Parity has been the story of the first two weeks of the NBA season in the Eastern Conference. Outside of the 8-0 Pacers and the 5-3 Heat, every single team in the East has between two and four wins, and none are separated from the rest by more than two games. If the Knicks make good on James Dolan’s promise of a win tonight in Atlanta, there are scenarios in which Indiana and Miami will be the only Eastern teams above .500 tomorrow. While we look forward to a busy slate of games tonight, let’s check in on a few items out of the East….
- According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the Knicks considered signing Louis Amundson before the veteran big man joined the Pelicans, but ultimately decided to pass.
- The Bulls don’t have a shortage of trade chips, but the safe money says they won’t cash in and make a major trade this season, says Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com.
- In today’s NBA AM piece for HoopsWorld, Steve Kyler explores Glen Davis‘ trade value, and how it was (or wasn’t) affected by a recent off-court incident.
- The No. 38 pick used to select Nate Wolters was involved in a pair of draft-night deals, and while Wolters never thought he was headed to Washington, he briefly thought he’d be a Sixer rather than a Buck, as he tells Shams Charania of RealGM.com.
- The Nets have re-assigned Tornike Shengelia to the Springfield Armor, the club announced today in a press release. It’s already Shengelia’s third D-League assignment of the season.
While the Jazz and Gordon Hayward fell short of agreeing on a contract extension last week, both Hayward and the franchise are still interested in getting something done eventually. Hayward told Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: “(Not reaching an agreement) in no way changes the way I feel about Utah at all…I love being here. I love playing for them…Hopefully (an extension) will get worked out next summer.”
Utah GM Dennis Lindsey had this to say about Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein and future negotiations: “Mark’s been one of the best agents in the business because he negotiates hard. He was fair. He played by the rules. He’ll continue to play by the rules. We’ll be fair as well, and we’ll come back and start talking in July…Just because (Hayward) said no to our last offer, his character hasn’t changed. He is an outstanding person…He’s someone we can see being in a Utah Jazz jersey until he retires. That’s our hope. We think we’re great fits.”
We have a handful of miscellaneous news and notes to pass along tonight, and you can read them below:
- ESPN LA’s Arash Markazi weighed in on some of the rumblings which suggest that Steve Nash could eventually wind up in Toronto, saying that a deal between the Raptors and Lakers makes sense but isn’t sure if something gets done. Markazi opines that L.A. would like to clear Nash’s salary off their books while the Raptors would enjoy increased ticket sales by bringing the Canadian legend back to his home country (All Twitter links).
- Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld tweeted a list of players who may be traded this season, including: Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis, Evan Turner, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass, and Gerald Wallace.
- Kennedy also shared what 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams told him about his chances on winning the Rookie of the Year Award: “I think I have a pretty good chance at it. I’m just going to go out there, play my game and hope for the best” (Twitter link).
- Entering tonight’s game with a record of 1-2 before their win against the Wizards, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade acknowledged that some minor chemistry issues are affecting the team (Michael Wallace of ESPN.com). More specifically, Wade had this to say: “Let me give you an example…If you’re in a relationship with a woman for a long time, you start getting comfortable. You stop doing the little things that you should do, that you did in the beginning. It’s just like a relationship. We got a little comfortable. Now we have to get back on that edge a little bit.”
- Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes that Knicks forwards Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin will have their own individualized schedules as far as playing or sitting out games, a decision meant to preserve the health of both in the long run.
- Mavericks point man Jose Calderon appears to be regaining his groove after a sluggish start to the season, writes Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram.
The Lakers started last season with a Hall of Fame-bound backcourt of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash with Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks in support. They ended it with two former second-round picks – Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock – playing close to 40 minutes apiece in a playoff game. Last season proved that backcourt depth is important for L.A., and Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com breaks down the Lakers' guards from top to bottom, including the return of Jordan Farmar and newcomer Nick Young. Here's tonight's look around the NBA…
- Former NBA player and new Wolves assistant coach Bobby Jackson has been putting Chase Budinger and rookie draft picks Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, and Lorenzo Brown through tough two-a-day workouts, writes Dennis Brackin of Star-Tribune.
- The HoopsWorld staff previewed the season ahead for the Bobcats and the potential impact of top acquisition Al Jefferson.
- The Celtics will have offseason additions Kris Humphries and rookie Kelly Olynyk vying for time at the power forward position, writes Marc D'Amico of NBA.com. Humphries was a staple in the Nets' starting lineup for some time but coach Brad Stevens could wind up starting the offense-oriented Olynyk right out of the gate.
- Magic forward Glen Davis, who has been recovering from a broken left foot, is expected to be cleared to resume basketball activities by month's end, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. Big Baby is a trade candidate in Orlando and the Magic would like to move him if he can show that he is healthy and productive.
