The Clippers‘ desire to find a veteran who could play right away led to today’s signing of Nate Robinson, according to Rowan Kavner of NBA.com. Robinson, who agreed to a 10-day contract, is expected to ease the loss of Jamal Crawford, who is sidelined with a calf contusion. “We looked at a lot of different guys,” coach Doc Rivers said. “We looked at another three, we almost brought in a two, there’s a four out there we could’ve brought in. At the end of the day, I just said, ‘Who’s the best player of the group?’ (The staff) said Nate, and I said, ‘Let’s sign Nate,’ and I know Nate.”
There’s much more from the Western Conference:
- There were reports this week that Blake Griffin could rejoin the Clippers for Sunday’s game against the Warriors, but that now appears doubtful, Kavner reports in a separate story. Sunday marks the four-week anniversary of the first game Griffin missed with a staph infection in his elbow, roughly the time he was expected to be out of action. But he hasn’t received clearance to play yet from team doctors.
- The emergence of Jordan Clarkson virtually ensures a break-up between Jeremy Lin and the Lakers, writes Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times. Clarkson’s rise has meant less playing time for Lin, who will become a free agent this summer. Clarkson, a rookie, will earn just slightly more than $845K next season, making him a low-cost solution at point guard. “I’m not going to answer any of those free agency questions until after the season,” Lin said after Friday’s loss to Memphis. “I’ll discuss that later.”
- Mike D’Antoni might be the answer to reviving fast-paced basketball in Denver, opines Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. D’Antoni, 63, became famous for his up-tempo style during his time as coach of the Suns, Knicks and Lakers. He said he would love to get back into coaching after a year away from the game and would have strong interest in the Nuggets’ job. “You get addicted,” he said. “There’s some really good basketball being played in the league right now, from Golden State to Atlanta.”
Sixers fans should expect a more competitive team next season, opines Tom Moore of Calkins Media. After two straight years of tanking and collecting assets, Moore sees the 2015/16 season as a “modified” tanking situation, forecasting something in the neighborhood of 25 to 29 victories. Philadelphia should make several lineup improvements during the offseason. Rookie center Joel Embiid, who hasn’t played this season after undergoing foot surgery, is expected to be healthy, and Philadelphia will have its own pick plus Miami’s and maybe others in June’s draft. The Sixers could also have up to $40MM in available cap space, although GM Sam Hinkie hasn’t committed to using it.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- The Nuggets were interested in Glenn Robinson III, who was claimed today off waivers by the Sixers, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities. Robinson had been waived Thursday by the Timberwolves to create room for Justin Hamilton, whom Minnesota claimed on waivers.
- Tim Hardaway Jr., who was mentioned in trade talks prior to the deadline, has struggled during his second season in the NBA. When discussing the future of the slumping Knicks sophomore, coach Derek Fisher said, “Well, he is under contract for next year,” Fred Kerber of The New York Post relays. Fisher then expanded on Hardaway’s growth, adding, “Timmy has a great deal of potential as a young guard. He is showing more skill in handling the basketball and playing defense. Every guy on every team thinks he can score and there are plenty of guys who are willing to shoot the ball every time they get it. How many guys are willing to play defense every night and be the type of guy that’s going to do some of the dirty work? Tim is turning the corner in that area.”
- The Knicks may choose between two Kentucky players if they get an early pick in June’s draft, writes Frank Isola of New York Daily News. Mark Warkentien, the Knicks’ top scout, has reportedly attended nearly a dozen Kentucky practices, presumably for a closer look at Wildcats big men Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Knicks currently occupy the top spot in Hoops Rumors’ reverse standings.
Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.
Flip Saunders, the Wolves‘ president of basketball operations, said it was “unfortunate” the club released rookie Glenn Robinson III when Minnesota claimed Justin Hamilton off waivers, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune writes. “We really like Glenn,” Saunders said. “It was unfortunate for him he never really had an opportunity, and we didn’t see that changing. When we drafted him, we didn’t have Andrew Wiggins, so the dynamics of that changed. It’s tough to develop three young players at the same position.” More from the Northwest Division..
- Thunder coach Scott Brooks and star guard Russell Westbrook were part of the team’s recruitment efforts for Pau Gasol over the summer, but neither one is sure how close they were to sealing the deal, Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman writes. Brooks would only say that OKC was “one of a few teams” in the mix for Gasol while commending him on his play this season with the Bulls.
- So far, the Enes Kanter trade is looking like a win-win for the Jazz and the Thunder, Doug Robinson of the Deseret News writes. Since the February deal, the Jazz are 5-2 in what has easily been their best stretch of the season and OKC has been getting solid production out of the big man. Utah hasn’t gotten much in the way of on-court impact for this season, of course, but they’re playing better basketball without Kanter and they added assets for the future.
- Chauncey Billups joined Woody Paige and Les Shapiro of The Denver Post to address Kevin Garnett‘s comments about the Nuggets and the ouster of former coach Brian Shaw, as Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post writes.
Will Joseph contributed to this post.
After years of heartbreak, the Blazers franchise deserves something special, J.A. Adande of ESPN.com writes. The team has dealt with repeated disappointment on the court and recently the tragic loss of fan favorite Jerome Kersey. Here’s more from the Northwest Division..
- In this week’s mailbag, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes that he likes what the Nuggets did at the trade deadline by getting a first-round choice from Portland and then unloading JaVale McGee‘s salary. Dempsey writes that it was never a realistic expectation for Denver to blow up their roster at the deadline and he expects bigger fireworks to go down when we approach the draft.
- Sixers coach Brett Brown admires how the Thunder were put together, Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for [Thunder GM] Sam Presti; I worked with him for many years,” said Brown, who worked with Presti in San Antonio. “In many levels, I pay attention to this program as much as any on how could we learn from the great things that they have done and things that they may have done differently.”
- The Nuggets picked up their second win under interim coach Melvin Hunt when they topped the Wolves 100-85 on Wednesday night. When asked if he expected that kind of energy out of Denver, Wolves veteran Kevin Garnett told reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post, “No. To be honest, they quit on Brian Shaw. I thought they’d quit again, A quitter is a quitter. That was my take on that. If you got any kind of self-pride about your future, then you want to anticipate someone playing hard. But, no, I wasn’t really concerned about the Denver Nuggets or how they were going to come out. I was more concerned about us, and us going forward and being better.”
- Pacers forward David West recently said that Shaw was fired because the Nuggets don’t have “grown-ups” on the roster and Denver forward Wilson Chandler doesn’t necessarily disagree, as Chris Tomasson writes for The Denver Post.
- Hunt is excited to be at the Nuggets‘ helm, but this isn’t how he wanted to get his big break, as Jhabvala writes.
Former Nuggets coach Brian Shaw released a statement through his agent, Jerome Stanley, regarding his recent firing by Denver, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post relays. “Having been a part of five NBA Championship teams, I know how difficult it is to make the commitment necessary to achieve that goal,” said Shaw. “It takes sacrifice for the greater good … and time, for a club to get to the championship level. Players, coaches, management and ownership all must share that commitment and build toward that goal. It is not an easy task. I am very proud of the effort that my staff and I put in while coaching the team. I also appreciate the support that I received from the KSE group. Finally, I believe that the Nuggets will grow to be a championship level club and give the fans in Denver a much deserved Championship. In time.“
Here’s more out of the Western Conference:
- The Thunder are attempting the difficult feat of remaining in contention while undergoing a significant overhaul of their roster, Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman writes. Seven out of the 15 players on OKC’s roster weren’t with the team at the end of last season, and since the beginning of the 2014/15 campaign, five players have been acquired via trade, Slater notes.
