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City of Seattle

Aldridge’s Latest: Hornets, CBA, Seattle, Casspi

The Hornets had several players eligible for free agency in the summer of 2016, and while they lost some players, such as Courtney Lee and Jeremy Lin, they were able to re-sign key pieces like Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, much to the relief of Kemba Walker.

“I was nervous as hell,” Walker told David Aldridge of NBA.com. “I didn’t want to lose those guys. I knew we couldn’t pay everyone. I wish we could have gotten a lot of the guys back, but unfortunately, the way this business works is it can’t happen all the time. Nic and Marv were high priority … I got a chance to go out to Dallas and be a part of Nic’s meeting. Me and [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] flew out. It was super cool. We got a chance to sit in the room and say a few words.”

General manager Rich Cho admits the team was worried about potentially losing Batum. As Aldridge details, teams like the Mavericks and Wizards were interested in the veteran forward, but the Hornets didn’t want him to take a meeting with another team — and he didn’t.

Here’s more from Aldridge:

  • Barring any last-minute complications, the NBA and the NBPA will likely reach an official agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement during the week of December 5, reports Aldridge. The league and the union will likely take the week after Thanksgiving to make sure everyone’s up to speed on the new deal before formally announcing it.
  • According to Aldridge, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson approached Chris Hansen and his investment group about getting involved in the Seattle arena project, rather than vice versa. While it may still be years before a new Seattle arena is built, Wilson’s cache and his willingness to invest in the project should only help, Aldridge writes.
  • While there’s no indication that they have interest, Aldridge believes the Wizards should look into trading for Omri Casspi, who has fallen out of favor in Sacramento. Casspi told Matt George of Cowbell Kingdom that he and Kings head coach Dave Joerger haven’t spoken since the preseason.

Adam Silver Talks CBA, Expansion, Draft Lottery

Appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Thursday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver reiterated that he remains optimistic about the league and the players’ union reaching a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement sooner rather than later. As Silver explains (Twitter link), he views the opt-out date of December 15 as a deadline of sorts, and is hopeful that the two sides can reach an agreement on or before that date.

Silver also weighed in a few more issues of note, so let’s round up a few of the highlights…

  • On the new CBA giving teams “additional opportunities” to lock up their own players (Twitter link): “One of the things that we’re talking about is coming up with some… advantages in terms of being able to negotiate earlier, to extend the contract. Under the way our rules our structured, your current team can offer you a longer contract [and] they can offer you more money. I think if we early-up some of those opportunities, at least teams will be in a better position to know whether they can keep that player. And if they can’t, there will be more of an opportunity to deal that player and get value for that player if it seems likely that player is going to leave.”
  • On the possibility of expanding the NBA beyond 30 teams (Twitter link): “In addition to the so-called super-team issue, we also have to be sure that we have 30 competitive teams, made up of strong rosters. I’m not sure right now that expansion, which would then in turn dilute the competition on our teams, is necessarily the right direction to go. … As much as I’d like to bring teams to other communities, I have to take into account what impact it’ll have both in terms of competition and financially on our existing teams, who will then get their payments from our national TV partners diluted.”
  • More on expansion: “I’ll say that we owe to our owners, our players, and our fans to take a fresh look at it on a regular basis. I think once we ultimately get this new Collective Bargaining Agreement done, I’m sure a committee of owners and people at the league office will turn back to it and do a very sophisticated analysis about whether expansion does make sense.”
  • On draft lottery reform (Twitter link): “I’m not exactly sure how I would change it at the moment, because it once again seems to be working pretty well.”
  • Addressing the practice of resting non-injured stars, Silver said he’d like to see teams do it in home games rather than road games, but noted he’s “super-reluctant” to try to set any rules for how teams and coaches should manage their players’ minutes (Twitter link).
  • Silver also suggested that an NBA team in Europe is unlikely to happen anytime soon, pointing to rest and logistics as roadblocks (Twitter link).

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Seattle, Rumors, NBL

Earlier this month, USA Basketball announced that Jerry Colangelo was stepping down from his position as USA Basketball Chairman, with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reporting at the time that retired general Martin Dempsey was on track to replace Colangelo. Dempsey’s election as the new chairman is now official, according to an NBA.com press release. The vote took place at USA Basketball’s annual Board of Directors meeting.

“I am excited to join USA Basketball and to become part of a legacy of excellence both on and off the court,” Dempsey said in a statement. “Playing for USA Basketball is about commitment, sacrifice, and pride.  It’s about developing young men and women who are exceptional athletes but also exceptional leaders.  It’s about respecting the game and our international competitors. It’s about representing our country with honor, and it’s about winning.  I look forward to working with the USA Basketball staff, coaches, players, and families.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has partnered with Chris Hansen‘s Seattle arena group, as Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com details. As we heard last month, Hansen’s group is willing to forgo public funding in order to get approval to move forward with a new arena.
  • In a helpful piece for SBNation.com, Seth Rosenthal explains the difference between fake NBA rumors and legit ones, and how to tell the difference between the two.
  • Top recruit Terrance Ferguson ultimately chose to play this season in Australia’s National Basketball League rather than playing college ball at Arizona. A report from the Australian Associated Press (link via ESPN.com) explores whether Ferguson’s decision, along with the NBA’s one-and-done rule, could be a boon for the NBL.
  • Chris Patrick, formerly a member of Relativity Sports, has left the agency to start the Sports Law Group, which will represent athletes, coaches, and schools, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

KeyArena Could Be Renovated To Attract NBA Team

Seattle’s KeyArena could be developed into a multi-purpose facility that would allow it to house an NBA franchise, thus enhancing the prospects of the league returning to the city, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports.
A city-hall source confirmed to Baker that Los Angeles-based Oak View Group is interested in renovating KeyArena into a facility that could accommodate an NBA or NHL team. Last year, an architectural firm oversaw a KeyArena study that concluded the arena could be remodeled at a cost of $285MM, Baker continues.
One of the partners in the Oak View Group, Tim Leiweke, has a pro sports background after previously serving as CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment owns both the Maple Leafs’ NHL and Raptors’ NBA franchises.  The Oak View group has held several meetings regarding a KeyArena upgrade with Seattle officials, a source told Baker.
Seattle’s Mayor’s office is expected to issue a Request for Proposals to renovate the facility by December, according to Baker, and the city is then expected to seek bids on a potential renovation. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Seattle Times during the spring that the league remains open-minded to a KeyArena remodel, Baker adds.
The NBA, of course, has some history of returning to cities that lost franchises, mostly recently in Charlotte, as well as New Orleans. It would come as no shock if Seattle, who lost the Sonics franchise to Oklahoma City, becomes a viable destination for a new or current franchise if the KeyArena renovations are made.

And-Ones: Stephens, Seattle, Childress, NBPA

Former University of Memphis standout D.J. Stephens has been arrested and charged with domestic aggravated assault, writes Yolanda Jones of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Stephens, who was in camp with the Grizzlies this month before being waived last weekend, is accused of attacking his child’s mother. The alleged incident reduces Stephens’ chances of getting another shot with an NBA team, but if he does sign with a club at some point, he could be facing a suspension, depending on the outcome of the case.

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the NBA…

  • One NBA team owner tells Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net that getting a franchise back in Seattle is “a big priority” for the league. A new arena proposal from Chris Hansen‘s investment group has created renewed optimism about getting the NBA back to the city, though it doesn’t sound as if the league has gone too far down the road on planning potential expansion or relocation. “I don’t think it’s been thought out that far along yet,” a source tells Amico.
  • A Wednesday report from Chris Reichert of The Step Back suggested that former Hawks forward Josh Childress, who last played in the NBA during the 2013/14 season, had signed a D-League contract. However, Reichert has since removed his tweet, and Childress’ agent – Daniel Moldovan of Entersport – denied the report (Twitter link).
  • Jon Wertheim of SI.com spoke to NBPA executive director Michele Roberts about the optimism surrounding the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, and what she and the players’ union hope to get out of a new deal.

Seattle Arena Group Offers To Forgo Public Financing

The Seattle investment group led by Chris Hansen has offered to privately fund a new sports arena in the city’s SoDo neighborhood, forgoing public financing, reports Chris Daniels of KING 5 News. In a letter submitted to Seattle’s mayor, the King County Executive, and Seattle’s city council members, Hansen’s group says it’s willing to build a new arena “at no cost to the City or the County.”

As Daniels details, the arena group is also willing to cover a funding gap to build an overpass over Lander Street, though the offer would be conditional on the city vacating a one-block stretch of Occidental Avenue and agreeing to a few tax credits. Within the letter, which was signed by Hansen, Wally Walker, and Pete and Erik Nordstrom, the group notes that “economic landscape has changed” since it made its initial proposal that called for about $200MM in public bonds.

“The recession is behind us and we are deep into this new economic cycle,” the group said in its letter. “Interest rates have declined and the NBA has completed its new national television contract, creating more financial certainty in the industry. … These considerations lead us to suggest a new proposal.”

Although Seattle’s city council voted against the previous arena proposal from Hansen’s group by a 5-4 margin, the new proposal is described as a “game-changer” by city council president Bruce Harrell. When the city voted down the previous proposal, there was some concern about the fact that the NBA had made no promises to Seattle regarding expansion, meaning the arena project would have moved forward using public funds without being assured of landing a major professional sports team. However, if the arena is funded using only private funds, the city may more willing to get on board without any guarantees from the NBA or NHL, since the private group would be assuming the risk.

“In order for us to reconsider we urged them to remove public financing from the project, and they’ve done that, so the ball is back in our court,” Seattle city council member Tim Burgess said to Daniels after receiving the letter.

There have been whispers that the NBA may consider expansion in the not-so-distant future, though there’s still plenty of skepticism that team owners would want to reduce their share of the league’s revenue pie. It may not be a coincidence that the push from Hansen, who recently bought more land in the SoDo neighborhood, comes as the league and the players’ union are negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. A new CBA deal could allow for expansion to be weighed more seriously, and Seattle would likely move to the front of the line if the city approves the construction of a new NBA-ready arena.

NBA Considering Possibility Of Expansion?

As the NBA and NBPA work toward finalizing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the league is also reportedly considering the possibility of expansion, according to Kevin Nesgoda of SonicsRising.com. While no NBA teams are expected to relocate anytime soon, the league apparently hasn’t ruled out the possibility of moving into a new (or old) market via expansion.

According to Nesgoda, he asked dozens of media and league sources whether NBA expansion is on the table, and the overwhelming majority suggested the possibility is being discussed. Nothing is certain at this point, but Nesgoda hears that Seattle remains on the league’s radar. Nesgoda identifies Louisville, Pittsburgh, Omaha, Las Vegas, Vancouver, and Mexico City as other cities that could attempt to vie for a franchise if given the opportunity.

The possibility of expansion is an interesting one for the NBA, particularly if there’s a city with an NBA-ready arena prepared to make a play for a team. Unlike Major League Baseball, where teams play nearly every day, the NBA could conceivably function with an odd number of teams, so adding a single franchise would be realistic. That scenario would dilute the league-wide talent pool slightly, but not significantly enough to have a real impact on the quality of play.

As Nesgoda cautions, there are still plenty of roadblocks between NBA expansion becoming a reality in Seattle or another city, even if the league were to open up bidding. A potential ownership group would require the land, the funding, and the approval for an NBA arena in order to be taken seriously as a potential location for a franchise. Still, it’s something worth keeping an eye on as the league and the players’ union negotiate a new CBA deal.

And-Ones: Drummond, Seattle, D-League, Griffin

Now that we’re more than two weeks into the 2016/17 league year, Bobby Marks of The Vertical takes a look back at this year’s spending spree and attempts to draw some conclusions about the impact of the $94MM+ salary cap. As Marks outlines, the salary cap spike has resulted in 10 teams with $100MM+ payrolls so far, but has made the luxury tax a virtual non-factor. Marks also observes that if the players’ union had accepted the NBA’s cap smoothing proposal, we likely wouldn’t have seen so much roster turnover this offseason, since more teams would’ve been inclined to keep their own free agents.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the league:

  • Andre Drummond‘s new five-year max deal with the Pistons includes an 8% trade kicker, league sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Players earning a max salary can’t exceed that salary via a trade kicker, but with the salary cap set to get another bump next year and in subsequent seasons, Drummond will technically be earning less than his max after the first year of the contract.
  • Steve Ballmer, who was part of the group attempting to bring the NBA back to Seattle before he bought the Clippers, doesn’t envision Seattle getting a franchise in the near future. Speaking at the Geek Wire Sports Technology Summit in Seattle, Ballmer said the NBA hasn’t had expansion talks at all recently, and added that the league “has really moved to favor teams staying in their current markets.” Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times has the quotes from the Clippers owner.
  • The D-League won’t see the same sort of league-wide salary increase that the NBA will in 2016/17, but the D-League is changing its salary structure, and players will earn more on the whole, as Chris Reichert of UpsideMotor.com details.
  • Sam Gardner of FOX Sports takes an in-depth look at former Campbell forward Eric Griffin, whose quest for a spot on an NBA roster was derailed when he was accused of attempted murder — those charges were dropped last month, and Griffin is still looking for a team willing to give him a shot.

