As we look forward to a weekend full of NBA action, let’s round up a few odds and ends from around the Association….
- Veteran free agent Stephen Jackson has changed agents, according to Interperformances, who announced today that the ex-Spur has signed with the agency. Jackson had previously been represented by Dan Fegan and Relativity Sports, but it seems his lack of employment prompted him to make a change.
- Following an offseason that included a record 13 head coaching changes, one unnamed coach tells Sean Deveney of the Sporting News that “everyone’s scared s—less out there.” Added the anonymous coach: “There’s different criteria being measured on coaches and it is not just winning. You can win your ass off and still get fired.”
- Former NBA big man Kyrylo Fesenko has signed with Slask Wroclaw in Poland, according to the team (English link via Sportando). Fesenko, a second-round pick in 2007, played with the Jazz for four seasons before a brief stint with the Pacers in 2011/12.
- In the view of Lang Greene of HoopsWorld, the Clippers‘ offseason signing of Byron Mullens was an unheralded move that could pay long-term dividends.
- ESPN.com’s Chad Ford continues his week-long, Insider-only breakdown of top prospects by position, as he previews the best big men expected to be available in the 2014 draft.
FRIDAY, 10:36am: BC Donetsk has officially announced the signing of Fesenko, according to Shams Charania of RealGM.com. Charania writes that Fesenko's contract is "flexible," and while it's not clear if that means he could return to the NBA this season, it sounds as if he'll have the opportunity to earn a training camp invite stateside next summer.
TUESDAY, 2:11pm: After failing to catch on with an NBA team, Kyrylo Fesenko is working toward finalizing a contract to play in Ukraine, reports Shams Charania of RealGM.com. According to Charania, Fesenko is close to signing with BC Donetsk.
Fesenko was a training camp invitee for the Bulls this fall, but the team didn't have the cap flexibility to keep him around into the regular season. There was some speculation that Chicago could re-sign Fesenko later in the season, and the big man worked out for the Hawks as well, but it appears he'll head overseas instead.
Fesenko, who last played in the NBA last season with the Pacers, has appeared in 135 regular-season games over the course of his five-year NBA career.
When we asked you earlier this afternoon which rookie scale contract extension will work out best for the team locking up its player, one fourth-year guard was notably absent from the list: Brandon Jennings. Shaun Powell of Sports on Earth calls the young Buck the most talented player from the 2009 draft class not to receive an extension from his club, and examines the outlook for the 23-year-old, who admits he's "kind of auditioning for other teams." If that's the case, his audition is off to a good start — Jennings was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week by the league this afternoon (Twitter link).
Here are a few more updates from around the Eastern Conference:
- Kyrylo Fesenko had a strong workout for the Hawks, but the team has yet to indicate whether it will sign him, tweets Shams Charania of RealGM.com. The big man also isn't ruling out a return to the Bulls, the team that waived him in October, tweets Charnia. Chicago isn't eligible to sign a veteran to a minimum-salary deal for another two weeks.
- Marquis Daniels tells Charania that he feels like stories and rumors of the alleged feud between Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen have been blown out of proportion. Daniels, Rondo, and Allen all played in the Celtics' backcourt from 2009 to 2012.
- In order to get Allen the minutes he was promised when he signed with Miami as a free agent, the Heat may have to play him at the point from time to time, says Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
- Appearing on WEEI's Big Show in Boston, Celtics president Danny Ainge spoke about the team's offseason, and about the Allen controversy. Chris Fedor of Sports Radio Interviews has the quotes.
- In a piece for the News-Herald, Bob Finnan express some concerns about the Cavaliers' bench.
Knicks power forward Amare Stoudemire will miss at least the first six weeks of the season with a previously diagnosed knee injury, tweets ESPN.com's Chris Broussard.
On the eve of opening day, here are a few bits of other news from around the league.
- Recently waived by the Bulls, center Kyrylo Fesenko will work out for the Hawks on Tuesday, according to a tweet from RealGM.com's Shams Charania.
- DeMar DeRozan won't be receiving a contract extension before tomorrow's deadline, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want to continue his career with the Raptors, writes The Toronto Star's Doug Smith.
- Celtics head coach Doc Rivers went on Boston's Sports Hub radio station to say that he did in fact reach out to current Heat guard Ray Allen when free agency started in July, but that the future Hall of Famer didn't return his calls.
When Kirk Hinrich tweaked his groin during last night's game against the Thunder, it shone a spotlight on the reality of the Bulls' situation, according to Nick Friedell in a piece for ESPNChicago.com. With Derrick Rose out and the bench having been overhauled in the offseason, it's not clear yet whether Chicago has the depth to withstand another injury or two, opines Friedell. While we wait to hear if Hinrich's injury is any more than a minor issue, here's the rest of this morning's Bulls-related updates:
- Nate Robinson is confident that he can step up and man the point if Hinrich's injury results in missed time, writes Scott Powell of ESPNChicago.com. If he wasn't a lock to make the team already, Robinson certainly appears to be now — due to the Bulls' hard cap, that means camp invitees Marko Jaric and Ryan Allen have no chance to be on the opening night roster unless the club makes a trade to clear salary.
- Another Bulls camp invitee who was recently waived, Kyrylo Fesenko may be drawing interest from Spanish team Caja Laboral, according to a report passed along by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. As Mark Deeks of ShamSports tweeted after Fesenko was cut, the Bulls could consider circling back around to Fesenko later this season, when they can afford to re-sign him.
- With one week remaining to work out a long-term extension with the Bulls, Taj Gibson continues to not let his contract situation affect his play, as he tells Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago. "When you’re in this situation, a lot of people are more focused on it than you," Gibson said. "You just have to let it slide off your shoulders. Joakim [Noah] was talking about to me about it a couple of days ago, but I always just shrug it off…. You really can’t do anything about it, except worry about what you can take care of and that’s the court work. Your agent and the GM has to worry about that."
The Bulls have waived center Kyrylo Fesenko, the team announced. His subtraction brings the roster to 15 players. The move was expected, since the Bulls, who are under a $74.307 hard cap this season, couldn't afford to keep him for opening night without getting rid of one of their guaranteed deals. They'll be eligible to re-sign him on November 19th, as Mark Deeks of ShamSports points out on Twitter, when the veteran's minimum-salary will pro-rate down to a figure the Bulls can manage.
The 7'1" Fesenko was signed on the eve of training camp to a minimum-salary make-good deal without a guarantee. He spent the final month of last season with the Pacers but appeared in only three regular season games, scoring eight points in 17 minutes. He didn't get into any of Indiana's playoff games, though he saw extensive postseason action in 2010, in the middle of his four-season tenure with the Jazz.
Once he clears waivers, Fesenko will be free to sign with any team, so there's no certainty that he'll be back with the Bulls this season. Marko Jaric and Ryan Allen remain with the Bulls on non-guaranteed deals, but they seem destined for the same fate as Fesenko.
Here are a few pieces of news from around the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls have officially signed five players to finalize their training camp roster, the team announced today in a press release. In addition to previously reported signees like Andre Emmett and Kyrylo Fesenko, the Bulls also added Marko Jaric, Ryan Allen, and Vance Cooksey, according to the team release.
With 13 players previously under contract, the Bulls were up against a hard cap, with only about $758K available to spend on players. However, since these five players were presumably signed to summer contracts, the salary won't count against Chicago's cap unless one of more of these guys makes the team. In that case, the Bulls would have to shed salary in another way, perhaps via trade, to clear room.
In addition to previously hearing about Emmett's and Fesenko's agreements, we also heard that Jaric and Allen were working out with the Bulls. Cooksey is the only new name — he spent last season playing in the D-League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and the Texas Legends, averaging 8.8 PPG and 4.8 APG in 38 contests.
9:47pm: K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune notes that the Bulls, who have $758,550 left to spend, could sign another player at the veteran's minimum once it pro-rates to that amount in late November (Twitter link). Mark Deeks of ShamSports suggests via Twitter that the Bulls could waive Fesenko at the end of training camp and re-sign him once they're able. The Bulls could do the same with fellow camp invitee Andre Emmett, but another team, either in the NBA or overseas, would be free to snap up Fesenko and Emmett while they waited.
8:29pm: The Bulls will sign Kyrylo Fesenko by the end of the week, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. He was in Chicago on Monday for a workout after auditioning for the Spurs earlier this month, and reportedly had the Cavs tentatively on his workout schedule as well. He was also said to be in contact with the Hawks and the Heat.
Stein says the 7'1" center will receive a non-guaranteed contract, and Sam Amick of SI.com reports via Twitter that it will be for the minimum. The team doesn't have enough room under its $74.307MM hard cap to retain Fesenko for the regular season, even at the minimum salary, without waiving or trading another one of its players.
Fesenko signed with the Pacers in March for the balance of the 2011/12 season, and appeared in only three regular season games. He scored a total of eight points and grabbed nine rebounds in 17 minutes, and didn't see action in any of the team's playoff games. The Ukraine native averaged 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game during the previous four seasons with the Jazz, upping those numbers slightly when he started nine of the Jazz's 10 playoff games in 2009/10 for the injured Mehmet Okur.
Kyrylo Fesenko is set to work out with the Bulls today, according to Fesenko himself. The five-year NBA veteran announced the workout yesterday via Twitter: "Just landed in Chicago. Tomorrow I have a workout with the Bulls. Really excited to see Korver, Boozer and Brewer!"
Fesenko clearly hasn't been following the Bulls' offseason too closely, as two of the three players he mentioned are no longer in Chicago — Kyle Korver was traded to the Hawks, while Ronnie Brewer was waived and subsequently signed by the Knicks. If Fesenko is unfamiliar with the team's current roster, you have to wonder if he knows about its cap situation. The Bulls are up against a hard cap, meaning if they were to sign Fesenko, it would have to be a non-guaranteed deal, and another roster move would be required to keep him into the regular season.
Fesenko, 25, reportedly worked out for the Spurs earlier this month and may have had a workout with the Cavs as well. The Hawks and Heat were also said to be in contact with the seven-footer, who played just three games last season for the Pacers. In 135 career NBA contests, the former second-round pick has averaged 2.3 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 8.2 MPG.