Luke Babbitt

Pelicans Waive Mirza Begić

The Pelicans have released center Mirza Begić just two days after signing him, the team announced. The 30-year-old practiced with the team, but New Orleans didn’t play any preseason games during his brief tenure. The move reduces the Pelicans roster to 19 players, 13 of whom have full guarantees, and it opens a spot beneath the 20-man preseason roster limit for New Orleans to formalize a deal with Nate Robinson, with whom the team reportedly has an agreement.

Begić, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been with some of Europe’s most prominent teams, including Laboral Kuxta and Real Madrid of Spain and Olympiakos of Greece, but he’d never played with an NBA team before. He went undrafted when he was eligible in 2007.

New Orleans has made more roster moves than any other team in the past week as they deal with injuries to Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, Norris Cole and now Luke Babbitt, who’s out indefinitely with a left hamstring strain, as the team announced Thursday. The Pelicans signed Greg Smith and voided the contract after he failed a physical, signed Jerome Jordan, waived Corey Webster and signed Bo McCalebb in addition to their moves with Begić and Robinson.

Western Notes: McDaniels, Barton, Babbitt

Here’s a look at the latest contract news from the Western Conference:

Will Joseph contributed to this post.

Pelicans Re-Sign Luke Babbitt

JULY 20TH, 11:01am: The signing is official, the team announced.

JULY 9TH, 10:13pm: The Pelicans and unrestricted free agent Luke Babbitt are finalizing a deal that would bring the forward back to New Orleans, Marc Stein of reports (Twitter link). The pact is for two years, and valued in the $2.5MM range, Stein adds.

Babbitt made 63 appearances for the Pelicans last season, including 19 starts. He notched averages of 4.1 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 0.4 assists in 13.2 minutes per contest. His shooting numbers were .479/.513/.684. Through five NBA seasons split between the Blazers and Pelicans, Babbitt’s numbers are 4.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 0.5 APG, with a slash line of .401/.403/.722.

The 26-year-old was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, and played his college ball at the University of Nevada.

Southwest Rumors: Jefferson, Mavs, Babbitt

Richard Jefferson admits that while other teams around the league offered him a chance at more playing time and a more lucrative paycheck, he decided to sign with the Mavs because he believes they give him the best chance at winning, as Michael Florek of the Dallas Morning News details. “We have a chance here,” said Jefferson, “Obviously you need to be lucky. You need things to go the right way, have the ball bounce your way, but I believe this was my best chance to win and win now.”

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Mark Cuban responded to the critical comments made by Rockets GM Daryl Morey, suggesting Morey’s assertion that free agents would prefer to play in Houston over Dallas is flawed. I’m not sure how he would know that,” said the outspoken owner of the Mavs, who reminded Tim MacMahon of that the Rockets have won only a single a playoff series since 1997.
  • The Rockets had to scrap Kostas Papanikolaou‘s contract and re-sign him, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The NBA rejected the original agreement, and it’s unclear if any significant changes have been made to the structure of the deal.
  • Luke Babbitt was held out of Summer League play by the Pelicans because there was a chance he’d be dealt to the Rockets in the then-looming Omer Asik trade, writes Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune (on Twitter).

Cray Allred contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Clips, Jazz, Withey, Buycks, Mavs

Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion bid for the Clippers equals more than 12 times the total revenue projections for the team from 2013/14, but no major pro sports team has ever sold for more than five times of its total revenue, according to Bank of America. Ramona Shelburne and Darren Rovell of have the details, which back up the contention of Clippers CEO Dick Parsons that it would be tough to envision another bidder coming in so high.

  • The Jazz received $1.3MM in cash Tuesday as part of their three-for-one trade with the Cavs, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That’s slightly more than the $1MM that was originally reported.
  • Jeff Withey‘s minimum salary became fully guaranteed for this coming season after the Pelicans declined to waive him before the end of Tuesday, the final day they could do so without owing him any money, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports. Teammate Luke Babbitt also earned a $100K partial guarantee when the Pelicans kept him past Tuesday, which was also the final day his contract had been fully non-guaranteed.
  • Dwight Buycks is drawing the eye of the Clippers and Suns, and multiple teams from overseas are interested in him as well, Sportando’s Enea Trapani reports. The Raptors waived Buycks on Saturday, before his contract would have become fully guaranteed.
  • The Mavs are nearing a deal with Jameer Nelson, but owner Mark Cuban insisted to Tim MacMahon of that the team isn’t trying to unload Raymond Felton. “We like him and think he will have a great year,” Cuban said. 
  • Cuban also made an appearance on Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket in Dallas this week, during which he explained that the Mavericks strategically used the ultra-logical approach of the Rockets‘ front office to put together an offer for Chandler Parsons that was unlikely to be matched (link via The Dallas Morning News).

