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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Basketball

Buddy Hield unloads on Kings over insulting contract offer

Buddy Hield

The Sacramento Kings are trying to sign Buddy Hield to a contract extension following his breakout season last year, but they are going to have to try a lot harder if they want the star guard to commit to them for the long term.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported on Wednesday that the Kings have offered Hield a four-year, $90 million deal. While speaking with the media after Sacramento’s exhibition win over Melbourne United, Hield unloaded on the team and hinted that he will demand a trade if they don’t up their offer significantly.

“I feel like I’m worth more than that. If you say I’m your guy and you want to build around me, I need you to show it,” Hield said. “Actions speak louder than words. If you’re just talking and not showing anything, I’m not going to respect it.”

Hield then pointed to the fact that Sacramento is not considered a top destination for NBA free agents, meaning the Kings had better find a way to satisfy him if they want to hold onto a star player. While he is not demanding a max contract extension (which would be either a four-year, $130.7 deal or a five-year, designated-player extension worth around $170 million), Hield told Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee that he’s looking for more than $100 million over four years. Otherwise, he may want out.

“If it don’t get done, me and my team will look for something else — probably another home,” Hield said. “Until then, we’ll see if they really want me here. That’s the goal, to be here. I love Sacramento, but if they don’t want me here, if they don’t feel like I’m part of the core … I want to be here. If they don’t want me here, find somewhere else to be.”

Hield averaged a career-high 20.7 points per game last season, and he may have been one of the reasons the Kings made a coaching change. He’ll be a restricted free agent after the season, which means Sacramento could match any offer he receives on the open market if they extend him a qualifying offer. However, players forcing trades has become all too common in the NBA. Hield could become the next if the Kings don’t give him what he wants.

South Park takes shot at LeBron James over China comments

LeBron James

LeBron James has faced plenty of backlash since he made disappointing remarks about the NBA’s situation with China earlier in the week, and you knew it wouldn’t be long before “South Park” got in on the act.

The latest episode of “South Park,” which aired on Wednesday night,” took aim at LeBron for being afraid to support freedom of speech when his bank account could be directly impacted. As Deadline pointed out, the episode was about the plant-based food craze where substitutes are replacing meat. Cartman confronted students who were protesting in favor of the movement at South Park Elementary, and it’s clear his message was a shot at LeBron from the writers.

This isn’t the first time “South Park” has addressed the ongoings in China. In an episode earlier this month, the show took aim at Hollywood studios for allowing Chinese censorship to impact the content they are producing. One of the characters in the show shouted “F— the Chinese government” during a recent episode, and creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone issued a mock apology that ridiculed the NBA.

“Like the NBA, we welcome Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy,” the apology statement said.

In his first public comments about the China situation, LeBron said he believed Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey should have thought about the impact his tweet of support for Hong Kong protestors would have on others — i.e. LeBron and other NBA stars. He has since tried to backtrack, but several prominent people inside and outside the NBA community have criticized LeBron for his hypocritical stance.

Bradley Beal agrees to two-year max contract extension with Wizards

Bradley Beal

The belief all offseason had been that Bradley Beal was leaning toward turning down the three-year max contract extension the Washington Wizards offered him, but the two sides have found some middle ground.

Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Thursday that the All-Star guard has agreed to a two-year max extension with the Wizards worth $72 million. The extension begins with the 2021-22 season and includes a player option for 2022-23. It guarantees Beal roughly $130 million over the next four years.

“Brad has always made it clear to me, that in a perfect world, he would never leave Washington,” Bartelstein said of the new deal. “He has felt an obligation to be the focal point in turning the Wizards into an elite team. He’s thrilled about all the resources that (owner Ted Leonsis) is pouring into the franchise and thrilled how committed (Leonsis) and Tommy are to building something special.”

With the two-year extension, Beal will still have the option of hitting free agency around his 30th birthday. He would also have 10 years of service at that time, making him eligible to sign a mammoth five-year, $266 million contract with Washington or a four-year, $198 million deal with another team. Beal gets the financial security now with the potential to secure another massive deal when he’s still in the prime of his career, so the extension makes sense for both him and the Wizards.

