Mehmet Okur has decided to end his basketball playing careeer, announcing his retirement, according to NTVSpor.net (Turkish link; translation via Sportando). According to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, Okur cited his recent injury history as the primary reason for his retirement — he was limited to 13 games in 2010/11 and 17 in 2011/12.
"I want to thank my family, my coaches, my teammates, the officials who have contributed to my career," Okur told NTVSpor, according to Sportando's translation. "And then I want to say thanks to the fans who always supported me."
Okur, 33, spent 10 seasons in the NBA, with the Pistons, Jazz, and Nets. He was also traded to the Trail Blazers last season, though that was just for salary purposes, and he didn't play a single game for Portland. For his career, Okur averaged 13.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG, compiling a 17.1 PER. According to Basketball-Reference, he earned upwards of about $73MM during his NBA career.
While Okur seems to be ending his playing career, it wouldn't be a shock to see him attempt a comeback at some point down the road. At just 33 years old, he still appeared to be drawing a little NBA interest this offseason, though not at the price he was seeking, which was more than the minimum.
With David Stern's retirement at the forefront of talks this week at the NBA's Board of Governors meetings, a number of other topics being pushed to the back burner. One such subject, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, is the issue of advertising on uniforms. The NBA's owners have agreed to table the issue for now, and likely won't revisit it until the board meets again in April, says Berger (Twitterlinks). Here are a few more odds and ends from around the league:
Andrew Wiggins' father tells Eric Prisbell of USA Today that he expects his son to reclassify and play college basketball next season (hat tip to RealGM.com). Wiggins would then be eligible to enter the 2014 NBA draft, where he's expected to be perhaps the No. 1 pick.
A 7% stake in the Kings, held by bankrupt Sacramento developer Bob Cook, is expected to be auctioned off, reports Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee. It will be available to any of the team's current owners, including the Maloofs, or an outsider.
The Celtics recently snatched Leandro Barbosa off the free agent market, ensuring that perhaps the most prominent name among the remaining unsigned players has a job this season. However, there are still a number of players who not only are free agents, but haven't even participated in training camp with a team.
Along with the players who have yet to sign a contract this offseason, plenty of recent camp cuts have become unrestricted free agents again, further saturating the market. While many of the names on our list of free agents likely won't play for NBA teams this year, odds are that at least a couple will sign with contenders and potentially have an impact later in the season.
So today's poll question is this: Which of the remaining free agents do you expect will make the most significant impact this season? Make your pick below and feel free to explain your choice in the comments section.
There's no question that any of these players could help an NBA team. None of them are stars or maybe even starters anymore, but they're solid role players that won't hurt you off the bench. So why are they still on the market? I don't have any inside info about their contract negotiations, but I'd guess it's because their asking prices remain too high. Here's what we've heard this offseason about the contracts these guys are after:
Leandro Barbosa: Barbosa was looking for a multiyear contract earlier this summer, and his interest in the Cavs, who have a ton of cap space, suggested he didn't want to take a huge pay cut. It looks like he won't have much choice in the matter, but I'm not sure he's willing to settle for the minimum yet, or he'd already be signed.
Kenyon Martin: We've heard multipletimes this offseason that Martin is seeking more than the veteran's minimum. Most recently, Timberwolves assistant coach Bill Baynosaid Martin's asking price is the reason his team isn't pursuing the former first overall pick.
Mehmet Okur: The Timberwolves were linkedfrequently to Okur this offseason, but the team's inability to offer more than the minimum was a roadblock. It seems Okur's best shot at a bigger payday may come from a Turkish team.
Mickael Pietrus: Agent Bill McCandless stated pretty unequivocally back in July that his client wouldn't be signing for the veteran's minimum. With Pietrus still unsigned, you have to wonder if recent reports of the former Celtic drawing heavy interest and possibly closing in on a deal were floated by McCandless to try to drum up last-minute interest from teams with some spending room.
Tracy McGrady: There haven't been any reports this offseason explicitly suggesting that McGrady isn't interested in the veteran's minimum, but after a solid 2011/12 season in Atlanta, I would think there'd be plenty of teams interested in signing him at that price. The Knicks, for instance, are reportedly willing to take a flier on Rasheed Wallace, but are no longer interested in McGrady. It could just be a matter of Wallace being a better fit, but it wouldn't be surprising if T-Mac's asking price was still too high.
There are a number of other players on our list of free agents who could still be after more than the minimum — Derek Fisher, Michael Redd, and Josh Howard, to name a few. But it appears the five listed above are the best bets to force a team to dip into its cap space, mid-level exception, or bi-annual exception.
Still, we're at a point in the offseason where very few, if any, players are receiving more than minimum-salary offers. So if these free agents don't receive any NBA offers they like, perhaps they'll seriously consider signing overseas, an option that could appeal in particular to players like Barbosa, Okur, and Pietrus, who have international roots.
Within Jackson's piece, the Herald scribe writes that a Heat official says the team was disappointed with Dexter Pittman's summer league play. Pittman is on a guaranteed contract and seems likely to remain on the roster, but nothing is assured yet. "This is a crucial training camp for him," said the team official. "But the slate is clear."
Asked whether the Heat can count on Mike Miller this season, Winderman notes that the club won't necessarily have to count on him for major production with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis on board. Anything Miller provides will be a bonus, says Winderman.
At various points during the offseason, Mehmet Okur has been linked to the Timberwolves and other clubs, but the reports usually point to the same roadblock: Okur is seeking more than the minimum salary. It's possible some NBA team makes Okur an offer worth more than the minimum, but it appears he may have a better chance at that kind of money overseas. TrendBasket.net passes along a Turkish report suggesting that Galatasaray Medical Park of Turkey is interested in Okur, and could potentially offer him $2-3MM per year. Here are a few more of the morning's international notes and rumors:
Nikola Mirotic tells Enric Corbella of Marca.com (English link via HoopsWorld) that the Bulls know his situation with Real Madrid and respect his contract. Mirotic, the 23rd overall pick in 2011, has a number of years left on his contract in Spain, but will have the opportunity to opt out and join the Bulls before it ends.
Two players that received 10-day contracts in 2011/12 may be on the verge of leaving their French teams. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando passes along Frenchreports suggesting that Gravelines may part ways with Larry Owens, and that Ben Uzoh's time with Cholet may be nearly over.
Unicaja Malaga coach Jasmin Repesa said that his team would love to add Bojan Bogdanovic, who is under contract for two more years with Fenerbahce (link via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Bogdanovic was drafted with the 31st overall pick in 2011's draft, with his NBA rights now held by the Nets.
There have been plenty of newsworthy items out of the Eastern Conference today, with the Knicksunveiling new uniforms, the Nets possibly having signed Andray Blatche, and the league's most popular 12th man landing a TV gig with the Celtics. Here are a few more Eastern-related links we've yet to cover:
Amare Stoudemire appeared on FOX Sports Radio to discuss a number of topics, including former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, Jeremy Lin, and the infamous fire extinguisher incident. Sports Radio Interviews rounds up a few of Stoudemire's noteworthy quotes.
NBA.com's Sekou Smith takes a look at the Bobcats' future after the team set a record for futility in 2011/12.
Based on recent reports, is seems as if the Timberwolves will add at least one more body to their frontcourt before training camp begins, and Mehmet Okur remains on the team's radar, according to Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 (Twitter link). However, the T-Wolves can still only offer a minimum-salary contract, so unless Okur will accept such a deal or GM David Kahn can clear cap space by making a trade, it's unlikely Okur ends up in Minnesota, says Wolfson.
While the Timberwolves could comfortably bring aboard a player on a minimum salary, many of the free agents they've been linked to are seeking larger deals. Whether this suggests Kahn is considering moving salary or that the club is hoping one of its targets eventually settles for the veteran's minimum is unclear. However, Joan Niesen of FOX Sports North tweets that Anthony Tolliver continues to check in with the T-Wolves as well, to see if the team can bring him back.
The Timberwolves used their cap space this summer to sign Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, and Alexey Shved, then used their $2.575MM room exception on Greg Stiemsma. Okur, meanwhile, is coming off a year in which he earned over $10MM, but only appeared in 17 games due to back issues — if he were to sign for the veteran's minimum of $1,351,181, it would be his lowest salary since he earned $1.1MM in 2003/04.
Though earlier reports seemed to indicate the Wolves weren't seeking to trade for a big man, Wolfson hears the team has asked Anthony Tolliver to be patient as the team seeks a trade to free up more cap room. Tolliver's agent has said his client is not interested in the minimum salary, which is all the Minnesota has to offer free agents. Even though Tolliver has been with the Wolves the past two seasons, the team renounced his Early Bird rights earlier in the summer to clear room for Nicolas Batum's offer sheet. Tolliver is reportedly in "constant contact" with a handful of teams, including the Wolves.
Mehmet Okur is a "long shot" to sign with Minnesota, a source close to Okur tells Wolfson. The 6'11" outside marksman is seeking more than the minimum.
Wolfson reported last week that Josh Harrellsonisn't in the Wolves' plans because the 6'10" former Knick doesn't possess the requisite length. Chris Andersen, who's the same height, apparently possesses a wingspan that fits what Kahn and company are looking for, but the Wolves aren't considering him, either.
It's been a slow day for NBA news and rumors, but there are still plenty of links worth checking out. Here are a few that have trickled in over the course of the day:
The Timberwolves wouldn't mind adding another big man, and are "kicking around" the idea of Mehmet Okur, tweets Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500. As Wolfson notes, however, considering Minnesota only has the minimum salary to offer, Okur is an unlikely target for the team.
UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammadtells HoopsWorld that he's not expecting to necessarily be a "one-and-done" player, but I'd be surprised if the top prospect doesn't enter the draft after his freshman season. Plus, as Yannis Koutroupis writes, given the NCAA's current investigation that's putting Muhammad's amateur status in jeopardy, the star recruit could be fortunate to play even one year at UCLA.
Dwyane Wade tells Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Sulia link) that his recovery from knee surgery is on schedule and he expects to "turn it up more" in the next couple weeks.