Pacers president Larry Bird has yet to decide whether he will return to the club next season but he is apparently open to staying on if he and owner Herb Simon are on the same page. Today, Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star writes that Bird's conversation with Simon will center around the owner's willingness to spend on payroll. Predictably, point guard Deron Williams would be Bird's top target if Simon is willing to open up his wallet, but landing him would appear to be a longshot. Here's more from around the league..
Earlier this evening, we learned that former Lakers and Bulls coach Phil Jackson was approached with an offer from the Magic to join their front office. The basketball legend was reportedly considering the offer right up until this afternoon, when he informed Orlando that he would instead be taking another opportunity. As we anxiously await to see where the Zen Master lands, here's a look at the latest from Sam Amick of SportsIllustrated.com on other possibilities for the Magic and other news..
Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson was interested in the possibility of joining the Magic's front office for the past few days but bowed out late this afternoon, writes Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. Magic CEO Alex Martins was formally presented on Wednesday with a scenario involving Jackson by Sam Vincent, who played for the Magic and Jackson. Ultimately, however, the former coach will be re-joining the NBA with an unknown club in an unknown capacity."It drew some interest from Phil," Vincent said. "But in the end, Phil decided to go with another opportunity."
Vincent said that Jackson gave him the impression that he doesn't want to coach anymore, though the Magic scenario would have installed him in a front office capacity. With Orlando, Jackson would have been either the team president/general manager or a consultant.
According to Vincent, Jackson was intrigued enough by the idea that he and another intermediary were planning to visit Jackson's home in Montana to speak with him. If the talks went well, they would have next approached Dwight Howard. The intermediary was a former All-Star player and Hall of Famer who would have been installed as the team's next coach and mentored by Jackson as he had no prior coaching experience. Schmitz does not divulge the would-be coach's name as he is currently an employee of another team.
The Heat are the Southeast division's horse in the championship race but plenty is going on outside of South Beach. The Bobcats didn't land the top selection in the 2012 draft and went from what could have been a slam dunk decision at No. 1 to a very difficult one at No. 2. The latest from the division...
Hornets guard Eric Gordon says that the team's draft lottery win last night won't affect his plans to test the free agent market this offseason, writes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. Gordon has met with the club's new owner Tom Benson but they have not engaged in contract negotiations."The things that he says make him sounds like a pretty good owner," the guard said. "He sounds like he wants to win in a hurry."
Gordon earned $3.1MM in 2011/12, a year in which he wound up playing just nine games after undergoing surgery on his right knee. According to league sources, the restricted free agent declined a four-year deal in January that was worth roughly $50MM. The Indiana alum told Spears that his knee is now "good."
Even though the impending arrival of Anthony Davis alone won't be enough to keep Gordon in New Orleans, the guard had high praise for the soon-to-be No. 1 pick.
"He reminds me of another player I played with: Marcus Camby," Gordon said. "If [Davis] can get that jump shot, he can be really, really good for a long time."
Click below for the transcript of this week's live chat:
Earlier this week, Anthony Davis refused to acknowledge that he would definitely be the first overall pick in this year's draft, calling that just a "rumor" for now. But after the Hornets won the draft lottery and the right to pick first overall in June, Davis sounded like he was fully expecting to be the first pick, as Andy Katz of ESPN.com writes.
"I won a national championship in New Orleans," said Davis, referring to the site of Kentucky's NCAA title in April. "So why not win another one in New Orleans?"
Davis at #1 may be a lock, but there are plenty of questions surrounding the rest of the draft order. Here are a few draft-related items for Thursday afternoon....
Free Agents (Cap Holds)
2010 brought us The Decision. 2011 featured plenty of 'Melodrama. And in 2012, we were treated to the Dwightmare in Orlando. The Magic's 2011/12 season was dominated by Dwight Howard trade rumors, as the NBA's top center seemed to change his mind every few days about whether he wanted to be traded or remain in Orlando.
While some members of the Magic front office likely wouldn't have minded dealing Howard at the deadline and moving on from the entire situation, D12 eventually decided to waive his early termination option, locking him into another year in Orlando. So, welcome to the Dwightmare, Part II. With Otis Smith out and a new general manager on the way in, the Magic are contemplating how to move forward with Howard, but one thing seems clear: If the team doesn't get a firm commitment from Howard that he'll sign a long-term extension, it won't hesitate to find the best possible return for him in a trade.
If the Magic had the assets or the flexibility to bring in complementary pieces to play with Howard, the possibility of a blockbuster trade may not be looming over the offseason. But having used the amnesty clause already on Gilbert Arenas, the Magic don't have the opportunity to clear another bad contract in a single stroke. The team's first-round pick (19th overall) doesn't have much trade value, and the team's second-most tradable player, Ryan Anderson, will be a free agent in July.
Outside of a Howard trade, free agency seems like the team's best bet at bringing in more talent, but even on that front, options are limited. Assuming Jameer Nelson exercises his player option or negotiates a new deal with the club, the Magic figure to be at or over the salary cap line even before making a decision on J.J. Redick, whose $6.19MM salary is non-guaranteed. Orlando will probably have the $5MM mid-level exception at its disposal, but if Howard seems to be on his way out of town, either this offseason or next, it's unlikely that an impact player would be eager to sign with the Magic over other contenders.
The Magic's best chance at landing a significant return for Howard and accelerating their rebuilding process may have slipped through their fingers on Wednesday night, when Brooklyn failed to land the top pick in the draft lottery. The idea of a Howard/Anthony Davis swap likely would have appealed to both teams, and would've given Orlando a young, affordable potential superstar to cushion the blow of losing its own longtime star. But without Davis on the table, trade packages for Howard range from moderately appealing to entirely undesirable. The best of the bunch, if the Lakers were willing to put it on the table, is probably a deal centered around Andrew Bynum.
It may seem unfair or short-sighted to suggest that the Magic's entire offseason revolves around what happens with Howard, but it's a hard point to argue. If a trade is consummated, Orlando could potentially include a bad contract like Hedo Turkoglu's or Jason Richardson's and gain some cap flexibility as the post-Howard era begins. If Howard isn't traded, the Magic figure to do everything they can to build a championship contender around him. In my view though, that ship has sailed. I think the Magic should shop D12 this summer, take the best offer they get, and prepare to move forward with players who definitely want to be in Orlando, rather than endlessly trying to appease someone who can't make up his mind.
The Wizards haven't earned a playoff spot since the 2007/08 season, meaning their appearances at the draft lottery have been frequent in recent years. Owner Ted Leonsis tells Michael Lee of the Washington Post that he hopes this is the last time he'll have to attend the lottery, since "it's not a lot of fun" to keep sweating out the outcome of the ping pong balls. Leonsis also spoke at length about the direction of the franchise, addressing the third overall pick, the team's needs, and the head coach. Here are a few highlights....
On the third overall pick:
"We won’t be trading the third pick in the draft.... I don’t think we know who we’ll take with that pick. I think the workouts are really, really important and doing all of the interviews. And I want to spend a lot of time, making sure that the young men that we bring in fit culturally. We now have a really, really serious team. A team that wants to get better, wants to work really hard and that chemistry and that basketball IQ and that character level is really important to us as a team."
On coach Randy Wittman's future in Washington:
"Randy is under contract. And right now, he’s our coach. And I was very impressed with the job that Randy did. But more importantly, I was impressed during the exit interviews. To a man, the players all felt that the way that we played after the trade wasn’t fool’s gold. It wasn’t the end of the season and other teams weren’t trying. That this was a serious team. A team that was playing for one another.... The players really liked the coach and the staff. That speaks volumes on what decision we’ll have to make."
On what needs to be added to the Wizards' roster:
"We need more vets. We saw how the whole atmospherics of the locker room and the team changed when we brought in Nene. He’s a really, really solid player and I like that we are building a culture, where the team is first.... We’re going to continue to invest, continue to make big investments in player development. We know the D-League is very important. We know using stats and new technology will be very important for us. But I think we’ve now had our fill of young players."
On the upcoming offseason as a whole:
"[It's] going to be a busy offseason, certainly different from last offseason. Last offseason was very frustrating. We were in a lockout. We weren’t even able to talk to the players. This offseason, we’ve been able to program every single day for every young player. What they should be doing with strength and conditioning, with shooting coaches, where they should be in the summer league. We’re visiting them back in, so player development is really, really important. Free agency will be an exciting for us, too."
Comments of this nature are not allowed at Hoops Rumors: