All eyes appear to be on Carmelo Anthony of late as he grows to be one of the hottest commodities this upcoming offseason.
While Carmelo is under contract with the Knicks through next season, next year’s salary is an early termination option which Carmelo has already expressed he plans to exercise this summer. In February, the Knicks could negotiate to extend Carmelo’s contract but Carmelo asked the Knicks on the first day of training camp to not discuss an extension. In November, Carmelo backed down from his previous statements and said he hopes to retire with the Knicks. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith contradicted that statement this week reporting Anthony had already decided to leave New York. Carmelo adamantly denied that report.
Contradicting reports leave Anthony’s future uncertain but ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst says Carmelo’s past actions show he is in New York to stay. Windhorst points out that Carmelo has approached his NBA career with the mindset to look out for himself first and capture as much money as he can during his short career.
In 2006, Anthony refused to gamble $20MM in guaranteed money and took a five-year max salary deal instead of the three year extension LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh took. Before that contract expired, Carmelo demanded a trade to the team he wanted to play for the following year as a free agent. Being traded to the Knicks allowed Anthony to sign a more favorable extension than he would have received in free agency. And again, at the beginning of this season, Carmelo said he will exercise his early termination option to become a free agent. Another move that will bring Anthony more money.
This favors the Knicks as they will be able to re-sign Carmelo for an extra year and $30MM more than any other team in the league. If Anthony continues to make his decisions based on money – New York is where he will retire.
That is, unless he demands to be traded this season or to be signed and traded next offseason. Sam Smith of Bulls.com thinks Knicks fans shouldn’t worry about these options.
Smith says the Knicks are very unlikely to trade him this season because they know how much Carmelo values the extra year and $30MM. Carmelo will be 34 at the end of his next contract so he and the Knicks realize this is likely his last chance to capture a max deal. The Knicks think this motivation will force Carmelo to re-sign with them this offseason.
The Knicks are also unlikely to complete a sign-and-trade since Carmelo’s bargaining power appears weak. Carmelo can’t threaten to sign with another team in free agency for less money when his track record shows otherwise and another contract beyond this one doesn’t appear imminent. Windhorst also points out that the Knicks dug quite a deep hole to obtain Anthony and no fair value will be available for the Knicks to get in return via trade.
With league action on the court beginning for the evening, some action around the league occurring off the court.
- Sam Smith of Bulls.com doesn’t think the Bulls will apply for the Disabled Player Exception worth 50% of Derrick Rose‘s salary. With the Bulls already in luxury tax territory, adding a player under this exception would still cost Chicago double what they pay that player and no available player is worth that money to the Bulls.
- With the departure of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap this past offseason, the Jazz have turned to Gordon Hayward as their “go-to-guy”. The Jazz use Hayward 25% of the time he is on the court and have increased his playing time by 10.5 MPG more this season than his career average of 26.4 MPG. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today discusses whether this increase in playing time could hurt the Jazz since they were unable to reach a contract extension before this season allowing Hayward to become a restricted free agent next season.
- Following a breakout season last year, Larry Sanders earned himself a contract extension with the Bucks this offseason. Wondering if that contract extension will pay off, Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times asked (via Twitter) an NBA exec the trade value of Sanders, who has only played three games this season due to thumb surgery. Combining the surgery with his new contract, the exec speculates few, if any, teams would want him at the moment.
5:11pm: The Rockets are also willing to take only one first round pick and a “good young” player for Asik, Racine Journal Times’ Gery Woelfel tweets.
12:40pm: The Rockets would take back a “high-level” power forward for Asik if they can’t find a team willing to give up a lottery pick, Amick adds via Twitter.
11:56am: Houston is still seeking a likely lottery pick in return for Asik, USA Today’s Sam Amick tweets.
11:46am: The Rockets want to trade Omer Asik by December 19th at the latest, and have begun to more aggressively pursue discussions with other teams, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Houston wants to get a deal done by that date so that it could swap whomever it acquires for Asik in another deal in advance of the February 20th deadline. (Twitter links). The collective bargaining agreement prohibits over-the-cap teams from sending out anyone they obtain via trade in another deal for two months, unless that player is the only the one team trades in the subsequent deal.
A deal is most likely to happen between December 15th, when most free agents signed this summer become eligible to be traded, and the 19th, Stein tweets. The Rockets have reportedly been seeking a pair of first-round picks in return, though their targeting of the December 19th date suggests they’re also looking for current players. Two first-rounders would be quite a high cost, and indeed a rival GM recently described the Rockets’ asking price as “delusional.” Perhaps Houston GM Daryl Morey will become more willing to temper his expectations as his self-imposed deadline draws near.
