Clippers coach Doc Rivers sits down with Harvey Araton of the New York Times to discuss the scrutiny that accompanied his exit from Boston and his willingness to accept the responsibility if things don’t go well in Los Angeles: “But when (the opportunity to coach the Clippers) presented itself, I thought, ‘Wow, this would be a unique situation for me…If there’s a mistake, it’s my fault. I don’t want to blame someone else. I want to blame me.”
Rivers also commented on how the free throw shooting struggles of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin has been somewhat of an achilles’ heel for the team in the past: “Blake and D. J., they missed a couple, and their whole game changed…Blake would stop driving, stop attacking, because he didn’t want to get fouled. D. J. didn’t even want to touch the ball. Then he would take all that defensive energy he had and throw it out of the game.”
Here are the rest of tonight’s miscellaneous links:
- Despite the tumultuous way in which their working relationship ended in Orlando, former coach Stan Van Gundy still thinks that the Magic should retire Dwight Howard‘s number, writes Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel (Subscribers only).
- Jazz camp hopeful Lester Hudson values his opportunity to stick in the NBA after being a career journeyman since entering the league (Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune). In another Utah-related piece, John Lucas III talks about being fueled to secure his NBA future after his international and D-League experiences: “Every time I step on the court, (I think), ‘I don’t want to go back to Italy. I don’t want to go back to Spain. Don’t want to go back to China (or the) D-League…I feel like I’m at home. I just have that in the back of my head all the time, so when I step on that court I give it everything I have” (Jody Genessy of the Deseret News).
- Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston answered a few questions from his readers in his newest edition of “Celtics Mailbag.”
- Bucks head coach Larry Drew spoke about the importance of having a veteran like Zaza Pachulia around the team, especially with their familiarity together stemming from their history in Atlanta (Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel).
A few random notes from around the NBA.
- ESPN.com's Marc Stein writes about Team USA and its long time head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who was wary of staying on to coach the team through the 2016 Olympics but now appears committed to the task.
- Grantland.com's Zach Lowe has further information on rookie guard Ricky Ledo's contract with the Mavericks. It's a four-year deal, with the last two years non-guaranteed, Lowe tweets.
- According to Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com, John Lucas III's contract with the Jazz is a two-year deal, with the second year being completely non-guaranteed. The first year is for $1.6MM.
- Also from Deeks, in a tweet, the Clippers currently have the highest total committed future salary in the NBA. The Mavericks have the lowest.
The Timberwolves have made it known that they intend to match any offer to restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic, but surprisingly no one has been willing to test their willingness to do so, writes Bill Ingram of HoopsWorld. Ingram argues that the Wolves already have a couple of players in Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio who expect to be max players in the near future, so it would at least be worth a try for a rival club. Here's more out of the Northwest Division..
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities speculates (via Twitter) that Pekovic's camp may be seeking a fifth year in negotiations with the Timberwolves. Flip Saunders is unlikely to go higher than four years though, according to Wolfson.
- More from Ingram, who writes that even though Nate Robinson isn't the type of player that is going to lead his team to the NBA Finals, he can still be a relentless spark plug for the Nuggets off of the bench. Robinson also comes at a bargain price, getting a two-year deal worth a little over $4MM.
- Guard John Lucas III told reporters, including Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune (via Twitter), that he has known GM Dennis Lindsey since he was "eight or nine", which helped steer him to Utah. The guard added (link) that his father sees Utah as an ideal place for him at this point in his career and he agrees.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.
JULY 22ND, 2:37pm: The Jazz have officially announced the signing of Lucas in a press release.
JULY 15TH, 4:05pm: Free agent point guard John Lucas III has informed his other suitors that he will sign with the Jazz, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The deal with Utah is set to be wrapped up sometime this week. Lucas is represented by Lee Basketball Services, according to the Hoops Rumors Agency Database.
Lucas spent last season with the Raptors where he averaged 5.3 PPG and 1.7 APG in 13.1 minutes per contest. Recently, we heard that Lucas was among the many point guards that the Knicks were considering this summer. Lucas has spent parts of five seasons in the Association with a three year intermission that took him through Spain and the D-League.
It sounds like the Knicks will fall short of landing Samuel Dalembert, who's close to a deal with the Mavs. As Knicks GM Glen Grunwald and company search for free agent help, they're limited to handing out no more than the $1.7MM portion of their mini mid-level exception that remains after the team used part of it to re-sign Pablo Prigioni. Still, the team has plenty of targets, as we detail:
- The Knicks are in the lead for Kenyon Martin, a source tells Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com. Since Martin played on the Knicks last season, the team can ink him using Non-Bird rights, but that would still provide a salary of no more than about $1.6MM.
- Nate Robinson, Aaron Brooks, Daniel Gibson, Charles Jenkins, John Lucas III, A.J. Price, Nolan Smith, Sebastian Telfair and Toure Murry are all point guards the Knicks are considering, Zwerling writes.
- Robinson would consider signing with the Knicks, but only if he doesn't receive a more lucrative offer from another team, reports Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. The team reached out to the diminuative point guard recently, but as we heard yesterday, a few other clubs have interest in him, too.
- Jerome Jordan, Liam McMorrow and Jeremy Tyler will draw close attention from the Knicks during the Las Vegas summer league, according to Zwerling. There's a "big chance" Tyler will draw an invitation to Knicks training camp, perhaps with a partial guarantee, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.
- Mike Woodson is intent on keeping Carmelo Anthony at power forward, prompting the club to search for a veteran small forward to use alongside him. Zwerling points to Raja Bell, Josh Childress, Dahntay Jones, Metta World Peace, Mickael Pietrus and Shawne Williams as some of the small forwards drawing the Knicks' eye.
- Al Harrington, who seems to be drawing close to a buyout from the Magic, is another Knicks target, Berman adds.
JULY 10TH, 11:58am: The Wizards have officially signed Maynor, according to the team (Twitter link).
JULY 1ST, 7:15pm: The deal will likely be a two-year pact for the bi-annual exception, with a player option in the final season, TNT's David Aldridge tweets. That would entail a starting salary of $2.016MM if Maynor gets the full value of the exception.
7:00pm: Eric Maynor and the Wizards have agreed to a multiyear deal, tweets Michael Lee of The Washington Post. The Wizards had been reaching out to reserve point guards, sources told HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy earlier today (Twitter link), and they had interest in Beno Udrih, Darren Collison and John Lucas III in addition to Maynor, according to Lee. They contacted the representatives for Maynor, Collison and Lucas, according to Lee's sources, and they've also reached out to Garrett Temple while keeping A.J. Price on their radar.
The Andy Miller client hit the unrestricted free agent market when the Blazers decided against making him a qualifying offer, but over the course of the spring both Maynor and Portland had expressed interest in a return. It was the drafting of C.J. McCollum seemed to signal the end for Maynor with the Blazers, The Oregonian's Joe Freeman noted.
Maynor's best days were as a backup to Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, but he had trouble getting back on track after a torn ACL caused him to miss much of 2011/12. The Thunder shipped him to the Blazers at the deadline this past season, and now Maynor will serve as a backup for John Wall in Washington.
With the July moratorium scheduled to be lifted tomorrow, free agent contracts can finally become official, and tomorrow should be a busy day, as teams and players formally finalize their agreements from the last nine days. However, there are still plenty of players on the market in search of a new team, or a deal with their old team. Here's the latest on a few of them:
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities tweets that the Timberwolves have spoken to Corey Brewer's reps, and Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune hears from a source close to Brewer that the Wolves "would love him" (Twitter link).
- The Bucks' interest in Jeff Teague is "undeniable," but it's not clear if the Hawks are ready to take back Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis in a sign-and-trade, says ESPN.com's Marc Stein (via Twitter).
- After passing along a handful of Knicks updates this morning, Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com provides a couple more. According to Zwerling, there's still mutual interest between the Knicks and Aaron Brooks, and the team also has some interest in Shawne Williams, though there's "nothing firm" there (Twitter links).
- Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports that John Lucas III met with the Jazz in Orlando yesterday, and hears from agent Bernie Lee that Lucas will meet with another team today in his hometown of Houston. According to Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune (via Twitter), four teams, including the Jazz, are interested in the free agent point guard.
- Before he agreed to sign with the Pistons, Italian forward Gigi Datome drew interest from the Celtics, Bucks, Rockets, Suns, Spurs, and Grizzlies, tweets Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
In between arguments about the relative merits of In-N-Out Burger, ESPN.com's Marc Stein has found time this afternoon to pass along several nuggets related to free agency. Here are the highlights from the ESPN.com scribe's Twitter account:
- The Nets are still targeting point guards, with Shaun Livingston and John Lucas III among the players on the team's radar, says Stein (via Twitter). The club lost C.J. Watson to the Pacers in free agency.
- Prior to agreeing to sign with the Spurs, Marco Belinelli had a more lucrative offer on the table from the Cavaliers, says Stein, adding that Belinelli couldn't resist the lure of the Spurs' "all-world operation" (Twitter link).
- There are "strong indications" that restricted free agent Gary Neal won't be returning to the Spurs, which is why the team moved quickly to bring Belinelli aboard, tweets Stein. According to Stein (via Twitter), Neal is receiving interest at a price point that San Antonio is reluctant to match.
A few bits of news scattered throughout the Western Conference:
The Raptors have elected to decline their team option on John Lucas III for the 2013/14 season, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein (via Twitter). The decision will make Lucas an unrestricted free agent next week, and Stein believes the veteran point guard could end up back in Chicago, where he played before joining the Raptors last summer.
Lucas' team option for next season was worth a modest amount, about $1.57MM, so it's a little surprising that Toronto turned it down. The decision leaves Kyle Lowry as the only real point guard left on the Raptors' roster, since Sebastian Telfair is also headed for free agency, so that figures to be an area the team will focus on in July.
In 63 games with the Raptors, Lucas averaged 5.3 PPG and 1.7 APG while playing 13.1 minutes per contest.