Clippers forward Blake Griffin could return as early as Sunday’s game against Golden State, Arash Markazi of ESPN.com tweets. Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Griffin is running “full tilt” and participating in shooting drills, Markazi adds. Griffin has been sidelined since early February with a staph infection in his right elbow and was expected to miss four-to-six weeks. We’ll round up more from the league below..
- Waiving JaVale McGee, who has one year and $12MM remaining on his contract, is a good indicator the Sixers will not pursue any top free agents next season, Tom Moore of Calkin Media tweets. McGee was released by Philadelphia on Monday, meaning he’ll still have the opportunity to sign with a playoff contender.
- Suns management believes that Goran Dragic‘s representatives spent part of the All-Star break convincing the point guard to push Phoenix into trading him, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The BDA Sports client nonetheless insists his motives were his own, as Coro notes.
- Doc Rivers called Kevin Garnett‘s allegiance to the Timberwolves “almost nutty loyalty,” recalling that KG twice held up being traded to Boston during his first stint playing in Minnesota since he didn’t want it to appear he was “bailing” on the Wolves. Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press has the full story.
- The 2014/15 season has been a memorable one for the Knicks, but not for the right reasons. Still, Derek Fisher is confident that New York will have a chance to lure quality free agents this summer, as Fred Kerber of the New York Post details.
Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.
A third of the league is showing interest in JaVale McGee, whom the Sixers waived late Sunday, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Most of those 10 teams are playoff contenders, Spears adds, though their identities remain shrouded in mystery. The Clippers don’t appear to be one of them, as Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times hears they’re “not very” interested in the 27-year-old center (Twitter link). The teams that are in the mix for him envision him as a third-string center and wouldn’t shell out more than the minimum, a league source told John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com. There’s more from Gonzalez on McGee’s Sixers tenure amid the latest from around the Eastern Conference:
- The Sixers were reluctant to waive McGee immediately after trading for him last month because they wanted to have a first-hand look to see if they would come away with a more positive impression of him than other teams have, a league source told Gonzalez for the same piece.
- The Pistons recalled Quincy Miller from the D-League, the team announced (Twitter link). He averaged 11.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in just 19.7 minutes per contest during two games on his D-League stint, which began Friday. That was the day Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said he and his staff were leaning toward re-signing him to a second 10-day contract, notes Dave Pemberton of the Oakland Press (on Twitter). Today is the final day of his first 10-day pact.
- There’s increasing pressure on Randy Wittman and others involved with the Wizards amid the team’s slump, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com writes in his weekly power rankings. Still, Wittman is in no immediate jeopardy, Stein cautions, and the team isn’t thinking about a coaching change, as J. Michael of CSNWashington.com wrote this weekend.
- Lou Amundson hopes his stay with the Knicks will be “somewhat permanent,” in the words of Fred Kerber of the New York Post, who examines the positive effect the midseason addition has had. The pact he signed with New York after inking a pair of 10-day contracts runs only through the end of the season.
Larry Sanders had a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to continue to be paid if he didn’t play for the Bucks as long as he received mental health treatment, according to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com. Sanders this week acknowledged checking into a hospital to take part in a program for anxiety, depression and mood disorders, but Arnovitz indicates that he’s no longer in that facility, having departed shortly before he arranged his buyout from the Bucks. Before that, Sanders had broken off contact with the team, which nearly suspended him before the league did last month, Arnovitz also hears. One source who spoke with Arnovitz backed up a December report that Sanders was considering retirement, one Sanders quickly denied, though the center this week hinted that he might not play again. While we wait to see if Sanders can overcome his troubles and return to the NBA, here’s more from the Central Division:
- Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers pursued Kendrick Perkins even after he’d already committed to the Cavs, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com said today in an appearance on ESPN Cleveland radio (audio link at 32:10 mark).
- It’s doubtful that Brandon Jennings and Reggie Jackson both remain Pistons long-term, tweets Keith Langlois of Pistons.com, who nonetheless believes it’s a distinct possibility that the two of them are still on the team next season.
- The Pistons lavished more money on Jodie Meeks than they did with any of the team’s other free agent signees last summer in large measure for his outside shooting, but the slumping Meeks is knocking down a career-worst 30.1% of his three-point attempts, MLive’s David Mayo notes. Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy doesn’t regret failing to hire a shooting coach this summer but said he’ll consider it for next season, according to Mayo.
Despite missing on all of their buyout market targets after creating some roster flexibility with the idea of adding veteran talent after the trade deadline, Doc Rivers is nonetheless content with the Clippers’ roster as it is, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Among the Clippers’ missed targets are Josh Smith (Rockets), Kendrick Perkins (Cavaliers), Kevin Garnett (Timberwolves) and Tayshaun Prince (Pistons). They still have an open invitation out to Ray Allen, Markazi notes, but execs around the league are reportedly losing faith that he’ll sign with any team.
“We like our team,” Rivers said. “We actually like our basketball team, and if we could add something that can help that, we will. What people don’t understand is chemistry is so freaking important. Unless it’s somebody you think is going to really change your team, this team was a couple bad plays in Game 6 away from the Western Conference finals last year. We lost some guys and added some guys, but we like our team.”
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Amar’e Stoudemire, who will be a free agent in July, would welcome a return to the Suns, where he spent his first eight seasons, sources told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. Stoudemire loves the city, and his knees could benefit from a reunion with the Suns’ renowned medical staff, Beck wrote, but it’s unclear if the Suns would reciprocate the interest. Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote earlier this month that a return to Phoenix for next season was “quite possible”.
- Andre Miller would be interested in re-signing with the Kings, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The 16th-year veteran whom the Kings acquired a week ago in a deadline-day trade turns 39 next month, but he still wants to continue playing after the season, when his contract is up.
- Archie Goodwin is showcasing his ability and making the most of his boosted minutes in the Suns’ regular rotation, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The Suns informed inquiring teams before the trade deadline that Goodwin, whose rookie scale contract runs through 2016/17, is a big part of the franchise’s future. Goodwin, who said earlier this season that comments attributed to him about his frustration with a lack of playing in a report were taken out of context, has made four rotation appearances in a row after making only four appearances totaling 16 minutes from New Year’s Day through the All-Star break.
Rajon Rondo was suspended for one game by the Mavs for conduct detrimental to the team, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. The point guard and coach Rick Carlisle had a verbal altercation on the court that led to Rondo being benched in Dallas’ game against Toronto on Tuesday. The argument continued inside the Mavs’ locker room after that game, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com (Twitter link). Rondo becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer and it’s unknown if his friction with Carlisle will impact the veteran’s decision on possibly re-signing with Dallas.
In other news around the league:
- University of Kentucky forward Karl-Anthony Towns is threatening to surpass Duke big man Jahlil Okafor as the No. 1 pick in the June draft, according to draft expert Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). Towns is more athletic, a better defender and a superior shot-blocker compared to Okafor, in Ford’s evaluation, and some NBA GMs that Ford interviewed believe that Towns is the better long-term prospect.
- Doc Rivers, who is the Clippers’ president of basketball operations, has been a failure as an executive, according to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. Rivers has not found an adequate backup at small forward behind Matt Barnes, secured a rotation player in the draft or fortified his bench, Bolch contends. Rivers’ inability to re-sign Darren Collison and his commitment to Spencer Hawes, whom he signed to a four-year contract during the off-season, are examples of his shortcomings as an executive, Bolch adds. Hawes is averaging 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds this season, a reflection of his minimal impact.
- The Heat sent $369K to the Pelicans to complete the Norris Cole side of the deal which brought Goran Dragic to Miami, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The Heat also gave the Suns $2.2MM in that same trade.
- Victor Claver could wind up with Spanish power Real Madrid, David Pick of Eurobasket.com reports (Twitter link). Any Liga ACB team seeking his services must negotiate with Valencia, which owns his rights, Pick added in a separate tweet. The 26-year-old forward played in 10 games with the Trail Blazers this season before he was acquired by the Nuggets last week. Claver was subsequently waived by Denver.
The Suns were already planning to a hard push for Brandon Knight in free agency before they traded for him at last week’s deadline, according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, who writes amid a chat with readers. Phoenix was willing to trade the rights to the Lakers’ top-five protected first-round pick to Milwaukee for Knight, but the Bucks decided instead to take a package that included Michael Carter-Williams from the Sixers in what ended up a three-way deal, Ford adds.
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- It was tough for Kendrick Perkins to turn down former coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers, but a pitch from LeBron James was too tempting to pass up, notes Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “He was real honest with me,” Perkins said of Rivers. “He told me, ‘I think your best two situations right now is either us or Cleveland.’ So I was like, ‘Doc? Or I have a chance to go play with The King [LeBron James]. Doc? The King? Uh, I choose The King.”
- New Kings assistant coach Vance Walberg is being counted on to bring creativity to Sacramento’s offense, which is something the team was looking for when it fired former coach Mike Malone, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes.
- The hiring of Steve Kerr as coach was the final ingredient needed to change the Warriors from a one-and-done playoff team into a title contender, Chris Ballard of SI.com writes. Ballard also runs down how GM Bob Myers constructed the rest of the team’s roster, which is currently an NBA best 44-10.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The tension between Rajon Rondo and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle that bubbled to the surface with a profanity-laced shouting match and Rondo’s subsequent benching during Tuesday’s game predates that confrontation, team sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. The soon-to-be free agent and the coach have been at loggerheads over play-calling for a while, MacMahon hears, but owner Mark Cuban doesn’t seem worried, the ESPNDallas.com scribe notes. It’s far from the first time Rondo has clashed with a coach, as Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com points out (on Twitter). While we wait to see if his latest confrontation has any implication on this summer’s free agent market, there’s more on the Mavs amid the latest from the Southwest Division:
- Mavs athletic trainer Casey Smith’s strong reputation was one of the keys to Amar’e Stoudemire‘s decision to sign with Dallas, as MacMahon writes in a separate piece examining the team’s success with players on minimum-salary contracts. Cuban cites the club’s medical staff along with its style of play and its success in the win-loss column for the team’s ability to attract veterans at a discount. “You start looking at the roster and what they’ve accumulated,” Richard Jefferson said. “I’m in year 14 [of my career] now. I want to win. If that means I have to take less money for a year or two to help a team win, then so be it.”
- Josh Smith considered joining the Clippers before signing with the Rockets, as he told reporters today, including Dan Woike of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). The Clippers reportedly reached out to Smith’s representatives shortly after his release from the Pistons in December. He’ll be a free agent again in the summer.
- Former Mavs and Pelicans point guard Gal Mekel wishes he’d entered the D-League when he was searching for an NBA deal after the Pelicans let him go earlier this season, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com. Mekel wound up signing this week with Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod.
Larry Sanders revealed in a self-authored piece on The Players’ Tribune that he recently checked himself into a hospital where he took part in a program for anxiety, depression and mood disorders, and he used “if” and not “when” in reference to a return to basketball. The former Bucks center is a free agent after clearing waivers Monday from a buyout deal with Milwaukee.
“I love basketball, and if I get to a point where I feel I’m capable of playing basketball again, I will,” Sanders wrote. “I’ve had to make the difficult decision to follow my intuition, and allow myself the space and time to explore my true purpose in life.”
In January, Sanders denied a report from Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times that he was thinking about retirement amid an absence that began following his last appearance in a game on December 23rd. The center indicated in the video portion of his Players’ Tribune piece that the Bucks organization wasn’t the impetus behind his desire to depart. The 26-year-old reportedly has no intention to sign with an NBA team this season, though the Mavericks and Clippers were among the teams with at least some level of interest in signing him.
The center signed a four-year, $44MM rookie scale extension with the Bucks in 2013, but it didn’t kick in until this season. He forfeited all but $22,064,705 of it in the buyout deal, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Sanders downplayed the importance of money in his essay and suggested in the video that he has numerous priorities other than basketball.
“I’m a person, I’m a father, I’m an artist, I’m a writer, I’m a painter, I’m a musician, and sometimes I play basketball,” Sanders said.
Once a standout defender, Sanders has encountered a multitude of problems since he signed the extension. He broke his hand in a nightclub fight early last season, and the league has twice given him drug-related suspensions. The latest stretched over 12 games and cost him $1.2MM.
TUESDAY, 3:40pm: The deal is official, the team announced.
9:49pm: Perkins will sign with the Cavaliers Tuesday before the team plays in Detroit, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
MONDAY, 4:14pm: Perkins has cleared waivers as expected, a source tells Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link), clearing the way for him to sign with the Cavs.
SATURDAY, 3:30pm: Kendrick Perkins has finalized a buyout arrangement with the Jazz and intends to sign with the Cavaliers if and when he clears waivers, Royce Young of ESPN.com reports. Perkins was dealt to the Jazz on Thursday as part of a three-way trade with the Pistons and Thunder that sent Reggie Jackson to Detroit and Enes Kanter to Oklahoma City. The buyout has not been officially announced by the player or the Jazz as of yet, though Perkins’ agent Arn Tellem has informed Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link) that a buyout had been agreed upon.
The veteran big man was recruited by LeBron James to select Cleveland as his next NBA destination, Young notes. Perkins also drew heavy interest from the Bulls, Clippers, Pelicans, and Spurs, the ESPN scribe adds. The combination of a chance to contend for an NBA title along with an opportunity for playing time pushed Perkins to choose Cleveland over his other suitors, Young relays. The Cavs currently have 14 players on their roster, so no additional move would be required to sign Perkins. No contract details for Perkins have been released, but the Cavs do have a disabled player exception worth $4,852,273 for Anderson Varejao that they could use to sign Perkins for more than the minimum.
Perkins, 30, is making $9.654MM this season and would have become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. In 51 appearances this season, all with the Thunder, Perkins is averaging 4.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks in 19.2 minutes per contest.
2:43pm: The deal is official, the team announced.
11:05am: The Clippers plan to sign Jordan Hamilton to a 10-day contract today, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The fourth-year NBA veteran has been playing for Sacramento’s D-League affiliate, as Wojnarowski notes. He’s poised to go into one of the two open roster spots the Clips have.
Hamilton joined the D-League in November, shortly after the Jazz waived him and brought an end to a stint that lasted barely more than a week. Utah had claimed Hamilton off waivers just before opening night after the Raptors let him go following the spirited battle he put up for the roster spot that ultimately went to Greg Stiemsma. He was one of several players to work out for the Lakers earlier this season. The former 26th overall pick, who’s spent most of his NBA career with the Nuggets, initially played with the affiliate of the Grizzlies after signing with the D-League, but that club traded him to the Kings affiliate in December. Not surprisingly, his numbers have been more impressive since the swap that sent him to the up-tempo Reno Bighorns, as he’s averaged 18.1 points and 7.6 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers has been targeting players who’ve gone through buyouts, but the team has come up empty in that market so far. Would-be target Tayshaun Prince ended up in a trade instead of a buyout deal, and Kendrick Perkins spurned the Clips in favor of the Cavs. The Clippers also tried to insert themselves in the running for Amar’e Stoudemire, but the Mavs quickly established themselves as front-runners before ultimately signing him.