As tonight’s NBA action begins to wind down, let’s take a look at a few tidbits from around the Eastern Conference..
- The Heat and Pacers might be fighting for the top seed in the East, but LeBron James is still open to the idea of mentoring Paul George in the offseason, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. George had expressed interest in the possibility of learning anything he could from James this summer to Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders.
- The Pistons are no strangers to losing this season, and Chauncey Billups doesn’t think some of his teammates are bothered by their poor play, writes Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News. “The thing I hate, to be honest with you, is that losing don’t really hurt to a lot of our guys,” Billups said. “People don’t take it personal, and if you don’t, people will beat you every night. Because everybody needs a win, no matter if you’re on a winning streak or losing streak.”
- Sacramento was looking to move Marcus Thornton all season long, and the Nets are happy to have acquired him. Thornton has averaged 13.4 points in just 23 minutes per contest over five games. Brian Lewis of the New York Post breaks down Thornton’s game and explores the value he’s brought to Brooklyn so far.
- With Derrick Rose sidelined, the Bulls have had to rely on more production from Joakim Noah. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times thinks Rose’s absence has forced all of the players on the team to improve.
The Nets have signed Jorge Gutierrez to a 10-day contract, the team announced via Twitter. The move had appeared likely last night after Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported that the Nets preferred Gutierrez to Darius Johnson-Odom as they sought a 15th player. Brooklyn had been keeping an open roster spot, with 13 guaranteed contracts and Jason Collins on his second 10-day deal.
Gutierrez, who’s set to become the fourth Mexican-born player to take part in an official NBA game, was with the Nets during the preseason. Though he saw limited action in exhibition games, his performance during camp was key in the team’s decision to bring him back. The 25-year-old has spent time the past two seasons with the D-League affiliate of the Cavs, and he’s averaged 13.9 points and 6.9 assists in 32.7 minutes per game so far this year.
The 6’3″ Gutierrez went undrafted in 2012 out of Cal, where he received Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors. He’s seen short minutes in summer league with the Nuggets and Kings the past two offseasons.
10:58pm: Stein tweets that he’s hearing Gutierrez is the player likely to be signed, his good training camp showing with the team giving him the edge.
07:06pm: The Nets, who just inked Jason Collins to his second 10-day contract may be planning on bringing in another body on a 10-day contract, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The team has just recently worked out both Jorge Gutierrez and Darius Johnson-Odom. The team currently has 14 players on the roster, with one open slot.
Gutierrez has been playing with the Canton Charge this year after being in camp with the Nets back in October. In 35 games in the D-League, he’s averaged 13.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.9 APG in 32.7 MPG. Gutierrez went undrafted in 2012, and has also played for the Nuggets Summer League team.
Johnson-Odom was selected 55th overall in the the 2012 draft by the Mavs, who immediately traded him to the Lakers. He was waived by the team after appearing in only four games, back in January of 2013. Johnson-Odom then spent the remainder of last year playing in Russia with Spartak St. Petersburg. He then played summer league ball for the Celtics, before signing and later being released by the Lakers. Johnson-Odom has been playing for the Springfield Armor since January 3rd. In 25 games he’s averaged 22.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.0 APG in 36.3 MPG.
WEDNESDAY, 9:12am: The Nets have officially signed Collins to a second 10-day deal, the team announced.
MARCH 3RD: The Nets will sign Collins to a second 10-day contract, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The signing will take place Wednesday, the day after his first deal ends.
FEBRUARY 27TH: Jason Collins is only four days and a pair of games into his first 10-day contract with the Nets, but it appears the team is ready to make a fuller commitment to the 35-year-old center. Brooklyn is “all but certain” to re-sign Collins for the rest of the season, writes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. It’s not clear whether a contract for the balance of 2013/14 would come at the expiration of his current 10-day deal, or after the team issues him a second 10-day contract.
Collins made history shortly after signing Sunday when he entered Brooklyn’s game against the Lakers, becoming the first openly gay athlete to play in one of the four major North American professional sports. He’s had much less of an impact in box scores, having yet to tally a single point while grabbing just two rebounds in 18 total minutes. Still, Collins has long been known mostly for his inside presence and screen-setting, and has yet to reach 100 total points in any season since 2007/08.
