Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob told reporters that he, coach Mark Jackson and GM Bob Myers all get along, refuting reported dysfunction within the team, as Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group transcribes. Lacob referred to the re-assignment of assistant coach Brian Scalabrine and the firing of fellow assistant Darren Erman as “minor setbacks.” A little over a week ago, Myers gave Jackson a public vote of support, saying that he’s done a tremendous job; however, we’ve also relayed the belief from some writers who think that Jackson’s future in Golden State could be tied to how the team fares in this year’s postseason.
Here are a few other notes to pass along out of the Western Conference this evening:
- Lakers swingman Nick Young is “very confident” that he’ll reach an agreement to remain with the team beyond this summer, reports Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News. This isn’t the first time that the Los Angeles native has gone on record saying he’d like to stay, but he also hinted that it could be difficult to pass up a hefty pay raise somewhere else if the opportunity presented itself.
- Some members of Lakers brass are high on the idea of bringing in a young, up-and-coming head coach who wouldn’t command too much money, making him cheap to get rid of if he doesn’t pan out, according to Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding.
- In addition to making the argument that Dirk Nowitzki ranks among one of the NBA’s 12 greatest players, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle thinks that Dirk – currently the 10th highest scorer in NBA history – has plenty left in the tank to surpass a few more names on that list: “He’s got a lot more good basketball left in him…A lot more great basketball. So I think he’s going to pick off a few more guys going up the ladder” (ESPN’s Marc Stein reports).
- The Kings have assigned Willie Reed to their D-League affiliate in Reno, according to GM Pete D’Alessandro.
- Former Spurs training camp invitee Courtney Fells has signed a deal with Bucaneiros de la Guaira in Venezuela, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Fells played in 47 games for the Spurs’ D-League affiliate in 2013/14, averaging 20.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 40.4 MPG.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Adam Silver tells Darren Rovell of ESPN.com that the NBA is willing to consider subsidizing costs for collegiate players’ career insurance and basic living necessities, as part of the league’s push to increase the age limit for the draft. “It does, in my mind, need to be a three-way conversation,” Silver said. “You heard college administrators at press conferences around the [NCAA] tournament say that it’s the NBA’s problem or the union is putting up resistance. It’s a more complex problem than that.” Here’s more from around the league:
- Nuggets forward Jan Vesely has many fans among Denver’s brass, tweets Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post. Vesely, who came over to the Nuggets at the trade deadline, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
- Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders says that the Bobcats owe most of their dramatic turnaround to the addition of Al Jefferson, who signed a three-year, $40.5MM contract with Charlotte last summer. Kennedy argues that Jefferson’s impact has been worthy of MVP consideration.
- Mike Woodson tells Al Iannazzonne of Newsday that he still hasn’t had a sit-down with Knicks president Phil Jackson, but insists he’s focused on the immediate future and trying to get New York into the playoffs. “I gather he’s kind of staying out of the way and letting me do my thing in terms of trying to get this team in the playoffs,” Woodson said. “That’s okay. I’m sure when the time comes he and I’ll have a chance to sit down and talk and see where we are.”
- Woodson also responded to Larry Brown‘s recent comments, which were critical of the treatment Woodson has received from the Knicks. “Larry’s his own guy and I have a great deal of respect for Larry,” Woodson said. “But Mike Woodson’s his own guy as well. For me, it’s been a roller-coaster year — for all of us. I’ve never shied away from taking responsibility of this team. I’m the coach of this team and I take great pride in that.”
The Suns are locked into an exciting battle for one of the West’s final two playoff spots, something virtually no one anticipated before the season. Bob Young of azcentral.com details all of the moves that have panned out for Phoenix this year, leading to their surprising success. Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- David Lee tells Antonio Gonzalez of The Associated Press that there is no timetable for his return, but he does hope to play for the Warriors in the playoffs. After missing postseason action last year due to a torn hip flexor, the power forward is sidelined late in the year again, this time due to nerve damage that has a less straightforward recovery process. “That’s the only thing that has really worried me,” Lee said. “Just the fact that they say sometimes these heal in two days, sometimes it takes two months. We don’t know. But the good thing is, from what they’ve told me, as long as it continues to progress they think it’s going to be weeks still. So I have a good chance of being there when I need to be there.”
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes that rookie guard Ricky Ledo has had moderate success in the D-League this year, and needs a productive summer with the Mavs to earn a spot on the NBA roster next season.
- Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune writes that hindsight has proven matching Eric Gordon‘s four-year, $58MM offer sheet from the Suns was the wrong decision. Smith doesn’t believe the Pelicans can get anything close to equal value for the oft-injured Gordon, but says it’s time to move him out regardless of how little they get in return.
Ryan Anderson underwent successful surgery today to repair his herniated disc per a Pelicans team announcement. Anderson sustained the injury in a scary collision in early January, and it cost him the remainder of his season. The hoops world is hoping for a full recovery for one of the game’s best stretch forwards. Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Pelicans coach Monty Williams doubts that Eric Gordon will play again this season, he tells Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com. Gordon’s ongoing health issues have made his contract one of the least movable deals in the league, with over $30MM left in salary over two years beyond this season, assuming the shooting guard picks up his player option in the final year.
- John Zitzler of Basketball Insiders takes a look at what it will take to fix the Pelicans next year, including questions surrounding Gordon and teammate Tyreke Evans.
- Concerns are growing around the Warriors that power forward David Lee will miss the remainder of the season, or even some or all of the playoffs, per Carl Stewart of The San Jose Mercury News. Draymond Green, Lee’s replacement in Golden State’s rotation, tells Stewart he’s embracing filling the void, however long it lasts. “I am trying to bring more of what I do at a higher rate and for a longer period of time,” says Green.
- The Lakers have Luol Deng on their radar as a potential free agent target this summer, Sam Amick of USA Today says in a video. Deng, who reportedly doesn’t have much interest in returning to the Cavs, has been linked to the Lakers before.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News thinks the Mavs also have their eye on Deng.
Ray Allen appears unlikely to return to the Heat next season, writes Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. League insiders nonetheless believe that if the Heat’s trio of stars return, there’s a strong chance the team will try to re-sign Allen, too, so it seems his future is contingent on what LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decide to do. Indeed, those three will have much to say about what happens in free agency leaguewide, and Amico has more on the summer ahead and another member of the Heat as we highlight here:
- Several teams are expected to court Heat forward Shane Battier for an executive job or a gig related to player development, Amico hears. Battier recently reiterated his plans to retire at season’s end.
- The emergence of Brian Roberts has strengthened the belief around the league that the Pelicans will trade former lottery pick Austin Rivers this summer, according to Amico. Roberts is set to become a restricted free agent.
- Sources tell Amico they wouldn’t be surprised if several teams aside from the Knicks try to convince Steve Kerr to run their basketball operations. Kerr has expressed a desire to coach, but it looks like the leaguewide interest in him is as an executive, the role he held with the Suns from 2007 to 2010.
- Boris Diaw, Luol Deng, C.J. Miles, Marvin Williams, Luke Ridnour, Kris Humphries, Devin Harris and Jimmer Fredette are other free agents who appear unlikely to be back with their respective teams, Amico writes.
Samuel Dalembert apparently isn’t the only member of the Mavs the team intends to bring back next season, as GM Donnie Nelson says the club is interested in re-signing Vince Carter, observes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Carter, a free agent at season’s end, said last week that he hoped to return and that he felt he’s made his case to do so, and it seems the team agrees.
“The feeling is absolutely mutual,” Nelson said. “When you’ve got that kind of veteran leadership, we’re a better team. It’s better for the younger guys. Those are the kind of guys you want in that locker room carrying that baton and eventually passing it along.”
Just how anxious the Mavs are to retain the 37-year-old remains to be seen. Nelson says Carter has exceeded the value of the three-year, $9.27MM contract he signed with the team in 2011, pointing to the diversification of his game. Carter has taken 46.1% of his shots from behind the arc the past two seasons, more than ever before, and he’s nailed 40% of them.
