Avery Bradley credits the D-League as a huge factor in his success playing for the Celtics, explains Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. “I was able to learn a lot up [in Maine],” says Bradley. “I didn’t take it as punishment at all. That’s one thing I do remember. At first I was disappointed, and being a young guy, it’s kinda overwhelming at first [in the NBA] seeing all the superstars, all the guys you watch watch on TV, and now you’re practicing and I had the injury. I got down on myself a lot, but the D-League gave me a chance to get that confidence back.” Bradley hopes to take his game to new heights after signing a new four year, $32MM deal this offseason.
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- While many experts have picked the Celtics to finish near the cellar of the Eastern Conference, Jeremy Gottlieb of Boston.com sheds some optimism on Boston’s upcoming season. While Gottlieb admits that the idea of the Celtics contending for a playoff berth is far-fetched, he cites the presence of coach Brad Stevens, the potential financial motivations of some of the players on the roster, such as Rajon Rondo and Evan Turner, and the weakness of the Eastern Conference as reasons not to underestimate this team.
- Although the Celtics were never in contention to acquire Kevin Love due to a lack of an ability to create a package that Minnesota coveted, co-owner Wyc Grousbeck is confident that GM Danny Ainge will turn the franchise’s assets into a winning team, writes Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “I’ve got confidence that with all these picks and these young guys and our willingness to spend money that we can get there,” said Grousbeck. “We’re a patient group. We will take a multiyear plan if that’s what it takes. But I think this June there could be some fireworks. I think this June we’ve got so many pieces to this puzzle that we might be able to shake loose a real piece or two for this team going forward. So, I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later.”
- Magic forward Maurice Harkless is playing with more confidence this year, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Coach Jacque Vaughn has praised Harkless for his continued development. “There’s some areas that he’s improving, and he still can improve some more. But overall his confidence and feel on the floor has definitely grown,” said Vaughn.
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.”
Here’s tonight’s look at the latest from the Eastern Conference, where we’ve rounded up a bit from each division out east:
- Jason Kidd indicated that the team had sincere interest in bringing free agent Ray Allen to the Bucks, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel. “We did contact Ray,” Kidd admitted. “He’s weighing his options to see where he wants to go. But we did have interest.” Allen started his career in Milwaukee before getting traded for Gary Payton during his seventh season as a Buck.
- Brad Stevens is making a conscious effort to more closely align the playbooks of the Celtics and their the D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, as the second-year coach explains to ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg. “We’re trying to make [the playbook synergy] even more of a priority this year,” Stevens said. “I didn’t do a great job of that as I was balancing everything [last season]. [Red Claws coach Morrison Scott] has been here now for, really, the better part of [two months]. He’s been able to learn what we’re doing and they’ll play very similar to us.”
- The Magic‘s decision to trade away a pair of first-rounders just to move up two spots in June’s draft looked questionable at the time, but early returns from Elfrid Payton, the player Orlando selected with that pick, are making GM Rob Hennigan look brilliant, opines Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.
The Heat haven’t looked all that sharp so far in preseason, but they expect to improve once they have forward Josh McRoberts back in the lineup, writes Shandel Richardson of the Sun-Sentinel. When his toe injury heals, McRoberts’ skills – namely his passing – could open things up more for stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Here’s more from the Southeast Division..
- The Wizards announced that Bradley Beal‘s wrist surgery from earlier today was successful, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The new timetable given by the team is six weeks as opposed to the six-to-eight week estimate that was reported Saturday.
- Magic guard Ben Gordon, who signed a two-year, $9MM deal with Orlando this offseason, is happy to have Charlotte in his rear view mirror, writes John Denton of NBA.com. “(The struggles in Charlotte) bothered me a lot while I was there. Obviously, I was happy to be out of that situation,’’ Gordon said. “It’s behind me now. It’s just one of those things that happens and you try to learn from it and I’m just moving on.’”
- An industry source with knowledge of the Magic‘s thinking tells Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel that the team supports a proposal to alter the NBA Draft Lottery. The proposal would give the teams with the four worst overall records nearly identical chances to win the No. 1 pick.
The Heat will take on LeBron James and his Cavaliers in Saturday’s preseason game for the first time since he left to return to Cleveland, but the sentiments between James and those he left behind in Miami aren’t as raw as the feeling between new Wizards forward Paul Pierce and the Nets. Pierce and his former team have conflicting stories about just what led to his departure, but the Wizards are surely glad about whatever it is that pried the 16-year veteran from Brooklyn. Here’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Lance Stephenson cried when he told Pacers he was signing with the Hornets instead this summer, as he admits to Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling, but a surprise appearance by owner Michael Jordan in the team’s meeting helped seal the pitch. “When I shook [Jordan's] hand, I was shaking,” Stephenson said. “I was very nervous because that’s like everybody in the world who played basketball’s idol. I thought I would never meet Michael Jordan, but when I finally met him and talked to him and got to know him, that was the best feeling ever.”
- Kemba Walker‘s endorsement of Stephenson, whom he played against for years when they were both growing up in New York City, helped convince the Hornets to pursue the free agent shooting guard this year, as Zwerling details in the same piece.
- Elton Brand‘s ability to guard opposing centers is the chief reason why the Hawks brought him back, and familiarity is what led the 35-year-old to choose Atlanta over a handful of other suitors this summer, as he tells Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic are starting their seasons by making strong impressions in Orlando, writes Ken Hornack of FOX Sports Florida. Timing is everything for these players as they have until the end of the month to sign extensions to their rookie contracts. Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn isn’t letting his players get distracted by their pending contract statuses. “My message to them has been I’m going to coach you. No matter if you’re in a contract year or your first year in the league. I’m going to coach you the same. Hopefully that puts a little bit of ease underneath their wings in the sense of, ‘Just go play basketball,’“ Vaughn said.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.
FRIDAY, 8:03am: The move is official, the team announced.
THURSDAY, 7:10pm: The Pelicans have indeed placed Macklin on waivers, according to the RealGM transactions log, though the team has yet to make an official announcement.
5:01pm: The Pelicans are waiving Vernon Macklin, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). Macklin was in training camp on a minimum salary, non-guaranteed deal. This move will leave New Orleans with 18 players on their preseason roster, with 12 players’ contracts being fully guaranteed, and three others possessing partial guarantees.
Macklin faced tough competition trying to secure a regular season roster spot in a crowded Pelicans frontcourt. He was competing for backup minutes with Patric Young, Luke Babbitt, and Darius Miller. Young has a much higher upside than Macklin, and has been showing flashes of talent during training camp, which could have led to the Pelicans deeming Macklin expendable.
The 27-year-old big man out of Florida played in the summer league with the Magic this year, averaging 5.4 PPG and 3.6 RPG in 15.6 minutes per contest. He saw just 5.9 minutes per game in 30 contests during the 2011/12 season with the Pistons, who selected him 52nd overall in 2011.
The presence of mainstays Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem is a decided advantage for the Heat, as each of them turned down lucrative player options for the betterment of the team and re-signed with Miami for less this summer. Coach Erik Spoelstra believes that franchises that have players like that are in an even better position under the latest collective bargaining agreement, one that’s brought about shorter contracts and rapid-fire player movement, as Spoelstra explains to Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald. Indeed, that sort of loyalty is hard to come by, and it helps explain why either the Heat, Spurs, Lakers or both have appeared in each of the last 16 NBA Finals. Here’s more on the Heat and their Southeast Division rivals:
- Trevor Ariza insists the lack of state income tax in Texas was significant enough financial motivation for him to sign with the Rockets for the same four years and $32MM that the Wizards offered, as he tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post. Until the finances got in the way, Ariza says to Lee that he was fully expecting to return to the Wizards. “I thought I was going to be a Wizard for a long time, but when that didn’t happen [the Rockets] definitely pursued me the hardest,” Ariza said. “Everything happens for a reason. It’s a business. So sometimes, teams make business decisions and you’ve got to live with that. I grew up in this league, obviously, I was 19 [when he was drafted]. So I’ve matured. So in life, I moreso understand the business of things and accept it.”
- Chris Bosh was one of several players who signed long-term deals this summer that carry through 2016, the first year that the new TV contracts kick in, but he told reporters today that the allure of guaranteed max money for five years was too much to pass up. Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald tweets the details.
- The Magic‘s D-League affiliate traded for the D-League rights to Seth Curry today, the club announced. Curry is in NBA camp with the Magic, but it’ll be tough for him make the opening-night roster on his partially guaranteed deal. So, the D-League swap signals that Orlando would like to keep a close eye on Curry should he decide to play in the D-League in the likely event that the Magic waive him at the end of the preseason.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens is warning people not to read too much into early preseason lineups. However, the early readings indicate that rookie Marcus Smart has moved ahead of Evan Turner in the battle to serve as the team’s replacement point guard for the injured Rajon Rondo, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. More from the Eastern Conference..
- After being claimed off waivers from the Lakers, Bucks guard Kendall Marshall is ready to be a part of Milwaukee’s youth movement, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Marshall hopes to play a key role as a pass-first point guard for Milwaukee, working alongside returning point guard Brandon Knight and combo guard Jerryd Bayless.
- One of the newest members of the Magic, Evan Fournier, is fitting in well with the team, writes Ken Hornack of Fox Sports Florida. Hornack also adds, while Fournier is unlikely to be named a starter, he will be a valuable contributor due to his ability to create with the ball in his hands.
- After clashing as opposing point guards, Jose Calderon and Knicks coach Derek Fisher have seamlessly transitioned into their new roles as player and coach, writes Peter Botte of the New York Daily News. Botte adds that Calderon has been impressed with how quickly Fisher has acclimated to being comfortable in his new coaching role.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.
Dallas doesn’t have any openings on their coaching staff, but that didn’t stopping them from welcoming WNBA coach Jenny Boucek to participate in training camp, reports Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. “With Becky Hammon’s hiring [as a Spurs assistant], [female NBA coaching candidates have] become a reality,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. “And I believe it’s going to become even more of a reality going forward, because there are some women who are qualified and Jenny is one of them. A qualified female could bring a unique perspective and perhaps a different set of communication skills.” Here’s more from around the league:
- Free agent Carlos Delfino will miss significant time after having foot surgery, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype reports (on Twitter). Delfino hopes to be recovered by February, but doesn’t have a timetable for his return. Delfino missed all of last year while under contract with the Bucks due to injury, and the Clippers waived his 2014/15 salary under the stretch provision after receiving him in the Jared Dudley trade. That timeline will almost surely prevent Delfino from signing anywhere very soon, and he might become a target for 10-day contract offers if and when he recovers, although that’s just my speculation.
- A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com predicts that one of the proposed changes to the NBA lottery system is sure to get approved, and hopes that the league makes the change speedily for the good of the sport.
- Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders writes that many of the training camp invites around the league are playing more for a roster spot on a team’s D-League than a regular season role with their NBA club. Pincus notes that players with partial guarantees are likely to be cut and receive D-League invites from their current teams, including Bryce Cotton, JaMychal Green, Josh Davis, and John Holland on the Spurs and Peyton Siva, Seth Curry, Kadeem Batts, and Drew Crawford on the Magic.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel runs down some of the considerations the Magic will have to make in deciding whether to sign center Nikola Vucevic to a rookie scale extension prior to the October 31 deadline. While Vucevic might not seem like a near-max talent, Robbins surmises that Orlando could regret not securing him in that range if he signs a hefty offer sheet next summer as a restricted free agent. Here’s a look around the rest of the Eastern Conference:
- Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops expects Knicks president Phil Jackson to pursue trading for a star from a rebuilding team this year, shopping Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani‘s expiring contracts as cap-clearing assets for such a deal. Scotto pegs Rajon Rondo as a potential target for New York.
- Carmelo Anthony nodded to his desire for Jackson to add another star to the Knicks roster in the future, telling Al Iannazzone of Newsday that he envisions another elite weapon, along with the team’s new triangle offense, as necessary elements to reduce his scoring load. “For this season right now, we have what we have,” Anthony said. “We’re going to deal with that. That was a big discussion with me and Phil talking about–that was one of my things. I didn’t want to have to do it night in and night out. I wanted some nights when somebody else can pick up the load.”
- Nets assistant coach Paul Westphal tells Tim Bontemps of the New York Post that he returned to the bench primarily to reunite with head coach Lionel Hollins. The pair coached together in Phoenix. “I wouldn’t have [been an assistant] in any situation,” Westphal said. “I wasn’t desperate to go find a situation, but I definitely wouldn’t have said no to Lionel.”