The Eastern Conference will have a few chances to improve its dismal record against the West tonight, as the Cavs and Hawks host the Nuggets and Clippers respectively, while the Pacers play in Utah. As we look forward to a night of NBA action, let’s check out a few items from around the East….
- Having been demoted by the Nets, Lawrence Frank will retain “high-powered” legal counsel, likely in the hopes of working out a buyout agreement with the team, a source tells Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. As various reports have noted since Frank’s “re-assignment” yesterday, the Brooklyn assistant signed a lucrative six-year contract with the club this summer.
- In spite of Derrick Rose‘s season-ending injury, the Bulls are still excited about their future, GM Gar Forman said on ESPN Radio on Tuesday. Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com has the key quotes from Forman.
- Along with ESPN’s Scoop Jackson and Doug Padilla, Friedell debates whether the Bulls believe they’ll re-sign Luol Deng next summer, in a separate piece.
- Given the way Michael Beasley has played this season, it’s clear that at least one of the Heat‘s two non-guaranteed players will have his salary guaranteed, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Roger Mason is the other Miami player on a non-guaranteed contract.
- Beasley ranks among the best bargain signings of the offseason, according to Lang Greene of HoopsWorld, who also includes Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll in his list.
The Bulls and Heat were perhaps the strongest Eastern Conference title contenders to start the season, but they’ve taken divergent paths, thanks to Derrick Rose‘s injury. The Bulls probably won’t win the title this year, while the Heat appear only to have the Pacers in their way as they try for their fourth straight conference title. Here’s more from Chicago and Miami:
- There were four teams interested in trading for Marquis Teague at the start of the season, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Wolves and Jazz were reportedly two of them, but it’s not clear who the other teams were or if any clubs maintain their interest. The Bulls have hoped that Teague would improve this year, with Kirk Hinrich set to hit free agency.
- Michael Beasley‘s has assumed a “significant” role on the Heat, coach Erik Spoelstra says. It’s Spoelstra’s strongest endorsement of Beasley this year, observes Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald, who examines how the team’s minimum-salary gamble is paying dividends so far. Beasley’s deal remains non-guaranteed.
- The Heat might be able to find a better bargain on the free agent market in the summer, but Chris Bosh‘s slow start has done nothing to affect his value to the Heat this season, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes in his mailbag column.
Shortly after the Nets’ 21-point loss in Sacramento on Wednesday night, Brooklyn GM Billy King had a closed-door meeting with head coach Jason Kidd and Kevin Garnett to presumably discuss (as Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News surmises) why almost nothing seems to be going according to plan in Brooklyn right now. In another Nets-related piece, Lenn Robbins of NBA.com writes that the current roster hasn’t shown they deserve a player’s coach like Kidd.
Here’s more of the miscellaneous links to pass along tonight:
- When asked further about why Omer Asik didn’t play during tonight’s game in New York, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said that Asik told him that he wasn’t feeling well earlier (Sean Deveney of the Sporting News via Twitter). It should be noted that this was Asik’s first DNP-CD of his NBA career.
- Cavaliers shooting guard Carrick Felix recently returned to the practice floor after being out with a sports hernia, but head coach Mike Brown made it clear that the 23-year-old rookie would find his minutes in the D-League once he’s ready to play (Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal).
- Zach Harper of CBS Sports details why Andre Iguodala may be the ultimate role player.
- Although Michael Beasley may be a ways away from being a contributor with consistent playing time on the Heat, NBA.com’s Couper Moorhead tells us how the former second-overall pick continues to work hard and has taken a significant step forward to improve his overall game.
- Joseph Lombardo, who founded the investment firm Prim Capital (which previously handled the investments and finances of the NBPA), has been charged with fraud, according to the Associated Press. Authorities say that Lombardo used a signature stamp to forge the signature of a deceased general counsel for the NBPA and another employee that awarded Prim Capital a $3MM fee over five years.
- Nate Duncan of Hoopsworld goes in depth about what to make out of the Timberwolves’ and Pacers’ hot starts this season.
Here’s a quick rundown of some notes around the NBA this Saturday:
- Josh Howard was named to the training camp roster for the Austin Toros, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. The 10-year veteran, who underwent season-ending ACL surgery last winter, will play for the Spurs’ D-League affiliate as he rehabs his knee. The Spurs signed and waived Howard just last Saturday to ensure that they would retain his D-League rights.
- McDonald adds that San Antonio camp invitees Courtney Fells and Myck Kabongo will join Howard in Austin.
- The Timberwolves announced today (via Twitter) that Ronny Turiaf has undergone an MRI revealing a fracture of his right elbow. No timetable for his return has been given. The Wolves are already missing forward Chase Budinger, who is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic surgery. We heard last night that no Wolves roster moves were brewing, but if Turiaf and Budinger miss significant time, the team may need to reconsider its options.
- Bobcats owner Michael Jordan oversaw a summer in which the team hurt its chances for next year’s No. 1 pick, but he finally showed that he has a legitimate plan in place for the team, argues Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer.
- Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel notes that Michael Beasley and Roger Mason of the Heat need to prove they can provide value off the bench since their non-guaranteed contracts can be waived until the January 10th NBA guarantee date. Beasley in particular needs to demonstrate that he has grown out of his off-the-court issues that caused many NBA GMs to look past him during free agency.
- The NBA Player’s Association has started to narrow down candidates for the executive director position, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The NBPA aims to have finalists selected by All-Star weekend.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
SUNDAY, 11:49am: The Heat have officially announced the moves on their website.
SATURDAY, 5:13pm: Miami has also waived Justin Hamilton, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). The subtraction leaves the Heat with 15 players, and it appears Michael Beasley and Roger Mason, the team’s only other players on non-guaranteed deals, have made the opening-night roster.
