A year ago today, the Wizards were on the verge of announcing a contract extension for team president Ernie Grunfeld. After a disappointing season in which early-season injuries to John Wall and others killed Washington's chances of contending for a playoff spot, Grunfeld spoke to the media about the direction of the club. Michael Lee of the Washington Post and the Wizards' official Twitter account shared the highlights from Grunfeld, via Twitter....
The team will "have conversations" with Wall and his reps this summer to see if the two sides can work out a contract extension. Grunfeld stressed again that the Wizards want to keep the former first overall pick long-term and build around him.
The Pacers have called a "major" press conference for tomorrow morning, leading Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com and HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy to speculate that Paul George will be named the league's Most Improved Player (Twitterlinks). While we wait to find out exactly what the presser is about, here's more from around the Eastern Conference:
John Wall is eligible for an extension to his rookie-scale contract this summer, and has repeatedly expressed his belief that he's worthy of a max. J. Michael of CSNWashington.com wrote last month that "all the signals" indicate the Wizards would be open to such a deal. Now, Michael thinks Wall's recent comments suggest he'd be willing to take less if it meant greater flexibility for the team to pursue free agents.
C.J. Watson told Stefan Bondy he'd love to return to the Nets next season, though Bondy doesn't believe that will happen (Twitter link). Watson has a player option for the minimum salary next season, but if he opts out, the most the taxpaying Nets could offer would be 120% of the minimum under Non-Bird rights.
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio thinks former Kings and Warriors coach Eric Musselman would make sense for the Cavs, and points out that Musselman once offered Cleveland GM and fellow University of San Diego product Chris Grant a job on his staff in Golden State.
Here are a few more miscellaneous notes to pass along tonight:
With the Nets basketball operations staff on expiring deals,
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) wonders if Mikhail Prokhorov is preparing to offer Phil
Jackson an offer to run the team and make his own hires.
RealGM's Sham Charania mentions Nuggets assistant coach Melvin Hunt as someone who could draw interest from teams with head coaching vacancies (Twitter link).
Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs outlines a list of potential coaching candidates for the 76ers, mentioning team assistant Aaron Mckie, Villanova coach Jay Wright, Michael Curry(who will be interviewed for the head coaching job), Warriors assistant Mike Malone, and Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer as names that could be considered.
With the 2012/13 season officially over for 14 NBA teams, it's been a busy Thursday around the league, as teams look toward the offseason changes on the way in the coming weeks and months. Three EasternConferenceteams have parted ways with their head coaches, but that's not all that's going on in the conference today. Here are a few more Eastern updates:
Speaking to Philadelphia media today, Evan Turner said he believes he'll still be a Sixer next season, and that his name has come up in trade rumors because he has value. He added that he isn't worried about potential extension talks -- he'll be extension-eligible as of July 1st (Twitterlinks via Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com).
Sixers owner Josh Harris has confirmed that Philadelphia is in "advanced discussions" to buy a D-League franchise, tweets Moore. A report back in November suggested that the 76ers may be targeting the suspended Utah Flash team.
Ben Gordon can't see any reason to opt out of his contract for next season, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Considering his 2013/14 player option is worth $13.2MM, Gordon's stance is hardly a surprise.
Another player who would like to return to the Bobcats for 2013/14 is Josh McRoberts. However, Bonnell tweets that McRoberts "made it clear" money will be the biggest factor for him in free agency.
John Wall isn't planning on doing much recruiting this summer, telling J. Michael of CSNWashington.com that he's not going to "beg" free agents to sign with the Wizards (Twitter link).
Al Harrington, who has two half-guaranteed years remaining on his contract, recognizes he probably doesn't have a future with the Magic, but isn't 100% sure, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).
Blazers owner Paul Allen spoke to reporters this evening about the offseason for his team, which begins tomorrow, and it seems one decision will have to be made fairly quickly. Jared Jeffries is under contract for the next two seasons, but neither is guaranteed. Next season would become guaranteed if he's not waived by the fifth day following Portland's final game this season, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports. Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com believes it's likely that Jeffries won't be back, judging by the 31-year-old's lack of playing time this season, so it appears the Blazers could be cutting him loose soon. Jeffries wants to remain in the NBA next season, however, and tells Haynes that he'll be looking for more playing time wherever he winds up.
