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NBA PM: Finding Your Suit Game

Steve Kyler meets the man who made Skal Labissière’s draft suit to get one of his own and see how the process works.

Steve Kyler

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It’s not often in life when one of the top fashion and suit designers for athletes says, “Hey, I want to make you a suit.”

At first, the notion of a 40-something sports guy trying to pull off the fashion looks you see on draft night seemed a little laughable. But, hey, it’s a once in a lifetime thing, right?

During Summer League, and by random chance, I got introduced to Andrew Jang – the brains behind one of the more creative sports fashion and design teams in the business, Adriaen Black.

As we exchanged pleasantries about the businesses we are both in, he again declared that he wanted to make me a suit and asked, ‘When can we get together for measurements?’

Last weekend, I made my way over to Orlando to get measured. See, unlike your typical Men’s Warehouse, the Chicago-based Adriaen Black comes to you.

So how does one become a top suit and fashion guy for more than 60 sports stars?

AndrewJang_Suit1a“A referral,” Jang said when asked about his start in the business. “I was at a party. The next day, I got a phone call from some guy and he was like, ‘I was at a party, you met my wife…’ I was like, ‘Oh, OK?’ She had said I was the best dressed person she’d ever met and he asked if I could style him. I threw out some outrageous number. He took it. He literally said, ‘Can you come today?’ I showed up. He wrote a check. We cleaned out his whole closet and I really helped him with styling.  He referred me some clients, and it just kind of went from there. Next thing you know, athletes are calling, agents are calling.

“I think it’s because I focus more on styling than clothing design. It’s not just giving you a suit, it’s what is a suit doing for you right now? Next month? In the next year? How do I combine it with things I’d like to continue to produce for you? It’s just always being very thoughtful and thought out.”

Walking into this process, I had no real frame of reference for what to expect. Like most people, I am an off-the-rack clothes guy. I value comfort and usability over fashion. Was this going to be a painful process? Would I open a bottle of wine and have my feet rubbed? Honestly, I had no idea what to expect.

I can tell you now, the process was thorough. I think they took fewer measurements when building my house. We talked quite a bit about my personal interests. It was a strange process, but one that helped Jang understand who I was as a person, so he could help find a style that suits me.

It seemed strange, but that level of detail is what makes custom-built clothing special and unique.

For Adriaen Black, those meticulous details are the foundation of how they developed their process for fitting and working with athletes.

“So one, I have a really good team,” Jang explained.  “There is styling, fitting, design and construction; those are basically the things I believe goes into making the perfect outfit for somebody. Styling just comes so naturally for me. We kind of talked about how the individuality comes out: I see it. I see it in you and I want to bring it out. Then we I go to fitting and measuring. That takes a lot of time. It took a lot of times getting it wrong, and then working with some seasoned vets that we really worked with.

“When I measure and I am talking to the tailor, I use very big adjectives when I am describing what I want. ‘This guy is this, and here is what I want. I want this kind of in between Euro and Slim fit type of thing.’ We’ve built algorithms that allow us to make that construction almost seamless.

“You’ll feel it. Every person I have put a blazer on, it has literally fit perfect. And it that’s smile on their face that tells me that’s true.”

FullSizeRenderIn total, the measuring process took more than 45 minutes – partially because of the conversations in between measures, but also because of the number of measuring points used to get that perfect fit Jang is so proud of.

Fortunately for me, Jang scheduled enough time between clients that new Knicks guard Courtney Lee only had to wait a few minutes.

Working with athletes can be a very lucrative business, but for Adriaen Black the ability to work with so many daring and creative personalities defines the business a lot more than the price tags.

“In a lot of ways, I think I can relate just to them as people,” Jang explained. “You know athletes; there is a misconception about who they are. I never have really followed sports, but everything everyone had told me or everything you’d hear. You put this guy on some pedestal, or hear they’re an awful person, or that they have all this money. And what I liked as I met them is they are all great people. Super Ffunny, super fun and chill.

“I guess I get excited because they are in a place in their career doing something very special that they are dedicated to that I think all of us as young boys or girls looked up to at some point. I remember that every one of the people that I loved and looked up to were athletes. So even though I am not following sports, the fact that I get to work with them and help them in some way, it does make me really happy.”

This year, Adriaen Black designed the suits and fashion for Sacramento Kings big man Skal Labissière, one of the more commented on suits of the draft class. Surprisingly, it was also the first time one of Adriaen Black’s suits was prominently featured on national television.

“Usually everybody is like, ‘Hey, I am going to a wedding,'” Jang said of why his work hadn’t be on TV before. “Literally every other client was, ‘I’m just going to some event,’ and I would make it for them for that or build out a year-long wardrobe and they just wear it for everyday wear. The draft was the first one like that and it was kind of big.”

Normally, a small handful of designers do the custom suits players wear for the draft, so this was no small endeavor for Adriaen Black.

“It was kind of daunting,” Jang admitted.  “I really didn’t get into it for any of that.

Skal_Suit_1“One, I was so happy for Skal. Everyone couldn’t stop talking about how great he looked. There is a big badge of honor. I think any designer, our biggest goal is to have someone, at least one person, wear our clothes. That was a real cool thing to have it on him, and on such a big stage. I really liked it when people were calling and saying he was so well dressed.”

Having a hit suit during the NBA Draft did open a lot of new doors.

“A lot more than I was used to, which was really cool,” Jang said.

While Jang and Adriaen Black have worked with countless players across many sports, the chance to do a draft-day suit never materialized until now. So the chance to work with Labissière was something of chance timing.

“I finally made the decision to work with some other people and my team; I was going to stop being just so secluded and only working with a handful of people,” Jang explained. “We wanted to do something more special. So we had actually reached out to one agent and he ended up referring us to a couple more. That is when Travis King called and said, ‘I have this guy, he’s kind of unknown but he is really cool, would you mind meeting him?’ I met him and just fell in love with the kid. So we had kind of been talking about it, and I remember saying, ‘If we do this, one of my goals is to be at a draft.’ And then literally it happened like three or four weeks later. I think it was a bit of luck and just really great timing that we had planned it out and suddenly it all happened.”

CamPayne_ESPYSuit1In addition to Labissière, Adriaen Black is also working with Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Cameron Payne, who wore an Adriaen Black original to the ESPYs a few weeks ago.

“Skal is awesome. Cameron Payne is another one,” Jang said. “Mookie Betts, who is over at the Red Sox. If you look at three of those, they look great in clothes, although some of them didn’t know it, especially the type of clothes I make. But their personalities are so uniquely different.”

It’s the personality part that Adriaen Black really focuses on.

“Skal is amazing,” Jang said with a smile. “Such a vibrant soul. When you are around him, you feel such a good presence. When I was near him, I’m like, ‘I know what types of clothes I want to make for you. I want to make you so fashionable.’ To me, there is fashion and there is style. Then there is mixing fashion and style. That’s how I work with everybody; it’s one of those three combinations.

“With Skal, it is just going to be fashion all day long with me. You have got that height, got that charisma and it’s going to show. [With Skal], people are going to look at you even if you have a bright fuchsia blazer on and you are just going to kill it. And he did.”

So how did Labissière respond to his suit game being such a hit at the draft?

“Even guys like Cam who have never really worn suits, when I put it on him, there is this desire now where it’s like ‘Oooh.. I want to look this good all the time,’” Jang said. “With Skal, we actually have an endorsement agreement with him, so we’re going to be creating a custom line of clothing for guys like Skal. When you come to the new Adrien Black site, it’s going to show off six to nine professional athlete personas. So new clients can come there and be like, ‘I want to dress like Skal, I have that same personality.’ Then, we’ll design we’ll design a custom line around a persona like Skal.”

Outfitting a draft pick is one thing, but competing with the likes of Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is another thing entirely, which is why signing Cameron Payne was so interesting to Jang.

ANdrewJang_Suit2a“Russell is considered one of the most fashionable, because he wears so much crazy and outlandish [stuff] – but it works for him,” Jang explained. “With Cam, I told him I want to do a couple of things: I want to graduate him a little bit as far maturity of understanding what fashion and style is, but then I do want to put him in that best dressed category. So when they talk about Westbrook, it’s also Westbrook – Payne.

“I think anytime Russell Westbrook shows up; I am going to have Cam show up, but in slightly something a little different. They’ll look at Westbrook and say, ‘Wow, did you see what he is wearing?’ But then, ‘Did you see what Cam is wearing?’ Equally, competing, but in this completely graduated way; we’re going to have a ton of fun.”

Jang and his team have already started working on designs and ideas for Payne, and are hoping to put him on the map with his own style and fashion.

“It’s going to be this whole line of slacks that you didn’t know you could put rips through them,” Jang said. “We’re going to do these custom sport blazers; we’ve already designed out a bunch for him. But have them under a beautifully designed button-up shirt with a beautiful pattern. It’s things that are going to really challenge who we are as a group, but then be able to put him right next to Russell Westbrook.”

While my suit won’t be ready until mid-August – photos will be supplied at a later date – Adriaen Black is ramping up some creative ideas around more than a dozen players, and they are not exclusively working with athletes.

“Primary, I do work with athletes. I do really well with their body figures. I do really well with their personalities,” Jang said. “But we do have clients that reach us that are just Regular Joes, or as I call them ‘Regular Mes.’ We base most of what we try to do on a membership model, so they can sign up for a monthly membership and then we’ll ask them, ‘Who do you want to dress like?’ and literally they can say, ‘I want to look similar to this,’ and we’ll make the wardrobe for them.”

Jang and his team have been incredible to work with, and their passion for the process and the looks they have generated are exciting.

The idea of a suit like Labissière pulled off on draft night sounded too good to pass up, and being able to share the process seemed like a great offseason project. We’ll see if I can pull it off as well as he did.

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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NBA Daily: Things To Watch Heading Into Trade Season

Two of our experts identify four teams and four players to keep an eye on during trade season.

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With memories of DeMarcus Cousins being told that he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans during his postgame availability at last season’s All-Star game, the NBA moved the trade deadline up.

This season, the deadline falls on February 8, and all there has been a lot of discussion leading into next month’s deadline.

We asked Moke Hamilton and Lang Greene to weigh in on some items to keep an eye on over the next three weeks.

Nikola Mirotic and Derrick Favors

This year’s trade deadline will probably lack big names getting moved, but teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets are within sniffing distance of a playoff berth for the first time in years. It will be interesting to see if their respective front offices swing for the fences to achieve the goal.

There are three ways to improve a roster or prepare for the future in the NBA. The methods are free agency, trade and the annual draft. Trade deadline deals are risky. There are a lot of deals each season which involve players on the verge of hitting the free agent market. Teams acquiring these take the risk that they’re only “renting” those guys until the season concludes.

At the end of the day, though, the two biggest names we may see moved are Nikola Mirotic and Derrick Favors.

Mirotic has been plagued by inconsistency throughout his career, but the fourth-year forward is by far having his best season as a professional despite his minutes remaining flat. On a per 36 minute basis, Mirotic is averaging 25.1 points and 9.9 rebounds.

Mirotic and teammate Bobby Portis made headlines before the season for their fight, which led plenty of missed time for the forward. Mirotic’s name has been mentioned on the block ever since this incident, but it’s clear the Bulls have integrated him back into their rotation fully. Still, the team is believed to simply be waiting for the right time and trade partner and that Mirotic’s days in Chicago are numbered.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls plan to be patient in fielding calls for Mirotic, while the player has deflected all talks to his representatives.

“I didn’t talk to [the Bulls’ front office recently],” he said. “Probably my agents are talking, so I don’t know so far what’s going on, but I know my name is going to be out there. I’m doing my job, and I’m sure they’re doing their job, and we’re both going to do what’s best for the team.”

Mirotic has a no-trade clause built into his contract and would have to waive it prior to completing any deal, unless the Bulls were to guarantee the team option on the final year of his contract for 2018-19. Don’t count on that, though.

With respect to Favors, he battled injuries the past two seasons but has remained relatively healthy to begin this campaign. The forward is shooting a career high from the field, but according to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah Jazz have dangled him in trade talks since the beginning of the season.

Favors was one of the central parts of the Deron Williams trade years ago, but could be expendable because of the emergence of center Rudy Gobert in the Jazz’s frontcourt. The forward is on the books for $12.5 million this season and was most recently linked to the aforementioned Mirotic in trade talks between Utah and Chicago.

– Lang Greene

DeAndre Jordan and Paul George

Heading into deadline season, there’s not much out there to suggest that we’ll see any superstar-caliber players moved. With the likes of Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving among the players that switched teams over the summer, it seems that most NBA teams that have difference-makers on their rosters are in construction mode—they’re trying to compete with the Cavs or the Warriors.

The two superstar players who merit some discussion, though, are DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan.

With respect to Jordan, the Clippers find themselves in a very peculiar situation. With Chris Paul having defected to the Houston Rockets, it’s easy to conclude that the Clippers are no longer a true contender. Still, they’ve played so well over the past few weeks (including scoring a victory over Paul and his Rockets) that it seems a difficult proposition to proactively pull the plug.

Still, though, as written in this past Sunday’s column, it’s time for the Clippers to trade Jordan, mainly because a team that is heading toward a rebuild can’t afford to lose a player of his caliber for nothing, and that’s quite possible unless the Clippers fork over a max contract to Jordan this summer. The proposition wouldn’t be wise, particularly because it could cost the Clippers a first round pick in one of the upcoming drafts.

He’s definitely a player that should be watched.

Paul George, on the other hand, doesn’t appear likely to be headed out of Oklahoma City. The team is reportedly committed to keeping him for the duration of the season, with the hope being that the Thunder will get their act together and win a round or two in the playoffs. With the team still hovering around .500, it seems a long shot.

There are some, however, that believe that the Thunder should at least see what might be available to them in exchange for George, especially with the team trading Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for him. That’s especially true with Oladipo closing in on what certainly appears to be his first All-Star selection.

– Moke Hamilton

Dallas Mavericks Are Open For Business

The Dallas Mavericks are in a clear rebuild and the prospect of making the playoffs is more dream than reality this season, but the team does have some things going for it.

The Mavs have roughly $13 million in cap space, which puts them in a prime spot to acquire talent at the deadline without giving up any of their players in return. In fact, Mark Cuban went on the record and said exactly that.

“I would say we are looking to use our cap space actively,” Cuban told the Dallas Morning News earlier this week. “We will take back salary to get picks or guys we think can play.”

The Mavericks have the second-lowest payroll in the league, but Cuban has been known to spend money to acquire relevant talent. The team hasn’t had much success in in attracting free agents in recent years, and with the Hall of Fame career of Dirk Nowitzki coming to an end, the team is undoubtedly looking to retool.

– Lang Greene

Cavs and Lakers Each Likely To Do Something

It’s a poorly kept secret that the Los Angeles Lakers have had their sights set on acquiring a superstar or two this coming summer. With Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and LeBron James among those who could hit the market in July, the Lakers have quite a bit of incentive to try to rid themselves of the contracts of Luol Deng and Jordan Clarkson.

Where things get interesting for the Lakers is with the emergence of several of their young players this season. Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma and to a lesser extent Josh Hart have each given the team impressive minutes this season. If the Lakers feel they have a real shot at signing James and, say, DeMarcus Cousins, it may be enough for them to package Deng and/or Clarkson with one of their promising young players and perhaps a future draft pick.

It’s certainly something I’d keep my eyes on.

And speaking of future draft picks, with the Cavs not taking their standing in the Eastern Conference for granted, one can only wonder the extent to which the Nets’ first round pick this coming season is burning a hole in their pockets. Aside from the Nets pick, though, the Cavs do own their own first round pick, which could be enough for them to pry the likes of a player like Mirotic or Favors from their current team.

There has also been some conjecture revolving around the availability of Tristan Thompson, with one interesting scenario having the Cavs and Clippers at least contemplating a trade involving Thompson and Jordan.

The Cavs and Lakers each have too much at stake to not do something.

– Moke Hamilton

Only 21 Days To Go…

With the trade deadline exactly three weeks from today, talks will certainly heat up.

For now, though, the Mavs, Cavs and Lakers appear to be the teams most involved in conversations, with Nikola Mirotic, Derrick Favors and DeAndre Jordan among those most likely to be dealt.

