In spite of predicting that the NBA’s salary cap will approach $80MM in 2016/17, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders suggests in his weekly chat the Suns should refuse to give any current member of their core more than $12MM annually. While paying big money to guys like Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic would of course limit Phoenix financially, Kyler thinks the bigger reason the Suns should hold out is because of none of the young talent on Phoenix’s roster looks worthy of being paid along the lines of the league’s most skilled. More from out west..
Kevin Durant said the decision to withdraw from Team USA this summer was “definitely tough,” and the Thunder forward told reporters, including Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press, that he did it because he needed to “take a step back” and have a break this offseason.
After five strong seasons and an NBA title with the Mavericks, Shawn Marion is heading to Cleveland this season to join forces with LeBron James. However, Dallas GM Donnie Nelson doesn’t harbor any ill feelings toward the 36-year-old veteran, as Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram reveals in a seriesoftweets.
We’re about 12 weeks away from the NBA’s opening night matchup where the Spurs will host the in-state rival Mavericks to get the season underway. Most major offseason moves have already taken place, but there’s still plenty that can happen until October 28th. Let’s wrap up some tidbits from around the Western Conference as we look forward to the new season:
Although the Mavericks had a tough time finding minutes for then-rookie Ricky Ledo last year, the guard is confident he’ll be able to contribute in a more meaningful way during the 2014/15 season, writes Earl K. Sneed of NBA.com.
While many teams were spurned by their players for greener pastures despite their best efforts this offseason (the Heat by LeBron James, the Lakers by Pau Gasol, the Nets by Shaun Livingston) some teams decided not to up the ante when they could have, allowing key contributors to sign elsewhere. We’ll run down a few of the latter, and explore whether these teams will regret their decision:
Lance Stephenson – from Indiana to Charlotte.Had Paul George‘s injury occurred before free agency, the Pacers might have been more willing to meet Stephenson’s demands. Instead, they let arguably their most versatile offensive piece walk, refusing to improve their five-year, $44MM offer before the combo guard signed with the Hornets for three years and $27.4MM. Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles are the incoming guards Indiana hopes can lessen the combined loss of Stephenson and now George. The Pacers also seeking Shawn Marion‘s services, but aren’t expected to win out over the Cavs in that pursuit.
Chandler Parsons – from Houston to Dallas. The Rockets declined an option to retain Parsons for another season on one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league. The team decided to take their chances with the forward’s restricted free agency this summer rather than letting him hit unrestricted free agency next offseason, but ultimately decided against matching the Mavs’ three-year, $46.1MM offer sheet. The Rockets let Parsons go in part because they had already locked up Ariza, who is next on the list.
Trevor Ariza – from Washington to Houston. Ariza bolted from the Wizards after turning in a career year for a team that advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Wizards were unwilling to increase their offer, which equaled Houston’s four-year, $32MM arrangement, but practically amounted to $3MM less due to differences in state taxes. Washington quickly signed Paul Pierce in the wake of Ariza’s departure, and received an exception by signing-and-trading Ariza that was partially spent on Kris Humphries.
Channing Frye – from Phoenix to Orlando. In a surprise signing, the Magic snatched the sharp-shooting Frye away from the Suns, who wanted to bring him back to their surprise-playoff roster. Frye is one of a few bigs that stretch the floor at an elite level, and the team signed another shooter in Anthony Tolliver to make up for Frye’s loss. Orlando’s deal with the 31-year-old was for four years and $32MM.
Isaiah Thomas – from Sacramento to Phoenix. The Kings didn’t see the scoring machine of a point guard in their future, signing Darren Collison while Thomas was still a restricted free agent. Thomas was one of only five players to average 20 PPG and 6 APG last season. Sacramento hasn’t recouped much scoring punch in free agency, but did acquire a $7.2MM trade exception, as well as the rights to Alex Oriakhi, by executing a sign-and-trade sending Thomas to Phoenix.
As with any transaction, these front offices weighed the immediate future against their long-term plans, and tried to make the wisest choice. It might be painful to lose some of these players in year one, but fans might breathe a sigh of relief if the same players are underperforming for their new teams in the future. Then again, a player could blossom into an even stronger producer, compounding any misgivings about the teams’ non-action. What do you think?
Lost in the noise surrounding the agreement between the Cavs and Wolves to send Kevin Love to Cleveland is a trade that actually became official Wednesday. The Kings can create a pair of trade exceptions from their deal with the Knicks, one worth $915,243 for Quincy Acy‘s salary, and another worth $228,660 for the difference between the salaries of Travis Outlaw and Wayne Ellington. The Knicks, limited in part because they’re a taxpaying team, can only make a tiny trade exception worth $32,920 for the difference between the three-year veteran’s minimum that Jeremy Tyler makes and the two-year veteran’s minimum that’s coming to Acy. Here’s more on the Knicks and other teams and players from around the league:
Mavs point guard Raymond Felton will serve a four-game suspension at the start of the regular season for his guilty plea to gun-related charges stemming from a February incident, the league announced via press release.
The Wizards no longer have free agent Chris Singleton in their plans, a source tells J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. Singleton nonetheless turned down an overseas offer in hopes of landing an NBA job, and has dropped agent Bill Duffy of BDA Sports in favor of Todd Ramasar from Stealth Sports, Michael also reports.
The Heat were unlikely to re-sign Greg Oden before his arrest this morning on misdemeanor battery charges, and the incident probably ends any chance he had of returning to the team, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in a pair of tweets.
Mark Deeks of ShamSports clarifies an earlier report indicating that Jusuf Nurkic received less than the standard 120% of the rookie scale from the Nuggets. Denver is doling out the full 120%, but the team is using a portion of it to pay Nurkic’s buyout from his Croatian club, so while Nurkic is receiving less than 120% of the scale in actual salary, his cap figure will reflect that the Nuggets are paying 120%. The move is not unprecedented for a player picked as highly as Nurkic, who went 16th overall.
Tracy McGrady, 35, is at peace with his decision to retire from professional basketball, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. While he says that he could still play in the NBA or an overseas league, and admits that he sometimes gets the itch, he’s no longer interested in putting in the necessary work. “At times I get…the urge to go back and play. I still can, I’m young enough to still play. My body feels good; I haven’t played in a couple of years so my body feels great. It’s just the mental part of [not] having that drive to get back in that type of shape and to put that type of time and focus into it,” McGrady said. More from around the Association..
Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter) gets the sense that J.J Barea wouldn’t be involved in a two-team deal involving Kevin Love and maybe not even in a three-team deal. Because his contract could be difficult to move, Wolfson wonders aloud if the stretch provision could be back in play for the Wolves when it comes to the guard.
Is Suns restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe a true No. 1 player? David Nurse of HoopsHype looks at both sides of the argument. On one hand, the guard has been the “other guy” everywhere he’s been from Kentucky (John Wall) to the Clippers (Chris Paul) to the Suns (Goran Dragic). On the other hand, Bledsoe has looked like a mini-LeBron at times and is a major impact player on both sides of the court. Ultimately, while a max contract may be tough to swallow, Nurse feels he’s worth it.
Mavs guard Monta Ellis could be the next NBA notable looking for a change of scenery, writes Jonathan Tjarks of RealGM. The 29-year-old has a player option in his contract and could hit free agency next summer. He’ll be looking for one last long-term deal and the Mavs might not want to lock themselves into a core with a number of defensive issues.
In the wake of Paul George‘s terrible injury Friday night, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban blasted the IOC, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Cuban hopes the injury will spur the NBA into creating its own international tournament where the league has more control as well as receives the benefits of holding such competitions. Cuban also said, “I think it’s a bigger issue than star players. We are being taken advantage of by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and to a lesser extent FIBA (International Federal Basketball Association). We take on an inordinate amount of financial risk for little, if any, quantifiable gain. It’s like our guiding principle is to lose money on every game and make it up in volume. There is no logic to our position. (We) just hope we get value somewhere in the future.”
Here’s more from out west:
Thunder 2010 draft-and-stash pick Tibor Pleiss is expected to sign a two-year deal with Barcelona, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Oklahoma City had made an attempt to bring the German big man to the NBA this season but his buyout amount became an issue, but the team was still hoping to work out a deal for the 2015/16 campaign. Details of Pleiss’ potential deal with Barcelona and buyout amount haven’t yet been announced.
Sam Cassell is leaving the Wizards to join Doc Rivers‘ coaching staff with the Clippers, reports Michael Lee of The Washington Post. Los Angeles’ bench had recently lost Tyronn Lue to the Cavs and Alan Gentry to the Warriors.
Pacers GMKevin Pritchard tells Bob Kravitz of USA Today that he first thought Paul George‘s horrific leg injury would be career-ending when he saw it live at last night’s Team USA scrimmage, but has since grown confident in George’s eventual return.
“What I’ve learned through this process is that it’s not [career-ending],” said Pritchard. “We’re not trying to project when he’s coming back, just trying to get him through this week and then we’ll know more…I have no fear he’ll be back and back in a big way. We’re not going to put a timetable on it but I don’t think there’s any doubt he’ll be back.”
