Let’s round up the latest news and notes from the Association on Tuesday night:
- Jimmy Butler said extension talks between his representatives and the Bulls were going in the right direction, telling reporters that he wants to remain with the team “however long it takes,” writes Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com. The deadline for an extension is October 31st, but Butler could instead re-sign with the team as a restricted free agent next summer.
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News examines the Spurs roster, reminding us that San Antonio already has 15 guaranteed deals on the books, as shown in our 2014/15 Expanded Roster Counts. If the Spurs do decide they want to keep Bryce Cotton, Josh Davis, JaMychal Green or John Holland, McCarney opines that they might consider eating the $1.063MM salary of Austin Daye.
- Orlando’s deals with Peyton Siva, Kadeem Batts, Drew Crawford and Seth Curry all contain partial guarantees, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The Magic have promised Siva $100K, Batts $150K, Crawford $75K and Curry $100K despite having room for only one more fully guaranteed deal on their roster (via Twitter).
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Bulls and Jimmy Butler‘s representatives have begun talks toward an extension, as GM Gar Forman acknowledged to reporters, including Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com (Twitter link). Forman said the sides will continue to talk as the October 31st deadline approaches. The Bulls would prefer to reach a deal on an extension with the 25-year-old swingman rather than let him hit restricted free agency next summer, assuming the financial terms pass muster, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune wrote over the weekend.
Chicago already has about $58MM in commitments for 2015/16, so an extension would further shrink the club’s margin beneath the luxury tax threshold. Still, that concern becomes less pronounced as the salary cap rises, with some projections reportedly indicating the cap will surge to $80MM by the summer of 2016, even though it remains to be seen whether such an increase will be phased in starting next summer. An extension would nonetheless serve as a hedge against future improvement for Butler, presuming the Happy Walters client doesn’t demand too much in the month ahead.
Butler has proven a plus defender, but his offense regressed amid heavy minutes last season, as I noted when I examined him as an extension candidate last month. The wing is an area of weakness for Chicago, which harbors title aspirations, and Butler is the team’s best player at either the shooting guard or small forward positions. I predicted the sides would reach a four-year, $42MM deal before the extension deadline.
When center Brook Lopez was asked if he knew how many different people had coached the Nets since the team picked him in the 2008 draft, he wasn’t too confident in his answer. “Seven?” Lopez asked reporters, including Andrew Keh of the New York Times. “Or eight? Are you counting interim?” The number, interim coaches included, is indeed seven, and the Nets are hoping that new coach Lionel Hollins will stick around for some time. Here’s more from around the league..
- The Knicks appear to be more stable than they did a year ago, and seem to have a clear plan on how they want to build towards being a championship contender, Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes. “I think it feels much better now,” executive vice president Steve Mills said. “I think the addition of Phil to the team adds a different look in terms of creating a culture. I think that was important to Carmelo and I think it’s important to how we move forward as a unit. So I think there’s a lot more stability. I see the rhythm to how we need to build the team.”
- If Jimmy Butler does sign a long-term extension with the Bulls, it’ll probably come at the last minute as it did with Taj Gibson two years ago, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com. It’ll be an especially crucial year on an individual level for Butler if he doesn’t ink a new deal. Butler will look to his long-distance shooting which dipped to 28% last season thanks in part to playing a grueling 38.7 minutes per night.
- The Magic have until October 31st to reach contract extensions with Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic, but it wouldn’t be a crisis if deals aren’t struck, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
- With training camp set to open for the Mavericks this Tuesday, Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram gives a quick rundown of Dallas’ roster and what each player brings to the court.
Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.
All things being equal, the Bulls would prefer to reach an extension with Jimmy Butler rather than let him hit restricted free agency next summer, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune notes. Of course, finding an amenable price point is the challenge, as Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors examined as he wrote about Butler as an extension candidate.
Here’s more from the east:
- Prior to breaking his hand, Rajon Rondo was the subject of trade talk around the league. While this latest setback certainly harms Rondo’s trade value, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com thinks there’s still time for it to be rebuilt and the Celtics to determine if they want to re-sign Rondo long-term or deal him.
- During the Heat‘s media day Luol Deng spoke with Surya Fernandez of FoxSports.com. When asked about replacing LeBron James at small forward, Deng said, “I would never try to replace anybody, whether somebody is better than me or if I’m better than somebody. I think that we all bring different things. The biggest mistake I would make is to try to be LeBron. I’m not LeBron. My whole life — I’m 29 years old — I’ve never been able to be somebody I’m not. So I just got to be myself, work hard and try to do my best. My ultimate focus is what can I bring to this team and that’s it.”
- Deng also was asked about Danny Ferry‘s comments and he said, “It’s been behind me, honestly. I think that it just came back to the surface (in Media Day) because it’s the first time I’m seeing everybody but honestly I think that after I made my statement it was over with. I can’t control what everyone thinks or how everyone feels. My position is I really forgive Danny Ferry and people make mistakes. I’m ready to move on. Whatever it is or whatever it came from, let’s just make sure it doesn’t happen again to someone else and make sure we just improve as human beings and how we view other people. That’s really about it.“
- After a breakthrough campaign last season the Wizards look to take the next step towards being a contender in the east. Adi Joseph of USA Today previews Washington’s 2014/15 season and projects they will snag the No. 3 playoff seed.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Bulls have signed one-year NBA veterans Kim English and Ben Hansbrough, the team announced via press release. The team is limited to giving out the minimum salary, and while it’s unclear whether there’s any guaranteed salary involved for either of them, it’d probably be nominal guarantees at best for the guards.
Hansbrough worked out for the Pistons and Lakers within the past month or so, while English was part of a large-scale Nets workout early in the offseason that seemed more geared toward summer league. The 2012/13 season is the only year that each has spent on an NBA regular season roster, with Hansbrough averaging 7.2 minutes per game for the Pacers that year while English saw the floor for 9.9 MPG in 41 appearances for the Pistons, who drafted him 44th overall in 2012. The 26-year-old Hansbrough, who went undrafted in 2011, spent this past season playing for Gran Canaria in Spain, while English, also 26, was with Italy’s Montepaschi Siena last year.
The additions give Chicago 17 players for camp. E’Twaun Moore has a partial guarantee for the 13th spot on the roster, likely leaving Hansbrough and English to compete against Nazr Mohammed and Solomon Jones to impress the team enough to keep them instead.
2:25pm: The signing is official, the team announced via press release.
1:40pm: The Bulls have struck a deal with eight-year NBA veteran Solomon Jones, according to his representatives at the Priority Sports agency (Twitter link). It’s a one-year deal for the minimum, as Shams Charania of RealGM confirms (on Twitter). Both the agency and Charania indicate that the 6’10″ center has already put pen to paper, but the team has yet to make an official announcement. It’s not clear whether there’s any guaranteed money involved. Still, given the 13 deals with at least some guaranteed money that the team is already carrying and Chicago’s reluctance to keep more than the NBA-minimum 13 players for opening night in recent years, Jones’ salary is probably non-guaranteed.
Jones appeared in 11 games with the Magic early last season before the Magic waived him rather than guarantee his salary for the rest of the year. The 30-year-old played for the Knicks D-League affiliate after Orlando let him go, and he also traveled to play in a second-tier Chinese league during the summer. He managed only 1.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 7.7 minutes per game for Orlando last season, and he’s never seen more than 13.9 minutes per game in any one NBA season.
The Bulls have a well-stocked frontcourt with Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic, and Nazr Mohammed is probably the favorite if the team retains a player on a non-guaranteed contract, so it’s tough to envision Jones lasting long in Chicago. The team has a dozen fully guaranteed pacts, while E’Twaun Moore‘s deal is partially guaranteed for $425K.
Some teams think the salary cap will jump above $70MM for next season, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports, though Lowe’s dispatch from a week ago indicated that the league has told clubs not to get carried away with their projections for the time being. Clarity on the matter will be important, especially for clubs with players up for extensions to their rookie-scale contracts before the October 31st deadline. Lowe’s latest piece centers on one such case, as the Hornets face a decision about whether to extend Kemba Walker, whom rival executives often say isn’t a “championship point guard,” according to Lowe. We’ll pass along another tidbit from the Grantland scribe amid the latest from around the league:
- The Suns haven’t shown much interest in sign-and-trades involving Eric Bledsoe, Lowe hears, advancing Friday’s report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that threw cold water on the idea that Bledsoe would end up with the Wolves.
