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.
The Clippers are fortunate to have three solid veterans who are willing to come off of the bench, Melissa Rohlin of The Los Angeles Times writes. Discussing Spencer Hawes, Matt Barnes, and Jamal Crawford, coach Doc Rivers said, “There are two groups. One is the old veterans like Matt. They want to come off the bench. That’s when they’ve figured it out — it saves them, it makes them fresher, they’re smarter, they can actually watch the game and evaluate the game. And then there’s that extraordinary group of guys who clearly could be starters and actually still prefer coming off the bench…. Jamal could start anywhere, he could start here, but he prefers coming off the bench.”
Here’s more from out west:
- The Warriors depth has been an issue since the team decided to sign Andre Iguodala and let Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry leave as free agents, Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders writes. Golden State is exploring the idea of using Iguodala as their sixth man this season, notes Koutroupis.
- One element of the Spurs‘ success over the years has been roster continuity, and the franchise places first overall in that department in Joe Freeman of the Oregonian‘s rankings. Finishing in second place was the Trail Blazers, which is a by-product of GM Neil Olshey‘s commitment to development from within the organization and to create year-to-year cohesion and consistency, notes Freeman. This plan will be tested next summer thanks to a number of players reaching free agency, Freeman opines.
- With the Suns waiving Joe Jackson, Casey Prather and Jamil Wilson yesterday, Earl Barron remains the lone player in camp with a non-guaranteed contract, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic tweets. Coro notes that Barron has performed well enough in camp to be considered for the team’s final regular season roster spot.
WEDNESDAY, 8:44am: The deal is official, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia).
TUESDAY, 9:53am: DeAndre Liggins has agreed to a one-year deal with Krasny Oktyabr of Russia, reports David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter links). The contract will be without an NBA escape clause, Pick adds. The three-year NBA veteran reportedly had a deal last month to join the Clippers for camp, but a later dispatch threw cold water on that idea, and the Clippers wound up leaving him off their camp roster.
The Henry Thomas client signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Heat last season, but he only appeared in one game for one minute with Miami. Liggins spent most of 2013/14 in the D-League, which named him its Defensive Player of the Year. The swingman averaged 13.4 points and 7.1 rebounds in 38.1 minutes per contest with 35.4% three-point shooting in 61 games split between the affiliates of the Heat and the Thunder.
The 26-year-old spent his first two pro seasons with Oklahoma City and Orlando after the Magic made him the 53rd overall pick in 2011. Liggins will join NBA veterans Marcus Cousin and D.J. Kennedy on the Krasny Oktyabr roster.
Thunder star Kevin Durant has a fracture in his right foot, the team announced in a press release. The injury typically requires surgery and Durant is expected to miss a minimum of six to eight weeks before he can resume basketball activities. No procedure has been scheduled as of yet, and the team and Durant’s representatives are still weighing all treatment options. “We are in the process of collaboratively evaluating the most appropriate next steps with Kevin, his representatives, and Thunder medical personnel,” GM Sam Presti said in a statement. “Until a course of action is determined, we are unable to provide a timeline specific to Kevin’s case.” The “Slim Reaper” joins Bradley Beal, Rajon Rondo, and Nick Young, who also sustained injuries that will cause them to miss the beginning of the regular season.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Shanxi Zhongyu of the Chinese Basketball Association is considering waiving former NBA player Byron Mullens, Sports Sohu is reporting (translation by Enea Trapani of Sportando). Mullens appeared in 45 games split between the Sixers and Clippers last season, averaging 4.6 PPG and 2.2 RPG.
- With the new NBA TV deal already creating rumblings from the NBPA, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel believes the best course of action from the league would be to raise the minimum salary level. Winderman’s logic is that since more players than ever are signing for the minimum, obtaining a majority players vote in the next CBA would be much easier, regardless of what other restrictions the league would impose, such as a hard cap or non-guaranteed deals.
- Last season, the Lakers had expressed interest in an Anderson Varejao for Pau Gasol trade with the Cavs, Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com notes (Twitter link). After Varejao’s strong preseason showing in Brazil yesterday against the Heat, where he scored 14 points on 70% shooting, McMenamin opines that you can see why Los Angeles tried to acquire the veteran big man.
