Here’s What Shaq, Other NBA Stars Thought Of Kobe Bryant’s Oscar Win
Kobe Bryant’s peers must be tired of watching him win. The retired Los Angeles Lakers star added another trophy to his mantle at Sunday night’s Academy Awards, winning the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for his role in “Dear Basketball.” The award was an impressive achievement for Bryant, who is just two years removed from an illustrious basketball career.
It also gave him something a certain ex-teammate never could have.
Yes, that’s Shaquille O’Neal, who somehow didn’t win Best Actor for his 1996 role in “Kazaam.” Good to see him being the bigger man here, though. Several other current or former NBA stars also weighed in on Kobe’s win,
Bryant’s big night wasn’t without controversy, though. The 39-year-old was arrested in 2003 on a sexual assault charge for allegedly raping a woman, and many saw his recognition Sunday — during the height of the #MeToo movement against empowering abusers — as hypocritical
What the NBA Was Talking About at All-Star Weekend
The futures of DeAndre Jordan and Paul George were among the big questions making the rounds in Los Angeles
Latest In NBA – Between the events, the parties, and the actual game, NBA All-Star Weekend can feel like a circus. But there’s also business to attend to. Teams aren’t talking trades during this period anymore with this year’s deadline moved up to before the break. But meetings and scouting sessions happened across Los Angeles.
I spoke to a handful of NBA executives over the weekend to get a sense of what’s to come in the near future for the league. But executives are the ones asking questions these days. Here are their biggest ones less than four months away from what could be an interesting offseason.
1. What Will DeAndre Jordan Do?
Jordan came close to being dealt to the Cavaliers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, but the deal fell through because the Clippers were unwilling to absorb Iman Shumpert’s salary. This makes the summer ahead that much more interesting for Jordan. With the salary cap flattening, only seven teams are expected to have over $10 million in cap space. There were 10 such teams last summer and 25 in 2016, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Brian Windhorst recently wrote. A dearth of free-agent funds will lead to a hard choice for Jordan, who has a player option worth $24.1 million for the 2018-19 season. But multiple league executives think it’s unlikely that he’d receive that type of money annually on the open market. Most of the teams that are expected to have money, like the Hawks, 76ers, and Nets, don’t need an expensive 30-year-old rim-running center, and the teams that do need one won’t have to pay him max money.
So teams are now wondering whether Jordan will opt into the final year of his current deal and play it back in 2019. There’s no easy answer, but if he opts out, the money he gets will set a precedent for the rest of the market this summer and for the years to come. All it takes is for one team to pay Jordan more than $20 million, but it’s not unreasonable that he’d end up seeing offers closer to the high teens.
Multiple executives and agents think Jordan’s decision might depend more on where he wants to play than the money he can make. Jordan said on February 9 that he wants to be somewhere he’s wanted, and he doesn’t know whether that can be said about the Clippers. Still, you need to be careful about the emotional roller coaster players experience ahead of free agency. Jordan might not have been happy to have been shopped in January and February, but things can change by June.
Jordan isn’t the only player facing a big decision with a player option. Enes Kanter ($18.6 million) and Thaddeus Young ($13.8 million) will almost certainly opt in, but Danny Green ($10 million) and Rudy Gay ($8.8 million) have equally tough choices. There’s a market correction coming, and teams are itching to bargain shop.
2. Will Paul George Really Leave OKC?
Lakers fans chanted “We want Paul!” as George took his seat at the podium at Saturday’s All-Star media day. “It’s a long ways until the end of the season,” George said when asked about the crowd’s reaction. “I love it. It’s not to say that I don’t. I felt the energy. I know where the love is.”
George’s candidness is unique. I can’t recall a player so openly flirting with the idea of leaving his current team. But what does it all mean, anyway? The latest noise from NBA executives is more of the same. Most buy into the fact George is drawn by Los Angeles and will leave unless the Thunder reach the NBA Finals. Others have become increasingly skeptical that he’d leave Oklahoma City. One executive said via text on Sunday that he could see George signing a one-year extension with the Thunder then reviewing his options for 2019 when a larger chunk of star free agents to potentially team up with will be available. The same is true for LeBron James, who led the rejuvenated Cavaliers to four straight wins entering the break.
Though the Lakers have moved closer to creating room for two max-level free agents, the players can remain patient. A dozen stars have changed teams since the beginning of last summer, but it’s possible it will be much quieter until 2019.
