Tayshaun Prince is playing well and has helped the Celtics close to within two games of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but while Brad Stevens is clearly a fan of his game, Prince’s performance is making him a more valuable trade chip, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. The C’s have reportedly been attempting to deal Prince for draft considerations. There’s more on the Celtics amid the latest from around the Atlantic Division:
A close friend of Tobias Harris told Marc Berman of the New York Post last week that the forward wants to win a championship with the Knicks, but Harris’ father disputes the notion that his son is anxious to play for New York, as Torrel Harris tells Isaiah Narciso of The Gospel Times. The Knicks apparently plan to pursue the soon-to-be restricted free agent.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge waffled about his future while the Celtics were a winning team, but he’s committed to seeing Boston’s rebuilding project through and says he’s “ready for the long haul,” as he tells Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
Byron Mullens has changed agents, hiring Todd Ramasar of Stealth Sports, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com. The center, who played briefly in China this season and saw his last NBA action for the Sixers last year, had been with Lee Melchionni of the Wasserman Media Group.
Thunder star Kevin Durant has a fracture in his right foot, the team announced in a press release. The injury typically requires surgery and Durant is expected to miss a minimum of six to eight weeks before he can resume basketball activities. No procedure has been scheduled as of yet, and the team and Durant’s representatives are still weighing all treatment options. “We are in the process of collaboratively evaluating the most appropriate next steps with Kevin, his representatives, and Thunder medical personnel,” GM Sam Presti said in a statement. “Until a course of action is determined, we are unable to provide a timeline specific to Kevin’s case.” The “Slim Reaper” joins Bradley Beal, Rajon Rondo, and Nick Young, who also sustained injuries that will cause them to miss the beginning of the regular season.
Here’s more from around the league:
Shanxi Zhongyu of the Chinese Basketball Association is considering waiving former NBA player Byron Mullens, Sports Sohu is reporting (translation by Enea Trapani of Sportando). Mullens appeared in 45 games split between the Sixers and Clippers last season, averaging 4.6 PPG and 2.2 RPG.
With the new NBA TV deal already creating rumblings from the NBPA, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel believes the best course of action from the league would be to raise the minimum salary level. Winderman’s logic is that since more players than ever are signing for the minimum, obtaining a majority players vote in the next CBA would be much easier, regardless of what other restrictions the league would impose, such as a hard cap or non-guaranteed deals.
Last season, the Lakers had expressed interest in an Anderson Varejao for Pau Gasol trade with the Cavs, Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com notes (Twitter link). After Varejao’s strong preseason showing in Brazil yesterday against the Heat, where he scored 14 points on 70% shooting, McMenamin opines that you can see why Los Angeles tried to acquire the veteran big man.
While Coach John Calipari says the Kentucky combine may become an annual event, not everyone is on board with the idea of it, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Kansas head coach Bill Self is among the skeptics. “That would certainly not be anything we would do,” Self explains. “That doesn’t mean its wrong. It just means it wouldn’t be for us.”
Byron Mullens has reached an agreement to sign with the Shanxi Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association, reveals a report from Sina.com (translation via Orazio Cauchi of Sportando). Mullens hit the free agent market in late June after turning down a minimum salary player option that would have kept him with the Sixers for the 2014/15 season.
After a lackluster start to his 2013/14 campaign with the Clippers, Mullens was shipped to Philadelphia and put up respectable numbers, albeit while seeing limited action. Mullens averaged 16.7 minutes per night over the course of 18 games, putting up nightly marks of 6.8 points and 3.3 boards.
The Wasserman Media Group client didn’t seem to draw much attention from NBA teams this offseason, as evidenced by the lack of activity found on his Hoops Rumors rumor page. It remains to be seen if there’s an NBA escape clause in the big man’s contract that could bring him back to the US should a stateside club show interest. The CBA’s regular season ends in February, so Mullens could still be a late season addition to a team if he indeed lacks an NBA-out in his deal. The length of the new pact hasn’t been disclosed.
Sixers big man Byron Mullens has turned down his minimum salary player option for next season and will become a free agent, GM Sam Hinkie told reporters, including Tom Moore of Calkins Media (Twitter link). The Wasserman Media Group client would have made a guaranteed salary of more than $1.063MM had he remained under contract, but he’ll seek more on the open market.
The Clippers sent him to the Sixers for a second-round draft pick at the deadline to lower their tax bill and open up room for bench upgrades in L.A. Mullens failed to have an impact after signing with the Clippers last summer, averaging just 6.2 minutes per game for them this season. He saw 13.7 MPG for Philadelphia, averaging 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds, but perhaps most noteworthy for him was his 40% three-point shooting over his 18-game stint with the Sixers. He’s just a 31.9% three-point shooter for his career.
Philadelphia is set to have ample cap flexibility, so Mullens’ decision will probably have no significant effect on Hinkie’s summer plans.
The 76ers announced that they have acquired center Byron Mullensand a 2018 second-round pick in exchange for a protected second-round pick in the 2014 draft.
Philadelphia was discussingChris Kaman with the Lakers shortly before the deadline, but it appears the Sixers opted to instead acquire a big man with skills similar to Spencer Hawes, whom they agreed to send to the Cavs earlier today.
The Clippers have successfully pulled off two deals at the buzzer with Mullens and Jamison changing uniforms. Mullens, who was once regarded as the top talent in the 2009 draft class, is headed to his to his fourth team in five years. The big man has averaged just 2.5 PPG and 1.2 RPG in 6.2 minutes per game this season. Even when he was seeing significant playing time with the Bobcats, Mullens never had a PER above 13.0.
Zach Links contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) first reported that Mullens was on his way to the 76ers. Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times added details (via Twitter).
The Clippers are dangling Jared Dudley, Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens in search of a frontcourt upgrade, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Matt Barnes may also be on the block as well, Berger says. Marc Stein of ESPN.com first reported the Clippers were shopping Dudley a couple of weeks ago. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports last night tweeted overnight that the Clips were seeking backup bigs.
Jamison and Mullens were two players the team signed this past summer to serve as frontcourt reserves, but neither is having much impact. Both are on minimum-salary deals, though Jamison’s pact covers just this season while Mullens has a player option for next year.
Dudley is signed through 2015/16, making $4.25MM each year. His production is down after coming over from the Suns last summer via trade, and Doc Rivers recently yanked him from the starting lineup. Barnes is posting a career-worst 38.5% field goal percentage after inking a three-year deal for nearly $10.2MM in the offseason.
The spotlight in the Pacific Division will surely be on former Clipper reserve Eric Bledsoe, who will now headline Phoenix's backcourt next to another young talent in Goran Dragic. Bledsoe's numbers last season (8.5 PPG/3.1 APG/20.4 MPG) wouldn't seem very comparable to what will be expected of him in 2013/14, especially considering some of his standout performances when given more than 30 minutes of playing time: 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists in 38 minutes against the Celtics, 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in 37 minutes against the Rockets, 10 points, 10 assists, and six steals in 39 minutes against the Timberwolves, and a 27-point, 6 rebound, 6 steal, and 3-block performance in 41 minutes against the Magic to name a few. Now equipped with starter's minutes, it will be fascinating to see how the 6'1 guard will utilize his significantly increased role and responsibilities as a leader of a young team.
Keeping all this in mind, Bledsoe should undoubtedly be among the favorites within the whole league to have a breakout season. With that aside, it was unquestionably a summer of shakeups for the rest of the Pacific Division, as each of the other four teams will feature new key rotation players in 2013/14. Let's take a look at some of the other new faces looking to make a lasting impact on their respective clubs:
Marreese Speights, Warriors – The 6'10 power forward is entering his sixth year in the league and will be playing for his fourth NBA team after signing with Golden State this past July. Following a trade from Memphis to Cleveland halfway through last season, Speights averaged 10.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 18.5 MPG in 39 games and one start for the Cavaliers. Although Sean Deveney of the Sporting News and NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper have reported that the team is currently expecting Andrew Bogut and David Lee to be healthyenough to play without limitation, head coach Mark Jackson could possibly rely on Speights for extended minutes on some nights in order to preserve some of his older frontcourt veterans.
Considering his production in a limited amount of minutes last season, the former Florida standout could prove to be one of the most important reserves on a playoff contender this year and may open some more eyes in the process.
