Paul Pierce can envision playing for the Celtics again, and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge can see Pierce returning to Boston, too, if the price and circumstances are right, as Ainge said this morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, tweets Ben Rohrbach of WEEI. The 36-year-old Pierce becomes a free agent in the summer, though the Nets would like to re-sign him, too.
Pierce spent all 15 of his NBA seasons with the Celtics before they traded him to the Nets this past summer. He talked teammate Kevin Garnett into waiving his no-trade clause to help facilitate the move, but Pierce was emotional upon his return to Boston to play against the Celtics this season, and said he never wanted to leave. Much of Pierce’s decision this summer might come down to whether Garnett, who has one more year left on his contract, retires at the end of this season.
The Nets have Pierce’s full Bird rights, though it’s almost certain that he’ll have to take a pay cut from his current salary of more than $15.3MM. The Celtics have about $45MM in commitments for next season, though that doesn’t include the rookie salary for Boston’s lottery pick and a $3.8MM player option for Joel Anthony that he’s almost certain to exercise. Anthony and the rookie would give the Celtics nine players and roughly $10MM worth of cap flexibility, plus some form of the mid-level exception, so there’s probably a path back to Boston for Pierce if both sides are motivated enough to get a deal done.
Mike Woodson has had little contact with Knicks president Phil Jackson, and a source close to the coach believes he knows he’ll be fired, reports Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Woodson’s assistants have been given no assurances of their future, and if Woodson is fired, all but Herb Williams seem certain to lose their jobs, too, Isola adds. With a coaching change seemingly on the horizon, here’s more on the Knicks and their Atlantic Division rivals:
The Raptors are so deep into plans to move forward with soon-to-be free agent Kyle Lowry on the roster next season that Lowry would be “derailing the train” if he were to sign elsewhere, writes Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail.
Shaun Livingston, also set to hit free agency, will be a priority for the Nets this summer, and he hasn’t been disappointed with his experience in Brooklyn, as Dave D’Alessandro of NJ.com notes. “I like where I’m at, let’s put it that way,” Livingston said. “This year’s been everything I could have asked for.”
The general consensus among several NBA executives is that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh will presumably re-sign with the Heat, says Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio. As for Carmelo Anthony, most executives reportedly believe that the seven-time All-Star will re-up with the Knicks (Twitterlinks).
Unfortunately, the Knicks reported today that an MRI revealed a small tear in Anthony’s right labrum; however, no surgery is needed and he’ll be re-evaluated in a month (Twitterlinks via the official Knicks PR account). Depending on how one looks at it, it may be considered a blessing that the star forward will not risk aggravating the injury by trying to play through pain had New York made the playoffs this year. Al Iannazzone of Newsday (via Twitter) notes that Anthony decided to continue playing on a torn labrum in his left shoulder at the end of last season.
Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
Thaddeus Young isn’t sure if his time with the 76ers is running out, but the veteran forward tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he’ll remain with the team as long as they want him and he’s under contract. Young is still on the books for 2014/15; however, the Sixers could look to deal him this summer if they feel that he’ll eventually choose to turn down his $9.8MM player option for 2015/16, adds Pompey.
Soon-to-be restricted free agents Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez are “immensely open” to re-signing with the Raptors on long-term deals this summer, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. Charania also hears from DeMar DeRozan, who says he never thought about trying to push for an early escape from his four-year extension when the team was struggling early this season.
Nets GM Billy King is exploring all of the team’s options in the NBDL right now, relays Tim Bontemps of the New York Post (via Twitter). King added that an announcement will be made as soon as a decision is reached.
Toney Douglas considers himself to be in a more advantageous position heading into free agency this summer after making the most of his chance to revive his career with the Heat this season, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.
APRIL 15TH: The deal has been officially announced (Twitter link; hat tip to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com), giving the Pistons a one-to-one D-League affiliate for next season and leaving the Nets without one, for now.
MARCH 26TH: The Pistons won’t have to share a D-League team next season, as they’ll have a one-to-one affiliation in 2014/15 with the Springfield Armor, who are moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan, as MLive’s David Mayo reports. The Armor are in the final season of their contract as the direct affiliate of the Nets. It’s unclear what sort of D-League affiliate the Nets will have next year.
Michigan-based ownership will take over the Armor, though the Pistons themselves won’t own the club. Instead, the arrangement will be a hybrid partnership in which independent owners run the business side of the organization while the Pistons run the basketball operations and pay the salaries of the coaches and players.
Detroit is currently affiliated with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, a D-League team it shares with five other NBA clubs. The Pistons have made just four D-League assignments this season, sending rookies Peyton Siva and Tony Mitchell to Fort Wayne two times each. The plan for a one-to-one affiliation in close geographic proximity to Detroit indicates that the Pistons intend to make significantly more frequent assignments next season.
Mayo suggests that all NBA teams want to have one-to-one affiliations with a D-League teams within the next three years. However, the Blazers recently ended their arrangement with the Idaho Stampede and will share a D-League affiliate next season, believing that player development is best performed at the NBA level. Still, a growing number of NBA teams have been aligning directly with D-League teams in the past few years, and this year only three of the 17 teams in the D-League are without one-to-one NBA partners.
The Spurs have signed forward Damion James for the remainder of the season, the team announced via press release. James was originally signed by the team to a 10-day contract on April 3rd. He has appeared in three games for the Spurs and is averaging 1.0 RPG in 3.3 minutes a night.
Prior to joining the team, James played in the NBA D-League for the Texas Legends and Bakersfield Jam. In 85 career D-League contests, James averaged 16.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.04 BPG in 31.8 minutes per game.
James was originally drafted 24th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Hawks. He was then sent to the Nets in a draft-night trade. In three seasons with the Nets, in 34 games James averaged 4.2 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 16.9 minutes a night.
As we approach the end of the NBA regular season, it’s the time of year when the annual coaching carousel begins to spin and a slew of faces will end up in brand new places. Heading into the 2013/14 season there were a total of 13 coaching changes, which if you’re keeping score at home, is the most ever in a single offseason.
We won’t know for sure just how many teams will be making a change on their bench until the playoffs are over. Normally you would think a playoff spot would ensure job security, but Lionel Hollins, Vinny Del Negro, and Larry Drew all weren’t retained after reaching the playoffs last year. So the exact number of vacancies are up in the air, but we know there will be some.
If your team is making a head coaching change, which would you prefer in your new hire? Do you want a veteran coach with years of experience to lead your team? One who has a proven track record, but also could be carrying baggage and bad habits picked up throughout the years. Or, would you prefer the energy and new ideas a first-time coach can provide? A new coach has more to prove, and might be more in touch with the pulse and culture of his players, but has no experience to rely on, and no track record to predict future performance.
Let’s look at how this year’s crop of new coaches fared as an example. First up, the ones with prior experience:
Doc Rivers (Clippers): The team is 55-24, first in the Pacific Division, and the third seed in the playoffs. Last year’s team went 56-26 under Vinny Del Negro, before Del Negro wasn’t retained and the team traded for Rivers.
Maurice Cheeks (Pistons): He was fired 50 games into the year with a record of 20-29. Detroit was 29-53 in 2012/13 under Lawrence Frank. After the team signed Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in the off season, owner Tom Gores expected a much better record and for the team to make the playoffs.
Mike Brown (Cavaliers): The team sits at 32-47, which is good for tenth in the eastern conference. Last year under Byron Scott the team had a record of 24-58 and ended up with the first overall selection in the draft.
Larry Drew (Bucks): The Bucks sit at 14-64. which is good for the worst record in the league. In 2012/13 under Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan the team went 38-44.
Now for how the first-time coaches performed:
Jason Kidd (Nets): The Nets are at 43-35, which is good for the fifth overall playoff seed. Kidd replaced interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, whose team finished 2012/13 with a record of 49-33.
Brad Stevens (Celtics): Stevens, taking over for Doc Rivers, has gone 23-55, but has the re-building team heading in a positive direction. Last year’s team went 41-40.
Mike Budenholzer (Hawks): The Hawks have gone 35-43 and currently hold the final playoff spot in the east. Last year’s Larry Drew led squad went 44-38.
Steve Clifford (Bobcats): Clifford has led the Bobcats to a 40-38 record and the sixth seed in the east. Under Mike Dunlap the team went 21-61 during last year’s campaign.
Brian Shaw (Nuggets): The Nuggets have been hampered by injuries all season, and sit at 35-44. Shaw replaced coach of the year winner George Karl, who led the team to a record of 57-25.
David Joerger (Grizzlies): Joerger replaced Lionel Hollins and has guided the team to a record of 46-32, and has the team is one game out of the final playoff spot. Last year the team went 56-26.
Brett Brown (Sixers): Under Brown the Sixers have the second worst record in the league at 17-61, including a record-tying 26 game losing streak. Last season under Doug Collins, the team went 34-48.
Jeff Hornacek (Suns): The Suns are one of the most improved teams in the league with a record of 47-31, and hold the seventh seed in the western conference. Last year under Lindsey Hunter and Alvin Gentry the team went 25-57.
Mike Malone (Kings): Under Malone the Kings have gone 27-52. During the 2012/13 season under Keith Smart the team ended up 28-54.
This means that in their first seasons with their new teams, experienced coaches went 121-164 (.424), and the first-timers went 313-391 (.444). There are many different factors outside a coach’s control that contribute to the team’s final record, but the nature of the NBA is that the coach is the first one to take the heat.
Now it’s time to vote. If your team makes a coaching change this off season, do you want an experienced person hired, or would you prefer the team brings in a brand new face? Cast your vote below and feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section below.
The Magic didn’t expect Al Harrington would be able to play for them last season after a staph infection in his knee, and they wouldn’t allow him to hang around his teammates, as Harrington alleges in a first-person account with Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling.
“Orlando was more about rebuilding, but they could’ve been more professional about my situation,” Harrington wrote. “In fact, the general manager, Rob Hennigan, told my agent that I was done, saying I ‘cannot play.’ Those were his exact words. And I was like, ‘He has some nerve.’ He’s a 32-year-old young executive, and I’ve been in the league longer than him, I probably know more than him and he’s going to tell my agent I’m done, and not think my agent is going to tell me that. So, to me, it was like he told me that pretty much to my face.”
There’s more from the current Wizards forward among the latest from the Eastern Conference:
Harrington, a free agent at season’s end, isn’t sure he wants to continue playing, and writes in the same piece that he’d ideally re-sign with the Wizards next season after the All-Star break to save early-season wear and tear on his body. He’d like to remain with the Wizards either as a player, coach, or executive, and says he’s had conversations with the team about his future.
Rookie Peyton Siva is finally starting to see minutes for the Pistons, and though he doesn’t acknowledge the season’s final weeks as a de-facto audition, that’s exactly what it is, since his contract is non-guaranteed for 2014/15, writes MLive’s Brendan Savage.
Phil Jackson should up his workload and act more like the team president he is and less like a consultant, opines Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, who thinks the Zen Master should take heed to the recent comments of former Knicks coach Larry Brown.
Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities thinks the Timberwolves should target Nets guard Shaun Livingston in free agency, noting that Brooklyn doesn’t own his Bird Rights and that he shares an agent with Nikola Pekovic (Twitter link).
Jeff Caplan of NBA.com sees parallels between Mavs assistant coach Kaleb Canales and the Heat’s Erik Spoelstra. The 34-year-old Canales was the interim coach for the Trail Blazers in 2012, and a finalist to become the permanent head coach alongside Terry Stotts, who eventually won the job. Caplan believes Canales could get another head coaching opportunity. “Obviously, looking down the road, I would love to have that opportunity again one day,” Canales told Caplan. “But that’s not where my concern is right now. I understand how blessed and fortunate I am, and I don’t take that for granted.”
After some struggles and a benching early in the season, Mavs center Samuel Dalembert has stepped up his play and earned the trust of his coach and teammates, he tells Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. “It was a challenge in the beginning,” Dalembert said of the first portion of the season. “But after the All-Star break, I kicked it up a little and really figured out how to contribute before my time is up.”
SATURDAY,5:45pm: Gutierrez said Friday that his two-year contract isn’t guaranteed for next season, but a source tells Tim Bontemps of The New York Post that there is a “very nominal” guarantee involved (Twitter link).
9:22am: Gutierrez tells Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that next season isn’t guaranteed, as I suspected (Twitter link).
FRIDAY, 8:51am: The Nets have re-signed Jorge Gutierrez to a deal that covers the rest of this season and beyond, the team announced via press release. The terms of the contract are unclear, but since Brooklyn is without cap space and possesses no exceptions that allow for a deal longer than two seasons, it has to be a pact for the minimum salary for the balance of 2013/14 and 2014/15. Next season is most likely not fully guaranteed.
Gutierrez had been on a pair of 10-day contracts with the club, the last of which expired Wednesday night. Earlier that evening he was ejected from Brooklyn’s overtime loss to the Bobcats for committing a flagrant-two foul. Still, the 6’3″ point guard saw more than 19 minutes in that contest, his most during his five-game stint. He’s averaged 3.4 points, 1.4 assists and 0.2 turnovers in 13.4 minutes per game for the Nets.
Brooklyn brought the Arn Tellem client to camp in the fall, but the team released him before opening night, and he spent most of this season with the D-League affiliate of the Cavs. The Nets circled back to him earlier this month when he beat Darius Johnson-Odom in an audition for a roster spot.
Gutierrez becomes the 15th player on the Nets with a guaranteed contract for this season, meaning the team is likely done making moves in 2013/14. They have a disabled player exception worth $5.15MM for Brook Lopez, but it looks like that will go unused. That exception would cover a contract that runs only through the end of the season, so for Gutierrez the Nets are instead using the minimum-salary exception, which provides for deals of up to two years.
Impatience from the ownership suite is at the root of much of the tension surrounding the Warriors, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes in his NBA AM piece. The front office is under pressure, and that affects coach Mark Jackson and his coaching staff, according to Kyler, who says the owners often push for roster changes when the team isn’t performing well. The principal owners of the Warriors are Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, but Kyler doesn’t specify whether it’s one or both of them or someone else within the ownership group who is putting the squeeze on. Still, Kyler has other specifics about the uneasiness in Golden State, as we detail below amid our look at the latest from the Pacific Division:
Harrison Barnes was the subject of trade rumors before the deadline, and Kyler hears that Warriors ownership started those talks in hope of flipping Barnes for a veteran big man who could help the team win in the short-term. For what it’s worth, Lacob said in February that he wasn’t anxious to move Barnes.
Jackson previously denied that there’s dysfunction within the Warriors, and Wednesday he also tried to shoot down the idea that he sought head coaching jobs with the Clippers and Nets, among other teams. Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com has the details.
The Warriors expected to contend for the Western Conference title this year, and if they reach the conference finals, Jackson will “almost certainly” return as coach, but if they lose in the first round, he’s a goner, Deveney believes.