The latest news and notes from around the NBA on Friday evening:
It's a 10-game night in the NBA, and the best game might be the last one to tip off, as the Warriors and Clippers square off for the second time in four days. The teams, who occupy the top two spots in the Pacific Division, will also meet January 21st, so it's a taste of playoff-level familiarity for untested Golden State. Here's more from around the Association.
- Mark Heisler, writing for The New York Times, reveals that part of the reason the Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni instead of Phil Jackson was because the front office was concerned the triangle offense would minimize Steve Nash's effect on the offense.
- People who've seen Derrick Rose work out believe he's almost ready to return, but the Bulls front office and coaching staff have different opinions on when the star point guard will be back on the court, as Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News writes.
- The Magic can place DeQuan Jones on waivers by Monday afternoon and avoid paying him his full rookie minimum salary this season, but as Josh Robbins affirms via Twitter, it's unlikely the team will do that with the 6'8" small forward who rejoined the team's starting lineup this week.
- With another bumper crop of prospects on the way, including point guard Andrew Harrison, No. 3 on the Draft Express 2014 mock, and twin brother Aaron Harrison, 13th on that list, next year's University of Kentucky team is already drawing plenty of interest from NBA scouts. Some teams will assign scouts to Lexington for the entire season, notes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter links).
- Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside engages Mike James in a Q&A after the 37-year-old guard signed this week with the Texas Legends of the D-League in hopes of getting a call-up from the Mavericks.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel believes that although Magic coach Jacque Vaughn would preferably bring young players along slowly to gradually build their confidence, he may have to expand the roles of rookies Moe Harkless and DeQuan Jones much earlier than he would like now that Hedo Turkoglu is out with an injury. Here is the rest of tonight's edition of Eastern Notes:
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has posted several position-by-position breakdowns of the Orlando Magic's roster as the team gears up to start the season. Here are the highlights, as well as some other updates on the Magic from Robbins:
- Robbins writes that Arron Afflalo, whom the Magic acquired in the Dwight Howard trade, has brought a strong work ethic to the Magic.
- Robbins expects to see improvement from second-year center Nikola Vucevic, who was acquired from Philadelphia as part of the Howard trade.
- The newly re-signed Jameer Nelson is expected to bring steady veteran leadership to a young and inexperienced Magic locker room, Robbins writes.
- Robbins writes that Hedo Turkoglu must prove this season that he's worth keeping for 2013/14, as the final year of his contract is only partially guaranteed.
- Going into his second year with the Magic, Glen Davis is expected to be another positive veteran presence in the locker room, Robbins writes.
- Robbins also has an article on DeQuan Jones, an undrafted rookie who made Orlando's final regular-season roster.
- Robbins looks at other teams expected to compete with the Magic for a top lottery pick, pointing out that landing a top player in the draft is not something fans should take for granted.
With the Miami Heat defending their title and the presence of two top-five lottery picks, Washington's Bradley Beal and Charlotte's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Southeast figures to be one of the most exciting divisions in the NBA in the 2012/13 season. Here are the latest updates from around the division on Saturday afternoon:
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel passes along word from various scouts on how to stop the Heat this season.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel looks at the geographical distance between the Magic and their D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls SkyForce. Robbins writes that this may impact their decision to send rookies DeQuan Jones and Kyle O'Quinn down to develop.
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer has a new column about the Bobcats' expectations going into this season, which include finding a point guard and maximizing the talent they acquired in the 2012 draft.
- Bonnell also wrote player capsules examining the strengths and weaknesses of every player on the Bobcats' roster.
Perhaps the most surprising training camp cut was Quentin Richardson, whom the Magic waived despite $5.438MM worth of guaranteed money on his contract for the next two seasons. The surprising play of DeQuan Jones, who appears to have made the team on a non-guaranteed deal, pushed Richardson out the door, writes John Denton of Magic.com. There's plenty of other news about players coming and going today, in advance of the 4:00pm Central time deadline for teams to let go of camp invitees so that they clear waivers before rosters must be down to 15 players.
- While an earlier report indicated the Lakers were expected to waive Darius Johnson-Odom, Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com believes the guard still has a shot to make the team (Twitter link).
- The Heat are at the regular-season roster limit of 15 players, but Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel doesn't rule out the possibility that the team could pick up one of the guys that other teams let go in the past few days (Twitter link).
- John Rohde of The Oklahoman shares insight from Thunder coach Scott Brooks on the team's cuts and its decision to keep DeAndre Liggins. "With DeAndre, we felt that his size, his athleticism, his defensive toughness is something we are intrigued with and we like," the coach said.
- Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio saw Hollis Thompson play Thomas Robinson evenly while both were in college last season, and believes Thompson, whom the Thunder let go today, should wind up with another NBA team (Twitter link).
- The Rockets still must waive three players, and Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle points to reasons why Jon Brockman, JaJuan Johnson and Gary Forbes could be the ones to go.
- HoopsWorld's Derek Page checks in with Mavs waiver claim Eddy Curry, and wonders whether his 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in Friday's preseason game against the Bobcats might have been enough for him to win a roster spot.
- Shavlik Randolph and Steven Gray are likely out of the discussion to make the Wizards opening night roster, but Earl Barron is making a late push for a spot, as Michael Lee of The Washington Post examines.
SEPTEMBER 29: The Magic confirmed the signings via press release.
SEPTEMBER 19: The Magic expect to sign Armon Johnson and DeQuan Jones to contracts, according to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel (via Twitter). The additions, if and when they become official, would brings Orlando's roster to a total of 19 players.
Johnson, 23, was said to be seeking an NBA roster spot earlier this summer. He'll likely be on a non-guaranteed deal with the Magic and will face an uphill battle earning a spot on the roster, but given the team's lack of point guard depth, he should get a long look in training camp. The 6'3" guard has appeared in 47 games with the Trail Blazers and Nets over the last two seasons after being drafted 34th overall in 2010.
Jones, a 6'8" forward, was part of the Magic's summer league roster in Orlando this summer, averaging 6.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in four games. The 22-year-old went undrafted in June out of the University of Miami, where he played just 17.3 minutes per contest in his senior year.