- RealGM's Jonathan Tjarks looks at the Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas and sees the evolution of today's big man. Valanciunas is big and skilled enough to push smaller defenders around, but still quick and active enough to survive in a more wide-open game. The 21-year-old was taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Now that Chris Paul has been elected as the new president of the NBA Player's Association, the union's next order of business involves finding an executive director, and the search is expected to be thorough, writes Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld. According to Kyler, the hope among players and agents is that the NBPA's new leadership can change what has become a very adversial relationship with the league, so that when the two sides negotiate the next CBA (likely in 2017), they'll enter negotiations with some good will.
In addition to discussing the NBPA, Kyler also explored a few potential trade situations worth watching, so let's round up his key points….
- The Cavaliers have plenty of health questions surrounding players like Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao, and Anthony Bennett entering training camp. However, if the team enters the season relatively healthy, there may not be enough frontcourt minutes to go around for those guys, plus Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller, meaning trade opportunities could arise.
- There's "little doubt" that the Magic would like to move Glen Davis, according to Kyler. Davis is coming off foot surgery, but if he's on the court and is reasonably productive by February, he'd become a strong trade candidate.
- Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo are also worth keeping an eye on, says Kyler. The Magic like Nelson's leadership qualities, and have indicated that Afflalo is a long-term piece, but both guys would have trade value if the club decided to make them available.
- Kyle Lowry and head coach Dwane Casey didn't always see eye-to-eye last season, and both are in the final year of their contracts with the Raptors. Kyler suggests that if the season gets off to a rough start in Toronto, the club could part ways with one or both of them.
- The Raptors will also have to decide whether Rudy Gay is a core piece, since he has the ability to opt out of his contract next summer. Gay was acquired by old GM Bryan Colangelo, so it's unclear if new head of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is interested in keeping Gay long-term or if he may shop him.
J.R. Smith is likely to opt out of his deal for next season with the Knicks, and once he does, he'll be looking for a long-term deal, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. While Smith's comments suggest he'd favor the Knicks over other teams, New York can't do any better than a four-year deal worth about $25MM, since they only have his Early Bird rights. As our Ryan Raroque surmised when he looked at Smith's free agent stock, the Sixth Man of the Year will be able to command a hefty raise on his $2.8MM salary this season. We'll soon find out whether the Knicks' best offer will be enough.
Washburn has more on the NBA as part of his weekly column, and we'll round that up along with other Sunday afternoon tidbits here:
- Washburn gets former NBA executive Tom Penn's take on the future of the Celtics, and hears from Glen Davis of the Magic, who says he's willing to stick it out through the team's rebuilding process.
- Jarrett Jack is adamant that he'll prioritize a return to the Warriors in free agency this summer, even if it means passing up the opportunity to become a starter elsewhere, as he tells Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.
- Bucks center Joel Przybilla saw a total of just 68 minutes this season, but he says he's healthy and believes he can still play in the NBA next season, reports Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times. He'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
- Shooting guard Trey Johnson and Italian club Angelico Biella have parted ways, Sportando's Emiliano Carchia reports (Twitter link). Johnson appeared in 11 games with the Pelicans in 2011/12, and has also spent time with the Cavaliers, Raptors and Lakers.
- Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress already had Giannis Adetokunbo on his list of early entrants for the draft, as did we, and agent Giorgos Dimitropoulos confirms the Greek swingman has officially declared, Givony tweets.
Kevin Love seemed optimistic about being able to bounce back from a difficult season with the best offseason of his life, writes Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune. He also spoke about his desire for Rick Adelman to continue coaching the team, saying: "We need to have him back…I know his family comes first, but hopefully we can sit down and talk to him. This year has given us a lot of perspective, and hopefully he can see we have the making of a very good team here. We can make a push and have a special year next year…I think he’ll come back.”
You can find more of tonight's miscellaneous links below:
- According to Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press, Rick Adelman has deemed finding a quality shooting guard among the top of Minnesota's priorities this offseason.
- Garrett Temple hopes to have found a home with the Wizards, telling J. Michael of CSN Washington that he'd "love" to be back with them next year.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel thinks that the Magic should look to move Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson, and/or Glen Davis (at least one of them) in order to continue creating cap space for the future.
- Jan Hubbard of Sheridan Hoops wonders if a 35-year-old Dirk Nowitzki will have to endure another season like this one, especially if the Mavericks are unable to hit a home run in free agency for the second straight year after breaking up their championship roster.
- Though Mark Cuban isn't happy that Dallas is going to miss the postseason, he vouched for coach Rick Carlisle: "Rick’s a great coach…We obviously didn’t have what we thought we would have, but we obviously should have had more. I don’t know if we could have, but we should have, so it’s all on me. If that means I let Rick down, I let Rick down" (Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram reports).
