The Kings were in a position of power when DeMarcus Cousins signed his rookie scale extension last year, but Rudy Gay‘s decision to sign a veteran extension with the team this week is demonstrative of the strides the franchise has taken, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee examines.
“Obviously, when my contract was ending, I thought about going into free agency and maybe seeing what happens, but why search it when you have what you want right here?” Gay said.
Owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Pete D’Alessandro convinced the forward that the Kings were no longer the disorganized club that he’d heard stories about, Gay said, adding that having spent the offseason with Cousins helped influence his decision, too, Jones tweets. A bond with new point guard Darren Collison and comfort with the Sacramento community were also factors, Gay acknowledged, as fellow Bee scribe Ailene Voisin notes (Twitter link). There’s more on the Gay extension amid the latest from the Pacific Division:
- The Clippers planned to re-sign Willie Green after waiving him this summer, but the Magic stymied that when they claimed him off waivers, writes Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. “We were not very happy with the Magic on that one,” Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers said.. “We just assumed that no one would pick him up. Willie’s one of those guys you just want around.” Rivers also said that Green can serve as an assistant coach for him after he retires, Woike notes.
- Turning down Knicks president Phil Jackson to take the Warriors job instead was “probably the hardest thing that I had to do professionally,” Steve Kerr tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post. “He basically made my career. From my experience in Chicago, that allowed me to have the success to sign as a free agent in San Antonio, where I had another incredible experience. My career path, started with Lute Olson [at Arizona] … but Phil’s the guy who got me rolling and gave me all the opportunities that I have in front of me right now.”
- The Gay extension was a positive step for the Kings, and one the team had to make to move toward playoff contention, Voisin opines.
Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers admits he was mystified when the Suns signed-and-traded for Isaiah Thomas this past offseason, adding that he thought Phoenix was merely insuring itself against the loss of Eric Bledsoe, relays Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Rivers has gained appreciation for the Suns‘ three point guard strategy since then. “When you think of those three guards they have, it’s amazing,” he said. “It’s hard for everybody to guard. I didn’t see it but now I do.”
Here’s the latest from the Western Conference:
- Tyrus Thomas‘ workout with the Lakers is scheduled for this Thursday, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). Thomas also gave the Grizzlies a look at his skills last week, though he left without receiving a contract offer.
- The Rockets have assigned guard Nick Johnson to the Rio Grande Vipers, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. The rookie has appeared in three games for Houston this season, totaling two points and a rebound in 11 minutes of action.
- Gordon Hayward‘s contract with the Jazz is based more on what he’ll become than what he has done thus far in the league, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. But with continued improvement and the new TV deal set to kick in, there’s a decent chance the deal will look like a bargain in the near future, Powell adds.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Delonte West has been released by the Shanghai Sharks after making only four appearances for the team, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. West had played for the Clippers‘ summer league squad this year but was unable to secure a training camp invite. The 31-year-old guard had hoped to play his way back into the NBA but this latest setback in his career doesn’t bode well for that possibility, Amick notes. West last played in the NBA during the 2011/12 season when he made 44 appearances for the Mavericks.
Here’s more from around the league:
- With the college season underway we are getting our first good look at a number of prospects who are expected to fill out next year’s NBA draft lottery. Basketball Insiders’ Yannis Koutroupis has released his first mock draft of the season and it is headlined by the Sixers selecting Emmanuel Mudiay, who is currently displaying his wares for Guangdong of the Chinese Basketball Association, first overall.
- It originally appeared that University of Kentucky would keep NBA personnel out of their practices for much of the season after the Wildcats held an unusual October combine, but the school has let NBA teams know they’re welcome again, a source tells Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress (Twitter link).
- Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders runs down the 10 biggest surprises in the NBA so far this season, which include the stellar play of the Bulls‘ Jimmy Butler, the Cavs’ defensive woes, and Reggie Jackson putting up career-best numbers for the Thunder. Both Butler and Jackson are set to become restricted free agents next summer and the competition for their services should be increased if they can continue their early-season performances, notes Kennedy.
- Robert Covington‘s four-year, $4.2MM deal with the Sixers will pay him $1MM for the first year which includes a partial guarantee of $400K, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). Covington’s second year is also slated to pay him $1MM but is non-guaranteed, and the last two seasons are for the league minimum and include no guaranteed money, notes Pincus.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Warriors, Clippers and even the Kings would make the playoffs out of the Pacific Division if the postseason began today. Sacramento’s hot start may have played a role in Rudy Gay‘s decision to agree to a contract extension this weekend, as we detail amid the latest from the Pacific:
- Extension talks between Gay and the Kings had seemingly been dormant for months before the sides picked up the conversation just days before their agreement this weekend. Still, he had always been open to staying in Sacramento if he saw indications that the team was improving, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.
- Kobe Bryant is gunning away at a phenomenal rate, topping the NBA with 24.4 shot attempts per game, but it’s not as if he isn’t helping his Lakers teammates. Rookie Jordan Clarkson says Bryant has given him information aplenty to absorb, notes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. “I couldn’t even repeat everything he says,” Clarkson said. “I wish I had one of those tape recorders some days. I’ll keep it in my pocket when he talks to me. He’s so useful.”
- Matt Barnes has started the final fully guaranteed season of his contract in a slump on the court as he deals with turmoil in his family life off of it, but the Clippers remain in his corner, as Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com examines.
Kevin Love earlier today dismissed a report linking him to the Lakers, and he also told reporters Friday that his offseason visit to Boston wasn’t a fact-finding mission to see if he’d like to play for the Celtics, notes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com.
“The fact is, my agent [Jeff Schwartz] is a big Red Sox fan,” Love said. “I’d been planning on that for a long time to come in and check out not only the city, but a Red Sox game and we had a great time and we plan on coming back. It’s tough because I wasn’t a free agent last summer. I have potential to be a free agent this summer or next. It’s just one of those things. It’s obviously a tremendous city. People love it here [in Boston]. Basketball and sports in general are huge here, but it’s been fantastic being a part of the Cavaliers now. We have a team that’s formidable, has a big presence and we see a lot of you guys [in the media] on a daily basis.”
Love makes it clear that he has affection for Boston, but that it doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to play there. Here’s more from around the league:
- Union executive director Michele Roberts explains why she doesn’t think eliminating maximum salaries would hurt the players who aren’t making the max in the full text of her interview with Pablo S. Torre of ESPN The Magazine. Snippets of their Q&A that ESPN released earlier this week caused a stir and prompted a response from commissioner Adam Silver. The full interview reveals that Roberts is having regular talks with Silver and that players have expressed their support for a team in Europe.
- Donald Sterling named Adam Silver, David Stern and former Clippers interim CEO Dick Parsons among 18 witnesses he may call to the stand in a trial to resolve his $1 billion federal lawsuit against the NBA, reports Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times. A recent court filing revealed that Sterling lawyer Maxwell Blecher had begun talks with the NBA about a possible dismissal of the suit, but Blecher has withdrawn from representing Sterling, Fenno writes. Blecher tells Fenno that he’s unaware if any such talks are currently proceeding.
- It’s “widely anticipated” that the NBA and the D-League will someday implement contracts that will allow players on NBA rosters to be paid D-League salaries while on D-League assignment, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Currently, all players on D-League assignment continue to draw their NBA salaries, which are at least some 20 times greater than the maximum $25,500 D-League salary.
FRIDAY, 2:05pm: Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers didn’t give the impression that he has interest in World Peace while speaking with reporters today, notes Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).
WEDNESDAY, 11:27am: The Clippers have been monitoring Metta World Peace for a while, Marc Stein of ESPN.com said this morning on SportsCenter (video link), following up on a tweet from Daniel Artest, World Peace’s brother, who said Tuesday that the Clippers have interest. World Peace, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason with China’s Sichuan Blue Whales, wouldn’t come back to the NBA until the Blue Whales season is over, as Stein points out, but Sichuan’s final regular season game is February 1st. That would leave plenty of time for World Peace to return to the NBA before the end of its regular season in April, barring a long playoff run for his Chinese club, and World Peace said recently that he plans to return to the NBA as soon as later this season.
The Marc Cornstein client worked out at the Clippers facility over the summer, Stein notes, and World Peace reportedly sought deals with the Knicks, Lakers and Clippers this past offseason. The Knicks considered the possibility, and while it’s not clear if either the Lakers or Clippers did, World Peace said this month that he’d “rather play in Angola” than sign with the Knicks or Lakers upon his return from China.
World Peace is off to a strong start in his first Chinese season after 15 years in the NBA, averaging 22.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in about 31 minutes per game across four appearances. His last NBA game was with the Knicks in February shortly before he asked for and was granted his release from the team amid a sharp decline in playing time. He averaged just 13.4 minutes per game last season after receiving 33.7 MPG the year before with the Lakers.
The Clippers are in danger of paying the luxury tax and they’re also not far beneath their $80.829MM hard cap for this season, as Stein mentions, so they’ll have to be particularly judicious with any additions they make. They’re also limited to handing out the minimum salary to free agents, but the minimum prorates throughout the season, meaning that if World Peace were to join the team for the stretch run, his deal would give him less than $1MM.
Nick Young has begun shooting without a cast, reports Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com, giving the Lakers hope that one of their top scorers could return soon. Young signed a new four-year, $21.5MM contract with the team in July, but underwent surgery last month on a torn radial collateral ligament in his right thumb. He has not played this season, and he has not been cleared to return to practice. “He was able to handle the ball today and shoot,” said Lakers coach Byron Scott. “There’s still no contact. Hopefully next week sometime he’ll be able to go through a full day of contact and scrimmaging and then we’ll go from there.” Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:
- The Lakers‘ Ed Davis can’t wait for the chance to prove himself against the Grizzlies Tuesday night in Memphis, Markazi tweets. “It’s a lot of motivation going back there because they gave up on me,” Davis said. “It’s a team I definitely want to get a win against.” Davis saw limited playing time during his season and a half in Memphis. He joined the Lakers as a free agent in July on a contract that pays him $981,084 this season with a player option for more than $1.1MM in 2015/16.
- Steve Kerr, the first-year head coach of the Warriors, told Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic that he looked to a former teammate for inspiration. Kerr’s role model was Jeff Hornacek, who led the surprising Suns to a 48-34 record last season as a rookie coach. Kerr and Hornacek played together on the 1988/89 Suns. “I looked at Jeff and the job he did last year and the success he had, and I drew inspiration from that,” Kerr said. “I still watch him and watch his team with a lot of respect. They do a lot of really innovative things offensively, and they play hard.”
- There seems to be a sense of relief, rather than focus, among the Clippers, opines Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. A mid-summer ownership change allowed the team to close the book on the Donald Sterling era, but Ding says the team is lacking its “Lob City energy” on offense and is slow in making rotations on defense.
Draymond Green‘s representation switch to the Wasserman Media Group could help the Warriors re-sign the forward, who is set to become a restricted free agent next summer, Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group writes. GM Bob Myers is a former player agent who worked with and was mentored by Arn Tellem, the head of Wasserman, notes Leung. In an interview with 95.7 The Game, Myers said, “So if Arn says, ‘Hey, I got this much money (from another offer),’ he’s not going to lie to me, so there’s value in that. And here’s the other thing I do know. If it’s a tie, we’ll win. Not only just because he’s restricted, but Arn, we’ve known other a long time, so he’s not going to hurt us. If he can help, that’s great.”
Here’s more from way out west:
- With the Lakers season seemingly over before it began, talk has turned to the possibility of Kobe Bryant potentially waiving his no-trade clause and being dealt. Chris Mannix of SI.com believes this would be the smart move from a basketball standpoint for both the team and Bryant, but Los Angeles has plenty of business and economic reasons to hold onto their star. Mannix cites the franchise’s high ticket prices and fanbase that isn’t keen on rooting for a team without a marquee attraction as the main reasons the Lakers would keep Bryant.
- Despite the Lakers‘ potential interest in signing Rajon Rondo, the point guard will likely realize that the Celtics’ outlook seems rosier, Ben Rohrbach of WEEI 93.7 writes. Boston’s roster has more talent the Los Angeles’, and the Lakers are more likely to deal Bryant than to acquire Rondo, Rohrbach opines.
- Not every player who signs to play in Los Angeles and ends up in Salt Lake City would appreciate the move, but Joe Ingles is content after the Jazz claimed him off waivers from the Clippers and paired him with Dante Exum, his teammate from the Australian national squad. Jody Genessy of the Deseret News has the details. “I don’t regret anything about what happened or what I did or anything,” Ingles said. “I did all I can to make the team and wasn’t what they [the Clippers] wanted or good enough or whatever it was, so it worked out perfectly. I’m very happy here (with Utah). It’s been great.”
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The league has proposed setting the 2016/17 salary cap between $78MM and $82MM in discussions with the union about phasing in the increases that the league’s new TV revenue will bring about, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports. Those figures would still be quite a leap from next season’s projected $66.5MM cap, and they’d set up lots of teams with flexibility for the summer of 2016, when Kevin Durant is poised to hit free agency. Some teams are optimistic that Durant will consider a wide array of suitors, while others have heard that he’s already down to the Thunder and the Wizards, according to Lowe. In any case, there’s much on the line on Oklahoma City in the next 19 months or so left before Durant’s contract expires, as Lowe examines. Here’s more on the Thunder and their Northwest Division rivals:
- The Thunder are confident that they’ll be able to match other clubs’ offer sheets for restricted free agent-to-be Reggie Jackson next summer, sources tell Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Given the roughly $63.57MM of guaranteed salary the Thunder already have on their books for the 2015/16 season, retaining Jackson might require exceeding the luxury tax threshold, something they’ve been reluctant to do in the past.
- Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey isn’t planning simply to let his team’s young core grow on its own, and he says he’ll use it as a draw to attract free agents, as he tells Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, promising to be “very aggressive” in free agency next year. Still, Alec Burks tells Genessy that the team’s commitment to youth is one reason why he was eager to sign his extension with Utah.
- The Clippers weren’t pleased when the Jazz claimed Joe Ingles off waivers, as coach/executive Doc Rivers admits his club had designs on re-signing the 27-year-old rookie, Genessy tweets.
- Thaddeus Young, who can become a free agent in the summer, sees a bright future ahead for the Timberwolves, as he tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.
Charlie Adams contributed to this post.
Being both the coach and president of basketball operations for the Wolves put Flip Saunders in a unique situation regarding Ricky Rubio‘s extension, writes Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press. “Dealing with the GM, it’s always tough,” Rubio said. “But if you only see him in the office, that’s good. But then you have to see him in the practice, it’s a little tougher. But I think Flip handled the thing very well. He was not different, but when we’re out on the court, we were only talking about basketball. We didn’t talk about business in the practice facility. That helped me to feel comfortable.”
Here’s more from around the league:
- The Kings‘ D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, who selected Brady Heslip with their first round pick, were deemed the biggest winner of the D-League draft by Keith Schlosser of SB Nation. Schlosser also notes that Marquis Teague will learn more discipline running the floor by playing for the Thunder-affiliated Oklahoma City Blue.
- Will Cherry‘s two year, minimum salary deal with the Cavaliers is partially guaranteed, notes Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. The exact amount of the guarantee is not yet known.
- Though he signed a three-year, $15MM deal with the Kings this offseason, Darren Collison‘s original goal was to return to the Clippers, and the player said that being a starter wasn’t a priority in his decision, Jovan Buha of Fox Sports reports (Twitter links). Collison also said that Sacramento was the first team that contacted him, but that he felt that the club’s priorities were finding a big man and help on the wing, Buha notes.
- Collison did admit that there was some miscommunication between him and team president Doc Rivers regarding his level of interest in re-signing with the Clippers, Buha tweets. For his part, Rivers said, “I wanted to keep him [Collison]. I thought he would have been perfect for here forever. But I know math a little bit,” tweets Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times.
- Willie Reed, who was recently waived by the Nets, has signed a guaranteed contract for the remainder of the season with Hapoel Eilat of the Israeli league, David Pick of Basketball Insiders reports. The 6’10” Reed averaged 4.0 rebounds in 16.6 minutes in two preseason games for Brooklyn.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.