9:08am: The Heat have released forward Eric Griffin, a league source tells Shams Charania of RealGM (via Twitter). Griffin was in summer league and preseason with Miami this year and was said to have impressed.
Miami probably would have liked to keep Griffin, but the club is facing a serious roster crunch with Greg Oden and Michael Beasley filling the final spots on the roster. Releasing Griffin brings the club down to 16 players and Justin Hamilton will probably be the next to go.
The 23-year-old went undrafted out of Campbell in 2012, after averaging 15.7 PPG and 8.6 RPG in his senior year in college. The 6’8″ forward spent last season in Italy, averaging 17.5 PPG and 7.1 RPG in 28 contests for Fileni BPA Jesi, before earning a spot on the Heat’s Summer League team last month.
A few notes from around the Eastern Conference.
Let’s round up all of the links coming out of the Eastern Conference on Thursday night:
- In Canada for tomorrow night’s matchup with the Raptors, the Knicks, at this point in training camp, seem thrilled Toronto gave up on Andrea Bargnani this offseason, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post, who tabs head coach Mike Woodson as one of Bargnani’s biggest fans in the early going.
- Woodson also said on Thursday that rookie and No. 24 pick Tim Hardaway Jr. has “put himself in a nice position” to get minutes in the Knicks rotation, writes Al Iannazzone of the Long Island Newsday.
- Despite going undrafted in June, it sounds like Matthew Dellavedova is on track to make the Cavaliers‘ final roster as the third point guard, writes Bob Finnan of the Cleveland News-Herald. The Cavs signed the Saint Mary’s product to a two-year deal with a small guarantee about a month ago.
- Despite a shaky preseason debut on Tuesday, No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett says he is simply trying to find his groove after offseason shoulder surgery, writes Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who adds that the highly-touted rookie is currently concentrated on improving his conditioning.
- Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report breaks down the five candidates in Miami with a chance to crack Erik Spoelstra’s nine-man, championship rotation: Michael Beasley, Rashard Lewis, Roger Mason Jr., James Jones and Joel Anthony. Skolnick also mentions Greg Oden, who may be a factor for the Heat in 2014.
- Greek import Giannis Antetokounmpo, who the Bucks took in June at No. 15, has flashed big-time talent two preseason games into his NBA career, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, who says some scouts adamantly labeled the “Greek Freak” a bust without giving him a sufficient look (Twitter links here).
The Spurs have been searching for a backup small forward since releasing Stephen Jackson in the spring, and the team may have found its man in Sam Young. However, as Young competes for a roster spot in San Antonio, the veteran tells Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News that Spurs fans haven’t forgotten the role he played in the Grizzlies’ 2011 upset of the West’s No. 1 seed.
“That was one of the biggest moments in Grizzlies history, so when we beat them, a lot of Spurs fans were upset,” Young said. “When I got here, a couple people let me know on Twitter; a lot of people let me know on Facebook. Even a couple coaches talked about it, but it’s cool. They’ve embraced me.”
Here’s the latest on a few more players hoping to earn roster spots around the NBA:
There are tons of intriguing minimum-contract players around the league this year, writes HoopsWorld’s Mark Deeks. Omri Casspi of the Rockets had 20 points off of 9-10 shooting in his preseason debut while the Lakers‘ Xavier Henry had 29 points of his own. DeJuan Blair, Anthony Morrow, Chris Andersen, Aaron Brooks, and Antawn Jamison are just some of the other notable vets playing on bargain basement deals in 2013/14. Here’s tonight’s look around the Association..
- Heat forward Michael Beasley is changing agents, according to Guido Guida of La Gazzetta (via Twitter). The former No. 2 overall pick left Jeff Schwartz to join up with Jared Karnes of A3 Allegiant Athletic Agency. You can keep up with everyone’s representation using the Hoops Rumors Agency Database.
- Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune looks at Arinze Onuaku‘s quest to make the Pelicans roster and his journey getting there.
- Sixers newcomer Gani Lawal plans on sticking around in the NBA for a while, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The forward believes that if he hadn’t torn his ACL as a rookie with the Suns in 2010, he’d be an NBA starter.
- Charles O’Bannon says he’s officially retired from playing after searching for another NBA gig and playing in Japan, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. O’Bannon, the brother of former UCLA star Ed O’Bannon, spent two years in the NBA with the Pistons.
Since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, no team besides the Heat has represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. However, former GM and current analyst Steve Kerr believes that will change in 2013/14. According to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, Kerr is picking the Bulls to unseat the Heat this season, as Miami faces the pressure of trying to three-peat.
"Emotionally, it's just exhausting to keep doing it year after year," Kerr said. "Particularly when you have to deal with everything Miami has to deal with on a daily basis, just the constant critiquing and scrutiny on the team, and then you factor in the injuries with [Dwyane] Wade and [Chris] Bosh and their health. I don't think Miami will get out of the East this year."
Here's more on the Heat:
- The Heat "initially balked" when Michael Beasley's agent called the team to gauge its interest, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. However, Pat Riley reconsidered, and meeting with Beasley eased many of the concerns that Riley and Erik Spoelstra had, according to Jackson.
- Ethan Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post examines the one-year contracts signed by Beasley and Greg Oden, exploring the duo's chances of making the team and earning minutes this year, along with the odds that either player returns for a second year in Miami.
- Considering spending the mini mid-level exception would cost the Heat about $11MM in taxes and there aren't many free agents available worth more than the minimum, Miami is unlikely to spend its MLE, says Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Winderman leaves the door open for the Heat to add a player who is bought out later in the season, particularly if the club is able to find a taker for Joel Anthony, but the mid-level could very well go unused.