Free Agency madness — Woj vs. Shams — Olympics update

Tuesday, Aug 3rd, 2021

  The Opening Tip

  • Every move from yesterday’s free agency period.
  • Who won last week’s scoop-off: Woj or Shams?
  • Team USA beat Spain this morning, and other Olympic notes.

1. The three most interesting teams following last night’s free agency free-for-all

1. Phoenix: The Suns retained Chris Paul by signing the 36-year-old to a four-year, $120 million deal.

That means … he’ll be 40 by the end of the deal, and he’ll have made more than $420 million for his career.

When will he finally flame out? Will the Suns even be contenders next season? Props to them for paying up, but they might be re-upping a situation that’s best days are behind it.

2. Miami: The Heat max-extended Jimmy Butler, sign-and-traded Kyle Lowry and gave him three years and $90 million, gave Duncan Robinson five years and $90 million, and also added PJ Tucker for two years and $14 million. That’s on top of a max-extension last year for Bam Adebayo.

An honest question from non-cap experts: How can they legally do all that?

3. Chicago: The Bulls got their white whale by sign-and-trading for Lonzo Ball, whom they’re going to pay $85 million over four years. Him, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic have to be a playoff team, right?

Also: Considering the amount other guards got (See: Evan Fournier, Gary Trent Jr., Mike Conley), why wasn’t Ball -- a great passer and a 38 percent 3-point shooter last year -- more sought after?

Three deals that made not much sense:

  1. Jarrett Allen’s five-year, $100 million contract with the Cavs. He’s played nine playoff games and has a 10.7 career PPG. 
  2. Evan Fournier’s four-year, $78 million contract with the Knicks. New York had the luxury of overpaying, but they still overpaid. 
  3. Norman Powell’s five-year, $90 million contract with Portland. The Blazers are just gonna run it back, huh?

Notable players still unsigned on Tuesday afternoon: 

  1. Kawhi Leonard, though he’s expected to re-up with the Clippers
  2. John Collins
  3. DeMar DeRozan
  4. Dennis Schroeder, who turned down $80 million from the Lakers last year
  5. Lauri Markkanen
  6. Kelly Oubre Jr.

[READ: It pays to be old on this year’s NBA free agent market]
[READ: Every signing in one place]

2. Daily GIFWhat happens when you triple-team Luka Doncic?

Luka Doncic and Slovenia beat Germany this morning, 94-70, in the quarterfinals to stay undefeated in the country’s first Olympics.

Doncic had 20 points and 11 assists, including the one above to Mike Tobey, who is actually just some dude from New York. Zoran Dragic, Goran’s brother, had 27 points on 13 shots. 

  • In the other quarterfinals, Team USA beat Spain, 95-81, despite Ricky Rubio’s 38 points; France beat Italy, 84-75; and Australia beat Argentina, 97-59. 
  • The semis are this Thursday. Slovenia plays France and USA matches up with Australia, which beat the Americans in an exhibition before the tournament began.

3. Trivia time

What’s the last country to win gold in men’s basketball other than Team USA?

Answer at the bottom.

4. We have more evidence that Kawhi Leonard is a heartless automation

On draft night, the Wizards traded Russell Westbrook to the Lakers for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Montezl Harrell and a first-round pick.

That is, of course, an insane trade, and there are many questions to be answered next season.

In the meantime, may we point you to this anecdote uncovered by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne in her story about Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the summer of 2019:


Westbrook had become a father of three the previous November, and while he'd made a home and carved a Hall of Fame legacy in Oklahoma City, the chance to live and play in Los Angeles, where grandparents and his large extended family and friends could visit every day, held deep appeal.

Teaming up with Leonard would be the fastest way there, so he placed the call, according to multiple sources. But Leonard didn't just take the call as one native son of Los Angeles to another, ponder it and file it away.

He used it.

According to multiple sources, Leonard then called Westbrook's teammate in Oklahoma City, Paul George, and told him he'd rather team up with him on a homecoming.

… And within a week, Leonard was teaming up with George -- not Westbrook -- for their hometown LA Clippers.

That’s … some ruthless behavior from Kawhi!

5. Woj vs. Shams: Who scooped the most picks during the first round of last week’s NBA Draft?

The NBA Draft was held last Thursday. It was nice to see all the young people achieve their life-long dreams of joining the elite fraternity of professional basketball, but the real show happened on your phone. 

  • Each year, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and his protege, The Athletic’s Shams Charania, face off in a race to scoop each team’s draft pick on Twitter. 
  • Because of Woj’s employment with ESPN, which broadcasts the draft, his higher-ups have long requested he not directly scoop picks before they actually happen, which has led to him instead using phrases like “targeting,” “thrilled at the idea” and “loves.”
  • Meanwhile, Shams, free of corporate baggage, is more direct: “Detroit, No. 1: Cade Cunningham.”

As our data viz shows, Woj won the scoop-off -- for self-sanity, we only counted first-round picks -- by a razor thin margin of 16-14.

Here are some findings from our data:

  • The longest scoop streak was four, which both Woj and Shams managed once. 
  • The closest margin was one second. Shams tweeted the No. 2 pick at 8:09 and 10 seconds. Woj had it at 8:09 and 11 seconds. (Shoutout to tweetstamp.org.)
  • The largest margin of scoop victory was three minutes. Shams tweeted the No. 21 pick at 10:18. Woj didn’t have it until 10:21.

6.  Quick Hits

  • This guy who took a hit of hookah then stole an outlet pass and hit a layup in a pick-up game is New York’s newest basketball king. 
  • Kevin Durant had 29 points in this morning’s win over Spain.
  • After the loss, Marc and Pau Gasol both announced their retirement from international basketball. 
  • 41-year-old Luis Scola got a standing ovation from his Argentinian team after their loss. 
  • From Redditor MC-Jdf: The Lakers currently have an average age of 33. 
  • Milwaukee legend Bobby Portis chose to take less (two years, $9 million) than he could’ve gotten on the open market to return to the Bucks.

7.  Reads

  • Why Kevin Durant is the perfect captain for this imperfect USA men's basketball team [Yahoo Sports]
  • Bradley Beal would be a fine addition to the Celtics -- but not if it costs them Jaylen Brown [The Boston Globe]

Trivia answer: Argentina (2004)


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