DA's Morning Tip

Morning Tip Mailbag: Your questions on Kawhi Leonard, NBA Summer League and more

You said loving you would make life beautiful/With each passing day/

But as soon as love came into my heart/You turned and you walked just one way. From Frank Young:

Given the storyline that he only wants to play in Los Angeles, could the Toronto Raptors turn around and trade Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers next week, even though the San Antonio Spurs refused to trade him to another Western Conference team? What is the likelihood that they make a deal by the trade deadline? What should the Raptors get in return?

I doubt it would be next week, Frank. The Raptors certainly want to try and convince Leonard to stay, and they have a story to tell — about their team, their organization, and their city/country that is unique among NBA franchises. Maybe Leonard and Kyle Lowry hit it off off the floor the way Lowry and DeMar DeRozan did. Maybe Toronto’s legendary Director of Sports Science, Alex McKechnie — who has worked wonders with NBA players for two-plus decades — gets in front of him and finds something that works to rapidly improve Leonard’s quad.

Maybe Kawhi develops a real taste for poutine. I’m just saying you have to give it some time. If it reached a point of no return and the Raptors knew Leonard wasn’t going to re-sign, I’m sure they’d ask for some sort of Brandon Ingram/Kyle Kuzma-led package for him.

Okay, I had to think about this one. From Vivek Thirumalal:

There have been many suggestions around East-West parity, the main one being changing the playoff format to have a 1-16 ranking. How about the following:

1. The All-Star team can have only two players from the same team

2. The All-NBA teams can have only two players across all three teams (first, second and third) and each All-NBA team can have only one player.

Do you think this will at least prevent the formation of super teams? Would players from a super team decide or move on to a different team if their chance to be selected to All-Star or All-NBA team increases? Would this increase the chance of Klay Thompson or Draymond Green leaving the Golden State Warriors?

I have to say, that’s an interesting idea, Vivek. Most players have bonuses in their deals for winning league awards like first-team All NBA, Kia Defensive Player of the Year, etc., and under your criteria, some players would indeed be stuck and prohibited from making All-Star or All-NBA teams if they were the third- or fourth-biggest stars on their incumbent teams. One thing to keep in mind, though: the “supermax” deals that John Wall and Russell Westbrook got when they made All-NBA teams are only possible for players who were drafted by their current teams. So if a player went somewhere else in free agency to have a better chance at an All-Star/all-NBA spot, he’d be walking away from that potential supermax.

Ironic, ‘cause you can find a steak just about everywhere in that town for $3.99. From John Ferensen:

Life-long Sonics fan here, looking forward to the return of NBA basketball (for one preseason night) in October. As a diehard NBA fan without a team for ten years, I’ve been a loyal Las Vegas NBA Summer League attendee for six years now. It used to be a quainter affair, but delivered on its promise, including a lot of second-year players, along with most top Draft picks.

The last couple years have seen a drastic drop off in terms of second-year players (which is fine), but the more alarming thing is that top Draft picks are playing one game, and then magically developing “quad injuries” and sitting out the rest of the tournament. Resting players has now infiltrated Summer League!

The NBA made the move to have all 30 teams in Vegas this year, and a lot of top picks were sidelined. The price of a day pass has been jacked up to $40+ from $20 a few years ago. And, fewer top picks are playing. I see a lot of the same people every year (we are nerds), and everyone is grumbling about the product. I know this ranks way down on the NBA’s list of concerns, but just know that us Summer League loyalists are irritated.

I hear you, John. This is a case where you’re right, but the teams are right, too. You want value for the money you bring out of your pocket, and it’s frustrating when you don’t get to see the top picks — which is the whole point of watching NBA Summer League — play multiple games. But the reality is that as teams increase in value — the New York Knicks , they’re going to be more and more protective of their players — especially their rookies, who are on (relatively) cheap contracts for up to four years before hitting free agency.

And since most teams’ rosters are already filled before NBA Summer League even begins, there’s even less incentive to play anyone for long in Vegas who’s likely to be in the rotation when the regular season begins. There isn’t a coach in Vegas who’s upset when his team is eliminated from the “playoffs” at Thomas and Mack and Cox Pavilion. Trust me.

Send your questions, comments and anti-pachyderm remedies when you’re out on the town to daldridgetnt@gmail.com. If your e-mail is funny, thought-provoking or snarky, we just might publish it!


2 – Players — guard Patty Mills and the newly re-signed Marco Belinelli — remaining from the Spurs 2014 championship team after last week’s trade of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2020 first-round pick. Forty-year-old guard Manu Ginobili has yet to announce whether he, too, will return next season in San Antonio.

$3.6 Billion — Estimated value of the New York Knicks, the most valuable NBA franchise, according to Forbes Magazine’s annual ranking of the world’s 50 most valuable sports franchises. Eight NBA teams made the list: the Knicks, who ranked seventh overall; the Lakers ($3.3 billion, tied for 8th); the Warriors ($3.1 billion, t-10th); the Bulls ($2.6 billion, t-23rd); the Celtics ($2.5 billion, t-27th); the Nets ($2.3 billion, t-36th); the Rockets ($2.2 billion, 40th) and the Clippers ($2.15 billion, t-41st). The Dallas Cowboys, valued at $4.8 billion, led the list.

