- Draft-and-stash prospect Dario Saric wished he could have joined the Sixers this past offseason and confirmed to the Croatian outlet Vecernji list that he intends to sign with Philadelphia when his overseas contract allows him to this coming summer (translation via Matt Lombardo of NJ.com). Saric, the 12th pick of the 2014 draft, added that he’s in constant communication with Sixers officials.
- The NBA blocked Mikhail Prokhorov’s plan to borrow money against his share of the Nets to purchase the minority portion that Bruce Ratner owns because it would give the team more than $250MM in debt, sources told Josh Kosman and Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. NBA teams can’t borrow more than that amount without a waiver. So, Prokhorov and Ratner are attempting to restructure the deal that would give Prokhorov 100% of the team, the Post scribes write, and it’s still on track to be complete by year’s end, a league source tells NetsDaily.
- The Celtics recalled Jordan Mickey and James Young from the D-League, the team announced. They received some extra practice reps while with the farm team after the C’s assigned them Tuesday. Keep tabs on all this year’s D-League assignments and recalls with our tracker, which we’ll be updating throughout the season.
The Cavaliers are the pick to win it all and LeBron James is the favorite for MVP in the league’s annual GM survey, as John Schuhmann of NBA.com presents. More than half the executives who responded favor the Cavs, while the Warriors garnered only 17.9% of the vote, the third-lowest percentage for a defending champ in the 13-year history of the GM survey. Still, neither of last year’s Finals teams has Anthony Davis, whom a whopping 86.2% of respondents selected as the player they’d most want to build their teams around.
LaMarcus Aldridge drew 79.3% of the vote for the offseason acquisition who’ll make the greatest impact, and the Spurs garnered the same percentage for the team that had the best offseason, unsurprisingly. See more on Aldridge’s decision amid the latest from around the NBA:
- Aldridge thought he would re-sign with the Trail Blazers when he put off thumb surgery last season, and he thinks the Blazers did all they could to keep him, but the lure of playing closer to his home in Texas proved too great when the time came for a decision, as he told Chris Mannix of SI.com. Aldridge said to Mannix that the idea that he left Portland because he couldn’t get along with Damian Lillard was overblown, and that while he and Lillard mutually acknowledged that they could have communicated better with each other, they don’t have a poor relationship. “But I never had an issue playing with him or anything like that or with him being the face or them promoting him or anything like that,” Aldridge said in part. “If I had an issue like that then why go to the Spurs? They don’t promote anybody.”
- Kobe Bryant‘s presence was one of the best parts of meeting with the Lakers this summer, Aldridge insisted to Mannix for the same piece, striking back at the notion that he didn’t want to play with the Lakers star.
- The GM poll also shows 28-year-old shooting guard Milos Teodosic, who plays for CSKA Moscow but whose NBA rights aren’t tied to any team, as the second-best international player outside the NBA aside from Sixers draft-and-stash prospect Dario Saric. Plus, more GMs want to see revamped lottery odds than any other rules change.
Joel Embiid put off foot surgery this summer to party and play basketball in Las Vegas this summer, and the Sixers have been frustrated with his attitude and insubordination, sources detailed to Brian Geltzeiler of SI.com’s The Cauldron. Sixers majority owner Josh Harris didn’t want Embiid to accompany the Sixers to the Las Vegas Summer League in July, preferring that Embiid undergo the surgery doctors prescribed for his slow-healing right foot, and Harris instructed GM Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown to ensure he didn’t attend. Neither kept the former No. 3 overall pick from traveling to Las Vegas, multiple sources tell Geltzeiler. Embiid didn’t appear in games, but he shot jumpers and dunked on the side and refused to wear a medically prescribed walking boot, Geltzeiler hears. Surgery didn’t take place until August.
Hinkie has expressed a desire for Embiid to be more focused in his rehab, but he said around the time of Embiid’s surgery that the center had adhered to the recovery plan laid out for him. Embiid’s diet and conditioning have nonetheless worried the Sixers, multiple sources tell Geltzeiler, who also hears that Embiid physically threatened a Sixers strength coach last season.
Sixers majority owner Josh Harris remains firmly in Hinkie’s corner in spite of the issues regarding Embiid and other concerns around the team, but sources suggested to Geltzeiler that others within the ownership structure are losing patience. Last season’s Michael Carter-Williams trade riled and surprised Brown, multiple league sources tell Geltzeiler, though Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported in the spring that while Brown didn’t fully support the move, the tension between him and Hinkie was minimal.
Geltzeiler’s sources also say Scott O’Neil, who sits atop the team’s business operations as its CEO, was angry and caught off guard by the trade, as he’d planned to market around Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. However, Sixers spokesperson Michael Preston denied any discord surrounding the move, calling it “unsubstantiated rumor” and “a gross mischaracterization of the events” in an email response to Geltzeiler’s inquiry. O’Neil said in a recent interview with Jake Fischer of SI Now that the team’s business department has come to terms with the trade and is excited about the club’s assets for the long term, which include a future first-round pick from the Lakers that came in that same Carter-Williams deal (Twitter link).
Dario Saric, another of Philadelphia’s prospects for the future, remains under contract with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes, and his father is pushing the Sixers away, a source tells Geltzeiler. Saric has denied that his father is exerting undue influence. Saric and the Sixers both reportedly wanted him to join Philadelphia in time for this season, but the first escape clause in his deal isn’t until next summer.
The Sixers apparently wanted to bring Dario Saric over for 2015/16, and Saric shared that desire, reports David Pick, writing for Basketball Insiders. However, the No. 12 pick in the 2014 draft doesn’t have a way to escape his contract with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes until next year. Saric was circumspect when Pick asked him about the idea of coming stateside and the situation with his overseas team.
“It’s really hard for me to answer that,” Saric said. “I can’t comment. I think I’m ready to compete in the NBA, against the best players, but we built a great team in Efes and I want to help the club win a championship.”
In any case, it would seem that Saric is anxious to sign with the Sixers as soon as he can, rather than wait until 2017, when he wouldn’t be bound by the rookie scale, though that’s just my observation. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:
- The most recent talks the Nets have had with the Cavaliers were about Cleveland draft-and-stash center Sasha Kaun, not Joe Johnson, as Chris Mannix of SI.com reports as part of a larger piece. The Nets and Kaun, a 6’11” 30-year-old, have had mutual interest for some time, tweets Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com. The Spurs have also reportedly talked to the Cavs about him. The Johnson discussion is reportedly dormant.
- The Knicks offered their $2.814MM room exception to Jason Smith, but he turned it down for more money from the Magic, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. New York could have offered as much as $3,933,600 via Non-Bird rights, but agent Mark Bartelstein made it clear there are no hard feelings, as Berman relays. “The Knicks made a great attempt to try to keep him,’’ Bartelstein said.
- Soon-to-be Raptors signee DeMarre Carroll authored an homage to the Hawks, his former team, in The Players’ Tribune, giving credit to a handful of figures, especially former Hawks assistant Quin Snyder, who’s now head coach of the Jazz.
- New Raptors D-League one-to-one affiliate Raptors 905 has named Dan Tolzman as its GM and Jesse Mermuys its head coach and assistant GM, the team announced. Both were already employed within the Raptors organization.
JUNE 10TH, 11:16pm: The Sixers are in talks with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes to bring 2014 draftee Dario Saric to the NBA next season, David Pick of Eurobasket.com reports (Twitter links). Saric is signed to a deal with the Turkish team that contains no NBA buyout clause for 2015/16, but Philadelphia reportedly wants the talented forward to join the team immediately, Pick adds. The 21-year-old’s contract does include a buyout clause for the 2016/17 campaign.
Philadelphia would only be able to pay a buyout of $625K, per league rules, and Efes will almost assuredly request a higher amount, notes Derek Bodner of USA Today (Twitter link). The sense amongst several agents who have worked with Anadolu Efes in the past is that the team will ask for at least $2MM to part ways with Saric, Jake Fischer of LibertyBallers relays in a series of tweets. The forward could kick in some of his salary for 2015/16, with the legal ceiling being a total combined buyout amount of approximately $2,067,720, Fischer notes. If Efes demanded over $2MM for a buyout, Saric would sacrifice $1,442,720 of his possible $1,898,300 for his rookie season, the LibertyBallers scribe adds.
A number of sources also told Fischer (via Twitter) that the league doesn’t regulate negotiations between NBA teams and foreign clubs, so the Sixers could technically pay any amount regardless of the rules. This is not to suggest that Philadelphia would actually do so, but the possibility does exist.
Saric was non-committal last month when he was asked about the possibility of him playing in the NBA next season. “Next season? I don’t know and I can’t speak about that because I don’t know yet the situation, how things are going to work out,” Saric said. “I can say that I’m happy here at Efes and I’m also happy that people from Philadelphia came here and want me there. That’s all I can tell you right now. I don’t have any information or any feeling regarding what could happen. I’m just focused on the rest of the season. If I stay here or if I go to the NBA, I will be happy [either way]. I don’t know what could happen this summer or next summer. Now it’s not the time to talk about that.”
Rumors that the Sixers are trying to get draft-and-stash prospect Dario Saric to join the team next year could be a sign that patience is wearing thin in Philadelphia, writes Tom Moore of Calkins Media. The Sixers acquired the draft rights to the Croatian forward, who was the No. 12 pick in the 2014 draft, expecting him to spend time overseas before coming to the NBA. He signed a three-year deal with Anadolu Efes of Turkey that doesn’t include a buyout until next summer, but there are rumblings that the Sixers want to find a way to get their hands on him as soon as possible. Moore speculates that ownership may be tiring of GM Sam Hinkie’s long-term plan of losing games and collecting assets, which is leading to declining revenue and half-empty arenas on game nights. They want to combine Saric with Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and this year’s No. 3 pick to create a foundation that fans can get excited about. Moore also writes that Hinkie will likely try to deal one of his potential 2016 first-round picks (from the Thunder, Lakers or Heat) for an extra first-round choice this year.
There’s more this morning from Philadelphia:
- The Sixers are talking to “experts and specialists” to determine the next step with Embiid, Moore writes in a separate story. Hinkie issued a statement Saturday night that a CT scan indicates Embiid’s right foot shows “less healing than anticipated at this point.” Embiid may be kept out of summer league, and another surgery could put his 2015/16 season in jeopardy, Moore notes. “These findings cause us to pause and reassess his current activities,” Hinkie said.
- The Embiid setback is especially disappointing considering what he has shown in recent workouts, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. He writes that eyewitnesses have described Embiid’s “dominant, explosive performances” and noted that he looked like the player the Sixers expected when they drafted him No. 3 out of Kansas last summer. Embiid hadn’t felt pain in the foot despite weeks of rigorous workouts, sources told Wojnarowski.
- Despite the Sixers’ on-court problems, Hinkie is building a solid reputation as a talent evaluator, writes Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. The columnist credits Hinkie for a draft coup in 2013, when wound up with No. 6 pick Noel and Michael Carter-Williams at No. 11. Carter-Williams was named Rookie of the Year in 2014, and after missing a year due to injury, Noel finished third in the 2015 balloting.
Dario Saric‘s buyout with Anadolu Efes after next season would cost about 800K euros, as USA Today and DraftExpress contributor Derek Bodner hears. That’s about $900K at today’s exchange rate, but much less than the $2MM-plus it would apparently take to buy Saric out of his deal for this coming season, as the Sixers are reportedly trying to do. Bodner breaks down the numbers involved with Saric’s potential buyout and his rookie scale contract, concluding that it would be most financially rewarding for Saric to stay overseas for two more years and sign with the Sixers in 2017, when he’d no longer be bound by the rookie scale. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:
- Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge denied to reporters today that the team has had any substantial talks about trading picks, notes Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. The C’s have reportedly been offering around their first-round picks, at Nos. 16 and 28, to move into the lottery. Still, Ainge admitted the team is at least exploring the idea of trading some of the four total picks it has in this month’s draft, among other options that would keep the team from having to bring four rookies onto the roster.
- Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, Florida’s Chris Walker, Wisconsin’s Duje Dukan, Butler’s Kameron Woods, and Georgetown’s Greg Whittington all worked out for the Celtics today, Forsberg notes (on Twitter). Jamal Jones, who spent last season in the D-League but remains draft-eligible, is also part of the workout, as Forsberg relays.
- Draft-and-stash prospect DeAndre Daniels is hopeful that the Raptors will sign him for next season, and the team, which still sees him as part of its future, won’t rule out the idea, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca reports (Twitter links). The small forward who was last year’s 37th overall pick spent this past season with the Perth Wildcats of Australia.
- The Knicks will soon work out Bowling Green forward Richaun Holmes, sources told Shams Charania of RealGM. Holmes spoke to Zach Links of Hoops Rumors recently about his improved shooting and his goal to make the same strides in ball handling.
The Celtics have interviewed Stanley Johnson, Justise Winslow and Willie Cauley Stein, each of whom has a strong chance to be picked within the top 10, tweets Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, taking it as a sign that the C’s, who have the No. 16 pick, plan to trade up. Of course, NBA teams line up teams and prospects for interviews at the combine, taking place this week in Chicago, so clubs don’t always get the players they want, but teams can give the league an idea of the sort of player they’d like to talk to, Murphy notes (on Twitter). There’s more on the Celtics and the draft amid the latest from the Atlantic Division:
- The Celtics also interviewed Robert Upshaw, Murphy reports in a second tweet. Upshaw’s combine measurements stood out, but in part because of the issues surrounding the University of Washington’s decision to dismiss him for a violation of team rules in January, both Chad Ford of ESPN.com and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress rank him only 30th.
- The Raptors will gauge Monty Williams‘ interest in joining their team as an assistant coach, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears (Twitter links). Still, it’s much more likely that Williams will wait for his next chance at a head coaching job, Stein adds, postulating that he could get a look from either the Nuggets or the Magic.
- Sixers prospect Dario Saric insists that his father, a key figure in reports about Saric’s career, isn’t exerting undue influence, as Saric says to Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype. The 2014 No. 12 pick who’s playing overseas for Turkey’s Anadolu Efes largely avoided Sierra’s question about whether he might play with the Sixers next season, though his contract with Efes doesn’t include an escape clause until 2016. “Next season? I don’t know and I can’t speak about that because I don’t know yet the situation, how things are going to work out,” Saric said. “I can say that I’m happy here at Efes and I’m also happy that people from Philadelphia came here and want me there. That’s all I can tell you right now. I don’t have any information or any feeling regarding what could happen. I’m just focused on the rest of the season. If I stay here or if I go to the NBA, I will be happy [either way]. I don’t know what could happen this summer or next summer. Now it’s not the time to talk about that.”
This year’s crop of international players isn’t an especially deep group, and if the Celtics decide to try and strike gold by drafting a player from overseas, the team is more likely to do so in the second round, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com writes. Boston currently owns the No. 33 and No. 48 overall selections in the second round, and potential international targets could include Timothe Luwawu (France), Cedi Osman (Turkey), and Aleksander Vezenkov (Bulgaria), Blakley opines.
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Mirza Teletovic, who is eligible to become a restricted free agent this summer if the Nets tender him a qualifying offer worth $4,210,125, indicated that he strongly wishes to remain in Brooklyn, Robert Windrem of NetsDaily writes. “I like Brooklyn, people are great, I know the team and everyone, especially doctors, treated me great when all that happened. I really would like to stay in Brooklyn,” said Teletovic, referring to the multiple blood clots found in in his lungs in January. “I know my teammates and everything is really great. I do not know what will be, but I’ll know more in June when free agent market starts.“
- The 29-year-old forward also expressed the importance for the Nets to have continuity heading into the 2015/16 campaign, Windrem adds. “I think we had a good season, given the fact that they changed the coach and teammates,” Teletovic said. “Deron [Williams], Brook [Lopez], Joe [Johnson] and I are the only players who have not changed. I think it is important for the Nets to stay with the same system. Some changes good and some bad … but it is very difficult when there are a lot of changes.“
- Sixers draft-and-stash pick Dario Saric has impressed a number of scouts and journalists who have watched the 21-year-old Croatian play this season, Tom Moore of Calkins Media writes. Saric’s overseas contract doesn’t include a buyout provision until after the second season, so it’s unlikely that Philadelphia’s fans will see him in a Sixers jersey until the 2016/17 campaign at the earliest, Moore notes.
With Dwyane Wade‘s injury history and the lack of production from the bench, one possibility for the Heat to correct this deficiency is Celtics shooting guard Marcus Thornton, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. Miami wanted to sign Thornton this past offseason, but Thornton was unable to come to terms on a buyout arrangement with Boston, Jackson notes. In 20 games for the Celtics this season, Thornton has averaged 8.2 points and is nailing 42.3% of his three-pointers. The 27-year-old is currently suffering from a small tear in his left calf and is expected to miss a few weeks of action.
Here’s more from the East:
- The deal with the Nets that garnered Boston three first round draft picks, but also required the Celtics to take back Gerald Wallace‘s bloated contract is looking better for Boston every day, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com writes. Though Boston would jump at the chance to trade Wallace and the remaining $10.1MM that he is owed for next season, the veteran is providing value as a leader and a spot defender, notes Forsberg.
- With J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert currently out for the Knicks with injuries, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been struggling with his increased minutes, but Hardaway says the pressure to make his case for more playing time in the future isn’t a factor in his struggles, Fred Kerber of The New York Post writes. “I’m not going to hold my head. I’m not going to get frustrated,” Hardaway said. “I’ve just got to go in the gym and work on it. I’ve got to see the ball going in the basket. That’s what I’m going to do.”
- The play of Sixers‘ 2014 first-rounder Dario Saric overseas has Philadelphia’s coaches and front office excited for the future, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Saric is currently the only player in the Turkish Basketball League who is averaging at least 11.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists, notes Pompey. “I pay attention to him [in] all the games he plays,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “I’ll go and either watch a portion or all of it or highlights. We play text tag all the time. [GM] Sam [Hinkie] was just over there last week. The exciting thing is he’s ours. He will be a Philadelphia 76er and we all have to be excited about that.“