The Heat‘s visit to Cleveland tonight brought the specter of LeBron James hitting the free agent market next summer to the forefront, but Jonathan Tjarks of RealGM.com argues that the four-time MVP should stay in Miami if he wants to continue winning championships. The Heat are a strong draw for other free agents, too, and it’s no surprise that players take discounts to come to Miami, which offers an up-tempo system, the chance to play with LeBron, and title contention, Tjarks writes. Here’s more from around the NBA:
Cuban also told reporters that the NBA is open-minded about studies on the use of human growth hormone for helping athletes recover from injury. Cuban intends to fund the research, but that sort of HGH use in the NBA would first require U.S. government approval. Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com has the details.
Andris Biedrins admits impending free agency is on his mind, and the Jazz center hinted at retirement, saying in part that, “I know this is my last year,” as Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune passes along. Of course, Biedrins could be referring to the last year of his contract, rather than his career.
Laker-for-life Kobe Bryant inked a new contract yesterday that will keep him in L.A. through 2016, but we shouldn’t expect Dirk Nowitzki to follow suit by signing his own extension with the Mavericks. Nowitzki told reporters, including Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, that while he intends to remain with the Mavericks beyond this season, he expects to hit free agency rather than sign an in-season extension.
“It was never really even discussed, to be honest,” Nowitzki said of an extension. “It’s always been I’m going to play this contract out, by then I’m 36 and we’ll see from there.”
Like Kobe, Dirk figures to take a pay cut on his next deal, but it’s not clear yet whether that cut will be more significant than Bryant’s. Nowitzki’s $22.72MM salary is one of several amounts set to come off the books in 2014, leaving the team with only about $25MM in guaranteed salary committed for ’14/15 so far. The German is aware of Dallas’ cap situation, and the opportunity to add another impact player may be one reason why he’s taking a wait-and-see approach with his next deal.
“My contract is coming off, [Shawn Marion]‘s is coming off, Vince [Carter]‘s is coming off, so there’s a lot of money under the cap,” Nowitzki said. “We can make this team better.”
Nowitzki’s cap hold next July will be worth nearly $24MM, so the Mavs will likely have to finalize a new deal with him for a lesser amount before they can officially use most of their potential cap space.
Not only is Dirk Nowitzki the heart and soul of the Mavericks, he is one of four players in the league today holding a no-trade clause. It’s certainly not likely that the Mavericks will be moving the 35-year-old big man, but in a league where some called for the Lakers to use the amnesty clause on Kobe Bryant, nothing can be ruled out. Yesterday, Mavs owner Mark Cuban told reporters that Rockets GM Daryl Morey inquired about Dirk this summer after signing Dwight Howard. While Cuban suspects that it may have been a little bit of smack talk from Houston after they beat out their intra-state rivals for the summer’s top free agent, there could have been some legitimacy behind the request. The Lakers have also come calling about Dirk, though no offer was made in that instance either.
So far, everything is looking up in Dallas this season. The Mavs are 9-4 and offseason pickup Monta Ellis is arguably playing the best basketball of his life.. Franchise cornerstone Nowitzki is faring pretty well himself, averaging 20.4 PPG though 13 games while shooting 47.8% from the floor, a number that is consistent with his career average. Still, the 35-year-old Nowitzki is in the final year of his contract and earning $22.7MM this season. One has to imagine that he’ll take a pay cut to stay with the Mavericks, the only NBA team he’s ever known, but that’s not an absolute given. While the veteran is playing well, should Dallas open up the phone lines and give some thought to trading Dirk?
Mavs owner Mark Cuban told reporters today that Rockets GM Daryl Morey sent him a text message this summer after Houston signed Dwight Howard asking whether the Mavs would be willing to give up Dirk Nowitzki in a trade, tweets Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Cuban said the conversation went no further and that the Rockets never made an official offer. The owner saw the move mostly as a taunting gesture, since the Mavs had been one of the teams in the running to sign Howard, and “just something rivals do,” as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News details.
“Now, I’ve brought it on the record just to have some fun with it now that we’ve played them twice we can help them sell tickets next time. I think they need help. Just to build the rivalry up,” Cuban said.
Cuban also brought up an inquiry the Lakers had made in the past about Nowitzki, adding that no formal offer was extended in that case, either. The owner says he’s never entertained any thoughts about trading the perennial All-Star. Even if he did, Nowitzki could block any trade, since he’s one of four NBA players with a no-trade clause negotiated into his deal.
The 35-year-old Nowitzki is in the final year of his contract, from which he’ll earn $22.7MM this season, but he appears unlikely to sign with another team, even if Dallas asks him to take a pay cut. Cuban has expressed confidence that the ninth overall pick from 1998 can continue playing for years to come.
If the Sixers start to slide and they turn their focus to the offseason, they could find a trade partner in the Mavericks. The two sides have yet to talk, but sources around the league wonder if Dallas might be interested in landing Evan Turner in an effort to make a playoff run and appease star Dirk Nowitzki. Turner wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg and a package of Shawn Marion and a draft pick would probably get the job done for the former No. 2 overall pick.
If the Sixers part with Turner, word around the league is that the Thunder and T-Wolves will also be among the teams with interest.
Sixers small forward Thaddeus Young is also off to a hot start and is likely to draw interest around the trade deadline or sooner. Young may be a little tougher to move than Turner at $8.6MM this year and $9.1MM next with a player option for $9.7MM in 2015), however.
With the Pacers off to a 7-0 start, league execs wonder what Danny Granger‘s role might be when he comes back from injury. With his expiring contract and recent injury history, it seems as if the Pacers would be receptive to moving him. If they do dangle Granger, they’ll probably seek out some backcourt help, specifically someone adept at handling the basketball.
One league exec told Amico, “If the Kings aren’t any good, mark my words: They’ll trade (DeMarcus) Cousins.” Cousins is still on his rookie contract this year, but has a max extension kicking in next season, which will make it trickier to trade him due to CBA rules, albeit not impossible.
The Mavericks made some surprising news today, parting ways with GM Gersson Rosas, who apparently wanted more power over the team’s player personnel than the team was willing to give him. Rosas might not have been the proper fit in Dallas, but he figures to be a hot name in front office circles now that he’s back on the market. The Spurs were reportedly after him before he took the Mavs job, and Rosas drew mention as a possible candidate for the Nuggets GM opening this summer. Here’s more on the team he leaves behind:
The Mavs feel Jose Calderon is the caliber of point guard they’ll need when they return to contention, writes Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, who wonders how long it will take the club to get back to the top. Calderon fit the bill this summer as Dallas prioritized finding a ball-handler who didn’t commit too many turnovers, as Price examines.
Dirk Nowitzki will be 36 when he hits free agency in July, but Mavs owner Mark Cuban doesn’t think he’s close to the end of his career, Price notes in the same piece. “He’s disciplined enough that I think he sees guys like Ray Allen and others who are going later and later and later,” Cuban said. ”So who knows? I won’t put a limit on him.”
The Mavericks haven’t given Carlisle much to work with in the seasons since he guided the team to a championship, but he tells Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News that he’s prepared to stick it out “for the long haul” in Dallas.
The NBPA has retained Reilly Partners Inc. to help conduct a search for a new executive director to replace Billy Hunter, the union announced today (link via The Associated Press). Steve Mills was reportedly the leading candidate for the position before he accepted the Knicks' GM job this week. According to Brain Mahoney of the Associated Press (via Twitter), the union may want to build a list of about 10 candidates before making a decision. That's far from the only position up for grabs around the league as training camps open. Here's the latest:
Evan Turner told reporters at Sixers media day today that he "was ready" to be traded at one point and was just hoping it would be to someplace warm, tweets Tom Moore of Calkins Media (Twitter link). It appears as though Turner was bracing for the possibility, rather than hoping for it.
Former Sixers GM Tony DiLeo is set to become a scout for the Wizards, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
Dallas GM Gersson Rosas indicated today that Dirk Nowitzki could play another four or five years in a Mavericks uniform, as Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. "The vision for us is we want to maximize Dirk's career here,'' Rosas said.
Rosas, who has experience as the GM of the Rockets D-League affiliate, also wants to make the D-League a key component of his strategy with the Mavs, Price notes.
Three NBA clubs have shown interest in guard Tre Kelley, agent Giovanni Funiciello tells Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Kelley is without official NBA experience, but he went to camp with the Thunder in 2009 and the Grizzlies in 2010.
