And-Ones: ‘Melo, Jazz, Lockout, McRae

April 24 at 10:38pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Count NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson among those who think Carmelo Anthony would be wise to walk away from the Knicks in free agency this summer. The Big O sat down with SiriusXM NBA Radio and passed along why he thinks ‘Melo should get out of New York, notes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Robertson thinks Anthony receives too much flack for his efforts as a Knick:

“No matter what he does in New York, they’re going to criticize him, the people are going to criticize him, because you got guys on that team that cannot play. You got guys that are hurt all the time… If I were Carmelo, I would say, ‘Listen, I’m not going to stay here and take all this guff and all this criticism.’”

Let’s round up the latest notes and rumors from around the Association:

  • Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey acknowledges that in their most recent offseason, Utah “took a step back in order to take three or four forward,” writes Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News. Still, Lindsey remains optimistic for the future, given the club’s cap space and draft picks.
  • Executives and agents around the league are reportedly nervous about the potential for a lockout in 2017, but commissioner Adam Silver says he has “no expectation” that players will opt out of the collective bargaining agreement, reveals Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press.
  • Tennesee senior Jordan McRae has signed with agent Jim Tanner of Tandem agency, reports Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype (via Twitter). McRae is ranked 71st in Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress‘ list of the top 100 prospects.
  • The ESPNChicago.com staff discusses whether they’d rather build a team around Derrick Rose or John Wall. The general consensus is that Rose’s value is hard to gauge as a result of his injuries, and it’d likely be a safer bet to pick Wall.
  • The kind words Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard had for Frank Vogel don’t carry much weight, opines Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders. Koutroupis thinks Pritchard is obligated to make such a statement in order to show support, but really Vogel is in danger of losing his job if Indiana doesn’t perform up to expectations.

Prospect Profile: Shabazz Napier

April 24 at 9:21pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Shabazz Napier finished out his impressive four-year career at UConn in spectacular fashion, winning his second NCAA championship over the preseason favorite Kentucky Wildcats. The point guard’s impeccable shooting and must-win mentality propelled the seventh-seeded Huskies to four consecutive upsets en route to their title matchup in Texas. Although generally considered a second-round pick prior to the Big Dance, his outstanding tourney performance now has Napier being discussed as a potential first-rounder.

During his senior season, Napier averaged 18.0 points on 42.9% shooting while dishing out 4.9 assists per contest. His ability to shift gears and move quickly with the ball allowed him to find ways around defenders in college, even without explosive athleticism. Napier’s biggest asset during his time in the NCAA was his top-notch scoring ability from all over the floor; he drained 46.5% of shots beyond the arc throughout his most recent tournament play and was noted for several clutch shots that ended up being the deciding factor in games.

A player profile from Jacob Stallard of NBADraft.net notes how Napier was criticized during his freshman and sophomore seasons for so-so shot selection and a penchant for taking contested jumpers rather than finding open teammates. He was able to improve his decision making abilities during his last two years and become a better distributor. He’ll likely need to further develop this portion of his game since he won’t be able to drive to the basket quite so easily once he reaches the NBA, and finding the open man is perhaps the most valuable skill an undersized point guard can possess.

His defense proved to be adequate in college, where he was able to nab 1.8 steals per game over the course of his four-year career. There are obvious concerns that his diminutive 6’1″ height and 6’2″ wingspan will limit his ability to defend at the next level, and it’s tough to argue that his small stature and less-than-stellar speed won’t make it difficult to guard bigger, more athletic NBA competition on a nightly basis. Still, shorter players, like Chris Paul, have been able to find ways to excel on defense despite height disadvantages. Napier will need to work to figure out how to succeed on defense without great size if he wants to see major minutes.

Seniors have been selected less frequently than collegians from any other class, as Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors recently detailed, likely due in large part to the perception that their potential for development is limited. Napier is actually older than plenty of NBA players, including the likes of All-Stars such as Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis, but Napier’s age and experience in this season’s tournament could actually stand to benefit his stock for teams seeking a player who can contribute minutes in his first year. The latest mock draft from Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress sees Napier being taken 28th overall, while NBADraft.net‘s newest mock has Napier going 12th.

It’s an understatement to say there’s disparity regarding Napier’s projected draft stock. There are reports that say he’s still a second-round pick, while his tournament play has over-inflated his draft projection in some circles. Still others peg him as a true first-rounder capable of making an impact wherever he goes. The team that selects him will land a player with terrific scoring instincts and a knack for excelling in big time situations, but they’ll also need to recognize the limitations his age and physical tools will have on his overall game.

Lakers Rumors: Nash, Gasol, D’Antoni

April 24 at 7:49pm CDT By Charlie Adams

The Lakers won’t be playing postseason basketball for the first time since the 2004/05 campaign, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening in Lakerland. Let’s catch up on the latest:

  • The Lakers were impressed with many of the players on this year’s lottery-bound squad, writes Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, who sizes up the chances each Laker has of returning next season. Steve Nash has an 80% chance to come back, while there’s only a 9% chance Pau Gasol stays, Ding surmises.
  • Dan D’Antoni‘s hiring as the new head coach at Marshall isn’t related to Mike D’Antoni‘s potentially shaky situation with the Lakers, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Another tweet from Shelburne reveals that it was Mike D’Antoni who recommended his brother Dan for the role at Marshall, perhaps suggesting that the Laker head coach never actually had any interest in the position, despite rumors claiming otherwise.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Khem Birch Declares For Draft

April 24 at 6:18pm CDT By Charlie Adams

UNLV junior Khem Birch will forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 draft, he announced (on Twitter). Birch is a 6’9″ power forward who transferred from Pittsburgh after his freshman year. He averaged 11.5 points and 10.2 rebounds over the course of 31.5 minutes per night during his 2013/14 campaign with the Runnin’ Rebels. In 33 contests, he was able to shoot 51% from the floor while averaging 3.8 blocked shots each game.

Birch was the 12th ranked recruit in his high school class, according to ESPN.com’s recruiting database. Despite being slightly undersized, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress lists his wingspan at an impressive 7’0, and also adds that Birch is an exceptional athlete for his position.

The big man ranks 67th on Chad Ford of ESPN.com‘s Big Board and sits at 61st on Givony’s list of top prospects. He’s likely to hear his name called sometime in the second-round of the draft.

Coaching Rumors: Jazz, D’Antoni, Boylen

April 24 at 4:44pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Executives, coaches and other league insiders struggle to come up with names of intriguing coaching candidates after last year’s record volume of new hires, but Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com was able to pry the identities of a few well-regarded potential hires. Some of them have been in rumors in recent weeks, but University of Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, Bulls assistant Ed Pinckney, and Blazers assistant David Vanterpool are the names we haven’t heard. Potential head coaches with ties to the Spurs were already popular, and they’ve grown even more so this year, Arnovitz hears. Here’s more from the coaching rumor mill:

  • The Jazz plan to interview more than 20 candidates fitting virtually every description, team president Randy Rigby said Wednesday on The Zone Sports Network radio, notes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News. Though a few candidates have reportedly emerged, Rigby insists the club hasn’t identified any potential targets. He also said the decision will be a group effort and won’t lie solely with GM Dennis Lindsey.
  • Mike D’Antoni won’t be coaching Marshall University next season, but his brother Dan D’Antoni will be, the school announced. Dan D’Antoni is leaving his job as a Lakers assistant coach to take the new gig.
  • The Pacers weren’t pleased when former assistant coach and current Jazz head coaching candidate Jim Boylen left last year to become a Spurs assistant, tweets Scott Agness of Pacers.com. “He did us dirty,” one Pacers player told Agness.
  • Knicks president Phil Jackson said Wednesday that his coaching search could extend into July, but he adds that it’s not because he’s waiting around to see which, if any, coaches working in the playoffs become available, notes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter).
  • Nets GM Billy King said on NBA TV that he, and not coach Jason Kidd, made the decision to reassign assistant coach Lawrence Frank earlier this season, fellow ESPNNewYork.com scribe Mike Mazzeo observes.

Warriors Plan To Keep Klay Thompson

April 24 at 3:43pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob acknowledged before the trade deadline that the team had received inquiries about Klay Thompson, and while he said then that the team wasn’t anxious to move him, he was even more forthcoming today in expressing his desire to keep the shooting guard. Thompson is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer that would keep him from restricted free agency next year, and Lacob promised on 95.7 The Game that the team would get a deal done, as Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group tweets.

“We are going to re-sign Klay Thompson,” Lacob said. “I will say that unequivocally.”

It’s unclear whether he’s talking about an extension or a new contract next summer, but Lacob’s comment demonstrates the team’s level of commitment to the sharpshooting 24-year-old. The remark also puts pressure on GM Bob Myers, since Thompson’s representatives at BDA Sports Management will know going into negotiations that Myers’ boss wants to come away with a deal.

The Warriors wound up with a bargain with they signed Stephen Curry to a four-year, $44MM extension in 2012 amid concerns about his oft-injured ankles. Curry has remained largely healthy since and blossomed into a superstar. His backcourt mate has made strides, too, as Thompson’s 18.4 points per game and 41.7% three-point shooting this season are both career highs.

Lacob has appeared impatient this season amid rumors of upheaval surrounding the coaching staff. His strong desire to keep Thompson is in sharp juxtaposition to his lack of promises for coach Mark Jackson, who, like Thompson, is set to head into the final season of his contract in 2014/15.

Spencer Dinwiddie Declares For Draft

April 24 at 3:02pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Colorado junior Spencer Dinwiddie announced in a press conference today that he’s entering the NBA draft. The shooting guard had been leaning heavily toward doing so, but the news is still somewhat surprising, since he tore his left ACL in January and missed the rest of the season. Chad Ford of ESPN.com has him as the 40th-best prospect for this year, while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress rates him 49th.

Dinwiddie was a potential first-round pick before the injury, and Givony ranked him 22nd going into the season. He scored 14.7 points in 31.1 minutes per contest in 17 games this year and shot 41.3% from behind the arc. It was something of a bounceback from three-point range for the 21-year-old, who made just 33.8% of his treys as a sophomore after nailing 43.8% his freshman year.

He traveled to Houston for a medical evaluation this past weekend before making his decision just three days before the deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft. It’s too late for him to withdraw and keep his NCAA eligibility, but providing he returns to full health, there seems to be a decent chance he’ll become a second-round steal for an NBA team.

10-Day Contract Trends In 2013/14

April 24 at 2:00pm CDT By Chuck Myron

A total of 41 players signed 10-day contracts this past season, up from 36 last year. It’s a greater volume of 10-day signees than in any season since 2006/07, the first represented in our 10-Day Tracker. There’s plenty of other data that can be gleaned from this year’s slew of 10-day signings, as we detail below:

  • There were 16 players who signed one 10-day contract with a team, but didn’t re-sign.
  • Almost as many — 14 — signed two 10-day contracts with a team, but didn’t re-sign.
  • A dozen players signed two 10-day contracts with a team before re-signing on a deal for at least the rest of the season.
  • Five players signed one 10-day contract and followed with a deal covering at least the rest of the season with the same team.
  • Shannon Brown, Dewayne Dedmon, Cartier Martin, Darius Morris, James Nunnally and Jarvis Varnado all signed at least one 10-day contract with two teams.
  • ASM Sports and Wasserman Media Group were the agencies with the most clients signing 10-day deals. Each represented four signees.
  • The Sixers led the NBA with 23 players appearing in a game this season, so it’s no surprise that they signed an NBA-high five players to 10-day contracts. That doesn’t include their deal with Adonis Thomas. The Sixers referred to it as a 10-day contract, but it covered the final 10 days of the regular season, making it analogous to a rest-of-season deal.
  • No team signed four players to 10-day contracts, but the Hawks, Celtics, Bulls, Cavaliers, Clippers, Bucks, Thunder, Kings and Spurs signed three each.
  • Ten teams — the Raptors, Pacers, Pistons, Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets, Mavericks and Pelicans — didn’t sign anyone to a 10-day contract this season. I noted in March that they were unlikely to do so.