- While Coach John Calipari says the Kentucky combine may become an annual event, not everyone is on board with the idea of it, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Kansas head coach Bill Self is among the skeptics. “That would certainly not be anything we would do,” Self explains. “That doesn’t mean its wrong. It just means it wouldn’t be for us.”
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.
Few teams have a greater opportunity to benefit from the NBA’s latest television deal than the Lakers, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times explains. The new TV agreement means the cap will likely rise significantly in the summer of 2016, when Los Angeles will only have $4.3MM in guaranteed salary. Of course, that number will increase over the course of the next two years, but with several big name free agents slated to enter free agency at that time, the Lakers will have a great shot to capitalize on the higher salary cap. Here’s more from Los Angeles:
Chuck Myron and Zach Links contributed to this post.
Paul Pierce originally thought he’d wind up re-signing with the Nets, but he tells TNT’s David Aldridge that Brooklyn never made an offer, as Aldridge writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Pierce said the Clippers looked like Plan B, but the Nets wouldn’t accommodate a sign-and-trade once Doc Rivers used the team’s mid-level exception on Spencer Hawes instead.
“You know what, I didn’t know what to expect,” Pierce said. “Brooklyn’s been, or New Jersey, Brooklyn, they’re a franchise that’s going in a different direction, I think. They said they wanted to cut costs; they felt like they weren’t going to be a contender. Right now, they’re kind of in the middle right now. And I really didn’t want to be in the middle. I didn’t know if they wanted to do a sign-and-trade. I had to make my own destiny. I couldn’t put it in the faith of somebody else. And that’s when I was like, I’m coming here [to the Wizards].”
The reference to New Jersey seems like a subtle twist of the knife on Pierce’s part, given the desire of Nets brass to establish the Brooklyn monicker, as Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News points out. Here’s more from around the Atlantic.
- Nets union representative Deron Williams believes the league and the players are on a path toward a work stoppage in 2017, noting that preparing for one was the focus of a union meeting in July, as he told reporters, including Bondy, who writes in a separate piece.
- Carmelo Anthony said today that he had no interest this summer in signing a two-year deal, as LeBron James and others did, to take advantage of the influx of TV revenues, notes Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal (Twitter link).
- The Celtics had hoped to find a way to keep Chris Johnson amid the flurry of transactions surrounding the Keith Bogans trade, notes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. The Sixers claimed him off waivers after the C’s let him go.
Charlie Villanueva has impressed Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, who insists Villanueva’s lack of guaranteed money won’t prevent the team from keeping him for opening night, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com chronicles.
“It’s going to come down to who plays the best, who fills needs,” Carlisle said. “And we’ll go from there. Mark [Cuban]’s the kind of owner, he’s not going to let a few dollars get in the way of keeping the right team together.”
Still, it’d cost the Mavs, who have 15 guaranteed contracts plus partial guarantees with Eric Griffin and Ivan Johnson, at least $991,482 in dead money to waive the players necessary for them to keep Villanueva, unless they can work out some sort of trade. While we wait to see just how much Cuban is willing to sacrifice, here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace told Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal that he wasn’t explicitly told not to perform his duties while former CEO Jason Levien was in charge of the team, as Tillery writes in a subscription-only piece. Wallace clarified that he made his own choice to remove himself from player personnel, Tillery notes. Wallace also made a run at openings with the Kings last year and Cavs earlier this year, according to Tillery.
- The new TV deal won’t affect LaMarcus Aldridge‘s plan to sign a long-term deal with the Blazers this summer, a source tells The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman, pointing out that the maximum salary goes up as the salary cap does. Still, it’s worth noting that cap figures only affect the amount of a max contract for the first season of the deal, and since it appears unlikely the cap will rise dramatically until the summer of 2016, there’s still plenty of incentive for Aldridge to sign a short-term deal instead.
- Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders didn’t seem merely to be trying to up J.J. Barea‘s trade value when he said the guard was one of the team’s best performers in camp again this year, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
- The NBA’s national TV deal isn’t the only one due for a sharp increase, as some predictions have the Clippers local TV rights fees increasing to $80MM annually from the $20MM the team receives each year under the current arrangement, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. The existing deal is up after the 2015/16 season, Kennedy notes (on Twitter).