The Spurs, like the Thunder last season, have largely stood pat the summer after winning the Western Conference title. The substitution of Marco Belinelli for Gary Neal stands as the most significant change in San Antonio, but, just as Oklahoma City was frequently overlooked in favor of the Lakers in 2012, the Spurs don't appear to be clear favorites to make it back to the Finals. The Thunder are lurking, the Rockets and Warriors have made major upgrades, while the Clippers, Grizzlies and perhaps the Nuggets could also win the West. Here's more on the Spur who got away and other news from the Western Conference:
- The Timberwolves never spoke with agent David Falk or anyone else from Neal's camp about signing the guard before he reached agreement yesterday with the Bucks, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
- Nikolaos Lotsos, the agent for Serbian-born guard Milos Teodosic, tells Sports.ru that his client rejected an offer from the Grizzlies so that he can continue his career overseas (translation via Sportando).
- Darius Miller's minimum-salary contract with the Pelicans became fully guaranteed for the coming season when the team elected not to waive him by the end of yesterday. Previously, the deal had been completely non-guaranteed.
Sitting at 26-48, the Hornets head to Golden State tomorrow night to take on the Warriors. With only eight games remaining, it sounds like the team will have some decisions to make in the offseason. Let's round up all things New Orleans here on this Tuesday night:
- Hornets coach Monty Williams does not foresee the Hornets (soon to be the Pelicans) having any problems attracting top talent this offseason, writes John Reid of The Times-Picayune. Along with the name change, the New Orleans franchise has a 55,000 square foot practice facility in the works as well as ample cap space to make a splash. Williams says that multiple free-agents-to-be have suggested to him during games that they'd love to play for him in New Orleans.
- Williams addressed the idea of changes to the team's roster over the summer, notes Jim Eichenhofer of Hornets.com (Twitter link). "That’s just the nature of it. When you have a record like we have, you’re not going to settle for this production," Williams said.
- Williams expressed his displeasure with the team's small forwards earlier this season, and Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune echoes that sentiment, imploring the team to prioritize an upgrade at the three this summer. As it stands now, the Hornets use Al-Farouq Aminu, Darius Miller and Lance Thomas at that spot, who barely combine for 12 points per night.
- The Hornets could have as many as eight players become free agents when the season ends in two weeks, including the entire small forward trio mentioned above, Reid writes. Aminu will become a free agent, along with Xavier Henry, Roger Mason and Louis Amundson. The Hornets must decide whether to extend team options to Miller, Thomas and backup point guard Brian Roberts. Per Reid, this has resulted in an environment where the current players are desperate to make an impression. While Reid doesn't mention him, Terrel Harris has a non-guaranteed deal next season and could also become a free agent.
We'll round up the day's D-League assignments and recalls in this post, with the latest moves on top.
- The Hornets announced they've recalled rookie Darius Miller from the D-League's Iowa Energy. In his nearly monthlong assignment, the 6'8" small forward didn't exactly light it up for Iowa, averaging 9.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in 27.2 per game over 11 contests. Still, the Kentucky product has seen a fair amount of playing time for the big club this year, getting in 23 games and posting 2.0 PPG in 13.6 MPG.
Today's D-League assignments and recalls:
- Kent Bazemore and Jeremy Tyler continue to bounce back and forth between Golden State and Santa Cruz, having been re-assigned to the D-League by the Warriors. The team announced the move in a press release.
- The Grizzlies have recalled Tony Wroten from their D-League affiliate, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (via Twitter). The rookie guard had just been sent to the Reno Bighorns last Wednesday.
- The Cavs announced that they have recalled Samardo Samuels from the D-League's Canton Charge. Samuels, who turns 24 in January, has seen time in 18 games for Cleveland so far this year.
- The Mavericks announced today that they have recalled Jared Cunningham from the Texas Legends of the D-League. During his seven game stint with the Legends he averaged 18.1 points, 3.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.0 steals in 37 minutes per contest.
- The Hornets announced that they have assigned forward Darius Miller to the D-League's Iowa Energy. Miller has appeared in 23 games this season for the Hornets, averaging 2.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.0 assist per game. New Orleans drafted the 6'8" Kentucky product with the 46th overall pick in the 2012 draft.
The Hornets have officially signed second-round pick Darius Miller, the team announced today in a press release. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but according to Storyteller's Contracts, the 46th overall pick will receive a two-year deal worth the minimum salary that includes a guaranteed first year.
Miller, 22, was the last of six Kentucky players to be selected in June's draft. In his senior year, he helped lead the Wildcats to a national title, averaging 9.9 PPG on .474/.376/.797 shooting. He'll join Austin Rivers and college teammate Anthony Davis as rookies on this year's Hornets squad.
With two days remaining until the 2012 draft, we've seen a first-round pick change hands for the first time this offseason, as the Timberwolves agreed to send the 18th overall pick to Houston in exchange for Chase Budinger and the rights to Lior Eliyahu. The general consensus is that the move is the precursor to a bigger deal for the Rockets, and Houston isn't the only team rumored to be shopping picks. Here are today's draft-related rumors, with the newest updates added to the top of the page throughout the day….
- Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld tweeted that the Bucks are looking to move into the top 10, and are supposedly targeting John Henson.
- Kennedy says that the Rockets are still trying to acquire another first round pick, most recently in discussions with the Hornets about the 10th pick before talks broke down (Twitter link). He also tweeted that the Lakers and Nets are both looking to acquire a first rounder.
- The Bulls are looking to add perimeter help in the form of a combo guard and shooter, says K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. John Jenkins, Will Barton, and Tony Wroten are possible targets.
- Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel believes that the Bucks need to start adding talent instead of looking to add more veterans. Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel says that the team could consider taking a guard with their pick.
- Michael Lee of the Washington Post documented Jay Bilas' thoughts on Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Bradley Beal. He believes that Beal is the second best prospect of this draft, discusses Barnes' outstanding athleticism, and marvels at Kidd-Gilchrist's versatility and ability to guard multiple positions.
- Doug Smith of The Star explores the many different directions in which the Raptors could go on draft night, even hearing that GM Bryan Colangelo remains undecided on what he wants to do.
- Keith Langlois of Pistons.com views the second round as a chance to find perimeter depth and highlights the team's possible targets with their 39th and 44th picks. Among those mentioned are Darius Miller, Kevin Murphy, Kim English, Jae Crowder, Will Barton, and Jared Cunningham.
- Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area examines the draft's shooting guard options for the Warriors.
- Chad Ford of ESPN.com lists the 10 biggest questions heading into draft night (Insiders only).
- Morley Quatroche of WEEI.com takes a look at J'Covan Brown as a possible second round target for the Celtics.
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiled Jefferey Taylor and the impact that the three-time SEC All-Defensive team selection wants to make in the league.
- Jonathan Abrams of Grantland provides an outside-the-lines perspective of Royce White and the first-round hopeful's battle with anxiety disorder.
- Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune produced a mock draft of his own, focusing solely on the top-14.
- Sean Meagher of Oregon Live performed a link roundup of Damian Lillard, who appears to be a realistic target for the Trail Blazers on draft night.
- Jay Bilas projects Fab Melo as the 30th best available player in the draft (Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel provided a Sulia link). While he sees the 7-foot center as a good rebounder and improved shot blocker, Bilas thinks that Melo's less-than-ideal mobility was offset by playing zone defense at Syracuse and could struggle guarding the pick and roll at the NBA level.
- 76ers GM Rod Thorn feels content with having the 15th pick and doesn't see a situation where he tries to move up (Dei Lynam of CSN Philly reports). Thorn would like to add an athletic big man and believes he will have about two or three of his targets available by the time Philadelphia is on the clock. It should be no surprise that he mentioned Jared Sullinger as one of those targets (Tom Moore of Philly Blurbs tweets).
- Tim Kawakami of Mercury News tweeted that the Warriors have not made any definitive judgments after the meetings/workouts with Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes. In another tweet, Kawakami added that Golden State could consider trading down depending on who gets drafted ahead of their slot.
- In his latest mock draft for Yahoo! Sports, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com shares a number of tidbits. Among them: He's hearing that the Cavaliers are more likely to takeMichael Kidd-Gilchrist than Harrison Barnes if Bradley Beal is off the board at No. 4.
- Warriors GM Bob Myers and owner Joe Lacob flew to New York to watch Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond in private workouts on Monday, according to Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com.
- A pair of sources who witnessed Damian Lillard's individual workouts for the Blazers earlier this month raved to Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com about the point guard's performance. Lillard is a strong candidate for Portland's No. 6 pick.
- SI.com's Seth Davis has a ton of interesting quotes from scouts and executives on this year's top prospects, while Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld spoke to execs who believe the best values in the draft could be found in the picks in the teens.
- The Warriors don't appear to have the assets to move up and may simply opt to take the best player available at No. 7, says Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group. Damian Lillard and Dion Waiters are top contenders for the Warriors' pick.
- Tim Bontemps of the New York Post thinks the Nets will draft a European player to stash overseas with their No. 57 pick.
- A swap involving the Bobcats' No. 2 pick and the Cavs' No. 4 pick could have enough momentum to get done, writes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com in a piece that includes a handful of other draft tidbits.
- Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times wonders whether the Bucks will consider drafting Fab Melo if Meyers Leonard and Tyler Zeller are off the board at No. 12.
