The Cavs haven’t spoken with agent Rich Paul about an extension for Tristan Thompson, as Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer hears, but it’s not necessarily a sign that the sides don’t intend to strike a deal before the October 31st deadline to do so, Haynes indicates. Let’s wrap up more from the Cavs and the Central:
Cavs GM David Griffin admits LeBron James was critical in Cleveland’s success in recruiting other big name players this summer, as Lloyd details in the same piece. “You couldn’t have a better recruiter than LeBron James,” Griffin said. “When you cut LeBron loose in a free agency path, you tend to get results you don’t get otherwise. To say he’s been an amazing partner this offseason would be a gross understatement.”
The Pacers and Evan Turner never attempted to negotiate a new deal that would have brought the former second overall pick back to Indiana for the 2014/15 season, reports Andrew Perna of RealGM (on Twitter). “We both just decided to go our separate ways,“ said Turner.
Greg Monroe‘s decision to sign his qualifying offer means he will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, but he says that doesn’t necessarily mean that he wants to leave the Pistons, tweets Vince Ellis of the Detroit News. Monroe also dismissed the notion that he doesn’t like to play alongside Josh Smith, according to Ellis (Twitter link).
Frank Vogel and the Pacers have had talks about an extension, the coach said to Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star. No deal has been worked out just yet, and when asked if he would like to have an agreement in place prior to the season beginning, Vogel said, “We just have to see how it goes. I want to be here forever. That’s my thing. I’m interested in being here long-term and when the right time comes, hopefully we can achieve that.”
Vogel is entering the last season of his deal, and one would think that a 167-100 record over four seasons, including four trips to the playoffs and two consecutive conference finals would be enough to guarantee job security. But last year’s Indiana squad that began 25-5 limped into the playoffs and the Pacers seemed badly overmatched by the Heat despite extending them to six games.
A big point of contention involving Vogel during the playoffs was his use of center Roy Hibbert. The big man didn’t match up well with the Pacers’ first round opponent, the Hawks, nor with the Heat in the conference finals. Both teams employed smaller lineups which made Hibbert a liability on defense when trying to match him up with smaller, quicker centers and stretch-fours. Vogel received quite a bit of criticism for not figuring out a way to use Hibbert’s size to his team’s advantage, and allowing their opponents to dictate the style of play that Indiana used.
The concern for the future is if Indiana’s collapse was a fluke, or if there are deeper concerns in the Pacers’ locker room. Vogel has always been considered a player’s coach, and is not a staunch disciplinarian. This was a role that was filled by former assistant Brian Shaw, who left prior to last season to become the head coach of the Nuggets. Chris Huberty of SI.com points out that Shaw frequently played “bad cop” with the Pacers players when it was required, and that new assistants Nate McMillan and Popeye Jones didn’t assist Vogel in that capacity.
If the Pacers and Vogel aren’t able to hammer out an extension prior to the season, it could only add to what looks to be a difficult year ahead for the franchise. They will be without the services of Paul Georgefor what is likely the entire season after he broke his leg during a Team USA scrimmage. The Pacers will also be without Lance Stephenson, who signed a free agent deal with the Hornets this summer.
The Eastern Conference will be extremely top heavy this season with the Cavs, Bulls, and Wizards all looking extremely formidable as training camps begin. The Pacers aren’t in the discussion as a title contender without George, but still should have enough talent to compete for a playoff spot, even without their best player. But if being 4 for 4 in playoff appearances wasn’t necessarily enough to garner long-term job security, it will be interesting to see what the sentiments of Indiana’s front office are regarding Vogel if the Pacers struggle mightily without George and Stephenson this season.
The Heat enter next season without the talents of LeBron James who returned to Cleveland this summer. But Miami isn’t giving up on contending this season, and with a core of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Luol Deng, GM Pat Riley hopes his offseason moves will pay off with a return to the playoffs. Here are some notes from Miami’s media day:
Josh McRoberts said that he was drawn to Miami because the team pursued him so hard, Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post tweets. McRoberts also added that the deal now gives him multi-year stability.
In keeping with the theme of being pursued, McRoberts said that he felt wanted in Miami, tweets Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald. Goodman wasn’t sure if the statement by McRoberts was a dig at the Hornets, his former team, but he believes it was notable given the context.
When asked about sacrificing money for the sake of the team’s cap flexibility, Udonis Haslem said, “I never had that money. It was never in my bank account. It’s not about that. I don’t regret it,” Lieser tweets.
The Pacers tried to entice Danny Granger to return this offseason, tweets Lieser, but Granger said, “It didn’t work out.”
Deng told Lieser that he forgives Danny Ferry for the comments that he made (Twitter link). “It’s not something I want to hold onto… I believe he’s really sorry for what he said,” Deng relayed.
Deng also said that he believes Ferry’s remorse is genuine, and added, “I do not think Danny is racist,” tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
The veteran small forward said that he was actually close to signing with the Hawks, notes Jackson (Twitter link). Deng also noted that Ferry should have read the offensive comments allegedly contained in the scouting report to himself before saying them out loud.
Deng confirmed to Lieser that he was close to joining Atlanta and that he never got any sense of prejudice from them. Deng also said that he was totally surprised by what he heard when the story was made public, Lieser notes.
Kevin Garnett finally dismissed all doubt that he would return for the coming season, telling reporters that while he considered retirement, he’s once more decided to put it off, notes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). A report in June indicated that Garnett would be back with the Nets, but Garnett hadn’t spoken publicly about his plans. Retirement could be a ways off, as the 38-year-old said he won’t rule out playing beyond this season, the final year of his contract, as Bondy also relays (via Twitter). Still, Garnett’s comments gave Tim Bontemps of the New York Post the sense that he’s planning to hang it up next summer (Twitter link). There’s more from the player once known as The Kid as we detail the latest from the Eastern Conference:
Garnett was in touch with Paul Pierce as the Wizards signee went through free agency and called his departure for Washington “bittersweet,” as Bontemps chronicles (Twitterlinks). KG said he was in the dark during former coach Jason Kidd‘s exit from the Nets, however, as Andy Vasquez of The Record tweets.
Frank Vogel is entering the final year of his contract to coach the Pacers, but he tells Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports that he’d like to remain in the job “forever.” President of basketball operations Larry Bird has suggested that the team is open to negotiating an extension with Vogel before this season begins, as Agness points out.
With the racism scandal still fresh in Atlanta, Hawks GM Danny Ferry‘s former teammate Tim Duncan came to his defense, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. Duncan acknowledged during a radio interview that Ferry made a mistake in his comments regarding Luol Deng, but denied Ferry had an issue with race. Duncan said, “Knowing Danny, he’s not what everybody’s saying about him. He’s not a racist.”
Here’s more from the east:
Bucks second-year player Giannis Antetokounmpo is embracing the team’s experiment of moving him to point guard, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. On Milwaukee asking him to change positions, Antetokounmpo said, “I’m not going to say I was shocked by it. It’s something that I feel comfortable with and I’ll play wherever Coach wants me to play, especially when it’s Coach Kidd who thinks that I can play point guard. That makes me feel like, ‘I can play it. I can play point guard.’ I’m going to try my best and just listen to Coach. I’ll do whatever Coach says to do and I’ll get more comfortable.”
During an interview with Reggie Miller regarding injured Pacers swingman Paul George, team president Larry Bird said that despite his star player’s horrific injury, he would still like George to return to Team USA, Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star relays. “I hope so. That’s one of his goals,” Bird said. “He wants to play for Team USA. I think that any kid that gets the opportunity to do that and they want to play for their country, they should have that opportunity. And I think Paul will be there in Brazil (Olympics).”
In their season preview the staff at HoopsHype predict that the Raptors will repeat as champs in the Atlantic Division.
Despite last season ending with his potential game-winning shot being blocked by Paul Pierce in the playoffs, the Raptors‘ Kyle Lowry showed significant growth on and off the court, writes Jonathan Abrams of Grantland in his profile of the player and his career.
FRIDAY, 8:36pm:Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic adds the Cavs to the list of teams interested in Dragic, and reports that Dragic’s current salary is approximately $1.4MM. It would take upwards of $2MM in annual salary to pry the younger Dragic guard from his current club in Coro’s estimation, considering the earnings and covered living expenses provided by his current team. The Arizona Republic scribe pegs Dragic’s NBA escape clause at $1.1MM, which lines up with an earlier report that the buyout exceeds $971K.
WEDNESDAY, 7:49am: The Suns, Pacers and Kings are the teams most aggressively going after Dragic, Stein tweets, expanding on his report about Phoenix’s heavy pursuit from a few days ago. Talks are expected to intensity now that Dragic’s World Cup obligations are over, Stein adds (Twitterlinks). Phoenix, Indiana and Sacramento all have the capacity to exceed the minimum salary.
TUESDAY, 4:51pm: The Heat, Magic, Spurs and Mavs are maintaining dialogues with Spanish-league shooting guard Zoran Dragic, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. Marc Stein of ESPN.com wrote earlier this week that the Suns were one of the three teams with the most interest in signing the 25-year-old, but it’s not clear if they remain in the running. The Pacers, too, have appeared to be in pursuit of Dragic of late, while the Rockets were reportedly the leading contender for him in May.
Several NBA teams scouted Dragic in the World Cup the past couple of weeks, Charania writes, a run that ended when his Slovenian team lost this afternoon to Team USA. New teams are inquiring about him with each passing day, the RealGM scribe adds. Dragic is the younger brother of Goran Dragic, who appears poised to opt out his deal next summer and hit free agency, and teams are already lining up to try to poach Goran from the Suns.
Zoran Dragic averaged 10.6 points in 20.3 minutes per game for Unicaja Malaga this past season but he reportedly possesses a strong desire to come to the NBA. He’d have to sign with an NBA team by Oct. 5th, according to Charania, and cover a buyout greater than the equivalent of $971K to break free from Unicaja Malaga this year, as Stein wrote in his report this week. That would appear to give the Spurs and Magic an edge on the Heat and Mavs, since Miami and Dallas can’t exceed the minimum salary and thus can’t give him more than the Excluded International Player Payment Amount of $600K toward his buyout.
SEPTEMBER 9TH: The signing is finally official, the team announced.
“Shawn brings great versatility, talent and championship experience to the team,” Cavs GM David Griffin said in the club’s statement. “He will impact both ends of the floor and his ability to guard multiple positions will be particularly important for us. Shawn is an accomplished, high-caliber veteran that will help with leadership on and off the court and we’re very happy to welcome him to the Cavaliers family.”
AUGUST 17TH: 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.
Charlie Villanueva signing with the Mavericks can’t be a good sign for Rashard Lewis and his chances of getting something done with Dallas, tweets Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. The team recently 86′d their one-year, $1.4MM offer after learning that Lewis needed an operation on his right knee.
The Rockets certainly wanted his expiring contract, but they also had their eye on adding a veteran guard when they traded for Jason Terry, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. With that in mind, Feigen wonders if the Rockets might want to add an experienced player at the center position. Trouble is, Houston has 19 players under contract and 16 with guaranteed deals. For now, it looks like Houston will hope to see some development out of Joey Dorsey, Donatas Motejunas, and Josh Powell.
Free agent forward Vernon Macklin, who signed a non-guaranteed training camp deal with the Pelicans, rejected overseas deals to hook on with New Orleans, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. Kevin Jones, who also has a non-guaranteed deal with the Pelicans, had significant interest from the Pacers before Paul George‘s season-ending injury.
The summer is the season of optimism for NBA fans, with draft picks and signings set to fit perfectly and improve teams all over the league–hypothetically. Once the season begins, however, the goodwill can dry up fast. Last year, blockbuster acquisitions in Detroit and Brooklyn had set expectations high for newly hired coaches Maurice Cheeks and Jason Kidd, but both teams struggled out of the gate, placing both coaches on the hot seat. Kidd survived the season and guided the Nets to the playoffs, but the root of conflict survived as well, and Kidd bolted for Milwaukee in a bizarre power struggle. Cheeks was fired in-season, and remains without a coaching job.
Mike Woodson faced constant speculation about his own job, and lasted through the season only to be let go by incoming team president Phil Jackson. Larry Drew bore the brunt of the Kidd move, and Tyrone Corbin was let go by the Jazz, despite his baby-faced roster performing about as well as expected. Mark Jackson led the Warriors to improvement for a second consecutive season, but pushing the Clippers to a Game 7 in the opening round of the playoffs wasn’t enough to salvage his position in Golden State after some turbulence between Jackson, the rest of the coaching staff, and the front office.
In the NBA, very few jobs are ever truly “safe,” unless your last name is Popovich. Let’s look at some of the coaches who could encounter early traces of job insecurity.
1. Winning Enough? Scott Brooks, Kevin McHale, and Frank Vogel. In parts of 13 seasons combined with their current teams, these coaches have only two losing seasons between them. Brooks receives plenty of flack for his in-game strategy and roster management, despite having coached a young Thunder team to a surprise appearance in the 2012 Finals, and regularly orchestrating dominant regular season performances that have been undercut by postseason injuries to Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. After Oklahoma City’s disappointing series loss to the eventual champions in 2013/14, GM Sam Prestivoiced his support for the coach moving forward.
Vogel built a defensive juggernaut that gave the Heat one of its stiffest annual challenges in the playoffs, but Indiana struggled mightily for much of the second half of last season, and the team will suffer this year from the losses of Lance Stephenson and Paul George. The Pacers squelched rumors that the coach could be let go after the team lost in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive year, but Vogel will be coaching on an expiring contract unless the team grants him an extension in the coming months.
McHale has failed to take the Rockets beyond the first round in his tenure, and expectations are that the team is due to build on its success around James Harden and Dwight Howard. The front office in Houston didn’t do McHale any favors this offseason, allowing mainstays Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin, and Omer Asik to depart while striking out on free agent Chris Bosh.
2. First-Year Coaches: David Blatt, Steve Kerr, Derek Fisher, and Quin Snyder. Blatt was signed to coach a team that failed to reach the playoffs last season, but Cleveland has since become a championship contender with the additions of LeBron James and Kevin Love. It’s rare for a first-time head coach to cut his teeth with such enormous expectations. Kerr takes over for a team that envisions a higher ceiling than they had attained with Jackson. Kerr’s involvement in the decision to withhold Klay Thompson from a potential Love trade could come back to haunt him, especially if the star power forward thrives in Cleveland while the shooting guard’s game doesn’t take off under Kerr’s tutelage.
Fisher and Snyder figure to operate with more patient front offices and fan bases, as both were hired to develop players within their systems with an eye toward the future. Of course, “low-pressure” isn’t typical of any coaching job in the New York market, and Fisher has insisted that his team should make the playoffs this season.
3. The Clock Is Ticking: Jacque Vaughn and Brian Shaw.Vaughn has been at the helm for a rebuilding Magic team the last two years, racking up an understandably poor .262 winning percentage. While Orlando is still far from contending, the team has shored up the rotation with veteran additions and has a number of young players on schedule to provide a bigger impact. A season spent at the very bottom of league standings might be unacceptable to Magic brass, especially if the young pieces fail to pop. Shaw took the reigns for one of the Western Conference’s best teams in 2012/13, but injuries and the departure of Andre Iguodala prevented them from reaching the postseason altogether this spring. The West should be no less fierce this season, but the Nuggets have high hopes that Shaw will be working to meet in just his second year on the sidelines.
4. Anything Can Happen: Jason Kidd and Dave Joerger. Both coaches are entering their sophomore seasons as NBA head coaches after having reached the playoffs on the first try. Aside from their teams’ performances, there are strange off-the-court similarities between the two. Kidd exited Brooklyn in the aforementioned stunner, and Joerger appeared destined to leave Memphis amid a series of puzzling revelations about his relationship with Grizzlies owner Robert Pera, before the two eventually hashed out their differences and agreed on a contract extension. Both would appear to have a long leash for the coming season, but the combustible personalities in play have undermined peaceful coaching situations before.
Who do you think will find himself on rocky footing soonest in 2014/15? As we have routinely seen, ongoing success is no guarantee that a coach is in the clear. If you think I’ve failed to mention the most likely name, vote “Other” and leave your choice in the comments.
SEPTEMBER 5TH: The Pacers have followed up with a formal announcement, so the deal is official.
SEPTEMBER 3RD: The signing has taken place, according to the RealGM transactions log, though the team has yet to make a formal announcement.
AUGUST 22ND, 8:32am: It’s indeed a non-guaranteed deal, a source tells Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link).
AUGUST 21ST, 9:32pm: Adonis Thomas will attend training camp with the Pacers this fall, the Memphis product tweeted on Thursday night. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders was the first reporter to pass along the news (via Twitter). We haven’t heard anything official from the team yet, though it appears that the sides have come to an agreement based on Thomas’ tweet.
After going undrafted last June, Thomas spent most of the 2013/14 season in the D-League with the now-defunct Springfield Armor. The 6-foot-7 guard averaged 16.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 34 games for Springfield, shooting an unconscious 46.6 percent from beyond the arc. His D-League play earned him two 10-daycontracts with the Magic and one with the Sixers, with whom he closed out the regular season.
In all Thomas appeared in only six NBA games as a rookie, averaging 2.3 points in 6.2 minutes per game. The 21-year-old spent two years at Memphis, where he played 27.5 minutes per game for the Tigers and was the second leading scorer on a team that earned a six seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.