Pau Gasol thought the Bulls were the best overall situation for him when choosing his free agent destination this summer, Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. The veteran did give the Knicks some consideration before making his decision, saying, “I considered them just because of different factors, mainly Phil [Jackson] and Derek [Fisher] being involved, the Knicks being a great organization as wel. It would’ve been interesting, but I thought there were better situations for me.”
Gasol also added that it was possible that his brother Marc Gasol could end up in New York when he becomes a free agent, notes Braziller. “We’ll see what happens next year what he decides and hopefully he’ll have a strong year and all the options in the world because he’s one of the top centers, interior players in the league, so any team would be fortunate to have him,” Gasol said. “It’s a personal decision. I talked to my brother enough about Phil that he knows what he brings to the table.”
Here’s more from the Central Division:
- The Bulls hold no ill will toward Carmelo Anthony for spurning them in free agency this past summer, Braziller writes in a separate article. “He made his decision, and like I said at the time, of course who wouldn’t want to play with a talent like that,” Derrick Rose said. “But he came back [to the Knicks]. You can’t get mad at him.” Chicago is perfectly happy with their roster as currently constituted and believe they have the depth to contend in the east, Braziller writes.
- Even when things appeared to be at their worst Cavs, owner Dan Gilbert never believed his relationship with LeBron James was irreparable, Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal writes. “Unless you’re really doing some significant harm to another human being, I don’t think the bridge is ever burned,” Gilbert said. “We had a night where emotions were flying high on all sides. Things like that happen a lot in business where people have phone calls and heated exchanges and people are writing each other emails and letters, and then the next day they’re eating lunch and doing business. It’s not a be-all or end-all type thing.”
- Veteran guard Mike James will be joining the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League in an effort to showcase himself for NBA teams, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). James appeared in 11 games for the Bulls last season, and his career numbers are 9.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 3.5 APG.
A report from Marc Stein of ESPN.com 10 days ago indicated that the Knicks and Iman Shumpert were in active extension negotiations, but Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com continues to hear that the sides haven’t engaged in any talks, echoing his dispatch from a month ago. The Knicks upset Shumpert when they made him a frequent subject of trade talk last season, Begley writes, and a source close to the swingman tells Begley that Shumpert is in no mood to give New York a hometown discount should he hit restricted free agency next summer. Here’s more from around the Big Apple:
- Nets GM Billy King confirmed the team will keep Jorge Gutierrez and Jerome Jordan along with the team’s 12 fully guaranteed contracts for opening night, tweets Andy Vasquez of The Record. Presumably, that means Cory Jefferson will stick around on his partially guaranteed deal, too.
- Carmelo Anthony did his part to refute a report that indicated that marquee free agents don’t want to play with Kobe Bryant, telling reporters that he’d “love” to play with the Lakers legend, as Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com note. Anthony also said that Bryant tried to recruit him to the Lakers this summer, but the Knicks forward can’t hit free agency again until 2018, and Bryant’s under contract through the summer of 2016.
- Lionel Hollins said he never got to know Grizzlies owner Robert Pera before the team let Hollins go in 2013, as he tells Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. The new Nets coach added that timing played a key role in his decision to take the Brooklyn job this summer while the Lakers still had a vacancy. “I felt either one of those jobs would be fine,” Hollins says. “The Lakers still had Kobe and they could change the team at a moment’s notice because they only had three players under contract. So I thought that wasn’t a bad situation and I thought this was a good situation so when it came about, it was one that I was happy and I wasn’t going to wait on the Lakers when I had a job in hand.”
At a public event earlier today in New York, Knicks president Phil Jackson reiterated that he’ll be the one making the basketball decisions and said he’ll only consult owner James Dolan on spending matters, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Things have been different in the past, of course, but Jackson said that Dolan only got overly involved in the past because he felt he was forced to (link). As evidence that Dolan is now hands-off, Jackson noted that he was told he didn’t have to re-sign Carmelo Anthony this summer if he didn’t think it was the right move (link). Here’s more from around the Association..
- With the first Kentucky Combine in the books (yes, you read that right), Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress looks at how the Wildcats’ NBA prospects fared. UK’s Karl Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, and Alex Poythress are all possible first-round picks in the 2015 draft.
- An NBA scout at the combine told Adam Zagoria of SNY (on Twitter) that Towns is their best prospect “and it’s not even close.” The big man is currently slated to go No. 3 in DraftExpress’ 2015 mock.
- Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has high hopes for what offseason addition Pau Gasol can do on the defensive end, writes Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com. “He could do better,” Thibodeau said. “He’s done well, but I think he could be great. That’s what I want him to be. He’s got great length, he’s got great timing. He’s smart. He can anticipate. He’s still not communicating as well as he’s capable of, but he’s done well thus far.”
Carmelo Anthony said that the players and the league should prepare themselves for another lockout in 2017, and if it indeed comes to that, he doesn’t think the owners can complain about losing money this time around, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. “I think we have to prepare for a work stoppage,” Anthony said. “And that’s the worst-case scenario at this point in time. So I think guys should start preparing for that now. I don’t think you really have to focus and think about it at this stage. But just keep in the back of your mind that it is a [possibility].”
Here’s more from the east:
- The Nets are currently reviewing “multiple” proposals from the Guggenheim Group despite the reports that the potential sale of the franchise was in jeopardy, Mitch Abramson of The New York Daily News reports. A source with knowledge of the negotiations told Abramson, “Negotiations are taking a cooling off period since they’ve been played out in the media but there have been proposals to the Nets and they’re still being considered. Because of the amount of media attention, there’s a calming off period that’s going on but interest still remains by both parties and yes there was a proposal – multiple proposals – that were given to the Nets that are still being considered.”
- With the 2014 draft class having been hyped as one of the best in years, the focus will now be on how the rookies perform under the spotlight of the NBA regular season. Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders runs down five “under-the-radar” rookies to watch for, including Nikola Mirotic (Bulls); Cleanthony Early (Knicks); and K.J. McDaniels (Sixers).
- When the Heat face off with LeBron James and the Cavs in Rio tomorrow, the main focus for Miami will be on speeding up the rebuilding process, not on James being in a different uniform, Tales Azzoni of The Associated Press writes. “We are trying to understand that we are behind the eight ball because we’ve got 13 new guys,” Dwyane Wade said. “We’ve only been together for 10 days on the basketball floor. We’ve got to all understand that we’ve got to have patience, because the last two years just happened, we had the same team and it just happened. But now this is not that kind of team, so we all have to have patience and understand that it’s a process.”
Boris Diaw‘s contract with the Spurs has some creative additions included in it, Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com notes (Insider subscription required). Diaw’s deal begins at $7.5MM and decreases by $500K during the second and third years, ensuring San Antonio is paying the premium up front, when Diaw’s performance will be at its peak, notes Elhassan. The contract also includes up to $500K in annual bonuses if Diaw meets certain weight requirements throughout the season. Lastly, Elhassan notes that the final year of the deal has a guarantee date of July 15, 2017. This will give the Spurs flexibility to cut Diaw should his performance no longer befit his pay, and the later guarantee date means the Spurs can enter 2017 free agency without needing to make a decision on Diaw’s status. Diaw’s third year is partially guaranteed, notes Elhassan, and has a guarantee date of June 30th, 2016.
Here’s the latest from around the league:
- Carmelo Anthony visited with the Mavs shortly after they acquired former teammate Tyson Chandler, but Chandler tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post that he wasn’t aggressive in his attempts to recruit ‘Melo to Dallas. “It wasn’t strong,” Chandler said. “I didn’t ever think he was coming. I didn’t think Carmelo was ever leaving New York. I talked to him because it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t. But I never thought he was going anywhere. I thought if anywhere he was going it was to the Lakers. But when the Lakers didn’t have a strong enough roster to tempt him.”
- Darius Morris and Diante Garrett joined the Blazers this summer with the understanding that they’d have legitimate chances to making the opening-night roster even though they aren’t among the 15 on the team with fully guaranteed deals, The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman writes. The team would probably waive Victor Claver‘s guaranteed contract if it elected to keep Morris or Garrett, Freeman speculates. Garrett’s $30K partial guarantee gives him a slight edge over Morris, who has no guaranteed money.
- Mark Cuban raised the idea of eliminating guaranteed money from contracts in response to Kevin Durant‘s suggestion that the league abolish maximum salaries, but Durant isn’t on board with the Mavs owner’s idea, observes Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Paul Pierce originally thought he’d wind up re-signing with the Nets, but he tells TNT’s David Aldridge that Brooklyn never made an offer, as Aldridge writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Pierce said the Clippers looked like Plan B, but the Nets wouldn’t accommodate a sign-and-trade once Doc Rivers used the team’s mid-level exception on Spencer Hawes instead.
“You know what, I didn’t know what to expect,” Pierce said. “Brooklyn’s been, or New Jersey, Brooklyn, they’re a franchise that’s going in a different direction, I think. They said they wanted to cut costs; they felt like they weren’t going to be a contender. Right now, they’re kind of in the middle right now. And I really didn’t want to be in the middle. I didn’t know if they wanted to do a sign-and-trade. I had to make my own destiny. I couldn’t put it in the faith of somebody else. And that’s when I was like, I’m coming here [to the Wizards].”
The reference to New Jersey seems like a subtle twist of the knife on Pierce’s part, given the desire of Nets brass to establish the Brooklyn monicker, as Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News points out. Here’s more from around the Atlantic.
- Nets union representative Deron Williams believes the league and the players are on a path toward a work stoppage in 2017, noting that preparing for one was the focus of a union meeting in July, as he told reporters, including Bondy, who writes in a separate piece.
- Carmelo Anthony said today that he had no interest this summer in signing a two-year deal, as LeBron James and others did, to take advantage of the influx of TV revenues, notes Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal (Twitter link).
- The Celtics had hoped to find a way to keep Chris Johnson amid the flurry of transactions surrounding the Keith Bogans trade, notes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. The Sixers claimed him off waivers after the C’s let him go.
Despite his attempts at recruiting Carmelo Anthony to join the Bulls in free agency this summer falling short, Joakim Noah isn’t upset about the outcome, Michael Lee of The Washington Post writes. “I wasn’t disappointed at all,” Noah said. “I try to recruit everybody, not just Carmelo. Carmelo is a helluva player. If anybody is a free agent, usually I’m the one making the call. He made a decision that’s best for him and his family. I moved on right away. I love our team right now. If you look at all the talent we have, it’s going to be really interesting.”
Here’s what else is happening in the east:
- This might be the last season that the Pacers core remains intact, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com writes. With both David West and Roy Hibbert having player options at the end of this season, and what is shaping up to be a difficult year with the losses of Paul George and Lance Stephenson, it’s very likely that Indiana will look markedly different in 2015/16, opines Windhorst.
- David Blatt‘s versatility as a coach helped him win over GM David Griffin, and Blatt showed acumen in deal-making, too, as he and assistant coach Tyronn Lue played critical roles in convincing Kyrie Irving to sign his extension with the Cavs this summer, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com details.
- Former Knicks great Willis Reed believes that Phil Jackson is the right man to turn around the organization, and that New York will return to the playoffs this season under new coach Derek Fisher, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv writes. Reed also weighed in on Carmelo Anthony‘s free agency, saying, “I always thought that at the end of the day that Carmelo would come back to New York because of the years. I think he likes New York, I think the fans like him….I never thought he would actually leave. I really would have been upset, I really would have been surprised.”
It’s media day for 25 of the NBA’s 30 teams, thus making it one of the busiest news days on the NBA calendar. We’ll round up the latest from the Atlantic Division amid the rush:
- Evan Turner‘s contract with the Celtics is for two seasons and he’ll make $3.278MM this year, the value of the taxpayer’s mid-level exception, reports Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter link). It’s fully guaranteed with no option clauses, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The C’s still have the capacity to give out an additional $2.027MM via their mid-level, but by keeping Turner’s money to the equivalent of the taxpayer’s amount, Boston isn’t subject to a hard cap of $80.829MM this season, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders points out (on Twitter).
- Carmelo Anthony acknowledged that he would have had a better chance to win if he’d signed elsewhere, but told reporters, including Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com that it “wouldn’t have felt right” if he had left the Knicks for another team (Twitter links).
- It doesn’t look like the Knicks are going to grant an extension to Iman Shumpert, but the fourth-year guard doesn’t seem dismayed, as Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal relays (on Twitter).
- Lionel Hollins made his mission statement for the Nets clear when chatting with reporters late last week, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post writes. “I’d like us to be tougher,” Hollins said. “[Be] more aggressive, compete harder every moment that they’re on the court, persevering through everything. “I want them to be tougher mentally. There’s a lot that goes into being a good team, and that’s the type of foundation that we’re gonna lay.”
