There's a race to the bottom in the Southeast Division tonight, with the Magic and the Bobcats vying for the greatest number of ping-pong balls in the draft lottery. The Hawks have playoff seeding at stake, but judging by their effort in a loss against the Raptors last night, they may not have any more motivation to win than Orlando and Charlotte do. While we wait to see how it all turns out, here's the latest from around the Southeast:
- Hedo Turkoglu wouldn't be surprised if the Magic waived him this summer to save 50% on his partially guaranteed $12MM contract for next season, as he tells Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida. The 34-year-old wants to keep playing in the NBA, but he can't see himself in the league for longer than another three seasons.
- Multiple veteran unrestricted free agents tell Lang Greene of HoopsWorld they'd consider signing with the Hawks if the team reached out to them. GM Danny Ferry also shares a few thoughts with Greene as Atlanta eyes a summer of ample cap space.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post looks ahead to the offseason for the Wizards, who won't have much flexibility with $57MM already on the payroll, assuming Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza opt in to the final year of their contracts, as they're likely to do.
A few Friday notes from out of the Eastern Conference....
- Turkey's Fenerbahce Ulker is hoping to add Hedo Turkoglu for the 2013/14 season, according to Can Pelister of TrendBasket.com (via Twitter). Of course, Turkoglu is still technically under contract with the Magic for next year, with half of his $12MM salary guaranteed. But while Turkoglu says he hopes to remain in Orlando, I'd expect the team to part ways with him.
- In his latest mailbag for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman explores whether the Heat will still be able to convince unrestricted free agents to sign in Miami at a discounted rate going forward.
- With the Pistons officially out of the playoff hunt for 2012/13, Patrick Hayes of PistonPowered (via the Detroit Free Press) tries to determine which prospects might be good fits for Detroit in the upcoming draft.
- As Amare Stoudemire works to get healthy for the postseason, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News looks back at the Knicks' decision to give Stoudemire a fully-guaranteed, uninsured $100MM contract.
- Signing Kenyon Martin is the latest in a series of successful moves for Knicks GM Glen Grunwald, writes Moke Hamilton of SheridanHoops.com.
- Sam Smith of Bulls.com addresses a number of Bulls-related topics in today's mailbag, including whether the Bulls will trade Luol Deng this summer, or sign Ben Gordon on the cheap, should the Bobcats buy him out -- neither possibility is likely, says Smith.
It was a busy 14-game night in the NBA, but there aren't too many of these evenings left. Every team will be in action three weeks from tonight on the final day of the regular season, but after that, four playoff games is the most NBA action we'll get out of a single night until the fall. As we savor the season while it lasts, here's news from around the Association:
- Hedo Turkoglu, back from his 20-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, says he hopes to stay with the Magic, but as Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel notes, he has financial incentive to say so. The Magic would only have to pay half of Turkoglu's $12MM salary next season if they waive him.
- Fellow Magic forward Al Harrington has said repeatedly this season that he wants to play five more years, but he's already making post-retirement plans, telling Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida that he wants to go into broadcasting.
- Gerald Henderson is set to hit restricted free agency this summer, but says he "absolutely" wants to re-sign with the Bobcats, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter links).
- Oklahoma junior power forward Amath M'Baye is entering this year's draft field, the school announced. The 23-year-old will finish his degree requirements this spring and plans to hire an agent, so it doesn't look like he'll remove his name from consideration before the April 16th deadline. Neither ESPN's Chad Ford nor Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress have M'Baye listed among their top 100 prospects.
- Bob Young of the Arizona Republic looks at the draft prospects playing in each game of the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 this week from the perspective of the Suns, who appear squarely focused on next season.
- Metta World Peace will miss a minimum of six weeks with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, the Lakers revealed via press release. USA Today's Sam Amick examines the effect his absence will have on the team, noting that L.A.'s projected starting five has appeared together for just 189 minutes this season.
Having served his 20-game suspension for a failed drug test, Hedo Turkoglu is eligible to return to action for the Magic, but the team may not have him in its short- or long-term plans, as he acknowledges to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
"I don't even know my future right now," Turkoglu said. "I don't know if I'll be here next
year or not. At the end of the season, I'll be here and I'll try to do
my best for these young guys and for this organization. When the
summertime comes, we'll see what happens."
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:
- With a big City Council vote coming up tonight, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld discusses the Sacramento group's bid to keep the Kings. According to Kyler, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson and the investment group have received a "fairly specific set of objectives" to meet if they want to have a realstic chance to keep the team.
- Two more NCAA underclassmen are eyeing the NBA draft. Marshawn Powell of Arkansas announced on Twitter that he has decided to declare his intent, while New Mexico announced that junior forward Tony Snell will test the waters (Twitter link via ESPN.com's Andy Katz).
- In his latest piece for HoopsWorld, Alex Kennedy examines the effect the NCAA tournament has on a prospect's draft stock and speaks to Rashard Lewis about his first year with the Heat.
- Andres Nocioni, who previously played for the Bulls, Kings, and Sixers, is in the final year of his contract with Spain's Caja Laboral, but it doesn't sound as if he's considering an NBA comeback. Nocioni spoke this week about his future, and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando has a translation of the highlights, via PlanetACB.com.
A handful of players have joined the NBA after finishing their season in China, and Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops
wonders if Yi Jianlian
could attract some attention after dominating in the CBA thus far. The former NBA lottery pick has averaged 24.9 PPG and 10.5 RPG while shooting 59.4% from the field and 40.7% from long distance for the Guangdong Southern Tigers this year, and is currently playing in the CBA Finals. We've got several more links to share with you this evening:
The Eastern Conference may have been on the losing end of yesterday's All-Star Game in Houston, but there's still plenty happening around the conference. Here's the latest:
10:11pm: Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel writes that Magic GM Rob Hennigan didn't do or say much in support of Turkoglu at his press conference earlier today.
"I think we're going to get through this step first. We'll worry about the summer when summer comes," Hennigan said. "Certainly, the Hedo situation will be one of them. We're not able to comment now on what that situation will be."
With Turkoglu due $6MM in the final year of his deal in 2013-14, Schmitz opines that the Magic could choose to buy him out of his deal. While there was an outside shot Turkoglu could be bundled with the highly sought after J.J. Redick before the trade deadline, that chance has gone "from slight to zilch" according to Schmitz. With the Magic in the midst of a youth movement, it sounds like Turkoglu understands his days in Orlando may be numbered.
"I've had my best years in Orlando," he said. "This certainly is not in my hands... Like Rob [Hennigan] says, we will wait until the summer for both futures."
4:43pm: The NBA announced today that Hedo Turkoglu has been suspended for violating the league's anti-drug program. It's the first violation for Turkoglu, who will be suspended for 20 games without pay for testing positive for methenolone. Shortly after the NBA announced the suspension, Turkoglu released a statement of his own, taking full responsibility for what he called an "error in judgment."
I was back home in Turkey this past summer, I was given a medication by
my trainer to help recover more quickly from a shoulder injury," Turkoglu said in the statement. "I
didn't know that this was a banned substance and didn't check before
Under CBA rules, Turkoglu will be docked 1/110th of his 2012/13 salary for each game that he misses. That penalty will reduce his total salary from about $11.82MM to about $9.67MM. Additionally, 50% of the $2.15MM Turkoglu will lose due to the suspension will be removed from Orlando's team salary figure, reducing the team's overall cap hit by about $1.08MM.
The suspension shouldn't entirely rule out the possibility of Turkoglu being moved, since he likely would have only be included in a trade for salary-matching purposes anyway. Still, even though he's on an expiring deal of sorts, since his contract
for next year is only partially-guaranteed, Turkoglu remains a long shot to be dealt due to his exorbitant salary.
Yannis Koutroupis and Stephen Brotherston of HoopsWorld both agree that it wouldn't be in the Lakers' best interests to deal Dwight Howard despite how the team has struggled with him thus far. Brotherston also thinks that with Pau Gasol's value to teams looking for some veteran leadership, it would be wise for Los Angeles to cash him in for younger and more athletic players who can provide a better fit next to Steve Nash and Dwight. You'll find more of tonight's miscellaneous links below:
- Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer looks at how the CBA's more restrictive luxury-tax implications (set to take effect in 2013-14) have reconfigured the way trades have been discussed in today's NBA, where cap space and draft picks have become the most coveted bargaining chips in what Celtics coach Doc Rivers calls 'economic trades.'
- Brotherston writes about how the emergence of Earl Clark in Mike D'Antoni's rotation has come at the expense of guard Jodie Meeks, who has gone from averaging 26.5 MPG in December to playing a total of 38 minutes in the Lakers' last seven games. While Meeks admits his frustration, he says there is nothing else to do but remain positive and stay ready for when D'Antoni gives him another opportunity to play.
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer points to inexperience as an explanation for the Bobcats' struggles when trying to close out games. Of their 31 losses this season, 10 have been decided by six points or less.
- While there is no set timetable for Hedo Turkoglu's return to action for the Magic, the 6'10 veteran forward recently participated in fullcourt scrimmages and said that the injured left hand he's been dealing with is "about to be 100 percent soon," notes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
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.
Let's round up some Friday afternoon odds and ends from around the NBA:
- Although J.J. Redick doesn't want to be traded by the Magic, he's not exactly thrilled with the team's 10-game losing streak, as Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida tweets.
- Tomasson also spoke to Hedo Turkoglu, who said he's not actively trying to be bought out by the Magic, though he understands if the team decides to trade him.
- After telling Sheridan Hoops earlier this week that he doesn't expect to coach again, Phil Jackson reiterates the point to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), writing in an email that there's no chance he returns to the Lakers.
- A collection of SI.com writers discuss what's next for the Lakers, including potential pre-trade-deadline moves, and the team's chances of re-signing Dwight Howard this summer.
- Shaun Livingston tells Richard Hardy of HoopsWorld that he's hoping to stay with the Cavaliers for longer than just this season.
- Having recently parted ways with agent Joel Bell, Trail Blazers guard Nolan Smith has replaced him with former Bull B.J. Armstrong of the Wasserman Media Group, reports Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.
- David Mayo of MLive.com explores whether the Pistons should attempt to trade for Rudy Gay, while multiple Celtics writers discuss whether Boston should take a flier on Greg Oden (link via CSNNE.com).
- In an Insider piece, ESPN.com's Chad Ford looks at some potential fits in June's draft for the Hornets.