The latest news from around the NBA on Friday evening:
The latest news and notes around the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday evening:
The latest news and notes around the Western Conference on Friday evening:
The Associated Press reports (link via ESPN.com) that investor Chris Hansen has released a set of preliminary design plans for a new arena to be built in Seattle, which he hopes to have occupied by an NBA team.
According to the report, Hansen has offered three possible design plans for the arena. The city's design review board is expected to review the released plans on December 11.
Funding for a new multi-purpose arena capable of hosting NBA and NHL teams was approved by the city of Seattle on October 15. NBA commissioner David Stern is known to strongly desire an NBA return to Seattle, which has been without a team since the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.
Earlier today, I asked Hoops Rumors readers whether Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was in the wrong for sending his star players home before last night's game against the Heat. Over 83% of respondents so far have sided with Popovich rather than with commissioner David Stern, who called Pop's decision "unacceptable." Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports agrees with you in his take on the subject, calling Stern's statement a "temper tantrum that left everyone around him embarrassed, humiliated and wondering why he insisted on staying until February of 2014."
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA as we prepare for the weekend:
It's not often that all five teams from one division are favorites on a given night, but that's exactly the case for the Atlantic's clubs this evening. Even the 3-13 Raptors are slight favorites at home against a Suns team coming off a 40-point loss in Detroit. While we wait to see if the Atlantic squads can go five-for-five tonight, let's round up a few Friday afternoon items out of the division:
Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team's offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.
Trades and Claims
Rookie Contract Option Decisions
It's been a rough few years for the Kings, who haven't qualified for the postseason since the 2005/06 season, and have had five different coaches patrol the sidelines since that point. After they finished the 2011/12 season with a 22-44 record, it wasn't realistic to expect the Kings to formulate an overnight fix this offseason. The best one could hope for was a few smart decisions that put the team on the right track.
With that in mind, it was a moderately successful offseason for the Kings. Heading into the draft, Thomas Robinson was considered perhaps the most sure-thing prospect not named Anthony Davis, so nabbing him at No. 5 was viewed as a coup. Sacramento also got a good price for Aaron Brooks, who returned from an impressive stint in China to ink an affordable two-year deal. And in exchange for a future second-round pick, the Kings acquired James Johnson, an all-around contributor on a small salary whose career PER had been steadly on the rise. If Sacramento decides Johnson isn't a part of the team's long-term plan, his contract expires at season's end, so the club could trade him or let him walk.
The Kings' new contract with Jason Thompson was a little more perplexing. A $6MM annual salary for even a modestly productive big man isn't a bad price by any means, and with few free agents clamoring to come to Sacramento, retaining players is important for the Kings. Still, five years is a significant commitment for a player who has yet to show he can be more than a decent rotation piece. By comparison, J.J. Hickson signed a one-year, $4MM deal with the Trail Blazers. Hickson is two years younger than Thompson, and their numbers over the last three seasons are fairly similar -- Hickson has posted 10.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and a 15.3 PER against Thompson's 10.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 14.8 PER.
Even if Thompson's contract is questionable compared to the team's other fairly solid moves, it's Thompson's deal that more accurately reflects the decisions the Kings have made in the past few years. Sacramento's cap is weighed down by a number of bad contracts, such as John Salmons', Francisco Garcia's, and Travis Outlaw's. Even the players on reasonable contracts don't mesh well together, with Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, and DeMarcus Cousins among the other Kings vying for shots.
There are certainly talented players on the Kings' roster, but bad contracts and poor fits have kept the team from developing into a real postseason contender. Disregarding chemistry and simply bringing in talent hasn't worked for Sacramento yet, so it was a positive sign to see the team not rushing to extend Evans this summer. Since his standout rookie season, Evans' specific role with the Kings has been unclear, with his development slowed by the lack of a true position or complementary personnel around him. It's possible the Kings could still lock Evans up next summer if he takes a step forward this year, but the team was wise to keep its options open, and could field trade offers at February's deadline.
With Salmons, Thornton, Chuck Hayes, and many more players on this year's roster under contract through next season as well, the Kings don't have the cap flexibility going forward that you'd like to see from a rebuilding team. Their best chance at turning things around may involve building around Cousins, and bringing in the pieces necessary to support him. If Evans and Fredette can't be those guys, they represent Sacramento's most valuable trade chips.
Outside of a surprising long-term deal for Thompson, the 2012 offseason didn't include any real head-scratchers for the Kings, and Robinson has a chance to be a very good NBA player. But given the bad contracts and bad fits that were already in place before the offseason began, this summer's moves don't change the Kings' outlook a whole lot. This is still a club headed for the lottery in 2013.
Let's round up some of Friday's notes from a few non-NBA leagues around the globe....
The Warriors have officially assigned rookie Kent Bazmore to their D-League affiliate, the team announced today in a press release. Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group first reported that the team would send Bazemore to the Santa Cruz Warriors today.
Bazemore, an undrafted rookie out of Old Dominion, was invited to Warriors camp in the fall and was a somewhat unexpected addition to the regular season roster. Although he's appeared in six games for Golden State, Bazemore hasn't seen much action, failing to score his first NBA points in about 10 total minutes of play.
Bazemore is the first Warriors player to be assigned to the team's single-affiliate D-League squad in Santa Cruz.
When I made my predictions for the 2012/13 NBA season, I anticipated the Spurs and Heat meeting in next June's NBA Finals. Given how far off the rails many of my other predictions have already gone, I don't expect that one to pan out either, but the two teams are off to good enough starts that it's still a real possibility. As such, last night's Spurs/Heat game in Miami had the chance to be a Finals preview.
Well, except for the fact that Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Danny Green weren't in the building, having been sent home by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich earlier in the day. The Spurs still managed to make things interesting, holding a lead late in the game, but the Heat eventually closed out a 105-100 victory.
Reactions around the league to Popovich's decision have been divided, with some defending his decision to rest his stars during a stretch when the Spurs were required to play four road games in five nights.
"I don’t think Pop was in the wrong," said LeBron James. "It’s not in the rules to tell you that you can’t not send your guys here or send your guys home. But the commissioner will make his decision and everybody else will deal with it."
Indeed, NBA commissioner David Stern took exception to Popovich's approach, releasing an official statement prior to the game to express his displeasure: "I apologize to all NBA fans. This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming."
Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel agreed with Stern, arguing that Popovich was thumbing his nose at paying fans and TNT, each of whom support the NBA and help "pay all the ridiculous salaries." On the other hand, as LeBron pointed out, there's certainly no rule that says the league has the right to step in and tell a coach how to manage his team -- Popovich rested his starters on multiple occasions last season, and the NBA didn't say anything about it.
Where do you fall on this issue? Do you mind Popovich sending healthy players home?