THURSDAY, 1:59pm: Johnson suggests the potential remains that Friday’s 11:00pm Central time deadline will motivate Butler and the Bulls to strike a deal, but the Chicago Tribune scribe adds that the sides remain far apart in their proposals (Twitter link).
WEDNESDAY, 11:54am: Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler are unlikely to sign extensions with the Spurs and Bulls, respectively, before Friday’s deadline, a source tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Leonard is reportedly seeking the maximum salary, and while a recent report indicated Butler and the Bulls were “millions apart” in talks, that sort of separation is not uncommon in the days leading up to the rookie scale extension deadline. Broussard also hears the Knicks won’t grant an extension to Iman Shumpert, advancing the reporting of ESPN colleague Ian Begley.
Bulls GM Gar Forman said earlier today that he’d met with Butler’s agent, Happy Walters, and that Butler’s left thumb injury wouldn’t affect negotiations, tweets David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune. The injury is expected to keep him out no longer than three weeks, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune notes (Twitterlinks). It’s unlikely that the eye infection that plagued Leonard throughout the preseason and forced him to miss San Antonio’s opening night game Tuesday would affect an extension for him, either.
The Spurs and Brian Elfus, who represents Leonard, have reportedly met several times in the past few weeks but have made no progress, though the Spurs appear poised to match any maximum salary offer sheet that Leonard would sign in restricted free agency next summer. The reigning Finals MVP appears prepared to buck the tradition of San Antonio’s stars agreeing to discounts, though the Spurs could still prevail on Leonard to do so next summer even if they can’t convince him to take less in an extension by the end of Friday.
Butler expressed confidence just days ago that he and the Bulls would come to an extension, so presumably talks, which the swingman said a month ago were going in the right direction, have hit a snag. Chicago apparently had a preference to come to an extension rather than let Butler, who turned 25 last month, hit restricted free agency. The Bulls have about $60.2MM tied up for 2015/16, and Kirk Hinrich holds a nearly $2.9MM player option, so Chicago probably wouldn’t have the cap flexibility to replace Butler if he were to sign an offer sheet and Forman and company decided against matching.
A report from Marc Stein of ESPN.com 10 days ago indicated that the Knicks and Iman Shumpert were in active extension negotiations, but Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com continues to hear that the sides haven’t engaged in any talks, echoing his dispatch from a month ago. The Knicks upset Shumpert when they made him a frequent subject of trade talk last season, Begley writes, and a source close to the swingman tells Begley that Shumpert is in no mood to give New York a hometown discount should he hit restricted free agency next summer. Here’s more from around the Big Apple:
Nets GM Billy King confirmed the team will keep Jorge Gutierrezand Jerome Jordan along with the team’s 12 fully guaranteed contracts for opening night, tweets Andy Vasquez of The Record. Presumably, that means Cory Jefferson will stick around on his partially guaranteed deal, too.
Carmelo Anthony did his part to refute a report that indicated that marquee free agents don’t want to play with Kobe Bryant, telling reporters that he’d “love” to play with the Lakers legend, as Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com note. Anthony also said that Bryant tried to recruit him to the Lakers this summer, but the Knicks forward can’t hit free agency again until 2018, and Bryant’s under contract through the summer of 2016.
Lionel Hollins said he never got to know Grizzlies owner Robert Pera before the team let Hollins go in 2013, as he tells Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. The new Nets coach added that timing played a key role in his decision to take the Brooklyn job this summer while the Lakers still had a vacancy. “I felt either one of those jobs would be fine,” Hollins says. “The Lakers still had Kobe and they could change the team at a moment’s notice because they only had three players under contract. So I thought that wasn’t a bad situation and I thought this was a good situation so when it came about, it was one that I was happy and I wasn’t going to wait on the Lakers when I had a job in hand.”
The deadline for teams to sign rookie scale extensions with their eligible players is two weeks from today, and while only six players came to deals last time around, that number has the potential to be much larger this year, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein has more on many of those extension hopefuls that adds to the storylines we’ve been following throughout the offseason:
Iman Shumpert and the Knicks are also discussing an extension, Stein writes, countering a report from a few weeks ago that indicated that the sides hadn’t engaged in talks and that New York was content to let the swingman hit restricted free agency next summer.
Klay Thompson’s camp is considering the idea of going after an offer sheet similar to the one the Mavs gave Chandler Parsonsif Thompson and the Warriors don’t come to an extension this month, Stein hears. Parsons’ near-max deal runs three years and includes a player option and a 15% trade kicker. Rival GMs have expressed admiration for its structure and Rockets GM Daryl Morey pointed to the difficulty that trading such a contract would entail shortly after he decided against matching it. The player option would allow Thompson to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2017, which is when Stephen Curry‘s deal is set to end, as Stein points out.
The Lakers have attempted to trade for Thompson in the past, Stein notes, though he doesn’t make any suggestion that they’re planning an aggressive push for the shooting guard if he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.
The Sixers might be the only franchise that is against revamping the NBA Draft lottery system, Tom Moore of Calkins Media writes. For any resolution to pass the league requires 75% of the teams to vote yes, which equates to 23 teams. Philadelphia’s Managing Owner Josh Harris commented on the possible change, saying, “It’s a change that flattens the lottery system. It would be a little bit worse for Philadelphia in the short run but long run, since we expect to be a consistent playoff or deep-caliber-playoff team, it’s actually better for us.” GM Sam Hinkie also added, “We are cognizant of being a good member of the league, but at the same time balancing that with what’s the right thing for Philly and the Philadelphia 76ers. We’re trying to draw that line the best we can.”
Here’s more from the east:
One of the main Celtics storylines this season will be whether or not GM Danny Ainge will trade Rajon Rondo. Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders believes that in addition to Rondo proving himself healthy prior to the trade deadline, the main determining factor will be the play of rookie Marcus Smart. Smart is expected to see major minutes early in the season with Rondo out for at least the first two weeks with a broken hand.
It isn’t likely that the Knicks will keep both Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. past this year’s trade deadline, Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops writes in his team preview. New York has a logjam at the shooting guard position, and though the team would prefer to unload J.R. Smith, other teams around the league are wary of taking on a player whom many think of as undisciplined, opines Scotto.
One of the main reasons that Danny Granger chose to sign with the Heat was their offensive system, Yi Tao of NBA.com writes. “I studied how hard it is to guard the three-point line when they’re moving the ball and spacing and everybody’s touching the ball,” Granger said. “It’s a very difficult offense to guard so now that I’m in it, I’m trying to learn it and hopefully I’ll be very efficient in it.”
It’s media day for 25 of the NBA’s 30 teams, thus making it one of the busiest news days on the NBA calendar. We’ll round up the latest from the Atlantic Division amid the rush:
Evan Turner‘s contract with the Celtics is for two seasons and he’ll make $3.278MM this year, the value of the taxpayer’s mid-level exception, reports Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter link). It’s fully guaranteed with no option clauses, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The C’s still have the capacity to give out an additional $2.027MM via their mid-level, but by keeping Turner’s money to the equivalent of the taxpayer’s amount, Boston isn’t subject to a hard cap of $80.829MM this season, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders points out (on Twitter).
Carmelo Anthony acknowledged that he would have had a better chance to win if he’d signed elsewhere, but told reporters, including Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com that it “wouldn’t have felt right” if he had left the Knicks for another team (Twitterlinks).
It doesn’t look like the Knicks are going to grant an extension to Iman Shumpert, but the fourth-year guard doesn’t seem dismayed, as Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal relays (on Twitter).
Lionel Hollins made his mission statement for the Nets clear when chatting with reporters late last week, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post writes. “I’d like us to be tougher,” Hollins said. “[Be] more aggressive, compete harder every moment that they’re on the court, persevering through everything. “I want them to be tougher mentally. There’s a lot that goes into being a good team, and that’s the type of foundation that we’re gonna lay.”
Earlier tonight, we learned that the Knicks have yet to reach out to Iman Shumpert about a contract extension as the Halloween deadline draws near. The news wasn’t terribly shocking for a couple of reasons. One, president Phil Jackson has his eye on bigger fish down the line and an extension for Shumpert would hinder their financial flexibility. Two, Shumpert’s name was all over the pages of Hoops Rumors last season. The old regime viewed him as a trade chip and, apparently, the new front office feels similarly.
The Knicks have reportedly been dangling Shumpert throughout this offseason as well and while the offers weren’t great, that could change very quickly with a strong start to the season. It’s not difficult to imagine things falling into place for the guard considering what he has been able to do when healthy and his eagerness to play in the triangle offense.
“There’s constant action going on,” Shumpert said of the Zen Master’s offense in August, according to Howie Kussoy of the New York Post. “I think I’ll be able to capitalize off that and I’ll be able to use my athleticism a lot more than standing in the corner.”
By the same token, one has to wonder if the Knicks might finally be ready to commit if Shumpert takes a significant step forward this season. Cap flexibility is important, but the Knicks might want to have the first right of refusal on Shump more than they realize right now. The Knicks might also come to the table with agent Happy Walters in the next four weeks and change to work out a deal after all, even though it appears to be something of a longshot at present.
How do you see things shaking out between the Knicks and the 24-year-old guard?
Iman Shumpert is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract and the Knicks have yet to reach out to discuss a new deal, league sources tell Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. The guard is eligible to sign a rookie scale extension between now and Halloween, but as of today it doesn’t sound like there will be any treat for the 24-year-old.
The feeling, Begley writes, is that the Knicks are content to let Shumpert enter next summer as a restricted free agent. The Knicks want to maintain as much financial flexibility as possible for the summers of 2015 and 2016 and a Shumpert extension would eat up cap space. Meanwhile, with a one-year, $3.7MM qualifying offer, New York can match any offer that comes his way.
The Knicks, of course, may not reach the point where they would consider a QO for Shump. The 2011 first round pick was the subject of trade rumors for much of last season and a source tells Begley that the Knicks shopped him through the summer. Things could change over the next few weeks, but it sounds like Shumpert will have to continue to deal with an uncertain future at MSG.
The United States defeated Puerto Rico by a score of 112-86 in their final home exhibition game prior to the FIBA World Cup. Stephen Curry was the high scorer with 20 points, and James Harden added 13 for Team USA.
Here’s the latest from the Eastern Conference:
The Knicks already have the D-League rights to Thanasis Antetokounmpo, as Gino Pilato of D-League Digest clarifies in an update to an earlier report. Pilato had originally indicated that the Sixers retained his D-League rights because he played for their affiliate last season, but this year’s D-League rule changes give the Knicks his D-League rights because they selected him in the NBA draft this summer, as Pilato explains. Antetokounmpo, the 51st overall selection, has reportedly agreed to sign with the D-League and play for New York’s affiliate.
C.J. Miles will be asked to do a lot more than the Pacers anticipated when they signed him as a free agent back in July, writes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. In the wake of the potential season-ending injury to Paul George, and the departure of Lance Stephenson to the Hornets, Miles will need to pick up a sizable portion of the scoring load, opines Montieth.
The Knicks have a logjam at the shooting guard position with J.R. Smith, Tim HardawayJr, and Iman Shumpert, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. In the article, Begley examines the pros and cons of each player starting versus coming off of the bench. Smith weighed in on the situation, saying, “That’s for the coach to decide. All we’ve got to do is play. Whatever they decide, we’ve got to just live with it. Hopefully everybody could put their egos aside and come together for one common goal.”
Miami is remaining non-committal about bringing back free agents Michael Beasley and Greg Oden, as Jackson writes in the same piece. The agents for both veterans tell Jackson that the Heat have been in contact regarding their clients, but that they are receiving interest from other teams as well.
The Hornets didn’t necessarily sign Brian Roberts for the room exception, as originally thought, when they made his deal official Wednesday, tweets Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. It appears as though they have enough cap space to use on Roberts and preserve the exception to use on someone else, should they choose.
President Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills have mentioned the Knicks’ surplus in the backcourt, with Mills saying last week the Knicks are “heavy” at shooting guard. What they can get in return for Smith, Shump, and Larkin remains to be seen, however.
The Knicks tried to include Shumpert in deals earlier in the offseason in an effort to unload the contracts of Andrea Bargnani ($11.5MM) and Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4MM) but no deal materialized for either player. Smith has a player option in his contract for $6.4MM for the 2015/16 season and is coming off of a down year. Larkin was recently acquired from the Mavericks in the trade that also netted Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert.
The Knicks have four shooting guards on the roster as of today and they also haven’t ruled out re-signing free agent PG/SG Toure’ Murry.