Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press writes that assistant coaching positions are now some of the NBA’s more glamorous positions. Coaches tell Krawczynski that the rising salaries and profiles of the assistants are justified. “There’s a lot more to head coaching than actual coaching,” Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “There’s a lot of other stuff that comes up. To try to put your full effort into everything is tough to do. That’s where the assistants become really valuable in terms of getting the basketball stuff ready, narrowing it down for you to look at the game plan and it’s already done pretty much for you [to] just go from there.” More from around the league..
- Despite losing key cogs of their championship team over the past few years, the Mavs appear poised to contend in 2014/15, writes Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders. Familiar faces like J.J. Barea and Caron Butler have moved on since 2010/11, but Dallas has a strong new supporting cast built around Dirk Nowitzki. This offseason also saw the Mavs welcome back big man Tyson Chandler.
- Knicks associate coach Kurt Rambis is helping rookie head coach Derek Fisher adjust to the pressures of coaching in New York, writes Mark Berman of the New York Post. Rambis worked as an assistant under new Knicks president Phil Jackson with the Lakers and understands the pressures of coaching in a big-city atmosphere. “I’m giving him countless suggestions, even how to monitor his time,’’ said Rambis, who was hired in July. “… Derek is a perfectionist, constantly thinking about the game. He did it as a player and it’s worse when you become a head coach. I want him to find time to do it.’’
- The Knicks‘ Travis Wear has already seen his twin brother get cut from an NBA roster, and he is hoping to avoid the same fate, reports Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Wear has just $62K of his $507K contact guaranteed, and the Knicks have 15 players in camp with fully guaranteed deals. Zagoria reports that Wear has fit in well with the Knicks’ new triangle offense, but he may wind up with the team’s D-League affiliate in Westchester, N.Y. Wear’s brother, David, was waived Sunday by the Kings.
- The NBPA hired Gary Kohlman as its new general counsel, a source tells Ben Strauss of the New York Times.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Carmelo Anthony thinks back-to-backs should be reduced, telling Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com it’s something that should be discussed. “I don’t know if that will ever happen, but that’s the dream,” Anthony said. “Maybe it will happen 10 years from now when I’m out of the league.” The extended All-Star break has actually resulted in more back-to-backs for 2014/15. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:
- Mirza Teletovic‘s development this season will go a long way in deciding his fate as a restricted free agent next year. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes that the 29-year-old small forward’s play could also soften the lingering effects of what Bondy believes are poor decisions for the Nets, who let Paul Pierce walk this summer after acquiring him in an expensive blockbuster deal the year before.
- Al Iannazzone, Mark La Monica, and Anthony Carrozzo of Newsday have compiled a timeline of Phil Jackson‘s first seven months as Knicks president, offering analysis of each move Jackson has pulled off in his attempt to overhaul the franchise.
- Rapper and Raptors team ambassador Drake was involved in Kentucky’s Midnight Madness festivities, spending time among the college players as Kaitlyn McGrath of the National Post reports. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders wonders (on Twitter) if he might draw league attention for his participation, after having earned Toronto a tampering fine by leading a recruitment chant for Kevin Durant at a concert.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Ian Thomsen spoke with Kyle Draper and Bob Neumeier of CSNNE.com about the Celtics and the possibility that they deal Rajon Rondo this season. Thomsen believes it will be difficult for Boston to receive anything of value in return for their point guard. Thomsen said, “It all depends on Rondo or what he’s going to do, how well he’s going to play. I think he’s going to have a tremendous year looking forward to his free agency. I’m not sure how the Celtics get anything in a trade for Rondo because he wants to be a free agent and the Knicks and Lakers are going to be out there with max cap space [in the offseason]. How’s anyone going to keep him from going to one of those teams, including the Celtics?”
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- The battle for the final Knicks roster spot might just come down to Travis Wear versus Travis Outlaw, Keith Schlosser of SNY.tv opines. Wear is mastering the triangle offense quicker than Outlaw, but it is Outlaw’s expiring $3MM contract that might make him more valuable to retain on the regular season roster as a possible trade chip, notes Schlosser.
- The Celtics got even smaller with the trade for Will Bynum, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com writes. After adding the 6’0″ Bynum, this leaves the team with eight players 6’4″ or smaller, notes Blakely. Boston still has 16 fully guaranteed contracts on the books, so more dealing is very possible, according to Blakely.
- The Knicks have a new look this season both on and off the court. The architect of this rebuild is new team president Phil Jackson, and Al Iannozzone, Mark LaMonica, and Anthony Carrozzo of Newsday take an in-depth look at all the changes that Jackson has brought to New York.
Jimmy Butler has been turning heads in Chicago with his play during training camp. The Bulls swingman is in better physical condition this year, but is also motivated by being eligible to sign a contract extension prior to the October 31st deadline, Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com writes. “My confidence is high and that’s the way you have to play this game,” Butler said. “All summer I worked on my game, the biggest thing is just confidence, taking shots I know I can make. I’m really happy on the way that I’m going right now, but I still got to keep going.” If Butler and the team don’t come to terms on an extension by the deadline he will become a restricted free agent next summer.
Here’s more from the east:
- The Celtics made a minor trade earlier today with the Pistons, shipping Joel Anthony to Detroit for Will Bynum. Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com examines what the trade does to Boston’s salary cap situation and the team’s rotation.
- After a difficult season under former coach Mike Woodson, J.R. Smith is starting fresh with a clean slate, Fred Kerber of The New York Post writes. Knicks head coach Derek Fisher said of Smith, “What I’ve tried to do with all of our guys, not just J.R., is kind of manage our relationship based on our relationship and not the relationships they have may have had with other people, other coaches. Jay’s been great, and I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t continue.”
- In addition to fellow rookies Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, Devyn Marble also hopes to make an impact for the Magic this season, Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders writes. Orlando signed Marble to a three year deal with the first year fully guaranteed, which went a long way towards giving Marble confidence, notes Taylor. “It’s good to have peace of mind,” Marble said. “It’s something that you don’t necessarily have to worry about. For me, I’m still going to come ready to play and still continue to work hard; nothing is guaranteed even though it technically is. I’m still going to find ways to help and I would want to be here for the rest of my career. I’m just doing anything I can in the time frame now to help the team out.”
The deadline for teams to sign rookie scale extensions with their eligible players is two weeks from today, and while only six players came to deals last time around, that number has the potential to be much larger this year, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein has more on many of those extension hopefuls that adds to the storylines we’ve been following throughout the offseason:
- Kawhi Leonard, Tristan Thompson, and Norris Cole are among the players who are in active negotiations with their respective teams about rookie scale extensions, Stein reports. Klay Thompson, Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Reggie Jackson, Brandon Knight, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks are also in active extension talks, according to Stein, who advances earlier reports that all of them had engaged in talks.
- Iman Shumpert and the Knicks are also discussing an extension, Stein writes, countering a report from a few weeks ago that indicated that the sides hadn’t engaged in talks and that New York was content to let the swingman hit restricted free agency next summer.
- Klay Thompson’s camp is considering the idea of going after an offer sheet similar to the one the Mavs gave Chandler Parsons if Thompson and the Warriors don’t come to an extension this month, Stein hears. Parsons’ near-max deal runs three years and includes a player option and a 15% trade kicker. Rival GMs have expressed admiration for its structure and Rockets GM Daryl Morey pointed to the difficulty that trading such a contract would entail shortly after he decided against matching it. The player option would allow Thompson to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2017, which is when Stephen Curry‘s deal is set to end, as Stein points out.
- The Lakers have attempted to trade for Thompson in the past, Stein notes, though he doesn’t make any suggestion that they’re planning an aggressive push for the shooting guard if he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.
11:00pm: The Knicks have indeed exercised their team option on Larkin, as is indicated by the RealGM transactions log. The team has not made any formal announcement as of yet.
10:03am: The Knicks have decided to exercise their team option to keep point guard Shane Larkin on his rookie scale contract for 2015/16, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Larkin will make $1,675,320 that season, the third of his four-year contract, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows. The deadline is October 31st for the team to make the move official.
The Mavs sent Larkin to New York as part of the Tyson Chandler trade this summer. The 18th pick in the 2013 draft didn’t see much playing time as a rookie, averaging 2.8 points and 1.5 assists in 10.2 minutes per game. He’s seen nearly twice as many minutes in preseason games with the Knicks, averaging 20.9, but he’s still put up just 2.5 PPG and 1.5 APG. Phil Jackson and his staff are nonetheless satisfied with what they’ve seen from him the past few weeks, Wojnarowski writes.
Jackson is trying to keep the team’s cap sheet as clean as possible for 2015/16 as he plans a run at marquee free agents. The Knicks only have about $31.4MM in commitments for that season, so adding Larkin’s salary to that wouldn’t make much of a dent against a projected $66.5MM salary cap. Still, that figure doesn’t include a nearly $6.4MM player option that J.R. Smith possesses and more than $1.4MM in non-guaranteed salary for Pablo Prigioni. It also leaves out the team option on Tim Hardaway Jr., worth more than $1.3MM, that the Knicks will almost assuredly pick up. Iman Shumpert is up for a rookie scale extension this month, but it doesn’t appear as though the sides will come to terms.
Many around the NBA believe Ray Allen will become a member of the Cavs this season and Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio is among the Cleveland optimists. “My gut tells me he’ll join the Cavs,” Amico said. Cleveland is among the many teams with interest in bringing the shooting guard aboard. Amico also notes that he believes Allen has already decided on whether or not he’ll play this season, and where.
Here’s more from Eastern Conference:
- After he struggled last postseason there were doubts the Heat would re-sign Mario Chalmers, but head coach Eric Spoelstra is a firm believer in the point guard, writes Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel. “He’s one of the all-time clutch players in this game,” Spoelstra said. “How many times does he have to prove himself?”
- In a separate piece, Richardson documents how the environment around the Heat is changing post-LeBron James. Dwyane Wade couldn’t be happier about the changes. “It’s more relaxed, more chill, an opportunity we can get some work in,” Wade said. “We can actually make some mistakes and not do things as great and not really be talked about as much. We’re a team that needs time individually to get comfortable with whatever roles we’re going to be in. It’s good it’s quiet.”
- Although Kevin Love‘s neck injury isn’t believed to be too serious, Jeff Caplan of NBA.com wonders if LeBron’s new teammates can stay healthy. Caplan points out the injury history of Love and Kyrie Irving and notes how crucial it is that the new big three get as much time on the court together as possible
- There are Atlantic Division teams that have young players with the potential to improve such as Terrence Ross of the Raptors and Tyler Zeller of the Celtics, writes Jonathan Tjarks of RealGM.com. Mason Plumlee of the Nets, Iman Shumpert of the Knicks and Michael Carter-Williams of the Sixers are also among the players Tjarks lists as internal improvement candidates for the coming season.
One of the major storylines in New York this season will be how well the Knicks adapt to the triangle offense. Shaquille O’Neal, who played in the triangle during his time with the Lakers, told Mitch Lawrence of NBCNewYork.com, “For the triangle to work, you need to have two superstars. It’s been proven over time. Look at what Phil [Jackson] needed to win his championships in Chicago. Then look what he had in L.A., with me and Kobe. You have to have two superstars playing in the triangle to win championships.’’ Jackson hopes to add that second superstar during next summer’s free agent signing period when Andrea Bargnani‘s and Amar’e Stoudemire‘s contracts come off the books.
Here’s more from the east:
- With the Celtics carrying 16 fully guaranteed contracts on their preseason roster, at least one of those players will need to be traded or waived prior to the beginning of the regular season. Brian Robb of Boston.com looks at the reasons why Boston shouldn’t waive Vitor Faverani despite his injury concerns.
- Ben Rohrbach of WEEI 93.7 FM breaks down the numbers on Evan Turner and what the swingman brings to the Celtics franchise.
- When asked what led him to sign with the Cavs, Shawn Marion said that LeBron James wasn’t enough to sway him, but LeBron and Kevin Love combined were, Michael Lee of The Washington Post writes. “LeBron coming here wasn’t enough. It was more so finalizing the deal with Love. That sold it,” Marion said. “That made it more realistic, like we do have a shot to win the championship this year.”
It’s rare that a Sunday afternoon preseason game draws much attention, but this Sunday’s Celtics-Nets game will be an exception. They’ll play 44 minutes instead of the standard 48 as the NBA experiments with a shorter game time, the league announced. Coaches around the league and the NBA’s competition committee expressed support for the idea, as NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn tells Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Boston and Brooklyn volunteered to try it out, Zillgitt adds. Still, Jared Dudley took to Twitter to express concern about the way a shorter game would affect playing time and contract value for bench players. The league has no plans at this point to have another 44-minute game, and the experiment also includes fewer timeouts, and thus fewer advertising opportunities, so I’m skeptical that all parties will agree to 44-minute games in the future. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how it goes. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:
- Greg Stiemsma‘s contract with the Raptors is partially guaranteed for $25K, Hoops Rumors has learned. That puts him on equal financial footing with teammates Jordan Hamilton and Will Cherry, who have partial guarantees for the same amount. The three appear to be jockeying for a single opening-night roster spot, since Toronto has 13 full guarantees and a $5MM partial guarantee with Amir Johnson.
- The history of teams that win 20 games or fewer shows that they almost always bounce back into the playoffs within a few years, and that helps explain the Sixers‘ confidence in their radical rebuilding plan, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News examines.
- Dwane Casey continues to be fond of Knicks point guard Jose Calderon, whom he coached on the Raptors, and the feeling is mutual, observes Fred Kerber of the New York Post.
Over 50% of Hoops Rumors readers think that Raptors have the best shot at winning the Atlantic Division this season, and Toronto certainly looked impressive tonight as they bested the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. We’ll round up the latest on the Knicks, Raptors, and Nets below in tonight’s look at the Atlantic..
- Jose Calderon spent his first seven-and-a-half seasons in the NBA as a member of the Raptors, but after a spending a year in Dallas, he’s happy to return to the Atlantic Division and kick off his tenure with the Knicks. “It’s been great,” Calderon told Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, “(Derek Fisher projects the) confidence that he’s been coaching for years now, I like that, I think everybody’s comfortable with him, but now it’s going to be about timing. New (Triangle) system, new game, new players, new coaching staff, so you need some time, but we’re on the right path we’ve got to keep going.”
- David Aldridge of TNT complies a list of 10 under-the-radar players who might be poised for breakout seasons. Among those on the list is recently acquired Raptors guard Lou Williams. The 27-year-old is looking for a bounce back year after struggling to recover from a torn ACL in Atlanta last season.
- Joe Johnson is excited about the Nets’ offseason acquisition of Jarrett Jack, as Robert Windrem of Nets Daily transcribes. “I think Jarrett’s probably going to be one of the biggest X-factors for this team,” said Johnson. “I think he’s very underrated, a guy that can do multiple things, as far as catch and shoot, shooting off the dribble, create, defending, another ball handler who can break down the defense. So I think it’s only a plus for us, man. I was excited when we got him.“