Good morning. Let's basketball.
MARC GASOL IS BACK! It hasn't been in question for at least a week, but it's still nice to see Gasol agree to return to the Grizzlies. His decision (plus one more mentioned below) means the only two unsigned free agents in my top 50 rankings are LeBron and Tristan Thompson.
MANU WILL BE BACK, TOO: He announces he'll play at least one more season for San Antonio.
THOSE DAMN SPURS: Rodger Sherman argues that it just isn't fair that the Spurs won the LaMarcus Aldridge sweepstakes: "The Spurs have been able to succeed in spite of their inability to land free agents because of their spectacular skill at finding and developing talent. And now, they're landing big-name free agents, too? Turn the game off. Throw the console away. The Spurs have got this."
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS: Paul Flannery isn't convinced there is a great team here but also doesn't think they made bad moves: "Between the takes, both hot and cold, is a lukewarm assessment: The Mavericks will continue to be a factor, but that doesn't guarantee much in the loaded Western Conference."
AND THE KINGS: I revised my assessment of the Kings' offseason after Vlade Divac made some smart deals: "That's a modest improvement from July 1, but an improvement nonetheless. Winning cures all, and it looks like the Kings can win more than they have in the past seven years."
MORE SIGNINGS ... including Best Austro-Utahn Small Forward In The NBA Joe Ingles, David West and Freddie McGibbleholter.
ALRIGHT: Someone drew a cartoon where Stephen A. Smith actually fights the Knicks.
MUST-READ ON PORTLAND: From Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge: "In 2013 the Blazers had a clear-cut decision in front of them: rebuild by trading Aldridge or build around him solidly enough to keep him. They ended up doing neither and it cost them."
ON WEST: He took an $11 million discount to play with the Spurs! He's still mad about this, I see.
SUMMER LEAGUE HIGHS AND LOWS. Jahlil Okafor: pretty good! Also, Mario Hezonja is kinda fire.
BRILLIANT: The NBA players' union will soon vote on a plan to use $15 million or so per year of the new TV money to pay for extended health insurance for retired players. It could help those who've lost their earnings and those who need knee and hip replacements, etc. Excellent.
LEBRON'S IMMENSE POWER: Jason Concepcion with a really smart essay about LeBron's implicit control: "What separates LeBron from the other granite heads carved on the NBA's Mount Rushmore is that he has managed, through a confluence of factors beyond just the normal deference afforded a star player, to leverage his greatness into influence. LeBron, as much as anyone else in the Cavs organization, is shaping the direction of the team."
THE CHANGING FACE OF FREE AGENCY: David Aldridge in The Morning Tip on the Greg Monroe and LaMarcus Aldridge signings: "The Milwaukee Bucks are now an "it" team in the NBA, a destination for a talented, young forward who looked at similar offers from Brew City and New York in the first days of his unrestricted free agency and said, yeah, I'll take Milwaukee."
Happy Tuesday. See you next time.
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