The West has been the stronger of the two conferences so far in the early going of the 2013/14 NBA season. There are nine teams above the .500 mark in the West compared to only three squads with winning records in the East. A conference chock full of winning teams is a recipe for intense and entertaining competition. Here are some notes regarding the West:
- Despite the injury to point guard Toney Douglas, Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group hears from team sources that the Warriors are not expected to make a move to bolster their backcourt. Thompson reports that Kent Bazemore and Nemanja Nedovic will be given a chance to come off the bench and run the team’s offense in Douglas’ absence.
- There’s still no timetable for Kobe Bryant‘s return, tweets Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. The Lakers are paying Bryant over $30MM this season, a total almost $8MM greater than the next highest player on the list.
- The Knicks‘ decision to let Jeremy Lin walk away from the team after the 2011/12 season was a surprise to many, including Rockets GM Daryl Morey: “We didn’t really understand it, and we thought for sure that Lin was going to stay. I thought if any team knew what it had, it was going to be New York.” Harvey Araton of the New York Times breaks down New York’s choice not to match the Rockets’ offer sheet.
- Kenneth Faried declined to comment on the rumors implicating him as a possible early season trade candidate: “No comment on all of that. I just play basketball and do my job, and that’s it.” Faried had been linked to a potential trade with the Knicks‘ Iman Shumpert, but the Nuggets wanted more in return than New York had to offer. Read Christopher Dempsey’s full article about Faried at the Denver Post.
- Earlier tonight, Utah Jazz beat writer Jody Genessy revealed (via Twitter) that Diante Garrett was shopping at WalMart when he received the call offering him a spot on the Jazz. Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune provides further insight on Utah’s acquisition of the young guard and what it means for the team.
Shannon Brown remains on the Wizards roster for now following last night’s trade, though the team is expected to let him go. He isn’t a lock to clear waivers, but if he does, HoopsWorld’s Steve Kyler hears he’d like to sign with the Lakers (Twitter link). Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets that several teams are interested, and Brown has yet to make up his mind. Fellow ESPN.com scribe Ramona Shelburne isn’t sure the Lakers will be too inclined to pick up Brown, since they already have 15 players under contract (Twitter link). Here’s more from the West:
- After being bounced among seven NBA teams and two international stops by age 27, Gerald Green is OK with waiting for his turn to get minutes in the Suns‘ rotation, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Green, who came to Phoenix in the Luis Scola deal, is one of three small forwards on the team, but he should see more time at two-guard now that Brown is elsewhere.
- Rockets GM Daryl Morey paid no attention to rumors that his job was on the line in recent years, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. “I heard second hand those rumblings, and it never made sense to me,” Morey said. “Maybe because I knew Mr. Alexander had a lot of faith in what we were doing and was really an architect in a lot of the strategy, so we were executing on a plan and the owner knew it. I think that, yeah, if we hadn’t been able to turn the corner like we hoped, then at some point he probably says, ‘Hey, I’ve got to change horses,’ and that’s fine. That’s his right. I wouldn’t have been bothered. But he had a lot of belief in us, and I don’t forget that.”
- Former Lakers forward Devin Ebanks was among the players the Mavs cut this week, and he has committed to play with the the Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate of Dallas, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo (Twitter link).
- Bob Myers was an agent before he became GM of the Warriors, and that experience shows in his masterful negotiations on extensions for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry, writes Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group. We had plenty more on Bogut’s extension in a post earlier today.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
For the Rockets, "Everything is all-in on right now," GM Daryl Morey said to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle and others as training camp begins, hinting that more moves are to come after a summer in which Houston landed Dwight Howard. Here's more from the Rockets boss and other news on the team as it begins training camp:
- "Our young guys have to step up," Morey also said. "We’re not there. We’re not a finished team. We’re not a finished product. We’re focused on we want to be great come mid-April. That’s our focus. We need to get ourselves homecourt in the first round and making sure we’re humming come mid-April with guys stepping up or whatever is needed."
- Omer Asik's summer trade request seemingly makes him a candidate for the team's next move, and the 7-footer offered up a "no comment" today, telling Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com and others gathered for media day that he just plans to do his job (Twitter link).
- The happy-go-lucky James Harden and the rest of the Rockets are a much better fit for Howard on and off the court than the Lakers and straitlaced Kobe Bryant, opines USA Today's Sam Amick.
When free agency opened on July 1st this year, the Rockets were the first team to meet with Dwight Howard. While that ultimately worked out well for the team, it made GM Daryl Morey uncomfortable at the time, as he told MaD Radio in Houston.
"By going first, I think the other teams have somewhat of an edge. They can trash us in the future meeting," Morey said. "We felt like we had the strongest story and that is what won the day. Dwight was very positive after our meeting, so we felt good at that point."
Here's more on the Rockets, from Morey and others:
- In the same conversation with MaD Radio, Morey admitted that there are probably at least three teams in the NBA currently stronger than the Rockets. "I think [the Heat, Thunder, and Spurs], I would say going in for sure are better than us, and they’ve definitely proven more," Morey said. "I think the Bulls and the Pacers, they’re very good as well this year. I am hoping we are in the mix with them, maybe equal quality."
- In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Bradford Doolittle ranks the top backcourts in the NBA by projected WARP, and the No. 1 team is a bit of a surprise: Houston's backcourt, led by James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Patrick Beverley, tops the list.
- Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv hears that Iona assistant Jared Grasso is in discussions with the Rockets about coaching their D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Twitter link). We heard last week that Houston was talking to another NCAA assistant, Billy Lange, about the job, but he reportedly turned down the team's offer.
The future looks very bright for the Rockets
, and Jonathan Feigen of Ultimate Rockets
hears from GM Daryl Morey
that the organization is set on building around the current core of players: “We’re very excited about the foundation…We were careful to make sure all the key pieces could stay. People are going to see mostly the same team back next year because of that."
Considering that they're a young team that pushed the Thunder
to six games after being down three games to none – along with the emergence of Patrick Beverley
- it's difficult to disagree with the optimism in Houston. Here are a few more miscellaneous links we've gathered up tonight:
- Eric Prisbell of USA Today reports that NBA draft hopeful Ben McLemore's AAU coach received cash and other benefits in order to help influence the former Kansas Jayhawk to leave college after one season and declare for the draft.
- Hoopsworld's Steve Kyler tweets that Al Horford is a player that the Hawks would like to keep rather than trade as the team handles a roster that could be in heavy flux.
- Kyler also says that the front runners to sign Josh Smith this summer will be the teams that miss out on Dwight Howard (Twitter link).
- Magic CEO Alex Martins doesn't foresee a long rebuilding period in Orlando and is confident that the team can return to title contention in the near future (John Denton of Magic.com).
- Hawks GM Danny Ferry feels that the 2012-13 season was a very significant year in terms of taking the initial steps toward becoming a contender and likes the flexibility that his team has moving forward (ESPN via the Associated Press).
- Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group looks back on the 10 most important moves the Warriors made to build the team that starts the second round Sunday against the Spurs.
- According to a report from Sportando, Leones de Ponce of Baloncesto Superior Nacional in Puerto Rico have released Garret Siler and replaced him with Mike Harris.
Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors contributed to this post.
May 4th: The four year deal is now official, owner Leslie Alexander tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
March 7th: The Rockets and general manager Daryl Morey have reached a verbal agreement on the key details of a four-year contract extension for Morey, Alexander tells Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link). Morey's current contract runs through 2013/14, so the new deal will lock him up for five years in total.
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported last month that Alexander was pleased with the job Morey has done with the Rockets, and that the team intended to extend the GM beyond his current contract.
"We’ll re-up him," Alexander said at the time. "Daryl knows that I judge him all the time. I’ve told him. He’s not shy about it either. He just knows that’s the way I operate. Why wouldn’t I? The general manager is the one person in your organization you can really judge. He can make good moves or bad moves. This year, I think he’s made three terrific moves."
In addition to acquiring James Harden in the fall's blockbuster trade with the Thunder, Morey also signed Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to three-year contracts that have looked like good values so far. Even after agreeing to a max extension with Harden, the club has also managed to retain significant financial flexibility, and should have room for a max free agent this summer.
Morey has been the Rockets' GM since May 2007. Although Houston hasn't earned a postseason berth since 2008/09, the team has had a winning record every season during Morey's tenure (260-196 overall), as he managed to rebuild the roster without bottoming out.
A roundup of the latest news and notes from around the NBA on Tuesday evening:
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's contract expires at the end of the 2013/14 season, but owner Leslie Alexander tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that he plans to give Morey a contract extension.
“His contract is up next year, I believe,” Alexander said. “We’ll re-up him. Daryl knows that I judge him all the time. I’ve told him. He’s not shy about it either. He just knows that’s the way I operate. Why wouldn’t I? The general manager is the one person in your organization you can really judge. He can make good moves or bad moves. This year, I think he’s made three terrific moves.”
Morey had a successful offseason for the Rockets, signing Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik in free agency and pulling off a franchise-changing trade for James Harden. These moves have put Houston in position to compete for their first playoff berth since 2009.
In a letter to Royce White shortly after the rookie stopped attending games and practices in November, Rockets GM Daryl Morey recounted the back and forth that had taken place to that point and urged White to show up for work, "just like any other player." The letter also claims that before the Rockets drafted him 16th overall last June, White misled the team about his fear of flying, as Ben Golliver of SI.com reveals.
"To revisit from the beginning, before we drafted you, you told us that your fear of flying was not an issue and that you were ready to be an NBA player. Shortly after we drafted you, you apologized for having to mislead us," reads an excerpt of the letter.
David Barron of the Houston Chronicle shares more from the letter. The information comes via advance copies of White's interview on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," set to air Tuesday. The televised feature uncovers a document that White wrote along with his doctor stating that mental health should be treated as a medical condition. White wants to have it made as an addendum to his contract, but that would violate the terms of the CBA.
White also reportedly wants the team to hire a doctor who would assess him before each game to determine whether he's fit to play through his mental illnesses. He suffers from mental health issues including generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as a fear of flying. White, who has yet to make his regular season debut, has been away from the team for more than two months. Houston coach Kevin McHale said before last night's game that he hasn't seen or spoken to White in more than a month.
The teams with the best records in the NBA are hosting the only two games on the schedule tonight, as the 21-6 Thunder, facing the Mavericks, will look to bounce back from a Christmas Day loss, while the 22-6 Clippers set sights on their 15th straight win with the Celtics in town. As we look forward to those contests, let's round up a few odds and ends from around the NBA: