Iman Shumpert met with Knicks head coach Mike Woodson before last night’s win in Atlanta to address the recent flurry of trade rumors involving him and was told he should be flattered that other teams are interested, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman later adds that Shumpert hasn’t necessarily been on Woodson’s good side since the Las Vegas Summer League, specifically when the third-year guard left the team after one game to go to China for a tour with Adidas.
Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:
- When asked if there was an ideal type of point guard for Carmelo Anthony to play alongside, Woodson bluntly responded with, “Raymond Felton” (Chris Herring of the Wall-Street Journal via Twitter).
- After observing the 76ers strong start, Philly.com’s Michael Kaskey-Blomain wonders if now would be an opportune time to trade Evan Turner.
- With former Daryl Morey-protégé Sam Hinkie running the Sixers’ front office, Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead compares Philadelphia’s rebuilding project with the Rockets’ three-year journey from being part of the “NBA middle” to becoming an expected title contender. With prospects such as Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, and what could potentially be two lottery picks in a loaded 2014 draft (Philadelphia is currently owed a top-five protected pick from the Pelicans), McIntyre suggests that Hinkie has plenty of assets available to possibly enter trade discussions for a big name down the line.
- Celtics forward Gerald Wallace told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer that he may not be as durable as he once was: “I understand my situation…don’t think I could play 35-40 minutes a night for 82 games anymore” (Twitter link).
- Jared Sullinger adamantly downplayed the idea of tanking this season in Boston: “(The media was) talking about the lottery. We didn’t even think about that,…We don’t care about that. We want to win, we want to make the playoffs, and we want to make a run. At the end of the day, that was something that you talked about, not us…we definitely wanted to shut (them) up. Definitely” (Jimmy Golen of Boston.com)
- NBA.com’s Marc D’Amico discusses the Celtics’ struggles with consistency so far.
FRIDAY, 1:48pm: The Celtics have officially exercised their 2014/15 option on Sullinger, the team announced today in a press release. As Ainge suggested on Wednesday, Brooks’ option was not picked up.
WEDNESDAY, 1:43pm: Celtics GM Danny Ainge confirmed today that his team will exercise its 2014/15 option on Jared Sullinger‘s rookie contract, according to Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com (via Twitter). However, the C’s will turn down their option on offseason acquisition MarShon Brooks, says Forsberg.
The decision to pick up Sullinger’s third-year option comes as no surprise, following a productive rookie season that was cut short by back surgery. As our rookie contract option tracker shows, he’ll be in line for a 2014/15 salary of only about $1.42MM, so it will have a negligible impact on Boston’s cap flexibility.
As for Brooks, his $2.18MM fourth-year option is fairly inexpensive as well, but it seems the former Net isn’t in the Celtics’ long-term plans at the moment. Although the team will still be able to re-sign Brooks if he impresses in Boston this season, he’ll now be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com talked with two NBA scouts who said the Knicks might need an offensive-minded assistant to help head coach Mike Woodson. The Knicks small ball lineup with Carmelo Anthony at power forward, had them playing well in a run of wins to start and end the 2012/13 season.
Unfortunately, those wins didn't come about with the Knicks' two ostensible superstars sharing the front court together. Amar'e Stoudemire was out with an injury to start the season, and in the month leading up to the playoffs when the Knicks won 10-straight to secure the 2nd playoff seed in the East.
But if the Knicks are going to take advantage of their two highest-paid players–Anthony and Stoudemire, who are set to make $23.742MM and $23.411MM next season–they'll have to find a way to share the ball on offense from their naturally overlapping high-block positions on the court.
A couple of the candidates offered by Zwerling include David Blatt and his Princeton offense, which has been successful with Maccabi Tel Aviv, and former Lakers assistant during the 2011/12 season and an assistant with Woodson on the title-winning 2004 Pistons team, John Kuester. Kuester's "early offense" approach as an offensive assistant with the Cavs from 2007-2009 helped another point forward led team, with LeBron James initiating a lot of that early offense.
Here are some more notes surrounding two of the three Atlantic division playoff teams:
- Tony Mitchell, the power forward out of North Texas, thinks he’s the answer for the Knicks’ front court problems this past season, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. He’s expected to be a mid-first round pick, and the Knicks have the 24th pick in this year's draft.
- The Knicks also looked at Providence combo guard, Ricky Ledo, during a workout on Friday, which he told Zwerling was his best during the run-up to the draft. The Knicks might use him as a replacement for the recently retired Jason Kidd.
- The Celtics have a lot of questions that need answering this offseason regarding franchise cornerstones, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but they’ve also got to figure out what to do with their younger players as well, writes Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
- One of those younger players on the Celtics’ roster was last season’s rookie from Ohio State University, Jared Sullinger. He wasn’t able to play for the Celtics in the playoffs because of a back injury before the season ended, but ESPNBoston.com has tracked his recovery and Sullinger told MassLive.com his back is “completely fixed.”
- A reader asked ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg if the Spurs’ success in this year’s finals will persuade Danny Ainge the Celtics can compete for a title with the aging Pierce and Garnett. Forsberg says the Spurs’ fate in the Finals will have no impact on Ainge’s decision making process.
Considering the rumblings that Pistons GM Joe Dumars had his sights set on either Nate McMillan or Maurice Cheeks as the team's next head coach, along with the notion that Dumars had apparently hoped to make a hire before the start of last week's NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago, ESPN's Chris Broussard wonders if the hold up with regards to a coaching decision gives any indication that Phil Jackson - recently tabbed as an adviser for the head coaching search - could soon be running Detroit's front office (Insiders only). According to popular thought around the league, Brian Shaw would be Jackson's first choice, and while some insist that Dumars is still in charge as the general manager, Broussard suggests that their next coaching hire will be a strong indicator of how much control the Pistons legend still has of the franchise. Here are more notes out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
- Jackson – a member of two championship Knicks teams as a player – spoke with Harvey Araton of the New York Times about the current makeup of his former team and how he compares them with their cross-town rival Nets: "(The Knicks) still have to find some accommodating group of guys that know how to play ball together, move the ball, play the game the right way…With Brooklyn, if you’ve got a point guard and a solid center, or a good point guard and a great center, you’ve got two of the pieces that you want to have toward a champion.”
- According to an NY Post report (via the Associated Press), former Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo is interested in remaining as an ESPN analyst just through the postseason and would consider a coaching opportunity if it presented itself afterward.
- Celtics big man Jared Sullinger tells Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com that he should be 100% healthy by September or October.
- Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated profiles Chris Andersen, the Heat forward who has shined as one of Miami's key reserves during the current postseason.
- Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago grades Carlos Boozer's season and touches on what's next for the Bulls' forward.
It had to end sometime. The Heat finally lost a game after winning 27 in a row, falling to the Bulls tonight despite the absence of Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. That leaves the Knicks, who earned their sixth straight victory with a win over the Grizzlies this evening, as the team with the longest current winning streak in the NBA. The six W's in a row have allowed the Knicks to essentially end the Celtics' hopes of a sixth straight division title, and New York has built a three-game lead on second-place Brooklyn, pending the Nets' late game against the Blazers. Here's more on a pair of teams looking up at New York in the Atlantic standings.
- Last year's Gerald Wallace deal allowed the Blazers to select Damian Lillard sixth overall in the draft this past June, but if that trade hadn't happened, the Nets still wouldn't have Lillard, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Brooklyn's scouts weren't high on last year's draft class, and the team likely would have traded the pick elsewhere if Portland hadn't come along, a source tells Bondy, who adds that the Nets weren't close to trading for Paul Pierce at the deadline a year ago, either.
- SB Nation's Paul Flannery delivers a lengthy piece on Celtics assistant GM Ryan McDonough, examining his role in drafting Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, along with plenty of insight on the team's inner workings. The article deserves a look in full, particularly for Boston fans, and details someone who appears poised to take over an NBA front office sometime soon. "He’s very good at what he does," C's coach Doc Rivers said. "He’ll be a GM. There’s no doubt about that."
- Jared Sullinger's back had him red-flagged by NBA doctors before last year's draft, and even though the rookie is out for the season after undergoing back surgery, Rivers doesn't regret the Celtics taking him 21st overall, as Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer notes.
Rajon Rondo's season-ending ACL injury was expected to leave an opening for the ninth-seeded 76ers to make a move in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers have held up their end of the bargain so far, winning three of their last four games, but the Celtics have been playing well without their All-Star point guard, winning four in a row. With Boston off tonight, the Sixers will look to gain a half-game in the standings by handing the Magic their 10th straight loss. Here are a few other updates out of the Atlantic:
3:52pm: The Celtics have officially announced that Sullinger underwent successful lumbar disc surgery today. He's expected to be ready for training camp next season, according to the team.
2:32pm: Celtics forward Jared Sullinger will miss the remainder of his rookie year with a back injury, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. According to Wojnarowski, Sullinger will require season-ending surgery.
Leading up to last year's draft, Sullinger was medically red flagged by NBA doctors due to concerns about his back, which likely resulted in him slipping out of the lottery. The Celtics drafted the Ohio State product 21st overall, a pick that appeared to be a steal, but it seems that those concerns about his back were warranted.
For the Celtics, things go from bad to worse, as the Sullinger news comes less than a week after the team learned that Rajon Rondo has suffered a season-ending ACL injury. There was already speculation that the Celtics would need to make a roster move as a result of the Rondo injury, and Sullinger's injury makes it even more unlikely that the C's will be any sort of threat in the postseason this year — if they even qualify.
Chris Mannix of SI.com had reported earlier this week that rival teams considered Sullinger one of the Celtics' most attractive assets, though Mannix noted that Boston wasn't expected to part with him in a trade.
Even before we learned that Rajon Rondo was done for the year with a torn ACL, we expected to hear plenty of Celtics-related trade rumors leading up to next month's trade deadline. That number of rumors figures to exponentially increase now that Rondo's on the shelf, and we've rounded up a few of Monday morning's rumblings right here:
- We heard yesterday that the Grizzlies may have interest in Paul Pierce, but according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein (Twitter link), Memphis is unlikely to seriously pursue the longtime Celtic. The Grizzlies are hoping to add depth, shooting, and/or youth if they move Gay, so Pierce wouldn't be an ideal fit, tweets Stein.
- Stein adds (via Twitter) that the Celtics have shown exploratory interest in Gay but aren't likely to take on significant long-term salary.
- Stein gets the sense that Kyle Lowry is a probable target for Boston, but isn't sure whether or not the Celtics have the assets to land him (Twitter link).
- Multiple team executives tell Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link) that Jared Sullinger is considered the most-appealing Celtic, but Mannix says the C's aren't expected to part with the rookie forward.
- We also rounded up a number of Celtics-related rumors yesterday in the wake of the Rondo announcement.
The latest news and notes from around the NBA on Thursday night: