Brian Windhorst’s latest column at ESPN.com focuses primarily on LeBron James‘ possible options as he approaches potential free agency in 2014, but the piece includes an interesting tidbit about one of LeBron’s teammates as well. According to Windhorst, league executives expect the Mavericks to target Chris Bosh in free agency next summer.
As I noted yesterday, the Mavs only have about $25MM in guaranteed salary committed to their books for 2014/15. That doesn’t include cap holds for Dirk Nowitzki and other free-agents-to-be like Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, but nonetheless, the team should have the flexibility to re-sign Dirk and add another impact free agent.
Some cap maneuvering could put the Mavs in position to be a player in the LeBron sweepstakes, but Bosh, a Dallas native, appears to be the team’s more likely target in the eyes of rival execs. Like James, Bosh will have the chance to opt out of his deal in 2014, though he’s not a lock to do so. Whereas LeBron would undoubtedly receive a new long-term, maximum-salary contract in free agency, there’s no guarantee Bosh would receive the same kind of offers.
Bosh, who will turn 30 later this season, is averaging just 15.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 13 contests this season, the lowest averages since his rookie year. The Georgia Tech product remains an efficient scorer and a productive big man, but he may ultimately be better off playing out his contract with the Heat, which would pay him $20.59MM in 2014/15 and $22.11MM in 2015/16. The 29-year-old also indicated earlier this year that he’d like to spend the rest of his career in Miami.
The Bobcats made their first big splash in free agency this summer by signing Al Jefferson to a 3-year, $40.5MM contract to helm the post for one of the league’s most disappointing teams over the last half decade. The Bobcats announced today that Jefferson sprained his ankle against Miami in last night’s preseason action, and will be in a walking boot for several days:
“[Jefferson] suffered a sprained right ankle in the second half of last night’s preseason game vs. Miami. X-rays taken at the arena proved to be normal. As a precaution, Jefferson is expected to be in a walking boot for several days in an effort to contain the swelling and not put any pressure on the joint. Once out of the walking boot, he will be re-evaluated and will begin the rehab process.”
Here are a few more notes tonight from around the Southeast division, including more on Jefferson:
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets that Jefferson was in extensive pain and because it’s preseason the Bobcats are likely to treat the sprain conservatively so as not to endanger the health of their new big man.
- With so much speculation about what LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will do this coming summer when they can opt-out of their contracts with the Heat and become unrestricted free agents, Chris Bosh will have the same opportunity. But he’s grown comfortable with his role on the team as the third wheel of a champion, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.
- Winderman also reports that Magic CEO Alex Martins said before their preseason matchup against the Heat, that he’d like the Magic to have their own D-League affiliate in Jacksonville.
- Sources say Heat center Greg Oden will be cleared to practice next week, and could see action for the first time in four years in one of the Heat’s final preseason games, reports Michael Wallace of ESPN (by way of the Toronto Sun).
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel profiles Magic camp invitees, Mickell Gladness, Manny Harris, Solomon Jones and Kris Joseph. None of the four will see a dime unless they make the Magic’s final roster, which means overcoming the long odds against them, Robbins adds.
With the NBA preseason nearly right around the corner, let's catch up on a few miscellaneous items from around the Eastern Conference….
- Chris Bosh tells Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun Sentinel that he's better equipped to handle free agency now than he was back in 2010. Bosh will be eligible to opt out of his contract next summer, but the big man suggests that if the Heat win another title next spring, he, LeBron James, or Dwyane Wade probably aren't going anywhere.
- Using the Wizards and Bucks as a couple of case studies, Mark Deeks of SBNation.com explains how not to not rebuild in the NBA.
- Asked by WUSA's Dave Owens whether GM Ernie Grunfeld is "on the hot seat" heading into this season, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis was noncommital in his reply (link via the Washington Post). "We’re all on the hot seat," Leonsis said. "I’m on the hot seat. If the ratings aren’t good, you’ll be on the hot seat, too. I mean, we live in very accountable businesses, and we’re all accountable."
- Paul George's max extension will limit the Pacers' flexibility for the next couple seasons, as Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star writes, which doesn't bode well for the odds of Lance Stephenson and Danny Granger remaining in Indiana beyond 2014. Pointer also notes that the fifth year of George's new deal is a player option.
- In a piece for HoopsHype, Charley Rosen considers whether or not George is worth a five-year max extension.
Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld continues to examine potential trade situations for various NBA teams, today focusing on the Pelicans, Knicks, and Heat. Let's check out Kyler's NBA AM piece and round up a few of the highlights….
- The Pelicans' lack of a "bruising inside player" could be cause for concern, according to Kyler, who says that the team may look into acquiring a true center if Anthony Davis struggles in his minutes at the five.
- J.R. Smith's health will be one of the big questions for the Knicks this season, as the reigning Sixth Man of the Year recovers from knee surgery. If he's unable to return to 100% health, or has any setbacks, New York could target a replacement via trade, though the club likely wouldn't get aggressive until close to the deadline.
