Mayor Kevin Johnson conducted his "State of the City" address in Sacramento tonight to discuss the city's goal in preventing the Kings from moving to Seattle. As we relayed earlier, Mitch Richmond is set to join local investors in an attempt to buy the team along with Mark Mastrov, and Ron Burkle was revealed as a prominent figure in helping fund a new arena in Downtown Plaza. There were a plenty of updates during the speech, and you can find the more noteworthy links below:
10:51pm: The Bulls are in talks to sign Amundson, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who adds that a decision is expected on Friday.
8:16pm: Amundson's agent, Mark Bartelstein, acknowledges that while the Knicks are currently in the mix, his client is currently "close" to signing with another team (Ian Begley of ESPN New York tweets).
1:51pm: Since being cut by the Timberwolves nearly three weeks ago, Louis Amundson has yet to find another NBA job. However, the big man tells Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida that a few teams are interested in him, including the Heat, Knicks, Celtics, and Bulls.
The Heat, Celtics and Bulls all have open roster spots, while the Knicks would have to clear room on the roster to make a move. According to Amundson, New York is waiting to see how things work out with Kenyon Martin before making a decision. The Knicks could also waive Rasheed Wallace to clear a roster spot. As for the Heat, Amundson told Tomasson that there may be too much overlap between his skillset and Chris Andersen's. The Birdman recently signed with Miami for the remainder of the season.
While four Eastern Conference teams remain in the mix for Amundson, he was nearly sent to another Eastern club earlier this season. According to Amundson, a trade that would have sent him and Luke Ridnour to the Sixers for Spencer Hawes was nixed by Minnesota, out of concern that dealing Ridnour would leave the team thin at point guard while Ricky Rubio worked his way back to 100%.
Since he was released earlier in February, Amundson will be postseason-eligible for his next team even if he signs after tomorrow's buyout deadline.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his weekly appearance on WEEI radio in Boston to talk about what transpired during the trade deadline as well as his thoughts on the team moving forward. Greg Payne of ESPN Boston has the highlights, including Ainge's thoughts on why Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce weren't dealt, the CBA having a significant impact on the trade deadline, the long-standing interest in Jordan Crawford, and whether or not he would have been able to convince Garnett to waive his no-trade clause. Here's more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:
8:46pm: According to Mayor Johnson, former Kings star Mitch Richmond is one of the investors who will help with trying to buy the seven percent stake of the team that is currently in bankruptcy (Ken Berger of CBS Sports tweets). He also names Mastrov and Burkle as the other benefactors who are spearheading the city's bid to keep the Kings in Sacramento (Twitter links). Berger clarifies that Mastrov will be a majority investor in the team, while Burkle will help lead the new downtown arena project.
12:07pm: Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is scheduled to make his State of the City address tonight, and may reveal the identities of the investors he has recruited to make a counter-offer for the Kings, according to Tony Bizjak, Ryan Lillis, and Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee. The so-called "whales" are widely believed to be Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov, though Johnson has yet to confirm those reports.
While the Maloofs reached an exclusive agreement with Chris Hansen's Seattle group that prohibits them from negotiating with anyone else, the Kings majority owners are willing to accept "backup offers" for the franchise, a source tells the Bee. Whether an offer comes from Burkle and Mastrov or from minority owner John Kehriotis, who is said to be putting together a proposal of his own, it "would have to be a backup offer to the definitive agreement" between the Maloofs and the Seattle group, according to the source.
At least one Sacramento city council member, Steve Cohn, is intrigued by the push being made by Kehriotis to secure the necessary funds for an offer, since he wouldn't be seeking a public subsidy for a new arena. While Cohn is skeptical that Kehriotis can assemble all the financing, he notes that it would save Sacramento "a lot of money." Assuming the Burkle/Mastrov bid pursues a public subsidy, city officials have indicated they would provide up to $255MM, the amount provided for a proposed arena last spring, according to the Bee report.
