Indiana lost out on Shawn Marion this weekend, and the Pacers also let a degree of flexibility lapse when Donald Sloan‘s non-guaranteed minimum salary became fully guaranteed. President of basketball operations Larry Bird said last week that the team had no intention of waiving the point guard before his deal became guaranteed, so it was no shock. It wasn’t surprising to see the Knicks keep Quincy Acy and his minimum salary past his guarantee date on Friday, either, since that was reportedly part of the team’s deal to acquire the power forward via trade from Sacramento. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
The Pacers indeed offered Marion more than the minimum salary that the Cavs are limited to doling out, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. Marion reportedly decided this weekend to sign with the Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving is the primary focus of Charania’s piece, and while there were plenty of rumors that suggested his extension talks wouldn’t be easy, he acknowledged to the RealGM scribe that the choice to sign a max deal with the Cavs last month was a simple one. Irving also insists that he had no influence on the team’s coaching search this year.
Sixers draft-and-stash prospect Furkan Aldemir has officially signed a new three-year deal with Galatasaray of Turkey, the team announced (hat tip to Sportando’s Enea Trapani). The sides came to agreement back in May on the $5.3MM deal that includes an option for the final season. Whether it’s a team or player option and what sort of NBA buyout clauses exist are unclear.
Shawn Marion has decided to join the Cavaliers, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitterlinks). Cleveland can only offer Marion the veteran’s minimum salary, but the opportunity to play with LeBron James and to contend for an NBA Championship was the deciding factor, notes Stein. The Clippers, Pacers, and the Heat had also pursued the 15-year veteran.
Indiana could have offered Marion a larger role and more playing time, with Paul George most likely being lost for the season. The Pacers could have also offered a larger salary as well, with the league already approving the disabled player exception the franchise had applied for. But with James’ arrival, and Kevin Love set to be added as soon as Andrew Wiggins can be traded on August 23rd, the Cavs became too appealing an option for Marion.
Marion’s career averages are 15.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.6 SPG. His career slash line is .485/.332/.811. Last season with the Mavericks, he averaged 10.4 PPG and 6.5 RPG, while appearing in 76 contests.
Team USA defeated Brazil 95-78 in an exhibition game at the United Center last night. The game not only featured Derrick Rose returning to action on his home court, but also strong performances from the Pelicans‘ Anthony Davis and the Rockets‘ James Harden. Davis recorded 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks, while Harden scored 18, along with five rebounds and five assists.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
The Clippers are now showing interest in Shawn Marion, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Spears adds that the Cavs, Pacers, and Heat remain interested in the small forward as well.
Leandro Barbosa has had discussions with a few NBA teams about a possible free agent deal, and is hoping to use the upcoming FIBA World Cup to further prove his health, writes Shams Charania of RealGM. Barbosa said, “I don’t know what owners think about the World Cup, but hopefully I do a great job over there and a team sees. I feel healthy and my body is feeling healthy. If I have free agency in my mind, I won’t be able to be myself on the court. Hopefully, I sign a contract and I’ll be happy.” Barbosa appeared in 20 games with the Suns last season, averaging 7.5 PPG, 1.9 PPG, and 1.6 APG, while playing 18.4 minutes a night.
In an interview with Beckley Mason of the New York Times, Warriors star Stephen Curry was asked about playing for yet another new head coach in Steve Kerr. Curry responded by saying, “This is one that I haven’t gone through before. This is my fourth coach going into my sixth year. Last three coaching changes, we were a bad team trying to become competitive. Now we have a lot of talent. Pretty much the same team back, with some additions, but a new coach. It’s a different experience. The expectations are already high, and we have to deal with that. Thinking about it, it will kind of be similar to last year. People thought we were a 50-win team, and we accomplished that, but it still didn’t feel like we accomplished as much as we should have. That’s basically the theme I have in my head thinking about what’s going to happen next year. Just in training camp, in that locker room, that adjustment with Coach Kerr and setting his system up. I think we’re going to be able to adjust well.”
In the wake of Paul George‘s horrific leg injury that he suffered during a Team USA intrasquad scrimmage, there has been talk of making wholesale changes to the current trend of using NBA superstars in international competition. George will most likely miss the entire 2014/15 season as a result, which severely dampens the Pacers’ chances of contending in the Eastern Conference this year.