Byron Mullens, Clippers – Fresh off of career highs in points, rebounds, and minutes last season with the Bobcats (10.8/6.4/26.9), it remains to be seen just how Mullens' minutes and role will be handled in Los Angeles. The 7'0 big man put together a flurry of attention-grabbing performances last season, averaging 12.9 PPG/8.2 RPG/33.0 MPG in November and 10.0/7.3/28.6 in December before being sidelined with an ankle injury. Following a 19-game absence, Mullens picked up where he left off, posting 14.6/7.9/32.1 in February.
Although his overall shooting percentages were less than desirable last season (.385/.317/.636), one thing to consider is the possible improvement in the quality of shot attempts as a by-product of playing with a superstar playmaker in Chris Pauland his solid distributing backup, Darren Collison. Byron's confidence in attempting perimeter shots is far from lacking, as nearly four of his 10.6 shot attempts per game last year were taken from beyond the arc. With that being said, Mullens may very well be a viable threat who can stretch the floor provided he can improve his shooting efficiency and have better opportunities created for him. If given the minutes, he's shown that he can definitely put up some numbers.
Wesley Johnson, Lakers – Despite his lack of floor time for the first four months of 2012/13, the 6'7 swingman made the most of his situation after being given consistent starter's minutes in the final two months of the season, averaging 13.2 PPG/1.2 SPG/30.3 MPG in March along with 12.9 PPG and 27.3 MPG in April respectively. He did well enough that despite the Suns opting not to exercise his fourth year option, there was still mutual interest in a return to Phoenix this summer. Ultimately, the former lottery pick out of Syracuse wound up with the Lakers, where he should have his fair share of opportunities as an athletic player in Mike D'Antoni's system. With Johnson playing on a one-year contract, it'd certainly be in his best interest to continue his momentum from last season and perform well enough to earn a lucrative contract next summer, whether it'd be in L.A. or somewhere else.
Greivis Vasquez, Kings – It's more than reasonable to deem 2012/13 as a breakout year for Vasquez. The 6'6 point guard rose to the occasion in New Orleans, producing an impressive 13.9 PPG and 9.0 APG stat line in 34.4 MPG and 78 games played/started. It's important to note that he'll be entering a contract year, and one significant question is how Vasquez's numbers will fare with an entirely different cast of teammates, especially with the surplus of guards on the roster – namely Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Marcus Thornton, and Jimmer Fredette. Although the former Maryland star displayed his capabilities as a distributor and a tertiary scoring option last season, it appears that another major improvement within reach would be to raise his shooting percentages (.433/.342) as well as the amount of times he gets to the line (2.0). Following his career-best season to date, Vasquez will surely have to deliver in his most important one yet.
After Bledsoe, who would you expect to be the most improved player in the Pacific Division?
The Clippers reached an agreement to sign Antawn Jamison earlier this week, but most of you don't expect him to make a significant impact for the team this season. When Alex Lee of Hoops Rumors asked last night how many points per game Jamison would score in the 2013/14 season, over 62% of you predicted a single-digit average for the veteran forward.
After adding Jamison, the Clippers are no longer interested in re-signing Lamar Odom, a source tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. However, Medina adds that the team would "welcome Odom to training camp," so it may just be a matter of not wanting to guarantee him any money. Odom's alleged drug problems almost certainly played a part in that stance.
With 14 contracts on their books, the Clippers plan to fill the last roster spot in training camp, according to Medina. It's worth noting that once Jamison's deal becomes official, L.A. will have 13 players on guaranteed contracts. Maalik Wayns also has a non-guaranteed pact, and Brandon Daviesreportedly agreed to a partially guaranteed deal earlier in the summer, though the team has yet to announce it. In any case, it seems that there could conceivably be two spots up for grabs in camp.
Byron Mullens knows that some fans and observers are wondering why the Clippers would sign him, but he tells Eric Patten of Clippers.com that he intends to prove his doubters wrong. Mullens inked a two-year, minimum-salary contract last month.
The Mullens signing would have to take place for the minimum salary, since the Clippers are over the cap and split their mid-level exception between Matt Barnes and Darren Collison. The Clips don't have their bi-annual exception, having used it to sign Grant Hill last summer. Bringing Mullens aboard may take the team out of the running for Antawn Jamison and Lamar Odom, two other big men who had been Clippers free agent targets.
Mullens is a 7'0" three-point gunner who could give the Clippers some floor spacing on offense if he continues to improve his touch. He's a career 30.1% shooter from behind the arc, and made 31.7% of his 3.9 three-point attempts per game this past season.