June 12, 2018 / 9:24 AM / 10 months ago

NBA notebook: Spurs coach, Leonard meet to discuss 'issues or concerns'

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and forward Kawhi Leonard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, are trying to schedule a meeting as soon as this week to smooth over differences after a rocky 2017-18 campaign, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Mar 19, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) talks with head coach Gregg Popovich during the second half against the Sacramento Kings at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Per the report, they plan is to discuss “any issues or concerns Leonard may have, and hopefully come to a decision” about a possible five-year, $219 million supermax extension that the two-time first-team All-NBA player is eligible to sign this offseason. The report adds that Leonard is still rehabbing his quad injury but is “96, 97 percent” healthy and expects to be ready for training camp in September.

The Express-News reported in late May that the team hoped to mend fences with its star and agree on the extension, which Leonard, who turns 27 later this month, becomes eligible to sign on July 1, sometime this offseason. Leonard played in just nine games, during which he averaged 16.2 points and 4.7 rebounds.

—If Kevin Love had his choice, he would play the rest of his NBA career alongside superstar LeBron James. They’re still teammates on the Cavaliers — but that could change soon if James decides to leave Cleveland in free agency, which begins July 1.

“Obviously, I’d love to play with LeBron the rest of my career, but that will be a choice that he makes,” Love told WKYC TV in Cleveland. Love has spent the last four seasons with James in Cleveland, winning a championship with James in 2016.

James has a player option to remain with the Cavaliers for the 2018-19 season worth more than $35 million, according to contract website Spotrac, but is widely expected to test free agency, with the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs, among the teams reported to have the heaviest interest.

—Kevin Durant has won back-to-back NBA championships, two Finals MVP awards and a regular-season MVP, and has nine All-Star appearances. On Monday, Durant, who turns 30 in September, told ESPN that he is thinking ahead toward retirement. “Thirty-five, that’s just a number in my mind.”

Durant, who has worn the No. 35 all throughout his career with Texas, Oklahoma City and now Golden State, averaged 28.8 points during the Warriors’ four-game sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, which ended Friday.

Durant scored a career playoff-high 43 points in Game 3. Over two seasons with Golden State, Durant has averaged 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

Durant is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason but has already said he plans to remain with the Warriors. He could sign a max five-year deal in July.

—Reigning NBA Coach of the Year Dwane Casey agreed to a five-year deal to become coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Casey, who was fired by the Toronto Raptors after a second-round playoff loss to the Cavaliers last month, was selected from a coaching pool that also included Michigan head coach John Beilein, former Milwaukee Bucks coach and NBA great Jason Kidd, Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard — a former Fab Five star at Michigan — and TNT analyst Kenny Smith.

The Pistons will reportedly pay Casey $7 million per season and relented on control of the assistant coaching staff, giving Casey autonomy to hire his own lieutenants, ESPN reported. Adrian Wojnarowski reported Casey had decided not to take the job but with assurances ownership would be patient during a roster rebuild and freedom to select his own coaching staff, Casey got on board.

—Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball is healthy and back on the court after taking about a month off to treat and rest his left knee, on which he received platelet-rich plasma therapy, he told ESPN.

Ball, 20, who played in only 52 games in his rookie season, missed the final eight games with what the team described as a left knee contusion. Ball averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals in just over 34 minutes per game.

“I just got back (on the court),” Ball told ESPN at a Big Baller Brand Junior Basketball Association event in Ontario, Calif. “But I have been lifting weights. Nothing stopped me from doing that. I just got back on the court though, but everything is feeling good.”

—The Indiana Pacers’ Thaddeus Young is considering whether he wants to return for 2018-19 for $13.7 million or decline his player option to become an unrestricted free agent, according to Wojnarowski.

The 29-year-old Young, an 11-year veteran, could try to negotiate a new contract with the Pacers or join a formidable list of NBA talent that will be unrestricted free agents or who also hold player options, among them James, Durant, Paul George, Chris Paul and DeMarcus Cousins.

Young, a 6-foot-8 power forward, averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 steals a game in 32.2 minutes last season. He, guard Victor Oladipo and center Myles Turner led the rising Pacers, who forced the Cavaliers to a seventh game in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in April.

—As the deadline for early entrants to withdraw their names from the NBA draft drew near, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported international star Luka Doncic will remain in the field.

Doncic, 19, has been one of the most talked-about names in the lead-up to the draft, with some speculating he could be taken No. 1 overall, and more recent chatter shifting to teams reportedly interested in trading into the top three to take the Slovenian pro.

The reigning Euroleague MVP, Doncic is with his Real Madrid team in the Liga ACB (Spain) finals against Baskonia. The best-of-five series tips off Wednesday. If the series goes five games, the deciding game will be played June 22, one day after the NBA draft, which will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

—Kostas Antetokounmpo, a 6-10 forward from Greece and younger brother of Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, is staying in this year’s NBA draft, according to an ESPN report, which said he also has canceled remaining private workouts he had scheduled with teams, with no clear explanation.

Kostas Antetokounmpo, 20, averaged just over 15 minutes a game and 5.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in his only collegiate season for the Dayton Flyers.

His cancellation of workouts has fueled speculation about whether a team has already promised to take him, or whether Antetokounmpo wants to go undrafted so the Bucks could sign him as a free agent.

—Field Level Media

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