Indiana Pacers Rumors

Eastern Notes: Love, Kirk, George, Sixers

November 24 at 7:12pm CST By Arthur Hill

The Cavaliers are confident Kevin Love will be in Cleveland for the long run, but rival GMs aren’t so sure, writes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Berger notes that when the Heat formed their “Big Three” four years ago, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all signed six-year deals that contained opt-outs after four. But under the new CBA, there’s a disincentive for a player to accept an extension before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Love has a $16.7MM player option for next season. There’s more on the Cavs amid the latest from the Eastern Conference:

    • The Cavs are actively seeking immediate help in the frontcourt, tweets Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. Cleveland would love to pry Timofey Mozgov from the Nuggets, but so far those efforts have been fruitless.
    • Cleveland made a roster move Monday, recalling center Alex Kirk from the D-League’s Canton Charge, the Cavs announced. Kirk has played two games for the Cavaliers this season and three games for the Charge.
    • The Pacers have begun to lose hope that Paul George‘s broken leg will heal in time for him to play this season, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, who writes amid his weekly power rankings.
    • A source suggested to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv that the Sixers would probably trade one of their existing big men if they had a chance to draft top prospect Jahlil Okafor this summer. A “bidding war” for Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel would ensue if the Sixers wind up with the No. 1 pick this year, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com. Smith has nonetheless heard opposing GMs say they’re reluctant to trade for any Sixers because of the losing environment those players have been a part of.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: LeBron, Brand, George

November 22 at 10:41am CST By Eddie Scarito

Despite the Cavs‘ early struggles LeBron James insists that he isn’t losing patience, and while he doesn’t like losing, he is happy with the effort the team is giving, something Cleveland fans took as signaling this was a rebuilding year for the Cavs, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. James acknowledged that in a way, the franchise was rebuilding, notes Haynes.

We put a lot of pieces together that weren’t here last year,” James said. “I don’t want to say rebuilding. I think when people think of rebuilding, they think of starting from the ground up. We are a team that wasn’t together last year so [we] have the same struggles as the 76ers or teams like the Miami Heat right now. And us, we have some of the same qualities as far as putting new guys together. Obviously the talent is a little bit different on every team, but coming together and going through a new system [is the same]. We have a new coach, we have a new staff, and we have new players.”

Here’s more from the east:

  • Though he’s only made two appearances thus far for Atlanta this season, Elton Brand is happy that he chose to re-sign with the Hawks this past summer, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “It’s kind of what I expected coming here,” Brand said. “I look at the teams that I could have been with. Some are doing well. Dallas said ‘What do you want to do? Do you want to come back?’ Some other teams I could have played a lot of minutes with are doing really bad. So, would I want to be there? I believe in our talent, what we have and I’m glad I’m here.”
  • Paul George still believes that he can recover from the broken leg he suffered while playing for Team USA this summer in time to return to the Pacers by April, Michael Marot of The Associated Press writes. “It’s a goal, for sure, to have an opportunity to play this year,” George said. “We have a good team and one of my goals is to come back and try and help this team out any way I can.”
  • But Indiana’s head coach Frank Vogel continued to preach caution regarding his star, Marot adds. “It’s up to the doctors to see where he’s at,” Vogel said. “He [George] really hasn’t done much activity other than walking around and shooting around. It’s still very unlikely he’ll play this season.”

Offseason In Review: Indiana Pacers

November 20 at 8:02pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.

Signings

Extensions

  • None

Trades

  • Acquired cash from the Knicks in exchange for 2014 pick No. 57.

Waiver Claims

  • None

Draft Picks

  • None

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

It can be argued that Indiana’s 2014/15 season was effectively scuttled on August 1st, the day that the team’s star, Paul George, broke his leg during a Team USA intrasquad scrimmage. With George likely to miss the entire season and the franchise’s second-best offensive weapon, Lance Stephenson, having defected to the Hornets via free agency, it’s going to be a difficult year for Pacers faithful.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Washington WizardsWhile it’s hard to fault Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird for the team’s current state, since George’s injury was not an event that could be anticipated, the team’s roster was already flawed before George went down. Indiana nearly played itself out of the top seed in the Eastern Conference during the second half of last season, and though the Pacers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year, it appeared by the end of that series that the Pacers had taken a step back.

