After indulging in his love of soccer to make a cross-sport comparison of LeBron James and Lionel Messi, Marc Stein of ESPN.com delivers his usual assortment of juicy NBA rumors from around the league as part of his Weekend Dime. Here are the highlights:
- One NBA GM believes Serge Ibaka would have been worth a maximum-salary contract had he not signed a $49.4MM extension with the Thunder this past offseason. I took an early look this evening at some of this summer's rookie-scale extension candidates.
- The Mavs recently tried to free former NBA point guard Bobby Brown from his deal with Italian club Montepaschi Siena, but the potential buyout would have been too costly. Several teams have interest in Brown, 28, who's expected to return to the NBA next season. He's averaging 17.7 points and 4.4 assists this season in Italy.
- Raja Bell confirms, as we've heard, that he would have taken a buyout from the Jazz before the March 1st playoff eligibility deadline if he had an offer from another team already lined up, and that the Lakers' concerns about the luxury tax have precluded L.A. from signing him. He also said he's open to joining a team this season even though he wouldn't be eligible for the playoffs.
- Had the Nets held on to their first-round draft pick last year instead of trading it away in the Gerald Wallace deal, they likely would have passed on presumptive Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard in favor of Tyler Zeller, since they figured incumbent point guard Deron Williams would re-sign.
- Stein takes the Bulls to task for not making it clear that they're OK with Derrick Rose if he doesn't come back this season. Rose is angry that the perception that he's the only one holding up his return has been allowed to build. A source tells Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com that "a lot of people have to sign off" before he could come back.