- The Wolves and Ricky Rubio‘s camp remain in a stalemate in extension negotiations in part because agents Dan Fegan and Jarinn Akana know that the Knicks and Lakers can open cap space next summer, writes Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter links).
- Rumors as late as the eve of the draft suggested that the Cavs were conflicted about whom to take No. 1 overall, but coach David Blatt insists the team had settled on Andrew Wiggins long before making him the top pick, as Blatt tells Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer. Cleveland didn’t hold on to Wiggins for long, of course, shipping him to the Wolves in the Kevin Love trade.
- Nazr Mohammed‘s contract with the Bulls is non-guaranteed for the minimum salary and covers just one season, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
- Clippers signee Jared Cunningham rejected a deal from Serbia’s KK Partizan to instead try his hand at making the opening-night roster in L.A. on his non-guaranteed contract, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com.
The Bulls have re-signed center Nazr Mohammed, the team announced (Twitter link). It’s not clear whether the 37-year-old is coming back with any guaranteed money in his contract, but Chicago almost certainly isn’t giving him more than the minimum salary he’s earned the past two seasons with the club, since that’s all the Bulls can hand out to free agents. They renounced their Early Bird rights to Mohammed in July.
It’s somewhat surprising to see Mohammed wind up back with Chicago, given the team’s beefed-up front line that includes newcomers Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. Mohammed worked out for the Heat late last month, but there’s otherwise been little interest in the 16-year veteran. He appeared in 80 regular season games for the Bulls last season, but he averaged just 7.0 minutes per outing and totaled five minutes over two playoff appearances.
The Excel Sports Management client nonetheless maintained confidence throughout the summer that he’d find a deal, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. The question remains whether he’ll still find himself under contract come opening night. Chicago has 12 fully guaranteed deals plus a partially guaranteed arrangement with E’Twaun Moore, but the team hasn’t carried more than the NBA-minimum 13 players on opening night in any of the last three seasons.
We have notes out of each division from the Eastern Conference this evening. Last year, the Southeast Division sent four teams to the playoffs, while the Atlantic and Central sent two apiece. This season, the Atlantic is in danger of dropping to just one playoff entry, as teams like Cleveland, Charlotte, and Atlanta figure to improve while Brooklyn and New York haven’t made clear upgrades this offseason. Here’s a rundown of the East:
- Taj Gibson insisted that he is comfortable with a bench role in Chicago from his personal Twitter account (H/T Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). The Bulls big was responding to a report that he was privately displeased at the prospect of remaining on the bench for a crowded Bulls frontcourt. Gibson was similarly diplomatic when a potential starting role was fueling rumors regarding Carlos Boozer‘s eventual amnesty.
- Jeff Taylor tells Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer that he is trying to be patient while training following his Achilles surgery this winter, but that his injury is healed and not a concern heading into camp. “It’s the first time I had anything more than a sprained ankle. It’s really hard to hold yourself back,” Taylor said. “I’ve always been that person who thought he could do things others doubted. But in a situation like this, you have to listen.” Hornets coach Steve Clifford had some doubts as to Taylor’s readiness for the season, but the third-year guard is confident that he will be able to compete immediately. “It’s not an injury anymore. It’s healed,” said Taylor. “It’s not weighing on my mind.”
- Jonah Ballow of NYKnicks.com writes that Knicks president Phil Jackson has given coach Derek Fisher plenty room to work so far, despite the temptation Jackson might feel to gravitate back toward the bench.
The recent trend in the NBA of coaches doubling as GM’s has made its way to Atlanta where Mike Budenholzer is handling both positions for the Hawks, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com writes. Budenholzer’s circumstances do differ from the Clippers‘ Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy‘s in Detroit, and the Wolves‘ Flip Saunders, in that he took over the extra duties due to GM Danny Ferry being forced to take a leave of absence after his racist remarks were made public, and not by design.
Here’s more out of the east:
- E’Twaun Moore‘s minimum salary deal with the Bulls comes with a guarantee of $425K for the first year, with the second being non-guaranteed, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link).
- The Knicks have guaranteed $15K of Orlando Sanchez‘s minimum salary contract, Pincus notes (Twitter link).
- JaKarr Sampson‘s four-year, minimum salary deal with the Sixers includes a $50K guarantee for the first season according to Pincus (Twitter link). The remaining three years of the deal come with no guaranteed money.