Before I review the signing of NBA free agents, there are a couple of political footballs (pun intended) to address.
First is the flap related to Colin Kaepernick and the Betsy Ross Flag Nike shoe, which was pulled by Nike because Kaepernick said the flag, which is the 13stars in a circle on a blue field with the 13 stripes, was a symbol of slavery.
I don’t know the source of his beliefs, but it seems that he’s miles away from his original stated purpose in kneeling, which was to protest police brutality. He’s given ammunition to his opponents that he’s anti-America. I’m not going to go that far, but I will say that whether it’s his own counsel or advice from others, his motives are baffling at this point. I thought he made a mistake in declining the option he had with the 49ers the year after his protest started. He’d have a year more to either redeem his career and would have a job for another year.
As for the other mix of politics and footballs, the U.S. Women’s National Football (soccer) Team, even by current athletic team opinions about President Trump standards, their attitudes towards him are appalling. Just don’t visit the White House if you are that opposed to the man, but spare us the rancor.
Getting away from politics, I’m going to re-run the bulk of last week’s column on free agency with insertions as needed to reflect the signings already made.
Kawhi Leonard, who is known for being taciturn, is apparently considering the Lakers, Clippers and Raptors as destinations. The Clippers could be the best fit since he’d be the biggest star (barring a signing of Durant), while he’d have to share the stage with LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers. The Raptors, his current team, would be the favorite in the NBA should he re-sign.
Update: he signed with the Clippers, who have now become much better. They also traded for Paul George.
It’s hard to say whether Leonard really wants to be a superstar and deal with the publicity which comes with it. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player especially in the post-season but he’s not a publicity seeker.
Durant is even more of an enigma than Leonard, because he’s more mercurial in his dealing with the press and public. Still, his ability pre-injury is a powerful attraction to teams such as the Clippers and Knicks. I don’t see a combination of Leonard and Durant working, because they essentially play the same role on a team. Durant would be better served pairing with Kyrie Irving.
Update; the Nets signed Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan. They’ll have to wait on Durant for a year, thanks to his torn Achilles tendon.
Speaking of Irving, teams don’t really seem to rush towards him. His season in Boston was good statistically but he seemed to have conflicts with younger players and he was more mercurial than even Durant. He also aspires to be the top player on a team, which was the primary source of his conflicts with LeBron in Cleveland, but limits him to teams like the Knicks and the Nets, unless he really wants to pair with Durant or reunite with LeBron.
Speaking of the Lakers, I can’t see the logic in Vegas odds makers making them the favorites to win. The front office is uncertain, there are only three players set to play for them next year and free agents don’t seem to list them as a top destination. Instead of trying for a Leonard, go with an Al Horford who would fit this team’s concept better or take a flyer on DeMarcus Cousins.
Update: They got Cousins. Hopefully, he’ll be fully healthy. Horford signed with the 76ers where he’ll likely play power forward as well as give Joel Embiid rest. The Lakers also signed Danny Green, who has been an underrated contributor to the Spurs and Raptors.
The rumors also seem to link Jimmy Butler with the Rockets. He’s a talented two-way player, but it’s hard to see him as a member of a team that is apparently volatile already with rumors of discord between James Harden and Chris Paul. Butler could join the Lakers or stay with the 76ers.
Update: Butler is now with the Miami Heat as a result of a four-way deal which saw Hassan Whiteside, among others, traded.
Unlike Durant, Klay Thompson really wants to stay with the Warriors and it’s likely that he’ll re-sign with them.
Update: De’Angelo Russell signed with the Warriors, who also sent Andre Igodala to the Memphis Grizzlies. Thompson also re-signed with the Warriors, but Russell will start in his absence.
Khris Middleton resigned with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Celtics face the loss of Horford and Irving, but seem to be willing to part with the latter in favor of Kemba Walker. It doesn’t say much for Michael Jordan’s ownership skills that he’s willing to let his best player walk for fear
of the luxury tax.
Update: Walker signed with the Celtics while Terry Rozier goes to the Hornets.
Those are the major deals agreed upon. There were others, but space doesn’t permit a full listing.
Contact Jeff Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org