Beal averaged career highs virtually across the board last season with 25.6 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. He seems to be getting better each year, and Wizards coach Scott Brooks has already made a bold prediction about him going forward. With John Wall recovering from a torn Achilles, Beal is very clearly the star of the show in Washington.

Mark Jackson ‘disappointed’ in LeBron James over China comments

Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson says he is “disappointed” in LeBron James over the Los Angeles Lakers star’s comments about China.

Jackson was serving as the analyst during ESPN’s telecast of a preseason game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. During the first quarter, ESPN played a clip of James’ comments about Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting Hong Kong protests that caused a controversy with China. After the clip played, Jackson shared his opinion.

“It was interesting listening to LeBron’s response,” Jackson said. “You can go one of two ways: you could either push all of your chips in and go all-in, or you can say nothing. For the first time that I can remember, I was disappointed that he didn’t pick or choose the way to go.”

James initially said he felt Morey was not educated when he sent the tweet, though James later clarified he was talking about the ramifications of the tweet. No matter how you view it, James still was upset with an NBA executive for supporting free speech, and mentioned how the tweet put peoples’ safety and money in jeopardy.

Several others have called out James over his comments, including someone who played under Jackson on the Warriors.

Nick Nurse critical of new Raptors for not playing hard enough

Nick Nurse

The culture that head coach Nick Nurse instilled for the Toronto Raptors last season helped lead them to their first NBA championship, and he wants to make sure that the team’s new additions are held to the same standard as well.

Eric Koreen of The Athletic reported on Wednesday that Nurse strongly criticized Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson, among other new Raptors, for not adapting to how hard the team plays, particularly on the defensive end.

Part of Toronto’s success in 2018-19 was because of their elite defense, finishing the season as a top-five team in defensive rating (per NBA.com). While Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson both have the physical profiles to be above-average defenders, Nurse clearly feels their effort thus far is lacking.

Some other Raptors have very high expectations for the team’s title defense next season, and the only way to meet them is if every player buys in.

Jaylen Brown reportedly turned down four-year, $80 million offer from Celtics

Jaylen Brown

The Boston Celtics have offered swingman Jaylen Brown a new contract that would pay him significantly more than he is making under his rookie deal, but the fourth-year guard feels he is worth more than what the team wants to pay him.

The Celtics recently offered Brown a four-year deal worth $80 million, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports. Brown, who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent following the season, turned it down.

Brown, 22, is pursuing a bigger offer than $20 million per year, believing he is in a prime position to become one of the top players on the restricted free agent market next summer. He is essentially gambling on himself, as his numbers were down a bit last season and he did not have the type of breakout year some predicted he would. Brown averaged 13.0 points per game after averaging 14.5 the year before, but he could have an opportunity to play a bigger role this season with Kyrie Irving out of the picture.

The Celtics will have the ability to match any offer Brown receives if he becomes a restricted free agent in July, though they just signed Kemba Walker to a max contract and may decide to offer Jayson Tatum a rookie-scale max extension next offseason. Tatum is under team control for two more seasons and is scheduled to become a restricted free agent in July 2021.

While it might make retaining their core more challenging, the Celtics are hoping both Brown and Tatum thrive this season with Irving having left in free agency. Many believe Irving’s style of play and personality stunted the growth of some of Boston’s young players, and Brown was among those who appeared to be pleased to see the star point guard go. Time will tell if that translates to an improvement in his game.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts backs Daryl Morey over Hong Kong tweet

Terry Stotts

People within the NBA community are slowly starting to back Daryl Morey after the Houston Rockets general manager started a firestorm by tweeting about the protests in Hong Kong, and Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts is among those who supports Morey’s point of view.

Stotts was asked about the controversy between China and the NBA this week, and he complimented NBA commissioner Adam Silver for doing an “excellent job” managing a difficult situation. He also said he sides with those standing up for freedom of speech and democracy.

The latter point is the important one. While there’s no question Morey’s tweet has sparked controversy for the NBA and could potentially cost the league billions of dollars, the GM was supporting protestors who are fighting in favor of democracy in a communist country. That should be a cause self-proclaimed social justice warriors like LeBron James get behind, but some — including LeBron — have been hesitant to support Morey out of fear that their bank accounts could be impacted.

Both Stotts and Doc Rivers have supported Morey despite the fallout, while other prominent NBA coaches have been a bit more hesitant.