The Blazers have apparently engaged the Rockets about Asik, while the Celtics have been linked to the big man as well. New Orleans is a long-rumored Asik destination, but the Pelicans don’t appear willing to part with Ryan Anderson. Asik’s price tag, which includes a nearly $8.4MM cap hit this season and next and a total of roughly $20MM in actual payments, seems to be scaring off the Bulls.
In any case, Stein gets the sense that an Asik trade is inevitable, comparing it to the team’s efforts to unload Thomas Robinson this summer to clear cap room for Dwight Howard (Twitter link).
Kobe Bryant took to Facebook to announce he will make his long awaited season debut this Sunday, rejoining the Lakers to face the Raptors in Los Angeles. Bryant has been sidelined since last April but that didn’t stop him from signing a controversial $48.5MM extension late in November. Here are a couple more tidbits from Friday afternoon:
- Recently injured Bulls superstar Derrick Rose has yet to decide whether or not he will play for Team USA in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. “I haven’t really thought about it,” Rose said. “That would be a good idea, but if I’m not ready, there’s no need.“ The Bulls have said they would support him playing in the FIBA World Cup if it aided in his rehabilitation process. K.C. Johnson from the Chicago Tribune has the details.
- Trading Jordan Crawford represents an alternative to dealing away Rajon Rondo if the Celtics are adamant about deflating this season’s record and pursuing a high draft pick, as Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examines in an Insider piece.
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News figures Spencer Hawes will see $8MM in annual salary on his next contract if he maintains his performance from the first month of the season.
- Kenny Kadji has inked a deal to play in Germany with the New Yorker Phantoms, notes Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Kadji went undrafted out of the University of Miami and failed to make the Cavaliers‘ opening day roster out of training camp.
- Dale Kasler from the Sacramento Bee has the latest on the Kings’ project for a new arena. City officials will vote on whether or not to suspend bid requirements for the arena, saying competitive-bid procedures will impede the current construction schedule. Kasler points out that if the construction falls behind more than one year, the NBA reserves the right to relocate the Kings from Sacramento.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Let’s take a look at today’s D-League moves from around the NBA:
- Charlie Westbrook has been claimed by the Heat‘s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. We heard Wednesday night that Westbrook had entered the D-League’s waiver process.
- Kings center Hamady N’Diaye has been assigned to the club’s D-League affiliate in Reno, the team announced today in an official press release. Ndiaye has played 52 minutes in nine games for Sacramento his season.
- The Hawks have swapped out two shooting guards today, assigning John Jenkins to the Bakersfield Jam of the D-League while subsequently recalling Jared Cunningham. A press release earlier today revealed the pair of moves.
Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro participated in a live Q&A session with fans and touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the team’s short term trade plans to D’Alessandro’s assessment of Sacramento’s rebuilding process. You can check out the full transcript over at NBA.com, but here are a few highlights from the conversation:
On whether or not the Kings will make any more trades:
“Wow, hard-hitting questions here… Obviously as a GM I will always try to be candid with fans about the things we are doing. I can say this, we will continue to be aggressive to get this thing going in the right direction. The fans of Sacramento deserve a competitive team.”
On the failed attempt to lure Andre Iguodala to Sacramento this offseason:
“We took an aggressive approach this summer to acquire high-level talent, and we will continue to do so in our quest to build a championship team.”
On the Kings’ desire to become a contender:
“We’re going to do everything we can to get there as quickly as we can. We won’t put a timetable on it but we won’t be satisfied until we get there.“
Knicks fans have had little to celebrate this year, but they can point to last night’s blowout of the crosstown Nets for intra-city bragging rights. They may also glean some hope from today’s report that Carmelo Anthony believes he can convince Rajon Rondo to come to New York, since recruitment of Rondo, who isn’t a free agent until 2015, would seem to signal that Anthony wants to stick around New York for the long term. Here’s more on New York’s teams:
- Newsday’s Al Iannazzone speculates that the Knicks could trade Anthony if they believe he’ll leave in free agency, but I’d be shocked if New York counted itself out of this summer’s Anthony sweepstakes before it even began.
- The Knicks will have a tough time contending even if Anthony re-signs, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com, who believes a parting of ways would be best for both player and team.
- The struggles of the Nets and Knicks suggest the provisions in the collective bargaining agreement designed to protect small-market teams are working, fellow SI.com scribe Ian Thomsen observes. The failure of Brooklyn’s aging stars may dissuade other teams from copying the Nets’ approach, Thomsen adds.
- Iman Shumpert‘s resurgent play could make the Knicks less inclined to trade him, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com.
