You said loving you would make life beautiful / With each passing day / But as soon as love came into my heart / You turned and you walked just one way. From Frank Young:
Given the storyline that he only wants to play in Los Angeles, could the Toronto Raptors turn around and trade Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers next week, even though the San Antonio Spurs refused to trade him to another Western Conference team? What is the likelihood that they make a deal by the trade deadline? What should the Raptors get in return?
I doubt it would be next week, Frank.
The Raptors certainly want to try and convince Leonard to stay, and they have a story to tell - about their team, their organization and their city/country that is unique among NBA franchises. Maybe Leonard and Kyle Lowry hit it off the floor the way Lowry and DeMar DeRozan did. Maybe Toronto's legendary Director of Sports Science, Alex McKechnie - who has worked wonders with NBA players for two-plus decades - gets in front of him and finds something that works to rapidly improve Leonard's quad.
Maybe Kawhi develops a real taste for poutine. I'm just saying you have to give it some time. If it reached a point of no return and the Raptors knew Leonard wasn't going to re-sign, I'm sure they'd ask for some sort of Brandon Ingram/Kyle Kuzma-led package for him.
Okay, I had to think about this one. From Vivek Thirumalal:
There have been many suggestions around East-West parity, the main one being changing the playoff format to have a 1-16 ranking. How about the following:
1. The All-Star team can have only two players from the same team
2. The All-NBA teams can have only two players across all three teams (first, second and third) and each All-NBA team can have only one player.
Do you think this will at least prevent the formation of super teams? Would players from a super team decide or move on to a different team if their chance to be selected to All-Star or All-NBA team increases? Would this increase the chance of Klay Thompson or Draymond Green leaving the Golden State Warriors?
I have to say, that's an interesting idea, Vivek.
Most players have bonuses in their deals for winning league awards like first-team All NBA, Kia Defensive Player of the Year, etc., and under your criteria, some players would indeed be stuck and prohibited from making All-Star or All-NBA teams if they were the third- or fourth-biggest stars on their incumbent teams.
One thing to keep in mind, though: the "supermax" deals that John Wall and Russell Westbrook got when they made All-NBA teams are only possible for players who were drafted by their current teams. So if a player went somewhere else in free agency to have a better chance at an All-Star/All-NBA spot, he'd be walking away from that potential supermax.
Ironic, 'cause you can find a steak just about everywhere in that town for $3.99. From John Ferensen:
Life-long Sonics fan here, looking forward to the return of NBA basketball (for one preseason night) in October. As a diehard NBA fan without a team for 10 years, I've been a loyal Las Vegas NBA Summer League attendee for six years now. It used to be a quainter affair, but delivered on its promise, including a lot of second-year players, along with most top Draft picks.
The last couple years have seen a drastic drop off in terms of second-year players (which is fine), but the more alarming thing is that top Draft picks are playing one game, and then magically developing "quad injuries" and sitting out the rest of the tournament. Resting players has now infiltrated Summer League!
The NBA made the move to have all 30 teams in Vegas this year, and a lot of top picks were sidelined. The price of a day pass has been jacked up to $40+ from $20 a few years ago. And, fewer top picks are playing. I see a lot of the same people every year (we are nerds), and everyone is grumbling about the product. I know this ranks way down on the NBA's list of concerns, but just know that us Summer League loyalists are irritated.
I hear you, John.
This is a case where you're right, but the teams are right, too. You want value for the money you bring out of your pocket, and it's frustrating when you don't get to see the top picks - which is the whole point of watching NBA Summer League - play multiple games. But the reality is that as teams increase in value, they're going to be more and more protective of their players - especially their rookies, who are on (relatively) cheap contracts for up to four years before hitting free agency.
And since most teams' rosters are already filled before NBA Summer League even begins, there's even less incentive to play anyone for long in Vegas who's likely to be in the rotation when the regular season begins. There isn't a coach in Vegas who's upset when his team is eliminated from the "playoffs" at Thomas and Mack and Cox Pavilion. Trust me.
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Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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