Western Notes: Durant, Kanter, Frazier, Kings

March 31 at 10:53pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Rumors are already suggesting that Kevin Durant might be eyeing an exit from Oklahoma City in the summer of 2016, but the reigning MVP spoke out and expressed an interest in spending the rest of his career with the Thunder, as Royce Young of ESPN.com transcribes.

“I love it here, man. I love my teammates, I love the city, I don’t really think about anywhere else,” Durant told Revolt TV. “I love staying in the moment, and I’m one of those guys that would love to stick it out with one team my whole career; Kobe [Bryant], Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki type. That’s awesome. But you never know what the future holds sometimes and how teams may feel about you after a while, but I love it here and I would love to get my jersey retired here.

While Durant’s comments are far from a guarantee that he’€™ll stick around in OKC for life, they certainly must provide a level of comfort for Thunder fans who have seen reports linking KD to several different clubs. We’€™ve got more on the bunch from Oklahoma City in tonight’€™s look out west:

  • The candid way in which Enes Kanter has spoken about the Jazz since Utah traded him to the Thunder at the deadline has some executives wondering if the big man will be able to land a lucrative new deal this summer as a restricted free agent, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Concerns about his attitude coupled with his less-than-stellar defense might scare some teams off, the executive suggests.
  • Tim Frazier will have a chance to remain with the Blazers beyond this season, hears Joe Freeman of the Oregonian, who says Portland’€™s latest addition will get the opportunity to appear with the team in training camp next fall. However, it’€™s unclear if Frazier has a non-guaranteed year tacked on to his deal or if he’€™s merely a just lock to garner an invite to camp before next season begins.
  • Chris Mullin’€™s recent departure from the Kings organization isn’€™t a total shock, given that Mullin opposed the pursuit of George Karl, hoping he could land Sacramento’s vacant coaching position himself, as Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee observes. If Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro can’€™t mesh with Vlade Divac, the team’€™s new VP of basketball operations, D’€™Alessandro might not be long for the organization either, Voisin writes.
  • Holly Mackenzie of Triangle Offense chronicles Brandon Knight’s evolution as a player and steps through the series of events that brought him to the Suns. Knight is poised for a significant raise as a restricted free agent this summer, Mackenzie believes.

Latest On Monty Williams

March 31 at 9:48pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Monty Williams declined to elaborate today after telling reporters that he and the Pelicans haven’t spoken about an extension on his deal with the team, which runs out after next season, as John Reid of The Times-Picayune relays. New Orleans plans an evaluation of Williams as well as GM Dell Demps after the season, Reid hears. Demps’ contract has a team option for 2015/16, but the Pelicans haven’t given any indication about whether they’ll pick that up, according to Reid.

Williams did point to the team’s accomplishments this season, one in which New Orleans has a chance at the playoffs if it can make up a deficit of two and a half games to catch the Thunder for the final playoff spot. Ryan Anderson also offered his support, saying that Williams has “handled everything perfectly,” Reid notes.

”Look at the improvements we’ve made —€” we were 34 wins last year,” Williams said. ”I don’t want to think that far ahead, but we’ve overcome a lot. I don’t think our guys get enough credit for what they’ve been able to do under some weird circumstances. We’ll see how we finish up. One of our goals this year was to have a winning record and we want it badly to make the playoffs. We have a chance to do both, so I would say we have come a long way.”

Williams has reportedly been under pressure this season, his fifth as coach of the Pelicans, who haven’t appeared in the playoffs since his first year in charge of the team. There was a perception around the league at midseason that he and Demps were on “thin ice,” as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders wrote at the time. Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher reported in January that there was talk around the NBA that owner Tom Benson, who’s since been embroiled in a legal battle regarding control of the team, was eyeing former Pistons president of basketball ops Joe Dumars and former Mavs and Nets coach Avery Johnson. Still, Bucher heard that New Orleans hadn’t contacted either and that there were no definitive signs that the Pelicans wanted to move on from Demps and Williams.