Amidst the buzz surrounding the 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame induction a little over a week ago, you may have heard legendary Brazilian basketball player Oscar Schmidt proclaim that he could have been one of the best 10 players ever if he had joined the NBA. In hindsight, it's interesting to ponder some of the 'what ifs' and how they may have altered the landscape and history of the league.
One could think about how the NBA would have been different if Larry Bird didn't fall five spots to the Celtics during the 1978 draft, if Kobe Bryant hadn't fallen to number 13 in 1996, or if Michael Jordan hadn't retired before the 1993/94 season to name a few. Regardless, there are plenty of other possibilities to consider.
Jonathan Abrams of Grantland sheds light on one particular what-could-have-been, chronicling the rise and fall of Korleone Young, a promising 6'7" small forward who like Kobe, Tracy McGrady, and Kevin Garnett before him attempted to make the jump from high school to the NBA in 1998. In his comprehensive piece, Abrams supplements Young's story with commentary from several people who had crossed paths with him along his journey, including Young's prep-school rival Al Harrington, former Pistons head coach Alvin Gentry, and former Pistons assistant (and current Bucks GM) John Hammond, who had this to share based on what he'd seen in practices:
"We used to talk about the way in which (Young) defended (then-star) Grant Hill on a daily basis. We used to say it tongue-in-cheek but [also] somewhat seriously: 'No one defended Grant Hill in this league as well as Korleone Young."
With that aside, let's round up the rest of tonight's miscellaneous links from the NBA:
Sam Amick of USA Today writes about how Dwight Howard has found greener pastures in Houston and why the rest of the NBA will have to lament the reality that another Western Conference contender has been born.
A handful of HoopsWorld panelists put together a season preview of the Bulls for 2013/14. With much of the team's success hinging on how much Derrick Rose can return to form, three writers pick Chicago to finish second in the Central Division, while two have them running away with the division title.
Nets guard Deron Williams was spotted at his charity dodgeball event earlier today with a walking boot over the same ankle that had been giving him problems last season, though he insisted that the boot was just precautionary: “As long as I’m ready (for the season opener), that’s all that matters to me…If it was up to me, I would be playing right now. I can walk fine. It doesn’t hurt. It’s just protecting me from myself” (Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News).
Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside explains why the NBDL will continue to develop front office executives at a much more efficient rate than players at this point, mentioning that while prospective staffers can work to rise up the ranks while committed to a specific NBA franchise, the players can be called up at anytime and by any NBA team regardless of D-League affiliation.
HoopsWorld's Moke Hamilton held his weekly chat with readers earlier this evening, offering his thoughts on why he thinks the Knicks will repeat as Atlantic Division champions, why teams might be shying away from Renaldo Balkman, the Western Conference playoff race, and the Warriors' ceiling among other topics.
Former NBA player Eduardo Najera added general manager to his job title with the Texas Legends, along with head coach of the Mavericks' D-League affiliate, according to a tweet from Yahoo! NBA reporter Marc J. Spears.
There's hardly a dull moment with Mark Cuban when he speaks with the media, as the outspoken Mavericks owner said on the Artie Lange Show that hiring a head coach is "harder than finding a wife" (hat tip to SportsDayDFW). On a more serious note, Cuban explained why he'll never trade Dirk Nowitzki:
"Dirk defines our culture. When your best player, no matter how old, is the first one in the gym and the last to leave, and works the hardest and encourages guys the way Dirk does … that has a value that goes far beyond what you see on the court."
Here's a roundup of the rest of tonight's links:
Cuban briefly goes into the thought process behind his decision to buy the team.
With Luol Deng set to become a free agent next summer and Carlos Boozer a prime candidate to be amnestied, it's now or never for the core of this current Bulls team, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley also passes along some notable quotes on Derrick Rose, who according to GM Gar Forman"seems like he's doing great, feels good, strong…everything has been positive." Forman added that Rose stayed away from pickup games this summer but has done enough to work on his game.
The NBA will install tracking cameras in every arena around the league starting next season, which will present a vastly different way of experiencing and evaluating the game for analysts, casual fans, and the like (Associated Press via ESPN).