Central Rumors: Thompson, Marion, Turner

September 29 at 10:37pm CDT By Charlie Adams

The Cavs haven’t spoken with agent Rich Paul about an extension for Tristan Thompson, as Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer hears, but it’s not necessarily a sign that the sides don’t intend to strike a deal before the October 31st deadline to do so, Haynes indicates. Let’s wrap up more from the Cavs and the Central:

  • Shawn Marion explains that the Cavs‘ acquisition of Kevin Love convinced him to spurn more lucrative offers from other clubs and sign with Cleveland, according to Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal.
  • Cavs GM David Griffin admits LeBron James was critical in Cleveland’s success in recruiting other big name players this summer, as Lloyd details in the same piece. “You couldn’t have a better recruiter than LeBron James,” Griffin said. “When you cut LeBron loose in a free agency path, you tend to get results you don’t get otherwise. To say he’s been an amazing partner this offseason would be a gross understatement.”
  • The Pacers and Evan Turner never attempted to negotiate a new deal that would have brought the former second overall pick back to Indiana for the 2014/15 season, reports Andrew Perna of RealGM (on Twitter). “We both just decided to go our separate ways, said Turner.
  • Greg Monroe‘s decision to sign his qualifying offer means he will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, but he says that doesn’t necessarily mean that he wants to leave the Pistonstweets Vince Ellis of the Detroit News. Monroe also dismissed the notion that he doesn’t like to play alongside Josh Smith, according to Ellis (Twitter link).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Bogans, Garnett, Grant, ‘Melo

September 29 at 10:07pm CDT By Charlie Adams

There’s no guarantee that Keith Bogans will play a game for the Sixers this season, as Philly GM Sam Hinkie suggested to reporters, including Tom Moore of Calkins Media (Twitter link), that the Sixers might choose to waive Bogans’ recently acquired non-guaranteed contract rather than keep him around to mentor the club’s young talent. There’s more on the Sixers below amid tonight’s look at the Atlantic:

  • The contract that Jerami Grant signed with the Sixers is a multi-year pact, according to the RealGM transactions log. Financial terms still haven’t been disclosed, but Grant is likely in line to receive the minimum salary.
  • Kevin Garnett admitted that while he considered retirement two summers ago, the idea of hanging it up didn’t cross his mind this offseason, as Robert Windrem of Nets Daily passes along. Garnett will enter his second campaign with the Nets, and his 20th season in the NBA.
  • Although Carmelo Anthony admits that he would have had a better shot to win a title this season if he had signed with another team, he says that leaving the Knicks would have left a bad taste in his mouth, notes Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press“From a basketball standpoint it probably would’ve been maybe the greatest thing to do, but for me personally I wouldn’t have felt right with myself,” ‘Melo said, “knowing that I wanted to come here, I kind of forced my way here to New York and I have some unfinished business to take care of.”

Southwest Rumors: Jefferson, Mavs, Babbitt

September 29 at 9:02pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Richard Jefferson admits that while other teams around the league offered him a chance at more playing time and a more lucrative paycheck, he decided to sign with the Mavs because he believes they give him the best chance at winning, as Michael Florek of the Dallas Morning News details. “We have a chance here,” said Jefferson, “Obviously you need to be lucky. You need things to go the right way, have the ball bounce your way, but I believe this was my best chance to win and win now.”

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Mark Cuban responded to the critical comments made by Rockets GM Daryl Morey, suggesting Morey’s assertion that free agents would prefer to play in Houston over Dallas is flawed. I’m not sure how he would know that,” said the outspoken owner of the Mavs, who reminded Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that the Rockets have won only a single a playoff series since 1997.
  • The Rockets had to scrap Kostas Papanikolaou‘s contract and re-sign him, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The NBA rejected the original agreement, and it’s unclear if any significant changes have been made to the structure of the deal.
  • Luke Babbitt was held out of Summer League play by the Pelicans because there was a chance he’d be dealt to the Rockets in the then-looming Omer Asik trade, writes Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune (on Twitter).

Cray Allred contributed to this post.

Pacific Rumors: Clippers, Lee, Thompson

September 29 at 7:50pm CDT By Cray Allred

Forbes revealed its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans today, and new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer ranks as the richest NBA owner at number 18 overall. Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers announced the additions of Sam Cassell, Lawrence Frank, and Mike Woodson to their assistant coaching staff in a team release.
  • David Lee told reporters including Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group that he’s not upset with Warriors brass, who floated his name for much of the summer in trade talks for Kevin Love that never came to fruition. “There was no hard feelings,” Lee said. “There can’t be. Our front office is trying to improve the team, and Kevin Love is a great player. It happened, and I’m not mad at anybody. I don’t feel bad. It’s just this is a business.” 
  • Warriors point guard Steph Curry backed up Klay Thompson‘s insistence that the Love trade talks, which also heavily involved Thompson’s name, did not anger him as reported. “[Thompson] showed me the little link on his phone and then started laughing,” Curry said, as quoted by Leung on Twitter.

