DA's Morning Tip

Morning Tip Mailbag: Your questions on Eastern Conference, DeMarcus Cousins and more

David Aldridge

There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable; and let it come! From Kevin Duong:

What would you say ranks as a bigger threat to Boston this upcoming season? Externally, from the newly-led Kawhi Leonard Raptors and the prodigious Philadelphia Process Trusters?

Or internally, from having to integrate Gordon Hayward, reintegrate Kyrie Irving, and potentially having to dial down the egos of Jayson Tatum/Jaylen Brown/Terry Rozier?

That’s a good question, Kevin. Thanks for writing. I’m going with the former, though I recognize the latter could be a potential stumbling block for the Celtics. I do think a fully engaged Kawhi (as well as the forgotten guy in the deal, Danny Green) in Toronto can get the Raptors to a conference finals level next season. And with LeBron no longer around to torment them, the Raptors would finally be able to breathe a little psychologically no matter who they were playing.

As for Boston, as I can’t imagine coach Brad Stevens hasn’t given weeks, if not months, of thought to that very topic, I will be on Boston being able to get both Irving and Hayward back into the mix with minimal difficulty. One can safely assume Hayward will go right back into the starting lineup for Aron Baynes, for example, giving Boston a ridiculous interchangeable forward combo of Hayward and Jayson Tatum, while also making them even deeper in reserve with Baynes joining Rozier, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris. Boston was a +7.1 offensively when Irving was on the floor last year rather than off, and a cumulative +3.1 overall with him. I just don’t think that’s going to be a problem.

I’m from where they ball and breed rhyme stars/I’m from Marcy son, just thought I’d remind y’all. From Stephen Milewski:

There have been rumors floating around the internet that Kawhi Leonard could be considering joining the Brooklyn Nets next summer, given their market, abundant cap space and prior Spurs relationships (notably GM Sean Marks).

Given his divorce from the Spurs, do you think that would hurt the Nets in recruiting him? Or, since those staffers haven’t been with the Spurs for a few years but have prior connections, that it could help the Nets in recruiting him? What are your overall thoughts on the Nets potentially pursuing Kawhi?

I don’t think so. Marks is his own man and his staff has its own tale to tell Leonard and his representatives. The Philadelphia 76ers, for example, had a good shot at Leonard in part because of Leonard’s relationship with Sixers coach Brett Brown — a relationship that was formed while Brown was an assistant in San Antonio. Unless Marks rubbed Leonard the wrong way somehow in the 210, and there’s absolutely no evidence I know of indicating that, I think Leonard will give the Nets a fair hearing next July.

I mean, if Commissioner Gordon can dredge up Batman in just a few minutes … From Andy Sanchez:

Why didn’t the commissioner veto DeMarcus Cousins to the Warriors!?!?! But he vetoed Chris Paul to the Lakers!?

The short answer is, different commissioner.

(Editor’s note: There was no actual “veto” of the Paul trade because the trade to the Lakers was never agreed to in the first place.)

But the circumstances are, and, were, in the case of the proposed CP3 trade, completely different. For one, Cousins was a free agent. That means he can sign with any team with whom he makes a deal. The Commissioner — in any sport — can’t tell a player where he can or can’t sign. For two, the NBA was, at the time of the proposed Paul deal, running the then-New Orleans Hornets, where Paul was playing. That meant David Stern was the de facto owner of the team. So he actually did have veto power over the decisions of the team (hence the infamous “basketball reasons” response to why he nixed the trade).

Send your questions, comments and … yes, while I know the main focus of this story for many will be “woman finds mountain lion sleeping on her couch,” I am more intrigued by “feline-speak eye blinking” and how one sends “telepathic routes out of the house via open doors.” (I think I’d like to party with Lauren.) to daldridgetnt@gmail.com. If your e-mail is funny, thought-provoking or snarky, we just might publish it!

BY THE NUMBERS

240 — Initial student body of the I Promise School, a public school in Akron that opens today with a ceremony featuring LeBron James, whose LeBron James Family Foundation is partnering with Akron Public Schools to open the school, which will serve families in Akron whose children are performing at lower levels academically. The 240 kids in the inaugural class are in third and fourth grade; ultimately I Promise will serve grades one through eight. I Promise hopes to not only help students catch up academically, but also provide support for the students’ families so that learning can continue when the kids get home. Perhaps there is value in not shutting up and dribbling.

