NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Cavs’ Smith doesn’t want to talk about contract — For the most part, the big targets in the NBA’s summer free-agent signing period are off the market. A few known entities do remain in the job-seeking mix, one of whom is Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard/fan favorite J.R. Smith. While Cleveland has worked quickly to re-sign LeBron James, Richard Jefferson and James Jones, Smith is waiting on a deal … and not wanting to get into where contract talks are, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:
J.R. Smith’s free agency has once again extended deep into the summer, as he remains one of the few players still without a deal.
After a rough last off-season where Smith eventually settled for two-year pact worth $5 million per season with a player option for the second year, the 3-point specialist changed agents. He joined the Klutch Sports Group, which is headed by Rich Paul, the same agent that reps Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and Tristan Thompson.
Smith has been quiet about his contract situation, instead focusing on his wedding, honeymoon and golf. But he finally spoke up on Thursday, sending out a video courtesy ofUninterrupted prior to the J.R. Smith 10th Annual Golf Classic in Lakewood Township, New Jersey.
“I know you guys are going to ask me about my contract situation,” Smith said. “You’ve got my agent’s number so you all can call him. Rich Paul. You all know what it is. Klutch. You dig?”
Paul has a reputation for being a tough negotiator. Last off-season, he dragged conversations between the Cavs and Thompson into October before Thompson agreed on a five-year deal worth $82 million.
Smith and his reps understand the reality of the market following a wild summer. The enormous cap explosion has led to rotational players receiving around $10 million per season and Smith has earned a pay raise after proving to be such a valuable member of Cleveland’s title team.
However, he’s running into the same issue he dealt with last season. He doesn’t have much leverage.
His colorful personality and history of antics both on and off the court can’t be ignored. A contract is an investment, an agreement that involves trust.
Despite being on his best behavior since coming to Cleveland, he is still a risky investment, especially to other teams around the league that won’t have James to keep him in line or the winning organization that has contributed to his transformation. Those concerns have led to a lack of outside interest for the second straight off-season.
The Cavaliers are scheduled to join James for workouts in Los Angeles next month and training camp starts at the end of September. From that standpoint, there’s a sense of urgency to get a deal finalized. James even pointed that out when announcing his three-year contract with the Cavs last week.
“I’m ecstatic,” James said in his video. “I can’t wait to see my guys. I can’t wait to get back out there in the wine and gold and just get the band back together.
“Lastly, let’s get J.R. done. It’s that time.”
No. 2: Ginobili, Parker say farewell to international stage — France and Argentina were both eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 Olympic tournament. The loss marked the end of the Olympic and international basketball careers of San Antonio Spurs standouts Manu Ginobili (Argentina) and Tony Parker (France). So what’s next for those two in terms of their NBA futures? Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today digs in:
“It has been an incredible era,” Ginobili said. “It is something very important in your life that is ending, and that means a lot, so you’ve got to think of so many things, and well. Makes me feel a little emotional.
“This is my 20th year since my first game with the national team. I’m very proud. And at the same time, I’m happy – sad and happy because having the opportunity to play this game at 39, it’s not something that happens often.”
Ginobili, Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola, who said he is not retiring from the national team, led Argentina’s Golden Generation to a surprising gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics and a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Argentina is the only team other than the United States to the win gold at the Olympics since 1992.
If there’s one team other than the USA’s 1992 Dream Team that stood out in international competition, it’s Argentina and its group of dedicated players.
“I’m very happy that I took part in an historical cycle. This was unthinkable to me,” Nocioni said. “I thought about being in the Olympic Games once, and now I’m retiring with four, there is no way to explain this rationally.
“When I was a little kid everything I just wanted was to defend this jersey and play a South American (championship). It’s incredible, it just has been an incredible career.”
An Olympic medal is missing from Parker’s career. But beating Spain in the semifinals of Eurobasket 2013 and then winning the title against Lithuania is a defining moment for France and Parker, who was MVP of the tournament.
“We brought French basketball on the map,” Parker said. “As a French player I’m very proud of what we did in my generation, winning all those medals.
“Especially in 2013, that’ll be my favorite moment because that was the first time in French basketball history we won a gold medal.”
Parker said he told San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich this would be his final international competition.
“I want to end my Spurs career on a high note. I want to play five more years,” Parker said.
Spain coach Sergio Scariolo had to gameplan for Parker during Spain-France rivalry, and as good as Spain is, it sometimes lost to France.
“First of all, let me just say that I’ve been honored to play against Tony Parker throughout so many years with the national team,” Scariolo said. “He is a great competitor. It was so tough to prepare for games against him. He is an example for all young players, especially those that play his position.
“We will enjoy him for a few more years, playing in San Antonio. I just wanted to take 30 seconds to say it was a pleasure and an honor, even painful sometimes, but it was really one of those things that made the experience of coaching the national teams difficult.”
No. 3: Report: Bucks in advanced talks with Terry — In 2015-16, no team made fewer 3-pointers than the 440 the Milwaukee Bucks sank. (By comparison, the Golden State Warriors hit more than double that amount — 1,077.) In free agency, the Bucks tried to rectify that issue by signing young sharpshooter Mirza Teletovic and, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, are closing in on a deal with a veteran sharp-shooter, Jason Terry:
The Milwaukee Bucks are in advanced discussions to sign veteran guard Jason Terry to bolster their backcourt and add leadership to a young roster, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Bucks are closing in on the signing of Terry, whom they’ve targeted to lend a much-needed dose of experience to their locker room after the 38-year-old spent the past two seasons with the Houston Rockets.
Terry is a former NBA Sixth Man Award winner (2009) who won an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks in the 2010-11 season alongside Bucks coach Jason Kidd, then the Mavericks’ starting point guard.
Selected No. 10 overall in the 1999 draft, Terry has played for five teams in his 17 seasons — Atlanta, Dallas, Boston, Brooklyn and Houston — and ranks third all time in the NBA in 3-pointers made, behind only Ray Allen and Reggie Miller.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Chicago Bulls teammates Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic had a good-natured trash talking session on Instagram before today’s Spain-USA matchup … According to a report, salaries in the NBA D-League will rise a bit in 2016-17 … Veteran small forward Caron Butler says he’d like to play for the New York Knicks next season … Former San Antonio Spurs great Bruce Bowen on the future for the team in the post-Tim Duncan era … Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. is using his struggles with Crohn’s Disease to inspire and educate others … ICYMI, the Lakers have reportedly agreed to a deal with former lottery pick Yi Jianlian …