- Oklahoma City intends to retain both Kyle Singler and Enes Kanter, who become restricted free agents after the season, Slater adds. The Thunder are operating with the idea that a massive luxury tax bill next season will be softened in 2016/17 when the NBA’s new television deal kicks in and the salary cap increases as a result, Slater notes.
- Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt inherits the difficult task of piloting a team that has underperformed all season, and had reportedly quit on former coach Shaw, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post writes. “It’s bittersweet,” Hunt said. “This is not the way you want it to happen, because there are a lot of people involved that are impacted by this. At the same time, in the pit of my stomach, there is a feeling of excitement because I love to compete and I’m ready for the challenges.“
Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders continues to assert that Gary Neal is a part of the franchise’s future, Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune writes. “We traded for him and everybody — all the experts — thought we were going to buy him out,” Saunders said. “And I said we weren’t. We traded for him. We thought he was a good player and we thought he might have a future. We thought we’d bring him in, let him play with our guys and see how he would blend in.” Neal will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Now that the deadline has passed for players to reach buyout arrangements and still be eligible to appear in the playoffs for a new team, Neal is staying positive about his situation in Minnesota, Youngblood adds. “I’m a basketball player and Flip has given me an opportunity to come in here and play,” said Neal. “I don’t have any complaints. The way the team is set up, with K-Mart [Kevin Martin] being out tonight, your role can change from day to day. All you ask for is an opportunity to come in and play, and Flip has been fair with me on that.”
- Brian Shaw is better off no longer coaching a petulant group of Nuggets, opines Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. The problem extends to the front office, as Kiszla argues in a separate column, suggesting it would be difficult for any coach to succeed in Denver.
- The Nuggets should consider hiring former NBA player Chauncey Billups as their next coach, Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post opines. Billups, who has expressed some level of interest in a front office position now that his playing career has ended, is not as old school a personality as Shaw was, which would be a more ideal fit with Denver’s current group of players, Hochman adds.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Jazz are set to sign power forward Jerrelle Benimon to a 10-day contract, a source tells Chris Reichert of Road to the Association (Twitter link). Benimon has been playing with Utah’s affiliate in the D-League since shortly after the Nuggets, who’d signed him for training camp this past fall, waived him in advance of opening night.
Benimon had a $35K partial guarantee on his Nuggets contract, more than the $29,843 he’d make on a standard 10-day contract for a rookie. Still, it seems the 23-year-old is poised for his first taste of regular season NBA action after going undrafted of Towson this past June. He’s averaging 19.9 points and 10.6 rebounds in 34.9 minutes per game in 35 D-League appearances this season.
Utah is without an open roster spot for now, but two members of the Jazz are on 10-day contracts. The team’s deals with Jack Cooley and Bryce Cotton expire at the end of Thursday.
The Kings have hired former NBA player Vlade Divac as their vice president of basketball and franchise operations, the team has announced. “With an unparalleled philanthropic track record that spans the globe, Vlade Divac is the epitome of our NBA 3.0 philosophy,” Sacramento owner Vivek Ranadive said. “He has a unique perspective and global stature that will only further elevate our organization around the world.” In a career that spanned 16 NBA seasons, Divac averaged 11.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game. Ranadive was the driving force behind hiring Divac, Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee tweets.
Here’s more from around the league and abroad:
- With the Guangdong Southern Tigers having been eliminated from the Chinese Basketball Association playoffs, Will Bynum, Jeff Adrien and Chris Daniels have become free agents and are eligible to sign with NBA teams, Enea Trapani of Sportando tweets.
- The NBA has fined the Knicks for team president Phil Jackson‘s public comments regarding Ohio State freshman D’Angelo Russell, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link). Upon leaving Ohio State’s game last Thursday night, Jackson told reporters that Russell was a “great looking kid, [a] great prospect.” This is the second time in his brief career as an executive that Jackson has been fined for tampering. The first instance was for his comments regarding Derek Fisher last spring while Fisher was still a member of the Thunder.
- Mike D’Antoni would be an excellent fit as the next coach of the Nuggets, Adi Joseph of USA Today opines. Joseph cites Denver’s personnel, who would be well-suited to D’Antoni’s style of play, as the main reason the former Knicks and Lakers coach could match up well with the Nuggets.
- With the Knicks currently owning the worst record in the NBA according to Hoops Rumors’ Reverse Standings, New York has the best odds of snagging the top pick in June’s NBA draft. Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal examines the pros and cons of projected No. 1 overall pick Jahlil Okafor, and how the big man would fit in with the Knicks.
- The Lakers intend to apply for a hardship exception once Ronnie Price misses his fourth consecutive game, Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times reports. Los Angeles has lost Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Julius Randle and Price for the season. The Lakers have discussed the matter internally, but haven’t decided if they will use the exception if granted, Pincus adds.
Channing Frye is upset with the Suns’ management, who made some critical comments last week regarding the veteran big man’s departure to the Magic as a free agent last summer, John Denton of Magic.com tweets. Phoenix’s owner Robert Sarver had said that Frye didn’t give the Suns an opportunity to match Orlando’s four-year contract offer. “I think we have to take what that front office says with a grain of salt,” Frye said in response to Sarver’s comments. “I think right now they need to focus on their own team. I think we had many negotiations between [us and] the Suns,” Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel relays.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- There’s plenty at stake for the Spurs over the next few months, but nothing that happens this spring will alter the value of the max or near-max contract Kawhi Leonard is set to receive in restricted free agency this summer, as Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News believes.
- Former Nuggets coach George Karl feels no sense of glee at Denver’s struggles without him, as he said last week, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Karl has sympathy for Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, Spears notes.
- Darren Collison underwent successful surgery today to repair a core muscle issue, the Kings have announced. Collison will begin rehabilitation immediately and is expected to be out for approximately six weeks.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
3:38pm: Denver is expected to make former Bulls and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro a candidate for the job, and according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, who also hears mention of ex-Kings coach Michael Malone. Berger hints that’s true of Pelicans assistant Bryan Gates, Pacers assistant Nate McMillan and Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga, too, though that’s not entirely clear. In any case, the Nuggets will likely give Gentry “heavy consideration,” Berger writes.
1:10pm: The Nuggets have yet to any consider long-term candidates, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
1:01pm: Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, current Warriors assistant coach Alvin Gentry and Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin are believed to be likely candidates to replace the fired Brian Shaw as Nuggets head coach, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick. One-time Mavs and Nets coach Avery Johnson and former Nuggets, Suns, Knicks and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni are other likely candidates, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com, and a source who knows D’Antoni’s thinking told Amick that he would certainly be interested in the job. Still, the Nuggets indicated when they announced Shaw’s firing that Melvin Hunt would remain as interim coach through season’s end and that they would begin a search for a more permanent replacement after that. Sources confirm to Stein that the Nuggets will take a “long-term view” on their search (Twitter link).
D’Antoni recently suggested in a radio appearance with Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck and Ethan Skolnick that he had interest in returning to coach in the NBA (Twitlonger link; Twitter link). That was before Shaw’s firing, Beck cautions (on Twitter). D’Antoni resigned as Lakers coach last spring, and he got his start as an NBA coach with the 1999 Nuggets.
Jackson also coached as recently as last season, though his three-year Warriors stint is his only head coaching experience. Still, his name was linked to both the Magic and Kings openings earlier this season. Gentry has spent parts of 12 seasons as an NBA head coach, the last coming in 2012/13 with the Suns. That was Johnson’s last year of coaching, too, though he was only in charge of the Nets for the first 28 games that season. Johnson had more success in Dallas, where he took the team to the 2006 NBA Finals and won 67 games in 2006/07. Griffin has so far only served as an assistant coach with the Bucks and Bulls since the 2008/09 season, but Chicago promoted him before this season to lead assistant.