Only one Southeast team is in action tonight, and while much has been made of the poor performance by Eastern Conference teams so far this season, a win by the Bobcats today would increase the Southeast’s overall winning percentage to a respectable .500. It’ll be a tough task for the Bobcats though, as they play in Chicago against a Bulls team coming off a win against the previously undefeated Pacers. As we look forward to seeing if Charlotte can pull off an upset, here are a few notes from around the Bobcats’ division:
- According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Arron Afflalo drew “lots of interest” over the summer, but the Magic ultimately elected not to move him.
- David Beckham is looking to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Miami, and may end up working with LeBron James, according to Alex Miller of the Daily Mail. While the potential partnership doesn’t mean anything tangible at this point, the fact that LeBron is pursuing a Miami project may bode well for the Heat‘s chances of keeping him beyond this season.
- No NBA team was caught off guard by the incredible collection of talent on display at the NCAA’s Champions Classic in Chicago last week. Nonetheless, seeing all of those prospects in one place could have influenced the plans of an NBA team like the Hawks, as one team executive tells David Aldridge of NBA.com: “The only thing about Chicago that’s interesting is if it changes Atlanta’s plans, or someone’s, who says ‘Ah, screw it, let’s just start selling players.’”
While the Jazz and Gordon Hayward fell short of agreeing on a contract extension last week, both Hayward and the franchise are still interested in getting something done eventually. Hayward told Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: “(Not reaching an agreement) in no way changes the way I feel about Utah at all…I love being here. I love playing for them…Hopefully (an extension) will get worked out next summer.”
Utah GM Dennis Lindsey had this to say about Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein and future negotiations: “Mark’s been one of the best agents in the business because he negotiates hard. He was fair. He played by the rules. He’ll continue to play by the rules. We’ll be fair as well, and we’ll come back and start talking in July…Just because (Hayward) said no to our last offer, his character hasn’t changed. He is an outstanding person…He’s someone we can see being in a Utah Jazz jersey until he retires. That’s our hope. We think we’re great fits.”
We have a handful of miscellaneous news and notes to pass along tonight, and you can read them below:
- ESPN LA’s Arash Markazi weighed in on some of the rumblings which suggest that Steve Nash could eventually wind up in Toronto, saying that a deal between the Raptors and Lakers makes sense but isn’t sure if something gets done. Markazi opines that L.A. would like to clear Nash’s salary off their books while the Raptors would enjoy increased ticket sales by bringing the Canadian legend back to his home country (All Twitter links).
- Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld tweeted a list of players who may be traded this season, including: Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis, Evan Turner, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass, and Gerald Wallace.
- Kennedy also shared what 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams told him about his chances on winning the Rookie of the Year Award: “I think I have a pretty good chance at it. I’m just going to go out there, play my game and hope for the best” (Twitter link).
- Entering tonight’s game with a record of 1-2 before their win against the Wizards, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade acknowledged that some minor chemistry issues are affecting the team (Michael Wallace of ESPN.com). More specifically, Wade had this to say: “Let me give you an example…If you’re in a relationship with a woman for a long time, you start getting comfortable. You stop doing the little things that you should do, that you did in the beginning. It’s just like a relationship. We got a little comfortable. Now we have to get back on that edge a little bit.”
- Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes that Knicks forwards Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin will have their own individualized schedules as far as playing or sitting out games, a decision meant to preserve the health of both in the long run.
- Mavericks point man Jose Calderon appears to be regaining his groove after a sluggish start to the season, writes Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram.
Now that Chris Paul has been elected as the new president of the NBA Player's Association, the union's next order of business involves finding an executive director, and the search is expected to be thorough, writes Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld. According to Kyler, the hope among players and agents is that the NBPA's new leadership can change what has become a very adversial relationship with the league, so that when the two sides negotiate the next CBA (likely in 2017), they'll enter negotiations with some good will.
In addition to discussing the NBPA, Kyler also explored a few potential trade situations worth watching, so let's round up his key points….
- The Cavaliers have plenty of health questions surrounding players like Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao, and Anthony Bennett entering training camp. However, if the team enters the season relatively healthy, there may not be enough frontcourt minutes to go around for those guys, plus Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller, meaning trade opportunities could arise.
- There's "little doubt" that the Magic would like to move Glen Davis, according to Kyler. Davis is coming off foot surgery, but if he's on the court and is reasonably productive by February, he'd become a strong trade candidate.
- Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo are also worth keeping an eye on, says Kyler. The Magic like Nelson's leadership qualities, and have indicated that Afflalo is a long-term piece, but both guys would have trade value if the club decided to make them available.
