Julyan Stone, recovering from hip surgery, could be out until January, Nuggets coach George Karl tells Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. Stone's contract is only partially guaranteed for $100K, so it's possible the team decides to cut him, but Hochman stresses that the Nuggets "love" the second-year point guard, suggesting he's still part of their plans going forward. Here are a few more updates from around the NBA:
The Cavs have waived Kelenna Azubuike, the team announced via Twitter. Azubuike had a guaranteed minimum-salary deal, meaning the team is still on the hook for $1.07MM. Since his contract covered both 2011/12 and 2012/13, the Cavs have to pay him the full minimum amount based on his years of service, instead of the two-year veteran's minimum of $854,389. The move brings the team's roster down to 17 players.
Cleveland acquired Azubuike in a draft-night trade with the Mavericks, who had signed him in March for the rest of 2011/12 with a team option for 2012/13. The 6'5" shooting guard appeared in just three games for Dallas, scoring a total of seven points in 18 minutes. He saw a little more time with the team's D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, averaging 6.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 12.7 minutes over seven contests. Azubuike had his best days with the Warriors, starting 51 games and averaging 14.4 PPG and 5.0 RPG while shooting 44.8% from three-point range in 2008/09.
The decision to let go of Azubuike's guaranteed deal presumably opens up another roster spot for Micheal Eric, Kevin Jones or Samardo Samuels, all of whom have partially guaranteed deals, and Donald Sloan, whose contract is non-guaranteed. Daniel Gibson has a partially guaranteed contract, too, but the team would be obligated to pay him $2.49MM if they let him go, making him less likely to be cut.
As we heard earlier today, the NCAA is investigating agent Rich Paul and Myck Kabongo regarding a trip the Texas guard took to Cleveland this summer. Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson, who is represented by Paul, was involved in Kabongo's trip, but doesn't think any NCAA rules were violated, as Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal writes (on Sulia).
"I had to pay for it, but then his brother reimbursed me, which is totally fine with the NCAA," Thompson said. "I think everything will work out. I don't see no eligibility issues, but that's for the NCAA to figure out."
Here are a few more Thursday notes related to the Cavs:
- Jon Leuer doesn't appear to be in jeopardy of not making Cleveland's regular season roster, though he may face an uphill battle for minutes, says Bob Finnan of the News Herald.
- Leuer was traded by the Bucks this summer, waived by the Rockets, and eventually claimed by the Cavs on waivers, and says he was caught off guard by all the movement: "I didn't see that coming at all. Milwaukee needed a center and Houston had a million things going on. It was a pretty crazy offseason, kind of a welcome to the free-agency frenzy for a young player."
- The Cavs have 18 players on their roster and will need to cut three more before the season begins. Finnan expects the team to cut one of Donald Sloan or Jeremy Pargo, and one of Luke Harangody, Luke Walton, and Kevin Jones. It's unclear who the last cut could be — perhaps Kelenna Azubuike or Micheal Eric. Finnan suggests that Cleveland may also be willing to move Daniel Gibson for a second-round pick.
- As our list of non-guaranteed deals shows, Sloan, who appears to have a leg up on Pargo, is the only Cav under contract without any sort of guarantee. So Cleveland may end up releasing three players who are all owed guaranteed money.
John Reid of the Times-Picayune writes that Austin Rivers is on schedule to be fully healed in time for Hornets' training camp in October after undergoing surgery on his right ankle three weeks ago. The rookie joins a list of teammates, namely Xavier Henry and Robin Lopez, who are recovering from recent surgeries. Regardless, head coach Monty Williams looks to have all three ready by the time the regular season starts. With that aside, here are more noteworthy tidbits from around the Association:
- C.J. Miles elaborated more on the opportunity he has to expand his game with the Cavaliers, especially for a coach like Byron Scott, who believes that Miles has a lot of untapped potential (Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com reports).
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune tweets that former Timberwolves and Trail Blazers assistant Dean Cooper is headed to the Rockets to join Kevin McHale's coaching staff.
- Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (Twitter link) mentions that Cavaliers GM Chris Grant is encouraged about Kelenna Azubuike, who looks like he's moving well and could be a contributor this season.
- Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith that he'll return to the court "stronger than ever" this upcoming season.
- 76ers GM Rod Thorn acknowledges heightened expectations and says that Philadelphia fans appear to be especially excited because of the acquisition of Andrew Bynum, according to Dei Lynam of CSN Philly.
- Jenni Carlson of NewsOK thinks that James Harden is better suited to thrive in a small market city with the Thunder rather than be potentially distracted in what she terms "hot spots."