3. Has the Two-Way Deal Been a Success?
The NBA introduced two-way contracts under the new collective bargaining agreement, enabling teams to sign up to two players who can bounce between the G League and an NBA team. After the player has spent 45 days in the NBA, a team must decide whether to convert his contract into a full NBA deal, waive him, or keep him in the G League for the rest of the season. Adam Silver said in Saturday’s annual state-of-the-league address that the new deals are “working very well,” a sentiment shared by most league folks. An assistant coach told me that without the two-way players, his team wouldn’t have been able to plug holes when it had injuries, while an executive said there are “no cons.”
Mike James was the first player on a two-way contract converted to a full NBA contract. Though he was released weeks later, multiple executives view what the Suns did as a template for the future. James spent 45 days with the Suns to open the season—essentially an extended tryout. If a team promises an agent that it’ll use all 45 days, it could be a useful path for future fringe players deciding between going to Europe or staying in the U.S.
But the contracts are not without their hassles: 45 days means 45 days. Traveling with the team or practicing counts as one day. As a result, teams have been picky about when two-way players are technically with the team. A player on a two-way contract could theoretically be in a car following the team bus, board a commercial flight separate from the team, or practice at their gym before the team arrives and it wouldn’t technically count against their 45 days. Various executives find that part silly and frustrating.
It’s difficult to find a middle ground since the NBA doesn’t want to create 16th and 17th roster spots and wants to ensure that these players are making money. But there has to be a better way. One executive suggested that the league amend the rule to be 45 games, instead of days, but that seems like a lot. I’d like to see the league simply remove the travel days, so only game days and practices count. The G League is supposed to be about development, so the focus should be on finding the best practices to accomplish that goal.
NBA Rumors: Here’s Celtics’ Most Likely Trade Deadline Scenario
Is it time for the Boston Celtics to make a deal? The C’s currently appear to be the best team in the Eastern Conference, and with the Cleveland Cavaliers in a horrific downward spiral, it might be time for Boston to put the finishing touches on what could be an NBA Finals roster. Boston recently agreed to sign Greg Monroe after he was bought out by the Phoenix Suns, but while the Celtics have been linked to names like Lou Williams and Tyreke Evans, it reportedly is more than likely that they will stand pat at the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 8. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reported Monday, citing league sources, that the Celtics are unlikely to surrender the necessary assets to acquire one of the bench scorers at the deadline. “Boston is reluctant to surrender first-round picks for what would likely be short-term gains, particularly with the (Golden State) Warriors still towering above,” Himmelsbach wrote. “The most likely scenario, sources said, would be for the Celtics to explore the buyout market after the deadline passes.” Himmelsbach also noted that the C’s would like to hold onto their wealth of draft picks in order to make a more impactful deal (Anthony Davis?) that might not be available right now. While Evans or Williams still could be an option for the Celtics, it appears that the price currently is too high for C’s to acquire those veteran scorers.
Basketball star Marcus Smart backs UK team joining the NBA
Basketball star Marcus Smart believes there could be a British team in the NBA in the future.
He told Newsbeat UK fans of the league are “great” and that a UK-based team would be “successful”.
The 23-year-old American is in London as his team the Boston Celtics take on the Philadelphia 76ers at the O2 Arena on Thursday.
He said fans will love watching basketball players Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier.
From what he’s seen on social media, Smart is impressed with British NBA fans.
“I feel like they’re going to enjoy seeing every last one of the Celtics players,” he said.
But Smart doesn’t think this year’s NBA London game will be easy against the “young and talented” 76ers.
He’s going to be keeping a close eye on his opposition, especially Joel Embiid.
Smart said: “He’s a dominant force and he’s very skilled.
“That whole team you’ve really got to look out for because they play so hard.”
The Celtics will be without forward Gordon Hayward who suffered an ankle injury on the opening night of the NBA season last month. “The surgery went well and he’s in good spirits. It looks like he’s having a speedy recovery,” said Smart.
The game will mark the NBA‘s eighth regular-season game in London. It’s the second game in the capital for the Celtics. In 2007, they beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 92-81 in a pre-season game. But the UK is not particularly lucky for the 76ers. They lost their pre-season match against Oklahoma City Thunder 103-99 in Manchester in 2013. Smart said his side are “shooting for the stars”.
“We have the team and we match up with anybody in the league very well.”