- Kyle Lowry and head coach Dwane Casey didn't always see eye-to-eye last season, and both are in the final year of their contracts with the Raptors. Kyler suggests that if the season gets off to a rough start in Toronto, the club could part ways with one or both of them.
- The Raptors will also have to decide whether Rudy Gay is a core piece, since he has the ability to opt out of his contract next summer. Gay was acquired by old GM Bryan Colangelo, so it's unclear if new head of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is interested in keeping Gay long-term or if he may shop him.
A few random notes from around the league:
- Hoopsworld.com's Yannis Koutroupis has a piece on Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, who enters next season with a crowded front court and serious questions about his team's direction.
- SheridanHoops.com's Chris Bernucca wonders if the days of one player making over $30MM in a single season are over.
- Hoopsworld.com's Steve Kyler speaks with several young NBA players, including Arron Afflalo, Derrick Favors, and Jerryd Bayless about their expectations for next season, how they deal with trade rumors, and more.
- Xavier Henry, a former lottery pick and three-year veteran, has been impressive in Los Angeles pick up games this summer, but still hasn't latched on with a team. That could change shortly, tweets ESPNNY.com's Jared Zwerling.
- Free agent forward Brian Cook has switched agents. He's now represented by Herb Rudoy, according to HoopsHype.com. Rudoy counts Manu Ginobili and Luol Deng as two of his other clients.
Most of the news and rumors we're passing along today relate to free agency, but during the July moratorium, it's likely we'll see a few trades agreed upon as well. Let's round up a few of today's reports on potential trade possibilities….
- Ostensibly, the Trail Blazers' acquisition of Thomas Robinson allows the Rockets to clear the cap room to make a max offer to Dwight Howard. However, the underrated aspect of the deal, according to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, is that the Rockets could look to move Omer Asik if they land Howard. Haynes says Portland is "closely monitoring" that situation, since the big man would be the kind of rim-protecting defensive specialist the club has been lacking.
- The Clippers and Magic are still discussing a potential deal that would send Arron Afflalo to L.A. for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler, says Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). However, before getting serious about Afflalo, the Clippers figure to make a run at free agent shooting guards such as O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen.
- A source tells Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link) that while the Knicks haven't offered Tyson Chandler in any trade talks, the team wouldn't be opposed to moving him in the right offer. I'm guessing Chandler will stay put, but as their acquisition of Andrea Bargnani showed, the Knicks are willing to get creative to try to improve their roster.
8:32pm: The Magic continue to explore their options with the No. 2 pick, tweets HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy.
8:04pm: The Magic have no trades in the works and expect to use the No. 2 overall pick for themselves Thursday, sources tell Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel tweeted earlier this evening that though little is certain surrounding the team, it will not trade up to get the No. 1 pick.
3:10pm: Few, if any, trade rumors have surfaced more frequently over the last several days than one connecting Eric Bledsoe to the Magic and Arron Afflalo to the Clippers. However, according to Magic GM Rob Hennigan, he'd be "stunned" if his team made a deal with L.A. on or before draft night, since he hasn't talked trade with the Clips in about three weeks (Twitter links via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel).
Although Hennigan downplayed the possibility of a trade with the Clippers, that doesn't mean the Magic won't be active this week. According to the GM, there are some tempting offers on the table for his team, with the Orlando front office seriously considering "three or four" different possibilities (Twitter links via John Denton of Magic.com).
Hennigan didn't go into specifics about the proposals on the table for the Magic, but it's a good bet that most or all of them include the No. 2 overall pick — reports earlier today indicated that the Magic were weighing the possibility of trading down in the draft. The Timberwolves are among the teams believed to be interested in trading up, reportedly dangling the ninth and 26th overall picks along with Derrick Williams.
In other roster-building news for the Magic, Hennigan suggested that Orlando is unlikely to use its mid-level exception in free agency this summer, according to Robbins (via Twitter).
9:55pm: According to Orlando Sentinel reporter Joshua Robbins, any deal involving Afflalo and Bledsoe is not imminent.
7:56pm: The Clippers and Magic are further discussing a trade that could happen on or before draft day that would send Arron Afflalo, Andrew Nicholson, and a draft pick to Los Angeles for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler, according to ESPN.com's Chad Ford, Ramona Shelburne, and Marc Stein.
Those are the pieces believed to be involved in current talks, but there are still a variety of alternatives, with Bledsoe and Afflalo being the two main figures.
Now that Doc Rivers has become the Clippers head coach, assuring Chris Paul will re-sign for five more years, Bledsoe is no longer needed as insurance. He's still incredibly talented and would help the Clippers in the short term, but the Magic are one of a half dozen teams pursuing Bledsoe's services.
It'd be wise for Los Angeles to cash out on their asset before he hits restricted free agency, maximizing their return to fill a larger need.
With the 2013 draft now just two days away, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld tackled some of the most frequently mentioned trade rumors, passing along the latest updates he's heard on Eric Bledsoe, Shawn Marion, and others in today's NBA AM piece. Here are the highlights:
- A rumored deal that would send Bledsoe and Caron Butler to the Magic in exchange for Arron Afflalo may also include Andrew Nicholson and/or a 2015 draft pick going to the Clippers, says Kyler. L.A. appears to be exploring all its options for Bledsoe, but if no team tops Orlando's offer, a trade could happen on draft night.
- While the Mavericks are denying that Marion would be attached to a deal involving the No. 13 pick, Kyler is hearing that there are two scenarios on the table that include Marion and the pick. One is with the Cavaliers, while the other is with the Pelicans. A Marion deal isn't necessarily Cleveland's top priority, however, and the fact that Marion has yet to officially exercise his 2013/14 player option may also be complicating discussions.
- The Warriors would like to trade into the draft and pick up a late first-round pick, but given the team's proximity to the tax line, adding a guaranteed rookie salary to the books may not make sense for Golden State.
- Breaking down the latest Luol Deng rumors, Kyler notes that it makes sense for Deng to play out the final year of his contract with the Bulls, but adds that he's heard a couple sources describe an eventual Deng trade as "inevitable."
- Following up on the rumor that the Cavaliers tried to acquire LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyler says there are rumblings the Suns made a play for Aldridge as well. It seems unlikely that the Trail Blazers would move the big man at this point, but there's certainly a market for him.
- Kyler confirms that the Timberwolves, who have been very aggressive over the last few weeks, tried to make a play for MarShon Brooks involving the No. 26 pick.
While the Heat can’t and won’t do too much to shake up their roster this summer, they do have some important decisions to make as they chase their third consecutive NBA title. Five Miami veterans in total will be eligible for free agency but there’s one in particular that is a higher priority than the others. Here’s more out of Miami and Orlando..
- Not a shocker, but Chris Andersen confirmed to Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida (via Twitter) that he wants to re-sign with the Heat when the free agency period kicks off on July 1st. “He put it clearly,’’ said agent Mark Bryant of his client’s stated desire to return for a three-peat next year. “(The Heat) gave him an opportunity and he absolutely wants to come back.’’ The most the Heat could pay Andersen next season is their taxpayer midlevel exception of $3.183MM. Meanwhile, the least they could pay is the veteran minimum of $1.4MM.
- The Magic‘s pursuit of Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe continues and reports of a draft day deal sending him and Caron Butler to Orlando for Arron Afflalo has legs, tweets Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld. The Magic have been aggressive in looking at trades in addition to draft prospects and a Bledsoe package could be part of bigger deal (link).
- The Magic need a young point guard but it doesn’t seem like they’ll reach and take one at No. 2, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.
The Magic appear to have heavy interest in acquiring Eric Bledsoe in return for Arron Afflalo, according to Joe Kotoch of SheridanHoops.com, who delivers his latest mock draft. That jibes with the notion that the Clippers are holding out for an additional asset in the rumored trade proposal, which would also send Caron Butler to Orlando. Kotoch adds that Cavs executive Zydrunas Ilgauskas is pushing Cleveland to take Alex Len first overall. Here's more from around the NBA:
- The Nuggets plan for most of their interviews for a new GM to occur once the team hires a coach, reports Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. Wednesday's scheduled meeting with Lionel Hollins will be the first formal interview the team will conduct for the coaching job, and it's unclear when any other candidates will be interviewed, Dempsey notes.
- Nuggets president Josh Kroenke tells Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post that he wouldn't have allowed a team other than the Raptors to have permission to speak with former GM Masai Ujiri. Kroenke admits he put himself in a difficult position because of his friendship with Ujiri, who had a soft spot for the Raptors organization for which he worked once before.
- The Rockets have paid the luxury tax just once in the 15 seasons its been in existence, but owner Leslie Alexander tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that he'd be "thrilled to pay a tax if we have a championship-caliber team."
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News glances at the personnel decisions facing the Spurs this summer once the Finals are over.
- Tyson Chandler tells Marc Berman of the New York Post that he tried all season long to convince former teammate and new Nets head coach Jason Kidd not to end his playing career. Chandler doesn't believe Kidd's 10-game scoreless streak in the postseason influenced his decision.
- Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com checks in with free agent center Jerome Jordan, who'll be playing in summer leagues for both the Knicks and Pacers and will also take part in mini-camps with the Spurs and Mavericks.
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun figures the Raptors may carry only 13 players next season, given their proximity to tax territory (Twitter links).