The Clippers have a comfortable lead of four and a half games for first place in the Pacific Division, but the Warriors and Suns are separated by just half a game in their battle with the Mavericks and Grizzlies for one of the final three playoff spots in the Western Conference. There’s plenty at stake at the bottom of the division, too, where the Lakers and Kings are in a three-way tie with the Jazz for the worst record in the West and the improved draft lottery chances that come with that distinction. Here’s the latest from the Pacific:
- Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni doubts that Steve Nash will return this season, but the 40-year-old point guard remains intent on coming back for 2014/15, notes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
- Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders indicated earlier this week that Danny Granger is on a deal for just the rest of this season with the Clippers, but he actually signed a two-year deal with a player option for next season, Pincus clarifies (on Twitter). It’s a minimum-salary contract, and I’d be a little surprised if Granger picks up that option, since he could probably command more as a free agent this summer.
- The Warriors don’t anticipate re-signing Hilton Armstrong to another 10-day contract, tweets Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group. The center made it into only a single game for just seven minutes while on his 10-day deal Golden State, which expired Monday night. The Warriors have invited Armstrong to rejoin their D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz, where the 29-year-old has made 23 appearances this season.
The Warriors have signed Hilton Armstrong to a 10-day contract, per a team press release. The 29-year-old center entered the NBA in the 2006/07 season and has averaged 3 PPG and 2.6 RPG over his career. This will be his second stint with Golden State this year, after not playing a minute of NBA action in the 2011/12 and 2012/13 season.
In his first stretch with the Warriors, Armstrong played well in small minutes over seven games, before Goldsen State waived his non-guaranteed contract. The big man has been playing as an unrestricted free agent in the D-League since that release, averaging 12.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 1.8 BPG for the Santa Cruz Warriors.
Less than three weeks after adding him to the roster, the Warriors have released Hilton Armstrong, the team announced overnight in a press release. Armstrong had been on a non-guaranteed contract, so Golden State won’t be on the hook for his full-season salary.
Armstrong, 29, played sparingly in seven games for the Warriors this month, compiling six points and 16 rebounds overall in about 28 total minutes. It was the big man’s first NBA action since the 2010/11, but he held his own, recording a PER of 18.0 in the limited sample size.
The move reduces the Warriors’ roster count to 14 players, leaving them with an opening to add another player at some point. Teams can begin signing 10-day contracts next Monday, so perhaps the team will bring Armstrong back on a 10-day deal or two later in the season.
Wednesday’s come-from-behind win against the Mavericks was a boost for the Warriors, who would have fallen to within a game of .500 had they lost. Golden State instead entered tonight at 13-10 and tied with Dallas for eighth place in the Western Conference, but the Warriors didn’t envision merely scrapping for a playoff spot this season. Injuries have played a role in the slow start, but it looks like the team has at least considered shaking up the roster with a trade, as witnessed by the team’s rumored interest in Kyle Lowry. It sounds like Lowry won’t wind up in a Warriors uniform, but Golden State will nonetheless be a team to watch if its struggles continue. Here’s more on the W’s:
- Jermaine O’Neal had surgery today on a torn ligament in his right wrist, but he took to Twitter to insist that he will return at some point this season (hat tip to The Associated Press). GM Bob Myers says O’Neal will probably miss about two months, according to 95.7 The Game (Twitter link). A report yesterday indicated it was likely that O’Neal was done for the year.
- Coach Mark Jackson explained to reporters, including Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group, why the team chose to sign Hilton Armstrong this week rather than bring back Dewayne Dedmon to fill its need for a backup center. “Just overall we thought we needed a guy that was more game ready today, not to say that Dewayne isn’t, but this is no time for us to experiment. We needed a proven guy off the bench,” Jackson said.
- Amid the rumors linking Golden State to Lowry, Jackson also said the team still believes in backup point guard Toney Douglas, as Kawakami also notes in his piece.
- The best outcome for David Lee and the Warriors isn’t a trade that would ship him out of town, but a return to the All-Star form the power forward exhibited last season, opines fellow Bay Area News Group scribe Marcus Thompson.
1:01pm: Golden State has officially announced the signing.
10:49am: The Warriors will sign big man Hilton Armstrong, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Armstrong has been playing with the team’s D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz. Golden State has an open roster spot, so the team won’t have to cut anybody to make room for the veteran of five NBA seasons.
Armstrong was with the Pacers in training camp, but he hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular season game since the 2010/11 season. The 29-year-old has played in France, Greece and the D-League since then, and was averaging 15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks for Santa Cruz this year. New Orleans made the 6’11″ Armstrong the 12th overall pick in the 2006 draft.
Golden State is thin in the middle, where Festus Ezeli and Ognjen Kuzmic are sidelined with long-term injuries and Jermaine O’Neal is questionable for tonight’s game. Armstrong appears to be the team’s latest attempt to bolster its depth with a player from its D-League affiliate after signing Dewayne Dedmon in November, only to waive him last week. Like Dedmon, Armstrong will probably be on a non-guaranteed contract for the minimum salary.
The Grizzlies aren’t releasing a timetable for the return of Marc Gasol, who’s out indefinitely with a sprained MCL in his left knee, as the team announced today. That hasn’t stopped reporters from speculating about how long Memphis will be without the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and the consensus seems to suggest he’ll miss at least six weeks. The injury is a blow to the Grizzlies, though there’s no talk of the team looking for reinforcements yet. This summer’s trade for Kosta Koufos, who started at center for the 57-win Nuggets last year, could be about to pay dividends. Here’s more from the West:
- Derrick Rose‘s diagnosis is the big injury news of the day, but Western stars, including Gasol, are being plagued with their share of physical ailments as well. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that James Harden of the Rockets is expected to miss at least the next two games with a foot injury, while the Warriors announced that Andre Iguodala is out indefinitely with a strained hamstring. I doubt either injury will result in a roster move.
- Jeff Caplan of NBA.com doesn’t put much stock in Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s revelation that Rockets GM Daryl Morey asked him this summer if he’d trade Dirk Nowitzki. The scribe notes that Cuban has vowed he’ll never trade the former MVP and that Nowitzki has said he plans to re-sign with Dallas next summer. About 70% of Hoops Rumors readers agree that the Mavs shouldn’t even think about trading their star.
- According to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link), the Santa Cruz Warriors announced that they’ve re-added former NBA veteran Hilton Armstrong to their roster. The big man played for Golden State’s D-League affiliate last season, so Santa Cruz still held his rights.
- We looked back at the offseasons for a pair of Western Conference teams today, covering the Kings and the Jazz. You can find all the Offseason in Review pieces we’ve done so far on this page.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.
The Pacers have waived center Hilton Armstrong, the team announced via press release. That leaves Rasual Butler‘s deal as the only non-guaranteed contract on a roster that’s down to 14 players. Butler hasn’t necessarily made the team, since coach Frank Vogel has indicated the Pacers are likely to go with just 13 players to start the regular season.
Armstrong played sparingly in the preseason, appearing in seven games and averaging 1.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 6.1 minutes per contest. The 28-year-old has five years of NBA experience, but he hasn’t seen regular season action since 2010/11 with the Hawks.
The Pacers have about $69MM on their books for this season, roughly $2.7MM beneath the luxury tax threshold. The team has been adamant about avoiding the tax, so keeping fewer than the 15-player roster max as the regular season gets underway will allow them some flexibility to sign players later this year.
The Pacers have added one more player to their training camp roster, officially signing Hilton Armstrong, according to Scott Agness of Pacers.com (Twitter link). The move increases the club's camp roster to 17 players.
Armstrong, 28, hasn't appeared in an NBA game since prior to the lockout, when he finished the 2010/11 season with the Hawks. Since then, the former UConn big man has played in France and Greece, and joined the D-League's Santa Cruz Warriors last season. In 29 games with the team, Armstrong averaged 13.4 PPG and 6.8 RPG.
Along with the 13 players the Pacers have on guaranteed contracts, the team is also bringing Armstrong, Ron Howard, Darnell Jackson, and Rasual Butler to camp. It's not clear whether the Pacers will carry a full 15-man roster into the season, but if they do, Armstrong should get a chance to try to earn a spot on the bench behind Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi.
As teams clear cap space to finalize signings and trades, it may mean renouncing Early Bird or Bird rights to their own free agents, in order to remove cap holds from the books. Once a player is renounced, his previous team has no more claim to him that any other team — he could still be re-signed, but it would have to be done using cap space or an exception. Some of those decisions are more notable than others, but for completion's sake, we'll track the latest of these cap-clearing moves right here:
- Mo Williams is the most prominent name among the several whose rights the Jazz renounced today, according to the RealGM transaction log. Al Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll and Earl Watson, who already have deals to join other teams, are also on the list, as are the long-retired Brevin Knight and Greg Ostertag.
- Bobcats are set to re-sign Josh McRoberts, but they won't be using their Early Bird rights to do so, as they've renounced his rights, RealGM shows. The team also renounced their rights to Reggie Williams, who's heading to the Rockets, and it cut ties with DeSagana Diop, Byron Mullens and Jannero Pargo, too.
- Golden State will sign Jermaine O'Neal, so the Suns have renounced his rights, as well as their rights to Wesley Johnson and Diante Garrett, as RealGM notes.
- The Hawks have cleared out unwanted cap holds from their books, renouncing their rights to Hilton Armstrong, Erick Dampier, Devin Harris, Dahntay Jones, Randolph Morris, Zaza Pachulia, Johan Petro, Josh Smith, and Etan Thomas, according to RealGM.com's transactions log.
- RealGM.com also has the Trail Blazers renouncing multiple players, including Luke Babbitt, J.J. Hickson, Eric Maynor, and Nolan Smith.
- Most interestingly, according to RealGM.com, the Bucks have renounced their rights to Monta Ellis. That doesn't necessarily preclude a sign-and-trade, but it would mean the team would have to use cap space rather than Ellis' Bird rights to accommodate a deal.
- The Pelicans have renounced their rights to Louis Amundson, Xavier Henry, and Roger Mason Jr., the team announced today in a press release.
- In order to clear cap room for their signings, the Pistons renounced Will Bynum, Jose Calderon, Vernon Macklin, Corey Maggette, Jason Maxiell, and Ben Wallace, according to RealGM's transactions log. The Pistons plan to re-sign Bynum, but removing his $6MM+ cap hold and signing him to a smaller figure using cap space makes the most sense.
- After renouncing their rights to Chauncey Billups and Lamar Odom, the Clippers have also renounced Bobby Simmons, according to RealGM.com's transactions log.
Three more former NBA players are headed to the D-League as they attempt to work their way back into the NBA, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein. Stein reports (via Twitter) that Hilton Armstrong will join the Santa Cruz Warriors, Rasual Butler will join the Tulsa 66ers, and Josh Boone will join the Iowa Energy.
Armstrong, 28, was drafted 12th overall in 2006 and played in parts of five NBA seasons for the Hornets, Kings, Rockets, Wizards, and Hawks. The big man averaged 3.1 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 277 career contests, last playing in the NBA during the 2010/11 season. He'll join a Santa Cruz team that's fully owned and operated by Golden State.
Butler, who began his NBA career with the Heat in 2002/03, has averaged double-digit points three times and played in 638 NBA games, but was waived by the Raptors last season after appearing in 34 games for Toronto. The 33-year-old is headed for a 66ers squad that's owned and operated by the Thunder.
Boone, the Nets' 23rd overall pick in 2006, played four seasons with New Jersey, but hasn't played in an NBA game since his rookie scale contract expired in 2010. The former UConn big man averaged 5.2 PPG and 4.9 RPG in his career, and will join an Iowa Energy team that's shared as an affiliate by four NBA teams.
All three veterans will remain NBA free agents, free to sign with any team if they impress in the D-League.