And-Ones: Seattle, Cavs, Whiteside, Draft

The Seattle City Council dealt a major blow to hopes that the city will be the home of an NBA team any time soon, voting 5-4 against a measure that would have given developer Chris Hansen control of an alley on the spot where he’s seeking to build an arena, reports Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. The chances of a revival for the SuperSonics within the near future have seemed remote anyway, though we invited your discussion on the idea of expansion in Monday’s Community Shootaround. See more from around the NBA:

  • Trade acquisition Channing Frye has given the Cavaliers a “breath of fresh air,” GM David Griffin told Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal amid an interview last week in which he disputes the idea of chemistry problems in the locker room. Frye has seen sharply limited playing time in the postseason but had his best game of the playoffs Monday, scoring eight points in nine minutes of action. “He’s been a huge, huge plus,” Griffin said. “We needed someone who was truly joyful to be part of the process to remind everybody how blessed we are to be together.”
  • Griffin also lauded soon-to-be free agent James Jones for his leadership, calling him a special player, Ridenour notes.
  • Hassan Whiteside doesn’t harbor ill feelings toward the Raptors for declining to bring him to training camp after he played for Toronto’s summer league team in 2014, believing the July stint, which was his first brush with the NBA in two years, led to other opportunities that helped revive his career months later, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. The Heat center is No. 10 in our latest 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings.
  • Draft prospects Brice Johnson, Malik Beasley, A.J. Hammons, Fred VanVleet, Kaleb Tarczewski and Rasheed Sulaimon have all signed with Andy Miller’s ASM Sports agency, as Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com relays (Twitter link).
  • Spanish small forward Santiago Yusta is officially eligible for this year’s draft despite his absence from the list of early entrants the NBA sent out last week, the league announced. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress pegs the 6’7″ 18-year-old as the 32nd-best overseas prospect among those born in 1997.

And-Ones: Suns, Fisher, Satoransky, Bennett

Suns owner Robert Sarver said he’s committed to keeping GM Ryan McDonough for next season and optimistic about the team’s position for the future, in an extensive interview with Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Sarver referred to rookie Devin Booker as a potential face of the franchise and also expressed belief in fellow recent first-round picks Alex Len, T.J. Warren and Archie Goodwin. The owner maintains faith in disappointing offseason signee Tyson Chandler, believing that he’ll perform better next season, when he’ll be 34. Still, Sarver insisted that he’ll leave matters of player personnel to McDonough and company, even as he feels a responsibility to set the tone.

“My biggest regret is that, as a manager of people, I feel I let the organization down in terms of the culture,” Sarver said to Coro. “I didn’t put my hand print on that culture and maybe didn’t hold people as accountable as I should and really make sure we’re putting that together. But I’m starting to see some of that.”

Sarver also stumped for public funding of a new arena and pointed to a clause in the team’s lease at Talking Stick Resort Arena, its existing home, that would allow the Suns to leave in 2021, as Coro relays. See more from around the NBA, which has seen the last of referee Joey Crawford, as Steve Aschburner of NBA.com reports:

  • Derek Fisher insists he didn’t lose his job as Knicks coach over character or integrity issues, as he writes in an essay for The Cauldron blog on SI.com. Fisher addressed his preseason encounter with Matt Barnes at the home of Barnes’ estranged wife, writing that he didn’t retaliate against Barnes during the incident and that he never had issues or much of a relationship with Barnes before that. Still, Fisher failed to address why he was in California and away from the Knicks when the episode took place, notes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).
  • It’s still possible for the Wizards to sign draft-and-stash prospect Tomas Satoransky this summer even in the wake of the four-year extension he signed with Barcelona of Spain, which doesn’t include an NBA out until 2017, a source tells Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The Wizards could buy out Satoransky’s contract before the extension kicks in, Castillo hears, adding that Washington would likely sign him to a two-year deal with a team option on the second season if the team brings him stateside.
  • Luis Scola‘s professionalism is well-known around the league, and Anthony Bennett, cognizant his NBA career was teetering on the brink, sought out his advice not long before the Raptors waived the former No. 1 overall pick last week, team sources tell Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. The release of Bennett was an eye-opener, rookie Delon Wright said, as Smith also notes in his look at the roles of nonstars in the NBA.

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