As we wait to learn the fate of Jeffries and others as the offseason begins for nearly half the league, there's plenty more NBA news:
Sam Amick of USA Today examines which coaches are most likely to be out of work soon, placing Mike Dunlap among those in the greatest danger of losing their jobs, along with Keith Smart, Byron Scott and Lawrence Frank. He also suggests that if Rick Adelman returns to the Wolves, GM David Kahn will as well, but if the coach isn't back, Kahn may be on the outs, too.
Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo insists to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun that he never tried to fire coach Dwane Casey this season, as Simmons had previously reported.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, speaking with the team's broadcasters during tonight's game, said retaining unrestricted free agent Martell Webster will be key, confirming a pair of recent reports. CSNWashington.com has the video, in which Leonsis also expresses a desire to keep John Wall long-term.
Executives around the league who spoke to Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game are widely split on how much O.J. Mayo could command if he turns down his $4.2MM option for next season. Some figure he can't expect much of a raise, and others believe he could easily make $10MM-$12MM (Sulia link).
Point guard Josiah Turner, who played professionally in Canada this year after leaving the University of Arizona, will enter the draft, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Neither DraftExpress nor ESPN.com rate Turner as a top 100 prospect.
Wizards players were among the many notables at the White House this morning for the annual Easter Egg Roll, and while Bradley Bealmade his pitch for lower taxes to President Obama, a couple of his teammates appear focused on other ways to keep their bank accounts in order. Here's the latest on Washington's team:
John Wall believes he's the ninth-best point guard in the league, but tries to explain to TNT's David Aldridge, who writes his Morning Tip column for NBA.com, why he believes he deserves a maximum-salary contract. "Well, I feel like I get what I deserve," the third-year point guard said. "I know what I play like. I think (the Wizards) understand what I've been through the first two years, having what I had. Not to talk bad on any of my teammates or any of the guys I've had. I just feel like some of them weren't very professional about their job. They didn't care about winning, to be honest."
Wall feels better about his teammates this year, and said Washington's acquisition of veterans in the offseason has helped him warm to the idea of a long-term commitment to the Wizards. All things being equal, Aldridge doesn't believe Wall is a max player, but given the circumstances in Washington, he thinks a five-year deal worth $68.75MM, which would make Wall the team's designated player, would fit the bill.
Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld also caught up with Wall, who offered further explanation on why he should get the max. "I’m not just going to base it on my play lately," he said. "I’m just talking about me in the future and how I want to change the organization around, making the playoffs and hopefully winning a championship here."
Unless Emeka Okafor wanted to risk a significant paycut to sign with a contender, there's been little doubt he would elect to stay with the Wizards for next season and collect his $14.488MM salary rather than exercise his early-termination option for 2013/14. Okafor confirms his plan is to stay in D.C., as J. Michael of CSNWashington.com observes.
Beal gave Grantland's Zach Lowe a wide-ranging interview that touched on his adjustment to the NBA and rumors earlier this season linking him to the Grizzlies in a potential Rudy Gay deal. "It is what it is. It’s a business. But I knew the (team) wasn’t going to trade me," Beal said.
Here are a few Wednesday afternoon odds and ends from around the Association:
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com takes an extensive look at the decision that will face LeBron James, along with the teams that hope to sign him, in the summer of 2014. While Windhorst suggests that the Heat, Cavaliers, Lakers, and Bulls are among the clubs that could be in the mix for LeBron in '14, he stresses that the former MVP himself has yet to make any decisions about whether he'll even opt out of his contract with Miami.
If the Cavs hope to recruit James or any other major free agent in the summer of 2014, they'll need to put a more competitive product on the court in 2013/14, says Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio.
Despite not being playoff-eligible, Raja Bell has continued to search for an NBA job, according to Shams Charania of RealGM.com (via Twitter). However, nothing has developed, and Bell appears likely to sit out the entire season.