And-Ones: Cavs, Stephenson, Payne, Dekker

March 31 at 9:00pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

J.R. Smith, and not Iman Shumpert, was the player whom LeBron James most wanted the Cavs to obtain from the Knicks, according to Brian WIndhorst of ESPN.com (audio link), who spoke on the B.S. Report podcast with Grantland’s Bill Simmons, as RealGM transcribes. Of course, Cleveland traded for both in the January deal that sent out Dion Waiters.

He [James] is so excited about the talent on this team,” Windhorst said. “He loves playing with [Timofey] Mozgov. He loves Smith. He was the guy who pushed for that trade. The Cavs were trying to get Iman Shumpert; that’s what the conversations were and of course the Knicks were saying ‘We’ll give you Shumpert, but you have to take J.R.’ They went to LeBron and he said ‘No, you get J.R. and if you get Shumpert with him that’s great.’ He, I think, really loves their top seven.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Lance Stephenson says that despite his struggles during his first season in Charlotte, he doesn’t regret signing with the Hornets, Steve Reed of The Associated Press writes. “I love this system. I love my coaches. I love my teammates,” Stephenson said. “Some people come into systems and fit right in. Some people it takes time. I feel like with me I’m going to take time.” In 58 appearances this season Stephenson has averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 26.4 minutes per night.
  • Murray State sophomore guard Cameron Payne is leaning toward entering this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. Payne averaged 20.2 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 37.7% from three-point range this season. The 20-year-old is ranked No. 23 by Chad Ford of ESPN.com and No. 32 by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.
  • New No. 1 prospect Karl-Anthony Towns, Justise Winslow, Frank Kaminsky and Jerian Grant are among those who helped themselves during the second week of the NCAA Tournament, according to Ford, who writes in an Insider-only piece. Still, no prospect has boosted his stock more during the tournament than Sam Dekker, whom Ford believes has risen into the back end of the top 20 prospects.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Commenting Policy

March 31 at 8:08pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Comments of this nature are not allowed at Hoops Rumors:

  • Attacks or insults toward other commenters, the post author, journalists, teams, players, or agents.
  • Inappropriate language, including swearing and related censor bypass attempts, lewdness, insults, and crude terms for body parts, bodily functions, and physical acts. In essence, we don’t want any language that parents would not want their kids to see.
  • Juvenile comments or extensive use of text message-type spelling.
  • Writing comments in all or mostly caps.
  • Spam-type links or self-promotion.
  • Comments about how you’re sick of this topic or it’s not newsworthy.
  • Inappropriate avatars or images.
  • Anything else we deem bad for business.

If you see comments that fit the above criteria, please flag them and/or contact us.  Bans may be handed out liberally by our moderators, without second chances. Remaining civil is not that difficult, and most commenters have no problems doing so, nor with helping rein each other in. We are grateful for long-time commenters and readers, though this policy applies equally regardless of tenure.

All comments on Hoops Rumors or the Hoops Rumors Facebook page may be repurposed as a part of the Hoops Rumors Featured Feedback series. In these instances, comments may be edited and abridged.

This policy is always available at the bottom of the site, and will be re-posted monthly.

Suns To Sign Jerel McNeal

March 31 at 7:07pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Suns intend to sign Jerel McNeal to a 10-day contract and will not re-sign A.J. Price, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic reports (Twitter link). Price’s first 10-day deal with Phoenix expired last night. The Suns’ roster count will move back to 15 players once McNeal is officially signed.

McNeal is a 6’3″ shooting guard who went unselected back in the 2009 NBA draft. The 27-year-old had been playing for the Bakersfield Jam, the Suns’ D-League affiliate. In 27 games for the Jam, McNeal averaged 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 32.6 minutes per contest. He has previously had NBA training camp stints with the Clippers, Raptors and Rockets. The Pelicans and Jazz have briefly carried him on regular season rosters in the past, but he didn’t see action during either stint, so he’s technically a two-year veteran even though he has yet to make his official NBA debut.

Price had also played for the Pacers and Cavaliers this season. He appeared in 10 games with Indiana, averaging 10.5 points, 2.7 assists and 19.3 minutes, before the club waived him in late November. Cleveland then claimed him off waivers and he appeared in 11 games with the Cavs, averaging just 2.0 points, 1.2 assists and 7.9 minutes, until they waived him in early January. In five appearances for the Suns, Price notched 1.2 PPG and 1.2 APG in 8.8 minutes per contest.

2015/16 Salary Commitments: Knicks

March 31 at 6:39pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

With the NBA trade deadline passed, teams are focusing on locking down playoff spots or vying for a better chance in the draft lottery. Outside of the players who are added on 10-day deals, or those lucky enough to turn those auditions into long-term contracts, teams’ rosters are relatively set for the remainder of the season.

We at Hoops Rumors are in the process of taking a look ahead at each franchise’s salary cap situation heading into the summer, and the free agent frenzy that occurs every offseason. While the exact amount of the 2015/16 salary cap won’t be announced until July, the cap is projected to come in somewhere around $67.4MM, with the luxury tax threshold projected at approximately $81MM. This year’s $63.065MM cap represented an increase of 7.7% over 2013/14, which was well above the league’s projected annual increase of 4.5%.

We’ll continue onward by taking a look at the Knicks’ cap outlook for 2015/16…

Here are the players with guaranteed contracts:

Here are the players with non-guaranteed contracts:

Players with options:

  • None

The Knicks’ Cap Summary for 2015/16:

  • Guaranteed Salary: $32,427,391
  • Options/Non-Guaranteed Salary: $845,059
  • Total: $33,272,450

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Mavs Notes: Chandler, Rondo, Felton

March 31 at 5:20pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

With Monta Ellis out due to injury it is time for Rajon Rondo to show the Mavs and the league what his true worth is, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes. The point guard needs to step up his game on both ends of the court if he intends to seek a maximum salary contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, Sefko adds.

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Center Tyson Chandler is the free agent who the Mavs should re-sign at all costs this summer, opines Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News. The veteran big man is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, and with Dallas’ lineup heavy with shooters, Chandler would be extremely difficult to replace, Gosselin adds.
  • With the Mavs’ backcourt hit hard by injuries, Raymond Felton has proven a capable fill-in option for coach Rick Carlisle, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com writes. “He’s a high-integrity guy. He really is,” said Carlisle. “He’s a high-integrity competitor. There hasn’t been one time this year where he’s dropped his head or pouted. When he was hurt, when he came back and there weren’t minutes right away, he’s just remained consistently professional and he kept working extremely hard, which shows now that he’s getting an opportunity to play.”
  • Finnish guard Petteri Koponen, 26, who was selected with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2007 draft, is hoping to make the jump to the NBA next season, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype.com relays. Koponen is much happier with his level of communication with the Mavs, who hold his draft rights, than with the Blazers, the team that drafted him, Sierra adds.
  • The Mavs have $28,064,039 in guaranteed salary already committed for the 2015/16 campaign, as our salary cap breakdown shows.

Hoops Rumors Featured Feedback

March 31 at 3:58pm CDT By Chuck Myron

We value your input on the news we cover here at Hoops Rumors. That’s why we’re passing along some of the best insight from the comments on our posts and on the Hoops Rumors Facebook page. Share your reaction to and insight on the news and rumors around the league, and you’ll have a chance to see your name here.

If you haven’t commented at Hoops Rumors before, it’s easy to sign up and start. First, read our Commenting Policy. Then, scroll to the bottom of any post, and you’ll see the word “Login” on the right side atop the comments section. Click the word and choose whether you want to comment using a Disqus account or your existing Facebook, Twitter or Google account. If you don’t have a Disqus account and you want to create one, just choose that option and click “Need an account?” at the bottom right of the box that pops up.

It’ll be an interesting summer for soon-to-be restricted free agent Draymond Green, an integral part of the Warriors. He’ll no doubt wind up with a dramatic raise on the minimum salary he’s making this season, but the majority of Hoops Rumors readers who voted in our poll think he’ll fall short of the max. For reader Kopdedju, it’s a matter of context.

  • Here’s the thing: for the Warriors, he’s a max player. For teams like the Spurs, Grizzlies, Hawks, Bulls, etc. who have pieces around him and who play in a strong system system, he’s a max player. If teams like the Lakers, Knicks, Kings, etc. sign him then they are fools. Not that he isn’t very valuable, but he is not the type of player that will transcend a system and be your 1st or 2nd best player. He is, however, the 3rd best player on a championship team. He is as good a defender as anyone in the league, he can guard all 5 positions legitimately, he’s a great rebounder especially for his size, and his offensive game is really improved.

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri referred to the team’s pursuit of Canadian players as an “obligation,” and while most of the voters in a Hoops Rumors poll believe he should simply focus on finding the best talent regardless of nationality, RapFan99 sees greater meaning.

  • It would be a Canadian ratings bonanza if they landed Andrew Wiggins. And I do think they have chance eventually, because national pride is different from city to city pride. I also think it would be great for kids to see someone from their country playing for their team. I think Americans don’t realize how lucky they are to have mostly Americans playing for them. If the US had a soccer team filled with all Europeans, they’d still cheer for the team, but would definitely want an American on there to root for. So I hope it happens, but I hope Masai doesn’t just do it to do it.

Heat team president Pat Riley most assuredly won’t win the Executive of the Year award after losing LeBron James in free agency this past summer, but Jeremy Nierenberg believes he still deserves recognition for other moves.

  • Pat Riley never gets any respect man … Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, Henry Walker … nabbing the best available player at the trade deadline … If the Heat were healthy (only played 2 games all season with a healthy roster FYI) they would be one of, if not the best team in the East, with or without LeBron. He should get credit for that. Maybe next year when these moves get to really manifest themselves.

Check out what more readers had to say in previous editions of Hoops Rumors Featured Feedback. We appreciate everyone who adds to the dialogue at Hoops Rumors, and we look forward to seeing more responses like these from you!

Chris Mullin Leaves Kings For St. John’s

March 31 at 3:42pm CDT By Will Joseph

TUESDAY, 3:42pm: The hiring is official, the school announced.

MONDAY, 3:41pm: Mullin has accepted the St. John’s job, report Roger Rubin and Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

SUNDAY, 4:37pm: Chris Mullin, who has been an adviser in the Kings’ front office since September 2013, is expected to accept an offer from St. John’s to be its next men’s basketball head coach, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports writes. Mullin would lead his alma mater following the school’s firing of Steve Lavin on Friday.

Mullin quickly emerged as a favorite for the Red Storm’s coaching job soon after the vacancy arose. If there are no late obstacles during the negotiations, the school’s administration is hoping to have a press conference Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Rothstein. Mullin, a two-time inductee of the Hall of Fame who retired after the 2000/01 season, is a former general manager of the Warriors. He has no head coaching experience.

It was reported earlier this month by Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee that Mullin, who was a candidate for the Kings’ coaching position earlier this season, resisted the recent hirings of coach George Karl and vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac. Tom Ziller of SB Nation tweeted that it was rumored Mullin wanted former Kings coach Michael Malone out of the way, but didn’t want to take over in the middle of a season and instead wanted to start before training camp and with a new staff.

Jherrod Stiggers To Turn Pro

March 31 at 3:05pm CDT By Chuck Myron

University of Houston junior guard Jherrod Stiggers will forgo his senior season and turn pro, reports Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston, making him eligible for the NBA draft. However, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be drafted, as Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has him unranked as a prospect, while Chad Ford of ESPN.com doesn’t have a draft profile page for him. Stiggers was nonetheless the leading scorer the Cougars, who compete in the American Athletic Conference.

Stiggers put up 14.2 points on 12.4 shots in 35.6 minutes per game this season, and he nailed 34.3% of his three-point shots. The Cougars, under former NBA assistant Kelvin Sampson, finished 13-19 this season.

The 6’4″, 22-year-old Stiggers has already hired an agent, according to Berman, so he can’t withdraw his name and play in the NCAA again even if he has a change of heart. He seems destined to land in the D-League or on an overseas team, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he drew at least some predraft workouts from NBA teams and played in the summer league.