$14,000 — Estimated ad rate for a 30-second TV ad next season for Lakers games on Spectrum SportsNet, according to sources of SportsBusiness Daily media reporter John Ourand. That would double what the Lakers got for 30-second ads this past season. Ourand says the ad rate could go even higher if the team’s ratings exceed expectations.


1) Well, the Lakers won’t be boring, that’s for damn sure.

2) Not for nothing, but the WNBA is on fire this season. Night in and night out, there are incredible performances — Dallas’ Liz Cambage breaking the league record for points in a game, with 53 last week against New York, rookie A’ja Wilson starring for the relocated Aces to in their first season in Las Vegas; Seattle’s Breanna Stewart leading the league and her team in scoring en route to a league-best 18-6 record, and stalwarts Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi, Elena Delle Donne and Tiffany Hayes impacting their squads as usual. Next weekend’s All-Star Game in Minneapolis will be an appropriate celebration of a great first half of the season. The league’s off-court issues — officiating, pay, marketing, travel (I am ashamed to admit I had no idea so many players were still flying coach/commercial while every NBA team charters, and has chartered, for decades) — are another matter altogether. But the ball has been outstanding.

3) Our NBA TV colleague, Eric Pincus, sniffs out a potential future Kawhi link to the Lakers here on Bleacher Report.

4) Marc Gasol is having a better summer than you. Kudos to a true citizen of the world.


1) The Sixers had a clear, stated goal this offseason: to add a superstar talent to play with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons for the next four years. They had cap room and the momentum of a second-round playoff run. Yet Philly has, so far, failed to strike — for LeBron James, for Paul George, for Jimmy Butler (via trade) — and, now, for Kawhi Leonard, who’s in Toronto. Meanwhile, the 76ers thought they had a deal for free agent forward Nemanja Bjelica — but Bjelica backed out, and signed with Sacramento instead. A team with championship aspirations and plenty of cap space shouldn’t be losing free agents to the Kings. Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala, acquired in separate trades (although Muscala is not official yet), will help. But that wasn’t what the 76ers thought the offseason would bring. The summer’s not over yet. But Philly has work left to do.

2) Watching the reaction to the discovery that Brewers pitcher Josh Hader posted racist and homophobic Tweets at 17 was … interesting. The overwhelming reaction I saw, frankly, from most white baseball writers and fans was that Hader, now 24, should be cut a break, that none of us should be judged forever by dumb things we did when we were teenagers.

I agree. Empathy for other people is never a bad thing. I would only point out, however and unfortunately, that Tamir Rice was 12 when he was killed by police in Cleveland, less than five seconds after they encountered him in a park. Trayvon Martin was 17 when George Zimmerman stalked and killed him. Jordan Davis was 17 when he was murdered by Michael Dunn after Dunn became enraged at the loud music Davis and his friends were playing in their car. My point in bringing these killings up is that young men of color, too often, are not given the benefit of the doubt about their motives, their vocal “tone,” their body movements, when they are Hader’s age, much less about what they may have posted on social media.

I don’t know Hader. I don’t know what’s in his heart. I am moved by how his African-American teammates went out of their way to defend him, to say they know him and don’t believe him to be racist. And I accept that, completely. But a standing ovation for Hader as he returned to the mound in Milwaukee? Was he somehow “victimized” by what, after all, was a controversy brought about by what he did? Contrast this with how so many NFL fans have responded to the simple, non-aggressive act of players kneeling during the national anthem before games to bring attention to police brutality against people of color around the country. I hope Hader’s heart has changed. I cannot help, though, thinking about all the boys of color whose hearts are never given the benefit of the doubt, and who didn’t get to be Hader’s age today because of that.

3) RIP, Mitch Chortkoff, the longtime — six decades!! — Lakers beat writer for just about every local publication in the Los Angeles area during his illustrious career. Mitch died last week at 78. My dealings with him always were highlighted by his gentlemanly nature and his innate, historical knowledge of the franchise. A genuinely decent man.

4) Next, you’re going to tell me that Florence Henderson went out with Barry Williams on a date. Wait, what?

5) The original “Die Hard” is 30 years old. I have to go lie down now. (Or is it “lay down now”? Crap.)


— Hornets rookie guard Devonte Graham (@Devonte4Graham), Friday, 2:17 p.m. I would just say, be careful what you wish for.


“I just stick to my strengths. Look at everybody in the league. They don’t pay players to play defense. There’s only two people historically that play defense. I’m not going to say I won’t, but to say that’s a weakness is like saying that’s everybody’s weakness. Because I’ve scored 30 and 20 on a lot of guys that say they play defense.”

— New Bull Jabari Parker, to Chicago radio station 670 The Score, explaining why he thinks a player such as himself that is not the greatest lockdown defender ever can nonetheless remain on the court. He went on to say that “a better offense wins championships” over an elite defense.

“My favorite by far is Klay. Our short time together in the summers, for him to be as dull as be is, there’s never a dull moment.”

DeMarcus Cousins, at his introductory news conference with the Warriors last Thursday, on who his favorite new teammate is.

“He’s somebody I’ve been watching since he was a baby in diapers. Literally in diapers. I’ve watched him grow up and seen the guy he’s become. He was always taller than everybody when we were younger, so I was like, ‘Oh, he’s going to be special.’”

— Wizards guard Bradley Beal, to the Boston Herald, on his longtime friendship with the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, who grew up with him in St. Louis.

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Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive hereand follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.