Former high school standout Aquille Carr has officially declared for the 2014 draft, his agent tells Adam Zagoria of SNY (on Twitter). Agent Joshua Wildes of Hazan Sports Management told Hoops Rumors via email that “Aquille is excited about this next chapter in his career and looks forward to fulfilling his dream.” The 5’6″ guard, who turned down a scholarship offer from Seton Hall to pursue overseas opportunities, is not featured on DraftExpress’ 2014 mock. Here’s tonight’s look around the Association..
- According to an NBA source, new president Phil Jackson has talked recently about his disappointment in some of the Knicks’ conditioning — or lack thereof — this year, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. It’s unclear which players Jackson was talking about, though J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were coming off of offseason surgery and coach Mike Woodson mentioned that Shumpert was dealing with minor injuries throughout camp, which may have hindered him early on.
- With the salary cap expected to rise to $63.2MM in 2014/15, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times looks at the decisions facing the Lakers this offseason. Waiving and stretching Steve Nash‘s salary would spread his salary over the next three seasons, reducing the Lakers spending power for 2015/16, when players like Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rajon Rondo may be available, and 2016/17, when Kevin Durant could be a free agent.
- The Sixers managed to have a remarkably bad season in 2013/14, but now comes the tricky part for GM Sam Hinkie, writes Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Philly figures to have two top ten picks in this year’s draft and it’ll be up to Hinkie & Co. to choose wisely.
- Sam Amico of FOX Sports (on Twitter) agreed with a follower who says that the Bobcats never should have taken Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2 last year since he’s a perimeter player in today’s NBA who can’t shoot. However, he can’t fault them too much (link) since several teams were trying to trade up to get him.
- Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype spoke with Euroleague standout Malcolm Delaney about his opportunity to sign with the Rockets earlier this year. Houston wanted to sign Delaney but FC Bayern, who was about to begin a playoff run, declined to let him out of his contract. The 25-year-old says he’s not bitter towards the German club and hopes to get another NBA opportunity this summer.
Jim Cleamons is interested in joining the Knicks organization now that Phil Jackson has taken over, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to the article, Cleamons would have interest in anything Jackson has to offer, including a position in the personnel department. Berman also writes that Cleamons is a big fan of Steve Kerr, and his ability to be a head coach because of his “quick learning curve.’’
More from around the league:
- The Celtics season was a rough one in their first year of rebuilding, with the team finishing with a record of 25-57. Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald hands out the final grades for the players and the organization.
- Incoming SMU freshman Emmanuel Mudiay will be in the conversation for being the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link).
- Dion Waiters said the firing of Cavs GM Chris Grant really affected him, writes Bob Finnan of The News Herald. Waiters said, “That’s a guy who took a chance on me, a young kid like myself coming from where I come from. He made my dream come true. You never want to see (anybody) get fired. He’s got a family. You’ve got to feed your kids. What could we have done differently? Did it take him getting fired for us to start playing the way we did? You never know. I know I took it hard because if we’d have been taking care of business like we were supposed to the beginning of the season, he would still be here.”
- Jim Buss believes the Lakers future is bright, writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Buss also promised to resign in a few years if the fortunes of the franchise weren’t reversed. He said, “There’s no question in my mind we will accomplish success. I’m not worried about putting myself on the line.“
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com thinks that the modern NBA is marked by owners who unnecessarily intrude on basketball affairs, citing the pressure Warriors owner Joe Lacob has put on coach Mark Jackson. More from the Western Conference:
- Richard Jefferson tells Mike Sorenson of Deseret News that he will be looking to join a playoff team when the Jazz veteran becomes a free agent this summer. “When you get to be almost 34 years old, you do want to play in the playoffs,” Jefferson said. “If that opportunity doesn’t present itself, then being here in Utah with a great group of guys and a quality coaching staff and the amazing fans…that would be something that would be high on my list.’’
- Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss tells Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times [subscription-only] that his family faces a crucial time in running the storied franchise. “If we’re not back on the top — and the definition of top means contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship — then I will step down because that means I have failed,” said Buss. “I don’t know if you can fire yourself if you own the team … but what I would say is I’d walk away and [let the Buss family] figure out who’s going to run basketball operations because I obviously couldn’t do the job.”
- Despite the strong words, Buss reiterated that his family has no plans to sell the team. “There’s no question in my mind we will accomplish success.” said Buss. “We’re not selling the team. It’s not what we were raised to do. My dad groomed us for basically 20 years to do what we’re doing.”
Grizzlies point guard Nick Calathes has issued a statement to Sam Amick of USA Today on his suspension. “I deeply regret my actions and apologize to my teammates and the organization for my poor judgment,” says Calathes. “Let me be clear: I never took any medication whatsoever for a performance-enhancing reason. I don’t agree with this outcome, and I will come back a better player and person when I return.” Here’s more from out West:
- Tim Kawakami of Bay Area News Group says that it has been emphasized to him that no decision on Mark Jackson‘s future with the Warriors has been made (via Twitter). That would support the perception that Golden State’s performance in the playoffs could largely determine whether he is the coach beyond this year.
- Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss are expected to meet with Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni within the next two weeks to discuss his future with the team, per Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News.
- Tyrone Corbin‘s agent has joined the Jazz in refuting the report that a decision had already been made to let him go, per Jody Genessy of Deseret News.
- The Clippers are poised to make a deep playoff run, and Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune credits Doc Rivers, who has improved the roster through acquisitions and development as both head coach and senior vice president of basketball operations.
Spurs owner Peter Holt is stepping down as chairman of the NBA’s Board of Governors, notes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Timberwolves owner and former chairman Glen Taylor will replace him on an interim basis until a new chairman is selected in October (Twitter links)
More from out west:
- Several GMs are convinced that either Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook will leave the Thunder, given the difficulty of sharing top billing in small-market Oklahoma City, according to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. Neither can become a free agent until 2016.
- Suns GM Ryan McDonough is confident the team will be able to re-sign Eric Bledsoe this summer, writes Bob Baum of the Associated Press. McDonough said that the backcourt of Bledsoe and Goran Dragic is as good as any in the league, according to the article. Bledsoe is a restricted free agent and the team has repeatedly said they will match any offer another team may make, but the team hopes to work out a deal prior to the free agency period beginning, writes Baum.
- The Suns front office discussed the team’s season and their future, including the upcoming NBA Draft and the free agent signing period, writes Matt Petersen of NBA.com.
- Darrell Arthur expects to exercise his $3.5MM player option and return to the Nuggets next season, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post.
- Despite having ample cap space this summer the Lakers might just stand pat during free agency, writes Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders. It’s possible the team limits itself to possibly re-signing Pau Gasol, hoping to land a good player in the lottery, and waiting until the summer of 2015 to strike in the free agent ranks, opines Koutroupis.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Kawhi Leonard is up for a rookie scale extension this summer, but it appears he envisions a long-term future with the Spurs, based in his comments to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press. Gregg Popovich believes the small forward will become the face of the franchise once Tim Duncan retires.
“I’ve been working hard to be one of the focal points in the NBA, one of the top guys. For him to say that and see that I could be the face, it just brings joy to me,” Leonard said. “I’m just happy that someone else sees it other than myself.”
Here’s more from around the Western Conference:
- Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is on shaky ground in Utah, but soon-to-be free agent Gordon Hayward said Corbin did a “tremendous job” considering the circumstances this year, observes Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Eric Bledsoe has been non-committal in his public statements about the notion of re-signing with the Suns this summer, though teammate and neighbor Ish Smith is confident Bledsoe will return, observes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The Suns have said they intend to match any offer for Bledsoe, a restricted free agent.
- Steve Nash is fine with a reduced role on the Lakers next season, one he expects will be his last in the NBA, notes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. “They can’t rely on me, frankly,” Nash said. “Hopefully, I come back and play 82 games next year and the sky is the limit. But they can’t rely on me if they don’t know what I’m going to bring, so they got to evaluate those guys for next season.”
- There’s a “strong possibility” the Jazz will have a one-to-one affiliation with the D-League’s Idaho Stampede next season, reports Gino Pilato of D-League Digest (on Twitter). The Jazz shared the Bakersfield Jam with four other NBA teams this season.
- The Warriors recalled Ognjen Kuzmic from the D-League today, the team announced. Golden State has been shuttling him back and forth to help the Santa Cruz Warriors in the playoffs, and Kuzmic had 23 points and 18 rebounds in Thursday’s win.
- Santa Cruz beat the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who announced Thursday that the Rockets had assigned Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington to play in the game (Twitter link). Houston brought them back to the big club today, the Rockets announced via Twitter.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak spoke to reporters today after the team completed the last of its exit interviews with players, and he reiterated the team’s significant interest in re-signing Pau Gasol, as Mark T. Willard of ESPN LA 710 radio notes via Twitter.
“When you look at the free agents on the board, there’s probably not a player better than Pau Gasol,” he said.
That’s quite a stretch, as Gasol doesn’t appear in our 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, which go 10 deep. We have plenty more on the Lakers, courtesy of Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, and Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. All links go to their Twitter accounts, unless otherwise noted.
- Mike D’Antoni said he’s optimistic about returning, referencing his contract, which runs through 2015/16 with a team option in the final season. “Yeah. I’ve got one or two years left, depending on how you look at it. And I’m their coach,” D’Antoni said.
- Kupchak praised the job D’Antoni did this past season. “Under the circumstances, I’m not sure anybody could have done a better job than he did,” Kupchak said. The GM said he’s not concerned about what Kobe Bryant thinks of the coach, and says Gasol’s opinion doesn’t have any bearing, either.
- Gasol said yesterday that style of play will weigh into his decision about where to sign, indicating his frustration with D’Antoni’s small-ball attack, but the coach is confident that he and the big man can continue to work together.
- Kupchak thinks Bryant could play beyond 2015/16, the final season of his two-year extension.
- The Lakers reportedly plan to keep Kendall Marshall, whose contract is non-guaranteed for next season, and though it seems he’d probably make more on the open market, he said today he hopes the Lakers keep him. Kupchak said the team is “optimistic” about him going forward, but the GM nonetheless plans to address the point guard position in the offseason.
- Kupchak doesn’t regret staying above the tax threshold this season.
- The GM acknowledged that the Lakers might trade their first-round pick, though by rule they can’t do it until after the draft, since they’ve already traded their 2015 first-rounder.
It is certainly no surprise that, after we rounded up the Lakers’ exit interviews earlier tonight, there is already more buzz coming out of Los Angeles. This is the Lakers, after all. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Pau Gasol would consider reuniting with former coach Phil Jackson, now running things with the Knicks. Citing a source, Spears hears that the interest is mutual.
Meanwhile, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report mentions both Van Gundys, Stan and Jeff, as names that stand out to him should the Lakers part ways with Mike D’Antoni. Within the same story, Ding breaks down the team’s draft lottery odds as well as maps out the complicated status of their draft picks beyond this season. Here is what else is going on in the Western Conference:
- Earlier this month it was Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly that had some kind words to say about Kenneth Faried. On Thursday, it was Brian Shaw’s turn. As Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post writes, the head coach wants and expects to have Faried in a Nuggets uniform next season. Faried was frequently mentioned in trade rumors this season.
- The fate of Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin will hang in the balance just a little longer, according to Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune, who writes that the team will take a “decompression period” before making a decision on whether or not to bring the coach back. Luhm reports that a decision could come down as soon as this weekend.
- With Rick Adelman’s departure imminent, the Wolves head coaching wish list includes Tom Izzo, Fred Hoiberg and Stan Van Gundy, reports Spears in his final power rankings column.
- It’s a small silver lining in an otherwise ugly season in Minnesota, but ESPN’s Marc Stein tweets that the Wolves can take solace in the fact that they refused to deal rookie Gorgui Dieng at the trade deadline before they knew what they had (Twitter links). The Louisville product was a bright spot in Minnesota down the stretch and figures to be a key contributor in his second season.
Well, it’s exit interview time for the NBA’s bottom half and there are few teams with as much uncertainty and flexibility as the Lakers. Beyond Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, there are no significant contracts on the books for Los Angeles in 2014/15. The Lakers must also determine if they want to keep head coach Mike D’Antoni, a decision ESPN’s Dave McMenamin examines. Let’s round up all the personnel buzz coming out of Lakerland:
- Nick Young‘s upbeat attitude and surprising play were two of the few bright spots for the Lakers this season, writes Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Young expects to be a hot commodity this summer, indicating that general manager Mitch Kupchak already expressed interest in retaining his services (via Ding on Twitter). Meanwhile, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News tweets that Young will prioritize both business and his affinity for L.A. when weighing his options.
- A free agent for the first time, Pau Gasol insinuated on Thursday that he is not yet sure whether he wants to return to the Lakers, writes Medina. Among the priorities for his destination is going to a contender that plays to a “controlled pace,” Medina adds on Twitter.
- Jordan Farmar is fairly confident he’ll return to L.A. next season, writes Medina. Farmar, symbolically sporting two championship rings, told reporters today that general manager Mitch Kupchak indicated the team’s interest in bringing him back will hinge on their options in the draft and free agency. Ding also tweets that Farmar would be content returning in a starting or reserve role.
- After averaging 8 points in 22.2 minutes per game as a rookie this season, power forward Ryan Kelly believes the Lakers want him back for his sophomore campaign, tweets Medina. A second round pick last summer, Kelly said, “They drafted me and certainly want me back. I want to be here. But it’s a business.”
- Jordan Hill said it is “tough to say” whether he returns to the Lakers, Medina writes. In a separate post, Medina also says that Chris Kaman would like to return to Los Angeles in the “right situation,” and adds on Twitter that Wesley Johnson thinks that there is some mutual interest in his return (Twitter links).
Los Angeles has never seen an NBA season like this one. The Clippers won their franchise-record 57th game on Tuesday, while the Lakers are in the mix for the fifth-worst record in the league. Here’s the latest on a pair of franchises that have switched places in recent years:
- The Clippers will end up only a game or two better than last season, but the change in atmosphere that coach and senior VP of basketball operations Doc Rivers brought about suggests they’re primed for a greater step forward in the postseason, opines Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. “It’s one thing when your general manager is trying to trade you,” Matt Barnes told Markazi. “It’s another when your coach is the general manager and trying to trade you.”
- Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News believes Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar, Ryan Kelly and Kendall Marshall are those most likely to return among the Lakers without guaranteed contracts for next season (Twitter link). Medina looks at what’s ahead for several Lakers in a full piece, suggesting the team is likely to extend a qualifying offer to Kent Bazemore to make him a restricted free agent this summer.
- Steve Nash tells Mike Trudell of NBA.com that he remains unsure of whether he’ll be able to return to the court next season, even as he holds out hope of making a positive contribution in the Lakers lineup.