Fearing a potential fine from the league, Bulls coach Tim Thibodeau decided to withhold his opinion when asked by Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com about proposed changes to the NBA’s draft lottery system. “The thing that I don’t like about it is it just seems like…I think it’s bad when…I guess it’s fine,” Thibodeau said, before adding, “I’ll try to save my money.” NBA owners voted down a proposal last week that would have shaken up the lottery, giving the league’s worst teams a smaller chance at the highest picks. Here’s more from around the Central Division:
The Cavs and forward Tristan Thompson have until October 31st to come to terms on a contract extension or Thompson becomes a restricted free agent next summer. Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer looks at the options for both the player and the team and compares Thompson’s numbers against other forwards who have recently inked new deals.
Here’s the latest out of the Central Division:
- In an interview with Pluto, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said, “I look at the last four years as a payment for the next four to six years (when the Cavs begin to win again).” The last four seasons sans LeBron James have seen the franchise go a combined 97-215, and Gilbert discussed how difficult those seasons were, how he and James mended fences, as well as his expectations for the future of his franchise.
- In his Central Division preview, Adi Joseph of USA Today says the division will come down to a battle between the Cavs and the Bulls. Another interesting storyline, according to Joseph, is how the Pacers will fare without Paul George and Lance Stephenson after capturing the division crown a season ago.
- With the deadline quickly approaching, Jimmy Butler remains confident that he can work out a contract extension with the Bulls in time, reports Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com. First-round picks like Butler who are heading into their fourth season have until Oct. 31 to come to terms. Butler, who missed Chicago’s final two preseason games with sprained ligaments in his thumb, isn’t worried about the deadline. “I think we’re going to figure it out,” he said. “My main focus is now of all time is to get healthy. If you’re healthy, you’ll get paid anyway. That’s all I’m worried about it.”
Arthur Hill contributed to this post.
The Cavaliers have exercised their fourth-year contract option on Dion Waiters, general manager David Griffin announced Saturday. This move gives the Cavs $21.48MM in guaranteed salary commitments for the 2015/16 season. But that figure doesn’t include a total of $41.17MM in player options for LeBron James, Kevin Love and Mike Miller. It also doesn’t factor in Tristan Thompson, who will be a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension by Oct. 31st.
The decision on Waiters isn’t surprising, as he has become a big part of Cleveland’s rotation during his two seasons in Cleveland. Last year with the Cavaliers, he averaged 15.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 70 games. Waiters was selected fourth overall by the Cavaliers in the 2012 NBA draft. He is scheduled to make $4,062,000 in 2014/15 and $5,138,430 in 2015/16.
During his time in Cleveland, Waiters hasn’t quite developed as rapidly as the team would have hoped. A natural point guard, he’s still adapting to his move to the wing, and his high turnover rate (2.1 per game) and low field goal percentage (42.4% for his career), have held him back from having more of an impact on the court. With the additions of James and Love, and with the continued development of Kyrie Irving, Waiters won’t likely average 13-14 shots per game, so his numbers are likely to take a slight hit.
1:56pm: The move is official, the Cavaliers have announced.
SATURDAY, 1:20pm: Cleveland has indeed waived Edwards, Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal reports (Twitter link). No official announcement has been made by the team as of yet. This move would leave the Cavs’ preseason roster count at 15.
THURSDAY, 6:44pm: The Cavs are likely to waive small forward Shane Edwards, tweets Bob Finnan of The News-Herald. Cleveland is at 16 players, as our roster counts show, and Edwards is one of three who have non-guaranteed contracts, along with Lou Amundson and A.J. Price. If the Cavs are to make the move, they’d have to do it no later than 4 p.m. Central on Saturday so that he clears waivers in time for the team to have no more than 15 players when opening-night rosters are set at 4 p.m. Central Monday.
Edwards, 27, signed with the Cavs just as training camp began, returning to the team with which he made his NBA debut last season on a 10-day contract. He saw action in two games for just 12 total minutes on that deal, and Cleveland terminated his contract before the 10 days were up to accommodate the signing of Seth Curry. Edwards spent the lion’s share of the season with Cleveland’s D-League affiliate, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up back there again.
The Cavs don’t have to carry 15 players come opening night, but if Edwards goes, it would seemingly put Amundson, Price as well as Alex Kirk, who has a partial guarantee worth $65K, in line to remain with the team into the regular season. Anderson Varejao also has a partially guaranteed contract, but he’s in no jeopardy of being cut loose.
The Heat front office wasn’t deflated when they learned that LeBron James and his talents were returning to the Cavs, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. Miami’s brass looked at the departure as a new opportunity and a fresh chapter, notes Zillgitt. The team wasn’t interested in a long rebuilding process, and Zillgitt points to the team bringing back Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as well as signing Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng as proof that the team still intends to be contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Here’s more from the east:
- The Hawks have hired Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports to help facilitate the sale of the franchise, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link).
- With 16 players remaining on their preseason roster the Celtics have at least one more personnel move to make prior to the regular season commencing. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com hands out his preseason grades for the players and notes where each currently fits in Boston’s plans.
- New Bucks team owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry face their first major franchise decision, Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times writes. The two have to decide the contract future of Brandon Knight, whom they have until October 31st to work out an extension with or else he is eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer, notes Woelfel. Knight’s numbers and age compare favorably with Eric Bledsoe‘s, but many around the league feel that the Suns overpaid when the re-signed Bledsoe to a five year, $70MM deal, so Knight may be hard pressed to duplicate Bledsoe’s near $14MM per season average, the Journal Times scribe relays.
- The Sixers still have 20 players on their preseason roster and a number of decisions to make before Saturday’s deadline to waive players so that they’re off the team by the time opening-night rosters are set on Monday. Casper Ware is in camp on a non-guaranteed deal, but has a very real shot to stick with the team, Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com writes. “I feel good about it,” Ware said. “I don’t know what they have planned, I just control what I can control and play hard.”
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.
The Cavs announced that they have waived guards Chris Crawford and Stephen Holt. The Cavs’ roster now stands at 16.
Crawford appeared in five preseason games for the Cavs, averaging 2.4 points and 1.6 assists in 7.6 minutes per game. Cleveland signed Crawford late last month to a one-year, non-guaranteed pact. The Memphis product, who was with the Rockets in summer league, averaged just 8.7 PPG as a senior after putting up 10.4 PPG in his junior season.
Holt’s release was expected as David Pick of Eurobasket.com reported yesterday that he was headed to the Cavs’ D-League affiliate. Holt, also signed in late September, played in two preseason games and averaged 3.0 points in 2.3 minutes per game. The 23-year-old went undrafted out of Saint Mary’s back in 2012 after averaging 10.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 2.4 APG for his collegiate career.
This marks the second time in the past few weeks that the Cavs have waived Crawford. The guard was waived to make room for the club’s acquisition of Keith Bogans and collected on his $20K partial guarantee. When Bogans was traded to the Sixers, he was then re-signed to the non-guaranteed deal that was terminated today.
Stephen Holt is heading to the Cavs‘ D-League affiliate, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com. This would presumably mean that Cleveland will waive Holt and exercise their rights to him in the D-League. With Holt’s non-guaranteed contract out of the way, Cleveland’s remaining five camp invites on non- or partially guaranteed contracts would have a better shot at one of the team’s three open roster spots–outside of Anderson Varejao‘s lock to make the team on his partially guaranteed deal–for the regular season. Here’s more from around the league:
- Rockets coach Kevin McHale indicated to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that Houston’s first- and second-round draft picks, Clint Capela and Nick Johnson, respectively, will both spend significant time with the team’s D-League squad.
- While the Mavericks have high expectations for this season, coach Rick Carlisle will have the challenge of meshing multiple new pieces for the second consecutive year. Carlisle tells Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News that high turnover for veteran players is a league-wide trend. “I view it as one of the realities of our business right now. Teams are going to try to keep their young core players together,” Carlisle said. “There are going to be some financial and basketball decisions that are going to be unavoidable.”
- Keegan LaBlance has entered his name into the 2014 NBA D-League Draft, according to Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside. The point guard will hope to be selected on the November 1 draft and begin a journey toward an NBA career.
- Chadrack Lufile is also hoping to be selected in the D-League draft, telling Gino Pilato of DLeagueDigest.com that he turned down offers to play overseas this summer. “A large reason why I wanted to stay here is actually because my mom got really sick. I want to stay nearby,” said Lufile. “My ultimate goal is to play in the NBA, and it doesn’t matter how I get there, but I feel like the D-League is a great way for me to do so.”
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 jury is still out on whether or not Rajon Rondo will be in a Celtics uniform beyond this season. One thing that won’t factor negatively against Boston in Rondo’s eyes is the team’s head coach, Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald writes. Rondo has nothing but good things to say about second-year coach Brad Stevens, notes Murphy. “He’s very positive — the most positive coach I’ve been around in my career, and it’s hard not to play for a guy like that,” Rondo said of Stevens. “That’s every day — not just in the locker room. He’s that way off the court, with his family. He’s a role model. He has all of the characteristics of a great leader. He’s great at what he does. He’s all about the team.”
Here’s more from the east:
- The Cavs view veteran center Brendan Haywood as a part-time player who can help out when Cleveland faces teams with taller centers, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Haywood is well ahead of schedule in returning from injury, and the Cavs didn’t expect him to return to the court until January, notes Pluto.
- After Brook Lopez‘s latest injury scare involving his troubled feet, the Nets are ready to move on, with or without the seven-footer, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “I think you have to look at it from the standpoint that the glass is always half-full. I never looked at anything when he did have other injuries that the sky was falling,” GM Billy King said. “That’s why you have a team sport. If it was golf and I was his caddie, I’d be a little more upset because you don’t have a chance to make money. But it’s a team sport.”
- In his season preview for the Pacers, Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio writes that it will be a trying season in Indiana without Paul George and Lance Stephenson. If the Pacers are to have any shot at the playoffs, this is the season that Roy Hibbert will need to elevate his game to an elite level, Amico opines.