Northwest Notes: Christon, Durant, Wolves

September 29 at 7:05pm CDT By Cray Allred

The preseason roster the Thunder released today doesn’t include Semaj Christon‘s name on it, so presumably the 55th overall pick from June’s draft won’t be joining the team this year. Oklahoma City acquired the rights to the former Xavier point guard in a draft-night trade with the Hornets, who’d obtained his rights from the Heat in a trade earlier that same evening. Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Kevin Durant opened up to Sam Amick of USA Today about his looming free agency in two years. “It’s not a surprise [that people ask him about it] because everybody wants to know,” Durant said. “But I’m taking it day by day with the Oklahoma City Thunder. That’s my main concern. And whatever the future holds, I don’t know, because I can’t tell you the future…I like the direction we’re going in, and that’s not just a cliché [expletive] answer. That’s real.” Durant also spoke highly of GM Sam Presti, who is optimistic about Durant’s future. “We know it’s there, and we are looking forward to it—the opportunity to re-sign a legacy player,” said Presti.
  • Nate Robinson told reporters including Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post that he’d like to remain with the Nuggets beyond this year, the last on his contract with Denver. “I’m too old to be moving around too much more,” Robinson said. “The city is great, the fans are great and this team is awesome. I would love to be here if they would love to have me.” 
  • Wolves coach and president Flip Saunders deflected questions about the team’s extension talks with Ricky Rubio at the team media day, as did the point guard himself, reports Andy Greder of St. Paul Pioneer Press“He has a contract right now,” said Saunders. “The future, as I’ve said about all [rookie scale extension candidates], they go through the process. Some get signed and some don’t. But I think it’s been very evident that Ricky is important to our team.”
  • Wolves GM Milt Newton has no worries about getting along with Saunders, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press. With Saunders focusing on the hardwood, Newton says the “day-to-day grind” of being a GM will be squarely on his shoulders.

Chuck Myron and Zach Links contributed to this post.

Southeast Notes: Andersen, Hawks, Taylor

September 29 at 6:20pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Chris Andersen said he was never close to leaving the Heat in free agency this summer and wants to remain in Miami even after he finishes his playing career, as Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post chronicles. Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks players were unified in expressing their disappointment in the racist language revealed over the summer from owner Bruce Levenson’s email and GM Danny Ferry‘s scouting conference call, but maintained optimism for both the team and Ferry’s future. Paul Millsap says he’s met with the embattled Ferry and forgives him for his racially derogatory remarks about Luol Deng, while DeMarre Carroll insists Ferry is not a racist, as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution relays. Elton Brand said he spoke with Deng before deciding to re-sign with the Hawks, and Al Horford also vouched for Ferry.
  • The Hawks have named Dominique Wilkins a special adviser to CEO Steve Koonin, the team announced (Twitter link). Wilkins, who was already a part of the front office as vice president of basketball, inked a long-term contract, as Vivlamore notes, though it’s unclear how the move affects his desire to buy the team.
  • The Hornets will continue to pay Jeff Taylor while he’s on leave from the team as he faces domestic violence charges, GM Rich Cho told reporters, including Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).

Jazz Open Extension Talks With Kanter, Burks

September 29 at 5:45pm CDT By Cray Allred

The Jazz have opened extension talks with both Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. GM Dennis Lindsey revealed the development to reporters at the team’s media day. Previously, Lindsey has been non-committal in addressing the future of the fourth-year players, and negotiations don’t necessarily mean the team is enthusiastically trying to retain either for big money.

Both Kanter and Burks were lottery picks in the 2011 draft, but haven’t progressed rapidly enough to be sure-fire extension candidates. In fact, our own Chuck Myron tabbed both as longshots to come to terms with Utah before the October 31 deadline in the Hoops Rumors Rookie Scale Extension Primer.

While Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward have both been cemented as long-term pieces for the Jazz to build around, Kanter and Burks reflect the team’s identity in many ways. At 22- and 23-years-old, respectively, both have shown flashes of promise and earned bigger roles, as the team has experienced growing pains and tumbled down the standings in recent years. It will be interesting to see how Utah envisions Burks, a shooting guard, fitting in with the young backcourt of Trey Burke and Dante Exum. Utah’s fronctourt is a bit less crowded, with Rudy Gobert, more raw at this stage than Kanter, the only other big apart from Favors with as high a ceiling.

Celtics Waive Malcolm Thomas, John Lucas III

September 29 at 5:41pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

MONDAY, 5:41pm: The team still hasn’t publicly announced the moves, but both Thomas and Lucas are indeed on waivers as of today, the RealGM transactions log confirms. The releases had to have taken taken place before the team formalized its deal with Evan Turner and its new contract with Christian Watford, since otherwise there wouldn’t have been room on the roster.

SUNDAY, 4:26pm: The Celtics have waived Malcolm Thomas and John Lucas III, Marc Stein of ESPN.com is reporting (Twitter link). Both players were recently acquired in the trade that sent Keith Bogans to the Cavaliers, and Bogans has since been traded to the Sixers in a move that garnered Cleveland a valuable trade exception. The Celtics, too, were afforded a trade exception for the same $5,285,817 amount when they relinquished Bogans.

A roster move was expected from the Celtics who had 21 players on their preseason roster. That number includes Evan Turner whose signing has not been formally announced yet. This should change shortly now that Boston is down to 19 players after waiving Thomas and Lucas.

The team had waived Christian Watford on Friday, but reports have indicated that the team intends to re-sign the forward this week. So, Watford’s return would put Boston at the preseason limit of 20 players, including Turner, meaning the team’s camp roster is likely set.

Magic Push For Extensions With Vucevic, Harris

September 29 at 5:06pm CDT By Chuck Myron

MONDAY, 5:06pm: Vucevic and Harris today expressed their desire to strike deals on extensions, too, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

“Obviously, I want to be here,” Harris said. “But I think I’ll just go out there and play basketball. I’ll let my agent handle all that. I know they’ve been having some talks, but I don’t really get too involved in it. I don’t want to use that as something to lose my focus. I’m about my team and about winning games this year and helping my team win games.”

FRIDAY, 12:45pm: The Magic have until October 31st to sign Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris to extensions that would keep them out of restricted free agency next summer, and Magic GM Rob Hennigan said the team wants to do so with both of them, as he told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Each are entering the final season of their respective rookie scale contracts.

“We’ve been in discussions with both Tobias’ and Nik’s representatives,” Hennigan said. “We’ll continue to be in discussions with them. We’re motivated to try to get something done if it makes sense for everybody, and our hope and intention is to do so.”

Hennigan and Vucevic last season expressed mutual interest in a long-term future together, but this is the strongest indication to date that the Magic envision the same commitment with Harris. Orlando acquired both via trade, obtaining Vucevic in the Dwight Howard blockbuster before the 2012/13 season and coming away with Harris in the J.J. Redick swap at the 2013 trade deadline, and both have thrived with increased playing time since joining the Magic. Still, the development of both appeared to plateau last season, as the Magic once more finished near the bottom of the standings, and Hennigan made it clear to Robbins that he believes it important that the team’s rebuilding effort start showing more progress this season.

Still, the Magic don’t have the benefit of seeing how Vucevic and Harris play in the regular season if they want to sign them to extensions, given next month’s deadline. When I profiled Vucevic as an extension candidate, I surmised that the BDA Sports Management client would come away with a four-year, $48MM extension similar to the one the Jazz gave fellow big man Derrick Favors last year. I didn’t think the team would be as enthusiastic about Harris when I examined his case, predicting that the Magic and the Henry Thomas client would pass on an extension for the combo forward, in part because of the other options the team has at the positions he plays.

Still, that’s just my speculation, and it’s unclear just what sort of money the team and the players have in mind. The Magic have only about $15MM in commitments for next season, not counting about $13MM in rookie scale team options for other players, so they have plenty of flexibility to accommodate deals for both, particularly with the salary cap projected to rise sharply in the coming years.

Nuggets To Sign Pops Mensah-Bonsu For Camp

September 29 at 4:51pm CDT By Chuck Myron

4:51pm: The deal is non-guaranteed, a source tells Pick (Twitter link).

4:10pm: Four-year NBA veteran Pops Mensah-Bonsu has turned down a pair of lucrative offers from European clubs to instead agree to join the Nuggets for training camp, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com. The Nuggets have the capacity to give the 31-year-old more than the minimum, but it seems unlikely they would do so for the 6’9″ power forward who last appeared in an NBA regular season game during the 2010/11 season. It’s unclear whether there’s any guaranteed money involved.

Mensah-Bonsu has made stops in Turkey, Italy and Spain since his departure from the NBA, averaging 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game last season for Turkey’s Galatasaray. Still, it’ll be the second straight autumn in which the former George Washington University standout will join an NBA team for camp, since he did so with the Wizards last year.

Nuggets GM Tim Connelly is making a habit of bringing players long absent from the NBA to Denver’s camp, having done so with Joe Alexander and Marcus Williams already this year. The Nuggets have 13 fully guaranteed deals and two that contain partial guaranees, so there’s no clear path for Mensah-Bonsu or the other two NBA vets to make it to opening night.