In response to commissioner Adam Silver’s statement that a third of the teams in the league are still losing money, new NBPA head Michele Roberts said, “The NBA’s cries of poverty will not work this time,” Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes.”I can say that I was more than surprised,” Roberts told Yahoo Sports. “I am not suggesting that Adam is telling a lie. I am sure that the owners told him that. But it’s difficult for me to believe that, especially after looking at the 2011 CBA negotiations and seeing all the money the players don’t have now. There’s $1.1 billion that the players would’ve been otherwise entitled.”
Here’s more from around the league:
- Mavs owner Mark Cuban left open the possibility that Dallas could add either Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis later on in the season, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News reports. “We haven’t talked to him, but I think he’s doing it the right way,” Cuban said of Allen. “He’s waiting to see who’s doing well. If it comes down to it, we’d always consider it. We’re always open to improving the team. But you don’t want to mess up a good thing, either. That’s when Caron Butler got hurt and Roddy [Beaubois] got hurt. But Peja Stojakovic is a good example of us adding a veteran in season.” In regards to Lewis, Cuban added, “Rashard Lewis is working out here. We’ve stayed in touch with him and worked with him.”
- Hasheem Thabeet has passed on playing in Europe and instead will play for Grand Rapids in the NBA D-League this season, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). It appears that the Pistons, who had waived Thabeet, will retain his D-League rights as franchises can retain the rights of up to four players that they have waived.
- The NBA D-League Draft is scheduled to be held this Saturday and the crew over at DraftExpress ran down the complete list of eligible players.
- The Bucks will keep working toward an extension with Brandon Knight up until Friday’s deadline, David Alarcón of HoopsHype tweets. It’s unclear how far apart the two sides are in their discussions, but in his look at Knight in our extension candidate series, Chuck Myron opined that the two sides could compromise on a four-year, $41MM arrangement similar to what the Sixers gave Jrue Holiday two years ago.
The Lakers have already suffered some significant blows to their roster with both Steve Nash and Julius Randle being lost for the season with injuries. Even if the franchise is approved for Disabled Player Exceptions, they will still have two of their maximum 15 roster spots occupied by injured personnel. If Los Angeles loses another player to injury the team could apply for a temporary hardship increase that would allow the franchise to carry up to 16 players, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter links). This scenario could help the team maintain its depth in the wake of another player loss, but once one of the injured players was able to return to action, the 15 player max would resume, Pincus notes.
Here’s more from Los Angeles:
- The only bright side to the Lakers losing Randle for the season is that the team will be in contention for a top-five lottery pick next summer, J.A. Adande of ESPN.com opines. Los Angeles’ 2015 first-rounder is owed to the Suns but is protected for picks one-through-five, notes Adande.
- The Lakers should take a page out of the Sixers’ playbook and try to hit bottom this season, Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) writes. This includes trying to convince Kobe Bryant to waive his no trade clause and dealing the future Hall-of Famer, Ford opines. Ford lists the Knicks, Nets, Mavs, and Hornets as teams that would potentially be interested in obtaining Bryant.
- The loss of Randle will hurt the Lakers much more than losing Nash, Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders opines. Los Angeles wasn’t expecting much from Nash, and had Jeremy Lin and Ronnie Price on board to make up for any time that Nash would have missed. With Randle, this season was important for his development, and the team was planning to run a large portion of their offense through him, Koutroupis notes.
- The Lakers and Bryant have faced criticism for the two year, $48.5MM contract extension he signed back in 2013. Hornets owner and former NBA great Michael Jordan defended Bryant for inking the pact, DeAntae Prince of The Sporting News writes. “Can I criticize him for maximizing his opportunity from a financial standpoint? No,” Jordan said. “Does his decision have an effect on how the team will structure certain things? Maybe.”
6:15pm: Dallas has officially signed Barea, the team has announced.
4:27pm: The Mavericks have reached an agreement with guard J.J. Barea, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News reports. Barea has officially cleared waivers, according to the RealGM transactions log, which frees him to sign with any team. Dallas has an agreement in principle with Barea that is a one year pact for the veteran’s minimum, though it’s unclear if there is any guaranteed money involved in the deal. The Mavs intend to waive Gal Mekel in order to create the required roster space to sign Barea, Sefko notes. Dallas’ roster currently sits at the regular season maximum of 15 players.
Barea will add depth to the Mavs’ backcourt and he will compete for playing time with Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, and Raymond Felton. Dallas was looking to add another experienced point guard into their backcourt mix, with Harris having a history of injuries and Felton beginning the season injured. Inking the veteran Barea shows that the Mavs have title aspirations this season, since the organization seemed to be high on Mekel’s upside, notes Sefko.
The eight-year vet has appeared in a total of 509 games in his career, and Barea has averages of 8.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 3.4 APG. His career slash line is .419/.347/.798.
5:00pm: Dallas has officially placed Mekel on waivers, the team has announced.
WEDNESDAY, 4:00pm: The Mavs intend to waive Mekel once Barea officially clears waivers today, reports Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News.
TUESDAY, 6:10pm: Mavs owner Mark Cuban confirmed that Mekel would be the odd man out if Barea clears waivers and returns to Dallas, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com.
MONDAY, 2:26pm: The Mavs will waive point guard Gal Mekel to accommodate their planned signing of J.J. Barea, a source tells Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter link). The move is presumably contingent on Barea clearing waivers, which seems highly likely given Barea’s guaranteed salary of nearly $4.52MM for this season, though that’s just my speculation. In any case, the Mavs would be on the hook for minimum salaries both this year and next for Mekel should he clear waivers. Dallas couldn’t defray Mekel’s salary of more than $816K for this year using the Stretch Provision, but the team could spread the $947K and change that he’s owed for 2015/16 over a period of three years.
The Mavs had reportedly been trying to trade Mekel in an effort to clear roster space without eating guaranteed salary, but those efforts have apparently come up short. The point guard, now 26, saw action in just 31 games for Dallas as a rookie last season, averaging 2.4 points in 9.4 minutes per game. The Israeli native went undrafted in 2009, but the Mavs signed him to a fully guaranteed three-year contract for the minimum salary in 2013 after he won a championship with Israel’s Maccabi Bazan Haifa that season and drew attention from several other NBA teams.
The Dallas roster would remain at 15 as a result of releasing Mekel and adding Barea, though Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports wrote 10 days ago that the Mavs were seeking to open up a spot beneath the 15-man regular season maximum in his report about the team’s interest in trading Mekel. Charlie Villanueva‘s non-guaranteed contract gives Dallas some degree of flexibility, however. It remains to be seen whether the Mavs will guarantee any salary in Barea’s pact.
Workers broke ground today on a new arena for the Kings that’s set to open in two years, the team confirms via press release. It’s the latest in a long line of steps toward a new building that the NBA has mandated must take place in a timely fashion in advance of a 2017 deadline for completion. The league would have the power to take control of the team and move it to another city if the Kings either miss the deadline or don’t show sufficient progress, but it seems the franchise is well on its way to opening the doors of its new home in Sacramento. There’s more on the Kings amid our latest look around the Pacific Division:
- The Kings are indeed looking for help on the wing even though they’re not ready to sign Terrence Williams at this point, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links). Williams, a four-year NBA veteran, reportedly worked out for Sacramento recently, and the Kings, who have an open roster spot, are looking for experience, Jones says.
- New Suns guard Isaiah Thomas confirms that he had interest in signing with the Lakers this summer, adding that the interest was mutual, as he tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe. “First off, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers. Who wouldn’t want to play for them? Second off, I felt like they always needed a point guard — a small guard like myself,” Thomas said. “I always envisioned myself playing with the Lakers, but like you said, they were waiting on Carmelo [Anthony] and other moves. The Suns came out of nowhere and showed a lot of interest, and I fell in love with them.”
- A report early in free agency indicated that the Lakers, Heat and Pistons were Thomas’ preferred teams, and he says to Lowe that all three, as well as the Mavs, showed interest, noting that Miami’s pursuit took place before LeBron James left, as Lowe passes along in the same piece.
- Steve Ballmer can write off about half of the $2 billion he paid to buy the Clippers as he files his federal taxes over the next 15 years, report Arash Massoudi and Alan Livsey of the Financial Times (hat tip to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News).
Earlier tonight, the Spurs hoisted their newest championship banner and tried on their shiny new championship rings. Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News was on hand for the Spurs ring ceremony, which he says was shorter than most. I guess you don’t feel compelled to have an over-the-top celebration when you’ve won five titles since 1999. More from the Lone Star State..
- Mavs owner Mark Cuban says he talked to Gal Mekel for over an hour about the possibility of J.J. Barea joining the team, tweets Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He’s improved more than anybody on the team and he deserves a lot of respect. He’s earned it,” Cuban said (link). Earlier tonight, Cuban confirmed that Mekel would be the odd man out if Barea was signed, though it sounds like he wishes he had an extra roster spot.
- The Mavs‘ decision to keep Charlie Villanueva‘s non-guaranteed contract over Bernard James shows that they are willing to move on from a player with a guaranteed deal if it helps the team, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Of course, Mekel is the latest guaranteed contract player to find himself on the bubble.
- The Rockets’ new reserve center, Tarik Black, is ecstatic to have made the final 15 player regular season roster, Feigen writes. “It feels awesome,” Black said. “It feels great. I put it out of my mind as far as pressure. Obviously, I knew I was on the chopping block and I was on a non-guaranteed contract. Now that it’s official that I’m actually on the team and I’ll spend the season here and I’ll have the opportunity, it feels great. It’s a dream come true.”
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.
Cory Joseph is the quintessential player from outside the U.S., at least according to the NBA’s annual survey of international players on opening-night rosters. He is a member of the Spurs, who lead the league with nine non-U.S. players, and he’s from Canada, the non-U.S. nation that has produced the most NBA players currently in the league. It’s the third straight year that San Antonio has led the NBA in this regard, and it seems to be working, since the Spurs went to the Finals the first two times. Here’s more from around the Western Conference:
- Kings big man Jason Thompson is drawing trade interest from around the league thanks to the league’s rising salary cap, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes amid his season preview. More available spending money around the league makes Thompson’s contract, which will pay him nearly $15.119MM in guaranteed salary through 2016/17, less burdensome for teams.
- Sources from outside the Timberwolves believe Ricky Rubio and the team will ultimately settle on an extension worth four years and $52MM by Friday’s deadline, as they tell Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). The team has apparently offered four years and $48MM, while agent Dan Fegan has reportedly asked for the max.
- Gal Mekel says that the Mavs haven’t told him whether or not they’re going to waive him, though he’s cognizant of the reports have the Mavericks set to release him so they can sign J.J. Barea instead, observes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. “It’s weird,” Mekel said. “I hear everything. But I want to concentrate on this game. I had a great preseason and showed everybody that I can help this team. I got very good feedback from the coaching staff. I know it’s weird right now and there is a chance I will find myself in another place in two days. But as long as I am here, I’m going to help the team.”
- Wolves owner and chairman of the Board of Governors Glen Taylor has publicly talked about selling the team in the past, and he said Monday that he eventually plans to do so, notes Nate Gotlieb of the Mankato Free Press.
The Rockets were the busiest Southwest team on roster cut-down day, waiving a total of five players to get down to 15. However, the Mavericks had an interesting day as well, deciding to waive reserve point guard Gal Mekel in hopes of reuniting with recently released J.J. Barea. Let’s see what else is going on in the Southwest tonight:
- As Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes, any team that wants to claim Mavericks-target Barea off waivers would need more than about $4.5MM in cap space, or a trade exception or disabled player exception of at least that size. Sefko mentions the rival Rockets as a team that might want to claim Barea but likely wouldn’t based on its lack of flexibility.
- The Mavericks tried to acquire Barea from the Wolves last season but the teams couldn’t come to an agreement, according to Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press (via Twitter).
- The Pelicans‘ desire to re-sign Omer Asik is a factor in the team declining to pick up the 2015/16 option on Austin Rivers, writes John Reid of the Times Picayune. Reid adds that with Eric Gordon likely to opt in to his $15.5MM salary for next season, New Orleans preferred the additional financial flexibility.
- Bryce Cotton, who was released by the Spurs last week, plans to sign with San Antonio’s D-League affiliate in the next few days, sources tell Jabari Young of Comcast Sports Northwest (via Twitter).
MONDAY, 1:59pm: The Wolves have waived Barea, the team announced (Twitter link). It’s unclear if he agreed to give up any salary in a buyout arrangement or if it was a straight release.
SUNDAY, 3:55pm: The Wolves are finalizing a buyout with J.J. Barea, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The buyout will be completed before Monday’s 4pm CT roster cutdown deadline, putting Minnesota at the 15-man maximum.
With a logjam of guards in Minnesota, there has been speculation this offseason that the Wolves would buy Barea out of the final year of his contract or trade him. Coach/president Flip Saunders insisted in late September that there was a role for Barea in Minnesota, noting that his camp performance last summer was the best of anyone on the team. Still, with a glut of backcourt options, including free agent pickup Mo Williams, it was clear that Barea could get more burn elsewhere.
The Mavericks are planning on signing Barea once he clears waivers, according to Stein, and the guard wants to return to Dallas. The Mavs’ roster is currently full with the regular season maximum 15 players, so bringing Barea aboard would require another roster move. The guard should clear as he carries a $4.5MM cap number for 2014/15. Stein suggests that Dallas could clear a spot by trading or releasing guard Gal Mekel or big man Greg Smith.
If the Barea-Dallas reunion falls through, there should be plenty of other clubs with interest. The Lakers immediately come to mind as a club that could go for Barea in the wake of Steve Nash‘s season-ending injury.
Earlier today, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link) heard that the feeling around the league was that Barea would wind up with the Mavs. Barea could be the second member of the Mavs’ 2011 championship team to return to Dallas this offseason, following big man Tyson Chandler.
Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol still won’t open up about his impending free agency, as Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes in a subscription-only piece. “That’s so far down the line that it’s not on my mind. I just want to do my job every day,” Gasol said. “You never know what might happen in seven or eight months. The franchise might go in a different direction. We’re going to see how we all feel in July. All of the talk now won’t change that fact.” Tillery also mentions the Knicks as a possible suitor for Gasol if he hits free agency, pointing to Phil Jackson’s belief that Gasol would be a perfect fit in the triangle offense.
Here’s more from around the league:
- The contract Jeremy Tyler signed with Shanxi of the Chinese Basketball Association is fully guaranteed, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Tyler, who was released from the Lakers per his request to sign with Shanxi, will have a chance to catch on with an NBA team in March when the CBA playoffs come to a close.
- Guard Jordan Crawford has yet to take off in the NBA and he’s now looking to make his mark in China, writes David Pick for Basketball Insiders. “During the offseason I didn’t think I’d sign in China. I thought I would get a good deal in the NBA, but I was overlooked,” Crawford said. “I knew some players who came over here from the NBA. I work out with Bobby Brown and Pooh Jeter all the time, so I learned a lot from them. One thing I heard were stories of Stephon Marbury and his success in China.”
- After the Thunder parted ways with James Harden over their refusal to give him the max salary, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders wonders what they’re thinking when it comes to Reggie Jackson. Oklahoma CIty has until October 31st to work out an extension with the talented young guard, and Hamilton opines that a team playing for a title can’t afford to allow its young talent to walk out the door.
- Free agent Eric Griffin, recently waived by the Mavs, has agreed to a deal with the Texas Legends of The NBA D-League, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link).
Zach Links and Chris Crouse contributed to this post.