With the racism scandal still fresh in Atlanta, Hawks GM Danny Ferry‘s former teammate Tim Duncan came to his defense, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. Duncan acknowledged during a radio interview that Ferry made a mistake in his comments regarding Luol Deng, but denied Ferry had an issue with race. Duncan said, “Knowing Danny, he’s not what everybody’s saying about him. He’s not a racist.”
Here’s more from the east:
- Bucks second-year player Giannis Antetokounmpo is embracing the team’s experiment of moving him to point guard, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. On Milwaukee asking him to change positions, Antetokounmpo said, “I’m not going to say I was shocked by it. It’s something that I feel comfortable with and I’ll play wherever Coach wants me to play, especially when it’s Coach Kidd who thinks that I can play point guard. That makes me feel like, ‘I can play it. I can play point guard.’ I’m going to try my best and just listen to Coach. I’ll do whatever Coach says to do and I’ll get more comfortable.”
- During an interview with Reggie Miller regarding injured Pacers swingman Paul George, team president Larry Bird said that despite his star player’s horrific injury, he would still like George to return to Team USA, Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star relays. “I hope so. That’s one of his goals,” Bird said. “He wants to play for Team USA. I think that any kid that gets the opportunity to do that and they want to play for their country, they should have that opportunity. And I think Paul will be there in Brazil (Olympics).”
- In their season preview the staff at HoopsHype predict that the Raptors will repeat as champs in the Atlantic Division.
- Despite last season ending with his potential game-winning shot being blocked by Paul Pierce in the playoffs, the Raptors‘ Kyle Lowry showed significant growth on and off the court, writes Jonathan Abrams of Grantland in his profile of the player and his career.
Speaking at a charity event on Thursday night at the Barclays Center, Carmelo Anthony indicated he’s that he was close to leaving the Knicks this offseason, writes Ian Begley of ESPN New York. Melo did add that he’s optimistic about the new-look roster built under Phil Jackson‘s direction, though he acknowledged that the Eastern Conference improved this summer.
Here are some other notes from around the league:
- Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report cites a source close to Klay Thompson that says the Warriors‘ guard is angry that he was dangled as trade bait for Kevin Love over the summer. In his piece, Bucher examines the idea that Golden State alienated Thompson and David Lee, though he was unable reach Lee or sources close to him.
- Looking towards the 2014/15 version of the Raptors, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders likens Kyle Lowry to Rajon Rondo, comparing the the four-year, $48MM deal that Lowry signed with Toronto this summer to the five-year, $55MM deal that Rondo inked in 2009. The common thread, Hamilton writes, is that both lucrative pacts, while based off small samples, were awarded to point guards that had the potential to justify them.
Based upon the initial reaction in the Toronto media, it seems like Raptors CEO Tim Leiweke will be missed after news broke this week that he will eventually leave the organization. Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun partially credits Leiweke with landing current GM Masai Ujiri, who last season built the first Raptors team to make the playoffs in six years. Wolstat also points to the 2016 All Star Game, which Toronto will host, and the team’s new practice facility as coups that have Leiweke’s fingerprints all over them. Meanwhile, Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post lauds the CEO for cultivating the organization’s relationship with hip hop star Drake and also writes that Leiweke played a role in retaining star guard Kyle Lowry.
Let’s see what else is going on around the NBA on Thursday evening:
- As Tom Moore of Calkins Media points out (via Twitter), Luc Mbah a Moute is slated to make about $4.4MM for the Sixers in 2014/15 while Alexey Shved will make about $3.2MM. Meanwhile, Thaddeus Young will earn around $9.2MM this season for the Timberwolves and has a $9.7MM player option for 2015/16.
- Assuming the trade is finalized as reported, Moore reminds us that Jason Richardson, still recovering from a knee injury, and Arnett Moultrie are now the longest tenured Sixers, appearing in 92 games combined. Hollis Thompson, who has played 77 games in Philly, will have the most time on the court (Twitter link).
- Appearing on ESPN 103.3 in Dallas on Thursday, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban discussed Shawn Marion‘s decision to sign with the Cavaliers. “He wanted to go to somebody that he thought, and this was all prior to signing Chandler Parsons and everything, that he thought was closer to a ring particularly in the Eastern Conference. He decided to go that route and we wish him nothing but the best,” Cuban said. (quote via The Dallas Morning News)
Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders runs down many of the players returning to college next year who have first-round potential in the 2015 draft. Here’s more from around the association:
- Highly touted 2015 draft prospect Emmanuel Mudiay will receive a $1.275MM salary from Guangdong of China, according to Pat Forde and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. That’s a little bit more lucrative than the $1.2MM figure that was originally reported when he signed with the club.
- Chris Bosh admitted he was close to leaving the Heat as a free agent when being interviewed by The Ticket 104.3 FM in Miami (transcription via ESPN.com). “It was close. I’m not going to lie,” Bosh said. “It was a weird situation because we were waiting so long [on LeBron James' decision] and I didn’t know what was going on. I think you’re always in a situation where it is close even if you don’t leave because teams got very aggressive on me.”
- Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report details Kyle Lowry‘s long and unexpected path to re-signing with the Raptors, who almost traded him in-season, then weren’t the favorites to bring him back as a free agent this summer. “[The Raptors] weren’t always the favorite, but [GM Masai Ujiri] wanted to get the deal done, and it made it a lot easier,” Lowry told Zwerling. “[Lowry's agent and I] approached it as a business and so did [Toronto]. At the end of the day, I didn’t wait for [the other teams]. I wanted to make my decision for myself.”
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
There won’t be a decision from Pau Gasol anytime soon as to where he will be signing, reports David Aldridge of NBA.com. This is despite the pleas and pitches he has received from Carmelo Anthony and numerous teams, notes Aldridge.
More from around the league:
- Gasol will meet with Heat president Pat Riley and coach Eric Spoelstra in Los Angeles, a source tells ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne.
- The Lakers have interest in re-signing Xavier Henry, tweets Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. Medina also notes that signing Anthony is the team’s top priority.
- Caron Butler is drawing strong interest from multiple teams but is likely to choose between Heat, Lakers or Spurs, reports Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times (Twitter link).
- The Hornets have not approached point guard Ramon Sessions about a possible return to Charlotte, reports Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).
- The Heat, Bulls, Mavericks, and Rockets have all expressed interest in signing Shawn Marion, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com.
- MacMahon also writes that the Mavericks best chance of landing restricted free agent Chandler Parsons is if Anthony signs with the Rockets.
- Now that the Raptors have re-signed Kyle Lowry, they will turn their focus to retaining the services of Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, writes Eric Koreen of The National Post.
- The Knicks have inquired about Pelicans free agent center Jason Smith, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post.
- According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (Twitter link), the Celtics, Clippers, Mavericks, Timberwolves and Heat have reached out to free agent Kris Humphries.
What happens with the Heat this summer will prove pivotal to teams around the league, and while LeBron James largely holds the keys, team president Pat Riley isn’t sitting idly as he attempts to improve the roster with the hope his star returns. Here’s the latest from South Beach:
- The Heat are “extremely interested” in Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng, Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick writes, adding that signing them would require both to tamp down their salary demands. Ariza’s camp has made it clear that he wants much more than $8MM a year, Skolnick hears.
- Miami indeed inquired about the availability of Lance Stephenson, Skolnick adds in the same piece, confirming a report by ESPN’s Dan Le Batard, but they didn’t come close to matching the five-year, $44MM offer from the Pacers that the shooting guard reportedly turned down.
- The Heat never made an offer to Kyle Lowry or Marcin Gortat, a source tells Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, and Miami never made either a priority, as Skolnick writes in his piece. The Heat believe that agents have been overstating Miami’s interest in some players as a means of driving up the value of their clients, and they’re even more frustrated with the high price of some of the deals so far in free agency, Skolnick hears. They had interest in Jodie Meeks and Avery Bradley, but not for the money they received, as the Bleacher Report scribe adds.
- The Heat never had a legitimate shot with mid-tier considerations like Lowry and Gortat anyway, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who hears that they’re going after Anthony Morrow. The Thunder are also pursuing Morrow and the Magic had been, too, before they reached their deal with Ben Gordon, Stein adds (All Twitter links). The Heat have had Morrow on their radar for quite some time, Skolnick tweets.
JULY 10TH: Lowry has officially re-signed, the team announced via press release.
“We made it known that our top priority heading into the offseason was to re-sign Kyle,” GM Masai Ujiri said in the team’s statement. “He was a key to our success last season and we are delighted that he wants to be here in Toronto to help us continue to build a championship program.”
JULY 2ND: Kyle Lowry has agreed to a four-year, $48MM deal to stay with the Raptors, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Lowry has been heavily courted by the Heat, Rockets, and others, but it appears that he’ll be staying put with the club that helped resurrect his career. The deal includes a player option for the fourth year (link).
It was expected that the Raptors would pitch Lowry on a deal with an average annual value of $12MM a year but the club was reportedly considering making it a five-year offer to help keep him away from other suitors. For one reason or another, a fifth year wasn’t necessary and the Raptors got to keep their standout guard on a deal that is probably much more comfortable for them. This is strictly speculative on my part, but the opt out clause after year three could have been the compromise that kept Lowry satisfied with four years rather than five.
The Andy Miller client had significant interest from an impressive group of teams including the Heat, Rockets, Lakers, and Mavericks but he’s slated to stay north of the border for at least the next three seasons. It’s easy to see why. After averaging 10.6 PPG and 5.0 APG for the first seven years of his career, Lowry blossomed into a star last year for Toronto, putting up 17.9 PPG and 7.4 APG. The 28-year-old led Toronto to the Atlantic Division crown and although they were bounced by the sixth-seeded Nets in the first round, the Raptors organization reinvigorated Toronto’s basketball fans.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
WEDNESDAY, 2:50pm: Bosh is seeking a deal worth $16-18MM, a source tells Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (Twitter link).
TUESDAY, 4:00pm: Agent Henry Thomas, who reps both Wade and Bosh, told TNT’s David Aldridge that the salary figures reported for his client are inaccurate (Twitter link).
3:28pm: Ken Berger of CBSSports.com and Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report put the brakes on the idea of such deep discounts, having heard that Bosh and Wade aren’t expected to accept figures quite so low (Twitter link).
2:44pm: The Heat are telling free agents that they have more than $12MM to spend, indicating that Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh or both are willing to take major discounts, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. The Oregonian’s John Canzano hears Bosh is set to sign a five-year deal worth $11MM in the first year, while Wade will get a four-year deal starting at $12MM. Grantland’s Zach Lowe hears those figures are $12MM for Bosh and $10MM for Wade (Twitter links).
Those numbers, together with the maximum deal that LeBron James is insisting upon, would appear to give the Heat even more flexibility, since LeBron’s max is projected to be around $22MM. That would leave the Heat with $44-45MM or so in commitments, not counting roster charges and the cap hold for first-round pick Shabazz Napier. The salary cap is projected to come in at $62.3MM, so it seems Heat president Pat Riley is leaving room for a player or two at above the minimum salary in addition to a $12MM acquisition. That might come in the form of a signing at the value of the $2.732MM room exception.
The Heat are trying to arrange a meeting with Kyle Lowry today, according to Windhorst, who also suggests the team could go after Marcin Gortat (Twitter link). The Heat reportedly see Luol Deng and Lowry as their top free agent targets from outside the team, and while Deng is unwilling to take a discount to sign in Miami, $12MM appears to be close to market value.
WEDNESDAY, 7:59am: Lowry wants nothing less than a deal worth $40MM over four years, sources tell Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, who hears the Raptors would be comfortable at four years, $44MM. That’s less than the $12MM a year that Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported earlier that the Raptors would offer, but the key may be whether Toronto extends its offer to a fifth year, as Grange suggests and as Stein reported that the team is considering
TUESDAY, 10:00pm: Lowry’s bidders include the Raptors, Rockets, and Lakers. The Heat have not progressed their talks with him, however, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.
9:08pm: Guard Kyle Lowry told the Raptors today that he’ll take a few days to make up his mind, tweets David Aldridge of NBA.com. The Raptors, meanwhile, are still confident that they’ll retain the point guard. “He knows us, and we know him,” a source said.
Lowry has been an extremely popular guy over the last ~22 hours. A number of clubs have reached out to the 28-year-old, including the Heat. Miami is reportedly telling clubs that they have about $12MM to spend, which is in line with the reported offer that the Raptors are making to Lowry.
Toronto, meanwhile, was said to be thinking about making a five-year offer to the veteran. It’s not known for certain if the Raptors went through with that pitch in their meeting with Lowry in Philadelphia earlier today.
The Heat‘s infatuation with free agent guard Kyle Lowry has been well documented, but the Big Three haven’t been actively recruiting him, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. More from the Southeast Division..
- Josh McRoberts‘ agent tells Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer that there’s mutual interest between his client and the Hornets. “Quite a few teams have expressed” interest, Mike Conley Sr. said in a phone interview. “We haven’t gone into any in-depth discussions yet, but we know how the Hornets want him.”
- The Hornets approached Shaun Livingston about a possible return to Charlotte, a knowledgeable source tells Bonnell. Livingston played for Charlotte in the 2010-11 season when they were under their maiden Bobcats moniker.
- Kent Bazemore has heard from the Hawks, Celtics, Mavs, Lakers, Suns, and Bulls, tweets Jeff Caplan of NBA.com. Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops (Twitter link) adds the Spurs to that list.