International Notes: Bertans, Hamilton, Babbitt

Davis Bertans has signed a three-year contract worth just under €2MM with Spanish team Baskonia, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The deal has an NBA-out clause in each season that the Spurs, who own Bertans’ rights and have eyed the Latvian for the near future, could pay for without it counting against the cap, presuming it is at or below the $600,000 maximum allowed. Here’s more from around the world:

  • Ryan Richards, the Spurs 2010 second-round draft pick, has signed with an Austrian club, the Zepter Vienna team website announced (transcription via Trapani).
  • Russian team Lokomotiv Kuban is looking to add Justin Hamilton and Milan Macvan next season, reports Enea Trapani of Sportando. Hamilton has a non-guaranteed salary that the Heat can fully waive prior to August 1st, and partially waive before December 1st. Macvan was drafted by the Cavs in 2011, and has been cool to Cleveland’s interest in bringing him to the NBA.
  • Spanish team Unicaja Malaga has offered Luke Babbitt a $980,000 contract if the Pelicans don’t retain him, notes Trapani in a separate report. That amount is nearly identical to Babbitt’s fully non-guaranteed salary in New Orleans, which becomes partially guaranteed at $100,000 if the Pelicans don’t waive him before July 22nd.

Contract Details: Butler, World Peace, Suns

Mark Deeks has updated his salary databases at ShamSports, and, as usual, he’s revealed several nuances about the latest contracts signed around the NBA. We’ll pass along the details we hadn’t previously heard about here:

  • Caron Butler gave up $1MM in his buyout deal with the Bucks. He signed for that same amount for the remainder of this season with the Thunder, who dipped into their mid-level exception to accommodate Butler’s $1MM salary.
  • Metta World Peace gave up $305,166 of this season’s $1.59MM salary in his buyout deal with the Knicks. All contracts with player options include a clause indicating whether or not the player receives the money for his option year in the event that he’s waived before deciding on the option. It looks as if the clause in World Peace’s deal stated that he would not receive the option-year pay, since Deeks doesn’t list any of World Peace’s $1,931,550 salary for 2014/15 on New York’s books.
  • Shavlik Randolph‘s contract with the Suns includes a non-guaranteed year for 2014/15, rather than a team option, as we suspected.
  • If the Hawks exercise their team option on the fourth season of Mike Muscala‘s deal, the contract will nonetheless remain non-guaranteed until the leaguewide guarantee date. It’s similar to the structure of the contracts a handful of Sixers have, including recent signee Jarvis Varnado.
  • Chris Johnson also has such a deal with the Celtics, although there are a pair of guarantee dates attached to the third and fourth seasons. The third year becomes fully guaranteed providing he’s not waived on or before September 1st, 2015, and the fourth year becomes fully guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before September 1st, 2016.
  • The Celtics also arranged for a couple of guarantee dates on Phil Pressey‘s three-year contract. Next season is non-guaranteed if he’s waived on or before July 15th, but if the Celtics keep him beyond that date, it’s fully guaranteed. The same happens for the third year of the deal on July 15, 2015.
  • The Rockets have a team option on Troy Daniels worth the minimum salary for next season.
  • Luke Babbitt‘s two-year deal with the Pelicans is for the minimum salary. Next season isn’t guaranteed, but it becomes partially guaranteed for $100K if he isn’t waived on or before July 22nd.
  • The Magic used cap room to sign Dewayne Dedmon to a three-year contract that gives him $300K for the rest of this season, slightly more than what he would have made on a prorated minimum-salary deal. Dedmon is set to make the minimum salary in the other two seasons covered in the pact. Next season is non-guaranteed if he’s waived on or before opening night, when it becomes partially guaranteed for $250K. The final season is non-guaranteed if he’s waived on or before August 1st, 2015, when it becomes fully guaranteed.

Pelicans GM On Jackson, Deadline, Free Agency

Pelicans GM Dell Demps says Pierre Jackson plans to play with the club during summer league, and that the team will continue to monitor the diminutive guard as he plays in Turkey on a deal that covers the rest of the season. New Orleans is in a tough position, sitting 10 and a half games out of the playoffs but four games up on the Lakers, the team with the fifth-worst record in the league. If the Pelicans don’t end up with a top-five pick this year, their first-rounder goes to the Sixers. Demps had more to say about Jackson and covered an array of other topics Monday with Pelicans broadcaster Sean Kelley, and provides the transcript. We’ll hit the highlights here:

On the trade deadline:

“I think for us at this trade deadline we were only looking to add to our core. We weren’t really looking to make any adjustments. We were looking to add. We didn’t want to give up any more assets to acquire any more players at this point. We did that last summer. We gave up a draft pick in this upcoming draft to acquire Jrue Holiday. We feel like Jrue Holiday is going to be our point guard for the future. We have him under contract for four years and we hope that he grows old here and his kids graduate from high school in New Orleans. We didn’t feel comfortable giving up any more assets for players at this time.”

On the team’s midseason signings of Luke Babbitt and Alexis Ajinca:

“Well, a guy like Babbitt, he was playing great in Europe and I really believe if he would have become a free agent this summer, a number of teams would have tried to get him. The reason why he was available, I thought we were able to get him out of his contract early and he didn’t hit the free agency market. I think the same thing for Ajinca. Ajinca was actually leading the Euro league in scoring, which is considered the best league outside the NBA, considered a higher level than college basketball. I think if he goes through the free agent market this summer a number of teams would have tried to acquire him. We thought that we were able to get in early and get those two guys into the program and really get a good understanding of if they can help us or if they cannot help us ahead of the curve. Next year is going to be a big year for us and you don’t want to go into next year with guys on the roster that we are still wondering about.”