Letting Stephenson go was a difficult call and one that Bird likely would have rethought if George’s injury had occurred prior to the start of free agency in July. Stephenson’s talent level has always been weighed against his propensity for odd and sometimes disruptive behavior, but the 24-year-old shooting guard out of Cincinnati had a fan in Bird, and Stephenson himself signaled his desire to return to Indiana. But as John Steinbeck wrote, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

The Pacers appeared to move on from Stephenson rather quickly after he turned down the team’s initial five-year, $44MM offer when the team inked C.J. Miles, Damjan Rudez, and Rodney Stuckey. These deals largely eliminated any wiggle room the franchise had underneath the luxury tax threshold, a line that the team has been adamant about not crossing.

Miles was the team’s most lucrative expenditure, and while the deal feels like a bit of an overpay for a 27-year-old, one-dimensional role player, he would have been a nice complementary piece to the team’s rotation if Paul wasn’t injured. Indiana needed to add an outside threat to spread the floor for Roy Hibbert and David West, which Miles certainly can do when he’s “on,” but as a player the team is relying upon to carry a heavy offensive load, the flaws in his game will be exposed. I like the idea of a one- or two-year deal for Miles, but four years is stretching the bounds of good sense.

The deals the Pacers gave to Stuckey and Rudez are ones that I am fonder of. The Pacers had a need for more depth and production at the point, and while Stuckey is more of a scorer than a distributor, he certainly can help the team, and there’s a decent chance that his one-year deal will have been a bargain. Indiana brought Rudez from overseas with the hope that he could compete for minutes at small forward, but a guaranteed three-year pact is a risk for an NBA-unproven European talent. Still, his near-minimum salaries are not amounts that will hamstring the team moving forward.

What is hurting the Pacers is the $14,898,938 chunk of cap space that they allocated to Hibbert. Bird must have had a flashback to the NBA of his playing days, an era when teams needed a dominant big man to have a shot at contention, when he signed Hibbert to a four-year, $58.37MM contract in 2012 to keep him from jumping to the Blazers. Hibbert is a staunch rim protector, something that is still quite valuable, but his offensive game hasn’t developed as the team had hoped and his career 6.8 rebounds per game average is shameful for a player of his size. It also doesn’t help that he doesn’t match up well with smaller, athletic centers and the team is forced to sit him for long stretches, as occurred numerous times during last season’s playoffs. Indiana should pray that Hibbert declines his 2015/16 player option, worth more than $15.514MM, though that is highly unlikely.

Indiana doesn’t have much in the way of movable assets it can use to turn around its fortunes this season. David West would be a likely candidate, since his veteran leadership and ample skills could help many a contender, but West has yet to play this season courtesy of an ankle injury he sustained back in October. His $12MM salary would also make a trade difficult, and Indiana would be unlikely to garner any game-changing pieces in such a deal. West also has a player option for next season, when he is slated to make $12.6MM, but he has also hinted at retiring rather than continuing his distinguished career. A change of scenery and a chance to be part of a contending team could motivate him to keep playing, but moving him wouldn’t be advisable for Indiana unless the Pacers could somehow net some combination of an expiring contract, a younger player, and a draft pick.

One rumored deal the Pacers should revisit is the idea of a Chris Copeland-J.R. Smith trade with the Knicks. Copeland is currently Indiana’s leading scorer, but that isn’t saying much on a squad averaging a paltry 91.9 PPG. Smith would bring headaches of his own, though nothing in the realm of Stephenson’s nightly oddities. The Knicks have a glut of shooting guards and would be all too anxious to rid themselves of Smith and his 2015/16 player option for nearly $6.4MM. Smith could offset some of the loss of George, and while he wouldn’t thrust the team into contention this year, he would at least make the Pacers watchable on the offensive side. Smith would also pair nicely alongside George next season, which should be the team’s focus this year anyway since it isn’t moving up in the standings anytime soon. Still, the Pacers would have to add more salary to any such deal to make it legal.

The Pacers are almost assuredly heading toward the NBA draft lottery and will have a chance to nab a valuable young piece for the future. Indiana has about $36MM in guaranteed salaries on the books for 2015/16, but Hibbert’s and West’s player options could inflate that by about another $28.1MM. That will not leave the franchise with much in the way of cap space to make a splash in the free agency market next summer. So unless Bird can work some trade magic this season, it is looking increasingly likely that the Pacers’ window to contend has shut. Indiana must hope that George can return to his pre-injury form, the team can score big in the draft, and both Hibbert and West are off the roster by next season. Otherwise, it will be at least a few years before Indiana becomes relevant again in the Eastern Conference title race.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Lakers To Work Out Dwight Buycks

November 19 at 8:05am CST By Chuck Myron

NOVEMBER 19TH: Buycks is set to work out for the Lakers, among other clubs, Pick reports (on Twitter).

NOVEMBER 12TH: There’s a strong chance that Buycks ends up in China, a source tells Pick (Twitter link).

NOVEMBER 9TH, 7:20pm: Buycks is also under consideration by the Grizzlies, who waived guard Kalin Lucas earlier today, David Pick of Eurobasket reports (Twitter link). No signing is imminent, Pick adds.

5:28pm: Buycks had attempted to get out of his contract with Valencia last week in order to land a deal with the Thunder or Pacers, Pick reports (Twitter links). Pick also adds that Buycks is talking with a few NBA teams, but the Lakers aren’t currently one of them.

1:54pm: Buycks and Valencia have officially parted ways, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi).

NOVEMBER 7TH, 12:48pm: Dwight Buycks and his camp have reached a buyout agreement Valencia of Spain and are in discussions with the Lakers and Thunder, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. The Lakers had reportedly invited Buycks to training camp before he accepted a one-year deal with Valencia in July.

The 25-year-old point guard has put up 12.0 and 2.0 assists in a little more than 20 minutes per game in three Euroleague competition contests and 7.6 PPG and 1.4 APG in 16.6 MPG across all eight of Valencia’s games so far. Buycks earned a deal with the Raptors for last season after a breakout performance in the 2013 summer league, as Charania notes, but he made only 14 appearances, and Toronto waived him in July rather than guarantee his salary for another year.

The Thunder just signed Ish Smith to a non-guaranteed deal to become the club’s 16th player, an allowance the NBA has given them to offset their multitude of injuries. Oklahoma City is reportedly poised to seek a 17th player if Perry Jones III is to miss significant time, so perhaps Buycks is whom they’re targeting for that would-be opening.

Point guard is also an apparent need for the Lakers, who are without Steve Nash for the season. Ronnie Price has been seeing backup minutes on his non-guaranteed deal, but that deal becomes partially guaranteed if the Lakers don’t waive him by the end of November 15th. The Lakers have a similar arrangement with shooting guard Wayne Ellington, but all the rest of their contracts are guaranteed, and they haven’t received an allowance for a 16th player.

Eastern Notes: Mudiay, Pacers, Kidd, Melo

November 17 at 9:44pm CST By Alex Lee

With the Sixers well on the way to their 10th straight loss to start the 2014/15 season tonight, they’re undoubtedly keeping tabs on top prospect Emmanuel Mudiay, who recently recorded a triple double in China. Mudiay is a consensus top-five pick according to NBA scouts, says Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, who adds that the 18-year-old has displayed the type of skills in his time with the Guangdong Tigers that has some talent evaluators thinking he can play point guard in the NBA right now.

The bad news for Sixers fans, of course, is that they still have 72 games to endure until they can truly salivate over the 2015 draft class. Here are some other notes coming out of the East:

  • The Pacers have received clearance from the NBA to continue with 16 players on their roster, so A.J. Price remains with Indiana, the team announced. The allowance, which the Pacers merited because at least four players were expected to miss significant time, will provide for Price to stay with the club for at least three more games, according to Mark Montieth of Pacers.com.
  • Rumors indicated that Jason Kidd was angling for front office control before he jumped to the Bucks merely to coach this past summer, but Milwaukee GM John Hammond doesn’t feel threatened by Kidd’s presence, as he tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. “I wasn’t concerned,” Hammond said. “I am in a position in my life and professionally where I am secure in myself. I feel very fortunate about that, that I have been around the league for so long — this is my 25th year in the NBA. I know who I am and I know my abilities, so it is not about being concerned. You’re not looking over your shoulder, you’re just glad you have the opportunity. Obviously, you’d like to keep the opportunity, but I feel good about the chances I have.”
  • Carmelo Anthony recently had a helpful conversation with Knicks president Phil Jackson regarding his role in the team’s triangle offense, writes Ian Begley of ESPN.com. Begley points out that, with triangle-enthusiasts Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher under contract through 2018/19 — the same season that Anthony’s deal ends — the forward knows the system is here to stay.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Sixers Interested In Arinze Onuaku

November 15 at 1:50pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The Sixers have been in contact with free agent Arinze Onuaku, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Pompey added that Philadelphia’s exact level of interest in Onuaku is unknown. The Sixers are set to waive Chris Johnson today to make room for Robert Covington, so it is unclear if Onuaku was being discussed in addition to Covington being added to the roster or seen as an alternative if that agreement failed to materialize.

Today’s dealings involving Covington and Johnson will still leave the Sixers with the league-maximum 15 players, so if the team wishes to add Onuaku they will need to make a subsequent roster move. One of the non-guaranteed deals for Brandon Davies, Henry Sims, or Hollis Thompson seem likely candidates to be waived in the event of a new signing, though that is just my speculation.

The 6’9″, 27-year-old Onuaku appeared in a total of five games last season, split between the Pelicans and the Cavaliers, and he averaged a combined 0.6 PPG, 1.6 RPG, and 0.6 APG. His slash line was .200/.000/.500. Onuaku spent training camp with the Pacers and was among the group of players cut as Indiana pared down its preseason roster to the regular season maximum.

Eastern Notes: Labor, J.R. Smith, Butler, Cavs

November 14 at 12:03pm CST By Chuck Myron

The collective bargaining agreement is in place at least until 2017, but LeBron James wants to see constructive labor negotiations start sooner rather than later in the wake of sharp remarks this week from union executive director Michele Roberts and commissioner Adam Silver. Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group has the details.

“At some point we would like to start conversations, because you don’t want to get to a point to where the deadline happens and now we’re scrambling,” James said. “Our game is too good, it’s too popular, everyone loves our game all across the world and we don’t want to get to a point where there’s another lockout.”

While we wait to see if LeBron can help bring the sides to the table, here’s the latest on his rivals from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks continue to have internal discussions about ways to trade J.R. Smith, just as they have since July, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. A report early this month indicated that New York and the Pacers had engaged in talks about a Smith trade, and while a follow-up cast doubt on that notion, the most recent dispatch indicates that the Pacers do have interest in the volatile shooting guard.
  • An anonymous executive suggests to fellow ESPNNewYork.com scribe Ian O’Connor that Smith continues to be a viable trade asset in the proper circumstances. “J.R. has had a lot of issues but he can be a big-time scorer when he’s doing the right things,” the executive said. “There’s always a team out there willing to take a chance on somebody if they feel he can put them over the top, and there’s no doubt J.R. can play. People are going to be concerned about chemistry issues in the locker room, so it would have to be a strong leadership and coaching staff that take him in.”
  • Randy Wittman was the driving force behind the Wizards‘ decision to sign Rasual Butler, as the coach prevailed upon the team to invite the 35-year-old to camp, according to J. Michael of CSNWashington.com, who writes in his mailbag column. The move has paid off, as Butler made the opening-night roster and is averaging 8.8 points in 17.6 minutes per game.
  • The Cavs have assigned rookie Alex Kirk to the D-League, the team announced. Kirk has only seen three minutes of regular season action thus far for Cleveland.

Western Notes: Brooks, Warren, Livingston

November 13 at 8:28pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Former Lakers guard MarShon Brooks‘ time with Olimpia Milano of Italy may be coming to an end, David Pick of Eurobasket reports (Twitter link). It is unclear if this means Brooks will be waived by the Italian team or if a buyout arrangement is being discussed. The 25-year-old shooting guard was pursued by the Pacers, Kings and an unnamed “title-contending team” from the east prior to Brooks inking his overseas deal this summer, and with the rash of early season injuries Brooks could have a number of NBA opportunities if he returns stateside.

Here’s more from out west:

  • The Suns assigned T.J. Warren to the D-League earlier today but his stint shouldn’t be a long one, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. “T.J. is going to be a great player,” head coach Jeff Hornacek asserted. “This team has a lot of guys at his spot right now, but he’s going to be around. He’s going to be a factor. He’s got great hands. He knows how to score, but the transition [defensively] has been pretty good, too.” The first-rounder out of North Carolina State has only seen one minute of NBA action thus far this season.
  • Shaun Livingston will face off against the Nets tonight, his former team, and he discussed why he chose to sign with the Warriors this summer, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes. “It was about putting myself in the best position to win, and also to get the value as a player. Your market value,” Livingston said. “That was my case. I was hoping to [finally get a big offer] and ideally that was the thought process going into free agency, but, man, I’ve been in a couple of situations where I thought I was going to get paid and I was going to come back and it just didn’t work out. I mean, my injury [in 2007], that year I was supposed to get an extension and I didn’t. I had a good a year with the Wizards [in 2009/10] and then they end up getting John Wall with the first pick.”
  • With his excellent numbers filling in for the injured Russell Westbrook, the Thunder‘s Reggie Jackson is generating a market value that will test the team’s willingness to match any offer sheets he is likely to receive this summer, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports opines. It’s not clear exactly how much Jackson will command on his next contract but Wojnarowski suggests that the annual salary could be in the $13MM-$14MM range.

Atlantic Notes: J.R. Smith, Knicks, Rondo

November 13 at 11:33am CST By Chuck Myron

The Pacers do have at least some level of interest in J.R. Smith, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, who reported earlier this month that Indiana discussed Smith in conversations with the Knicks about a potential deal involving Chris Copeland. The Knicks are confident about the market for the former Sixth Man of the Year and aren’t merely looking to swap him for an expiring contract, a source tells Berman. While we wait to see how the Knicks proceed, there’s more from New York amid the latest from the Atlantic Division:

  • Derek Fisher isn’t sure about the timetable that Phil Jackson has suggested for making judgments about the players on the Knicks roster, as Berman relays in the same piece. “I don’t know if it’s a fair assessment or not,’’ Fisher said. “[Phil] obviously knows a lot about his offense, but I think it’s more than just a guy is going to get it. Each player and person has different learning curves. I don’t know if there’s a date. It’s more where our team is from a management standpoint. For me, I don’t have a date on when I would assume a guy should or shouldn’t have it. I’m going to coach him until he’s here or isn’t here. Those won’t be my decisions.’’
  • Rajon Rondo told reporters that he didn’t disagree with Kendrick Perkins, who said earlier Wednesday that Rondo, set for free agency at season’s end, would like to remain with the Celtics, observes Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald“It’s about accurate,” Rondo said. “I mean, from media day in the beginning, that’s what I said initially. So regardless of what’s going on in the season, my perspective hasn’t changed. I love being a Celtic.”
  • Perkins, who’s also poised to become a free agent in the summer, is open to returning to the Celtics, saying it would be up to Boston’s brass to bring him back if they want him, Bulpett notes. The 30-year-old Thunder center sees Boston as increasingly attractive for free agents, as he told reporters, including Bulpett.
  • The Sixers are a long way from respectability, but tonight’s season debut for Michael Carter-Williams, who’s back from shoulder surgery, will pair him with Nerlens Noel for the first time. Having two building blocks on the floor at once will represent a landmark moment in Philly’s rebuilding, opines John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News.

And-Ones: Howard, Waiters, Johnson, Pacers

November 12 at 4:22pm CST By Chuck Myron

Dwight Howard makes several candid comments in an EPIX.com documentary about his departure from the Magic, his year with the Lakers, and the 2013 back injury that one of his surgeons believes had a decent chance to end his career, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Howard also delved into his relationship with Kobe Bryant.

“Before I got to the Lakers, I would talk to him [and] he would really help me out on the [down] low about how to become everything that I said I wanted to be. And I looked up to him and I looked up to everything he, as a basketball player, stood for,” Howard said, as Stein transcribes. “… [By the end of that season] I just felt so hurt and disappointed in the fact that the guy that I was expecting to be somebody who was gonna pass the torch, somebody to say, ‘Dwight, I’ll take you under my wing and I’ll show you how to get it done’ … it was none of that.”

Howard remains a fascinating figure even as his long-term deal with the Rockets has quieted the rumors that surrounded him. Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Cavs shopped Dion Waiters this past August but found no takers, according to Bradford Doolittle of ESPN.com, who writes in an Insider-only piece. That conflicts with a report from early August that indicated the Cavs weren’t trying to trade the shooting guard.
  • Ivan Johnson has drawn offers from NBA teams and clubs overseas, a source tells HoopsHype’s David Alarcón (Twitter link and translation). He plans to make a decision about whom to sign with in the next couple of weeks, Alarcón adds.
  • Frank Vogel believes Lance Stephenson would have chosen to re-sign with the Pacers if he’d known Paul George would suffer his broken leg, as Vogel tells Ian Thomsen of NBA.com. “I think he probably — and we probably — would have approached it differently,” Vogel said. “The money would have to have been right, and we would’ve had to figure that out. But he would have had much more incentive to stay.”