Western Notes: Mavs, Grizzlies, Aldridge, Barea

Charlie Villanueva has impressed Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, who insists Villanueva’s lack of guaranteed money won’t prevent the team from keeping him for opening night, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com chronicles.

“It’s going to come down to who plays the best, who fills needs,” Carlisle said. “And we’ll go from there. Mark [Cuban]’s the kind of owner, he’s not going to let a few dollars get in the way of keeping the right team together.” 

Still, it’d cost the Mavs, who have 15 guaranteed contracts plus partial guarantees with Eric Griffin and Ivan Johnson, at least $991,482 in dead money to waive the players necessary for them to keep Villanueva, unless they can work out some sort of trade. While we wait to see just how much Cuban is willing to sacrifice, here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace told Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal that he wasn’t explicitly told not to perform his duties while former CEO Jason Levien was in charge of the team, as Tillery writes in a subscription-only piece. Wallace clarified that he made his own choice to remove himself from player personnel, Tillery notes. Wallace also made a run at openings with the Kings last year and Cavs earlier this year, according to Tillery.
  • The new TV deal won’t affect LaMarcus Aldridge‘s plan to sign a long-term deal with the Blazers this summer, a source tells The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman, pointing out that the maximum salary goes up as the salary cap does. Still, it’s worth noting that cap figures only affect the amount of a max contract for the first season of the deal, and since it appears unlikely the cap will rise dramatically until the summer of 2016, there’s still plenty of incentive for Aldridge to sign a short-term deal instead.
  • Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders didn’t seem merely to be trying to up J.J. Barea‘s trade value when he said the guard was one of the team’s best performers in camp again this year, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
  • The NBA’s national TV deal isn’t the only one due for a sharp increase, as some predictions have the Clippers local TV rights fees increasing to $80MM annually from the $20MM the team receives each year under the current arrangement, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. The existing deal is up after the 2015/16 season, Kennedy notes (on Twitter).

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