On the team’s core:

“I still want to see this group play together. I believe in this group and we still want to add more pieces to this group. I think we are a fun group to watch. We are explosive. We can score a lot of points and I think moving forward we want to add a couple more pieces on the perimeter and interior and improve our defense. I think we will be able to score with anyone in the league.”

On whether he’s high on this summer’s crop of free agents:

“Of course. We are not into max games so we are not going to be looking for players with contracts more $10MM, but we have a number of exceptions that we can use and we have a couple of ways we can get creative as well.”

On Pierre Jackson

“The kid had some bad luck to start with. When we acquired him, we were stacked at the point guard position. Before we drafted him, we had conversations with him asking, ‘If we did draft you, we don’t know where you would fit on this year’s roster. Would you want to go overseas?’ He said yes. When we drafted him, we asked him to play summer league, but because of the trade he wasn’t cleared to play summer league until the third game. He didn’t get to come to the practices. Some guys had practiced for four or five days and they had a couple of games. We kind of just threw him into the fire. Then he catches pink eye, so he misses the next two days recovering from that and he comes back for the last game. He didn’t get a good opportunity to show what he could do.”

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Spurs, Covington

Kevin Arnovitz  of ESPN details Pelicans GM Dell Demps‘ process of rebuilding New Orleans’ roster after trading away Chris Paul in 2011. A mixture of good and bad results have come from that blockbuster trade (Eric Gordon), drafting (selecting Anthony Davis last year, trading Nerlens Noel for Jrue Holiday this year), and free agency (Ryan Anderson, then Tyreke Evans via a sign-and-trade with the Kings that also sent away Robin Lopez), and the team has little flexibility in the near future. Coach Monty Williams is unhappy with the current roster’s performance, but a slew of injuries this year has limited a thorough roster evaluation, as well as the team’s performance. “The errors in planning are easy to enumerate and Demps tacitly admits some of his primary goals are cleaning up his own mistakes,” writes Arnovitz. “Fortunately for the Pelicans, a single truth lies beneath the spreadsheets: When you have a budding star like Anthony Davis, you can afford to make mistakes.”  Here’s more from around the division:

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Harris, Blake, Babbitt

Earlier today, the Lakers notified guard Manny Harris that they do not plan to retain him beyond his second 10-day contract, tweets Bill Oram of the OC Register. We noted yesterday that L.A. wasn’t expected to keep Harris on board with a trio of the team’s point guards returning to the lineup.

Aside from a sensational 18-point, 6-for-9 shooting performance against the Knicks a little over a week ago, Harris’ numbers have been underwhelming through his eight game stint for the most part, averaging 6.8 PPG on 33.9% shooting overall and 29.4% from long distance in 19.9 MPG. However, as we speak, the 6’5 guard is leading the Lakers with 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting at halftime against the Timberwolves tonight, and although he might not be on the team tomorrow, Harris is putting together a compelling audition for potential suitors.

Here are some more links to share out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • In response to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders’ tweet that the Lakers would look to shed another $3MM in the form of Jordan Hill, Steve Blake, or Chris Kaman in a potential Pau Gasol deal, fellow Basketball Insiders writer Eric Pincus (via Twitter) says that L.A. would actually like to keep Blake beyond this season.
  • Despite Russian-based team Nizhny Novgorod’s initial plan to hold Luke Babbitt to his contractual obligations and prevent him from signing with an NBA team, Pelicans GM Dell Demps managed to negotiate a buyout agreement that took two weeks to get finalized, reports John Reid of New Orleans head coach Monty Williams is hopeful that Babbitt can be a contributor right away: “We thought having some more depth at our wing spot and there’s a chance he can play some four (power forward) because of his ability to shoot the ball..He’s a young player who had some success in Portland and played really well overseas. We kept our eye on him and have been trying to get it done for a couple of weeks, maybe a little bit longer. Finally it happened for us.” 
  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle shared his thoughts with Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW on current Grizzlies guard and former Mavs draft pick Nick Calathes, who is expected to start in place of the injured Mike Conley when the two teams meet Wednesday night. Dallas reportedly dealt Calathes in order to create a roster spot for Gal Mekel“They’re similar players…We went that direction and at that point it made no sense to hold onto Calathes’ rights. They both have gotten much better since they got into the NBA. I’m happy for Nick. And we like Gal. It wouldn’t make any sense to have both of them here.”
  • So far, the 2013/14 season may not have always been ideal as one would hope for Samuel Dalembert, who on separate occasions this season has been called out by Carlisle for lack of conditioning and being undisciplined on the court. In another piece for SportsDayDFW, Sefko notes that with his recent 18-point, eight rebound, and 7-for-8 shooting performance against the Cavaliers, the 32-year-old center is slowly regaining the trust from everyone on the team, including Carlisle, who doesn’t appear to have any choice at this point but to ride Dalembert as much as he can.

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