With the Bucks currently holding a seven-game lead on the ninth-seeded Sixers for the Eastern Conference's final postseason spot, there won't be a race for the playoffs over the season's final few weeks. But if we flip the standings upside-down, there is a race developing for the best chance at June's first overall pick. A pair of Bobcats wins last week pulled them within two games of the Magic, and the two teams are set to square off in Charlotte this Wednesday. As we, uh, look forward to that contest, let's round up a few Monday items from around the conference:
Corey Maggette dropped hints about retirement earlier this season, but now he's certain he wants to play next year, and he's entertaining the idea of re-signing with the Pistons as a free agent in the summer, writes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. The Pistons haven't found much use for Maggette on the floor this year, but the team is open to bringing him back, according to Ellis.
Maggette said he didn't want a buyout last week, a stance Ellis believes is surprising, since Pistons officials believe other teams would have interest in bringing the 33-year-old swingman aboard. That Maggette wouldn't entertain a buyout may have more to do with his unwillingness to forfeit any of his $10.9MM salary for this season than a lack of desire to play elsewhere. "I'm not a firm believer in giving up money anyway," Maggette said.
Wherever he signs his next contract, the money won't come close to his current deal, but the Duke product seems intrigued by the idea of continuing to provide a veteran influence for his younger Piston teammates. His leadership is what the team is most interested in Maggette providing, Ellis notes.
The 14th year veteran, who entered the league as the No. 13 pick in the 1999 draft, is averaging career lows in points (5.3), field goal percentage (35.5%) and minutes (14.3) per game this season. Still, he's only one year removed from notching 15.0 PPG in 27.5 MPG for the Bobcats in 2011/12, numbers just slightly below his career averages.
Even after the Pistons traded away Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye, Corey Maggette has been unable to crack the team's rotation, having not appeared in a game for Detroit since December 15th. Despite his non-existent role with the Pistons though, Maggette tells Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News that he's not interested in pursuing a buyout.
"No, not at all," Maggette said when asked. "I don't even know how it works."
Players hoping to change teams before season's end and be eligible for the playoffs have until tomorrow night to negotiate buyouts with their current teams. Any players waived after March 1st won't be postseason-eligible if they sign with another club. A veteran on a lottery-bound team in the final year of his contract is generally considered a candidate for a buyout, but according to Maggette, he's still making the most of his role in Detroit.
"I like management here and I'm still able to help the young guys, that's been my MO with this season," Maggette said. "I haven't played, it's part of what happens sometimes. You know me, I've been positive about that. I haven't thought about getting a buyout."
Maggette, who was acquired by the Pistons last summer primarily for his $10.92MM expiring contract, will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. His stock isn't exactly at an all-time high -- he has averaged career-lows almost across the board in limited action this season, including in PPG (5.3), PER (8.0), and FG% (.355).
Although he only turned 33 years old earlier this month, Corey Maggette has been around the NBA for a long time, having made his debut back in 1999. With his contract set to expire next summer, Maggette was non-committal about what his immediate future may hold, says David Mayo of MLive.com.
"Who knows what will happen? Who knows? I might be a guy that might be in a front-office position," Maggette said. "I'm already preparing myself for that as I finish this career. The biggest thing is to worry about what's going on now and let the future take care of itself. We don't even know if we're going to wake up tomorrow."
While I'd be surprised if Maggette retired as a player next year, it seems he's already considering the next stage of his career, having spoken to Pistons GM Joe Dumars and assistant GM George David about the paths they took to their current jobs. Here are a few more odds and ends as we prepare for a light Thursday evening NBA schedule:
Sources close to the Magic deny that Al Harrington was included in this month's Dwight Howard blockbuster as a throw-in, according to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld. However, Kyler still believes the Magic will explore the possibility of moving Harrington and his contract before the trade deadline. Harrington has three years remaining on his deal, but the last two are only partially guaranteed, and he's still a serviceable player, so Orlando could find a taker. Here are the rest of Kyler's Thursday morning updates on players that may be on the move prior to the trade deadline:
According to Fox's John Telich, the Cavaliers may buy out Omri Casspi's contract. (Twitter link) FoxSportsOhio.com's Sam Amico tweets that there have been rumors regarding Casspi's want to play overseas.
