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.
After paying a hefty price of Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and a first round pick to bring Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, the 76ers have had little to reap from that investment this season. Ben Bolch of the LA Times wonders if it will be worth the risk offering the one-time All-Star a new deal this summer, something that GM Tony DiLeo called the team's "Plan A" for the upcoming offseason. Here's the rest of what we've heard out of the Atlantic Division tonight:
Howard Beck of the New York Times clarifies that Amar'e's contract is uninsured in the event of a career ending eye or knee injury (Twitter link).
Led by Jrue Holiday, the 76ers remain three games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Significant help in the form of another all-star caliber player could be on the way within the next several weeks, as Andrew Bynum has continued to make progress toward his goal of possibly returning to practice next week, notes Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com. The 7'0 center has been plagued by bone bruises in both knees since the start of the season. With that aside, here are more news and notes from the Atlantic Division:
Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York reports that Nets GM Billy King will meet with owner Mikhail Prokhorov on Wednesday to discuss P.J. Carlesimo and the job he's done so far as the interim head coach. While Carlesimo has done an exceptional job after replacing Avery Johnson, Prokhorov is said to still be enamored with going after big names such as Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy in the offseason.
According to A. Sherrod Blakeley of CSNNE.com, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo will get a second opinion on his ACL injury from Dr. James Andrews, who is considered be arguably "the best orthopedic surgeon in the business."
Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun lays out the Raptors' top five pressing issues as they inch closer to the deadline, calling their interest in Rudy Gay the "most likely to come to fruition" rumor, examining the return of both Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunasfrom injury, Terrence Ross' progression into coach Dwane Casey's crunch-time lineup, and the continued acclimation of Landry Fields. With regard to Bargnani, Ganter thinks that Casey may have to provide a significant role at the expense of Ed Davis' minutes in order to showcase the 7-footer's health.
Eric Koreen of the National Post doesn't think that Gay is the cure-all answer for the Raptors, who still have many other important questions to answer regardless of whether they land him or not. Among those question marks involve the franchise's commitment to GM Bryan Colangelo, the need for more significant roster moves, and the struggles of point guard Kyle Lowry.
Doc Rivers doesn't appear too concerned about his players making an adjustment without Rondo, saying that a "no-point guard system" is something that the second unit has already found success with, writes Greg Payne of ESPN Boston.
When we asked on Saturday where you think Rudy Gay will finish the season, votes were fairly split, with many of you suggesting he'd stay in Memphis or that the Raptors were one of the top candidates to acquire him. With five and a half weeks still remaining before the trade deadline, we have a few Gay updates to pass along, including one related to those Raps, so let's dive right in....
The Grizzlies have tabled the idea of trading Gay for now, sources tell Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. One source indicates that the offers for Gay will probably get worse toward the trade deadline, and believes the team would be better off waiting until after the season to make another push to trade him.
Agent Mark Bartelstein tells Michael Lee of the Washington Post that he has spoken to both the Wizards and Grizzlies and that his client Bradley Beal has not been offered in any potential Gay deal. "The Wizards have made it very clear that they are not moving Brad Beal," said Bartelstein.
Gay is likely to remain in Memphis through season's end, unless the team receives a no-brainer proposal, according to Tillery.
Although Tillery writes that the Wizards may be open to including Bradley Beal in a package for Gay, Grantland's Zach Lowe tweets that, based on what he has heard, he'd be shocked if Washington moved Beal for Gay.
Michael Lee of the Washington Post confirms that the Wizards have had conversations with the Grizzlies about what it would take to acquire Gay, and hears from one source that they're "pushing for" the forward. However, Lee indicates that a Washington offer would likely include any of the team's recent first-round picks besides Beal and John Wall.
The Raptors' chances of acquiring Gay are dwindling fast, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, who says the asking price is too high for Toronto. Smith hears that Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas came up in conversations, which didn't interest the Raps. The Star scribe estimates there's only a 5% chance that more serious discussions occur between the two teams.