- Those close to the situation in Miami say the Heat should be more wary of the summer of 2015 than 2014, according to Kyler. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh each essentially have player options in each of the next two offseasons, so any or all of the Big Three could opt out in either '14 or '15.
- Kyler views Bosh and Wade as good bets to play out their current contracts, since neither player is likely to receive a raise in free agency. LeBron could obviously land a bigger long-term deal if he opts out, but he's unlikely to leave Miami while Wade and Bosh are still healthy and productive, says Kyler.
- The Heat have several expiring contracts that could be used to faciliate deals at the 2014 trade deadline, if necessary, and Kyler notes that the team essentially has zero guaranteed money committed for 2014/15, meaning Miami could be in position to add even more talent. I'm not sure how realistic that is though — if we assume Bosh, Wade, Udonis Haslem, and Joel Anthony all opt in, and the Heat pick up Norris Cole's option, that takes team salary for '14/15 up over $51MM, and that's not even counting LeBron.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau appeared to be excited as he described the progress that Derrick Rose has made, saying that the superstar point guard's speed and explosiveness have come back to the point to where he's comfortable and confident (Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago):
"I worked him out about a week ago…Watching the way he's moving now, there's a confidence.(Reporters) may not have been able to see the total work he was putting in. But he was putting in an enormous amount of work each and every day. He just never got to the explosiveness he was comfortable with. I think he's there now. He feels great, and that's the most important thing."
Here are more miscellaneous notes out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
- Heat forward Chris Bosh downplayed the idea that he's bothered by talk about him being the most expendable of Miami's "Big Three," also mentioning that he wouldn't want to be the lead player on a team with a lesser situation (Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports).
- Though Hall of Fame point guard Bob Cousy once doubled as a player-coach, don't expect Nets coach Jason Kidd to follow suit, as he told reporters that he has no intention of ever playing another minute (Marc Berman of the New York Post via Twitter).
- Patrick Ewing, recently hired as an associate head coach for the Bobcats, thinks that it'll be a tough challenge for Kidd to make the transition from being an NBA player directly into becoming a head coach (Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York).
- Former Knicks and Nets forward Shawne Williams looked good during a workout today and will audition for several NBA teams soon, tweets Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy.
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal writes that while the presence of Dion Waiters on the Cavaliers may compound the team's interest in drafting Ben McLemore, the former Syracuse standout could thrive in a reserve role as a primary ball handler in the second unit.
- Wheat Hotchkiss of NBA.com reviews today's draft workout hosted by the Pacers, which included Deshaun Thomas, Will Clyburn, Alex Oriakhi, James Southerland, and Troy Daniels. C.J. Leslie was present, but did not participate in the workout.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com follows up on several reports we've heard about Doc Rivers this week, confirming that Rivers wouldn't be interested in sticking around if the Celtics decide to rebuild. GM Danny Ainge believes the team can avoid a full-fledged rebuild, but it remains to be seen what will happen with Paul Pierce, whose contract is only partially guaranteed for now, and Kevin Garnett, who is believed to be considering retirement. As Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld notes (via Twitter), if Rivers steps down as the Celtics' coach, it will be a pretty good indication that Pierce's and Garnett's days in Boston are numbered.
Let's round up a few more odds and ends from around the NBA….
- If Rivers does decide to part ways with the Celtics, it's unlikely that the team would allow him to coach elsewhere without receiving significant compensation, tweets Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe.
- Chris Bosh's Miami Beach home may be on the market, but Bosh doesn't have any desire to hit the open market himself, telling Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel that he'd like to spend the rest of his career with the Heat.
- Speaking to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Metta World Peace seems to hint that he'd like to work out a new deal that would assure he remains with the Lakers. "I came here at a discount five years ago and I did that because I just want to win," World Peace said. "I thought my last contract was fair. I probably could have got more somewhere else, but I thought it was fair. Right now, the main thing with the Lakers whenever we cross that path is that (the offer) is just fair."
- Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld examines the Spurs and Heat players in the Finals who will be hitting free agency next month.
- Addressing a report that suggested he and Monta Ellis nearly came to blows in the locker room after a Bucks playoff loss to the Heat, Larry Sanders says it was "just personalities clashing" and that he'd have no problem playing with Ellis next season and beyond (Twitter link via Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times).
- Although the focus will be on their pursuit of a star, the Mavericks should also be looking to add quality depth to the roster this summer, writes Bryan Gutierrez for ESPNDallas.com.
Last month, we heard that Mike D'Antoni and Nate McMillan wouldn't be returning to Team USA for the 2016 Olympics as assistant coaches. Today, Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press reveals (via Twitter) that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and Pelicans coach Monty Williams will be the new additions to Mike Krzyzewski's staff. Here are a few more Monday odds and ends from around the NBA:
- Timberwolves president Flip Saunders tells Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com that every indication points to Rick Adelman returning as the team's head coach next season. Saunders also addresses Nikola Pekovic's free agency ("We plan on signing him") and Andrei Kirilenko's player option ("We don't have a gut feel [what he'll decide]") within the piece.
- Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has yet to officially state whether he'll return to Boston's bench next season, telling Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe that he'd address his future soon.
- In his weekend notes column for the Boston Globe, Washburn speculated that the Bobcats could be interested in trying to trade for Chris Bosh this summer, but Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer doesn't see Bosh as a fit for Charlotte.
- Asked about a potential Luol Deng trade, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld tweets that he has heard the Bulls don't intend to change their core significantly this summer. With Deng and others coming off the books in the summer of 2014, the roster figures to see more turnover a year from now.
- CSKA Moscow assistant Quin Snyder has officially left the team to return stateside, the club announced today (English link via Sportando). Last week, ESPN.com's Marc Stein named Snyder as a potential under-the-radar candidate for the Nuggets' head coaching job, but I think it's probably more likely that Snyder ends up as an NBA assistant somewhere.
- Last June, Mike Miller's injury problems had him contemplating the possibility of retirement, but he's certainly feeling better a year later. Miller tells Shams Charania of RealGM.com that he feels like he has four or five seasons left in him.
- Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today attempts to determine why there have been so many head coaching changes in the NBA this offseason, while TNT's David Aldridge tackles the same topic in his own column at NBA.com. Aldridge also examines new Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer and asks Danny Granger about being the subject of frequent trade rumors.
Heat president Pat Riley held court with the media today for the first time since July, and offered insight on how the 66-win Heat were built, as well as a few hints about his plan to keep the defending champs together. Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com all provide detail. We'll round it up here:
- Riley suggested the team may need a new, high-dollar local television contract to absorb the tax hit necessary to keep LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together beyond 2014, when they can all opt out and become free agents. A report last summer suggested the team was in talks with Fox Sports about a deal that would pay them $80MM-$100MM per season, but both the team and Fox denied it.
- Riley thinks keeping the team together is "doable" and said the front office has already begun to craft its plan for doing so, but said it's ultimately up to Micky Arison to decide how much he wants to shell out.
- Coach Erik Spoelstra was the driving force behind the team's midseason acquisition of Chris Andersen. "If I got another text from (Spoelstra) about getting Chris Andersen, I was going to put my hands around his neck," Riley quipped.
- Riley declined comment on Spoelstra's contract, which runs out after next season.
- The team believes Wade can handle point guard duties in case Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole goes down, and that's why they didn't seek more depth at the position this season.
- It doesn't seem as though the Heat will fully embrace analytics anytime soon, as Riley said proponents of advance metrics "make me squeamy a little bit," Haberstroh tweets.
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has a new mailbag column covering a variety of Heat-related topics. Here are the highlights:
- James Jones and Mike Miller would be the most logical trade candidates on the Heat's roster, although Jones has repeatedly said he only wants to play in Miami, and Miller's contract would prevent the Heat from getting anything of value in return.
- Winderman doesn't see Luis Scola as a viable option for the Heat, given the restrictions on trading him due to the amnesty clause, and the fact that he would have to take a buyout with the Suns in order to sign.
- Winderman isn't buying the recent talk that the Heat should trade Chris Bosh, arguing that he makes them better and they wouldn't be able to get equal value on the trade market.
In his Weekend Dime, Marc Stein of ESPN.com runs down his picks for this year's All-Star reserves. On Stein's ballot, the Nets get a representative in Houston, but it's not star point guard Deron Williams, who is barely shooting 40% from the floor. Instead, it's center Brook Lopez who has given the Nets the kind of steady offense that Williams hasn't been able to. Here's more from Stein's column..
- No matter how much TNT's Charles Barkley clammors for a major trade in Miami, the Heat just aren't looking for that sort of shake-up. Sources familiar with the club say that they aren't prepared to part with Chris Bosh, not only out of fear of a major change, but because it would make things umcomfortable from a player-relations perspective to break up the star trio.
- Sources close to the situation tell Stein that the Mavericks are not among the teams that have expressed interest in Grizzlies' Rudy Gay. The Mavs were previously mentioned as being among the clubs interested in the forward. Meanwhile, we learned yesterday that the Bobcats are aggressively pursuing him.
- The "Bank of Cuban" may be reopening its doors in Dallas, but the Mavericks still want to preserve their wiggle room this offseason. That's why even though the Mavs can offer cap relief to teams at the trade deadline, Stein doesn't expect them to take on significant contracts. Instead, they're more likely to trade Vince Carter to a contender that could use an extra shooter, or move Brandan Wright to a team in need of another big man. That could yield them some picks or perhaps allow them to shed even more salary.
- While the Hawks could move Josh Smith for an impact player, Stein is skeptical that they would want to sacrifice their cap space this summer.