NBA front-office fibs + Timberwolves triple in size

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Free agency is a lot more fun if you choose to believe every rumor.

Always a lie

Are front office fibs the way to go?

Remember when Masai Ujiri told DeMar DeRozan he wasn’t going to be traded right before Ujiri traded him for Kawhi Leonard? DeRozan didn’t want to talk to Ujiri for a while, though the Raptors executive claimed it didn’t exactly happen that way.

Recently, Mike Dunleavy Jr., the newly minted replacement for Bob Myers in Golden State, said he planned to keep Jordan Poole around for at least four more years — the length of his current contract. Three days later, Poole was sent to the Washington Wizards in a trade package for Chris Paul.

Sometimes you probably have to lie or mislead or whatever the semantics are that don’t get anyone mad at me. (I really hate those emails from irritated parties over sensitive word choice.) I thought more about this over the weekend after a report from Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report that the Phoenix Suns are moving forward with keeping Deandre Ayton along with Devin Booker , Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. He said the Suns believe Ayton’s value is at an all-time high.

Um… why? Why would Phoenix do that? No offense to Ayton, who is a fine big man, but it doesn’t make much sense. The Suns are already on the luxury tax with the four players on the books this season. Moving Ayton for depth is something the Suns desperately need right now. Right now, Cam Payne, Ish Wainright, Jordan Goodwin and Isaiah Todd are the other players under contract. They could have control of Jock Landale and Darius Bazley in restricted free agency if they choose.

Everything else hinges on asking veterans to take a discount to chase rings with this team. That will be much easier to do when Ayton is gone and replaced by three veterans or maybe even three kids stacked on top of each other in a trench coat.

Sounds like what you need to say before trading Ayton for much needed roster depth. And history tells us that this is what we should expect. Never keep it 100, kids. Always keep it 85 to make room for arguing with people you’ll never see again.

The latest from Shams

Banchero commits to Team USA

With free agency set to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 30, the sometimes-divided focus of NBA decision-makers has shifted squarely toward the options available to them on the market and via trades.

We’ll keep you updated on everything from the entire league up to when the floodgates open on Friday night.

In the weekend, Athletics‘s Joe Vardon and I reported on yet another decision affecting the roster ahead of this summer’s FIBA ​​World Cup, with reigning Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero opting to commit to Team USA over Italy.

Banchero, who was born in the United States but holds an Italian passport, had previously said he wanted to play for Team Italy this summer. The 20-year-old obtained an Italian passport at the beginning of 2020 (his father is of Italian descent) with the idea that he would play for Italy at the Tokyo Olympics. But the Games were delayed a year due to COVID-19 and Banchero never appeared with the Italians. Meanwhile, he played one season at Duke, where new Team USA manager Grant Hill is a legend, and Hill continued to pursue Banchero after he was drafted.

It all finally paid off when Hill got a big commitment for the Americans. Banchero averaged 20 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists as a rookie with the Magic.

Back to you, Zach.

Bad fate?

Daryl Morey asked about what?!

Have you tried leasing a car recently? It’s insane. Dealers claim that federal rates have handcuffed them and therefore all potential monthly payments are through the roof. A car that might have cost you $400 a month is now like $950 a month with an insane amount of money put down. Go look around at any like-new car and you’d assume that everyone is paying a mortgage every month to drive it.

Dealers work in bad faith because they can. Does Philadelphia do the same?

Something caught the internet’s collective eye over the weekend when Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about the trade market for Tobias Harris. He reported that Phoenix showed some interest, but that there was no match with a potential trade. He also mentioned Indiana as a possibility. The real shocker was the reported trade talks between Sixers executive Daryl Morey and the Cleveland Cavaliers. According to Pompey:

“Last week, sources told The Inquirer that the Sixers are overvaluing Harris and asking for ‘monstrous packages in return.'” That’s consistent with what a source said the Sixers told the Cavs what it would take days before the draft: A package with Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and a draft pick.

A source said Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is ‘not negotiating in good faith.'”

It is a bit chaotic to negotiate. Pompey said the Sixers knew it was out of line. Morey seems to act like a car dealer in the way he negotiates. A trade of Harris for Allen would not have happened. Neither would Mobley for Harris. So why not ask for both and a choice on top?

I guess there’s an off chance that Cavs GM Koby Altman was sleep deprived enough to take it. But for Morey and the Sixers, it’s a hell of a way to make a statement that they don’t want to trade Harris, even if they might.

Go big or go home

Wolves owe their big $447 million

There had been some concern this summer that the Minnesota Timberwolves could lose backup big man Naz Reid in free agency. He’s someone the team really values, and the Wolves have loved having him off the bench to play alongside either Rudy Gobert or Karl-Anthony Towns (or sometimes be the sole big man himself). Reid has a great, developing skill set, and he’s kind of the perfect backup. You can even talk yourself into him getting a starting job on a bad team.

But the Wolves weren’t going to let a team like San Antonio try to steal him away in free agency. Instead, they re-signed Reid to a three-year, $42 million deal.

The Wolves now owe $447 million to their big men.

  • Naz Reid: $42 million over three years
  • Rudy Gobert: $131 million over three years
  • Karl-Anthony Towns: $270.5 million over five years

The Wolves are facing luxury tax issues at a time when Anthony Edwards is on his max contract, but Minnesota prioritizes size in a conference currently led by Nikola Jokić.

It’s fair to wonder if this will prevent the Wolves from keeping Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a restricted free agent the Wolves acquired in the Mike Conley deal. The Wolves also have Josh Minott and recently drafted second-rounder Jaylen Clark to make up for depth on the wings if they lose Alexander-Walker.

Bounce pass

Sam Amick offers some notes and insights ahead of free agency.

NBA Draft takeaways from our John Hollinger and Athletics NBA show.

Jon Krawczynski provides a detailed breakdown of the Wolves getting G League Ignite big man Leonard Miller in the draft.

WATCH THIS: Chelsea Gray of the Las Vegas Aces dropped an absolute dime.

The Blazers believe Scoot Henderson will be better than any “big move” they could make.

Executives around the league are trying to figure out what to do with the Heat’s NBA Finals run, via Zach Lowe.

(Photo by Jordan Poole: Cary Edmondson/USA Today)

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