- Jeff McDonald of Spurs Nation writes that Manu Ginobili has been "progressing" in rehab according to coach Gregg Popovich, and that the Spurs veteran shooting guard could be cleared for full contact soon. On a more unfortunate note, Boris Diaw is expected to miss three-to-f0ur weeks (including the start of the playoffs) after the forward underwent a procedure to remove a synovial cyst that had been bothering his spine.
The Magic will shop Glen Davis in the offseason or before next year's trade deadline, according to Brian K. Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link). The 27-year-old big man still has two years and $13MM remaining on his contract after this season. He's likely out for the rest of 2012/13 with a broken left foot, though as fellow Sentinel scribe Josh Robbins points out, Magic team officials haven't ruled out his return before the end of the season.
Big Baby was enjoying a career year before suffering the injury on January 30th in a game against the Knicks. The 6'9" LSU product was putting up 15.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in his first season as a full-time starter. His PER of 15.1 this year tabs him as an average NBA player this year, the first time in his six NBA seasons that he's had a PER of more than 13.2.
Before the broken foot, Davis missed almost a month with a shoulder injury. Since Davis went down the first time, the Magic are 4-30, as Robbins points out, with Davis appearing in just nine of those games.
Davis' name appeared in a few trade rumors earlier this season, so it's no surprise to hear the team will continue to see what it can get in return for him, particularly given his contract. Still, Orlando may have a tough time finding takers for a player set to make $6.4MM next year, despite spending most of his career as a reserve.
Davis, for his part, seems focused on returning next year and blending in with the Magic's younger players.
"When I look at the game, I want to see bumps and bruises," Davis said to Robbins."I want to see guys who are going through the grit of the NBA and are understanding what it takes to win, and that's what these guys are doing now. This time right here for them is unbelievable because next year you can't sit here and tell me with the way we worked and the way we played, we won't be a better team because of these guys and their approach."
11:51pm: Davis is likely out for the rest of the season, according to John Denton of Magic.com.
9:31pm: Magic coach Jacque Vaughn told reporters tonight that power forward Glen Davis has suffered a left broken foot, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. The injury happened in the first quarter of tonight's game. It's the second significant injury of the season for Davis, who just made it back two weeks ago after missing nearly a month with a shoulder injury. There's no word on just how long Davis will be out, but with the trade deadline in three weeks, it likely spoils any plans the Magic had of including Davis in a deal to shed salary, as they have reportedly been interested in doing.
Davis, in the second year of a four-year, $25.7MM contract, was averaging career highs in points (15.5), rebounds (7.5) and minutes (32.1) entering tonight's contest. The 27-year-old is Orlando's second leading scorer and rebounder, so his loss will be felt on a team that's fallen eight games behind the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The losing may be a blessing in disguise, as Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel noted before tonight's game that the Magic's odds of winning the No. 1 pick in the lottery are increasing. The chances of doing so figure to improve further with Davis out. As our reverse standings show, the Magic currently have an 11.9% chance of landing the top pick, fourth best in the league.
Steve Kyler's latest piece for HoopsWorld is packed full of updates on players who could be on the move before this season's trade deadline. Kyler covers plenty of ground in his column, so let's dive right in and round up the highlights….
- The Kings' uncertain ownership situation may result in a quiet trade deadline in Sacramento. While the situation could change between now and February 21st, Kyler says that for now the team appears "frozen in terms of making deals."
- Kyler suggests it's possible the Grizzlies will explore ways of getting below the luxury tax line that don't involve trading a big contract like Rudy Gay's.
- The Lakers aren't engaged in any trade talks involving Pau Gasol, and may not seriously explore a Gasol deal unless they fall out of the playoff hunt by the deadline.
- While J.J. Redick is drawing plenty of interest, rival teams have also called the Magic about Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson. If Orlando makes a move, the club would like to include Glen Davis or Hedo Turkoglu to shed some long-term salary.
- Pointing to Andrew Bogut as an example of an injured player who was dealt last season, Kyler warns not to rule out Anderson Varejao as a trade candidate.
- The Bucks are much more inclined to move players like Beno Udrih, Drew Gooden, and Samuel Dalembert than Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings, but those secondary pieces aren't drawing much interest.
- Al Jefferson seems more likely than Paul Millsap to re-sign with the Jazz this summer, though clubs have been in touch with the Jazz about both players.
- The Spurs "will be dealing" DeJuan Blair before the deadline, according to Kyler.
- Derrick Williams appears unlikely to be moved by the Timberwolves while Kevin Love remains sidelined with his broken hand.
- Several teams have been calling the Suns to inquire on Marcin Gortat. The Rockets are one team believed to have interest.
You can find the miscellaneous links we've gathered up out of the Eastern Conference below: