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NBA AM: Will Kenneth Faried’s Deal Be The Domino?

The Nuggets and Faried reached terms on an extension; will his deal help the next wave get done?

Steve Kyler



Faried Reaches A Deal, Who Is Next?:  Denver Nuggets big man Kenneth faired reached a deal with the Denver Nuggets on a new five-year, $60 million deal, which according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is guaranteed to pay out $52 million, as the final year is a partial guarantee.

Faried was one of several 2011 Draftees negotiating terms on a rookie scale extension. Last week the Phoenix Suns reached multi-year deals with both Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris, who agreed to a four-year, $32 million and a four-year, $20 million deal, respectively.

Several other member of the ’11 draft class are at the table. Here is what we know about most of them:

Ricky Rubio, Minnesota

While Rubio was not a 2011 draftee, he is eligible for a rookie scale extension after joining the Wolves two years after being drafted in 2009. The Wolves and Rubio have been talking and it seems both sides would like to reach a deal. Given the stance both parties have on reaching a deal, an extension seems more likely than not. The biggest issue for the Wolves is length of the deal, with reports saying the Wolves want a four-year pact, while Rubio naturally wants as long a term deal as possible, especially if the Wolves are not going to offer a full max contract.

It seems likely that a deal with Rubio is going to get reached, the question is how much and how long? It seems everyone involved understands the price on Rubio likely goes up if he hits restricted free agency next July. This one isn’t a home run, but it does look promising for a deal to be reached.

Enes Kanter, Utah

The Jazz and Kanter are talking extension, which might be surprising for Jazz fans that have been less than enamored with the Turkish big man. This isn’t a case of offering major money, rather a case of locking in a player the Jazz like and continue to see promise in. This one will come down to years and dollars, and if Marcus Morris’ deal is the barometer, something in the $25-$30 million over four or five years seems like the price point Utah would do a deal on.

Kanter’s camp has to weigh the option of testing free agency in July, or locking in Kanter’s future today. If Kanter comes at a discount, he could get a deal before the deadline.

Tristian Thompson, Cleveland

Word is Thompson and the Cavs are tabling extension talks, with some reports saying both sides haven’t engaged in talks at all. However, sources close to the Cavs say that there has been an open two-way conversation on a Thompson extension and that the team remains committed to Thompson as a long-term member of the Cavs. Not doing an extension now is more about keeping the Cavs’ flexibility to add players next summer, with Thompson likely getting the wink-nod on a new deal after the Cavs take care of business in July.

Don’t read into a lack of a deal now as lack of interest long-term, the Cavs’ plan to manage their cap carefully to ensure they can continue to add players and talent. Thompson will have full Bird rights, so after the Cavs complete their business next summer Thompson likely gets his payday after proving some things this summer.

Brandon Knight, Milwaukee

The Bucks and Brandon Knight have talked contract extension. The Bucks like Knight a great deal and with new head coach Jason Kidd looking for guys to build around, Knight is viewed as one of them. Eric Bledsoe’s $70 million, five-year deal with Phoenix set the high end of the contract bar for guards, but word is the Bucks and Knight are talking about a deal in the $7-$8 million a season range. The question becomes can Knight’s camp nudge that number higher or are they better off letting the season play out and see what restricted free agency brings.

There is an interest from the Bucks in doing a new deal, but it does not seem like they are going to go nuts on Knight, but that could change as the deadline gets closer.

Kemba Walker, Charlotte

Very much like Brandon Knight, the Hornets would like to do a new deal with Kemba Walker, but like Knight, the Eric Bledsoe deal may have skewed the market value. Walker and Bledsoe logged similar numbers last season, and the Hornets had one of the best seasons in franchise history, so Walker’s camp has a lot of reason to push for the bigger number.

Walker has become the player the Hornets hoped he’d be, so the question is do they pay him now or wait and let restricted free agency set a price that could be higher? Kenneth Faried’s deal might have put some perspective on the situation, but it seems like Walker is willing to play this out, even if it means waiting out this season.

Both sides seem open to a deal, so the atmosphere for a deal is there. Four years and $40-$45 million seems like the number that gets done.

Klay Thompson, Golden State

Thompson and the Warriors have been talking extension for most of the summer and it seems that a deal between both sides is likely. The terms on a potential pact are not clear yet, though.

A likely deal should come in close to where Faried landed, four-five years at $12 million plus per season.

There was talk that Thompson and his camp were seeking a max level deal, however it seems unlikely that a max deal gets reached before the deadline.

Alex Burks, Utah

Like Kanter, the Jazz are talking with Burks on a new deal. They’d like to keep him long-term, but only at the right price. Burks is unlikely to get a major dollar deal, however both sides are talking and a deal is not out of the realm of possibility.

Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio

The Faried deal should help get a Leonard deal a little closer. His camp is seeking a max level offer; it’s likely that the Spurs and Leonard reach a deal just under that, which is typical of the Spurs’ process.

Both sides want to reach a deal and the process is playing out, so Leonard reaching a new deal before the deadline seems likely.

Nikola Vucevic, Orlando

The Magic and Vucevic are talking. The Faried deal should help set a ceiling on an early extension for Vucevic. The Magic’s stance has been to try and reach a deal before the deadline, but the Magic have made it clear that if they do not reach a deal now, they would extend the qualifying offer and focus on reaching or matching a deal next summer. The number that makes the most sense for Orlando is something in the $10-$11 million per season range. The question is will Vucevic take a deal structured that way or will he wait for restricted free agency and try to swell that number upwards?

Tobias Harris, Orlando

The Markieff Morris deal didn’t help Harris’ case for a bigger payday. $8 million per year seems like the right number, however, the question is will Harris look at this season as a case to play his value upwards or will he take a deal in the $30 million range? Like Vucevic, the Magic are talking to him and they’d like to reach a deal, but are in no hurry to outbid themselves. If the Magic do not reach a deal before the deadline, they will look to restrict Harris’ free agency and revisit contract talks next summer.

Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City

Jackson and the Thunder have been talking about an extension. The problem for the Thunder is that Jackson is seeking starting point guard money, and that may not work for the Thunder. If something can get done in the $7-$8 million a year range, it seems likely the Thunder make a deal. If they don’t reach a deal before, expect them to restrict Jackson’s free agency and resume talks in July.

Jimmy Butler, Chicago

The Bulls started things in the $7-$8 million per year range and with Markieff Morris taking a deal in that range, Butler may have to play out the season if he wants something significantly higher. It doesn’t hurt Butler’s case that head coach Tom Thibodeau has become a big advocate of his and he led the team in minutes played last year.

The Bulls and Butler want to reach a deal; the question is will it clock in over the $8 million per year believed to be on the table? A strong preseason could go a long way towards cementing the right number. Something in the four-year, $35-$40 million range likely gets done.

NBA teams have until October 31 to reach rookie scale extensions before talks must close and discussions can resume in July. If a team does not reach a deal before the deadline, they still have the option to restrict a player’s free agency with a qualifying offer, which most of the players on the list above would likely receive. Historically, a flurry of deals have gotten done in the 11th hour over the last few years, so while some deals are getting done now, don’t mistake a deal today as lack of progress or interest. The calendar tends to favor the team in this situation.

New TV Deal Done?:  The NBA is expected to announce today it has reached new deals with its media partners. It’s expected that new long-terms deals with Turner Sports and ESPN/ABC would swell the annual rights fees that the league collects from the estimated $930 million a year to well over $2.6 billion per year. The deal is expected to run through the 2024-2025 season and is estimated to be worth more than $24 billion.

One aspect of the new deal according to the Wall Street Journal is that the NBA and ESPN will launch a joint online venture that will allow non-cable subscribers to gain access to NBA games online.

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Middleton, Bucks Aiming To ‘Lock In’ As Season Comes To Close

Spencer Davies catches up with Milwaukee Bucks swingman Khris Middleton in a Basketball Insiders exclusive.

Spencer Davies



Basketball Insiders had the chance to chat with Khris Middleton about the direction of the Milwaukee Bucks as the season comes to a close.

You guys won three out of four before you came into Cleveland. What was working during that stretch?

Just being us. Doing it with our defense, playing fast-paced offense. Just trying to keep teams off the three-point line. We haven’t done that. We didn’t do that [Monday] or two games ago, but it’s something we’ve just gotta get back to.

With the offense—it seems like it’s inconsistent. What do you think that’s got to do with mostly?

Just trying to do it by ourselves sometimes. Standing, keeping the ball on one side of the floor. We’re a better team when we play in a fast pace. And then also in the half court, when we move the ball from side-to-side it just opens the paint for everybody and there’s a lot more space.

For you, on both ends you’ve been ultra-aggressive here in the last couple weeks or so, does that have to do with you feeling better or is it just a mindset?

I’ve been healthy all year. Right now, it’s the end of the season. Gotta make a push. Everybody’s gotta lock in. Have to be confident, have to be aggressive. Have to do my job and that’s to shoot the ball well and to defend.

Have you changed anything with your jumper? Looking at the past couple months back-to-back, your perimeter shooting was below 32 percent. In March it’s above 45 percent.

I feel like I got a lot of great looks earlier this year. They just weren’t falling. Right now, they’re falling for me, so I have the same mindset that I had when I was missing and that’s to keep on shooting. At some point, they’re gonna go down for me.

Is knowing that every game at this point means more an extra motivator for you guys?

Definitely. We’re basically in the playoffs right now. We’re in a playoff series right now where we have to win games, we have to close out games, in order to get the seeding and to stay in the playoffs. Each game and each possession means something to us right now.

Is it disappointing to be in the position the team is in right now, or are you looking at it as, ‘If we get there, we’re going to be alright’?

I mean, we wish we were in a better position. But where we’re at right now, we’re fine with it. We want to make that last push to get higher in the seeding.

Lots of changes have gone on here. Eric Bledsoe came in two weeks into the season. You had the coaching change and lineup changes. Jabari Parker’s been getting situated before the postseason. How difficult does that make it for you guys to build consistency?

Yeah, it was tough at first. But I think early on we had to adjust on the fly. We didn’t have too many practices. There was a stretch where we were able to get in the film room, get on the court, and practice with each other more.

Now it’s just at a point where we’re adding a lot of new guys off the bench where we have to do the same things—learn on the fly, watch film. We’re not on the court as much now, but we just have to do a great job of buying in to our system, try to get to know each other.

Does this team feel like it has unfinished business based on what happened last year?

Definitely. Last year, we felt like we let one go. Toronto’s a great team. They’re having a hell of a season this year, but I feel like we let one go. This year’s a new year—a little add of extra motivation. We’ve been in the playoff position before, so hopefully, we learn from it when we go into it this year.

Would you welcome that rematch?

I mean, we welcome anybody man. We showed that we compete with any team out here. We can’t worry about other teams as much. We just have to be focused on us.

What has to happen for you guys to achieve your full potential?

Lock in. Just play as hard as we can, play unselfish, and do our job out there night-in, night-out.

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NBA Daily: Raptors Look To Fine-Tune The Defense

The Toronto Raptors’ defense had a letdown against the Cavaliers, but has been outstanding overall.

Buddy Grizzard



The Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors engaged in an offensive shootout on Wednesday that could be a playoff preview. The Cavs protected home court with a single-possession, 132-129 victory. Afterward, the Raptors spoke about the types of defensive adjustments the team needs to make as the postseason rapidly approaches.

“That’s how a playoff game would be,” said DeMar DeRozan, who missed a three at the buzzer that could have forced overtime. “This is a team we’ve been playing against the last two years in the postseason. Understanding how we can tighten up things defensively, how to make things tougher for them [is key].

“[It’s] little small things that go a long way, and not just with them … with every team.”

Raptors coach Dwane Casey concurred with DeRozan that fine-tuning of the defense is needed. He also pointed out that, with young contributors such as center Jakob Poeltl and power forward Pascal Siakam on the roster, defensive experience against the league’s best player, LeBron James, is something they will have to gain on the fly.

“I don’t think Jakob Poeltl played against him that much, and Siakam,” said Casey. “This is their first time seeing it. I thought Jak and Pascal did an excellent job, but there are certain situations where they’ve got to read and understand what the other team is trying to do to them.”

Poeltl was outstanding, leading the bench with 17 points and tying for the team lead in rebounds with eight. Casey praised the diversity of his contributions.

“I thought he did an excellent job of rolling, finishing, finding people,” said Casey. “I thought defensively, he did a good job of protecting the paint, going vertical. So I liked what he was giving us, especially his defense against Kevin Love.”

Basketball Insiders previously noted how the Raptors have performed vastly better as a team this season when starting point guard Kyle Lowry is out of the game. Much of that is due to Fred VanVleet’s emergence as one of the NBA’s best reserve point guards. VanVleet scored 16 points with five assists and no turnovers against Cleveland. It’s also a reflection of how good Toronto’s perimeter defense has been up and down the roster.

According to ESPN’s defensive Real Plus-Minus statistic, three of the NBA’s top 15 defensive point guards play for the Raptors. VanVleet ranks seventh while Lowry is 12th and Delon Wright is 14th. Starting small forward OG Anunoby ranks 16th at his position.

The Raptors also rank in the top five in offensive efficiency (third) and defensive efficiency (fifth). Having established an identity as a defensive team, especially on the perimeter, it’s perhaps understandable that Lowry was the one player in the visiting locker room who took the sub-standard defensive showing personally.

“It was a disgraceful display of defense by us and we’ve got to be better than that,” said Lowry. “We’ve got to be more physical. They picked us apart and made a lot of threes. We’ve got to find a way to be a better defensive team.”

Lowry continued the theme of fine-tuning as the regular season winds down.