Meanwhile, although one report suggested that Hansen's Seattle group never paid the $30MM non-refundable deposit that was due to the Maloofs by February 1st, Joe Maloof confirmed that the payment was in fact made, according to the Bee.
Ben Golliver of the Blazers Edge tweets that Shavlik Randolph, formerly of the Trail Blazers, Heat, and 76ers, is trying to get a letter of clearance from the Chinese Basketball Association and plans to sign with an NBA team within the next coming days. The 6'10 power forward joined the Wizards last fall but was waived before the start of the regular season.
Randolph has not appeared in an NBA game since April of 2010, and has since played in China and Puerto Rico. After three seasons at Duke, Randolph played 95 games across five NBA seasons, with career averages of 2.4 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 8.2 MPG. During the 2012-13 season for the Foshan Long Lions of the CBA, Randolph boasted averages of 32.0 PPG, 14.6 RPG, while shooting 49.5% from the field in 28 games.
While we've seen NBA-caliber players put up some inflated numbers in the CBA before, it should be noted that some of Randolph's competition have had significant NBA experience, including Eddy Curry, Ike Diogu, and Randolph Morris. One of Randolph's more notable performances was against newly-signed Celtics big man D.J. White (then with the Shanghai Sharks) earlier this month, putting up 38 points and 25 rebounds on 12-of-20 shooting from the field. With how well he's played in China, it isn't a surprise that some NBA teams would be interested in taking a look at what Randolph can bring to the table now.
Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld says that last week's quiet deadline could lead to a noisy offseason this year, with quite a handful of those who were rumored to be moved set to hit free agency. Kennedy provides a list of this summer's top 20 free agents along with a primer of each player's situation to boot. One interesting situation involves Oklahoma City's Kevin Martin, who has already been given the impression that the Thunder would like to keep him for the long-term. However, Kennedy opines that a strong post-season could increase the shooting guard's stock to the point where Oklahoma City may have to let him go - as they did with James Harden - if his price tag becomes too high. Here are a few more tidbits we've gathered up from the NBA this evening:
We may still have nearly a third of the NBA regular season left to play, but it won't be long before talk of this summer's draft starts to increase exponentially. With just three weeks until March Madness and the June draft less than four months away, the busy season is around the corner for ESPN.com's Chad Ford, who has a number of draft-related items up for us today. Let's round them up....
Our list of 2013/14 free agents not only includes players who are currently in the final year of their contracts, but also guys who have some form of option for next season attached to their deals. If those options are exercised, by either the player or team, a few more names will come off this summer's free agent list.
In addition to the players with option years, a number of players are on non-guaranteed contracts for next season. Their respective teams will have to decide by a particular date, which can vary from player to player, whether to guarantee those contracts for 2013/14 or to avoid a larger cap hit by releasing them.
Not all non-guaranteed contracts are created equal, however. Plenty of players have non-guaranteed minimum-salary contracts that simply serve as a way for a team to get an extra look at a player this summer before deciding whether or not to keep him on the roster. But the stakes are a bit higher for a veteran like Rodney Stuckey, who is owed $8.5MM next season -- only $4MM of that money is currently guaranteed, meaning the Pistons face a $4.5MM decision on whether to bring him back for next season.
Listed below are all the players believed to have non-guaranteed or partially-guaranteed contracts for '13/14. Unless otherwise indicated, the contracts are minimum-salary deals with no guarantee.
With Mike Krzyzewski likely having coached in his last Olympics, there's a "near-unanimous feeling in basketball circles" that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is the logical choice to replace him for 2016, writes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. But a source briefed on internal discussions regarding Coach K's replacement tells Berger that Celtics coach Doc Rivers shouldn't be ruled out.
"With Doc, I think it would keep the same chemistry going," a source told Berger. "If Pop comes in, he would want his own way of doing it - kind of the Spurs' secretive way of doing things - and out of Jerry [Colangelo]'s norm."
As Rivers and the Celtics prepare for tomorrow night's game against the Warriors, let's check in on a few other items from around the Atlantic Division:
We'll track today's D-League assignments and recalls here, with any additional moves listed at the top of the page: