DeAndre Jordan is set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, but his comments to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register make it clear that he enjoys playing for coach Doc Rivers, who doubles as president of basketball operations for the Clippers. “Doc, and he knows this, has changed my career from whatever it was to whatever it is now and into whatever it’s going to be,” Jordan said. “I owe him a lot. He gave me a chance without even knowing me as a person or as a player to be on this team and to be a piece. I feel like I owe him a lot for believing in me before we even had one practice or one conversation.”
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Warriors GM Bob Myers expects negotiations to continue into the season regarding Klay Thompson‘s extension, Diamond Leung of The Bay Area News Group writes. With the regular season getting underway Tuesday night, it is to be assumed that Myers was referring to the talks continuing from then up until the 11pm deadline this Friday.
- For his part, Thompson is also willing to continue negotiating with the Warriors up until the deadline, tweets Marcus Thompson of The Bay Area News Group. Klay Thompson has expressed a preference for the security of an extension rather than a one-year deal next summer that would allow him to hit unrestricted free agency in 2016.
- Steve Ballmer has been a breath of fresh air for the Clippers organization in the wake of this summer’s Donald Sterling scandal that led to the former owner’s ouster, as Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report writes in his profile of the franchise’s new owner.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Workers broke ground today on a new arena for the Kings that’s set to open in two years, the team confirms via press release. It’s the latest in a long line of steps toward a new building that the NBA has mandated must take place in a timely fashion in advance of a 2017 deadline for completion. The league would have the power to take control of the team and move it to another city if the Kings either miss the deadline or don’t show sufficient progress, but it seems the franchise is well on its way to opening the doors of its new home in Sacramento. There’s more on the Kings amid our latest look around the Pacific Division:
- The Kings are indeed looking for help on the wing even though they’re not ready to sign Terrence Williams at this point, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links). Williams, a four-year NBA veteran, reportedly worked out for Sacramento recently, and the Kings, who have an open roster spot, are looking for experience, Jones says.
- New Suns guard Isaiah Thomas confirms that he had interest in signing with the Lakers this summer, adding that the interest was mutual, as he tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe. “First off, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers. Who wouldn’t want to play for them? Second off, I felt like they always needed a point guard — a small guard like myself,” Thomas said. “I always envisioned myself playing with the Lakers, but like you said, they were waiting on Carmelo [Anthony] and other moves. The Suns came out of nowhere and showed a lot of interest, and I fell in love with them.”
- A report early in free agency indicated that the Lakers, Heat and Pistons were Thomas’ preferred teams, and he says to Lowe that all three, as well as the Mavs, showed interest, noting that Miami’s pursuit took place before LeBron James left, as Lowe passes along in the same piece.
- Steve Ballmer can write off about half of the $2 billion he paid to buy the Clippers as he files his federal taxes over the next 15 years, report Arash Massoudi and Alan Livsey of the Financial Times (hat tip to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News).
The Clippers have picked up their team option for 2015/16 on Reggie Bullock‘s rookie scale contract, according to the RealGM transactions log. The team has yet to make an official announcement. Bullock will make more than $1.252MM that season, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows. The team has been facing a Friday deadline to make its decision.
Bullock wasn’t particularly impressive as a rookie last season, but it’s nonetheless no surprise to see the Clippers keep him for another year, as I suggested during the offseason. The 25th pick in the 2013 draft averaged just 2.7 points in 9.2 minutes per game as a rookie, and he saw similar playing time during the preseason this month. Still, the 23-year-old shows promise, and the Clippers are weakest at the wing positions, where Bullock plays.
Exercising the option puts the Clippers at nearly $58.9MM in commitments for 2015/16, though that entails fully guaranteed salary for only six players. The team has partially guaranteed salary out to Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes for that season, and if they remain on the team and Jordan Farmar picks up his player option worth close to $2.2MM, it adds approximately $8.7MM to the team’s ledger. DeAndre Jordan is also poised to hit unrestricted free agency next summer, so the Clips will have a tough time avoiding the tax.
The Jazz have waived Carrick Felix, and they’ve claimed Jordan Hamilton and Joe Ingles off waivers, the team announced in a pair of releases. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported the waiver claims and tweeted the news that the team would release Felix. Utah had been carrying 14 players, so at least one had to go to accommodate the pair of claims. Hamilton, whose minimum-salary deal is partially guaranteed for $25K, comes from the Raptors, so Toronto is no longer on the hook for that money. The Clippers had placed their non-guaranteed contract with Ingles on waivers.
Hamilton made it tough on the Raptors this month, though they ultimately decided to go with Greg Stiemsma over both Hamilton and Will Cherry as they all battled for one open regular season roster spot with matching $25K guarantees. Hamilton averaged 9.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game in the preseason, more playing time than he had seen in any of his three regular seasons since becoming the 26th overall pick in 2011.
Ingles was a hot commodity after his showing for the Australian national team in the World Cup. The Jazz were among a host of teams that were eyeing the swingman as early as this past spring, and he ultimately decided on the Clippers, though it was surprising to see him fail to garner any guaranteed salary. He’ll make the minimum this year.
Felix’s minimum salary was fully guaranteed, so Utah is on the hook for that money unless he clears waivers. The 33rd overall pick from last year played nine D-League games and seven NBA contests last year with the Cavs, who sent him out primarily for financial reasons in the July trade that brought him to Utah. He has a non-guaranteed salary for 2015/16 that will disappear if he clears waivers.
Utah creeps closer to this year’s $63.065MM cap with today’s pickups, but the Jazz still have less than $60MM in committed salary for this season.
Steve Ballmer brings enthusiasm and loyalty to the Clippers as their new owner, writes James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times. Ballmer wants to be the NBA version of the Seattle Seahawks, whose fans are widely known as the 12th man for being the most passionate in the NFL. “We want better energy. I do. The players do. Doc [Rivers] does. Everybody does,” Ballmer said. “More. Better. We would love to be known for the most energetic fans in the NBA.”
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Isaiah Canaan, who’s so far secured a roster spot with his preseason play, hopes his hard work translates into playing time in the regular season for the Rockets, writes Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle. “I have to be strong in practice so that the coaches will feel like they can trust me out there,” Canaan said. “And when I get out there, I need to do my best, work hard and prove that I belong on the floor.”
- The return of Arron Afflalo brings major changes to the guard rotation in Denver, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Because of his improved game, Dempsey notes, Afflalo will surely take on a bigger role with the Nuggets than he had in his first stint with the team two years ago.
- A lack of depth on the bench could be the Rockets‘ Achilles heel, opines Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. In his season preview, Amico wonders whether there is talent on the roster to fill the void left by the departures of Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.
Guard Joe Ingles has been waived by the Clippers, according to a team release. Dan Woike of the Orange County Register was the first to tweet news that Ingles would be let go. The move cuts the Clippers’ roster to the league maximum of 15. It isn’t clear if the team intends to sign Ingles to their D-League affiliate, but they do have the inside track if so, as teams can retain the rights for up to four players waived before the regular season.
The Clippers won’t be on the hook for any money because Ingles’ minimum-salary contract was non-guaranteed. Ingles was reportedly in a battle for the final roster sport with guard Jared Cunningham.
The 6’8″ Australian boosted his NBA chances with a strong performance during this year’s FIBA World Cup. The 26-year-old played last season at Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, where he averaged 6.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
Thunder GM Sam Presti said the team wants Reggie Jackson to remain a piece of the franchise’s puzzle, Cliff Brunt of The Associated Press writes. “I think we’ve been really clear about his importance to the team, that we see him as a core member of the team, as a core member of the organization,” Presti said. “We’re going to put our best put forward, and I believe he will as well. We’ll see if we can figure something out.” If he and the Thunder don’t sign an extension by the end of next week, Jackson can become a restricted free agent next summer and could command big money on the open market. It remains to be seen if Oklahoma City would match any offer sheets that Jackson inks with other teams. The Thunder’s cap commitment for the 2015/16 campaign is already approximately $63.6MM.
Here’s more from out west:
- The Rockets still haven’t waived Robert Covington, despite the player not being with the team for the last two weeks, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Covington is currently weighing some guaranteed offers to play in Europe, Feigen notes.
- The remaining players on the Grizzlies‘ preseason roster all fit the team’s system rather well, Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes in a subscription-only piece. This includes Patrick Christopher and Kalin Lucas, the team’s lone remaining players in camp whose deals aren’t fully guaranteed, notes Tillery. Both players are likely headed to the team’s D-League affiliate, the Iowa Energy, according to Tillery.
- The Blazers still have decisions to make regarding their 2015/16 team options for C.J. McCollum, Thomas Robinson, and Meyers Leonard. Portland has until the October 31st deadline to exercise those options or the trio will become unrestricted free agents next summer. Joe Freeman of The Oregonian examines what the Blazers might do regarding each player’s contract.
- Donald Sterling’s lawyers have begun talks with the NBA about dismissing Sterling’s federal antitrust lawsuit against the league, as Sterling attorney Maxwell Blecher revealed in a declaration filed in U.S. District Court today, reports Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. The former Clippers owner has sought more than $1 billion in damages in the suit, which became the primary thrust of his legal efforts against the league when he recently withdrew a different suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the NBA, his wife and Adam Silver.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson believes Klay Thompson has “got to get” maximum salaries in his next deal, even as the team is reportedly pushing for him to take less as the October 31st extension deadline nears. Of course, after a controversial end to his tenure in Golden State, it’s quite possible that Jackson’s advancement of the idea of max money for Thompson is a dig at the Warriors, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News suggests (Twitter link). In any case, we’ll soon see if the team is willing to come to terms with Thompson or set him up for restricted free agency next summer, and as we wait, here’s more from around the Pacific Division:
- Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss takes exception to an ESPN.com report that indicated that Kobe Bryant is driving free agents away from the Lakers, as she made clear today in an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “”Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team,” Buss said. The report indicated that Paul George signed his extension with the Pacers last year in part because he had reservations about Bryant and didn’t want to hit free agency and sign with the Lakers, though George has publicly questioned the report’s veracity (Twitter link).
- Matt Barnes felt as though he was being replaced when the Clippers pursued other small forwards in free agency this summer, as he tells Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. Barnes nonetheless says he would like to come off the bench even though coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday that he’ll start on opening night.
- Ben McLemore is leaving agent Rodney Blackstock, as he confirmed to reporters, including James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom, who originally reported the move. The shooting guard hasn’t decided when he’ll hire a replacement, Ham adds. The Kings picked up their team option on McLemore this past weekend.
The Spurs have been a hallmark of stability over the years, but perhaps never more than they are now, with 14 of the 15 players who were on the team during the Finals last year still on the team, as Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick examines. While we wait to see if familiarity breeds success or stagnation, here’s more from around the Western Conference.
- It seems at this point that Glenn Robinson III will remain with the Wolves for opening night, and J.J. Barea continues to impress the team with his preseason performance, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities hears (Twitter link). The Pistons are probably the “team to watch” regarding Minnesota’s apparent efforts to trade Chase Budinger, Wolfson adds.
- Robbie Hummel is expected to make it to opening night with the Wolves, but with a guaranteed salary of just $880K, that’s not a certainty, and Hummel knows it. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune has the details. “We have a lot of good players and camp has been real competitive, so every opportunity to get on the court is important,” Hummel said. “You try to stay ready, but it’s hard when you don’t play for a couple games, but it’s part of the job … even if there’s 15 guaranteed contracts, you want to go out and play well. Every night is an audition for another team.”
- Jameer Nelson has a player option for the final season of the two-year deal he signed with the Mavs this summer, but he says he plans to stick with the team for the long term, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News observes.
- Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling is streamlining his legal efforts, having withdrawn a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against his wife, the NBA and Adam Silver to concentrate on his federal antitrust suit against the league, reports Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times. Sterling also faces the NBA’s counterclaim against him, Fenno notes.
- A desire to have Sean Kilpatrick play for their D-League affiliate fueled the Warriors‘ decision to sign the undrafted shooting guard Monday, tweets Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Former NBA player and Harlem Globetrotter Jamario Moon returns to the D-League this season and is confident in his ability to play in the NBA again, writes Gino Pilato of D-League Digest. “I’m at the point now where I want to show people that I can still play the game, even at 34 years old. I’m a freak of nature, and I’m a better player now. I’ve always kept myself in good physical condition, but I hit the weights harder than I ever have before this last summer. I’m ready.” Moon said.
Here’s more from around the Association:
- Shooters might be valued more now by NBA teams than ever, argues Bruce Ely of The Oregonian. Ely identifies those who can connect from beyond the three-point line as the most valued player assets and notes that more than 86% of those who played in the league attempted at least one three-pointer last season.
- Blake Griffin chronicles his time playing for Donald Sterling and shares his thoughts on playing for new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer in a piece for The Players’ Tribune. Griffin applauds the new owner’s management style, “Ballmer wants to win no matter the cost. Donald Sterling didn’t care if we won — at least if it meant he had to spend money.”
- Jazz players and coaches believe the team’s chemistry has improved, writes Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News. Guard Trey Burke sees the teams chemistry as a foundation. “We’ve got a lot of guys on this team who are easy to get along with and hold each other accountable, so we’ll just continue to build from here,’’ said Burke.
- New Warriors coach Steve Kerr badly wanted to draft Stephen Curry when he was the GM of the Suns back in 2009, writes Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Cooper adds that the Suns had internal conversations about trading Amar’e Stoudemire for the point guard but without Stoudemire showing a strong likelihood of re-signing with the Warriors, Golden State was not going to pull the trigger on the trade.