Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Sept. 13) -- Draymond Green respects why Kyrie Irving sought trade Staff

This morning’s headlines:

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Green respects Irving’s decision to leave Cavs — To some fans and NBA observers, Kyrie Irving’s trade request (which has since been fulfilled) didn’t make much sense. Why leave playing alongside LeBron James to go it on your own? Irving didn’t get into that too much in his introductory news conference with the Boston Celtics, but to a longtime rival, his leaving the Cavs makes some sense. Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors said as much yesterday, writes Conner Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Warriors forward Draymond Green viewed Irving’s trade demand differently than most. While others vilified Irving, Green began to appreciate him even more.

“I’d say more than anything, (it upped) the respect level I have for him,” Green said Tuesday. “That’s tough to do. I don’t think people take into account that he put so much pressure on himself by doing that. But the willingness to do that knowing the pressure that comes with that, saying, ‘I’m ready to do it.’ That’s what stood out to me.”

Green’s comments echo those of Kevin Durant. During a podcast with Bill Simmons last month, Durant lauded Irving for prioritizing his own goals over what others want from him. It was just last summer that Durant learned firsthand that, in putting personal interests first, players make themselves a target.

Though he has caused plenty of problems for Golden State in recent years, Irving is friendly with Durant and Green. The three got close playing for Team USA at the Summer Olympics last year.

“It’s not the surprise of, ‘Hey, Kyrie wanted to leave,’” Green said. “That happens all the time. It happened with Shaq and Kobe and has happened with a ton of other guys in the NBA over the course of the years.

“A lot of people would say LeBron is the greatest player in the world, and I don’t say this in disrespect to LeBron — but for Kyrie to say, ‘I don’t want to play with him no more, I want my own thing,’ that’s big because you have to deliver with that.”

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Harden focused on meshing with Paul — Ever since Chris Paul was dealt to the Houston Rockets earlier this summer, star guard James Harden has been doing all he can to develop chemistry with Paul. From playing in pick-up games to hanging out together at Summer League, the duo is bonding quickly on and off the court. That task, and not the Carmelo Anthony rumors, are job No. 1 for Harden right now:

A day after the video of Harden and Chris Paul playing a pickup game with Anthony, Harden was asked in an interview on ESPN if it is frustrating hearing rumors that Anthony could join him in Houston.

“I try to block it out,” Harden said. “I let the front office, (general manager) Daryl Morey and (CEO) Tad Brown deal with that stuff. I’m just trying to focus on getting comfortable with CP (Paul.) We’ve been building some good bond time this summer. I think we’re both excited for this season.”

Harden, appearing on ESPN as the NBA Live 18 cover athlete, said the most significant adjustment for he and Paul will be playing off the ball. But he said the roles won’t be very different than in those pickup games as the Rockets try to catch the Warriors.

“I think we’ve both been so ball dominant these last few years, we’ll get a lot of catch-and-shoot opportunities,” Harden said. “We have to keep telling ourselves when we’re open, just shoot the ball. We’ve been doing that so far in these pickup games. Once we get comfortable with each other, he’s very smart. I’m smart. It will work itself out.

“We both have the same goal. We’re both trying to win. There’s one team (the Warriors) out there that’s winning. They’ve been to the Finals three years in a row. They won two out of three. One team to compete against. One team to try to go get. We’re both on the same page with that.”

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Effect of Westbrook’s new shoe deal on OKC extension? — News broke last night that reigning Kia MVP and Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook had inked a 10-year mega endorsement deal with Jordan brand. It’s another boon in the offseason for Westbrook, no doubt, but how might it play into his ability to sign a contract extension with the Thunder? Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman digs in:

The 28-year-old is entering what can be the final year of his contract with Oklahoma City (he has a player option for 2018-19). He’s eligible for a five-year maximum contract extension that, when combined with the upcoming season, would make for a six-year contract worth more than $235 million. That would be the richest deal in NBA history.

Westbrook has until the start of the season to sign that extension with the Thunder, but it’s the only deal he can sign with the team at this point. After the season, he could sign virtually the same five-year contract with the Thunder, a shorter deal with OKC or a contract with some other team.

It’s unclear how the new Jordan Brand deal might impact that decision.

A point in favor of Westbrook signing the five-year extension now is that it locks in financial stability for six years at age 28. That could be valuable for a player as athletic and dynamic as Westbrook, whose game conceivably could look like very different at age 34.

But the shoe contract money could take away some of the incentive to lock in with one team, even at such a high salary.

The Jordan Brand money gives Westbrook some stability. In theory, it could make money less of a factor in the decision about where he’ll play moving forward.

But Westbrook is one of the league’s most-guarded players, and it’s unclear how much of his motivation going forward is financial anyway.

It could be that he loves Oklahoma City, wants to remain and is willing to sign long-term.

It could be that, as he reaches the prime – and, ultimately, the post-prime – stage of his career, the ability to compete for championships will become more important. That could mean signing shorter deals with the flexibility to jump to a more desirable situation.

We don’t know what Westbrook will decide.

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Marbury hoping to make NBA comeback — On May 17, 2009, Stephon Marbury logged what would be the last minutes of his NBA playing days in the Boston Celtics’ 101-82 playoff loss to the Orlando Magic. Since then, Marbury has played in China where he has become a legend in the Chinese Basketball Association. According to’s Marc J. Spears, Marbury is hoping to make one last showing in the NBA before he wraps up his basketball-playing days:

Two-time NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury hopes to retire from basketball as an NBA player this upcoming season, he said on social media Tuesday.

Marbury posted his intentions on Instagram, saying: “Yes, it’s true. An NBA comeback is coming.”

Marbury is expected to live up to his one-year contract with the Beijing Fly Dragons during the 2017-18 Chinese Basketball Association season and retire from the league afterward, a source said. Once the CBA season is over, which could be as early as March, the 40-year-old would like to return to the NBA after a long hiatus and retire from playing in the league.

He currently has no training camp or contract offer from an NBA team.

Marbury, a Brooklyn native, had a tumultuous five-year stint with the Knicks that included clashes with coaches and teammates — and little success on the court. It ended with the Knicks and Marbury agreeing on a buyout in 2009 after the point guard was benched for his final season in New York.

He signed with the Celtics after the buyout.

Since meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver in China last October, Marbury has had positive meetings in New York City with the league and with the Knicks.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Dion Waiters, Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson could collect some hefty bonuses this season … Shabazz Muhammad is reportedly going to re-sign with the Timberwolves … There’s a very optimistic timeline in place in Seattle for a renovation to KeyArena … The Nets have added big man Tyler Zeller … Who will step up for the Jazz in 2017-18? … The Nuggets are hoping that big men Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic can deliver big things … JaVale McGee has a new tattoo that showcases his Warriors pride … The Suns are taking a look at four free-agent shooting guards