People around the Celtics were intrigued to hear of what had been Kevin Love‘s growing fondness for the team, and while the C’s plan to pursue him, they believe he’ll back with the Cavs for next season, a league source told Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. That was before Cavs GM David Griffin announced that Love will likely miss the rest of the playoffs and that surgery on his injured shoulder is a possibility. It’s unclear whether the Celtics will land Love or another star, but an active summer is surely ahead, as I wrote today in examining the Celtics offseason, and Murphy has more clues about what’s ahead for Boston amid the latest from the Atlantic Division:
- Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko are among the Celtics who want to re-sign with the team, Murphy notes in the same piece as he looks at the status of every player on the team’s roster. The Celtics are interested in keeping Crowder but haven’t decided on Jerebko or Brandon Bass, whose desire to remain in Boston is well–documented, as Murphy details.
- The Knicks expressed their interest in Elton Brand to the big man immediately after free agency began last July, and he’d consider signing with them if they pursue him again this summer, the 36-year-old New York native tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. Brand, who’s also pondering retirement, passed on a minimum-salary offer from the Knicks last year to sign a one-year, $2MM deal with the Hawks, as Berman details. Knicks team president Phil Jackson might have had more than Brand in mind last summer, since Brand’s agent, David Falk, also represents Greg Monroe, a rumored Knicks target, tweets Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
- Sportsnet’s Michael Grange views Kyle Lowry‘s comments about coach Dwane Casey on Monday as a rather tepid endorsement, though those who know the point guard tell Grange there wasn’t any hidden meaning and that there’s no tension between player and coach. GM Masai Ujiri offered praise for Lowry today but wouldn’t commit to bringing Casey back. Grange argues that Casey couldn’t have been expected to take the Raptors much farther.
GM Masai Ujiri accepts responsibility for the team’s late-season collapse, as he made clear today to reporters, including Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star (Twitter link), at his end-of-season press conference.
“The process is sometimes you get kicked in the face,” Ujiri said, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link). “We got kicked in the face.”
Ujiri doesn’t regret not having made a trade at the deadline, and he insists he won’t make any knee-jerk reactions in the offseason ahead, notes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). Still, he isn’t committing to coach Dwane Casey for another season, as we passed along earlier, and with many questions surrounding the team following a disastrous end to the season in Toronto, we’ll round up the rest of the GM’s relevant comments here:
- Jonas Valanciunas is “a huge part of our team” going into the future, Ujiri said, expressing his belief that such big men are still valuable even in an era of small ball, Wolstat relays (Twitter links). “We can criticize Jonas … and it’s a big discussion we’re going to have with coach and the staff, how he was used,” Ujiri also said, as Feschuk tweets.
- Kyle Lowry didn’t maintain his level of play down the stretch, but Ujiri said he’s “even more confident” in the point guard now than when the Raptors re-signed him last season for four years and $48MM, Lewenberg notes (Twitter link).
- The Raptors and the NBA are in advanced talks about arranging a one-to-one D-League affiliate that could be a part of the organization as soon as next year, as Lewenberg relays (on Twitter). The Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment company that owns the Raptors have given the OK for the team to purchase a D-League affiliate, Wolstat tweets.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri didn’t say whether coach Dwane Casey would be back next year, though he indicated that if he had decided against keeping him, he’d have already said so, notes Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link). “There’s no doomsday here,” Ujiri said, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (on Twitter). “Initial indications” are that the Raptors will retain Casey, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears, as he writes in the same piece, but league sources tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe that it’s still uncertain whether the coach will be back next season, even though he’s under contract. Casey agreed to a three-year deal last offseason that consists of two guaranteed years and a team option for 2016/17. There’s plenty more on the Raptors, as we detail:
- The belief is that the Raptors would like to re-sign Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams on a reasonable deal, according to Stein, who writes in the same piece, though Eric Koreen of the National Post suggests that Williams and the rest of the Raptors free agents aren’t strong bets to return. An NBA executive told Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun that he would only sign Williams to a one-year deal, citing his defensive shortcomings.
- Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas are the only Raptors who should feel confident that they’re likely to remain in Toronto for next season, Stein hears, adding that rival teams would nonetheless be unsurprised if the team makes changes to its core.
- Casey and Ujiri have no shortage of faith in Terrence Ross, writes Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, who says that chances are that Ross is still with the Raptors next season. A trade of DeRozan would allow Ross into his natural position of shooting guard, and many believe “the winds are blowing” in that direction, Wolstat writes. Ross, a former No. 8 overall pick, is eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason.
- Valanciunas will also be up for a rookie scale extension this year, and Koreen suggests it’s likely that the Raptors will explore the notion of giving him one.
The Lakers appear to be holding off on making any moves after setting up workouts with a flurry of players last week. None of the prospective Lakers seemed to offer the club much hope of major improvement to its 3-11 record, one that would be the worst mark in the Western Conference were it not for the injury-hit Thunder. Here’s more on the struggling purple-and-gold:
- The Lakers reportedly reached out to Kyle Lowry this summer, but they told the point guard and agent Andy Miller that they wouldn’t make him an offer until they heard from LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony first, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports. Lowry agreed on the second day of free agency to re-sign with the Raptors, well ahead of the time that James and Anthony made their respective decisions.
- Isaiah Thomas told Lowe last month that they were interested in him over the summer, but Lowe writes in his latest piece that the Lakers didn’t have any interest. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has a general policy against signing restricted free agents from other teams to offer sheets because he doesn’t like to tie up his team’s cap room during the three-day period in which the other club can match, sources tell Lowe.
- The application for a nearly $4.851MM Disabled Player Exception for Steve Nash that the Lakers submitted to the league is still pending, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). An NBA-designated physician must determine that Nash is significantly more likely to miss the rest of the season than not before the league grants the exception, as Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ makes clear.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Mavs owner Mark Cuban downplay the intensity of their personal rivalry in interviews with Marc Stein of ESPN.com, even though both have made some incendiary statements about the other. Their teams have been involved in a tug-of-war over high-powered free agents in the past few summers, and the case of Chandler Parsons brought the rivalry into focus. Stein’s piece sheds light on many unreported aspects of Parsons’ free agency, and the entire piece is worth a read, particularly for Mavs and Rockets fans. We’ll share the most newsworthy tidbits here:
- The Cavs were the most fervent suitor of Parsons early in free agency this summer, viewing him as a plan B if LeBron James didn’t return, and Kyrie Irving, a friend of Parsons’, tried to recruit him to Cleveland, as Stein chronicles. The Mavs weren’t willing to wait on a definitive “no” from either LeBron or Carmelo Anthony before swooping in with their offer sheet, one that Parsons agreed to rather than sign a two-year max deal that the Rockets offered, Stein also reports.
- Parsons told Stein he would have re-signed with the Rockets for less early in free agency, and Stein hears he sought a four-year, $48MM deal from Houston, which was instead engaged in a pursuit of more established stars.
- Cuban was honest with Parsons about the risk that he was taking, as he explains to Stein. “I told Chandler from the start [of free agency]: ‘Do you want me to be brutally honest with you?'” Cuban said. “And he said yes. So I told him with as much granularity as I could that I think it’s a 10% chance at best that we could get ‘Melo, but we had to try. Then, we started hearing our percentage was getting higher, and I told Chandler that, too. But then, when we weren’t hearing a whole lot from the Melo camp, we knew we were pretty much out. So I told Chandler [on July 9th]: ‘I could end up being the dumbest idiot in NBA history, but even if LeBron comes back to us and says he’s choosing us, I’m committing to you.'”
- The Mavs were also high on Gordon Hayward and Eric Bledsoe, but they found Parsons the most obtainable of the three restricted free agents they wanted most, Stein writes.
- Morey pursued Kyle Lowry early in free agency, but cooled on him and turned his attention to Chris Bosh instead, as Stein explains. Bosh seemed on his way to the Rockets before he inked a five-year max deal with the Heat, and even Morey thought that he had Bosh within his clutches, as he admits to Stein. “Given our understanding of where things were,” Morey said, “we felt like we were 95 percent-plus to potentially having the best team in the league. There was nothing promised, but I did believe [Bosh] was coming in almost every scenario except the one that happened at the last minute [Miami trumping Houston’s offer with a five-year max].”
- The Rockets agreed to trade Jeremy Lin to the Lakers before receiving a commitment from Bosh because the Lakers refused to wait any longer and because a trade proposal from the Sixers instead would have cost multiple first-rounders instead of just one.
- The Rockets, like many teams, are turning their eyes to 2016, and they plan to let James Harden act as the primary recruiter for former teammate Kevin Durant, who can hit free agency that summer, Stein writes.
- Agent Dan Fegan proposed the structure of the three-year offer sheet that Parsons signed with the Mavs, and the three-year length, in particular, drew raves from Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace, who noted its contrast with the typical four-year offer sheet, as Stein passed along. Cavs GM David Griffin also expressed admiration for the deal, as he tells Stein. “The contract structure was extremely creative,” Griffin said. “I think it will be a significant moment in the way restricted free agency discussions are handled in the future.”
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.