“I think we’ve just got to make adjustments on the fly as a team,” said Lowry. “We can score with the best of them, but they outscored us tonight. We got what we wanted offensively. We’re one of the top teams in scoring in the league, but we’re also a good defensive team.”

Lowry was clearly bothered by Toronto’s defensive showing, but Casey downplayed the importance of a single regular-season game.

“We’ve got to take these games and learn from them, and again learn from the situations where we have to be disciplined,” said Casey. “It’s not a huge thing. It’s situations where we are that we’ve got to learn from and be disciplined and not maybe take this step and over-help here. Because a team like that and a passer like James will make you pay.”

While the Raptors continue to gain experience and dial in the fine defensive details, Casey was insistent that his players should not hang their heads over falling short against Cleveland.

“Hopefully our guys understand that we’re right there,” said Casey.

The Raptors host the Brooklyn Nets tonight to open a three-game home stand that includes visits from the Clippers Sunday and the Nuggets Tuesday. After that, Toronto visits the Celtics March 31 followed by a return to Cleveland April 3 and a home game against Boston the next night. With three games in a row against the other two top-three teams in the East, the schedule presents plenty of opportunities for the Raptors to add defensive polish before the playoffs begin.

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NBA Daily: Jaylen Brown Set To Return For Celtics

The Celtics finally got some good news on Thursday. Jaylen Brown’s return is imminent.

Moke Hamilton



Finally, some good news for the Boston Celtics.

Jaylen Brown is set to return to action.

Brown has been M.I.A. since sustaining a concussion during the team’s 117-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves back on March 8, but has traveled with the team to Portland and is expecting to return to the lineup on Sunday when the Celtics do battle with the Sacramento Kings.

As the Celts gear up for a playoff run, which they hope will result in them ending LeBron James’ reign atop the Eastern Conference, they’ve picked the wrong time to run into injury issues. Along with Brown, both Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart have each been conspicuous by their absences, and the team could certainly use all of their pieces as they attempt to enter the postseason on a high note.

Fortunately for Boston, with the Toronto Raptors leading them by 4.5 games in the standings and the Celts ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers by a comfortable six games, Brad Stevens’ team is enjoying the rare situation of having a playoff seed that appears to be somewhat locked in.

Still, with the team only able to go as far as its young rotation will carry it, Brown addressed the media on Thursday.

“I’m feeling a lot better. I’m just trying to hurry up and get back,” Brown said, as quoted by

“I’m tired of not playing.”

Stevens is probably tired of him not playing, too.

As we head into the month of April, playoff-bound teams and conference contenders begin to think about playing into June, while the cellar-dwellers and pretenders begin to look toward the draft lottery and free agency.

What’s funny is that in the midst of the Raptors and their rise out East, the Celtics and their dominance has become a bit of a forgotten storyline. When Gordon Hayward went down on opening night, the neophytes from the Northeast were thought to be a decent team in the making whose ceiling probably wasn’t anywhere near that of the Cavs, the Raptors and perhaps even the Washington Wizards.

Yet through it all, with the impressive growth of Jaylen Brown, impressive rookie Jayson Tatum and the rise of Irving as a franchise’s lynchpin, the Celtics stormed out the games to the tune of a a 17-3 record. What made the strong start even more impressive was the fact that the team won 16 straight games after beginning the season 0-2.

Although they weren’t able to keep up that pace, they began the month of February having gone 37-15 and turned a great many into believers. With their spry legs, team-first playing style and capable leader in Irving, the Celtics, it was thought, were a true contender in the Eastern Conference — if not the favorite.

Since then, and after experiencing injuries to some of its key cogs, the team has gone just 11-8.

In the interim, it seems that many have forgotten about the team that tantalized the Eastern Conference in the early goings of the season.

Brown’s return, in one important respect, will signify a return to Boston’s prior self.

With Marcus Smart having recently undergone surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right thumb, he is expected to be out another five weeks or so, meaning that he’ll likely miss the beginning of the postseason.

As for Irving, although reports say that his ailing knee has no structural damage, everything the Celtics hope to accomplish begins and ends with him. FOX Sports 1’s Chris Broussard believes that it’s no slam dunk that Irving returns to action this season, but he’s in the minority. This team has simply come too far to not give themselves every opportunity to compete at the highest level, so long as doing so doesn’t jeopardize the long term health of any of the franchise’s cornerstones.

Make no mistake about it, the Celtics are far from a finished product. With their nucleus intact and flexibility preserved, they will have another offseason with which to tinker with their rotation pieces and plug away at building a champion.

But here and now, with what they’ve got, the Celtics are much closer than any of us thought they would be at this point.

And on Sunday, when Jaylen Brown rejoins his team in the lineup, to the delight of the Boston faithful, the Celtics will be that much closer.

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