Eastern Notes: Budenholzer, Moore, Sanchez

September 20 at 2:32pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The recent trend in the NBA of coaches doubling as GM’s has made its way to Atlanta where Mike Budenholzer is handling both positions for the Hawks, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com writes. Budenholzer’s circumstances do differ from the ClippersDoc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy‘s in Detroit, and the WolvesFlip Saunders, in that he took over the extra duties due to GM Danny Ferry being forced to take a leave of absence after his racist remarks were made public, and not by design.

Here’s more out of the east:

  • E’Twaun Moore‘s minimum salary deal with the Bulls comes with a guarantee of $425K for the first year, with the second being non-guaranteed, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link).
  • The Knicks have guaranteed $15K of Orlando Sanchez‘s minimum salary contract, Pincus notes (Twitter link).
  • JaKarr Sampson‘s four-year, minimum salary deal with the Sixers includes a $50K guarantee for the first season according to Pincus (Twitter link). The remaining three years of the deal come with no guaranteed money.

Denzel Bowles In Talks With Chinese Team

September 20 at 1:34pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Free agent center Denzel Bowles is closing in on a deal with the Jilin Northeast Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). This continues what has become a suddenly robust Asian market for free agents, with Andray Blatche and Jordan Crawford recently inking deals with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.

The 6’10″ Bowles is familiar with Jilin, having played for the Tigers last season, averaging 26.0 PPG and 8.6 RPG in 32.5 MPG in 34 appearances. He played for the Nuggets in this year’s NBA summer league, logging 5.0 points and 4.2 rebounds in 17.7 minutes per contest.

Bowles had recently worked out for the Pistons, and Charania also reports that Detroit invited him to training camp. But as we saw with Blatche, who received a one-year, $2.5MM deal, playing five months overseas and then trying to latch onto an NBA team in March can be much more financially rewarding than competing for a roster spot with little-to-no guaranteed money to bank on. Bowles had also reportedly displayed his wares for the Spurs, but likely wasn’t offered a deal or a camp invite.

DeAndre Liggins To Join Clippers For Camp?

September 20 at 12:38pm CDT By Chuck Myron

SEPTEMBER 20TH, 12:38pm: An NBA executive has told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), that Liggins will not be with the Clippers in training camp, contrary to earlier reports.

SEPTEMBER 2ND, 4:01pm: Three-year NBA veteran DeAndre Liggins will sign a deal for training camp with the Clippers, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (on Twitter). That means he’ll almost certainly be on a non-guaranteed contract for the minimum salary, allowing the team to continue to chase veteran targets with guaranteed money.

Liggins saw just one minute of playing time in the NBA last season while he was on a pair of 10-day deals with the Heat, and he didn’t see much more action in earlier stints with the Thunder and Magic after Orlando drafted him 53rd overall in 2011. The 26-year-old swingman has played primarily in the D-League, earning an All-Star selection on that circuit this past season. The Clippers caught a look at him while he played for their summer league team in July, when he averaged 7.2 points in 23.2 minutes per contest. He also suited up for the Pistons summer league squad this year.

The addition of the Henry Thomas client gives the team deals with 12 players, though the Clippers are reportedly close to agreements with Chris Douglas-Roberts and Hedo Turkoglu. Reports have also indicated that the club has interest in Ray Allen and Ekpe Udoh.

Ramon Sessions To Sign With Kings

September 20 at 11:22am CDT By Eddie Scarito

11:22am: Sessions’ deal is fully guaranteed with no options (team or player), Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link).

10:55am: Free agent guard Ramon Sessions has signed with the Kings, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee BucksSports reports. The deal is for two years and $4.2MM, and Sacramento used their biannual exception for the acquisition. This brings the Kings’ preseason roster total to 19, and with Sessions’ deal most likely guaranteed for next season, Sacramento now has 12 fully-guaranteed deals, and two players carrying partial guarantees on their contracts. The Bucks had renounced their rights to Sessions last month, but there were rumors that the Rockets were interested in acquiring him via a sign-and-trade arrangement.

He appeared in 28 contests for Milwaukee last season after a February trade with the Bobcats which sent Sessions and Jeff Adrien to the Bucks for Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal. Sessions career numbers are 11.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 4.7 APG. His career slash line is .439/.311/.800.

Sessions will compete with Darren Collison for the starting point guard spot, though Collison is the likely frontrunner. He also can contribute at the shooting guard position, making him a versatile bench piece. Hoops Rumors’  Cray Allred detailed what Sessions brings to a team in his Free Agent Stock Watch piece on the 6’3″, 28 year-old out of Nevada.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

Clippers Sign Jared Cunningham

September 20 at 8:52am CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Clippers have signed Jared Cunningham, according to the RealGM transactions log. No official announcement from the team has been made yet, and details of the contract are not yet known. It is most likely a non-guaranteed training camp deal for the 22-year-old shooting guard out of Oregon State. This signing ups the Clippers’ preseason roster count to 18, with 15 of those deals being fully guaranteed.

Cunningham has appeared in a total of 21 games over two seasons in the league, and his most recent action came with the Kings last season when he parlayed a 10-day contract into a deal that covered the remainder of the 2013/14 season. His career numbers are 2.0 PPG, 0.4 RPG, and 0.4 APG. His career slash line is .343/.300/.833.

Los Angeles already has J.J. Redick, C.J. Wilcox, and Jamal Crawford on the roster at the shooting guard position, which makes it a real longshot for Cunningham to remain on the roster for opening night.

And-Ones: Papanikolaou, Draft, Pacific Division

September 19 at 10:31pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Kostas Papanikolaou is ready to make the jump from the Euroleague to the NBA, Jonathan Feigan of the Houston Chronicle writes. Papanikolaou signed with the Rockets back in August though the deal hasn’t been formally announced yet. On his decision to join the NBA, Papanikolaou said, “I didn’t want to be thinking like five years later that I had this opportunity and didn’t do it. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I didn’t want to miss it. I thought, ‘This is the time.’ I spoke with the GM (Daryl Morey). The coach himself (Kevin McHale) called me. That means a lot to a player. But I just didn’t want to be stupid and lose this opportunity to be here, to live this dream to go to the NBA.”

Here’s more from around the Association:

  • The staff over at NBA.com previewed the Pacific Division, as well as provided their opinions on the division’s best offseason moves, which player they believe will have a breakout season, and much more.
  • It’s not too early to start thinking about next year’s NBA Draft, especially if you are a fan of a team that isn’t expected to compete for a playoff spot. The crew over at DraftExpress preview the top NBA prospects in the Pac-12 Conference, with Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Norman Powell topping the list.
  • The staff over at DraftExpress also ran down the top NBA prospects in the Big 12, with Kelly Oubre, Cliff Alexander, and Myles Turner snagging the top spots on the list.

Western Notes: Bledsoe, Wolves, Warriors

September 19 at 8:35pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

If Eric Bledsoe doesn’t end up with a different team and he ends up signing a qualifying offer from the Suns, then Phoenix is the best possible place to play out the season, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders writes. Brigham notes that the Suns have the best training staff in the league, which significantly reduces the risk of Bledsoe incurring an injury that would impact his earning potential next Summer.

Here’s more from out west:

  • Brigham also notes that Bledsoe might not have the same opportunity this year as he did  last season to showcase his talents since the Suns are so deep at the point guard position with Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, and Tyler Ennis all potentially cutting into Bledsoe’s minutes.
  • The Timberwolves have a tough decision on their hands when it comes to Ricky Rubio, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. Minnesota is a team in transition and Rubio has proven to be an effective, but not spectacular, floor general. The T’Wolves could either invest in Rubio’s upside or wait for next summer where another franchise could choose to overpay and put pressure on Minnesota to match a max deal.
  • With versatile guard Shaun Livingston in the fold, the Warriors may be closer to title contention than anyone thinks, writes Moke Hamilton in Basketball Insiders‘ season preview of the Warriors. Golden State has one of the league’s very best starting fives (if healthy) and the bench is strong too, but Hamilton’s chief concern is first-year coach Steve Kerr. In his estimation, the effectiveness of Kerr will be one of the most compelling storylines of the year.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Allen, Chandler, Sixers, Celtics

September 19 at 6:49pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Wizards have reached out to Ray Allen once again, J. Michael of CSNWashington.com reports. Washington is still waiting to get a concrete answer from Allen as to whether or not he’s returning for another season, but one possible note of encouragement is that Allen’s agent Jim Tanner hasn’t told the Wizards that they wouldn’t be a free agency option for the veteran shooting guard.