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Young Glad To Reunite With McGee, Embracing Chance With Warriors

Spencer Davies chats with JaVale McGee and Nick Young about the sharpshooter’s first year with the Warriors.

Spencer Davies

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You never forget where you started.

As first-round draft picks with only a year apart between them, Nick Young and JaVale McGee began their respective careers in our nation’s capital with the Washington Wizards.

That’s where a bond began. Despite a tumultuous four-year stay with an organization that never sniffed the playoffs and finished dead last in the Central Division three times in the span, the two remained close friends.

Almost a decade later, “Swaggy P” and “Pierre” are reunited. Only this time, it’s with the NBA’s defending champion Golden State Warriors.

“Just shows,” Young told Basketball Insiders. “We’ve both been in this league for a long time and people didn’t think we was gonna make it this far and that’s a blessing. We’ll continue to do it and prove people wrong. From the bottom to the top, you know what I’m sayin’?”

McGee agrees wholeheartedly. Winning his first title with the Warriors last summer, he’s learned quite a few things about the healthy climate within the organization that Young, at first, was surprised by.

“It’s definitely a different environment,” McGee told Basketball Insiders. “Even when he came here, he asked certain questions of stuff he could and couldn’t do just because the environment that we used to be in was real restrictive of things that really didn’t have to do with basketball.

“Here it’s a player’s team, so they do a really good job of catering to us.”

In regards to his on-court fit with Golden State, McGee feels that Young has adjusted accordingly throughout the season.

“I feel like he’s fit in well,” McGee told Basketball Insiders. “Definitely got his conditioning right and he’s pretty good getting in the system, figuring out the screen system that we have here, so he’s doing a pretty good job.”

Though he hasn’t played as much as he’s used to, Young is truly enjoying his transition with the Warriors. He says it’s been the most fun he’s had in his career.

“Just being in the winning circle,” Young told Basketball Insiders. “Being around good teammates, good people and just competing for a championship man. We fightin’ for something big. It’s my first time being a part of something like this.”

As for what’s stood out to him about Steve Kerr’s system, it’s been the unselfishness from everybody on the roster, coaches and players alike.

“They embrace me good,” Young told Basketball Insiders. “That’s the one thing I like is a good team, good teammates. Pretty much just everybody knowing their roles. Nobody’s bringing negative energies to the locker room and it’s just a good vibe.”

Once asked about who the best shooter on the team is, Young went with Kerr as his answer. He told Basketball Insiders that he’s “still going with Steve,” but probably anybody else would have to give Stephen Curry the nod.

Curry’s been playing out of his mind this year. Kevin Durant’s done the same. There have been multiple times where one or the other has been out due to rest or, most recently, nagging injuries. It’s allowed for others to step in and get some extra minutes, and Young’s been the beneficiary of that multiple times.

So with Curry in and Durant out or vice versa, how would he compare and contrast the periods?

“It’s a different game,” Young told Basketball Insiders. “Of course, different styles. Both of ‘em draw so much attention that leaves guys like me open, but when one of ‘em’s out we’ve still got enough depth to keep up with anybody.”

Recently after Curry scored 45 points in three quarters against the Los Angeles Clippers and didn’t even play in the fourth, Young was baffled. His only explanation for the outburst was that he was from another planet.

And yes, Young believes Curry’s “got a shot,” as does Durant, when it comes to the MVP conversation because of where the Warriors are at this point of the season.

The belief goes both ways. Just as Young is ecstatic watching his teammates succeed, so are they for him. McGee recalls his friend’s debut for Golden State at Oracle Arena on opening night.

It was a night of celebration for the Bay Area, as the crowd cheered during the pre-game championship ceremony to commemorate the team. Young ended up dropping 23 points on 8-for-9 from the field in his first game for the Dubs. The Houston Rockets spoiled the party with a win, but the moment was special for the two.

“I was excited,” McGee told Basketball Insiders. “I always get excited when he’s out there scoring and doing his thing. I’m always happy for him. That’s my friend, long-time friend, and it was dope that he could be out here.”

Though you wouldn’t know it by his performance, Young had butterflies in his stomach before it all started.

“Ah man it was unbelievable,” Young told Basketball Insiders. “I was nervous. I didn’t know what was gonna happen. First time playing for the Warriors opening night. Had my family there. It was ring night, so I didn’t think I was gonna play that much, but I got an opportunity and I just took advantage.”

Since that game, Young hasn’t eclipsed the 20-point mark. But to his defense, that first game was his season-high in minutes thus far. Kerr understands the depth of his team makes it difficult for him to get consistent playing time, but he’s taken it in stride and been a good teammate.

But we all know how he shoots the rock when he finds a groove. So how many games like the opener does he have in store for us?

“I don’t know,” Young told Basketball Insiders with a laugh. “I just gotta get hot, so it could be any night.”

And whenever that night comes, expect to see him smiling as he drains those buckets.

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NBA Daily: Are The HEAT Getting Into The Fray?

Things in the NBA trade world are starting to heat up, and there are some new situations worth watching as the NBA trade market starts to take shape.

Steve Kyler

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The Latest On The Trade Front

With the 2018 NBA Trade Deadline ticking ever so closer, there are a few stories worth watching as teams start to zero in on the changes they may consider making.

Clippers Not Ready To Blow It Up

For most of the season, there has been talk in NBA circles and the media that the Clippers would likely move on from center DeAndre Jordan. While that still seems to be more likely than not at this point, the message from the Clippers’ side of things is they are not ready to blow up the team, and moving off Jordan is far from assured.

The narrative from around the Clippers is they are going to evaluate the team a little closer to the deadline and see what’s really available to them, but until then they seem more than happy to see if this team can actually compete, which they have been doing.

A league source close to the situation said recently that as much as Clipper fans might want to see the team blown up, ownership and senior leadership does not seem open to that concept at all. In fact, they believe that its better to be competitive and one player away than trying to go through the teardown route, knowing that no one is bailing out their $119 million roster commitment.

The Clippers invested heavily into forwards Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari this past summer, and the belief is that they will invest even more into guard Lou Williams.

Equally, the prevailing thought on Jordan is that while he does have a Player Option for free agency in July, there isn’t much beleif that he’ll land anything close to the $24.1 million he is owed next season, making it more likely he opts into his deal than walks away.

There are no shortage of teams hovering around the Clippers if they opt to change course. The Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets both have eyes for Jordan if the Clippers opt to deal, while several teams seem keen on Williams, who is on an ending deal and would have Bird Rights for a team with limited cap flexibility. There has been talk that a couple of teams have had introductory talks on Griffin. However, it seems highly unlikely the Clippers seriously consider those situations.

If the Clippers wanted to blow up the team, it seems there are options for them, but the talk from the Clippers side is they don’t seem to be as open to the idea as some would like them to be.

Want A Veteran? Kings Have Some

The Sacramento Kings have told their veterans that they are going to start focusing more and more playing time on the younger players and that as many as three of the proven vets may not see action on a night to night basis.

There has been talk for weeks that guard George Hill is unhappy and seeking an exit from the Kings. However, his injury history and whopper of a salary seems to make it unlikely that he and the Kings will find a trade.

Veterans Vince Carter and Zach Randolph have handled the situation better, but league sources said it very possible both could be moved before the deadline, which apparently was suggested to both when they signed back in July.

The Kings have also been sniffing around for deals involving center Kosta Koufos and guard Garrett Temple; both have Player Options next season, which makes their value tough for the Kings, as most teams don’t value the uncertainty well.

Sources close to the situation said the Kings seem to be trying to help their veterans find better situations, especially as they are falling out of the rotation.

One long-time agent with a player on the roster commended the Kings for being smart about the situation, saying they seem to be going out of their way to try and help resolve the situation. Time will tell if there is a real market for any of those players and their somewhat hefty contracts.

Mirotic Has Veto Power, Sort Of

The Chicago Bulls have had the ability to trade forward Nikola Mirotic for a few days now, as he was one of the players who became trade-eligible on January 15. League sources said the Bulls had gotten pretty far down the road with both the Utah Jazz, on a deal centered on the expiring contract of Derrick Favors, and with the Detroit Pistons.

It’s unclear who the Pistons were really offering; there had been reports that the Pistons were dangling rookie Luke Kennard as the juice of a deal, with possibly Jon Leuer and his $10.4 million salary being the cap dollars included to make it work under the cap.

