The league has been full of unanticipated performances so far, but the Pacific Division standings come close to expectations. The Clippers and Warriors would be playoff teams if the season ended today, while the Suns, Lakers and Kings would miss out. Of course, Phoenix is 6-6 and just a game behind Golden State, so chaos isn’t far off. Here’s the latest:
Eric Bledsoe has kicked off his inaugural campaign as a full-time starter in Phoenix with a bang, averaging 21.0 PPG, 7.2 APG, 5.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG in 33.8 MPG, and helping the Suns to a 3-2 record after five games. The 4th year veteran is set to become a restricted free agent next summer after failing to land an extension last week, and while some may be worried that this potentially means a short tenure for Bledsoe in Phoenix, GM Ryan McDonough was openly optimistic about being able to re-sign him (Adam Green of Arizona Sports, hat tip to Burns and Gambo of Arizona Sports 620):
“I feel very confident that he’s going to be a Sun long-term…We negotiated with Eric and his agents. I think the contract situation was handled very professionally on both ends…We can match any offer to Eric next summer…Another advantage would be we have an extra year to play with. Other teams who are making Eric an offer can offer him four years, we can offer him up to five if we chose to do so…So there’s some inherent advantages that I just mentioned, also we can give higher percentage increases than another team could give Eric in a contract.”
Here are some more miscellaneous news and notes to pass along tonight:
- Looking into Lance Stephenson‘s comments that he thinks the Pacers would “do anything” to keep him in Indiana for the long term, Candace Buckner of IndyStar.com (along with USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt) explores how the 23-year-old shooting guard could be positioning himself for a five-year max deal next summer. While I’m not too sure about labeling Stephenson as a max-level player at this point, if he can maintain his current averages of 16.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.6 APG, and 47% shooting from the field, he should draw some very lucrative offers next July.
- Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post notes how the Nuggets’ plans to recruit Kyle Korver this past summer led to nothing more than brief contact because of the massive turnover that had been going on within the front office and coaching staff. Korver would eventually re-sign with the Hawks.
- The Thunder have hired former Raptors vice president and assistant GM Maurizio Gherardini in a senior adviser/international affairs position, according to Darnell Mayberry of NewsOK.
Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro said the lack of extensions for Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson and the team’s decision to decline its fourth-year option on Jimmer Fredette aren’t necessarily a reflection of the way the club feels about those players.
“With Jimmer, we spoke to him and his representatives throughout the process,” D’Alessandro said, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee observes. “And they’re not easy decisions to make. We have these deadlines that are at an awkward time, Oct. 31, especially at a time when we just got our positions here.”
We heard earlier that the Kings are enamored with Vasquez and intend to match any offer he gets in restricted free agency this summer. Here’s more on free agents past and future, with a Western kick:
- There were times last season when Kevin Martin could tell his stay with the Thunder would be a short one, he tells reporters, including Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. Martin also reveals that free agency was much more stressful than he imagined, but he says he’s glad he wound up in “the perfect spot” with the Timberwolves.
- Eric Bledsoe isn’t saying whether he envisions staying with the Suns for the long haul after failing to strike a deal on an extension, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
- The rift between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant was real and profound on the Lakers last season, as former teammate Antawn Jamison explains to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Meanwhile, Howard is relaxed, engaged, and confident that he made the right decision to sign with the Rockets, Marc Stein of ESPN.com writes.
- J.J. Hickson isn’t pleased about the way his Blazers tenure ended, as we noted last night, but after signing with the Nuggets in part because of an opportunity for playing time, he’s seeing plenty of minutes, as Hoopsworld’s Joel Brigham details.
The Suns might not get a discount on Eric Bledsoe this summer after passing on an extension for him last night, but team president of basketball operations Lon Babby would be OK with seeing Bledsoe’s price tag escalate if he has a breakout year. Matt Petersen of Suns.com shares that and more from Babby in the wake of last night’s extension deadline.
“I can’t say that we received an unqualified declaration of [Bledsoe wanting to stay in Phoenix long-term], but I wouldn’t expect that,” Babby said. “That’s part of the issue. He’s only been with us for a short time. But if you’re asking me is there any indication he’s not happy here, absolutely not. I think he’s very, very happy and we’ll do everything we can to make sure he’s happy. He’s an important part of this franchise for a long, long time to come.”
There’s more on a pair of players who’ll also hit restricted free agency this summer as we round up the latest from the Association:
- Evan Turner said earlier that he and Sixers GM Sam Hinkie didn’t have any talks about an extension, and that silence extends to any mention of Turner’s future in Philadelphia, as Turner told reporters, including Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. Turner isn’t sure if that future includes the Sixers after seeing the team trade Jrue Holiday, a player he called a ”walking legend.” (Twitter links).
- Avery Bradley isn’t concerned that the Celtics passed on what reportedly would have been a four-year extension, telling Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald and other assembled media today that he’d love to stay in Boston.
- We already knew that the Rockets had protected B.J. Young from tonight’s D-League draft, and Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle notes the team did the same for fellow camp casualties Jordan Henriquez and Troy Daniels (Twitter link).
- In an interview with the YES Network, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov shared his enthusiastic response when informed of the prospect of the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade and explained that his desire for a non-traditional coach led him to Jason Kidd. Newsday’s Roderick Boone has the details.
- Commissioner-in-waiting Adam Silver spoke with Jared Weiss of CLNS Radio about the this season’s leaguewide rollout of SportVU cameras, expressing the league’s desire to create a level playing field in terms of the data and technology available to teams.
Dirk Nowitzki publicly questioned Mark Cuban‘s approach to retooling the Mavericks back in January, and the team struck out on its top target again this summer when Dwight Howard decided to join the Rockets. But Nowitzki tells Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that he’s pleased with the roster Cuban and Donnie Nelson put together this offseason, and he’s encouraged by the club’s direction.
“I think as a franchise, we’ve moved on,” Nowitzki said of the failed attempts to recruit star free agents. “We didn’t go for the whole cap space deal again, like we did last year, so I was obviously pleased to see that.”
Here are a few more Friday afternoon odds and ends:
- With the D-League draft set to get underway at 6:00pm CT tonight, the Iowa Energy traded the third overall pick as part of a deal with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Heat camp invitee and NBA champion Jarvis Varnado headed to Iowa in the move, as Keith Schlosser writes at Ridiculous Upside.
- One player who won’t be playing on a D-League squad anytime soon is free agent big man Jason Collins, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. Stein hears from a source that Collins isn’t considering playing overseas or in the D-League, since he still believes he’s an NBA player and prefers to continue his workout regimen at home in Los Angeles.
- In a separate ESPN.com story, Stein writes that the Suns are comfortable with Eric Bledsoe heading into free agency next summer. However, it sounds like Phoenix hasn’t ruled out the possibility of facilitating a sign-and-trade involving Bledsoe in July if he gets too pricey, so the team likely won’t shop Goran Dragic for now.
- John Jenkins tells Lang Greene of HoopsWorld it “feels great” that the Hawks elected to exercise his third-year option for 2014/15 yesterday.
- $14MM over four years is a reasonable price for Quincy Pondexter, but he’ll have to continue to develop for his new contract to be a good investment for the Grizzlies, says Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com.
- DeShawn Sims, who was in camp with the Celtics in October, has signed with Galil Gilboa in Israel, agent Mike Silverman tells Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype (Twitter link).
- Since being released by the Rockets, Tim Ohlbrecht has remained in the U.S. in hopes of landing another NBA job, but continues to consider overseas offers, according to Schlosser at Ridiculous Upside.
After reporting yesterday that about six clubs had shown some level of interest in trade candidate Jimmer Fredette, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets that the number of teams with substantive interest is “closer to two.” The Kings elected to turn down their option on Jimmer for 2014/15, meaning he’s on an expiring contract now, which will make him more movable, according to Amick.
As the Kings mull what to do with their 2011 lottery pick, let’s check in on a few more items from around the Pacific Division….
- Eric Bledsoe will head to restricted free agency in 2014 after not reaching an extension agreement with the Suns prior to October 31st. One league source tells Sean Deveney of the Sporting News that Phoenix probably won’t get a discount next summer: “He is probably going to want a max deal. If he plays the way he thinks he is going to, he will get it, too.”
- Warriors camp invitees Seth Curry, Dewayne Dedmon, and Joe Alexander have joined Golden State’s D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. The three players, whose D-League rights were retained by Golden State, were considered likely to head to Santa Cruz when they were cut by the NBA’s Warriors.
- The Kings‘ new management group didn’t just take over a mess when it came to business and fan relations, writes Tom Ziller of SBNation.com. In Ziller’s view, former GM Geoff Petrie‘s rebuild of Sacramento’s roster may require a rebuild itself.
Although several players signed lucrative long-term contract extensions over the course of the offseason, last night’s deadline came and went with a whimper, rather than a bang. Extension candidates like Gordon Hayward, Eric Bledsoe, and Avery Bradley failed to work out last-minute deals, meaning they’ll become free agents next summer. News continues to trickle in on a few of those players and their motives for passing on new contracts, so let’s round up the latest….
- Agent Mark Bartelstein, who represents Hayward, tells Sam Amick of USA Today that extensions are often the most difficult deals to complete: “Teams sometimes have a view of wanting to get something for doing it early, and the player wants to get what he perceives his value to be, so they’re hard to do.” Bartelstein added that the Jazz put in a “tremendous amount of time and effort,” so it wasn’t for lack of trying that nothing was agreed upon.
- Suns president Lon Babby echoed Bartelstein’s thoughts on the challenge of extension negotiations, telling Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic that the lack of a deal with Bledsoe “doesn’t in any way suggest” the Suns aren’t committed long-term to their new point guard.
- While 2014 free agency is still a ways off, Grantland’s Zach Lowe notes (via Twitter) that the Magic will likely be a strong rival suitor for Bledsoe.
- Discussing the Hayward and Bledsoe negotiations, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein says Bledsoe was believed to be seeking a deal worth at least $10MM annually. Hayward, meanwhile, wasn’t seeking the max, but wanted a contract “commensurate with his standing as the face of Utah’s rebuilding effort,” according to Stein.
- One executive suggested to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com that extending Derrick Favors and not Hayward was an “odd message” for the Jazz to send (Twitter link).
- Andrew Bogut‘s new contract is a veteran extension, rather than a rookie scale extension, but we’ll include this update here anyway: Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld has the specifics on Bogut’s salaries for the next several years, which start at about $12.29MM in 2014/15 and drop to about $11.03MM for 2016/17.
As the Gordon Hayward negotiations inch forward and tonight’s deadline draws closer, let’s take a look at the latest on Hayward as well as a few other members of the draft class of 2010:
- As expected, Phoenix and Bledsoe were unable to come to an agreement, making the Suns’ recent acquisition a restricted free agent come next summer, tweets Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
- We haven’t heard much recently about the possibility of an extension for Avery Bradley and the Celtics, but Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe confirms that the sides were unable to agree on what was to be a four-year deal (via Twitter).
- While we already know a Hayward extension didn’t happen, Stein tells us the sides were negotiating a four-year deal that was for less than the maximum amount, yet they still couldn’t get it done despite the Jazz CEO’s support. (Twitter links)
- Shams Charania of RealGM tweets that the Jazz and Hayward never discussed a five-year pact.
- ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the entire Jazz organization is “absorbed” by the extension talks with Hayward, adding that the expectation inside the organization is that it will get done since team CEO Greg Miller is fully behind it. Miller conceded Monday that it would probably be a distraction, and Stein senses that it already is one for Hayward. (Twitter links here)
- Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report quotes an opposing general manager, who says the “Jazz had better lock up Hayward.” As Bucher notes, the implication is that Hayward would be a highly sought after restricted free agent next summer. (Twitter link)
- On that topic, Jody Genessy of the Deseret News says that the Jazz could be forced to match a “toxic” contract next summer to retain Hayward, making this a “risky game of chicken.” Genessy assumes the sides must be far apart considering that Hayward is expected to be a team leader. (Twitter links here)
- Grantland’s Zach Lowe suspects that the five-year extension Paul George signed in September might be “infecting” the Hayward situation, adding that it was inevitable that Hayward’s representation would use that deal as a benchmark since they are similar players. (Twitter links)
- Meanwhile, Stein also tweets that the situation in Phoenix is similar to the one in Utah, as the Suns and Eric Bledsoe are apparently far apart in talks despite general manager Ryan McDonough being previously hopeful of a deal getting done. We heard earlier tonight that there are “no indications” that the sides will agree to a pact before tonight’s deadline.
- Despite not inking him to an extension, we heard earlier from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports that the Kings feel strongly about Greivis Vasquez and will likely match any offer sheet he signs next summer. It appears the feeling is mutual, as Spears has since spoken with Vasquez, who told him, “Hopefully everything works out with the Kings and I’m confident it will.” (via Twitter)
- Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee agrees, tweeting that the Kings “love” Vasquez and would have done the deal had the price been right. Citing Vasquez’s love for Sacramento, Jones adds that he doesn’t foresee the point guard going anywhere next summer.
It’s been an unusually busy day for news out west, so we’re following up this morning’s round of Pacific rumors with a few afternoon updates. Here’s the latest:
- There are “no indications” that the Suns and Eric Bledsoe will reach an agreement on a contract extension before tonight’s deadline, tweets Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The two sides have until 11:00 pm CT to work something out.
- On the heels of reporting that the Kings won’t exercise Jimmer Fredette‘s 2014/15 option, Sam Amick of USA Today passes along a little more Jimmer news. According to Amick, about six teams have expressed some trade interest in Fredette. The Jazz aren’t one of those six, however.
- The highest-paid player in the NBA will receive most of his salary tomorrow, according to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, who says Kobe Bryant will be paid more than $24MM by the Lakers on November 1st.
- Mark Deeks of ShamSports, writing for SBNation.com, suggests that extending Andrew Bogut for three years and $36MM+ represents an unnecessary risk for the Warriors. As Deeks notes, Golden State still could have extended Bogut in the spring, prior to free agency, which would have given the team another full season to evaluate the big man.
- In a separate piece for The Score, Deeks discusses the Suns/Wizards trade, writing that it’s the sort of deal that doesn’t necessarily have a winner or loser, since both teams got what they wanted. Deeks also points out that the Suns will have an “extremely logical” trade candidate in Channing Frye if he starts the season healthy and productive.
- The Kings won’t sign Greivis Vasquez or Patrick Patterson to a contract extension today.
NBA teams have until Thursday evening to exercise or decline rookie contract options for 2014/15, and the Kings‘ decision on Jimmer Fredette isn’t a no-brainer. Since being drafted 10th overall in 2011, Fredette hasn’t made the impact at the NBA level that many were anticipating. I still expect Sacramento to pick up the relatively cheap option (about $3.11MM), but it sounds like the decision will go down to the wire.
“We have until Thursday, so we’ll have an internal process and conversation and come to a decision,” Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro told Jonathan Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom. “Obviously, we’ll have to do it by then. So I would think probably we’ll take our time up until the deadline.”
Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:
- Chris Kaman believes the Clippers will never truly surpass prestige of the Lakers, but says Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been “turning over a new leaf” with his newfound willingness to spend money on his team, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Of course, based on what we heard last night about Sterling nearly spiking the J.J. Redick deal, Sterling still appears to have a long way to go.
- A contract extension for Eric Bledsoe is atop the Suns‘ to-do list, but his recent arrival in Phoenix and his lack of significant minutes make his value difficult to pinpoint, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Coro also wonders how much interest Bledsoe has in an extension, since he hasn’t talked about wanting Phoenix to be his long-term home when given the opportunity.
- The costs of the Warriors‘ San Francisco arena project are starting to pile up, says John Coté of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee profiles new Kings head coach Michael Malone, who inherits the Sacramento job under new ownership and a new front office.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.