Over the weekend, while Paul George was spouting honesty instead of doing what pending free agents are expected to do — tweet cryptic emoji sequences — I was watching a Netflix documentary on the survival of Arctic animals. (Only 130 days until the NBA returns.) The little guys had to hunt over three times a day just to actively not freeze, and unfortunately, the pickings were slimmer than the 2013 draft.
It’s the opposite of how NBA GMs feel now, before the draft and after the Finals: All the potential for their grandest offseason moves is there. Before Bob Myers can text back "no," before Danny Ainge doesn’t text back at all, there’s just a whiteboard in Orlando of everything GMs hope to achieve. Unlike George, they’re doing it the right way: through rumors over the weekend that (we think) are part of elaborate plans.
Ricky Rubio to the Dallas Mavericks
Mike Fisher of CBS Sports reported on Saturday that the Mavericks were having "in-house talks" about trading for Ricky Rubio. The Wolves, who have reportedly been feeling out Rubio trades for the past year, will pick up that call.
An underwhelming rookie year from point guard Kris Dunn temporarily put the brakes on Minny’s desire to move the final two years of Rubio’s four-year, $55 million contract. Rubio’s 11 points and 9 assists per game in 2016–17 were the best of his career. He managed a 44.8 effective field goal percentage and, for the first time in his career, didn’t wince with dread the moment the ball left his hands. But the Wolves still want to deal him, even without Dunn ready for big minutes: Rubio’s contract expires in 2019, and the Spaniard looks like the most sensical money to move if they can get some return to help their young core.
Which, speaking of the core, this was Dallas owner Mark Cuban two months ago:
"We don’t have Minnesota’s star power," Cuban said. "We still need to add. It would be great if we made Harrison [Barnes] our second-best player."
Adding Rubio won’t do that, though it will provide some consistency at the PG spot, where Cinderella story Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry, and (former Rubio backup) J.J. Barea split minutes now. This was also Cuban that day:
"We got to get better at point, there’s no question," Cuban said. "If we can’t do it in the draft, we’ll look at free agency and see what we can do. … We’ll have depth, but we have to get that one pass-first point guard. That’s what we don’t have."
Pass-first! Draft! Free agency! Cuban was planting nuggets months ago. Also according to Fisher (who tweets Mavs news like a telenovela narrator; best follow of the week), and ESPN insider Chad Ford, the Mavs desperately want to draft Frank Ntilikina.
But his defense and pass-first mentality has other teams, like the Knicks (who draft at no. 8), interested.
The Wolves draft at no. 7. The Mavs have the cap space to take on Rubio and trade up — and for the Wolves, who likely want to avoid packaging someone of Zach LaVine’s caliber and desperately need a veteran presence, swapping seven and Rubio for nine and a sweetener might make sense if the return is worthwhile.
Andre Iguodala to Anywhere Else
The Vertical reported Monday that unrestricted free agent Andre Iguodala plans to seriously consider other teams in July. Iggy, fresh off winning a second ring with the Warriors, was vocal even before the title series about his desire to run it back.
It seems nearly every other member of the team also wants to return — it turns out winning is fun — but Golden State has to worry about paying Steph Curry, unrestricted this summer, and Kevin Durant, who has a player option, before giving the sixth man his due. Curry is eligible for the new CBA’s designated veteran player contract, an estimated five-year, $205 million pact, and Durant would need to fit alongside that. Ideally, Durant would take about $4 million less than the value of the supermax deal he’s eligible for so that the Warriors aren’t forced to renounce their Bird rights to Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
If anyone can pull a Good Will Hunting chalkboard scene and make those numbers work, it’ll be the team in the tech capital of the United States. The biggest threats could be teams like the Jazz, Clippers, Bulls, Wolves, and Hawks that are reportedly interested in a two-way veteran like Iguodala and have plenty of money to dangle in front of him.
Imagining Iggy with Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine, or on defense with Andrew Wiggins and Kris Dunn, is fun, but likely won’t happen unless he’s traded there. In April, Iguodala told the Mercury News that "At the end of the day I just want to be an impact player on the team and just try to have a shot at winning titles. … And here right now will probably be the best place."
When won’t it be? Excepting the Jazz, none of the teams currently rumored to be looking at Iguodala seem close to a Finals appearance. Potentially losing Gordon Hayward and George Hill in free agency could exclude Utah, too.
Blake Griffin to the Boston Celtics
Some disclaimers to free agent Blake Griffin putting rumored free-agency destination Boston on his Mount Rushmore of NBA cities during an appearance Monday on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast:
- Blake excluded New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago as "big, fun cities … I wanted to stay away from" because they were too obvious as answers. (A thought: If Los Angeles, his current home and team, and Miami, his other rumored destination, are obvious answers as the best NBA cities, then why would fans of the Cel — nevermind. Just enjoy this, Boston.)
- Blake also DQ’d Oklahoma City and (doubly) Los Angeles as he didn’t want to pick from cities that have given him the home-court experience.
- Pardon My Take, which Masslive.com writer Jay King calls "a comedic sports podcast that doesn’t take itself too seriously" and which tweeted this special Father’s Day message out to its listeners, might be best taken with a grain of salt and a case of Natty Light.
With that considered, Griffin settled on a Mount Rushmore of New York (yes, breaking his own "big, fun" city rule), Phoenix, Toronto, and Boston. Salt Lake feels snubbed.
Gordon Hayward and Jimmy Butler to the Boston Celtics
Stephen A. Smith is reporting on First Take that the Bulls wanted Philadelphia’s no. 3 pick before Boston was involved, and were offering Jimmy Butler, who the Sixers did not want, happy with their "youth movement."
Boston’s plan with the pick, Smith says, is to now acquire Butler for it, and then get Gordon Hayward in free agency, match up with the Cleveland Cavaliers, advance out of the Eastern Conference finals, break into the NBA’s headquarters, wiretap Adam Silver’s phone calls, plant evidence of Golden State collusion, expose the Warriors a week before next year’s Finals, and win it all.