Michael Marot of The Associated Press looks at Paul George‘s hopes to become a superstar in a small market. George has said that he wants to crack the top-five in NBA jersey sales, and his success in the playoffs could propel him to some major endorsement deals. Here’s more from the East:
1:33pm: Hill would be interested in taking a front office job eventually, but not now, tweets Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News.
11:16am: The Pistons appear to be targeting Grant Hill and Magic assistant GM Scott Perry as candidates to replace Joe Dumars atop the Detroit front office, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein cautions that the Pistons have promised a broad search, so Hill and Perry will likely be two of many in the running for the job.
Perry has spent most of his NBA career with the Pistons, joining the team as a scout during the same offseason in which Dumars became the club’s top basketball executive. He ascended through the ranks to become vice president of basketball operations for the team after a one-year stint as assistant GM to Sam Presti with the Thunder in 2007/08. He was said to have advocated for the Pistons to draft Carmelo Anthony rather than Darko Milicic while serving as Pistons director of player personnel in 2003, USA Today’s Sam Amick notes (Twitter link).
Hill was rumored to be a candidate for the Suns GM job last year shortly after he retired from playing at the end of the 2012/13 season. NBA teams were still interested in the 41-year-old as a player earlier this year, but Hill rejected those entreaties and has spent the season as a broadcaster. The Pistons drafted him third overall in 1994, and he played his first six NBA seasons with the team.
Amick also names Warriors assistant GM Travis Schlenk and former Raptors and Suns GM Bryan Colangelo as possible candidates (Twitter link).
The Erie BayHawks will serve as the Magic’s D-League affiliate in a one-to-one relationship next season, sources tell Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The Knicks announced this spring that they’re ending their hybrid partnership with the BayHawks after the season and starting a D-League expansion team that will serve as their affiliate. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported in February that the Magic had been in talks with an existing D-League team about forming a one-to-one relationship, and Zillgitt reveals it was indeed the BayHawks.
The Magic are one of six teams sharing the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this season, and they haven’t made a D-League assignment in 2013/14, even though their roster is full of young, developing players. GM Rob Hennigan and company apparently want to make better use of the D-League, despite the approximately 1,000-mile distance between Orlando and Erie, Pennsylvania that will make it tough for the club to liberally shuttle players back and forth as many teams with closer affiliates do. Still, it’s only about half the distance separating the Heat from their one-to-one affiliate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
There were 14 NBA teams this season with a one-to-one D-League affiliation. The Pistons will also join that list next season, while the Blazers are ending their relationship with the Idaho Stampede and will share an affiliate in 2014/15. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another team strike a direct partnership with the Stampede before next season. The number of teams with one-to-one affiliates has grown in the past few years, and the D-League hopes someday to have a club lined up with each NBA team.
The hybrid partnership means the Magic will run the basketball operations for the BayHawks, while Erie’s owners will take care of the business end of the club. There are seven NBA franchises that have similar arrangements with a D-League team this season, while other NBA clubs own their affiliates outright.
More information surrounding the potential sale of the Bucks continues to emerge. Mike Dunleavy is part of an newly reported investment group that was interested in purchasing a share of ownership, but a separate, local group is finalizing a deal with Herb Kohl, per Mitch Lawrence of New York Daily News. Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel counters that report, saying that there is activity but that there is no definitive partnership yet. It is still unknown whether the rumored purchases are for minority or majority ownership of the team. Here’s more from the East:
- It’s well known in league circles that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau would love to acquire Carmelo Anthony, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Johnson believes Chicago will make exhaustive attempts to complete a sign-and-trade for Anthony, but deems their chances a long shot.
- Knicks coach Mike Woodson took responsibility for New York’s failure to make the playoffs, Al Iannazzonne of Newsday reports. All reports point to Woodson being fired after coming up short in the pursuit of the eighth seed.
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News lists five potential candidates to replace Joe Dumars as the next Pistons GM.
- While most agree that Dumars’ looming resignation as the Pistons GM is appropriate, Chad Ford of ESPN.com says his personal opinion of Dumars is very high (via Twitter). Of all the GMs that Ford has interacted with, he places Dumars in his top five.
- Nikola Vucevic has been shut down for the season, mainly as a precautionary measure by the Magic, per Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.
Speaking in general about the Celtics future, Rajon Rondo told Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that Boston’s fan base is a strength for the franchise. “I know that would be a big reason why you wouldn’t want to leave a city like Boston, because every night, even with the season we’re having, we’re probably still leading the league in attendance or at least up near the top.” said Rondo. “So you don’t take that for granted. I know I don’t.” Let’s round up the rest of the notes out of the Eastern Conference:
- The Cavs recalled Sergey Karasev from their D-League affiliate, per a tweet from Bob Finnan of The News-Herald.
- Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets that the Magic are approaching the draft looking for the best talent available wherever they select, without prioritizing any one position or player.
- Kyler adds that the Magic‘s draft decisions will overlap with extension talks with both Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic (Twitter links). Both are entering the final year of their rookie scale contracts, and play positions occupied by players projected at the top of the 2014 draft.
- Al Jefferson didn’t expect a playoff berth in his first year with the Bobcats, but the center tells A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com that he now has his sights set on continued success in Charlotte. “If you ask me did I say when I signed that we would be where we are now, no I didn’t say that,” Jefferson said. “But I feel this is only the beginning. You go back to Oklahoma City when they were not a playoff team, then made the eighth seed, lost in their first round. The next year, went to the Western Conference finals and the following year they went to the Finals. They just kept going until they became a team that everybody had to respect. That’s where we at right now; we’re at the beginning stage. I’m proud of what we’ve done so far. But I believe in my heart, we’re going to accomplish so much more.”
- Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun points out the irony of Andrew Wiggins‘ courtside presence in Toronto on the night the Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title. When the season began, many had Toronto pegged as a team likely to tank, when phrases like “Riggin’ for Wiggins” were being thrown around.
The final Friday night of the NBA’s regular season features 13 games, and 12 of them have some sort of playoff implications. The other is a key contest for the Bucks, who can clinch pole position for the NBA draft lottery with a loss and a Sixers win. Here’s the latest from around the Association:
- Iowa State has hiked coach Fred Hoiberg‘s annual salaries to $2.6MM from $2MM in an effort to keep him, writes Luke Meredith of The Associated Press. The sought-after NBA head coaching candidate is unlikely to take the Wolves job, as we noted earlier today.
- Knicks GM Steve Mills said in Thursday’s radio interview that owner James Dolan wanted to make sure he and Phil Jackson could work together before the team hired the Zen Master, and Marc Berman of the New York Post takes that as a positive sign for Mills’ job security.
- James Southerland‘s contract with the Pelicans only runs through the end of the season, but coach Monty Williams isn’t ruling the small forward out of the team’s plans for the future, notes Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com. “If he plays well here [in the last week of the season], he could be in our discussions come summer league, if it works out,” Williams said. “We’ll see.”
- E’Twaun Moore is set to become a restricted free agent in the offseason, but he says he “most definitely” would like to return to the Magic, observes Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel.
- The desire for maximum flexibility probably played a significant role in the Rockets‘ decision to waive Greg Smith, as Mark Deeks of ShamSports explains in a piece for the Score.
- The Oregonian’s Mike Tokito explains how the NBA divvies up the $14MM it awards in playoff bonuses.
Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson guested on the SVP and Russillo Show on ESPN Radio (audio link) earlier today, praising Rick Carlisle‘s performance this season and acknowledging that the franchise will have the flexibility to be active in the free agent market this offseason. It’s definitely worth mentioning that Dallas’ first priority, according to Nelson, is to re-sign Dirk Nowitzki and allow him to finish his career with the Mavs. He also said that the team will be looking to add another superstar with the intent of having Dirk eventually become their second-best player.
Though he didn’t specifically mention any other names, Nelson stated that the team has a few of its own free agents that are priorities as well. He’s gone on record before saying that there is mutual interest with Vince Carter in negotiating a new deal and that he plans on keeping Samuel Dalembert this summer.
Here are some more miscellaneous news and notes out of the Association tonight:
- A few days ago, we noted that Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin, along with his staff, will know by the end of this month if they’ll be returning for the 2014/15 season. Corbin’s contract is set to expire this summer, although Jody Genessy of the Deseret News found it interesting that the 51-year-old coach spoke today about working with the players this summer and getting them ready for next year (Twitter link).
- Magic shooting guard and soon-to-be free agent E’Twaun Moore tells Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel that his preference is to stay put: “Most definitely…Orlando has been good to me. It’s great here. We got a lot of young guys and I feel like we’ve grown up together.”
- 6’11 center prospect Nikola Jokic will most likely declare for the 2014 NBA Draft and is expected to make his final decision after the Nike Hoops Summit, per Misko Raznatovic of BeoBasket Sports agency (Twitter link).
- Former Marquette standout Jamil Wilson has signed with Relativity Sports and is currently projected as a second-round pick, tweets Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times.
The Magic didn’t expect Al Harrington would be able to play for them last season after a staph infection in his knee, and they wouldn’t allow him to hang around his teammates, as Harrington alleges in a first-person account with Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling.
“Orlando was more about rebuilding, but they could’ve been more professional about my situation,” Harrington wrote. “In fact, the general manager, Rob Hennigan, told my agent that I was done, saying I ‘cannot play.’ Those were his exact words. And I was like, ‘He has some nerve.’ He’s a 32-year-old young executive, and I’ve been in the league longer than him, I probably know more than him and he’s going to tell my agent I’m done, and not think my agent is going to tell me that. So, to me, it was like he told me that pretty much to my face.”
There’s more from the current Wizards forward among the latest from the Eastern Conference:
- Harrington, a free agent at season’s end, isn’t sure he wants to continue playing, and writes in the same piece that he’d ideally re-sign with the Wizards next season after the All-Star break to save early-season wear and tear on his body. He’d like to remain with the Wizards either as a player, coach, or executive, and says he’s had conversations with the team about his future.
- Rookie Peyton Siva is finally starting to see minutes for the Pistons, and though he doesn’t acknowledge the season’s final weeks as a de-facto audition, that’s exactly what it is, since his contract is non-guaranteed for 2014/15, writes MLive’s Brendan Savage.
- Phil Jackson should up his workload and act more like the team president he is and less like a consultant, opines Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, who thinks the Zen Master should take heed to the recent comments of former Knicks coach Larry Brown.
- Trevor Ariza of the Wizards and Shaun Livingston of the Nets, both set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, are among the most vital-yet-overlooked players in the league, as Michael Pina of Sports On Earth examines.
It looks more and more likely that Nerlens Noel won’t play a minute in his first year with the Sixers, but the sixth pick from last year’s draft told reporters including Tom Moore of Calkins Media that he’s looking forward to playing over the summer. “It’s going to be a great summer, I feel,” he said. “I’m definitely gong to put a lot of work in this summer and bring my game along. I don’t know all the details to [the summer league], but obviously I’ll be able to play.” Here’s a roundup of the notes coming from the Atlantic:
- Daniel Friedberg of RealGM.com thinks that the Sixers roster, sorely lacking in lasting NBA talent, could contain some worthwhile bench players in Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson.
- Fred Kerber of The New York Post says Tim Hardaway Jr. has proven to be a draft-day steal, and league executives and scouts tell Kerber the Knicks should hang on to the young forward rather than wield him as a trade asset.
- Forward Andrew Nicholson hoped to improve upon his successful rookie campaign this year, but the Magic sophomore has struggled mightily with his shot. The 24-year-old tells John Denton of Magic.com that he is doing his best to keep his confidence. ”We’re human, too. So naturally [confidence battles] will happen,” Nicholson said. “I’ve just got to get my rhythm back and go back to what I’m really, really good at. I’ve just got to get back to that, really.”
- Bucks small forward Chris Wright is desperate to prove himself as he plays out his second 10-day contract for Milwaukee, he tells Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel. “If I prepare myself well, whatever is thrown at me, I’ll be able to handle it,” said Wright, who has four games left to demonstrate his worth. “I trust they do have confidence in some of the things I can do. I wouldn’t say I count myself out. At the same time, anything can change. So I’m just ready for whatever happens.”
Last week, we learned that the Heat almost traded forward Udonis Haslem at the deadline this year. Aside from what he brings on the court, his locker room presence is perhaps even more valued, as Mario Chalmers explained to Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick. ”That’s a tough question,” the guard said when asked to quantify Haslem’s value to the team. “U.D., besides Dwyane [Wade] and [LeBron James] and [Chris Bosh], he is the heart and soul of this team. He is one of the captains, one of the leaders on this team. He sets a good example for everybody else. I don’t know. It wouldn’t have been a good thing.” More out of the Southeast..
- If LeBron opts out of his current contract, the most the Heat can pay him is about $20MM in 2014/15 thanks to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Of course, James is worth much more than that in reality, and Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel speculates that he could demand that the Heat bridge that gap by diving even further into the luxury tax to sustain a solid supporting cast. Mario Chalmers’ free-agent contract, a mini-mid-level replacement for Shane Battier, another deal for Ray Allen, or even a pay bump for Chris Andersen could be on LeBron’s mind this summer.
- Second-year forward Kyle O’Quinn says the secret to his success has been the ability to have a short memory and put bad games behind him, writes Ken Hornack of FOX Sports Florida. The Magic can match offers for the restricted free agent O’Quinn after this season with a modest qualifying offer of $1.18MM. Beyond that, Orlando will likely have to give him a significant pay bump.
- Earlier today, Magic chairman Dan DeVos emphatically stated that the team is not for sale.