As we all wait with bated breath for game seven tomorrow night between the Heat and the Spurs, let's round up some odds and ends from around the NBA on this Wednesday night:
WEDNESDAY, 1:59pm: Asked in a chat which teams might be in play for the Mavs' first-rounder, ESPN.com's Chad Ford says he's heard the Knicks, Cavs, and Thunder connected to the pick. The price for the 13th overall selection, according to Ford, is a 2014 first-round pick or taking Marion in the deal. I'm guessing that 2014 first-rounder would be at least lottery-protected, though that's just my speculation.
Ford adds that some teams believe the Mavs may already have a deal in place, since trade talk out of Dallas has quieted down in recent days.
TUESDAY, 5:33pm: The Mavericks will almost certainly trade their first-round pick in this year's draft to clear cap room to pursue Dwight Howard, reports Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. The Mavs don't quite have enough space to offer Howard a max deal, so removing the $1.66MM cap hold associated with the 13th overall pick would help clear a little more room.
According to Sefko's source, there's a 0% chance that the player selected 13th overall ends up on Dallas' roster next season. The most likely outcome involves trading the pick, while there's about a 15% chance the Mavs could take a player who could be stashed overseas for a year, meaning he wouldn't count against the team's cap. Sergey Karasev may be the best possibility for that scenario.
Given how aggressively the Mavs seem to be shopping the pick, the club doesn't figure to have a whole lot of leverage in trade talks, but it doesn't sound like the asking price is too high either. Even if other teams are reluctant to help out a potential suitor for Howard, it'll be hard for a rebuilding franchise to pass up on a lottery pick if it comes cheap.
Previous reports have suggested the Mavs would like to package Shawn Marion and his $9MM+ salary with their first-rounder, but it sounds as if Dallas is a good bet to move the pick with or without Marion attached to it.
Echoing an overnight report from Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio, ESPN.com's Chad Ford says in his latest mock draft that the Cavaliers remain undecided on their first overall pick. While the team appears likely to keep the pick, a number of players are still being considered, including Nerlens Noel and Alex Len. According to Ford, Noel remains the favorite because he fits the sort of high-upside profile the Cavs typically target, but there are some in the organization who prefer Len.
Here are several more highlights from version 5.0 of Ford's 2013 mock:
As we look forward to what could be the final game of the 2012/13 season tonight, let's check in on a few odds and ends from around the NBA....
While it's no secret that Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are the Mavericks' top two targets this summer, there's been plenty of speculation suggesting that perhaps players like Brandon Jennings or Nikola Pekovic could be among the team's alternate targets. However, according to owner Mark Cuban, appearing on KTCK-AM in Dallas, the Mavs aren't currently eyeing any restricted free agents.
"I don’t know if there are any free agents that are requiring offer sheets that are on our radar right now," Cuban said, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. MacMahon adds that Cuban suggested the three-day waiting period when the player's previous team has a chance to match an offer sheet could compromise the Mavs' leverage and flexibility.
In addition to Jennings and Pekovic, Jeff Teague, Tyreke Evans, Tiago Splitter, and Gerald Henderson figure to be among the top restricted free agents on the market. However, it sounds as if the Mavs will instead turn their attention to unrestricted free agents and trade candidates. According to Cuban, his pitch to free agents will focus on the player's ability to assume a sort of assistant GM role (link via MacMahon).
"In essence, you get to come in and, it’s you and we have room for two more max free agents [next year]," Cuban said. "That’s why when I talked about a two-year plan, that’s the concept there.... So part of our sales pitch is, look, we’re not going to try to fool you and say that you and Dirk [Nowitzki] and Shawn Marion and Vince [Carter] and [filler] are basically a championship team. Maybe we get on a run, maybe we’re pretty good. But the reality is you’re going to work with us and Dirk to get out there and pick your team."
Nowitzki has spoken in recent weeks about signing a more cap-friendly deal when his current contract expires next summer. With his $22.72MM cap hit set to come off the books in 2014 and a stronger free agent crop likely to hit the open market, the Mavs should certainly be in a position to make another splash a year from now even if they can't land Paul or Howard this summer.
Monta Ellis has informed the Bucks he'll exercise the early termination option on his contract, eliminating the final year of the deal, reports ESPN.com's Chris Broussard. The move means Ellis will officially become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
Ellis' decision doesn't come as a surprise, since we heard two months ago he was likely to opt out. The Bucks reportedly offered Ellis an extension that would have hinged on him declining the ETO to receive an overall three-year, $36MM commitment from the team. Considering the veteran guard apparently passed on that offer, it was only a matter of time until he officially opted out to test the open market.
The 2013/14 option on Ellis' deal would have paid him $11MM. I'm skeptical that he'll see many offers that match or exceed that annual salary. However, if he can secure a long-term deal at a slightly lesser yearly rate, the decision still makes sense -- especially if he prefers to play for a team besides the Bucks.
Based on multiple reports, it appears likely that the Kings will have some level of interest in Ellis, who figures to draw attention from plenty of clubs in need of backcourt help. Broussard identifies the Hawks, Mavericks, and Lakers as other probable suitors for Ellis, though the Lakers would seem to be a long shot, given their cap situation.
Ellis becomes the second player to exercise an early termination option on his contract this offseason. Andre Iguodala opted out of his deal last week, though the other players who have ETOs for 2013/14 are unlikely to exercise them.
The Magic appear to have heavy interest in acquiring Eric Bledsoe in return for Arron Afflalo, according to Joe Kotoch of SheridanHoops.com, who delivers his latest mock draft. That jibes with the notion that the Clippers are holding out for an additional asset in the rumored trade proposal, which would also send Caron Butler to Orlando. Kotoch adds that Cavs executive Zydrunas Ilgauskas is pushing Cleveland to take Alex Len first overall. Here's more from around the NBA:
Andre Iguodala has decided to opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. According to Wojnarowski, agent Rob Pelinka informed Nuggets CEO Josh Kroenke of the decision on Thursday.
"We are fully aware of Andre's intentions and he's well aware of how much we want him back," Kroenke said. "Andre us a huge priority for our organization."
While there appears to be mutual interest between Nuggets and Iguodala in a new deal, Denver is currently without a GM or coach, which makes the situation a little murkier. There will also be plenty of clubs vying for the 29-year-old's services. Wojnarowski names the Hawks, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Rockets, Pistons, and Pelicans as likely suitors.
An official decision from Iguodala is due by June 25th, but assuming he opts out, he'll be eligible for a new five-year contract from the Nuggets or a four-year deal from another team. He'll pass up a 2013/14 salary that Wojnarowski cites as $15.9MM, though various salary databases have it at $16.15MM -- that salary included $250K in likely incentives, so perhaps those incentives are now listed as unlikely.
In any case, although I'm skeptical that Iguodala will land an annual salary that exceeds the approximate $16MM he would have earned on his current contract, he'll certainly be able to secure a significantly larger guarantee in a new long-term deal.
Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune writes that the Timberwolves will likely trade either J.J. Barea or Luke Ridnour by draft night. In the same piece, Zgoda notes that GM Flip Saunders is impressed with Victor Oladipo. Minnesota - currently slated to draft ninth overall - would have to swing a deal into the top five in order to have a chance at the former Hoosier star, though Zgoda doesn't think the team has enough assets to accomplish that. Here are more news and notes from the Western Conference tonight:
A pair of teams held press conferences to announce their new head coaches earlier today, as the Pistons introduced Maurice Cheeks, while the Nets introduced Jason Kidd. At the presser in Brooklyn, Kidd revealed that before he was hired by the Nets, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban contacted him to ask if he was interested in learning the business side of the NBA with Dallas (Twitter link via Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv). Kidd ended up opting for a coaching job with one of his former teams over an executive role with another. Here's more of the latest coaching-related rumblings from around the league: