Cavs fans worried about what the hiring of Mike Brown might mean for the team's potential pursuit of LeBron James in 2014 shouldn't put too much stock in the move one way or the other, says Chris Broussard in his latest ESPN.com piece (Insider-only link). Brown's return to Cleveland doesn't mean LeBron is coming back too, but it also shouldn't be a deterring factor, according to Broussard, who notes that there will be plenty of other factors in play over the next 14 months. The ESPN.com scribe explores that topic and a number of others in his article, so let's round up the highlights....
- The Cavs are hoping to upgrade the roster before next summer in an attempt to lure James (or another impact free agent, presumably). As we heard from Adrian Wojnarwoski of Yahoo! Sports yesterday, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and draft picks could be dangled as trade chips. Broussard mentions LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love as potential targets.
- The Bucks would like to keep all three of their free agent guards this summer, but recognize that they'll probably only be able to retain two, with Brandon Jennings the player most likely to stay put.
- Several sources around the league believed Lance Blanks, who the Suns fired earlier this week, was a scapegoat for the team's poor season. According to Broussard, the widely panned signing of Michael Beasley was Lon Babby's call, and Blanks had "little to do with" Alvin Gentry's firing as well.
- Bucks assistant GM Jeff Weltman is viewed as the frontrunner for the Suns' GM opening, says Broussard.
- Former Suns assistant Elston Turner may join Rick Adelman's staff in Minnesota, with an understanding that if Adelman steps down, Turner would take over as the Timberwolves' coach. We've heard in the past that Adelman "badly wanted" Turner on his staff when he first took the Wolves' job.
- While Kevin McHale isn't expected to step down as Rockets head coach anytime soon, Broussard hears from sources that the team would have "strong interest" in Stan Van Gundy if McHale left.
The Suns have announced they're parting ways with general manager Lance Blanks. The move puts the future of interim coach Lindsey Hunter in doubt, since Blanks has been Hunter's primary ally in Phoenix, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). USA Today's Sam Amick tweets the same, adding that Blanks had a year left on his contract.
"Lance has been a trusted friend and colleague," said Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby, in a statement released by the team. "I thank him personally and professionally for his hard work on behalf of the Suns. We will continue to prepare for the offseason even as we look for his replacement."
Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News wrote in January that Blanks could be on shaky footing, along with Babby, who wound up getting a new two-year deal with the team earlier this month. It was in January that the Suns parted ways with coach Alvin Gentry, and around that time, Amick noticed Blanks seemed unsure about his future (Twitter link). Still, the timing of today's move comes as something of a surprise, since outgoing GMs often remain with their teams through the draft, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer points out, via Twitter.
Both Blanks and Babby came aboard in the summer of 2010. Without Amare Stoudemire, who left for the Knicks that offseason, the Suns went from a Western Conference finalist in 2010 to a mediocre team the next two seasons. Last summer, Phoenix sent Steve Nash to the Lakers in a sign-and-trade, and the Suns finished 25-57 this year, their worst winning percentage since their inaugural season of 1968/69.
The Suns vacancy is the first front-office position to come open so far this offseason. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports volunteers the name of Mark Warkentien, a Knicks executive and former Nuggets vice president of basketball operations, as a possible candidate (Twitter link).
The Suns are at the bottom of the Western Conference, but like the Lakers and Kings, the other sub-.500 teams in the Pacific Division, they've had no trouble generating headlines of late. Here's the latest out of Phoenix:
- The end of Alvin Gentry's tenure with the Suns was characterized as a mutual parting of ways, but Gentry indicated that wasn't so in his comments Tuesday to Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo. Adrian Martinez of ArizonaSports.com has the story. "Decisions are made that you don't agree with," Gentry said. "They have the right to do that."
- Jermaine O'Neal denied via Twitter that he and GM Lance Blanks took part in an altercation, and said they didn't exchange words over the team's coaching situation (hat tip to Matt Moore of CBSSports.com). Blanks acknowledged the two had an argument, but downplayed the incident, also saying it wasn't about the coaches, as Sam Amick of USA Today documents.
- I looked at the trade candidacy of Marcin Gortat earlier this evening, arguing that a combination of market demand and the Suns' need to move forward with rebuilding will lead to the departure of the Polish Hammer.
- Suns president Lon Babby is in the final year of his contract, and is "probably done" in Phoenix, where owner Robert Sarver, not known for his patience, appears anxious to make changes, Lawrence hears, adding that GM Lance Blanks could also be on his way out.
- In addition to a big man, the Heat are also looking for an upgrade at point guard. Lawrence suggests the Heat, who aren't re-signing Josh Harrellson to another 10-day contract, are still mulling whether to sign Chris Andersen, who worked out for the team earlier this month.
- Lawrence doesn't think London, which played host on Thursday to the Knicks-Pistons game, is anywhere near ready for an NBA franchise, and believes the league might be better off expanding into Barcelona or Rome, where there's greater interest in the game. Commissioner David Stern foresees multiple NBA teams based in Europe within 20 years.