The Bulls seem to be holding out for a first-round draft pick in a Mirotic deal. However, league sources say the real hold up may be Mirotic himself.

The Bulls did a creative contract structure with Mirotic in that he has a team option in year two of the deal. Unless the Bulls exercise that option, Mirotic has veto rights. If the Bulls pick up that option, something league sources said Mirotic’s camp is pushing for, the veto power comes off the table, and the Bulls can completely control the process.

There has been considerable talk that Mirotic wants out of Chicago, but it seems some business may be holding up a potential deal.

It was never likely that the Bulls were going to immediately trigger a deal for Mirotic, so the timing of this may simply be the poker of deal-making in the NBA.

There is also something to be said about how teams would value Mirotic as a potential ending contract, versus a player with one more fully guaranteed year.

Equally, the Bulls haven’t closed the phones on offers either. While Utah and Detroit seem motivated, the Bulls may be smart to wait a few more weeks and see who is willing to meet their true asking price before they decide to pick up the Mirotic option to control the process.

Moving Whiteside?

Reading what the Miami HEAT will really do is always tough. The HEAT have a long track record of misdirection and clandestine processes. That said there is growing talk that the HEAT are more than open to a trade involving center Hassan Whiteside, especially if would help them clear out his cap dollars.

Whiteside is owed $23.7 million this year and has a fully guaranteed $25.4 million salary next season, plus a $27.09 million Player Option after that. That’s big money for almost everyone in the league.

The HEAT are not fire selling Whiteside, but there is a growing sense that if Whiteside could be moved for the right combination of ending contracts and upside youth, the HEAT would explore it.

This becomes interesting when you consider the Milwaukee Bucks have been after Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and that Cleveland Cavaliers have been linked to Jazz big man Derrick Favors.

Making a deal for a salary of Whiteside’s size would be massively tough for both the Bucks and the Cavs, but considering both ownership groups seem to be looking for a big splashy move, Whiteside could be the consolation prize if neither of the first options works out.

A Milwaukee deal for Jordan was said to be built around John Henson and Mirza Teletovic, who may be forced to medically retire due to a second recurrence of blood clots in his lungs. A Bucks deal would also likely include some combination of rookie scale players such as Thon Maker, Rashad Vaughn or D.J. Wilson, according to sources.

While on the surface none of that seems overly enticing, would clearing that kind of space be appealing to the HEAT? It does not seem to be for the Clippers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been sniffing around deals offering up both Tristan Thompson and guard Iman Shumpert. The inclusion of the Cavaliers’ own first-round draft pick was mentioned earlier in the season when the Cavs were linked to Jordan and the Clippers. Is that enough value for the HEAT? Equally, the challenge for the Cavs is they have set up the roster with a ton of expiring players, which makes sense with the uncertainty of LeBron James’ future in Cleveland. Do the Cavs want to be holding Whiteside for two years after a potential James exit?

Of all the things being talked about in NBA circles, this one is interesting to watch, not only because the HEAT seems to be willing to deal, but because Whiteside could be the answer to serious problems for good teams vying for a legitimate shot at the NBA Finals, especially this year.

Dallas Is Open For Business

The Dallas Mavericks are open for business. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban confirmed as much to reporters, saying the Mavericks would be open to leveraging their potential cap space next summer if it returned the right assets.

The Mavericks have several ending contracts they are dangling and seem to be looking for not only a promising rookie scale player, but future draft picks.

The Mavericks have held onto some salary cap holds to technically keep them above the salary cap line, but they could renounce those holds and get under the cap now. That cap flexibility makes them interesting to watch, as they could absorb up to roughly $13 million in salary before including ending deals like Josh McRoberts, Devin Harris, and Nerlens Noel, who has veto rights on a trade.

Historically the Mavericks have done a deal every year at the deadline. With some much flexibility, they could be the centerpiece to a big transaction because they can absorb cap dollars others teams simply can’t.

Keep in mind that trades and trade talks are a fluid thing; what can be a very hard “No” today can turn into a “Yes” quickly, so until something is done, keep in mind, it’s not done no matter how much it may make sense.

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