10:33pm: Kelenna Azubuike will also be sent to Cleveland in the deal, according to a Mavericks press release making the deal official.
8:13pm: We've finally got our first trade of draft night, as ESPN.com's Chad Ford reports that the Cavaliers have acquired the No. 17 pick from the Mavericks (Twitter link). The Mavs drafted Tyler Zeller at 17 for Cleveland, and will receive three selections in return — the Cavs' 24th, 33rd, and 34th overall picks (Twitter links via Ford).
You can follow the night's full draft results right here.
The Lakers officially exercised their option on Andrew Bynum yesterday, locking him up for the final year of his contract. Bynum's isn't the first option decision of the year — Beno Udrih has picked up his 2012/13 player option, while Dwight Howard famously waived his early termination option earlier in the season. Over the next few weeks, we'll hear about even more team, player, and early termination options, as teams prepare for the July free agency period. Listed below are a few key decisions to watch in the coming weeks….
- Deron Williams, Nets ($17.78MM player option): Okay, so there's no real drama here. But when Williams declines his player option, the biggest free agent of the 2012 market will be set to officially hit the open market.
- Lou Williams, 76ers ($5.35MM ETO): Williams is expected to exercise his early termination option, making him an unrestricted free agent. Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld reported last week that the Sixers guard may seek a deal similar to the five-year, $43MM contract Thaddeus Young signed a year ago. Will Philadelphia be willing to make that sort of offer, or will Williams sign elsewhere?
- Gerald Wallace, Nets ($9.5MM player option): Wallace turns 30 in July, so this summer may represent his best chance to sign one more big-money, long-term deal. Even if he doesn't match $9.5MM annually on a new deal, I expect him to take advantage of that opportunity and turn down this option in search of a multiyear contract.
- Brandon Bass, Celtics ($4.25MM player option): A solid contributor to the Celtics this season, Bass would certainly draw interest if he decides to opt out and test the open market. He has said he'd like to remain in Boston long-term, but opting out to renegotiate a new deal with the C's could complicate the team's offseason plans.
- Elton Brand, 76ers ($18.16MM ETO): For the 33-year-old Brand, waiving his ETO seems like a lock. The real question is what will happen after he picks up the final year of his contract — the Sixers still have the amnesty clause at their disposal, and the opportunity to clear $18MM+ off their cap figure in a single stroke may be too tempting to pass up.
- Ramon Sessions, Lakers ($4.55MM player option): Before the postseason, it seemed like a sure thing that Sessions would opt out and negotiate a new contract with the Lakers. But following a poor playoff performance, Sessions' future is less clear. If he declines his option in search of a new deal, I don't think there's any guarantee he re-signs with the Lakers. It's still probably the likeliest scenario, but given the number of point guards available this summer, L.A. figures to explore all their options.
- J.R. Smith, Knicks ($2.44MM player option): If Smith turns down his player option, he almost certainly won't be a Knick next year, so his decision will come down to how much he enjoys playing in New York. Because there's little doubt that he could find a more lucrative contract as a free agent.
- Mo Williams, Clippers ($8.5MM player option): Long-term security seems important to Williams, but it's hard to imagine him turning down an $8.5MM guarantee for next season, since he's unlikely to find that in free agency. His decision will affect how much flexibility the Clips have to pursue other free agents this summer.
- Jameer Nelson, Magic ($8.6MM player option): Like the Clippers' Williams, he'll likely only opt out if he can renegotiate a new deal with his current club. However, I think that's a more probable option in Nelson's case. He has talked about not wanting to always be on the trade block, so I think he'd be willing to take a pay cut for next season if it meant being locked up for the next two or three.
- Jamal Crawford, Trail Blazers ($5.23MM player option): Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports has reported that Crawford will decline his option, which makes sense. A team like the Clippers or Timberwolves that has been missing a viable two guard will likely make Crawford an attractive multiyear offer.
- Kelenna Azubuike, Mavericks ($993K team option): The money may not be significant, but with the Mavs trying to clear room to make a run at Deron Williams and other free agents, every million counts. Dallas signed Azubuike with an eye toward 2012/13, so it would be a little surprising if the team turned down its option, but it could be necessary if cap space gets tight.
Our complete list of outstanding team, player, and early termination options can be found here.
The D-League playoffs begin this week, and we'll keep track of today's news from that circuit as well as international developments here:
- Dallas has recalled Kelenna Azubuike from the D-League Texas Legends, according to a press release from the Mavs. Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com originally tweeted the news. The Mavs signed Azubuike March 23 and immediately sent him down to the Legends, where he appeared in seven games and averaged 6.4 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 12.9 MPG.
Here are a few Wednesday afternoon odds and ends from around the NBA:
- Josh Powell, who was thought to be drawing interest from a handful of NBA teams, has decided to play in Puerto Rico, as he announced on his Twitter account. According to Sportando, Powell will play for Brujos de Guayama.
- Lakers legend Magic Johnson will become the face of Los Angeles Dodgers ownership, after his bidding group reached an agreement to buy the MLB franchise for a staggering $2.15 billion. Check out MLB Trade Rumors' story for more details.
- Current Laker Andrew Bynum stirred up some drama when he was benched following a misguided three-point attempt, says Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Bynum, who will have his 2012/13 option exercised by the team, didn't seem to have any regrets: "I guess 'don't take threes' is the message, but I'm going to take another one and I'm going to take some more, so I just hope it's not the same result."
- Kelenna Azubuike won't play a significant role on the Mavericks' 2011/12 squad, but Dallas intends to exercise its team option for next season, barring a setback, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com writes.
- Jonathan Abrams of Grantland.com takes an interesting look at the next step for an NBA player when he finds out he's been traded.
- Byron Mullens is becoming a larger part of the Bobcats' future plans, according to an Associated Press report (via NBA.com).
- The Warriors will re-evaluate Stephen Curry in two weeks to determine if he's ready to ready to return to action, the team announced today. There's been speculation that Golden State would prefer Curry not play this season, in part because the team would like to retain its top-seven-protected pick that's ticketed for Utah. Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group hears that Warriors management wouldn't mind Curry sitting out the season, though they'd be happy to have him return to the lineup if he's healthy.
The deadline for players to be waived in order to be eligible for the playoffs with another team passed last night, and Chris Kaman, who would have been on the radar of just about every team needing a big man had he been bought out, is still with the Hornets. New Orleans "desperately" tried to trade him before last week's trade deadline, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, but didn't get a worthy offer. He'll be a free agent at season's end, and wants to sign with a contender then, Kennedy said. Here's the rest of what's shaking around the NBA:
- Guard Donald Sloan, who signed last week with the Cavs, gave reporters a little insight on his contract, as the end of this video on Cavs.com shows. His deal extends into next year, but is guaranteed only until the end of this season.
- Newest Mav Kelenna Azubuike, who drew raves from owner Mark Cuban last night, will start off with the Texas Legends, the Mavs D-League affiliate, notes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News.
- The Hawks expressed interest in trading for Ramon Sessions before the Cavs wound up dealing him to the Lakers, Kennedy tweets.
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel answered reader questions about the Heat. Despite this week's signing of Ronny Turiaf, much of the talk still revolves around the center position.
- Jason Fleming of HoopsWorld rounds up the players who could sign contracts worth as much as $10MM a year as free agents this summer.
- Syracuse sophomore guard Dion Waiters hasn't made up his mind about whether he'll enter the NBA Draft just yet, but he says the Spurs, Thunder and Jazz have called him in case he wants to give it a go, according to Adam Zagoria of SNY. He's projected to go in the middle of the first round, and could climb into the lottery, Zagoria writes.
The defending Southwest Division champs met the defending NBA champs tonight, with the first-place Spurs coming away with a 104-87 win, padding their lead as they seek a second straight division title. Here's more on two of the Southwest's top teams:
- Mavs owner Mark Cuban thinks his team's signing of Kelenna Azubuike will be a steal if his knee holds up, according to Mavs.com writer Earl K. Sneed. Cuban isn't sure if Azubuike will help the team this year, but has his eyes on the future, calling the team option for the second year "pretty much a lock" to be exercised (All Twitter links).
- Mavs coach Rick Carlisle didn't respond to questions about his future when asked about his contract, which expires at the end of the year, on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Galloway and Company. While Mavs GM Donnie Nelson indicated that the team intends to retain the coach, Tim McMahon of ESPN Dallas cites rumors linking Carlisle to the Blazers and suggests the Knicks and Clippers as possible destinations.
- The recent moves the Spurs have made aren't surprising to Carlisle, who's particularly intrigued by the acquisition of Patrick Mills and Boris Diaw, Tim Griffin of the Express-News writes.
- Diaw had to wait a week to sign with the Spurs because of visa issues, but he's been waiting much longer to fulfill his childhood dream of playing with fellow frenchman Tony Parker, according to Griffin. Diaw is Parker's best friend in the NBA, but the point guard didn't push the team to sign his buddy.
- ESPN's Marc Stein spoke with new Spur Stephen Jackson, who shared some revelations about his time with the Bucks and says he "never should have left" San Antonio after 2003.