John Wall continues to tell reporters that he feels he's worthy of a maximum contract, with Michael Lee of the Washington Post the latest scribe to get a quote from Wall on the subject. The Wizards point guard tells Lee he'd be disappointed if he can't work something out with the team before the 2013/14 season gets underway.
When we asked last night whether Wall deserves a max deal, the response was an overwhelming no. Lee's readers at the Washington Post agree, as their responses indicate.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford answers plenty of draft questions in his latest chat, noting that the situation at Kentucky will be very interesting to watch. Top recruit Julius Randleannounced today that he'll become a Wildcat, and three current freshman suggested yesterday that they're leaning toward returning to Kentucky for their sophomore years.
The NBA has hired former Nuggets and Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe as its vice president of basketball operations, the league announced today. Vandeweghe will report to executive VP of basketball ops Stu Jackson.
While he has certainly shown plenty of potential in his first three years in the league, the Wizards surely expected Wall to blossom into a star more quickly, similar to how Kyrie Irving has this year in Cleveland. As Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld points out, Washington has gone 18-15 since Wall returned and the lightning quick point guard has looked incredible in March, averaging 20.1 points, 7.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals while
shooting 52.4 percent from the field.
But Kennedy also notes that some people in NBA circles still have reservations about his jump shot and feel for the game - both of which were questions on Wall when he was at Kentucky. While his recent performance suggests he may be improving on those opportunity areas, he will need to do it consistently to convince everyone that is headed for stardom.
It sounds like Wall will get a max deal. But what do you think - is he worth it? Feel free to elaborate on your answer in the comments section.
There are only four games on the NBA schedule tonight. With anticipation for the NCAA Tournament ramping up, we should expect the NBA draft updates to pour in. Here are a few links from around the league and the college ranks:
Whether John Wall is worthy of a max deal is still up for debate, writes HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy. It was reported earlier today that all signs point to the Wizards offering Wall a max contract. Kennedy indicates that while Wall and the Wizards have been stellar since his return, plenty of evaluators still have their doubts that Wall can take the jump to legitimate stardom. Wall will become a restricted free agent after next season, but says he would prefer to sign an extension before that happens.
We heard earlier today that North Texas forward Tony Mitchell intends to enter this June's NBA draft. Our Luke Adams noted that Mitchell seemed to take a step back this year in his sophomore season. CBS College Basketball Insider Gary Parrish agrees, writing that Mitchell projected as a mid-to-late first rounder last year and that his sophomore season undoubtedly hurt his draft stock and could cost him millions.
While his playing time has been drastically reduced in his second season, Nets guard MarShon Brookshas made the most of a recent uptick in minutes, writes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. Assuming the Nets will continue to be aggressive in their pursuit of a title, Brooks, currently fifth in the team's guard rotation, could be a value trading chip down the line given the ability he showed as a rookie.
If you ever have the urge to check in on your favorite retired player, Sham Sports has a recently updated (and very entertaining) compilation of the whereabouts of former NBAers.
Last Monday, Grantland's Zach Lowe reported that John Wall believes he's "definitely" worthy of a maximum-salary contract following his rookie deal. Wall will be eligible for an extension beginning this July, and according to J. Michael Falgoust of CSN Washington, "all the signals" suggest the Wizards are open to offering a max deal.
Wall, 22, has only appeared in 33 games this season after being sidelined for the first two months, but is averaging career-highs in points per 36 minutes (18.2), assists per 36 minutes (8.7), FG% (.444), and PER (18.7). If he were to reach an agreement on a long-term extension with the Wizards, the team could lock him up for as many as five seasons, on a deal that would begin in 2014/15. Speaking to CSN Washington, Wall expanded on why he believes he's worthy of the maximum salary.
"I feel like I’m a max guy, just on how I am as a person. I
feel like I make my teammates better," Wall said. "I’m just a leader. I
like to lead and I feel like I can change the organization. That’s the
way we’re going with this team and how we've been playing lately."
Even if the Wizards and Wall don't finalize a contract extension during the coming offseason, the team will still have the opportunity to match any and all offers for Wall in the summer of 2014, when he becomes eligible for restricted free agency.