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Thursday, July 18, 2019


Marcus Morris, agent Rich Paul part ways after botched deal

Marcus Morris

Marcus Morris landed with the New York Knicks this week following a bizarre turn of events, which has led to a parting of ways between him and his agent.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported early Sunday morning that Morris and agent Rich Paul have mutually agreed to part ways. The split comes after Morris verbally agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs but backed out to sign with the Knicks for one year and $15 million. Morris also reportedly turned down a $41 million offer from the Los Angeles Clippers prior to the Spurs agreement.

As Bondy notes, the Knicks made a late offer because they had unexpected salary cap space when free agent Reggie Bullock had an issue with his physical. The Knicks are still signing Bullock, but they’re reworking his contract to pay him less.

Bondy initially reported that Morris had fired Paul, but he later clarified that it was a “mutual” parting of ways.

It’s unclear what exactly unfolded. Did Paul encourage Morris to turn down the Clippers offer in hopes of something more? Did Morris not want to take the Clippers deal and that bothered Paul? Did Morris feel Paul steered him towards the Spurs and away from the Knicks? Was Paul upset that Morris backed out on San Antonio and wanted to split because of a matter of professionalism? Any number of things could have happened.

We do know that in the end Morris got $15 million for one year, which is good money. We also know that Paul has become a massive influence in the NBA with his high-profile clients. Losing business probably isn’t something he’s used to.

JaVale McGee takes note of Max Kellerman’s shade

JaVale McGee

JaVale McGee may have a chip on his shoulder entering next season.

McGee responded on Twitter to a remark from ESPN personality Max Kellerman, albeit a week later.

Kellerman criticized the Los Angeles Lakers’ free agency moves after missing out on Kawhi Leonard. He jabbed them for spending $12 million on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($8 million) and McGee ($4 million).

McGee responded a week after the tweet was sent, saying he had taken a mental note.

If McGee is going to use this to drive him, that will be welcomed by Lakers fans.

I actually agree with Kellerman on this one. Those two players are hardly remarkable for $12 million.

Miami Heat not actively pursuing Chris Paul trade

Chris Paul Rockets

The Miami Heat have been mentioned as a potential trade destination for Chris Paul, but that reportedly has more to do with the Thunder’s desire to unload him rather than Miami’s interest in acquiring him.

The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported on Saturday that Oklahoma City has not offered anything that would seriously interest Miami.

Paul is owed $124 million over the next three seasons. His contract is viewed by many as among the least desirable in the league. The Thunder could attach future draft picks to get someone to take on his contract, but that would defeat the purpose of trading Russell Westbrook to Houston for future picks.

The most likely scenario for both sides might be agreeing to a significant buyout that would allow Paul to move on. Such a deal would spare the Thunder from trading future draft picks while also potentially saving them a little money off the $124 million CP3 is guaranteed.

Jackson reported on Friday that the Heat would need to be overwhelmed by a trade offer from the Thunder to take Paul.

Magic Johnson predicts LeBron James wins NBA MVP next season

LeBron James

Magic Johnson thinks LeBron James is primed for a major season.

Magic sent some Los Angeles Lakers-related tweets on Saturday, the day Anthony Davis was introduced at a press conference. He talked up Davis:

He praised LeBron for attending the presser:

And then he offered his LeBron for MVP prediction.

James has been voted league MVP four times in his career. His last MVP award came in 2012-2013 as a member of the Miami Heat. He’s finished second twice, third twice and fourth once since then. Last season he was 11th largely because he only played in 55 games.

The prediction from Magic seems like wishful thinking. Due to James’ age, the likelihood of him playing enough games and minutes to win the award does not seem strong, especially when there are younger players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden who can lap him in that regard. Steph Curry also should be due for a huge statistical season since he will be needed to do more for Golden State in the wake of Klay Thompson’s injury and Kevin Durant’s departure. However, if James is able to avoid an injury unlike last season, he should still figure in the top five for the award.

Ben Simmons ‘doubtful’ to play for Australia this summer

Ben Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers will have a fresh Ben Simmons when the new season starts.

Simmons’ agent Rich Paul told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Simmons is “doubtful” to play for Australia at the FIBA World Cup, meaning he will have a full summer to rest and prepare for the 2019-20 season.

This will be music to Philadelphia’s ears. The team has already made clear that Simmons is one of the players that they’ll be relying on to make big plays in big moments after Jimmy Butler’s departure, and to have Simmons free of international duty will make them quite happy.

Russell Westbrook’s trade to Rockets will save him over $10 million in taxes alone

Russell Westbrook’s departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder after 11 years has to hurt, but at least he can wipe away his tears with all the money that he is about to save.

In an interesting piece written on Friday, Sean Packard of Forbes.com noted that Westbrook’s trade to the Houston Rockets this week will save him over $10 million in taxes alone over the course of his current contract.

Westbrook has $171,139,920 left on his deal, an average of $42,784,980 per year. While Oklahoma has a relatively low state income tax rate at 5%, when your salary is over $42 mill a year, those taxes add up. Under his contract, he would pay a total of $2,571,623 in state and local income taxes to Oklahoma and other states and cities where he plays.

In Houston he will still pay $1,005,528 annually, as the Western Conference plays in the US’s three highest-taxed states, California (13.3%), Oregon (9.9%) and Minnesota (9.85%). So over four years, he will save over $6.4 million on state taxes on his salary alone.

Packard also adds that the former MVP makes an estimated $18 million a year in endorsements, creating an additional $900,000 a year in state tax savings by going from Oklahoma to Texas. That creates a net total of over $10 million that he will save in just the next four years alone.

Westbrook felt like he was supposed to be a Thunder lifer, but the trade to Houston seems to have been most ideal in terms of being able to save money, reunite with James Harden, gun for his first NBA title, and troll the media.

Anthony Davis found out about trade to Lakers on Instagram

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis learned an important lesson about declining his agent’s calls during the middle of trade season.

Davis was introduced as a Los Angeles Laker on Saturday, and admitted that he had found out about his trade on Instagram. Why? Because he was watching a movie when it went down and declined both of agent Rich Paul’s phone calls before realizing that something might have been going on.

The moral of the story is that if you know you’re probably going to be traded and your agent calls twice in a short time period, you should probably pick up once. He’s far from the first athlete to learn about his trade via social media, but in this instance, Davis doesn’t really have anyone to blame but himself. It makes for a great story, though.