Gilbert Arenas reiterated on SiriusXM NBA Radio today that he’s still holding out hope for an NBA comeback, as USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt tweets, and that echoes Arenas’ comments from December. The Magic are probably rooting for his return to the league, since that could allow them to use set-off rights to recoup a small portion of the millions they still owe him on his amnestied contract. While we wait to see if Agent Zero, still just 32 years old, makes it back to the Association, here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Sean Deveney of The Sporting News heard from a GM around the beginning of February who expected Lance Stephenson to receive offers with eight-figure annual salaries, but an executive now tells Deveney that the soon-to-be free agent will probably command only $7-8MM a year.
- Outgoing Bucks owner Herb Kohl borrowed money from the NBA a total of five times in 2009 and 2010 to help keep the team going, reports Rich Kirchen of the Milwaukee Business Journal. Kohl told Kirchen that he’s spent more than $100MM of his own money on the team during his nearly three decades of ownership.
- Casper Ware‘s multiyear contract with the Sixers extends through 2016/17, but the team only inked Adonis Thomas through the end of 2013/14, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports (Twitter link).
- Eric Dawson, who spent preseason with the Hawks this past fall, is headed to play for Heilongjiang Zhaozhou Feng Shen of China’s second-tier league, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Dawson has also spent time in the D-League and Iran this season.
Fresh off of winning the Associated Press’ 2013 Male Athlete of the Year award, LeBron James spoke in depth about being a role model off the court and having a higher calling outside of basketball in addition to how he’s continued to mature in life. With the possibility of hitting free agency once again since 2010′s “The Decision”, the Heat superstar couldn’t avoid another inquiry about what could happen this summer (Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press). Not surprisingly, LeBron didn’t elaborate on much:
“I’m so zoned in on what my task is here this year that it’s hard to think about anything else…A guy the other day asked me what I’m going to do for New Year’s, and I haven’t even thought about that.”
With that aside, here are more of tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes from around the league:
- Eric Koreen of the National Post examines the trade/free agent value of Kyle Lowry, especially now that the Raptors appear to be thriving since trading Rudy Gay to Sacramento. Koreen argues that talent-wise, Lowry is worth the price of a first-round pick for teams looking to acquire him. On the other hand, if he finishes the season in Toronto looking to stay, then the asking price could start around at least $8MM annually, similar to what Jeff Teague and Brandon Jennings garnered as restricted free agents last summer.
- Sitting at 13-15 through 28 games, the Timberwolves are on par with what president of basketball operations Flip Saunders had expected at this point. Saunders explained his stance to Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press: “Of the record, when the season started, I thought we’d be right where we’re at, or maybe 14-14, 15-13…I thought that was a very realistic goal. But we haven’t finished games like I thought we would be able to do right now.” Saunders also pointed to the team’s road-heavy schedule early on as well as the fact that many of the core players don’t have much experience with each other as reasons why he’s optimistic about brighter days ahead this year.
- Prior to this season, Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts compiled an NBA head coaching record of 148-217 over 365 games, with just one playoff appearance and a first-round exit to boot. This year, Stotts is enjoying an .821 winning percentage in Portland in what is currently his most successful season to date thus far. In a special article for ESPN.com, Daniel Nowell discusses Stotts’ long road to becoming an NBA coach.
- Taj Gibson is repaying the Bulls’ investment in him, writes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Subscribers only).
DECEMBER 25TH: Arenas confirmed to TMZ.com that he is indeed training in the hopes of making a comeback in 2014. According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld (Sulia link), Arenas is aiming to return to the NBA as early as this season.
DECEMBER 13TH: Despite a few fall rumors that suggested the Clippers were eyeing Gilbert Arenas as a possible camp invitee, Arenas himself has exhibited little interest recently in returning to the NBA, expressing a preference to play in China instead. But while Arenas may not play in the NBA in 2013/14, he also hasn’t ruled out trying to make a comeback. In an interview with Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, the former All-Star indicated he’ll try to make a team for the 2014/15 season.
“Next summer, I’m going to train really hard and then try to make a team,” Arenas said. “I’m going to try to come back.”
Arenas went on to suggest a few teams he thinks could use his services in the short-term, including the Knicks, Bulls, and Lakers, but assuming he’s eyeing a summer comeback, those specific clubs may no longer have backcourt holes that need filling.
The longtime Wizard hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2011/12 season, when he played in 17 contests with the Grizzlies. However, he’s still just 31 years old, and showed last season in China that he can still put the ball in the basket. In 14 games for the Shanghai Sharks, Arenas averaged 20.7 PPG and 7.3 APG. Assuming he’s in basketball shape during the 2014 offseason, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he at least received a camp invite from an NBA team.