19 — NBA players who will participate in the NBA Africa Game 2018, which will take place in Pretoria, South Africa, this coming Saturday in an “Africa vs. The World” format. Among the players on the Africa team will be the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (Cameroon), the Los Angeles Lakers’ Luol Deng (South Sudan) and the Toronto Raptors’ Serge Ibaka (Democratic Republic of Congo); the World roster features Rudy Gay, Khris Middleton, Harrison Barnes, Dennis Smith and Hassan Whiteside.

25.3 — Minutes that Whiteside played per game for the Heat last season, the fewest he played for Miami in three seasons. But Miami president Pat Riley insisted last week that, contrary to word around the league for a while, the Heat isn’t shopping its mercurial 29-year-old center, who has two years and $52.5 million (including a player option for 2019-20 at $27 million) on his contract.

I’M FEELIN’ …

1) A fair contract for Clint Capela and the Rockets. He wanted more money, which is understandable, given some of the deals that have been given to bigs in recent years that are more lucrative per year. But there was no point in gambling on a one-year qualifying offer and becoming an unrestricted free agent next year, even though there would have been a lot of teams lining up to make pitches. Injuries, team regression — any of a dozen things could have impacted his market in 12 months. Now the 24-year-old Capela and the Rockets can relax and make another run at the Warriors in the West.

2) That Allie Quigley, tho.

3) I’m not crying; you’re crying.

4) Don’t mess with Tammy. Real talk.

NOT FEELIN’ …

1) How can one process the end of the Carmelo Anthony Era in Atlanta? It was … about the same as the Rasheed Wallace Era in Atlanta.

2) RIP, Nia Wilson. As someone who has ridden the BART over to Warriors practices and games in Oakland in the past, this is beyond horrible. The BART is almost always full of folks, and almost always — at least, in my experience — people leave each other alone. I don’t have to ride the subway to work or school every day; thousands of other people do. And it’s horrifying that they now will have to wonder if there’s a predator in their midst.

2b) When a news outlet has a terrible, racially insensitive lapse in judgment, at minimum, a legitimate apology is in order. In this case, KTVU in Oakland did so, and they should be lauded for that.

3) Not the best use of anyone’s time that was involved in this.

TWEET(S) OF THE WEEK

Portland’s C.J. McCollum (@CJMcCollum), Wednesday, 7:31 p.m., followed by Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5), Wednesday, 9:04 p.m., after Durant appeared on McCollum’s podcast and teased McCollum after the latter lamented DeMarcus Cousins’ signing with Golden State. McCollum then responded on Twitter to a Twittee who reminded McCollum that he’d criticized Durant’s decision to go to the Warriors in 2016. And Durant responded to McCollum’s response to that response. And …

THEY SAID IT

“The guy brought a championship to the city. He brought some great years, won a lot of games. I don’t know how you can hate him. Obviously, you are disappointed he wants to be somewhere else, but you’ve still got to love that guy for what he’s done for that city.”

— Raptors guard Danny Green, on his new podcast “Inside the Green Room”, on his old/new Toronto teammate Kawhi Leonard and the reaction of San Antonio fans to Leonard’s decision to ask for a trade from the Spurs.

“I knew it was gonna be a weird market. I knew there was only a set amount of cap space, and if your incumbent team doesn’t want to re-sign you or (is) not giving you a contract offer that you want, then you have to go out and get a contract offer. So in the back of my mind, I’m thinking well if something happens where I can’t go back to Philly, and the market dries up, what do you do? You go get the taxpayer mid-level from the Warriors, the Celtics, the team that gives you the best chance to win.”

— 76ers guard J.J. Redick, on his podcast, saying he had a “similar mindset” to DeMarcus Cousins about potentially signing with the Warriors if he didn’t reach terns quickly with Philly on a new deal. Fortunately for the Sixers, Redick re-signed there on a one-year deal.

“It just felt genuine. It felt like a really strong and great relationship being around him. It didn’t take him to recruit me. It didn’t take him asking me to be here, asking me to be a part of the team going forward. None of that ever came up.”

Paul George, to USA Today, on the soft sell Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook made to George on staying in Oklahoma City — which George eventually did, spurning the Lakers and other suitors to sign with the Thunder for four years and $137 million starting in 2019, after the last year of his current deal.

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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 here and follow him on Twitter.

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

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