Feel free to play around with the tracker and see if you can identify a few more trends.

Eastern Rumors: Arenas, Stephenson, Bucks

April 24 at 12:30pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Gilbert Arenas reiterated on SiriusXM NBA Radio today that he’s still holding out hope for an NBA comeback, as USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt tweets, and that echoes Arenas’ comments from December. The Magic are probably rooting for his return to the league, since that could allow them to use set-off rights to recoup a small portion of the millions they still owe him on his amnestied contract. While we wait to see if Agent Zero, still just 32 years old, makes it back to the Association, here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Sean Deveney of The Sporting News heard from a GM around the beginning of February who expected Lance Stephenson to receive offers with eight-figure annual salaries, but an executive now tells Deveney that the soon-to-be free agent will probably command only $7-8MM a year.
  • Outgoing Bucks owner Herb Kohl borrowed money from the NBA a total of five times in 2009 and 2010 to help keep the team going, reports Rich Kirchen of the Milwaukee Business Journal. Kohl told Kirchen that he’s spent more than $100MM of his own money on the team during his nearly three decades of ownership.
  • Casper Ware‘s multiyear contract with the Sixers extends through 2016/17, but the team only inked Adonis Thomas through the end of 2013/14, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports (Twitter link).
  • Eric Dawson, who spent preseason with the Hawks this past fall, is headed to play for Heilongjiang Zhaozhou Feng Shen of China’s second-tier league, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Dawson has also spent time in the D-League and Iran this season.

Bird Rights

April 24 at 11:16am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Bird exception, named after Larry Bird, is a rule included in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows teams to go over the salary cap to re-sign their own players. A player who qualifies for the Bird exception, formally referred to as a Qualifying Veteran Free Agent, is said to have “Bird rights.”

The most basic way for a player to earn Bird rights is to play for the same team for at least three seasons, either on a multiyear deal or separate one-year contracts. Still, there are other, more complicated criteria. A player retains his Bird rights in the following scenarios:

  • He changes teams via trade, rather than being waived or signing elsewhere as a free agent. For instance, MarShon Brooks is in the third year of his contract. He has been traded three times, from the Nets to the Celtics, the Celtics to the Warriors and the Warriors to the Lakers, but he still has his Bird rights because he hasn’t been waived.
  • He finishes a third season with a team after having only played partial seasons with the club for one or both of the first two years (without signing elsewhere in between).

However, a player sees the clock on his Bird rights reset to zero in the following scenarios:

  • He changes teams via free agency.
  • He is selected in an expansion draft.
  • He is waived and is not claimed on waivers.
  • His rights are renounced by his team.

If a player has earned Bird rights, he is eligible to sign a maximum-salary contract for up to five years with 7.5% annual raises when he becomes a free agent. The maximum salary will vary depending on how long the player has been in the league, but regardless of the amount, a team can exceed the salary cap to complete the deal.

Although the Bird exception allows teams to exceed the cap, a team cannot necessarily use free cap room to sign free agents and then re-sign its own players via Bird rights. A team with a Bird free agent is assigned a “free agent amount” or cap hold worth either 190% of his previous salary (for a player with a below-average salary) or 150% of his previous salary (for an above-average salary), up to the maximum salary amount. For players coming off rookie scale contracts, the amounts of those cap holds are 250% and 200%, respectively.

The Mavericks, for instance, will have a $6.042MM cap hold for Vince Carter on their 2014/15 books — 190% of his $3.18MM salary this season. Dallas could renounce Carter and clear that $6.042MM in cap space, but the Mavs would lose his Bird rights if they did that. That would force them to use either cap room or a different cap exception to follow through on their plan to re-sign him.

Ultimately, the Bird exception was designed to allow teams to keep their best players. The CBA ensures that teams are always able to re-sign them to contracts up to the maximum salary, assuming the player is interested in returning and his team is willing to go over the cap.

Note: This is a Hoops Rumors Glossary entry. Our glossary posts will explain specific rules relating to trades, free agency, or other aspects of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ was used in the creation of this post.

Versions of this post were initially published on April 17th, 2012, and May 2, 2013 by Luke Adams.