The Pacers didn’t place the blame on George’s participation in USA Basketball, and correctly pointed out that if George wasn’t playing with Team USA, the injury could just have easily occurred while scrimmaging at a high school gym, or on an outdoor court. But others haven’t been quite so diplomatic.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was one of the harsher critics of players participating in international play, and of FIBA and the IOC in general. Cuban hopes the injury will spur the NBA into creating its own international tournament where the league has more control as well as receives the benefits of holding such competitions. Cuban also said, “I think it’s a bigger issue than star players. We are being taken advantage of by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and to a lesser extent FIBA. We take on an inordinate amount of financial risk for little, if any, quantifiable gain. It’s like our guiding principle is to lose money on every game and make it up in volume. There is no logic to our position. (We) just hope we get value somewhere in the future.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that the league would discuss altering the international model this fall. “I don’t anticipate a major shift in the NBA’s participation in international competition,” Silver said. “We will continue to evaluate the pros and cons of participating in international tournaments [and] this will be a topic at our next NBA Competition Committee meeting in September and Board of Governors meeting in October.”
Should the league continue to allow its players to participate in USA Basketball? What are the options they could explore going forward to alter the current international play model? Here are a few possibilities:
The most drastic would be a complete ban for any under-contract NBA player to participate in Olympic and international competition. This would take us back to the pre “Dream Team” years when only amateur players were permitted to compete in the Olympics. The main issues with this approach would be whether or not the U.S. would accept the potential risk of missing out on competing for a gold medal because we declined to send our best players; this would also deprive NBA stars of the Olympic experience. It would place college players’ future careers in jeopardy if they were to be hurt. Unlike the pros, they haven’t been paid for their talents yet, and have a lot to lose if they suffer an injury as brutal as George’s.
The NBA could follow Cuban’s suggestion and form their own international tournament. This wouldn’t prevent injuries from occurring, but the league would have more of a say in the usage of its players, plus provide their own medical and training staffs. The other benefit to the league is that the owners and teams would receive some compensation for the risk their players take on by participating.
Another proposed idea has been putting an age limit on players who participate in international competition. This would allow NBA players to still compete, but limit their exposure to just a few years of international competition, which would protect teams somewhat against older players getting injured, as well as reducing “wear-and-tear” on veterans.
There’s no easy answer to this debate. George’s injury was the first major one to be suffered by an NBA player while participating with USA Basketball. Changing the whole system might be an overreaction, but team owners do carry an unrewarded financial risk when their players take part in international competition. All the extra minutes spent in practice and in tournaments add up over time, and could contribute to players breaking down earlier in their careers as well. What’s your opinion? Vote below for the answer you think provides the best solution going forward.
Despite suffering a gruesome leg injury playing for Team USA this summer, Paul George still hopes to play for the team in the 2016 Olympics, writes Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star. USA Basketball national team director Jerry Colangelo weighed in, saying, “The reality is that people that have played the game, coached the game and been in the game know that it’s part of the game. Injuries can happen at any place at any time. We appreciate the attitude Paul has about it and the comments that (Pacers president) Larry Bird made after the incident were great in terms of support.“
Here’s more from the Central Division:
If any rookie coach is equipped to mold a roster of players together to compete for a championship in his first season, it’s Cavaliers coach David Blatt, writes Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report. Blatt’s former player Jordan Farmar, who played several months under Blatt for Maccabi Tel Aviv during the 2011 lockout, said, “He’s [Blatt's] unbelievable. He plays you to your strengths. He’s really open to communication. He’ll be awesome there.“
Also from Bucher’s article, Josh Childress, who played for Blatt in a Greek League All-Star game, said, “Very nice guy and great to play for. He’s extra good at making in-game changes. I only really know him from that All-Star Game, but I’ve heard he’ll do whatever it takes to succeed but is not a my-way-or-the-highway coach.”
Both players did acknowledge that Blatt had some adjustments to make, him having never coached a player of LeBron James‘ caliber. Childress added, “If anyone is a star overseas, it’s the coach. I’d liken it to college. The coaches are more respected, their voices carry a little further. No one is really bigger than the team. Euro coaches, in general, though, have much more authority and control than NBA coaches do. It’s, ‘This is my show. If this American doesn’t work out, I’ll get another one.’ [Blatt] has coached in enough different countries that he’s experienced his fair share of different situations, but he’s never not been totally in control of his team.“
At a press conference this afternoon, Pacers star Paul George told reporters that while sitting out all of the 2014/15 season is a possibility, he’s still “holding out a little hope” that he can get back on the court, tweets Michael Lee of the Washington Post.
Of course, George knows that a return this season may be difficult to pull off as his injury required a rod to be placed in his right leg along with pins in his knees and ankles to keep it all in place (video link). George still doesn’t know what the timeline is for his recovery or ultimate return to the court, but he’ll be working hard with an eye on getting back to business this season.
George doesn’t mind “taking a year off to get better for the next season” if that’s what he needs to do and he’ll begin rehabilitating his knee as soon as next week. And while people have been quick to blame USA Basketball for the injury, George termed it as a freak accident and added that he wants to still participate in the 2016 Olympics.
The Pacers received a disabled player exception based on the prognosis that George will be out for the year but if he does beat the odds and makes a return during this upcoming season, the Pacers won’t be penalized in any fashion.
The biggest remaining free agent name from an Eastern Conference team is Greg Monroe, and the big man is reportedly close to accepting a qualifying offer to remain with the Pistons for what would almost assuredly be his final year in Detroit. Here’s a rundown of other notes out of the East:
Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel suggests that, outside of financial limitations, the Heat haven’t signed some of the better remaining free agents because team cohesiveness is being prioritized over talent for end-of-the-bench spots. Winderman says an abundance of quality players vying for playing time in Miami has created tension in recent years.
Kris Humphries told reporters including Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post that his time in Boston made him a more efficient player, and that he’s excited to play for the up-and-coming Wizards this season. “I talked to Brad all the time and it’s just one of those things where, ‘Man, you got me a lot better,’” said Humphries. “Handling the ball, making plays, things like that. Shooting. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the opportunity to keep playing in a lot of situations like the one I was in.”
While many teams were spurned by their players for greener pastures despite their best efforts this offseason (the Heat by LeBron James, the Lakers by Pau Gasol, the Nets by Shaun Livingston) some teams decided not to up the ante when they could have, allowing key contributors to sign elsewhere. We’ll run down a few of the latter, and explore whether these teams will regret their decision:
Lance Stephenson – from Indiana to Charlotte.Had Paul George‘s injury occurred before free agency, the Pacers might have been more willing to meet Stephenson’s demands. Instead, they let arguably their most versatile offensive piece walk, refusing to improve their five-year, $44MM offer before the combo guard signed with the Hornets for three years and $27.4MM. Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles are the incoming guards Indiana hopes can lessen the combined loss of Stephenson and now George. The Pacers also seeking Shawn Marion‘s services, but aren’t expected to win out over the Cavs in that pursuit.
Chandler Parsons – from Houston to Dallas. The Rockets declined an option to retain Parsons for another season on one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league. The team decided to take their chances with the forward’s restricted free agency this summer rather than letting him hit unrestricted free agency next offseason, but ultimately decided against matching the Mavs’ three-year, $46.1MM offer sheet. The Rockets let Parsons go in part because they had already locked up Ariza, who is next on the list.
Trevor Ariza – from Washington to Houston. Ariza bolted from the Wizards after turning in a career year for a team that advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Wizards were unwilling to increase their offer, which equaled Houston’s four-year, $32MM arrangement, but practically amounted to $3MM less due to differences in state taxes. Washington quickly signed Paul Pierce in the wake of Ariza’s departure, and received an exception by signing-and-trading Ariza that was partially spent on Kris Humphries.
Channing Frye – from Phoenix to Orlando. In a surprise signing, the Magic snatched the sharp-shooting Frye away from the Suns, who wanted to bring him back to their surprise-playoff roster. Frye is one of a few bigs that stretch the floor at an elite level, and the team signed another shooter in Anthony Tolliver to make up for Frye’s loss. Orlando’s deal with the 31-year-old was for four years and $32MM.
Isaiah Thomas – from Sacramento to Phoenix. The Kings didn’t see the scoring machine of a point guard in their future, signing Darren Collison while Thomas was still a restricted free agent. Thomas was one of only five players to average 20 PPG and 6 APG last season. Sacramento hasn’t recouped much scoring punch in free agency, but did acquire a $7.2MM trade exception, as well as the rights to Alex Oriakhi, by executing a sign-and-trade sending Thomas to Phoenix.
As with any transaction, these front offices weighed the immediate future against their long-term plans, and tried to make the wisest choice. It might be painful to lose some of these players in year one, but fans might breathe a sigh of relief if the same players are underperforming for their new teams in the future. Then again, a player could blossom into an even stronger producer, compounding any misgivings about the teams’ non-action. What do you think?
The NBA has granted Indiana’s request for a disabled player exception in the wake of the Paul George injury, reports Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). It’s worth $5.305MM, meaning Indiana can use that amount to sign a player to a one-year deal or acquire a player on an expiring contract via waiver claim. The Pacers may alternatively use the amount plus $100K to trade for a player, as long as the player’s contract doesn’t extend past this coming season. Still, it’s unlikely the team would use the full amount of the exception, given its tight squeeze against the luxury tax line, one which Larry Birdreiterated today that the club will not cross.
The Pacers had been among the teams limited to signing players for no more than the minimum salary, so the exception will at least give Indiana the power to exceed that amount. Indiana has a team salary of $74,810,552, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports, which puts the club $2,018,448 shy of the tax threshold. The Pacers can afford themselves some breathing room if they release the partially guaranteed contracts of Luis Scola or Shayne Whittington, though Whittington seems a much stronger candidate to go. Donald Sloan has a non-guaranteed minimum salary, but Bird said today that the team intends to keep him beyond Friday, when his contract becomes fully guaranteed, so that’s one fewer avenue to salary flexibility.
Whittington’s rookie minimum salary is only guaranteed for $25K, so the Pacers could increase their room beneath the tax to $2,500,784 if they waive him. That would be more than $1MM in excess of what the Cavs can offer Shawn Marion for this season, since Cleveland can hand out only the veteran’s minimum. The Pacers have continued to make a push to sign Marion, who’s reportedly leaning toward inking with the Cavs instead. Bird said today that he believes Marion wants to sign with a title-contending team. Indiana’s hopes probably vanished when George went down, but Bird also indicated today that he doesn’t intend to make moves that would further weaken the team this year and will instead try to win as many games as possible, as the Star’s Michael Pointer chronicles (Twitter link).
Bird didn’t rule out the chance that George returns to play this season after suffering a compound leg fracture in a Team USA scrimmage earlier this month, but the executive acknowledged that the club expects George to remain out for the year. The league grants a disabled player exception based on a medical prognosis that would put a player out for the balance of the season, but there’s no penalty if the player surprises and returns to action. Any player acquired via the exception may continue to play for the team in that scenario.
The idea that Greg Monroe would take a max offer from the Pistons isn’t necessarily true, as Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said last month, according to Vincent Goodwill (Twitter link). A resolution to Monroe’s restricted free agency still seems a ways off, as we passed along earlier today. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
Al Harrington hopes to sign with the Wizards after he returns from China, as he J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. He’ll make much more on his deal with China’s Fujian Sturgeons than he would have on an NBA minimum-salary contract, the forward also said in his conversation with Michael. The Wizards were unwilling to commit to re-signing Harrington before he inked the Chinese deal, Michael hears, though Washington was open to having him return as an assistant coach. Other NBA teams were interested in him as a player, Harrington said, but none of them were title contenders.
Pacers executive Larry Bird isn’t ruling out a return to action for Paul George at some point this season, even though the team is “sort of expecting him [to be] out all year,” as Bird said today to reporters, including Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). We rounded up more of Bird’s remarks right here.
Celtics draft-and-stash prospect Colton Iverson has signed with Laboral Kuxta of Spain, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). David Pick of Eurobasket.com first reported the agreement (on Twitter). It’s a one-year deal for the 53rd overall pick from 2013, his agent tells Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com (Twitter link).
Celtics summer leaguer Dairis Bertans received invitations to training camp from NBA teams, but he’ll continue to play in Spain instead, tweets Shams Charania of RealGM.
Ray Allen has expressed a wish in past years that he could wait until September to decide whether to play the following season, so his unwillingness to commit to a team for 2014/15 is no surprise, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his mailbag column.