- The Nets made Jason Kidd aware of all the consequences of demoting former lead assistant coach Lawrence Frank, including the negative perception it would entail for the franchise, a source tells ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O’Connor. The result is that the pressure is squarely on Kidd now, O’Connor writes.
- There’s plenty of blame on both sides of the Kidd/Frank saga, opines Dave D’Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger.
- P.J. Carlesimo, the coach of last year’s Nets, is optimistic this year’s Brooklyn team can turn it around, as he tells D’Alessandro.
11:14am: Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee hears conflicting information, and suggests that no talks are ongoing. Still, the connection between Raptors GM Masai Ujiri and Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro, who worked together in the Nuggets front office, should lead to plenty of rumors, Jones points out (All Twitter links).
10:43am: The Kings and Raptors are discussing a swap of Jimmer Fredette for Aaron Gray, tweets Kevin Bryant of Canada.com. The one-to-one deal would be a near even match of salaries, and it could take place before December 15th, since neither player signed new contracts in the offseason.
Fredette has been a frequent trade candidate, and Sacramento’s decision to decline its 2014/15 team option on him means he’s on an expiring contract, perhaps lifting his value. Gray is also in the last year of his deal. Fredette, the 10th overall pick in 2011, has appeared in just six games so far for the Kings, averaging 12.2 minutes per contest. Gray has seen even less playing time, appearing for a total of 20 minutes this season.
The Kings were reportedly taking an aggressive posture in trade talks as of last month, and they’ve already pulled off one deal, acquiring Derrick Williams for Luc Mbah a Moute. Hoops Rumors readers identified Fredette as the second most logical trade candidate, though I’m not sure if many would endorse a trade for so little in return. Gray is the 49th overall pick from the 2007 draft, and apart from having managed to stay in the league each season since, he doesn’t have much to offer in exchange for a former lottery pick. Perhaps there’s more to this deal, even though the salaries match. Both teams are interested in a swap, but there’s nothing imminent at this point, Bryant notes (Twitter link).
Dwyane Wade‘s absences from the Heat lineup have grown frequent, and the team is pursuing trades that would either bolster the backcourt or allow Miami to clear a roster spot so it can sign a free agent replacement, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. The Heat want to deal from their surplus of backup big men, and are making Joel Anthony available, Windhorst writes.
Wade isn’t playing in back-to-backs, and Miami has six back-to-backs scheduled over the next six weeks. He missed Tuesday’s game against the Pistons, which wasn’t part of a back-to-back, with knee soreness, and last night’s game against the Bulls because of an illness. The Heat lost both games and are 2-3 overall without Wade this season.
The Heat have used three different starting shooting guards in those five games, highlighting the absence of Mike Miller, who was last season’s plug-in at the two when Wade was out. The Heat amnestied Miller over the summer.
Miami is carrying 15 players, the roster limit, so the team would have to either release a player or make a trade to add a free agent like Leandro Barbosa, Daniel Gibson or Richard Hamilton. The team could also release Michael Beasley or Roger Mason, both of whom are on non-guaranteed contracts, though Beasley has become a mainstay in the rotation and cutting Mason, a shooting guard, wouldn’t help the team’s backcourt depth.
It might not be easy to find a trade partner willing to take on Anthony, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel points out via Twitter. The 31-year-old is a rugged inside player, but he’s only 6’9″ and isn’t offensively gifted. He’s a former starter for the Heat who’s seen just 30 total minutes this season. Most troublesome is his contract, on which he’ll make $3.8MM this season with a player option for the same amount next year.
Rajon Rondo can’t become a free agent until the summer of 2015 and remains sidelined after an ACL tear, but his high school coach claims the recruitment process has already begun. Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith tells USA Today’s Jason Jordan that Carmelo Anthony is trying to woo Rondo to New York. Anthony also played under Smith at Oak Hill, but the Knicks star seems intent on opting out of his contract this summer, making his interest in recruiting a class of 2015 free agent to New York a potential sign that he wants to re-sign with the Knicks.
New York reportedly tried to trade for Rondo earlier this season in a deal involving Iman Shumpert, only to meet with refusal from Celtics GM Danny Ainge, who denies that any talk of a Rondo swap took place. It could be that the high school coach is making reference to these talks rather than free agency, insinuating that Anthony is lobbying the Knicks front office to pursue trading for Rondo and that the two stars have had their own private discussions about it. That’s just my speculation, of course.
Rondo is set to become one of the most sought-after free agents in 2015, assuming he returns to form after the injury and doesn’t sign an extension with the Celtics. The Knicks are set up to shed most of their bloated payroll after the 2014/15 season, making a Rondo signing a possibility.