- Draymond Green is working out for the Pacers for a second time today and is a candidate to be picked at No. 26, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. However, another player working out for Indiana today, Will Barton, figures to be the team's pick if he's still on the board at 26, says Sean Deveney of the Sporting News (Twitter link).
- ESPN The Magazine (Insider link) has released its annual players-only mock draft, in which a player representative from each team plays GM and makes his team's picks. Somewhat bizarrely, the players let Bradley Beal slip to J.J. Redick and the Magic at No. 19.
- Washington guard Tony Wroten is drawing interest from a pair of teams with picks in the 20s. Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal says Wroten has piqued the Grizzlies' interest, while Chad Ford of ESPN.com says the Hawks have become "enamored" of Wroten.
- Within the same mock draft, Ford says the Hornets offered the Rockets the No. 10 pick for Nos. 14 and 16 last week, but that Houston turned them down.
- The Warriors' No. 7 pick could be in play for the Rockets as they look to line up a big offer for Dwight Howard, tweets Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News.
- It appears unlikely the Raptors will trade the eighth overall pick, according to Eric Koreen of the National Post.
- 76ers president Rod Thorn doesn't expect the team to trade up from No. 15, tweets Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com.
- The Suns' interest in Arnett Moultrie is intensifying, says Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
- There's a decent chance that the Kings will draft a player that didn't work out for the team, writes Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.
With 15 days remaining until draft night, we'll round up today's notes on draft workouts, stock watches, and potential selections right here, with the latest up top:
- Morley Quatroche of WEEI.com breaks down Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from a Celtics perspective.
- HoopsWorld's Stephen Brotherston looks at whether Kentucky sixth man Darius Miller can be just as valuable as a key reserve in the NBA.
- Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times has the latest on the Bucks' search for a big man.
- Portland native Terrence Jones talks about his workout for the Blazers today in a video posted by Sean Meagher of The Oregonian.
- Warriors.com shares mock drafts put together by broadcasters and well-known bloggers.
- Thomas Robinson worked out for his hometown Wizards today, as Michael Lee of The Washington Post chronicles.
- Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld looks at Andre Drummond as teams try to get a handle on his boom-or-bust potential.
- A number of beat writers have updates on draft workouts for the Trail Blazers, Wizards, and Bucks.
- Don't expect the Jazz to make a trade to get back into the first round of the draft. GM Kevin O'Connor tells Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune that the asking price for first-round picks will be high, and he doesn't anticipate his team will make a move "unless we find something we really like."
- SI.com's Sam Amick shares the list of participants for the Warriors' workout tomorrow.
- The Sixers announced via press release that they'll work out Quincy Miller, Terrence Ross, and Mike Scott tomorrow morning.
- Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com becomes the latest draft scribe to release an updated version of his mock draft today.
- ESPN.com's Chad Ford has provided a ton of draft content today, publishing his new mock draft and answering a number of readers' questions in a chat. Among the highlights of Ford's chat: He believes the Bobcats will trade the No. 2 pick for either multiple picks or a pick and a player.
- Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio also conducted a chat heavy on draft-related inquiries.
- Harrison Barnes and Damian Lillard were among the lottery prospects to boost their stock in athletic testing, while Jared Sullinger and John Henson's scores didn't help them, says Chad Ford (Insider link).
- Anthony Davis isn't the only player in this draft class with star potential, writes Jay Bilas in an Insider piece for ESPN.com.
- Fab Melo and Andrew Nicholson highlighted the group of prospects in attendance at the Suns' first workout yesterday, says Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
- Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld and SI.com's Sam Amick each released updated versions of their mock drafts today.
- The Raptors worked out six more players today, including Canadian forward Kris Joseph, according to a team press release.
We'll track the day's draft-related news and rumors here, with the newest updates up top:
- Jonathon Givony of DraftExpress has measurements from Chicago's draft combine, including max verticals for all the prospects in attendance.
- Neither Perry Jones III or Terrence Jones blew away Warriors management when they worked out for Golden State, writes Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group. The Warriors continue to hope they can use their lottery pick to upgrade at small forward, and both Joneses project as power forwards.
- Doron Lamb, Moe Harkless, Royce White, Fab Melo, and Quincy Miller are among the prospects scheduled to work out for the Hawks, the team announced today.
- David Thorpe of ESPN.com (Insider link) identifies the Hornets, Bobcats, and Celtics as three teams who could see an immediate impact from their draft picks this year.
- Jared Sullinger is among the prospects the Trail Blazers are working out tomorrow, while Tony Wroten will work out with the team next Wednesday, says Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.
- Kentucky's Darius Miller tells Michael Lee of the Washington Post that he'd love the chance to play with former Wildcat teammate John Wall on the Wizards.