The Nets still have an open roster spot even after the addition of Collins, so keeping him for the season won’t do much to hamper the team’s flexibility. Brooklyn is more than $30MM over the tax line, meaning the team is in line to pay $4.75 in tax for each dollar it spends. That didn’t stop the Nets from pursuing Jordan Hill and his $3.5MM salary before the trade deadline, so they probably won’t blink at what would likely be a minimum-salary arrangement for Collins that covers the rest of the season.
The Nets didn’t end up taking on Jordan Hill and the $17MM tax hit he would have cost them, but their expenditure in the deal to add Marcus Thornton prompted “a lot of angry eye-rolling” from other teams, writes Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Brooklyn’s lavish spending could push the league into another work stoppage in 2017 in an effort to cut off the Nets’ spending, Lowe adds.
Here’s what else we’ve gathered from around the Atlantic Division tonight.
- Attorney Michael McCann, in a piece for SI.com, lays out the Knicks’ options amid legal trouble for Raymond Felton. The 29-year-old point guard – facing two counts of weapon possession – posted bail earlier this afternoon and will be due in court next on June 2nd, tweets ESPN New York’s Ian Begley. It’s also worth noting that according to the law under which he was charged, Felton could avoid jail time even if he’s convicted of his felonies, says Scott Cacciola of the New York Times (Twitter link).
- A panel of ESPN experts weigh in on the future and current state of Knicks basketball – discussing Felton’s situation, what organizational changes need to be made, and if Carmelo Anthony should leave New York.
- 76ers head coach Brett Brown tells Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times: “You’re going to see a lot of people come in here over the last 25 games” (Twitter link).
- Brown also tells Moore (via Twitter) that 6’8″ forward Hollis Thompson is a “keeper.”
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Celtics second round pick Colton Iverson is working hard in Turkey in an effort to get himself in position to jump to the NBA, writes Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders. “It’s great to know that they’re still supporting me, watching me evaluating me, helping me think about ways that I can better,” Iverson said. “I know they’re really invested in me right now; I am going to try and put in the hard work and do everything I can to be ready, when they are ready for me be to be ready for them. I am going to keep working every day. Knowing that they have my back and are supporting me right now is a great motivation and I’ll keep working harder than ever before.” More from around the NBA..
- It sounds very unlikely that the Nets will make a run at keeping Metta World Peace in New York City, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (on Twitter) says Brooklyn has zero interest. MWP probably doesn’t mind since he reportedly has his eye on the Thunder, Heat, and Spurs.
- Jerel McNeal is back with the Bakersfield Jam of the D-League, a source tells Gino Pilato of D-League Digest. McNeal played in China earlier this season for Zhejiang Chouzhou and averaged 21.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 15 games. Last season for Bakersfield, the Marquette averaged 18.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 44 games. He also earned a call-up with the Jazz at the end of March.
- Expect the Clippers to make a move on another player or two during buyout season, tweets Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Doc Rivers has said that he will continue to monitor the market, even after picking up Glen Davis.
- Lakers newcomer Kent Bazemore used to get attention for his enthusiasm on the bench, but now he’s getting attention through his strong play, writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. The guard has averaged 16 points and 31 minutes in two games with L.A.
Will Luol Deng stay in Cleveland beyond this year? While there has been speculation that he’ll bolt this summer, execs tell Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio the Cavs can hang on to him if things change. That means getting hot to close out the season and possibly shaking up the roster/coaching staff. More from Amico’s column..
- Most execs feel LeBron James will either return to the Heat or shock everyone and aim for the ultimate redemption story by returning to the Cavs. The Heat, however, are believed to be way in front of everyone.
- One GM told Amico that it’s hard to know whether the Lakers are a real possibility for Carmelo Anthony or if it’s just wishful thinking from Lakers fans.
- It seems most GMs feel Chris Bosh, and not Anthony, is the second biggest potential prize on the upcoming market. But if James goes back to the Heat, Bosh will, too. If James flees Miami, the Lakers are secretly interested, sources tell Amico.
- Kobe Bryant is probably the only one who can convince Pau Gasol to stay with the Lakers. Gasol would love a return to Memphis, but the Grizzlies aren’t exactly big spenders.
- If Kevin Garnett retires, Amico gets the sense that fellow Nets vet Paul Pierce could wind up anywhere.
Danny Granger was the biggest name involved in a deadline deal and Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee explains why that might have been the case. “We’ve seen a trend toward teams being much more cautious and careful about how aggressive they are about trading for longer-term contracts, and that’s because of the luxury tax,” Tom Penn, an ESPN analyst and former Blazers vice president of basketball operations told Jones. “The other major change in the new deal is draft picks have become more coveted, and that’s because teams can no longer throw cash into trades as aggressively.” The old CBA allowed clubs to include as much as $3MM in a trade. The current CBA says that teams can only trade up to $3.2MM on the year. More from around the league..
- The Cavs announced that they have recalled Arinze Onuaku from the Canton Charge of the D-League. Onuaku has appeared in 27 games for the Charge this season with averages of 14.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG and 1.0 BPG in 24.2 MPG.
- Even with the Nets‘ signing of Jason Collins and the Clippers’ agreement with Glen Davis, those teams are still possible destinations for Ivan Johnson, tweets Shams Charania of RealGM.com.
- Charania spoke with Kenneth Faried about all the trade talk surrounding him leading up to the trade deadline on Thursday. “I’m not surprised at all that my name was in trade situations, because I am a good player and people do want me,” the Nuggets forward said. “It just makes me that much more aware of how many other teams want me and like me.”
- Sometimes, the best moves are the ones that you don’t make. Bill Ingram of Basketball Insiders argues that the Rockets didn’t need a blockbuster deal at the deadline.
- Keith Schlosser of Knicks Journal wonders if the Knicks would have signed Collins.
Earlier today, the Nets and Jason Collins made history together when the center inked a 10-day deal to become the first openly gay athlete in one of America’s four major leagues. Collins, 35, has been out of the NBA since completing the 2012/13 season with the Wizards but he should bring hard-nosed defense and veteran leadership to the 25-28 Nets. Here’s a look at some of the latest reaction and fallout..
- Clippers coach Doc Rivers admitted to reporters, including Jeff Caplan of NBA.com (via Twitter), that he’s been in contact with the big man about playing with Los Angeles. Rivers, who is expected to officially add Glen Davis to his roster later today, says he’s happy for Collins and glad to see him join Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in Brooklyn.
- Newly-minted commish Adam Silver issued a statement on the signing this afternoon. ”Jason told us that his goal was to earn another contract with an NBA team,” Silver said. “Today, I want to commend him on achieving his goal. I know everyone in the NBA family is excited for him and proud that our league fosters an inclusive and respectful environment.”
- Collins’ deal may be making history, but Nets GM Billy King is insistent that it wasn’t about breaking barriers. ”The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,” King said in the press release. “We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract.”
- Mark Madsen, Collins’ former teammate at Stanford, had dinner with the newest Net a few months ago and was struck by how good of shape he was in, tweets Bill Oram of the Orange County Register. The Nets are getting a “skilled leader, a skilled defender for a bargain price,” said the former center (link).
- Since the news broke Thursday the Nets were a potential landing spot for Collins, every player on the team has been uniform in agreeing Collins would be welcomed with open arms, writes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post.
- Sam Amick of USA Today notes that Collins has built up a reputation as a classy professional over the course of his career.
2:16pm: The Nets announced the deal via press release, making it official.
12:07pm: Jason Collins has reached an agreement on a 10-day contract with the Nets, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. This makes Collins the first openly gay athlete to play in one of the four major professional sports. Collins revealed he is a homosexual after finishing last season with the Wizards. According to Wojnarowski, Collins will be in uniform and available to play tonight against the Lakers at the Staples Center.
After Glen Davis decided to sign with the Clippers, the Nets moved onto Plan B, which was bringing Collins back into the NBA, according to the article. Financial details have not been disclosed, nor has the team officially announced the signing. Collins is represented by Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group.
Collins, 35, has been out of the NBA since completing the 2012/13 season with the Wizards. Collins played parts of seven years with the Nets between 2001-08, and his ex-teammate, Jason Kidd, now the Nets coach, has been in favor of signing him. Collins played with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce with the Celtics during the 2012/2013 season, and both players have been advocates for bringing him to Brooklyn.
In 713 career games, the 35-year old has averaged 3.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.9 APG, in 20.8 MPG. The Nets have been in search of a big man since before the trade deadline passed on Thursday, and that need was heightened after sending Reggie Evans to the Kings as part of the trade that brought Marcus Thornton to Brooklyn.
Zach Links contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.