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports uncovered the recording of the meeting in which Hawks GM Danny Ferry made his fateful remarks about Luol Deng. We’ll pass along the revelations from that story amid the latest news surrounding the Hawks controversy, with any additional updates throughout the day at the top:
- Commissioner Adam Silver cited Ferry’s otherwise upstanding track record in telling USA Today’s Sam Amick that he doesn’t think the Hawks should fire Ferry. “It’s a question of context,” Silver said in part. “… These words, in this context, understanding the full story here, the existence of the scouting report, the fact that he was looking at the scouting report as a reference when he was making these remarks, what I’m saying is – and frankly my opinion — is that this is a team decision in terms of what the appropriate discipline is for their employee. But if I’m being asked my view, I’m saying that, based on what I know about the circumstances, I don’t think it’s a terminable offense.”
- Ferry read more statements in the meeting that impugned Deng’s character, as Wojnarowski transcribes. “… For example, he can come out and be an unnamed source for a story and two days later come out and say, ‘That absolutely was not me. I can’t believe someone said that,”‘ Ferry said on the recording. “But talking to reporters, you know they can [believe it].”
- Ferry’s report also brought up concerns about Deng’s focus, Wojnarowski reveals. “… Good guy in Chicago,” as Ferry is heard saying. “They will tell you he was good for their culture, but not a culture setter. He played hard and all those things, but he was very worried about his bobble-head being the last one given away that year, or there was not enough stuff of him in the [team] store … kind of a complex guy.”
- Wojnarowski suggests that the remarks Ferry made on the recording were his own, and not words he read from a report, as Ferry has claimed. However, that’s merely based on Wojnarowski’s own observation.
- Co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. had sought Ferry’s ouster even before Ferry’s racially charged remarks in June that sparked the controversy, Wojnarowski writes. Gearon made an immediate audible reaction to Ferry’s comments about Deng, comparing them to the inflammatory remarks that led to Donald Sterling’s exit from the Clippers, as the Yahoo! scribe notes. An email Gearon sent in reaction to the one with racial overtones that prompted outgoing controlling owner Bruce Levenson to sell the team was more matter-of-fact, and it didn’t entail the sort of dramatic reaction that Gearon had to Ferry’s comments, Wojnarowski shows.
- The league office is “livid” with Gearon, Wojnarowski writes, though the precise reason for that anger isn’t entirely clear.
- The Hawks offered Deng a two-year, $20MM deal and a one-year, $10MM arrangement, and Ferry was the team’s greatest supporter for signing him, Wojnarowski hears. The salaries Atlanta offered are similar to the ones Deng will receive on his contract with the Heat.
- Ferry has his boosters around the league, but many find him distant and unsympathetic and find it difficult to work with the Hawks front office, according to Wojnarowski.
- The conversation covered many free agent targets, including Carmelo Anthony. Ferry said that Anthony “can shoot the [expletive] out of it, but he screws you up in other ways,” as Wojnarowski transcribes, though Ferry also saw value in giving him a lucrative deal.
- At least one civil rights leader expressed frustration when the Hawks called off a meeting that was set for today with civil rights leaders in Atlanta, Charles Odumap of The Associated Press reports. The Hawks called the meeting a “priority” and indicated their intention to reschedule in a press release today.
Asked if the decision that LeBron James made to return to Cleveland influenced his call to re-sign with the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony told Michael Strahan in an interview for Adweek that he believes that it was the other way around, and that James took a cue from him. That conflicts with the timeline of events, since James announced he was going back to the Cavs before word of ‘Melo’s choice came out, but perhaps Anthony, a New York native, is referring to the 2011 trade that originally landed him on the Knicks. In any case, New York made a pair of much less heralded additions this afternoon, as we noted earlier, and we’ll pass along more on one of James’ new teammates amid the latest from the Eastern Conference:
- Shawn Marion‘s contract with the Cavs covers just one season, according to Tom Withers of The Associated Press.
- The NBA announced a two-game unpaid suspension for Greg Monroe, who pleaded guilty to driving while visibly impaired, a term for a type of drunken driving charge in the state of Michigan. He’ll sit out the first two games for the Pistons this season as a result.
- The Pistons are adding Pat Garrity to their front office as director of strategic planning, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. He’ll assist president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.