Here's a rundown on some of the latest news and notes from around the NBA this weekend:
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spoke about his team's offseason moves during the broadcast of a summer league game on Friday, reports Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Cuban expressed lament over Dallas' inability to sign Deron Williams, but is confident that his roster has a strong young nucleus heading into next season. "... We can keep these guys, let them jell and play together, build around Dirk and have room for hopefully someone to come or to trade or whatever happens." Here's the latest news and happenings from around the league...
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports tweeted that the Bobcats have acquired Ben Gordon and a lottery-protected first round pick from the Pistons in exchange for Corey Maggette. According to a tweet by David Aldridge of NBA.com, the conditional first-round pick will be lottery protected in 2013, top-eight protected in 2014, first pick-protected in 2015, and unprotected in 2016. Detroit will also receive a trade exception of about $1.3MM in the deal.
Wojnarowski also mentioned (via Twitter) that Detroit will save nearly $15MM by trading the remaining two years of Gordon's contract in exchange for Maggette's expiring deal. Gordon is due $12.4MM next season with a $13.2MM player option for 2013-14, while Maggette will be in the final year of a contract where he is due about $10.9MM.
Viewed as one of Joe Dumars' significant free agent acquisitions during the 2009 off-season, Ben struggled to find the same niche that he established in Chicago. After making the playoffs in four of his first five seasons with the Bulls and averaging more than 31.0 MPG from 2005-06 to 2008-09, the former UConn Husky missed the playoffs in each of his three seasons with the Pistons and never averaged more than 28 MPG.
While Charlotte may not be a team ready to contend for the playoffs just yet, it could present an opportunity for a significant increase in playing time. Gordon averaged 12.5 PPG while shooting 44.2% from the field and 42.9% from three-point range last year, and holds career averages of 43.6% shooting from the field and 40.6% shooting from three. Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap recently spoke about the team's need for shooters, which should bode well for Gordon:
"The ability to make the 3(-pointer) is really important because it allows you to play inside. What happens (in the absence of quality shooting) is the defense collapses and it gets crowded in there...It's always nice to have guys who can shoot a basketball."
Detroit will be Maggette's sixth NBA team in thirteen seasons, and his third consecutive year in which he's been traded. The 32-year-old guard/forward averaged 15.0 PPG, 4 RPG, and 36.4% from beyond the arc, but shot just 37% from the field overall this past season and missed a significant amount of games due to lingering injuries. Although he is slated to undergo minor knee surgery this summer, there is little doubt that he will be ready to play by the start of next season.
With nearly $11MM coming off the books next summer, the Pistons also have the opportunity to clear an additional $8.5MM if they chose to amnesty a contract such as Charlie Villanueva's, who is owed a total of about $16.6MM through 2014. The Bobcats can definitely afford to take on Gordon's deal, as he and Tyrus Thomas (along with at least this year's lottery pick) would be the team's only guaranteed contracts heading into the 2013-14 season.
Eastern Conference playoff seeding will be on the line the next two nights, with a focus on Southeast teams. Tonight, the Heat take on the Bulls in what is a must-win game if Miami wants a shot at the East's top seed. Tomorrow night, the Hawks and Magic, who have identical 34-24 records, play in Orlando in a game Dwight Howard is expected to miss. While we await what should be some good on-court action, let's catch up on the latest off-court updates out of the Southeast Division....
The Trail Blazers aren't the only team talking to the Bobcats about the possibility of acquiring D.J. Augustin. According to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News (Twitter link), the Pacers are also among the clubs who have inquired on Augustin. Deveney says (via Twitter) the Bobcats would want to package a bad contract with Augustin if they were to trade the point guard.
Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld reported in January that the Bobcats weren't shopping Augustin, but were willing to listen if it meant gaining draft picks or financial flexibility. Unloading a contract like Corey Maggette's or DeSagana Diop's would certainly qualify as gaining flexibility.
Augustin, whose cap figure for 2011/12 is just $3.24MM, will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer. So the team he finishes the season with would be able to match any competing offers and keep him, if it so chooses. In 28 games this season, the former ninth overall pick has averaged 12.2 PPG and 6.5 APG in 30.8 MPG.