A pair of teams at opposite ends of the standings received news about their point guards that conflicts with the way their seasons have gone so far. John Wall told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that he's targeting sometime next month for his return to the Wizards from a left patella injury that's kept him out all season. Raymond Felton of the Knicks, meanwhile, told reporters, including Marc Berman of the New York Post (Twitter link), that he'll likely have surgery on his broken right pinkie finger that will keep him out four to six weeks. While we don't normally cover injuries at Hoops Rumors, we do so when an absence could have an effect on personnel moves, and there's news on a couple more guys whose health could signal change.
Raptors officials said that center Jonas Valanciunas will miss the next four to six weeks with a broken ring finger on his right hand, as Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes, which might complicate matters if the team intends to trade Andrea Bargnani anytime soon while remaining competitive this season. With Bargnani still recovering from a torn elbow ligament, Aaron Gray has become a starter.
Smith also writes that coach Dwane Casey has decided he'll keep Jose Calderon in the starting lineup even when Kyle Lowry returns from a torn right triceps muscle. Calderon has long been a trade candidate, but the team could dangle Lowry instead, as we heard earlier today.
The Timberwolves had contact with the Thunder about acquiring James Harden, but Minnesota was rebuffed, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. It's unclear how far talks got, but it's no surprise that the Wolves at least made an inquiry, as just about every team surely did this summer while Oklahoma City stared down the dilemma over whether to grant Harden an extension.
Despite the Knicks' early season success, one important question revolves around how Amare Stoudemire will integrate himself within the team's current chemistry once he is finally ready to return from injury. With that in mind, the answer to that question will have to be put on hold a little bit longer, as Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes that Stoudemire isn't quite ready to participate in games just yet. Coach Mike Woodson, who met with his forward earlier today, said that he'd like to see Amare go through more practice time and gave the impression that a return during the team's three-game road trip was unlikely. Here's the rest of what we've heard out of the Atlantic Division tonight:
Among the brighter spots of the Raptors' five game winning streak is Terrence Ross, who coach Dwane Casey insists is earning minutes out of merit rather than an attempt to develop him (Doug Smith of TheStar.com reports).
Ronnie Brewer has seen nearly a 33% drop in his three point percentages this month compared to November, though Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York writes that his shooting struggles aren't related to any lingering effects from the knee injury he suffered before the season started.
We heard earlier today that the Knicks assigned Amare Stoudemire to the D-League so he can get some practice time in prior to re-joining the NBA club this weekend. Mike Woodson isn't sure what his role will be when he comes back, but Stoudemire was confident on Tuesday that he and Carmelo Anthony will be able to play together effectively, writes Ian Begley. The Knicks are the only Atlantic team not in action tonight. Let's round up the divisional links here:
With the Raptors in Cleveland, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was asked aboutJonas Valanciunas by Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. Casey said that based on what he has seen so far, the reward should drastically outweigh the risk of using the No. 5 pick in the draft on a European player who didn't come to the States right away.
Similarly, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun tweets that he asked Tristan Thompson about the 7-foot Lithuanian. Thompson said that Valanciunas is a great player who should man the middle in Toronto for a long time. A large crowd of Lithuanian fans turned out in Cleveland for the game, tweets Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer.
Woodson gave his first honest answer regarding the departure of Jeremy Lin last night, tweets Marc Berman from the New York Post. Woodson believes that Lin left the Knicks, not the other way around, but is nevertheless content with how the additions of Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni have worked out.
Speaking of Woodson, his 36-12 start as Knicks head coach between this season and last has been the best in franchise history, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (via HoopsWorld). Not only does his coaching strategy differ from that of Mike D'Antoni, but so does his preference of veteran players, which has been key to the team's success.
