With the season barely underway, should teams getting off to a slow start be concerned? HoopsWorld ran down the league’s winless club and assessed their own level of concern. The writing staff isn’t too worried about the Jazz as they’re anxiously awaiting the return of highly touted point guard Trey Burke. The level of concern for the 0-2 Nuggets is at medium since they’re not at full strength at this stage. Meanwhile, it could be time to worry in D.C. as the Wizards are 0-3 and can’t blame a John Wall injury for their slow start. Here’s tonight’s look around the league as the Celtics failed to get in the win column..
- Kendrick Perkins took to Twitter tonight to clear the air on his tweet from earlier today where he said it was “time for a change“. ”Let me clear something up. I wasn’t talking about leaving OKC. I was talking to some of my family members. I love playing here,” tweeted the Thunder big man.
- Rudy Gay is working to recapture his budding stardom with the Raptors, writes Shams Charania of RealGM. Meanwhile, the forward refutes any notion that the Grizzlies were a better and more savvy team without him on the court.
- The Los Angeles D-Fenders, the D-League affiliate for the Lakers, announced that Luke Walton will join the team as a player development coach. Walton says that he still hopes to continue his playing career and his arrangement with the D-Fenders will allow him to work out with the team and stay in shape.
- Bucks rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo readily admits that he has outpaced his own expectations for his basketball career, writes Sean Deveney of Sporting News. “Let me tell you the truth: No. I did not think I would be in the NBA, it was just a dream. How could I think this would happen? And happen now? But I am here now. So I am happy,” said the rookie.
The Celtics‘ D-League affiliate in Maine has acquired a pair of players who were in NBA camps last month, according to a release from the team. 2013 Magic draftee Romero Osby and Bobcats camp invitee Abdul Gaddy are now on the Red Claws’ roster. While the deals ensure that Boston’s D-League team will get a first-hand look at the two young players, there’s nothing stopping either player from signing with an NBA team besides the Celtics.
Let’s round up a few more odds and ends as the NBA regular season enters its second week….
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star is the latest writer to dismiss a rumor connecting Steve Nash and the Raptors, tweeting that it took “about four minutes” to debunk.
- While he quickly removed the tweet, Kendrick Perkins said last night after playing a season-low 16 minutes against the Suns that it “might be time for a change.” Royce Young of Daily Thunder passes along a screenshot of the deleted tweet.
- Tom Ziller of SBNation.com predicts the Wizards‘ Randy Wittman will be the first head coach fired this season, and suggests three potential replacements for Washington. Sam Smith of Bulls.com also identifies Wittman’s seat as the hottest among NBA coaches.
- Quincy Douby was drafted 19th overall in 2006, but only lasted three seasons in the NBA before bouncing around among several international teams over the last few years. Now, he’s back in America and will play for the Sioux Falls Skyforce to start the D-League season. As he tells Yannis Koutroupis of HoopsWorld, Douby is hoping the skills and maturity he has developed overseas will help him land an NBA job.
- A subpar group of 2014 free agent point guards will ensure that Eric Bledsoe and Greivis Vasquez make out well on their next contracts, despite not inking extensions last week, writes Chris Bernucca of Sheridan Hoops.
- Oliver Braun, the GM of the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig in Germany, spoke to a German outlet about the tumultuous negotiations with the Hawks over Dennis Schröder‘s buyout, and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando provides a translation of some of Braun’s comments.
- Mark Porcaro of Secret Rival breaks down the offseason player movement among the NBA and the leagues considered to be the top European domestic leagues.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens reaffirmed yesterday that there is no timeline for the return of star guard Rajon Rondo, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. While former teammate Paul Pierce and current teammate Jared Sullinger have hinted that he might not return until December, Stevens insists there is no target date at the moment. While his ETA is TBD, Stevens says Rondo is keeping things positive. "My general sense is that he’s really excited," said Stevens. "He is excited about the challenge of the new season, he’s excited about the challenge of a new situation. He seems to be excited. I don’t want to speak for him, and I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but every time we’ve talked it’s been a really engaging conversation." Here's more from the Atlantic Division..
- Stevens' predecessor, Doc Rivers, acknowledged that the 2011 Kendrick Perkins-Jeff Green trade was a mistake that ultimately hurt Kevin Garnett, writes Justin Barrasso of WEEI.com. “We needed the toughness. The one thing we did by losing Perk was we removed Kevin’s protector. I didn’t think it was a coincidence that, after Perk left, that Kevin got into all those little flicks with the other teams. Perk deflected all that," Rivers said.
- The Raptors will have 17 players in camp, including Julyan Stone and Chris Wright, but that's far from a guarantee that Toronto will go with the maximum 15 players to start the season, writes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. Currently, GM Masai Ujiri has the roster at 14.
- The Sixers announced that they appointed Brandon D. Williams as the first ever GM of the D-League's Delaware 87ers. Williams has spent the last eight seasons in the NBA’s League Office, most recently as the NBA’s Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations.
The specific figures on several of this summer's contracts continue to trickle in, so we'll keep passing along any notable details or changes related to those deals. Here's the latest:
- Chris Andersen will be getting the minimum salary in his deal with the Heat, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports (Twitter link). Previous reports indicated he'd receive 120%, the most the Heat could give him via Non-Bird rights.
- Eric Pincus updated several team salary figures at HoopsWorld, including the Pacers, Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Knicks, Thunder, Magic, 76ers, and Suns.
- Nick Young's deal with the Lakers includes a 15% trade kicker, tweets Pincus.
- According to Pincus, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Carmelo Anthony, and Kendrick Perkins all saw their cap hits for next season increase or decrease, based on having met or failed to meet incentives (all four Twitter links).
- While most of this year's first-round picks will sign for 120% of their rookie-scale amount, it appears Thunder first-rounder Andre Roberson signed for just 80% of his, tweets Pincus.
- It seems as if Dwight Buycks received a portion of the Raptors' mid-level exception rather than the minimum salary. Deeks tweets that he'll get a guaranteed $700K from Toronto. Buycks reportedly signed a multiyear deal, so it's not clear if his second-year salary exceeds the minimum or includes a guarantee.
A few notes from around the NBA's Western Conference
We rounded up the morning updates on the draft earlier today, and passed along a few of the day's more notable draft-related rumors in their own separate posts. Now, a few more afternoon updates, with just over 24 hours to go until the 2013 draft:
- If the Thunder are able to trade up and acquire a top-five pick, their primary target figures to be Alex Len, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. According to Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio (via Twitter), Oklahoma City is likely dangling its two first-round picks (Nos. 12 and 29), along with Kendrick Perkins and perhaps its second-rounder (No. 32).
- The Hawks are working out Jeff Withey, Kelly Olynyk, and Grant Jerrett in Atlanta today, tweets Wojnarowski.
- Sean Deveney of the Sporting News writes in his latest rumor roundup that it's appearing more and more likely that the Cavaliers will keep the first overall pick.
- Some sources believe that the Thunder won't let Deshaun Thomas get past them at No. 32 tomorrow night, according to Amico. However, many executives believe Thomas could go as high as No. 19 or as low as the mid-second-round.
- Archie Goodwin's stock appears to be slipping as tomorrow night approaches, says Amico, adding that there's an outside chance he may not even get drafted.
- The Clippers are said to be high on Allen Crabbe and it's possible he'll still be on the board at No. 25 for L.A., says Amico.
Following the Thunder's second-round loss to the Grizzlies, one player under the microscope is Kendrick Perkins, whose postseason stat sheet featured as many turnovers (24) as points (24) and nearly as many fouls (39) as rebounds (41). With two years and about $18.63MM left on his contract, Perkins would appear to be a prime amnesty candidate, but GM Sam Presti doesn't seem to be seriously weighing that option.
"We just haven't considered using the provision," Presti said, according to Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman (Twitter link). "We think Perk has a lot of value to our team."
Besides Perkins, the Thunder still have three more amnesty-eligible players on the roster. Kevin Durant, of course, won't be amnestied, and Nick Collison and Thabo Sefolosha appear unlikely candidates as well, considering they're both on inexpensive deals and continue to contribute positive minutes.
That leaves Perkins as the most logical candidate, though Oklahoma City could always let its amnesty provision go unused. If Perkins were to be amnestied, the Thunder would need to find another frontcourt player in addition to paying Perkins. Clearing the big man's $8.98MM cap hit also wouldn't create much, if any, cap space to sign a replacement, since the team already projects to be well over the cap next season.