The Mavs will have Carter’s Bird rights, so they have plenty of flexibility in how much they can dole out to him. Dallas has slightly more than $30MM in commitments for next season, a number that includes Dalembert’s full salary but not a new contract for Dirk Nowitzki. Carter could be an attractive option for taxpaying teams with a focus on winning now, as he remains a productive sixth man despite his advanced age and seems a fit for the taxpayer’s mid-level exception, which Dallas used to sign him three years ago.
Carter could make a starting salary of $3.278MM on that exception, which calls for deals of up to three years in length. That could net the Kurt Schoeppler client more than $10MM in total. I think most teams, including Dallas, would make a portion of that amount non-guaranteed, since he’d be 40 by the end of such a deal, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mavs use some of their cap space to bring the salaries up a touch and give themselves a financial advantage.
Samuel Dalembert‘s contract with the Mavs is only guaranteed for $1.8MM of its full value of nearly $3.9MM for next season, but Dallas doesn’t intend to waive him and pocket the savings, GM Donnie Nelson tells Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Dalembert will “absolutely” return for 2014/15, Nelson says, though the exec admits that the team signed him because there were few other palatable options after Dwight Howard and others went elsewhere.
“It was like the prom and we were the last two ones standing by the wall,” Nelson joked. “Well, you want to do this thing or not?”
There’s plenty of time for the Mavs to change their minds about Dalembert, whose contract won’t become fully guaranteed until January 7th, 2015. For the time being, it appears Dallas is content to enter the summer with the 6’11″ center on their books at full price. The Mavs still have plenty of flexibility, as Dalembert’s entire salary would push their commitments only slightly above $30MM. Still, that figure doesn’t count a new contract for Dirk Nowitzki, whose deal is up at season’s end.
The Mavericks had reportedly discussed the notion of trading for Dalembert for years before signing him, believing he’d be an effective complement to Nowitzki, so Nelson’s suggestion that the team signed Dalembert merely as a last resort conflicts with that. The 32-year-old Dalembert has played just 20.3 minutes per game this season for the Mavs, but owner Mark Cuban recently called him the “steal” of last year’s free agent class.
Dirk Nowitzki eschews an agent and has mentor Holger Geschwinder negotiate his contracts for him, but the Mavs star isn’t fond of free agency, as he tells TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Nowitzki reiterates that he fully intends to re-sign with Dallas this summer.
More from around the league:
- Despite Nowitzki’s stated intent to re-sign with Dallas, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders believes Dirk would be well-served to explore his options. Kennedy cites Nowitzki’s desire to be on a championship contender as the primary reason, and believes if he was willing to take a pay cut, he could fit in nicely with a number of teams that offer him a better chance to win than the Mavericks.
- Rich Paul was mentioned earlier as a possible agent for Andrew Wiggins. Paul might also land Duke’s Jabari Parker if he declares for the draft, tweets Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Deveney also lists former NBA player B.J. Armstrong as a possibility to represent Parker.
- Western Michigan Senior Shayne Whittington has signed with agents Ronald Shade and Herb Rudoy of Interperformances, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Whittington is currently ranked 195th by Chad Ford of ESPN.com, and is a projected second round pick at best.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
P.J. Tucker has made it known that he wants to re-sign with the Suns this summer, albeit at a higher salary than the veteran’s minimum he has been playing for the last two seasons, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Tucker said, “The love I have for this organization will always be. They gave me a chance to prove myself and actually to prove that I’m a player in this league. It’s almost emotional for me to think about everything I’ve been through and for them to give me an opportunity to do it. Not just to be on the team, but in two seasons, I’ve started a whole year and a half for the team on a minimum contract. That doesn’t happen. When I sit back and think about it, which I never do, it’s too much. So I’ll always be indebted.” The article notes that Tucker was named by Forbes magazine as the most underpaid player in the league with his $884,000 salary. In 72 games, Tucker has averaged 9.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.8 APG in 30.9 minutes per game.
More from out west: