Here are a few notes from the Eastern Conference:
- The latest piece by Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com examines Iman Shumpert‘s trade value and the likelihood that the Knicks guard develops into an elite player. Shumpert has been discussed as a potential trade candidate throughout the season, and Begley suggests that his value lies in his potential and not proven production. So far in his career, the former first-round pick has scored 8.2 PPG in 26.5 MPG.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post compares Mike Woodson‘s tough treatment of Shumpert this season to his treatment of J.R. Smith last season. Smith responded positively and ended up winning sixth man of the year, but it remains to be seen whether or not Shumpert will respond in such a way.
- Dion Waiters has been another popular name in trade rumors around the league. We learned yesterday that the Cavaliers are shopping Waiters, and Bob Finnan of the News Herald reveals that Waiters is attempting to stay focused on the court amid all the trade talks: “I’m out here and still smiling. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than playing basketball. I’ll leave that all to the press. I’ll let them have fun with that.”
- Much was made of LeBron James and “The Decision,” but Tommy Beer of HoopsWorld notes that James’ decision to sign with the Heat was unselfish in the sense that he took less guaranteed years and a significant pay cut in order to play for a championship-caliber club. In fact, James could have made an additional $15MM had he signed a more lucrative contract that was available to him.
- Speaking of the Heat, Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel writes that Miami and the Big Three have come a long way since their 9-8 start in 2010/11 that had critics questioning whether or not the superstar packed club could succeed. James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade each have early termination options on their contracts for the 2014/15 season, but there’s been little evidence to suggest any of them are eager to explore free agency.
Kobe Bryant says he gave no thought to leaving the Lakers in free agency, and defended himself against criticism that his extension will hurt the team, as USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt observes. Most Hoops Rumors readers agree, believing the Lakers will sign another max free agent in either 2014 or 2015. Here’s more from the Association:
- The Bulls seem likely to get a disabled player exception after Derrick Rose‘s injury, but that doesn’t mean they’ll use it, as Salary Cap FAQ author Larry Coon explains (Twitter links).
- There’s no sign of any rift between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and as the Cavs and others lurk in free agency, LeBron seems as much a part of the Heat as ever, writes Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald.
- Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld says he has no plans to make a roster move in the next two weeks while Bradley Beal recovers from a stress injury in his right leg, observes Michael Lee of the Washington Post. Beal will miss at least that amount of time.
- Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report hears from a source that new Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger is getting “considerable direction” from the team’s ownership and front office. “They’re suggesting lineups,” said the source. “Aggressively.”
- In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Jeff Goodman makes the case for why Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart could receive some consideration as the first overall pick next June.
- Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports catches up with Josh Howard, who is playing with the D-League’s Austin Toros as he attempts to make his way back to the NBA.
- FIBA approved moving the 2018 basketball World Cup to 2019, as Lefteris Moutis of Eurohoops.net writes. Qualification will take place while most pro leagues are in session, a move that probably isn’t popular with the NBA.
- Mike Woodson made it clear to reporters today that the perception he doesn’t like Iman Shumpert is off base, as Frank Isola of the New York Daily News tweets.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.
It’s not easy to build a six-and-a-half game lead in less than a month, but that’s what the Pacers have done in the Central Division, where they’re the only team above .500. The Bulls are in second place, and the hole they’re in would have been somewhat of a challenge to overcome even if Derrick Rose were coming back this season. It’s probably impossible now that he’s done for the year, though Chicago at least has a strong chance of making the playoffs in the watered-down Eastern Conference. Here’s more on Indiana and the Central Division also-rans:
- Anderson Varejao would welcome former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James if the four-time MVP decides to re-sign with Cleveland this summer, a prospect Varejao believes could become reality, as Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio observes. The Brazilian big man thinks James will likely return to the Cavs at some point, even if it’s not for next season.
- Other reports suggest Luol Deng isn’t going anywhere soon, but executives from around the league who spoke to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune expect trade talks involving the Bulls small forward to pick up.
- Johnson also notes in his piece that the Bulls chose to sign Mike Dunleavy over Marco Belinelli because they believed Dunleavy was a better fit with Rose. That points to the challenge the team faces opposed to last year, when they went into the season knowing Rose would be out. Despite his latest injury, Bulls GM Gar Forman says he’d be OK with Rose playing in the basketball World Cup this coming summer, according to Johnson.
- Pacers coach Frank Vogel is impressed with offseason acquisition Luis Scola, and didn’t expect the 33-year-old would defend as well as he has so far, writes Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star.
- The Bucks had the most turnover of any NBA team this summer, but they didn’t expect to have the worst record in the Eastern Conference a month into the season, as Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel examines.
The Nets will look to snap a five-game losing streak tonight when they take on the Atlantic Division leaders in Toronto. As we look forward to that game and the three others on Tuesday’s slate, let’s check in on a few items from around the Eastern Conference….
- Grantland’s Zach Lowe provides a couple interesting details on Paul George‘s extension with the Pacers. Because he signed a max deal, George would be eligible for up to 30% (rather than 25%) of the salary cap if he earns All-NBA honors this season, thanks to the Derrick Rose rule. However, if he does meet the Rose criteria, George’s salary will be just 27% of the cap, according to Lowe. In exchange for that concession, the Pacers forward received a player option on the fifth year of his new deal.
- Seeing Kobe Bryant sign an extension that will likely assure he finishes his career as a Laker has strengthened Dwyane Wade‘s own desire to spend the rest of his career with the Heat, as he tells Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Wade will be eligible to opt out of his deal next summer, but isn’t expected to go anywhere.
- Iman Shumpert didn’t record a single point, rebound, or assist in more than 23 minutes of action last night, but insisted trade rumors weren’t the reason for his poor outing, according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday.
- Sean Deveney of the Sporting News spoke to league executives about the possibility of LeBron James returning to the Cavs, and the consensus was that it may happen eventually, but likely not as soon as next summer.
- Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com (Insider link) identifies six potential trade targets for the Bulls as they look to fill their hole at point guard.
Entering the 2013/14 NBA season, the Atlantic Division was generally predicted to contain at least two playoff teams: the Nets and Knicks. So far in the early goings of ’13/14, neither team looked overly dominant. The Nets saw an impressive win over Miami before a 21-point loss to Orlando in their next contest. The Knicks have lost three straight and center Tyson Chandler was just sidelined for at least four weeks. It’s been a rough start for the two teams projected to finish at the top of the division.
Here some notes from around the Atlantic Division:
While the Jazz and Gordon Hayward fell short of agreeing on a contract extension last week, both Hayward and the franchise are still interested in getting something done eventually. Hayward told Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: “(Not reaching an agreement) in no way changes the way I feel about Utah at all…I love being here. I love playing for them…Hopefully (an extension) will get worked out next summer.”
Utah GM Dennis Lindsey had this to say about Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein and future negotiations: “Mark’s been one of the best agents in the business because he negotiates hard. He was fair. He played by the rules. He’ll continue to play by the rules. We’ll be fair as well, and we’ll come back and start talking in July…Just because (Hayward) said no to our last offer, his character hasn’t changed. He is an outstanding person…He’s someone we can see being in a Utah Jazz jersey until he retires. That’s our hope. We think we’re great fits.”
We have a handful of miscellaneous news and notes to pass along tonight, and you can read them below:
- ESPN LA’s Arash Markazi weighed in on some of the rumblings which suggest that Steve Nash could eventually wind up in Toronto, saying that a deal between the Raptors and Lakers makes sense but isn’t sure if something gets done. Markazi opines that L.A. would like to clear Nash’s salary off their books while the Raptors would enjoy increased ticket sales by bringing the Canadian legend back to his home country (All Twitter links).
- Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld tweeted a list of players who may be traded this season, including: Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis, Evan Turner, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass, and Gerald Wallace.
- Kennedy also shared what 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams told him about his chances on winning the Rookie of the Year Award: “I think I have a pretty good chance at it. I’m just going to go out there, play my game and hope for the best” (Twitter link).
- Entering tonight’s game with a record of 1-2 before their win against the Wizards, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade acknowledged that some minor chemistry issues are affecting the team (Michael Wallace of ESPN.com). More specifically, Wade had this to say: “Let me give you an example…If you’re in a relationship with a woman for a long time, you start getting comfortable. You stop doing the little things that you should do, that you did in the beginning. It’s just like a relationship. We got a little comfortable. Now we have to get back on that edge a little bit.”
- Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes that Knicks forwards Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin will have their own individualized schedules as far as playing or sitting out games, a decision meant to preserve the health of both in the long run.
- Mavericks point man Jose Calderon appears to be regaining his groove after a sluggish start to the season, writes Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram.
Magic Johnson tells the “Max and Marcellus Show” on ESPNLA 710 that he’d be willing to help the Lakers recruit free agents during what he calls a “crucial summer” ahead. “If it’s (Lakers co-owner) Jim Buss going up against Pat Riley, he’s going to lose that battle. He needs help,” Johnson said. “You have to have a recruiter. Jim needs a recruiter with him.” Johnson touched on plenty more about the Lakers and their recent past, and Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com rounds up the highlights. Here’s more from opening night in the Association:
- LeBron James tried to recruit Taj Gibson to the Heat when Gibson was a year away from restricted free agency, but Gibson doesn’t think he’ll return the favor with James poised to hit free agency this summer, as Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times details.
- Kevin Garnett has yet to make his official debut for the Nets, but he’s already the “heartbeat of the team,” according to fellow offseason addition Alan Anderson. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News has more.
- Kevin Love tells Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune that he and Ricky Rubio have spoken about a long-term future together, but for now, they’re focusing on the present. Both Timberwolves can become free agents in 2015.
- Sixers GM Sam Hinkie is confident that the city of Philadelphia can be a selling point for marquee free agents when he’s ready to make a run at them, but Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders if local fans will turn on him before he gets to that point.
- Brett Brown admits that the challenge of coaching the Sixers is harder than he envisioned when he took over the team in August, observes Tom Moore of The Intelligencer.
- Xavier Henry remains on a non-guaranteed contract after making the Lakers out of camp, but he’s drawing raves from coach Mike D’Antoni, notes Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link).
A pair of Southeast teams are set to participate in the NBA’s first two games of the regular season tomorrow night, with the Magic scheduled to tip off first in Indiana, followed by the Heat playing host to Chicago. As we look forward to the NBA’s opening night, let’s round up a few of today’s items out of the Southeast….
- The acquisition of Marcin Gortat didn’t have an effect on the Wizards‘ long-term cap outlook, since all the players involved in the deal were on expiring contracts. As GM Ernie Grunfeld tells J. Michael of CSNWashington.com, the team should have some flexibility going forward to decide whether to keep some of their own players or pursue an outside trade or free agent.
- The regular season may be around the corner, but Matt Moore, Royce Young, and Zach Harper of CBSSports.com already have an eye toward next July, providing an early primer for LeBron James‘ Decision 2.0. The Eye on Basketball trio discusses what the Heat, Lakers, and Cavs can offer the reigning MVP next summer, and debate the odds of LeBron actually leaving Miami.
- In his weekly column at NBA.com, TNT’s David Aldridge avoids free agency talk in a Q&A with LeBron, and takes an extended look at the Hawks, including conversations with star big man Al Horford and head coach Mike Budenholzer.
- Two Southeast players, Jameer Nelson of the Magic and Ben Gordon of the Bobcats, cracked Steve Kyler’s list of strong trade candidates at HoopsWorld. While they may not be going anywhere yet, expect rumors to heat up as the trade deadline nears, says Kyler. Evan Turner, Iman Shumpert, and Goran Dragic rounded out his list of candidates to be moved.
T.J. Simers of the OC Register writes that Lakers executive Jim Buss believes he has an understanding with Kobe Bryant regarding next summer, in which he’ll let him hit free agency, spend the money accordingly on free agents, and offer whatever’s left to the Lakers’ star afterwards. When Simers asked him to elaborate, Kobe “vaguely” responded: “We’ve probably talked (about it)…but I’m putting off any thought of that.”
In another piece, Kobe spoke with Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times about his inability to mesh with Dwight Howard last season: “We saw different ways of going about leading this team…Dwight wanted to do it one way and he felt like it was effective. I wanted to do it another way. It was constant tension the second half of the season.”
Here are a handful of tonight’s links to pass along from around the Association:
- LeBron James remained diplomatic when asked if winning a third consecutive ring would provide an answer to whether or not he’ll stay in with the Heat beyond this year: “When that bridge comes, I’ll cross it with my family…And we’re going to make the right choice. We’ve been in this position before, I’ve been in this position before, and I’ll be excited about it, but we’ll see what happens” (Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald).
- LeBron was also quick to assert that his focus is on the upcoming season, and later emphasized Dwyane Wade‘s health as the key to Miami’s success: “Winning, that’s my only concern right now, winning…I want to put a third ring on the guys that have two. I want to put a first ring on the guys that don’t have any and I want to put a fourth on [Udonis Haslem] and D-Wade. So, that’s my goal…Without (Dwyane), this ship doesn’t continue to move without him, and I hope he knows that,..I think he knows that because he’s a big part of what we do.”
- Cavaliers coach Mike Brown is still undecided about how he’ll handle the rotation at small forward this season, having been torn between Alonzo Gee and Earl Clark: “Nobody’s really separated themselves drastically from the other guy…One game, one guy’s played pretty good, then another guy’s played pretty good. … I told those guys, it can go into the regular season, just keep yourself ready to go in case your number’s called” (Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer).
- Steve Nash spoke with Mark Medina of InsideSoCal.com about the challenges of staying healthy at this point in his career.
- USA Today’s Sam Amick goes over what he’s learned so far after watching the pre-season.
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News says that the Jazz’ signing of Jamaal Tinsley makes Lester Hudson and Scott Machado longshots to make the final cut.
Here are some links from around the Association as we come inside 10 days before the regular season starts:
- The New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence compares and contrasts the different ways LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have handled their possible impending free agency next summer. That’s when both can opt-out of their current deals with the Heat and Knicks, respectively.
- Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich told the Miami Herald’s Joseph Goodman he dreams about LeBron James and Ray Allen almost every night after the Spurs’ tough loss to the Heat in the Finals last season.
- Austin Daye told the Toronto Sun’s Ryan Wolstat he chose the Raptors this offseason in free agency – despite receiving some interest from the Heat - because he believes in the organization and thought he’d get more playing time.
- Sixers coach Brett Brown will “deal with” Lavoy Allen missing practice today after he claimed to have overslept, writes the Intelligencer’s Thomas Moore.
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter against the Pacers on Friday night and will be out indefinitely.
- Harrison Barnes expects to play in the Warriors season opener against the Lakers on October 30th, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. Barnes has missed the last three preseason games with a left foot inflammation, and there’s no word on whether he’ll dress for the remaining two preseason games.
- Ridiculous Upside’s Keith Schlosser reports that D-League players want to be paid more.
- Foreign clubs routinely offer more money than the NBA’s D-League, so the impetus to stay and compete is low unless a certain club expresses direct interest in a player and asks them to play.
- Schlosser suggested individual NBA teams could pay the salaries instead of the NBA itself, but there are only 17 D-League franchises right now with a number of teams sharing the same affiliate, so it’s unclear which team would pay which salaries.