Robert Covington nearly had a deal with the Sixers this week shortly after the Rockets waived him, but talks broke down over contract length and the 23-year-old forward is expected to sign with the D-League instead, Shams Charania of RealGM reports. Philadelphia offered a four-year arrangement with a “high” amount of guaranteed salary, Charania writes, but Covington apparently passed on that. The sides were unable to forge a deal on a shorter contract, Charania notes. Covington joins K.J. McDaniels, the 32nd pick in this year’s draft who inked with the Sixers for just one year, among those resisting Philly’s efforts to tie up young players on long-term deals. The deluge of players hitting waivers in the past week has led to news around the D-League and international circuits, and we’ll pass along the latest here:
- Gal Mekel isn’t thinking of heading overseas to play in the wake of the Mavs‘ decision to waive him Wednesday, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com, so he’ll remain free to sign with another NBA team providing he clears waivers.
- Khem Birch, Larry Drew II, Tyler Johnson and Shawn Jones have agreed to join the Heat‘s D-League affiliate, reports Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). Miami is using its ability to reserve the D-League rights to up to four of its preseason cuts to keep Birch, Johnson and Jones out of the D-League draft, but Drew played with the Heat’s D-League affiliate last year, so he wouldn’t have been subject to the draft. That allows the Heat to preserve their ability to retain the D-League rights to one player they waive during the regular season. Andre Dawkins seems a likely candidate for that sort of maneuver, Winderman suggests (on Twitter).
- Sean Kilpatrick will play for the Warriors D-League affiliate, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv, who confirms an earlier report that Aaron Craft will do the same. That means Golden State retained the D-League rights to both after waiving them last week.
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).
Hornets owner Michael Jordan has finally learned how to win games without the basketball in his hands, writes Steve Reed of the Associated Press. “I can impact the game in shorts and tennis shoes,” Jordan said. “When I had those on it was easy to prove people wrong. It’s hard to do that now when I have a suit on. I have to rely upon other people understanding my message and my focus.” The Hornets have high expectations this season and many expect the team to make playoffs. Here’s more from the Southeast division:
- Chris Bosh isn’t shy about stating his desire to have more freedom in the offense as a reason he chose the Heat over the Rockets in free agency, tweets Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald. In terms of a slice of an apple pie chart, said Bosh (link), “It would be a big slice, a nice slice. A big-man slice. Big. Huge. Unhealthy slice. Close to half.”
- Although the Hornets are not making a substantial amount of money, Jordan claims the team is getting closer to breaking even, tweets Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Charlotte is believed to have lost $34MM in basketball operations last year, according to Zach Lowe of Grantland.
- Jordan was quick to point out that money wasn’t a main reason why Josh McRoberts departed the Hornets this offseason, writes Bonnell. McRoberts signed with the Heat for a four year deal worth the full value of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception (~$22.6MM).
- One of the reasons Danny Granger chose the Heat in free agency was the team’s high shooting percentage over the last few years, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “They have a lot of layups, a lot of open threes, things some other teams just don’t get, which is why they shot such a high percentage. I definitely think I will be able to do that here. I’m definitely going to be over 40 percent, probably 45, 46,” said Granger. Granger added that he hopes to become a more efficient player with the Heat.
If the Bulls and Cavaliers meet in the Eastern Conference Finals this year, it should be a compelling affair, if evidenced only by the virtual dead heat between the clubs among Hoops Rumors readers who’ve weighed in on which team they think will win the NBA title. Still, the health of Derrick Rose is an X-factor after the point guard missed all but one game of the past three postseasons, and no one knows quite how the Cavs will come together with all of their new pieces, so there’s plenty of mystery surrounding the East this season. Here’s the latest from around the conference:
- The idea of signing with the Bulls “played on my heart,” as Dwyane Wade told TNT’s David Aldridge, but the longtime Heat guard reiterated that Miami is his home, as Aldridge notes amid his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. The Bulls reportedly put out feelers to Wade this summer, and they also pursued him in 2010.
- Former Pistons front office chief Joe Dumars took the fall, but Brandon Jennings tells Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that he and Josh Smith simply didn’t perform to the level they should have after the Pistons committed a combined seven years and $78MM to the duo. “We did get a new contract, both of us, so the blame has to go to both of us, actually,” Jennings said. “I’m going to put myself in there because I’m the point guard. So if anything, I’m going to hold myself accountable first, before anyone else. I definitely didn’t do my job last year. It was one of the most embarrassing seasons ever, especially with the talent that we had, and I feel like we should have [gone] farther than we did. But I put that on myself. That really bothered me all summer. So I have a lot to prove this year.”
- Hornets camp invitee Brian Qvale has signed with Tofas Bursa of Turkey, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia, who was the first to report the deal, via Twitter). Charlotte waived the center last week.
The Heat’s roster is still full of talent, post LeBron James, but it will take time for all the new pieces to come together, writes Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald. Chris Bosh, who signed a five year, $118,705,300 contract this offseason, understands that the circumstances this season will be different.
“It’s a process, and every time we step out on the floor we’re used to being extremely successful and for things to come a little easier,” Bosh said. “We haven’t had this process in a very long time. We’re used to the same guys coming back, and we know our rotations and it’s just a matter of getting in shape. We’re used to knowing where the ball is going to go. We knew everything and now is a time when we have to really be patient with it because even though we’re out there playing, we have to remember that we’ve only played eight preseason games together and we’re not going to be where we need to be.”
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck says that he has received “two serious offers” to sell the team in the last two weeks, writes Kevin Paul Dupont of The Boston Globe. However, he and Steve Pagliuca have no interest in selling, and Grousbeck would not say if those offers came with dollar amounts attached to them.
- Former Knicks guard Chris Smith has entered the D-League draft with the hope of getting another opportunity to play in the NBA, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. The younger brother of J.R. Smith says that he has drawn interest from some D-League teams as well as clubs overseas.
- Even with LeBron James returning to Cleveland, the Heat will still be one of the better teams in the East, as A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com writes in his preview of the Southeast Division.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.
The Heat have waived Khem Birch along with the trio of cuts made earlier this evening, according to a team release. Miami will be on the hook for $50K in partially guaranteed money from his contract, unless another team claims him.
Birch was in the running for one of the Heat’s 15 final roster spots, but ultimately wasn’t preserved for the 2014/15 season. If Birch clears waivers, the Heat will hold his D-League rights, and they are expected to invite him to join their D-League affiliate, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.
The undrafted power forward was projected as a potential second-rounder out of UNLV, and he has impressed in stints with the Wizards summer league team and as a member of Miami’s preseason squad. Birch averaged 10.2 rebounds in his junior year, opting to declare for the draft rather than stay for his senior year.
SATURDAY, 4:56pm: All three players have been officially waived, the team announced.
8:47pm: All three players have been waived, according to the RealGM transactions log. No announcement from the team has been made yet.
THURSDAY, 11:58am: The Heat are waiving Larry Drew II, Tyler Johnson and Shawn Jones, as coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters today, including Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). The team has yet to make a formal announcement, but Miami hopes that all three will sign with its D-League affiliate, tweets Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post. The Heat has a $75K partial guarantee with Johnson and $25K with Drew, so the team will be on the hook for those amounts assuming they clear waivers. Jones has been on a non-guaranteed pact.
The athletic Johnson appeared in only one preseason game, but he performed well, scoring 17 points and coming up with four steals in more than 36 minutes of action. Jones averaged 3.0 points in 16.5 minutes per game in four preseason contests, while Drew, who signed on Monday, hasn’t played in any of the team’s exhibitions. Johnson and Jones went undrafted this summer, while Drew spent much of last season with the Heat’s D-League affiliate after joining Miami for camp last year.
The moves will leave Miami with 16 players, including 11 with fully guaranteed contracts. Three others have partial guarantees, while Shannon Brown and Andre Dawkins are on non-guaranteed deals.
The Celtics intend to take a good look at Jarell Eddie prior to the beginning of the regular season, Tom Layman of The Boston Herald writes. “He’s a player that we watched in college at Virginia Tech. He’s a player that we watched in his exhibition games with Atlanta and he’s always been a player that has been intriguing to us,” Boston GM Danny Ainge said. “We are going to evaluate him before training camp ends.” The Celtics claimed Eddie off of waivers from the Hawks on Friday.
Here’s more from the east:
- Jordan Vandenberg‘s minimum salary deal with the Knicks includes a partial guarantee for $27K, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). Vandenberg was signed with an eye on sending him to the NBA D-League, as Pincus also notes.
- The Celitcs‘ preseason roster count currently sits at 17, meaning the team still has to waive a minimum of two players prior to the deadline. The staff over at CSNNE.com analyze Boston’s frontcourt situation, including where each player fits in the current rotation.
- With Josh McRoberts and Chris Andersen slowed by injuries, Khem Birch could have the advantage for the Heat‘s 15th and final regular season roster spot, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel opines (Twitter link). Miami’s preseason roster count currently sits at 16 players.
The Heat front office wasn’t deflated when they learned that LeBron James and his talents were returning to the Cavs, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. Miami’s brass looked at the departure as a new opportunity and a fresh chapter, notes Zillgitt. The team wasn’t interested in a long rebuilding process, and Zillgitt points to the team bringing back Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as well as signing Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng as proof that the team still intends to be contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Here’s more from the east:
- The Hawks have hired Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports to help facilitate the sale of the franchise, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link).
- With 16 players remaining on their preseason roster the Celtics have at least one more personnel move to make prior to the regular season commencing. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com hands out his preseason grades for the players and notes where each currently fits in Boston’s plans.
- New Bucks team owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry face their first major franchise decision, Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times writes. The two have to decide the contract future of Brandon Knight, whom they have until October 31st to work out an extension with or else he is eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer, notes Woelfel. Knight’s numbers and age compare favorably with Eric Bledsoe‘s, but many around the league feel that the Suns overpaid when the re-signed Bledsoe to a five year, $70MM deal, so Knight may be hard pressed to duplicate Bledsoe’s near $14MM per season average, the Journal Times scribe relays.
- The Sixers still have 20 players on their preseason roster and a number of decisions to make before Saturday’s deadline to waive players so that they’re off the team by the time opening-night rosters are set on Monday. Casper Ware is in camp on a non-guaranteed deal, but has a very real shot to stick with the team, Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com writes. “I feel good about it,” Ware said. “I don’t know what they have planned, I just control what I can control and play hard.”