We'll see what happens when this year's amnesty week begins on July 10th, but for now it looks like Perkins will stay put. Assuming he remains in Oklahoma City for all of next season, he'd be amnesty-eligible one more time in July 2014.
Earlier this week, Dirk Nowitzki addressed the Mavericks' desire to bring some major talent on board this summer in free agency, going into a little detail about the pitch he expects potential targets to receive. Nowitzki spoke about the same topic today, reiterating that it's "pretty obvious" he'll be in line for a pay cut in the summer of 2014, which will allow the team to flexible in handing out bigger-money contracts to other players. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News has the details and the quotes from Nowitzki.
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the Western Conference:
- Although he's the likeliest amnesty candidate on the Thunder's roster, Kendrick Perkins told reporters, including Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman (Twitter link), that he's "pretty sure" he'll still be on the team next season.
- Derek Fisher also told the media, including Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link), that he'd like to return to the Thunder, adding that he isn't considering retirement yet.
- If the Lakers explore the free agent market this summer, they'll likely be shopping for bargains. Jovan Buha of ESPNLosAngeles.com identifies a few potential targets for the club.
- With the Spurs and Pacers each one win away from their respective Conference Finals, Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News recalls the Kawhi Leonard/George Hill swap consummated by the two teams, calling it "the definition of a win/win trade."
1:02pm: Coro follows up on his initial report, tweeting that apparently talk of a deal between the Suns and Thunder was just a "league rumor" during the All-Star break, rather than the two sides actually talking about it. So it sounds as if there's nothing to this one.
12:31pm: The proposed Gortat/Perkins deal is "not going to happen," according to John Gambadoro of 620 KTAR in Phoenix (via Twitter).
7:34am: According to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, the Thunder have been exploring a deal with the Suns that would send Marcin Gortat to Oklahoma City. In the hypothetical trade, the Suns would receive Kendrick Perkins, Jeremy Lamb, and a first-round pick from the Thunder in exchange for Gortat and P.J. Tucker.
Coro writes that the Suns would have some interest in Perkins, who would fit the team's new defensive culture, and that Phoenix likely would have drafted Lamb 14th overall last June had the Rockets not taken him two spots earlier.
Perkins' contract, which is more expensive and lasts a year longer than Gortat's, isn't viewed as a favorable one, and Lamb's stock may have fallen a little since last summer, so I'd imagine the first-round pick in the deal would be Toronto's pick. That choice, acquired by the Thunder in the James Harden trade, figures to be more valuable than any of Oklahoma City's own picks or the Mavericks' heavily-protected first-rounder.
Still, according to Coro, it's not likely that the Suns pull the trigger on a deal with the Thunder. Coro reports that it's more likely Phoenix simply stands pat to protect its future first-round picks and cap space, which should give the club room for a max free agent this summer. Small deals involving players like Sebastian Telfair or Jermaine O'Neal are also possible.
It's been nearly two years since Kendrick Perkins was traded to the Thunder by the Celtics, and while he took some time to adjust to the change of scenery, the big man is very happy to be in Oklahoma City. Perkins tells Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld that he hopes to remain with the Thunder long-term, even beyond when his current contract ends.
"I love it here," Perkins said. "It is a business, so I have to make sure I do my job and we do our job, and that’s trying to win a couple of championships. Then, the rest will take care of itself. But yes, I would love to stay here and finish my career here."
Perkins has three years remaining on his current deal, which is set to expire in the summer of 2015. Although Perkins has been mentioned as a possible trade or amnesty candidate, October's trade of James Harden makes it more viable for Oklahoma City to keep the big man on its books, since the team won't be facing a big tax hit for a Harden extension.
When the Celtics sent Perkins to Oklahoma City in February of 2011, he reportedly took the news hard, having spent his entire career in Boston to that point. However, with his second full season in Oklahoma City underway, the 28-year-old has come to feel at home with the Thunder, as he tells Kennedy.
"We have a group of young guys that love hanging around each other," Perkins said. "We’ve built relationships off the court that carry over on the court. It’s like a family. We all got each other’s back and we all support each other at all times. On any night, it can be any guy’s night to have 20 points and we’re happy for the next man because we’re all close."