Mary Stevens of Basketball Insiders looked at three under-the-radar rookies to watch, including Doug McDermott of the Bulls. The former Creighton standout will have to adjust to pace of the NBA quickly as Chicago has high hopes for this season, but he is widely regarded as one of the most NBA-ready players out of the 2014 class. More from the Central Division..
- Bucks coach Jason Kidd told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com he now believes the rumors that the Nets wanted to fire him as their coach last December. Later, the offseason trade that sent him to Milwaukee in exchange for two second-round draft picks convinced him of that, though many would say that it was Kidd who forced that situation. Kidd also questioned the Nets’ decision not to retain free agent forward Paul Pierce, who signed a two-year, $11MM deal with the Wizards. “I believe it,” Kidd said regarding Pierce’s claim about not being offered a contract. “I mean, if they don’t offer [Pierce] a contract worth what a first-round pick is, then why did we do the deal [last year for Pierce and Kevin Garnett]?”
- After dropping Stephen Holt and Chris Crawford today, the Cavs need to make at least one more cut before the regular season begins. However, it’s more likely that they will make two cuts to leave a roster spot open for a free agent, writes Chris Haynes of The Plain Dealer.
- Spencer Dinwiddie sees an opportunity for increased playing time with the Pistons, between his improving knee and this week’s trade that sent Will Bynum to the Celtics. The point guard, who suffered a torn ACL last winter, told Keith Langlois of Pistons.com that his knee is feeling better and that he is ready to compete for minutes. Detroit traded Bynum away within days of Dinwiddie taking part in his first simulated game action, which may or may not be coincidental.
Arthur Hill contributed to this post.
2:12pm: The Kings confirmed that they have waived the trio.
8:43am: The Kings intend to waive Sim Bhullar, Deonte Burton, and David Wear, Sean Cunningham of News 10 Sacramento reports (Twitter link). Burton and Wear were in camp on non-guaranteed minimum salary deals, but Bhullar had a partial guarantee of $35K on his pact which Sacramento is on the hook for unless another team submits a waiver claim. These moves will reduce the Kings’ preseason roster count to 15, with 13 of those agreements being fully guaranteed. No announcement from the team has been made yet.
When Bhullar was signed by the Kings it marked the first time a player of Indian descent joined the NBA. The 7’5″ big man had declared for the NBA draft in mid-April, shortly after he and New Mexico State were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Bhullar averaged 10.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 2.4 BPG in 24.4 MPG while shooting 62.1% from the field as a freshman and 10.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 3.4 BPG, while shooting 64.8% as a sophomore.
The 23-year-old Burton spent summer league with the Wizards after going undrafted, averaging just 1.8 points in 17.3 minutes per contest, but he put up much better numbers as a senior with the Nevada Wolf Pack this past season, chipping in for 20.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 4.4 assists against 2.0 turnovers in 38.6 MPG.
Wear, a 6’9″ 23-year-old, spent time in the summer league with the Bulls, averaging 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game across five appearances. He didn’t log impressive numbers at UCLA, going for 6.5 PPG and 3.8 RPG in 22.9 MPG. His playing time decreased each successive year after he saw 28.4 MPG as a sophomore. Wear transferred to UCLA after spending his freshman year at North Carolina.
Before the Cavs preseason loss last night, LeBron James told reporters including Joe Vardon of the Plain Dealer that his return to Cleveland had little to do with his new teammates. “It was more about these fans and the city and the people here,” James said. “So, the team didn’t mean much. I felt like me coming, we could hopefully add some pieces, [but] obviously it happened quicker than I thought.” Here’s more from around the Central Division:
- Pau Gasol tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post that it was tough to leave the Lakers and Kobe Bryant this summer, when he signed with the Bulls as a free agent. “[Bryant] wanted to pretty much retire together,” said Gasol, who feels he made the right choice for his career. “That was an attractive option. One part of me wanted to stick with him and try to turn it around. But deep inside of me, I felt it was time after everything that I’d been through that I wanted to put myself in a position where I was highly stimulated…I feel energized. I feel rejuvenated.”
- Gasol confirmed to Lee that he weighed cultural factors when choosing a team, in addition to the on-court outlook. “To me, it was important on a personal level because I’m not just a basketball player,” said Gasol, who was reportedly concerned about Oklahoma City’s lack of diversity when the Thunder chased him this summer. “I have other interests, other desires than basketball, and Chicago had a lot to offer from that aspect.”
- In a session with reporters (video link at Basketball Insiders), Stan Van Gundy said he traded for Joel Anthony to bring a more “defensive-oriented culture” to the Pistons, citing Anthony’s experience as a rotation player in multiple postseason runs with the Heat.
- Van Gundy praised Detroit’s new director of strategic planning Pat Garrity, saying he was an obvious hire. Garrity originally sought a coaching job with the Pistons before Van Gundy steered him to the team’s front office.
- Will Bynum tweeted a thankful goodbye to Pistons fans (H/T Vincent Ellis of Detroit Free Press). “It has been a great run in Detroit,” said Bynum, who was traded to the Celtics on Friday afternoon. “You have all been so supportive for me throughout my time with the Pistons. Goodbyes are painful but are signs of great memories.”
The Bulls have officially waived Kim English, Ben Hansbrough, and Solomon Jones, the team announced in a press release. All three players were in training camp on non-guaranteed minimum salary arrangements, so the Bulls aren’t on the hook for any money. All three players signed with Chicago back on September 26th, and were considered longshots to make the final cut on a deep and talented Bulls roster.
These moves reduce Chicago’s preseason roster count to 14 players, with 12 of those deals being fully guaranteed. The lone player remaining with a non-guaranteed arrangement is Nazr Mohammed, but with the Bulls one under the 15 player regular season limit, Mohammed’s spot isn’t in any immediate danger.
Jones appeared in 11 games with the Magic last season, averaging 1.3 PPG and 1.5 RPG in 7.7 minutes per game before Orlando waived him. The 30-year-old also played for the Knicks D-League affiliate, and also traveled to play in a Chinese league during the summer.
The 2012/13 season is the only campaign that Hansbrough and English spent any time on an NBA regular season roster. Hansbrough averaged 7.2 minutes per game for the Pacers that year and contributed 2.0 PPG. English logged 9.9 MPG in 41 games for the Pistons, averaging 2.9 PPG. Both players have spent time overseas, Hansbrough with Gran Canaria in Spain, while English was with Montepaschi Siena in Italy.
Jimmy Butler has been turning heads in Chicago with his play during training camp. The Bulls swingman is in better physical condition this year, but is also motivated by being eligible to sign a contract extension prior to the October 31st deadline, Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com writes. “My confidence is high and that’s the way you have to play this game,” Butler said. “All summer I worked on my game, the biggest thing is just confidence, taking shots I know I can make. I’m really happy on the way that I’m going right now, but I still got to keep going.” If Butler and the team don’t come to terms on an extension by the deadline he will become a restricted free agent next summer.
Here’s more from the east:
- The Celtics made a minor trade earlier today with the Pistons, shipping Joel Anthony to Detroit for Will Bynum. Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com examines what the trade does to Boston’s salary cap situation and the team’s rotation.
- After a difficult season under former coach Mike Woodson, J.R. Smith is starting fresh with a clean slate, Fred Kerber of The New York Post writes. Knicks head coach Derek Fisher said of Smith, “What I’ve tried to do with all of our guys, not just J.R., is kind of manage our relationship based on our relationship and not the relationships they have may have had with other people, other coaches. Jay’s been great, and I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t continue.”
- In addition to fellow rookies Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, Devyn Marble also hopes to make an impact for the Magic this season, Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders writes. Orlando signed Marble to a three year deal with the first year fully guaranteed, which went a long way towards giving Marble confidence, notes Taylor. “It’s good to have peace of mind,” Marble said. “It’s something that you don’t necessarily have to worry about. For me, I’m still going to come ready to play and still continue to work hard; nothing is guaranteed even though it technically is. I’m still going to find ways to help and I would want to be here for the rest of my career. I’m just doing anything I can in the time frame now to help the team out.”
The deadline for teams to sign rookie scale extensions with their eligible players is two weeks from today, and while only six players came to deals last time around, that number has the potential to be much larger this year, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein has more on many of those extension hopefuls that adds to the storylines we’ve been following throughout the offseason:
- Kawhi Leonard, Tristan Thompson, and Norris Cole are among the players who are in active negotiations with their respective teams about rookie scale extensions, Stein reports. Klay Thompson, Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Reggie Jackson, Brandon Knight, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks are also in active extension talks, according to Stein, who advances earlier reports that all of them had engaged in talks.
- Iman Shumpert and the Knicks are also discussing an extension, Stein writes, countering a report from a few weeks ago that indicated that the sides hadn’t engaged in talks and that New York was content to let the swingman hit restricted free agency next summer.
- Klay Thompson’s camp is considering the idea of going after an offer sheet similar to the one the Mavs gave Chandler Parsons if Thompson and the Warriors don’t come to an extension this month, Stein hears. Parsons’ near-max deal runs three years and includes a player option and a 15% trade kicker. Rival GMs have expressed admiration for its structure and Rockets GM Daryl Morey pointed to the difficulty that trading such a contract would entail shortly after he decided against matching it. The player option would allow Thompson to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2017, which is when Stephen Curry‘s deal is set to end, as Stein points out.
- The Lakers have attempted to trade for Thompson in the past, Stein notes, though he doesn’t make any suggestion that they’re planning an aggressive push for the shooting guard if he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.
Dario Saric is unlikely to end up signing with the Sixers this season even as his father threatens to find a way out of the forward’s deal with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes, sources tell Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. Shorr-Parks hears there’s no buyout clause in the Efes deal, so Saric couldn’t come to NBA next season, either, as he hinted he might, unless Anadolu Efes consents.
Here’s more from the east:
- Positions won’t play much into the Sixers‘ thinking when the team decides on its opening night roster, as coach Brett Brown said, notes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’m not out to construct an incredibly well-balanced team,” Brown said. “If we’ve got to tilt because we’ve got a bunch of interesting wings, then that’s the way we will go. … This team is going to be fluid, as we all know.”
- Jordan Hamilton said he knows he’s working to impress not just the Raptors but for the other 29 teams, too, in case Toronto doesn’t retain his partially guaranteed contract come opening night, tweets Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. Hamilton is up against Greg Stiemsma and Will Cherry, each of whom has the same $25K partial guarantee, with seemingly one regular season roster spot to go around for the three.
- There’s more talk around the Bulls that the team will give Tom Thibodeau a raise than that the coach will be on his way out of Chicago in the foreseeable future, as USA Today’s Sam Amick writes in a piece that sizes up the job security of all 30 coaches.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Pistons owner Tom Gores expressed a desire for more synergy between the front office and the coaching staff during his first meeting with Stan Van Gundy this spring, and that was “music to my ears,” Van Gundy tells TNT’s David Aldridge for his Morning Tip column on NBA.com. Van Gundy asserts that his dual executive/coaching role is as aligned with the owner’s vision as it is with his. It’ll be a while before we know whether Gores and Van Gundy had the right idea to consolidate authority, but while we wait on the early returns, there’s more on the Pistons amid the latest from the Eastern Conference:
- Nikola Mirotic thought he’d keep playing in Spain until at least 2015 until the Bulls pushed for buyout talks with Real Madrid this spring, as Shams Charania of RealGM details.
- The Pistons have discussed the idea of retaining the D-League rights to Josh Bostic and Lorenzo Brown with their respective agents, GM Jeff Bower says, according to MLive’s David Mayo. Detroit can do so with up to four of its preseason cuts.
- Michael Carter-Williams told reporters today that the original prognosis when he had shoulder surgery in early May was for him to miss six to nine months, which conflicts with the two-to-four month timetable the Sixers released at that point, notes Tom Moore of Calkins Media (Twitter links). The reigning Rookie of the Year has yet to play in the preseason this month, though Carter-Williams added that he’s ahead of that six-to-nine month schedule.
- Vitor Faverani will miss six to eight weeks after today’s left knee surgery, perhaps endangering his place on a Celtics roster on which he has one of 16 fully guaranteed contracts, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.
- Tom Thibodeau will make close to $4.4MM a year through 2016/17, but amid persistent rumors about his future and with the going rate for coaches on the rise, the Bulls should grant him an extension that’s more reflective of his value, opines Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
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.”