The Raptors have completed just over a quarter of their season schedule, finding themselves tied with the Cavaliers for the second worst record in the Eastern Conference. Yesterday, we noted that GM Bryan Colangelo used the words "unacceptable" and "embarrassing" to describe his current thoughts on the team. During the first quarter of their game against the Clippers today, Colangelo followed up on those comments and touched upon other Raptors-related topics (Holly Mackenzie of Sportsnet.ca has the transcript). Here are some of the highlights:
On trade speculation:
"We were talking to a lot of teams, what we always do, and it's a means of pursing avenues to improve your basketball team so if a deal comes along that makes sense, that is right and fits within the plan of this building process that we've been going through, we'll certainly take a look at it. If it can accelerate that process and if it fits then we'll look to address something. But nothing specific about any player right now. There's been a lot of speculation, a lot of rumors. Again, we're continuing to look at opportunities."
"(Last year) it looked like he was putting up all-star numbers obviously for the first 15-18 games. He has not gotten back to that level. It looked that way early in preseason that he was coming back ready to become and perform at that level. But unfortunately we have not seen that consistency."
"(Ross is) a great talent and a number of the people I've talked to around the league think he's a great talent to have...he's been the recipient of some extra minutes because of some injuries. That's a good thing that will help us in the long run."
"(Valanciunas is) learning the nuances of what we're doing from a system standpoint, but also learning the game at the same time...Jonas is only 20 years old and really represents the future of this basketball team."
"We talked a lot about him getting off to a slow start because he didn't have the kind of development early that he needed early due to an injury and then also due to the lockout, but he had a great summer...But it really with him comes down to a focus on his effort level night in and night out."
On the team's struggles:
" I do not believe that it's a talent issue right now; I do believe that it's about a team coming together. We're very young, we've had some injury issues, we've got the schedule, but we're not making excuses, we know there are some things that are broken and need to be fixed right now, but again, it's a lack of focus and a lack of attention to detail, I think more than anything right now."
Through three days of the NBA season, most of the heavily hyped rookies have made their debuts. In particular, five have had standout first games as pros: New Orleans' No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, Washington's No. 3 overall pick Bradley Beal, Cleveland's No. 4 overall pick Dion Waiters, Portland's No. 6 overall pick Damian Lillard, and Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas, drafted in 2011. Charlotte's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist makes his debut tonight.
Which of the five rookies who have made an impact so far have impressed you the most?
10:56am: Suns president Lon Babby confirmed to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic that Phoenix had been engaged with the Thunder in trade talks for Harden, though he says that no proposal ever gained serious traction.
"We were engaged in discussions on numerous occasions," Babby said. "We most recently met in person when we played them [on October 19th]. At the end of the day, there wasn’t a deal that was
workable for both sides."
8:53am: According to Zach Lowe of Grantland.com, Thunder GM Sam Presti had at least "semi-serious" trade conversations involving James Harden with a number of teams before eventually accepting the Rockets' offer. Lowe says the Warriors, Jazz, Wizards, and Raptors were among the teams that Presti spoke to before sending Harden to Houston. We heard yesterday that the Suns also pursued a trade for Harden.
The Thunder were seeking a sure-thing player who was still in the first year or two of his rookie deal, according to Lowe. That means Presti figures to have inquired on players like Klay Thompson, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Bradley Beal, and Jonas Valanciunas. Lowe adds that the Thunder GM likely started the process by reaching out to the Hornets about Anthony Davis, though I imagine that conversation didn't last too long.
Here are a few more Harden-related links, as reactions continue to pour in on one of the year's most surprising trades:
Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman reports that the Thunder made a last-ditch offer to Harden on Friday, proposing a four-year, $53MM extension. The team gave him a one-hour window to accept it, telling him that if he turned it down, he'd be traded to Houston. According to Tramel's sources, Harden said he needed three days to make a decision, but because the Rockets wanted time to negotiate an extension before Wednesday's deadline, Presti stuck to the one-hour window.
The pieces the Thunder acquired for Harden are the same sort of assets the team used to initially build itself into a perennial contender, opines Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.
Members of the Spurs, a team the Thunder eliminated from the playoffs earlier this year, were surprised by the deal, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. "It's kind of weird to look at OKC and think of them without their Big
Three,"Danny Green said. "Things are different. Obviously
they're still going to be a good team."