Aside from concerns about George’s long-term health and the impact for his team, the injury has sparked an NBA discussion about the drawbacks of international play. Here’s a rundown:
The NBA is determined to reshape the FIBA model to its own interests, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes. Wojnarowski says teams have long been more wary of NBA players participating on national teams outside of the US, where they have no control over the conditions and medical services available. Aging players are also pressured to play more for other nations with thinner talent than Team USA, Wojnarowski notes.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes it’s time for the NBA to push for an under-21 international competition model, he writes on his personal blog (H/T Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group).
Lee Jenkins of SI.com cautions that a ban on international competition for NBA players would also mean unregulated summer basketball at fan-favorite events like Drew League would be outlawed.
Frank Isola of New York Daily News thinks that a mass exodus of NBA players from international competition would be an overreaction to George’s “freak accident,” as he describes it. Isola suggests that athletes are no more safe from harm during their off-the-court summer activities than in FIBA tournaments and the Olympics.
Bulls GM Gar Forman told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune that the team still supports Derrick Rose‘s involvement in Team USA basketball in the wake of George’s injury. Rose has a well-documented history of catastrophic injuries over the last few seasons.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle added to the growing consensus that Marion will not be back in Dallas, telling Price, “Marion’s been a great player for us. I know he’s going to end up in a good situation.”
Jess Blancarte of Basketball Insiders compares Eric Bledsoe‘s play to other point guards around the league in an effort to gauge his true value. The market has dried up in the Suns favor, as Blancarte concludes Bledsoe is worth around $15MM per year.
The Jazz are hoping their first-round selection of Dante Exum will net them a franchise changing talent. Jay Yeomans of Deseret News looks back at the best draft picks in team history.
The Spurs sent Manu Ginobili a letter prohibiting him from participating in the FIBA World Cup, but the veteran guard held out hope that he would be able to join Argentina at the tournament in Spain, writes Dan McCarney of the Express-News. It was only after Ginoboli started experiencing leg pains related to his fracture during workouts that he realized participation in the tournament wasn’t worth the risk of injury. Here’s more from the Lone Star State:
The recently extended Tony Parker is excited to remain a member of the Spurs, and he plans on finishing his career with San Antonio, passes along Jeff McDonald of the Express-News. “I’m very happy and I want to play for the Spurs my whole career and be a Spur for life,” said Parker, who will be 36 when his deal ends, “I love San Antonio and want to live here when my career is over. I love the city, I love the people and our great fans. I couldn’t be happier.”
Jameer Nelson told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel that the Mavs’ shot at great success is what drew him to the team. “I’ve dealt with the process of rebuilding, and it’s tough,” said Nelson. “I want to win. I don’t want to sit back and develop anymore.”
Nelson also mentioned to Robbins that he wishes the Mavs could have worked out an agreement with unrestricted free agent Shawn Marion, implying it’s unlikely the two sides come to terms.
When asked if there was any truth that Dwight Howard, Nelson’s former teammate in Orlando, had tried to recruit Nelson to the Rockets, the veteran guard laughed and stopped short of addressing the question.
The minimum salaries for Khris Middleton and Draymond Green became fully guaranteed at the end of Friday when they remained on the rosters of the Bucks and Warriors, respectively, according to the salary data that Mark Deeks of ShamSports compiles. Justin Hamilton of the Heat earned a partial guarantee of $408,241 when Miami kept him through Friday, while Cavs power forward Erik Murphy wound up with a partial guarantee of $100K.
Brazilian big man Fab Melo is returning home to sign with Paulistano of his native country, the team announced Friday (hat tip to Sportando). The Celtics selected Melo with the 22nd pick in 2012, but the seven footer only played six games in the NBA in 2012/13 and bounced around the D-League last season after failing the make the Mavs roster in training camp.
Former NBA player Darius Johnson-Odom has signed with Acqua Vitasnella Cantù of the Italian League, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Johnson-Odom appeared in three games for the Sixers as well as seeing stints in China and the NBA D-League last season.
Spurs GM R.C. Buford indicated that the team and newly-extended point guard Tony Parker had a mutual interest in an agreement, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitterlinkshere). “His play warranted the commitment of the organization,” Buford said. “He made a commitment to our organization, too, by doing this now and taking himself out of a free agency opportunity a year from now. It was important to him and us to capitalize off the momentum this year creates and not have to worry about it at a later date.”
The Timberwolves aren’t willing to move Corey Brewer in any deal involving Kevin Love, reports Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press (Twitter link). Brewer is staying in Minnesota, writes Krawczynski.
Chuck Myron and Alex Lee contributed to this post.