The 11 pm CT deadline for extensions and team options for players still on their rookie contracts should steal most of the headlines tonight, but let’s look at some of the other buzz from around the league:
- Rockets officials “continue to privately insist” that Omer Asik won’t be available via trade this season if he and Dwight Howard can be productive alongside one another in the Houston frontcourt, reports ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
- Speaking of Howard, Mark Cuban says the Houston center made “a mistake in judgement” by joining the Rockets over his Mavericks, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, who pulls several other interesting quotes from Cuban and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle about how the team is faring with their “Plan B.”
- Meanwhile, Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram tweets that Cuban believes Howard had already decided on Houston as his destination before he sat down with the Mavericks last summer.
- While the Cavaliers can’t offer star point guard Kyrie Irving an extension until next summer, the strong relationship between Irving and owner Dan Gilbert should reassure Clevelanders still sore over losing LeBron James, writes Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Valade also writes that, while the Andrew Bynum addition received most of the headlines, it is Jarrett Jack who will have the biggest impact among the new faces in Cleveland this season.
- Sixers advanced scout and former assistant Ron Oliver won’t return for a third season with the team, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (via Twitter).
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert held court with Cleveland-area reporters before tonight’s opener, touching on a variety of topics, as we noted this evening. Gilbert said he has yet to begin talking about a contract extension for Kyrie Irving, who’ll be eligible for one next summer. Of course, we’re a year and a day away from the deadline for the Cavs and Irving to strike a deal, so Gilbert has plenty of time. Here’s more from another NBA owner as we look around the Central Division:
- Pistons owner Tom Gores followed up on his comments to Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News with an address today before the media, including MLive’s David Mayo. He expressed support for Joe Dumars but says he doesn’t want to discuss an extension to the GM’s contract, can’t envision selling the Pistons at any point, and isn’t keen on the idea of moving the team downtown.
- Gores also believes his own recruitment of free agents ”has made a difference, in terms of folks coming on board, in knowing that ownership does care and we don’t just use our basketball players as assets.”
- We heard from Shams Charania of RealGM.com earlier that Patrick Christopher will join the Bulls‘ D-League affiliate after failing to make Chicago’s opening-night roster, and the same is the case for Kalin Lucas, who’ll also play for the Iowa Energy, Charania reports. The Bulls waived both on the second day of training camp, leading Mark Deeks of ShamSports to speculate that the team signed them only to facilitate an out in case its other camp invitees got injured. It seems now that Chicago didn’t entirely view them as pawns, since the team apparently wants to keep an eye on their development.
- The Cavs waived Chris Quinn this summer after he briefly reappeared in the NBA last season, and it looks like the 30-year-old is transitioning into his post-playing career. He’s joined the coaching staff at Northwestern, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Andrew Bynum didn’t play in the preseason, but it looks like he might get in the Cavaliers‘ season opener tonight. It would be his first action since the spring of 2012 and his initial step toward convincing the team to fully guarantee his $12.25MM salary. Only $6MM of Bynum’s two-year, $24.79MM contract is guaranteed, so he has much riding on his ability to return to health and productive play this season. Here’s more on the Cavs and a few of their Eastern Conference rivals:
- Owner Dan Gilbert is confident the Cavs have built an environment conducive to enticing Kyrie Irving to stay with Cleveland for the long term, and Gilbert is encouraged by the youth of the team’s core, observes Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal.
- LeBron James has become close with Erik Spoelstra, who dared to drive the superstar hard, and Spoelstra’s presence in Miami means James is best advised to remain with the Heat, too, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports argues. Spoelstra’s new extension runs four years, Wojnarowski reveals.
- Bulls camp cut Patrick Christopher is headed to the team’s D-League affiliate after turning down offers to play overseas, sources tell Shams Charania of RealGM.com (Twitter link).
- Knicks GM Steve Mills is OK with the expectations that stem from owner James Dolan’s belief that the team has enough talent to win a title this year, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. “You always feel pressure in an environment like this but it’s a good pressure,” Mills said.
- Mills also responded to a question about Chris Smith‘s place on the Knicks roster by passing along that Dolan wants the team to carry young players it can develop this year, Begley adds (Twitter link).
The Cavaliers have exercised their options for 2014/15 on a pair of third-year players and a pair of second-year players, ensuring that all four Cavs remain under contract for at least the next two seasons. The team announced today in a press release that it has picked up its ’14/15 options on Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and Tyler Zeller.
Irving and Thompson, members of the 2011 draft class, will be eligible for extensions next offseason, and Irving at least seems like a good bet to sign one. Even if they don’t sign extensions though, Irving and Thompson can remain with the Cavs through 2015 before becoming restricted free agents. Irving, the former first overall pick, will earn about $7.07MM in 2014/15, while Thompson will make about $5.14MM.
Meanwhile, Waiters and Zeller are each now locked up for a third NBA season, with Waiters set to earn $4.06MM in ’14/15 and Zeller in line for about $1.7MM. The Cavs hold additional options for 2015/16 on both players.
You can follow all of this month’s rookie contract option decisions right here.
Deron Williams has yet to appear in a preseason game for the Nets, despite being the fulcrum for their $102.211MM payroll this season. If he’s kept out of the rest of the preseason, Nets coach Jason Kidd tells Rod Boone at Newsday that Deron might not be ready, conditioning wise, for the start of the season (Twitter).
Boone added, via Twitter, that Williams hasn’t had any setback with his rehabilitation, Kidd and team officials are just being cautious by keeping him out.
Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:
- Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving is coming up on the end of his rookie-scale contract, and Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal notes that staying healthy this season – Irving hasn’t played more than 60 games in either of this first two seasons – will go a long way towards the Cavs offering him the maximum allowable 5-year, $80MM contract next summer when he becomes eligible.
- Hawks GM Danny Ferry was in Spain today to check up on 44th overall pick Mike Muscala, according to Chema De Lucas of Gigantes.com (Twitter link; hat tip to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution). Muscala signed with Spanish club Obradoiro in the offseason, as our International Player Movement Tracker shows. Atlanta retains his NBA rights.
- The AP reports Bulls point guard Derrick Rose sat out today’s preseason action against the Wizards due to “left knee soreness.”
- Keith Bogans will be out “a couple weeks,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told media today (Twitter). A. Sherrod Blakeley of CSNNE.com reports, via Twitter, Bogans had an MRI this morning that confirmed a right thumb strain. He’ll be re-evaluated this Monday.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
It took a while for Roger Mason Jr. to land with an NBA team this offseason, as Mason didn’t sign with the Heat until late September. However, that doesn’t mean there was no other interest in the veteran shooter. According to Ethan J. Skolnick of Bleacher Report (via Twitter), Mason had also been considering the Bulls before a 45-minute conversation with Ray Allen sold him on Miami.
Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:
- When asked by a young fan at a community event if he’d leave Cleveland like LeBron James did, Kyrie Irving said he wouldn’t, as Sean Highkin of USA Today details. While we probably shouldn’t assume that’s set in stone, it’ll likely be a while before the Cavs guard hits the open market anyway. Irving still has two seasons remaining on his rookie contract and will be a strong candidate for a long-term extension a year from now.
- While some observers believe that DeSagana Diop has the inside track on securing a reserve roster spot with the Cavs, Kenny Kadji is making a pretty strong case for the job, writes Bob Finnan of The Plain Dealer (Sulia link). We heard yesterday from another Cleveland scribe, Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, that Henry Sims may be Kadji’s primary competition for a roster spot.
- The Magic see Jacksonville as a good location for a potential D-League affiliate, but it’s not the only possibility, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. The Magic’s D-League affiliate for the 2013/14 season is the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, a team they share with the Bobcats, Pistons, Pacers, Grizzlies, and Bucks.
- New Celtics big man Vitor Faverani isn’t the most verbose guy in the league, but he offers Boston a lot in the way of physical play and pick and rolls, according to Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Cavs went through their Wine & Gold scrimmage today and it appears No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett is struggling with his conditioning, reports the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd. He was winded after playing just four minutes in the scrimmage.
The scrimmage ended early after second-year center Tyler Zeller took a nasty fall and Anderson Varejao landed him on, adds Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Zeller suffered a strained left hip, which is not considered serious, but he was impressing coach Mike Brown before the scary fall.
Here's more on the Cavs and some notes on the Pacers' possible new sixth man while most fans are taking in all the early preseason action tonight…
- Kyrie Irving dominated the Wine & Gold game writes Boyer, with some flashy moves on his way to scoring a game-high 17 points during the intra-squad scrimmage.
- Bennett looks to be 10-15 pounds overweight writes the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto, echoing Lloyd's report from above. But Pluto also relays Brown's belief that Bennett has NBA 3-point range; although, he still needs to work on his defense.
- Pacers coach Frank Vogel alluded to James Harden and Manu Ginobili when talking about the possibility of Danny Granger coming off the bench, tweets the Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner. But she adds, via Twitter, that Granger would share starters' minutes with Lance Stephenson.
Let's check in on a few Monday odds and ends from around the Association:
- A report over the weekend indicated that the Pistons have shown exploratory interest in Jason Collins, but Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News hears that the team is unlikely to actually sign him.
- Although his friend John Wall recently inked a new long-term deal with the Wizards, Kyrie Irving won't be eligible for an extension until next summer, so he's not thinking about his contract situation yet, as he tells Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio.
- Timberwolves president Flip Saunders spoke to reporters today, including Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, and confirmed that the team expects Robbie Hummel, Lorenzo Brown, and Othyus Jeffers to be in training camp. Saunders also discussed Nikola Pekovic, Shabazz Muhammad, and Milt Newton.
- While Al Harrington appears on track to land a deal with the Wizards, several other teams showed interest, including the Clippers, Kings, and Pelicans, tweets Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com.
- Subbing in for David Aldridge at NBA.com, Steve Kerr presents some ideas for how to improve the NBA's draft lottery.
It'll be another year before Cavs star Kyrie Irving is eligible for an extension to his rookie-scale contract, and he shied away from the topic when asked about it Saturday at his basketball camp in suburban Cleveland, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. He did offer a brief hint, telling campers, "I’ll be here awhile, so everybody get used to my face."
Bob Finnan of the News-Herald (link also includes video) also found time to chat with Irving at his summer camp. While discussing his impending eligibility for an extension next summer, Finnan asked Kyrie about John Wall's recent five-year maximum-salary extension. Irving was excited for Wall:
"We grew up together coming up the ranks. We were both guys who weren't rated at the top coming out of high school. We both burst onto the scene. He's the first guy to get a max deal out of all of us who came through the AAU scene. It was surreal for him."
After again impressing during Team USA tryouts in Vegas last month, Irving told Lloyd back in July that "Right now I'm a Cleveland Cavalier, and I'm happy to be here." The quote was in response to the rumor he was looking to head elsewhere once his rookie-scale contract concluded.
More from the Cavs and others around the Eastern Conference:
- Cavs fans may also have to get used to a much less familiar sight. Tristan Thompson has always shot left-handed, but he unveiled his new right-handed stroke Thursday with Team Canada, as SportsNet's Michael Grange details. He might be the first NBA player to make such a mid-career switch, and Grantland's Zach Lowe tweets that it has Cavs officials excited.
- The Knicks have locked up players to fill 14 of their 15 available roster spots, after signing Beno Udrih to act as a third guard with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com looks at some of the available free agents and D-Leaguers the Knicks might target for that final roster spot, focusing on front-court players who could spell 31-year-old Tyson Chandler.
- No. 4 overall pick Cody Zeller spoke with the Charlotte Observer about the importance of going through the NBA's Rookie Transition Program before he suits up for the Bobcats next season. Zeller said the highlight of the four-day affair was the talk former Celtics and Nuggets guardChris Herren gave about his battle to overcome a long-standing drug addiction.
The Mavs have had a busy offseason, since there was so much turnaround after loading up on expiring contracts last season with a chance to nab Dwight Howard or Josh Smith in free agency this summer. Since they failed to land any of the upper-tier free agents, they decided to surround 35-year-old Dirk Nowitzki with mid-tier acquisitions in an attempt to get Dirk a second title, but without spending their way out of contending for the free agents next summer when Dirk, Shawn Marion and others have their contract's expire.
Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram listed all the Mavericks from last season who will be playing on different rosters next season (Twitter): O.J. Mayo is on the Bucks, Elton Brand and Jared Cunningham joined the Hawks, Darren Collison signed with the Clippers, Chris Kaman joined the Lakers after they failed to re-sign Howard, and Anthony Morrow joined an improved Pelicans team. Two former Mavs are still unsigned, though, as Price tweets: Rodrigue Beaubois and Mike James.
Here are a few more tidbits as the NBA comes up on the end of the free agency period…