As we noted earlier today, Gilbert Arenas will be paid through 2016 by the Magic, despite the fact that his amnestied contract was set to expire after the 2013/14 season. NBA sources confirmed the arrangement to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, who says the Magic used the stretch provision to extend Arenas’ payment schedule. I’m not sure that’s accurate, since that specific provision only applies to deals signed under the new CBA. But in any case, Schmitz reports that the revised payment plan shouldn’t affect any free agent plans the team has.
Here are a few more notes from out of Southeast Division:
- LeBron James will earn more than $19MM in 2013/14, but he could still be the NBA’s most underpaid player, as Larry Coon details in an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com.
- Speaking to reporters, including Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Pat Riley referred to the Heat as a “development team” and called the Sioux Falls Skyforce (Miami’s D-League affiliate) a perfect fit for the Heat. A handful of Miami’s camp invitees are expected to end up in Sioux Falls next month.
- In a pair of columns for the Orlando Sentinel, Josh Robbins examines the fight to earn a roster spot for two Magic camp invitees, Romero Osby and Solomon Jones. Assuming Orlando doesn’t release or buy out Hedo Turkoglu within the next few days, Osby and Jones could be battling against each other and against the team’s other invitees for a single roster spot.
In an interview with TMZ.com, Gilbert Arenas revealed that while his amnestied contract would have come to an end next summer, the Magic will continue to pay him through 2016, having agreed to spread out his $111MM salary across two additional years. Arenas’ admission is interesting not only because that type of information isn’t typically reported, but also because paying him an eight-figure salary through 2016 could affect how much Orlando spends elsewhere.
Arenas is one of several amnestied players still being paid through the 2013/14 season, and his arrangement with the Magic shows that we don’t know exactly what agreements were made between teams and players when clubs used their amnesty clauses. For instance, when the Sixers released Elton Brand via amnesty in 2012, he only had one year remaining on his contract, meaning Philadelphia is likely no longer on the hook for his salary. However, if the club agreed to spread out his payments, like the Magic did with Arenas, it’s possible that the Sixers’ debt to Brand hasn’t been entirely extinguished.
What we do know is that many amnestied players had contracts at least through the 2013/14 season, so their former teams are almost certainly still paying their salaries. Here’s a breakdown of the amnestied players, besides Arenas, who are still being paid by old teams this season. The year the player’s amnestied contract ends is noted in parentheses:
The following amnestied players’ contracts have expired, so presumably their teams are no longer paying them, unless they agreed to stretched-out payments like Arenas did:
Hoops Rumors’ Amnesty Tracker was used in the creation of this post.
As we heard over the weekend, the Lakers have yet to start negotiating a contract extension with Kobe Bryant, which is hardly a surprise, given the new CBA. Veteran extensions have become virtually non-existent since the lockout, and given the uncertainty relating to Kobe's recovery from Achilles surgery, there's no reason for either side to rush into contract discussions.
Here's more on the Lakers:
- Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports (via Twitter) that she has heard Darius Johnson-Odom and Eric Boateng mentioned as possible camp invitees for the Lakers. However, nothing has been finalized yet.
- Gilbert Arenas and Kareem Rush have also been spotted working out recently at the Lakers facility, according to Shelburne, but she says not to read too much into that (Twitter link).
- Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss have been the ones making headlines lately, but their younger brother Jesse Buss is also involved with the team, and spoke to Laker Nation about his role with the NBA team and its D-League affiliate. Among other topics, Buss addressed the challenge of scouting for a franchise that always has a win-now mentality, and discussed the outlooks for rookies Ryan Kelly and Elias Harris.
We heard a week ago that the Clippers may be inviting Gilbert Arenas to training camp, but it doesn't sound like the former All-Star is interested in auditioning for an NBA roster spot. Asked by HipHollywood.com about the Clippers rumor, Arenas denied that he'd be joining the team, indicating instead that he plans to return to China for the coming season.
"I went to go work out at the Clippers facility about two months ago," Arenas said. "I guess I did well enough for them to invite me [to camp], but I want to go to China so I can come home faster…. With China, I get to go and still play and then I can get back home and spend more time with the kids. I get to be home in February and enjoy the family. I don’t need the NBA money, I have enough of it."
This isn't the first time Arenas has expressed a fondness for China's shorter season, which ends not long after the NBA's All-Star weekend. Playing for the Shanghai Sharks earlier in 2013, Arenas indicated that he intended to spend the spring with his family, rather than trying to catch on with an NBA team after returning from China.
"Thirty-two games a year," Arenas said at the time. "Maximum 36 minutes. That’s all I need at this point in my career. So as long as China teams want me, I’ll be here."
As for whether teams in the CBA have interest in Arenas, that remains to be seen. But the 31-year-old played well in 14 games for the Sharks last season, averaging 20.7 PPG and 7.3 RPG, so I'd be surprised if he didn't attract a few suitors.
Gilbert Arenas didn't sign or play with an NBA team during the 2012/13 season, but unlike fellow 31-year-old Jared Jeffries, he's not ready to move on from his playing career quite yet. According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld (via Twitter), Arenas has looked good in workouts this offseason, and may receive a training camp invite from the Clippers.
Although he had a brief stint with the Grizzlies in 2012, Arenas hasn't played in a full NBA season since prior to the lockout. In 2010/11, he appeared in 70 total games for the Wizards and Magic, averaging 10.8 PPG, a significant step down from his career rate of 20.7 PPG.
The veteran guard played in China for the Shanghai Sharks last season, matching his NBA scoring average with 20.7 PPG in 14 contests. Our most recent headline on Arenas suggested that he had no plans to come back to the NBA, though at the time it sounded like that meant for the 2012/13 season, rather than indefinitely. Still, Arenas' quotes indicated that he'd have no problem returning to China in the future if NBA opportunties failed to arise.
The Clippers would have room to give Arenas a real shot at a roster spot if he came to camp with the team. L.A. currently has 15 players under contract, but Maalik Wayns' deal is non-guaranteed, while only $50K of Brandon Davies' deal is guaranteed. Of course, based on Arenas' previous comments, it's not clear if he'd even be open to accepting a camp invite with no guaranteed salary attached.
It's been a precipitous fall for Gilbert Arenas, as three years after he averaged 22.6 points per game for the Wizards, it appears there's not much interest in him among NBA executives. For his part, Arenas doesn't have his sights set on a return to the Association after spending this season playing in China, according to comments he recently made to Karan Madhok of SLAM Online.
"Nah!," Arenas said, shaking his head vehemently. "Because after this season I can enjoy my family. You know my kids are getting older. Being in the NBA, you don’t really get to enjoy your family life because you’re always on the road, you’re always gone. So, no. After this season will be the first time I’ll get to be with my kids for a long period of time."
The Chinese season is over, so Arenas, who averaged 20.4 points for the Shanghai Sharks this year, including a 45-point effort against Fujian, could sign with an NBA team and still be eligible for the playoffs, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors pointed out earlier today. But, it looks like that's not going to happen, and as Madhok notes, Arenas isn't fully healthy. The three-time NBA All-Star indicated he's fine with continuing his career in China, noting the CBA's shorter season and game lengths.
"Thirty-two games a year," he said. "Maximum 36 minutes. That’s all I need at this point in my career. So as long as China teams want me, I’ll be here."
Arenas last appeared in the NBA with the Grizzlies in 2011/12, notching 4.2 PPG over 12.4 minutes per game in 17 regular season contests. He totaled just 23 minutes in six playoff games for Memphis last year. He signed a six-year, $110MM contract with the Wizards in 2008, who traded him to Orlando in 2010. Arenas is still receiving money from the Magic, who used the amnesty clause to remove him from their roster and salary cap in 2011.
It's a Wednesday night full of storylines in the NBA, as LeBron James and the Heat go for their 20th consecutive win in Philly and Carmelo Anthony returns to Denver for the first time since he was traded to the Knicks. Let's round up all the other Wednesday links from around the league here:
- An NBA executive told Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen, via text, that he would be "shocked" if any team picked up Gilbert Arenas or Tracy McGrady in the final month of the season. Both former NBA stars have spent this season playing in China.
- Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com caught up with 76ers president Rod Thorn on what has become an intriguing organizational situation in Philadelphia due to Andrew Bynum. While Thorn initially refused to comment on Bynum, he eventually said, "It's a little bizarre, no doubt about it." (Twitter links)
- With regard to Nikola Vucevic, who the Sixers gave up for Bynum and is now averaging a double-double at 22-years-old, Thorn said, "Nik is a very skilled player with great hands. You could tell he had a very good future ahead of him." (via Twitter)
- Sacramento city officials have given themselves an eight day window to construct a financing plan for a new downtown arena, writes Ryan Lillis, Tony Bizjak and Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee. With that timeline, the plan would be complete five days before the city council voted on the plan on March 26. Cementing the terms of an arena deal is vital in the city's claim to keep the Kings.
- The Bee's Marcos Breton writes that many knowledgable businessmen in the Sacramento area and beyond consider the city's last-ditch effort to keep the Kings a fool's errand. Breton spoke with a leading authority on arena financing who describes the offer from the Seattle group "considerably stronger."