Mike Woodson has had little contact with Knicks president Phil Jackson, and a source close to the coach believes he knows he’ll be fired, reports Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Woodson’s assistants have been given no assurances of their future, and if Woodson is fired, all but Herb Williams seem certain to lose their jobs, too, Isola adds. With a coaching change seemingly on the horizon, here’s more on the Knicks and their Atlantic Division rivals:
- Carmelo Anthony‘s longtime teammate J.R. Smith isn’t worried about the prospect that ‘Melo will head elsewhere and is confident he’ll re-sign with the Knicks this summer, as Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com observes.
- The Raptors are so deep into plans to move forward with soon-to-be free agent Kyle Lowry on the roster next season that Lowry would be “derailing the train” if he were to sign elsewhere, writes Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail.
- Shaun Livingston, also set to hit free agency, will be a priority for the Nets this summer, and he hasn’t been disappointed with his experience in Brooklyn, as Dave D’Alessandro of NJ.com notes. “I like where I’m at, let’s put it that way,” Livingston said. “This year’s been everything I could have asked for.”
The Knicks won tonight but their playoff chances took a hit when the Hawks also were victorious, reducing their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to one. New York has had its share of issues this season, but the one that sunk the team the most was the trade for Andrea Bargnani, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Besides acquiring his large and difficult to trade contract, the team could have potentially used the 2016 first rounder they gave up for Bargnani in a deal for the Raptors Kyle Lowry, writes Berman.
More from around the league:
- The Timberwolves plan to trade for help this offseason, but according to owner Glen Taylor, it won’t be a “big trade”, tweets Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- The crew at Basketball Insiders take at look at what steps are needed to fix the Wolves.
- The NBA Players Association has formed a brand new search committee to ensure they have a new executive director in place by the start of the 2014/15 season, writes Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.
- Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports believes that the 2014 freshman class might be better than this year’s highly touted group.
- The next international draft sensation from Switzerland could be Clint Capela, writes Spears. DraftExpress.com has Capela ranked as the 14th-best prospect in this year’s draft. He’s projected as a first-round prospect in the 20-30 range, but he could improve his standing at the Hoop Summit, opines Spears.
- Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Video) breaks down draft prospect Dante Exum.
- Xavier Henry‘s surgeries on his left wrist and right knee were successful the Lakers announced. Henry is a free agent after the season ends.
The Raptors are looking to secure the third seed in the East after missing the last five postseasons. They’re currently tied with the Bulls, but they’ll have the opportunity to gain some ground in their matchup versus the Bucks tonight. Here’s the latest out of Toronto:
- Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun thinks that the Raptors will bring back Nando De Colo next season “for cheap.” De Colo will become a restricted free agent if Toronto extends the $1.8MM qualifying offer.
- Wolstat also relays comments from Raptors coach Dwane Casey, who expressed his wishes for Toronto to re-sign Kyle Lowry this offseason. “That’s the front office. That’s their paycheck. I would if I was general manager of a team. But that’s their decision,” said Casey. “Kyle has done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s helped put us in this position with this team. He’s grown, he’s matured, and that’s huge as far as we’re concerned.”
- Isiah Thomas ranked as the best drafting GM since 1989 in Tom Haberstroh of ESPN’s latest Insider piece, due in large part to the selections he made during his time with Raptors. Thomas was responsible for picking Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby, and Tracy McGrady.
Cray Allred contributed to this this post.
The Pacers started the season 41-13, but since the trade that brought Evan Turner to Indiana, the team has gone 12-11, and not looked at all like a championship contender, writes Michael Kaskey-Blomain of Philly.com. It’s not all Turner’s fault, opines Kaskey-Blomain, and in the article he breaks down what has gone wrong for the team.
More from the east:
- Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders breaks down the true cost of guaranteed contracts in the NBA.
- The news that the Raptors plan to re-sign Kyle Lowry doesn’t surprise Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link). Wolstat mentions that there aren’t many eastern teams that have cap space and are in need of a point guard, which would limit Lowry’s options should he want to depart after the season.
- Wolstat also tweeted that while it’s always possible Lowry could depart, the player just built a home, which would make the Lakers a long shot because of the distance. Another team that has expressed interest in Lowry, the Knicks, don’t have the cap space to sign him, notes Wolstat.
- Jazz player development coach Alex Jensen has a bright coaching future in the NBA, writes Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News.
- It wasn’t that long ago when the Magic were a contender in the Eastern Conference, writes Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders. Taylor lays out the steps the team needs to take in order for the organization to rebuild quickly.
Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment group that owns the Raptors, answered affirmatively when CBC TV host George Stroumboulopoulos asked him whether the team can and will re-sign point guard Kyle Lowry (video link; scroll ahead to 5:50 mark). The point guard is set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, and ever since the team came close to trading him to the Knicks in December, there’s been little certainty about Toronto’s plans. Leiweke’s answers today offer the strongest indication yet that Toronto intends to retain Lowry.
“There’s a really special bond between [GM] Masai [Ujiri] and Kyle,” Leiweke said. “This town should be in love with this guy. What a great story. He’s vented that anger and energy that he had last year, and it was sometimes aimed at the refs, sometimes aimed at other people. He’s figured out how to vent that and put that into the team, and this team truly loves each other.”
When the Knicks made an unsuccessful attempt to circle back and trade for Lowry at the deadline, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports pegged Lowry’s market value at more than $11MM a year. The Rockets also sought a deadline deal for him, and it’s clear that the ASM Sports client will be one of the most sought-after free agents on the market this summer after a strong performance this season.
The Raptors have Lowry’s Bird rights and only about $39MM in commitments for next season, so they appear to have the resources necessary to bring him back. Still, Lowry can choose his destination, and Toronto has never been a free agent mecca. The 28-year-old is having his finest season, averaging 17.4 points and 7.6 assists per game with a 19.9 PER for a Toronto team tied for third place in the Eastern Conference. Just how far the Raptors get in the playoffs may go a long way in convincing Lowry whether to stay.
The NBA has parameters in place to ensure the relationship between Lakers president Jeanie Buss and now-Knicks president Phil Jackson doesn’t become an issue, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. NBA spokesman Mike Bass told Shelburne the following: “The Knicks’ hiring of Phil Jackson is subject to the league’s conflict of interest rules. To avoid even the appearance of a conflict, we have addressed the issue with the Knicks and Lakers to ensure that the relationship between Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson will not affect how the teams operate.”
We heard yesterday that Buss recently met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver on this very topic. Shelburne followed up on Twitter, adding that Buss and Silver had similar conversations last year when Jackson considered working for Toronto or a new Seattle franchise. In short, because Buss’ role with the Lakers is on the business side, the league approves, Shelburne says, an explanation that agrees with what we heard from Buss earlier today.
Let’s take a look at what else is going on out west:
- In an interview with Zach Lowe of Grantland, Goran Dragic conceded that he was baffled this offseason when he heard the Suns acquired Eric Bledsoe, but his agent and Suns’ management swiftly assured him that the team envisioned an all-point guard backcourt not unlike the early ’90s Phoenix duo of Kevin Johnson and (current head coach) Jeff Hornacek.
- Two seasons after shipping him to Toronto, Daryl Morey unsuccessfully attempted to bring Kyle Lowry back to the Rockets at the trade deadline, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. The Villanova product, who also nearly ended up in New York, is playing his way into a big-time contract this summer, when Lowry becomes a free agent. We heard earlier tonight that he could be a fit in Dallas.
- A lot of the credit for DeAndre Jordan‘s progression with the Clippers should go to Doc Rivers, writes Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated. Rivers, in his first year with the Clips, did his homework on the talented but underacheiving center prior to arriving in Los Angeles, and the results have been more than encouraging.
Kobe Bryant endorses the Knicks hiring of Phil Jackson despite his well-documented disappointment with the Lakers front office for not bringing Jackson back to Los Angeles. In an article by Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles, Bryant said, “I just think his mentorship shifts. I think it goes from having a direct influence on the players themselves to having a direct influence on the coaching staff, which he’s accustomed to doing because that’s how he coached as well. He really had a great rapport with his coaching staff and he was really a great mentor for them, and I’m sure he’ll do the same thing and it will just kind of trickle down from there. It’s really no different from what Pat [Riley] has been able to do in Miami with [Erik] Spoelstra.” According to the article, Bryant also believes that Jackson will be able to help Carmelo Anthony improve as a player. On what Phil can do for ‘Melo, Bryant said, “Phil will be able to provide that knowledge and he’ll learn more about the game and open up dimensions of the game that he never saw before. So, he’ll just continue to improve.”
More from out west:
- The Kings had appeared likely to keep 10-day signee Orlando Johnson for the season, but the team has decided against doing so, notes Matt Kawahara of The Sacramento Bee. Johnson’s second 10-day contract expired Monday.
- The Warriors have assigned Nemanja Nedovic and Ognjen Kuzmic to the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA D-League the team has announced. Both players had just been recalled from the D-League yesterday and played in last night’s victory over the Magic.
- If the Mavericks are able to sign a proven big man after the season, the player most likely to lose his roster spot is DeJuan Blair, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Sefko also says that proven big man target is most likely to be Marcin Gortat.
- In a separate article, Sefko writes that he thinks the Mavs would be well served to pursue Gortat as well as Luol Deng after the season. Both players will be free agents and would fit nicely in the team’s system. Sefko also thinks that Kyle Lowry will be another player the team will take a look at signing, and believes he is ready to be a lead guard on a “top-shelf” playoff team.
Most league insiders think it’s unlikely LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will opt in for another season on their deals with the Heat, though the same people feel like they’ll all sign new deals with Miami for at least one season, writes Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. Many feel as though James will stay with the Heat even if Bosh and Wade leave, with the Cavs as the next in line for his services, and all other teams as dark horses. Amico cautioned that his sources are merely making educated guesses, as James has offered few hints. It appears we’ll have to wait until the summer for clarity on that front, but there’s plenty of other news around the Eastern Conference in the interim:
- Phil Jackson strongly encouraged Pistons owner Tom Gores to hire Steve Kerr last summer when Detroit instead tapped Maurice Cheeks as coach, according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News. Jackson has remained an adviser to Gores, though that ostensibly ends with today’s official announcement of the Zen Master as Knicks president.
- Most NBA teams thought Giannis Antetokounmpo had a promise from the Hawks that they’d take him with the 17th pick, and Raptors GM Masai Ujiri tried “frantically” to trade into the top 15 to draft him before the Bucks snagged him at No. 15. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has the details behind the scramble for the Greek prospect.
- Ujiri doesn’t deny that he was close to a deal in December to send Kyle Lowry to the Knicks, observes Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, who examines how a better attitude is enhancing the Raptors point guard’s free agent value for this summer.
- The Sixers are unlikely to spend a lot of money in free agency this summer, writes Michael Kaskey-Blomain of Philly.com, who thinks that’s a reason why the team should hold on to trade candidate Thaddeus Young.
At his introductory press conference, Paul Pierce said that he would be a “glorified role player” for the Nets. Now, as the Nets ascend the standings without the services of Kevin Garnett, it’s clear that he’s much more than that, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Here’s more from around the East:
- Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders suspects point guard Kyle Lowry will re-sign with the Raptors this summer for $7-$8MM per year (Twitter link).
- Luke Ridnour was happy to leave the Bucks and land with the Bobcats, he tells Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “I was glad to get out of Milwaukee,” said Ridnour. “It’s a good situation here. I’ve only played five, six games here so I’m trying to get used to it. It’s a good city and I’ve been in the playoffs before, and just to be back in the hunt where every game is big, it’s just a lot different feeling… This has been fun.”
- The Bobcats are looking to add a third center now that it appears Brendan Haywood is done for the season, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.
- In the same tweet, Bonnell says the Heat‘s signing of Justin Hamilton was made due to coach Erik Spoelstra‘s faith in the big man.
- Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel writes that Hamilton’s two-year deal is about the future. Winderman sees Hamilton and 2013 first-rounder James Ennis as having a shot to make the Heat’s roster next year, and notes that Pat Riley is scouting college tournaments in looking ahead.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Mike Bresnahan and Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times deem the notion of LeBron James joining the Lakers unlikely, note the Lakers’ lack of interest in Carmelo Anthony, and hear that the team isn’t high on Kyle Lowry, either. The Lakers do like Luol Deng, but they don’t want to overpay him, with the focus squarely on Kevin Love and Kevin Durant in the summers of 2015 and 2016, respectively.
“I don’t think that we’ll use our cap money to patch together a team for next year. We’re looking to bring something [big] to Los Angeles,” GM Mitch Kupchak said. “May take more than one year to build, I don’t know. But because we have a lot of money this summer doesn’t mean we’ll spend it all. We’ll spend it wisely.”
Here’s more from the purple-and-gold, who made a single deadline trade despite a multitude of rumors:
- Kupchak says the Lakers will “absolutely” consider re-signing Pau Gasol this summer, as Bresnahan and Pincus note in the same piece.
- The GM wouldn’t rule out negotiating an extension with Gasol that would keep him from free agency, but Kupchak calls it unlikely, since it would limit the team’s flexibility, tweets Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.
- The Lakers wound up remaining in tax territory through the deadline in spite of opportunities to escape. Kupchak says making a move purely to cut costs, without enhancing the roster in some way, is “not acceptable” for the Lakers franchise, as Oram also passes along (Twitter link).