Washington has exceeded the 2017-18 NBA salary cap, set at $99.093 million. Leonsis highlighted this fact while recalling other big contracts given to star athletes under the umbrella of his Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the Wizards and Washington Capitals of the NHL. This financial allegiance could continue if all-NBA point guard John Wall agrees to an extension with the Wizards before the start of the upcoming season.
The team has reportedly offered a four-year, $170 million extension to Wall, known as the “supermax,” that would begin in 2019. Although Wall, who has two more years remaining on his current contract, has yet to commit, Leonsis believes he will eventually sign and stay in Washington for the long term.
“I told everyone that when John was coming off his rookie contract, we would sign him and he would be our bedrock player,” Leonsis said, then referenced Caps players. “I told everyone when Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom” had similar contract extensions.
“I told everybody that we would keep Bradley Beal, and already everyone is talking about the [Wall] extension,” Leonsis continued. “So my prediction is John Wall will sign his extension. He wants to be here and my goal is to have no drama.”
By matching Porter’s max contract offer from the Brooklyn Nets, the Wizards were greatly limited in spending this offseason. The team added a pair of veterans in Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott on short-term deals, and flipped the 52nd draft pick in a trade for Tim Frazier. Still, Leonsis believes this year could work out better than the summer of 2016, when the team had more money and chased several free agents.
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Redick: A return to LA wasn’t in the cards — The LA Clippers have had a summer of change, with the loss of point guard Chris Paul and his backcourt mate JJ Redick. As Redick explains on the new episode of his podcast, as much as he enjoyed his career in Los Angeles, all good things must come to an end …
Redick said Wednesday on his new podcast, The Chronicles of Redick, that “coming off the four best years” of his career, he wasn’t going to be able to keep it going with the Los Angeles Clippers.
“I know some Clippers fans and maybe some NBA fans may be wondering like, why did I not go back or there are probably some ignorant people out there who are questioning my loyalty,” he said. “Going back to the Clippers was, honestly, not an option.
“I kind of figured last summer when they signed Austin (Rivers) and Jamal (Crawford) back, they had basically guaranteed $25 million in salary for this upcoming season and I knew they weren’t going to be able to commit financially longterm to having a third shooting guard at a high rate. That’s just unrealistic. You can’t have $30-$40 million at one position, especially when you’re going to have two or three max players on the team.
“So on June 29 (executive vice president of basketball operations) Lawrence Frank was nice enough and professional enough to give me a call. I call it my break-up call. He basically said, we’re not going to bring you back.”
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Suns commit to front office — The Phoenix Suns are in the midst of a rebuilding program, but with a young core in place they seem to be ready to turn the corner. Yesterday they not only extended the contract of GM Ryan McDonough, but they also announced that NBA veteran James Jones will be retiring after 14 seasons and joining the team as the team’s Vice President of Basketball Operations. As Scott Bordow writes, the Suns’ future looks solid moving forward …
Ryan McDonough and James Jones first met in 2003, when McDonough was a young executive in the Boston Celtics’ front office and Jones was taking part in a pre-draft workout for the team.
The Celtics didn’t draft Jones – he was a second-round pick of the Indiana Pacers – but Jones left a lasting impression on McDonough when they had a post-workout lunch together at Bertucci’s, an Italian restaurant in Walpole, Mass.
“He really stood out,” McDonough said. “… He thought differently. He analyzed the game well. I thought, ‘I’m going to keep an eye on this guy during the course of his career.’”
Fourteen years later, their careers have finally intertwined. On Wednesday, Suns owner Robert Sarver announced that he had extended McDonough’s contract as general manager through the 2019-20 season and hired Jones as vice president of basketball operations, a new position in the organization. Jones will report to McDonough.
“Today is a good day,” Sarver said. “Ryan is sticking around and James is joining us. I think we’re in a better position moving forward today than we were yesterday.”
McDonough was headed into the fifth and final year of his contract; Sarver’s decision to add two more years to the deal signifies he’s all-in on McDonough’s plan to build the Suns through the draft. Five of McDonough’s first-round picks are on the roster, including shooting guard Devin Booker, and six of Phoenix’s key players are 23 or younger.
“I have a lot of confidence in Ryan,” Sarver said. “I think he’s proven a keen ability to analyze talent and draft some key players to this franchise. He’s also grown as a manager and leader.”
Jones’ hiring came as a surprise. He had not announced his retirement after a 14-year NBA career that included three championships (two with the Miami Heat, one with the Cleveland Cavaliers), seven straight NBA Finals appearances and a two-year stint with the Suns in 2005-06 and 2006-07. But as it turns out, the Suns had been pursuing Jones for a front-office position for years.
“Every year I’d call his agent around July 1 and he’d say, ‘Do you want to sign him?’” McDonough said. “I’d say, ‘Kind of. He’s a talented player but when is he going to stop playing? We’d love to add him to our staff.’ So this is something Robert and I have discussed for a while.”
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: According to Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers are in a “peculiar” place … Andrew Wiggins is in line for a contract extension in Minnesota … Summer League in Las Vegas did big ratings … Stephon Marbury will play one last season in China … The Milwaukee Bucks Foundation is awarding $1 million in grants to city organizations … Kevin Durant is going to visit India