Here’s what else is happening in the Eastern Conference:

  • Tyson Chandler takes exception to the rumors that he was traded because he was causing chemistry issues in the Knicks locker room, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com writes. “I did nothing but try to help the culture there the three years I was there,” Chandler said. “You can say I didn’t live up to whatever or you didn’t like the way I played or anything. But to ever question who I am and the type of leader I am in the locker room, I don’t even know where that came from. I honestly don’t know where that came from. I don’t know if Phil put that out there or who put that out there, but to me, that was the ultimate shock. And you don’t have to say that to get rid of me or to trade me. The trade is over. So to judge my character and what I’ve done, you can go look at all my teammates and ask all of my teammates in the past, and the coaches I’ve played for, and I’ve never been a problem and never had a problem. So that was a shock to me that I didn’t appreciate.”
  • The 2014/15 season is all about player development for the Sixers and not the won-loss record, Michael Kaskey-Blomain of Philly.com opines. This development includes their unsigned overseas talent like Dario Saric, Jordan McRae, and Vasilije Micic as well, notes Kaskey-Blomain.
  • The crew over at HoopsHype previews the Celtics‘ 2014/15 campaign, projecting Boston to finish 4th in the Atlantic Division, and 12th overall in the Eastern Conference.

Wolves Offer Eric Bledsoe Max Deal

September 19 at 4:53pm CDT By Zach Links

4:53pm: The Suns have no interest in a sign-and-trade deal with Minnesota, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. According to Wojnarowski’s sources the Suns are only interested in trading Bledsoe for an All-Star, or a potential All-Star player, and had only considered Kevin Love in a possible sign-and-trade scenario with the Wolves.

3:53pm: The Suns own the Wolves’ 2015 first-round pick but it’s top-12 protected.  Removing or reducing the protection could be a part of the Bledsoe talks, tweets Windhorst.

3:25pm: The Wolves are offering Eric Bledsoe a four-year, $63MM maximum level contract, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.  The offer turns up the heat on the Suns, who have offered the restricted free agent a four-year, $48MM deal.  The Wolves don’t have the necessary cap room to sign the guard outright, so they’d have to swing a sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix.

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Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported yesterday that the Wolves were still in talks with the Suns on a sign-and-trade deal even after the completion of the Kevin Love deal.  The possibility of the Wolves making a play for the 24-year-old seemed somewhat remote after Love was shipped to the Cavs, but it’s now very much a reality.

While the Suns and the Rich Paul client have been in a stalemate this summer, Phoenix was reportedly willing to dial up their offer if necessary.  An increase of roughly $15MM probably wasn’t what they had in mind, however.  Bledsoe’s camp made it known to Phoenix and every other team that he was only interested in signing a max contract.  Otherwise, he said he was prepared to sign a one-year, $3.7MM qualifying offer with the Suns that would enable him to become an unencumbered free agent next summer.  Fellow restricted free agent Greg Monroe made the same threat to the Pistons and made good on his promise earlier this summer.

In a sign-and-trade deal, the Suns would want Andrew Wiggins, according to Wolfson (on Twitter).  That’s less-than-preferable for the Wolves, however, and that wouldn’t be a match, according to Wolfson.  This is purely speculative, but since the Wolves were entertaining a Love-for-Bledsoe swap and Wiggins was the primary haul of the Love deal with Cleveland, it’s seems possible that the Wolves would consider including the No. 1 overall pick.

The Suns obviously want to keep Bledsoe (at the right price) but they would still have a very strong backcourt without the Kentucky product.  The Suns have a highly-talented guard in Goran Dragic and the addition of free agent guard Isaiah Thomas on a four-year, $27MM deal would also lessen the sting.  Phoenix also has first-round guard Tyler Ennis in reserve.

Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points and 5.5 assists across 43 games for the Suns last season after being traded from the Clippers.  Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury which cost him a good chunk of his 2013/14 campaign.

Jude LaCava of FOX 10 in Phoenix (on Twitter) first reported that the Wolves were prepared to offer Bledsoe a max deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hawks, Jarell Eddie Agree To Deal

September 19 at 4:48pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Hawks and Jarell Eddie have agreed to a training camp deal, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). The contract is likely non-guaranteed according to Charania. This signing brings Atlanta’s preseason roster count to 16, with 14 of those players being signed to fully-guaranteed contracts. The other player, Mike Muscala, has his contract partially guaranteed for $408,241, which makes Eddie a longshot to make the opening night roster.

The 6’6″ forward went undrafted this year out of Virginia Tech after averaging 13.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 1.1 APG his Senior year. His slash line was .358/.376/.776.

Eddie will compete John Jenkins, Kyle Korver, and DeMarre Carroll for minutes at small forward, with Korver the likely starter.