Eastern Notes: Pierce, Vucevic, Stephenson

October 22 at 12:37pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Paul Pierce figures coach Jason Kidd‘s departure from the Nets helped dampen the team’s enthusiasm to re-sign the forward to a new deal this summer, as Pierce tells reporters, including Andy Vasquez of The Record. Pierce cites Kidd as one of the primary reasons he encouraged the Celtics to trade him to Brooklyn in 2013, as Vasquez notes. There’s more on key figures who changed places as well as one who’s committed to stay where he is among the news from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Nikola Vucevic is careful to point out that he hasn’t put pen to paper on an extension with the Magic, but he nonetheless made it clear that he’s ecstatic about the agreement that agent Rade Filipovich and the team have reached, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel details.
  • Representatives for Lance Stephenson urged the Pacers to offload other players to find room for the shooting guard under the tax line this summer, with the names of Luis Scola and Donald Sloan arising in the talks, but Indiana held firm against doing so, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. The Alberto Ebanks client has said he cried when he told the Pacers he was signing with the Hornets instead, but Stephenson tells Charania that he hasn’t spoken to Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird since he made up his mind to join Charlotte.
  • Charania also hears from a source who confirms that Jason Maxiell is the leading contender for a regular season roster spot among the Hornets camp invitees, as the RealGM scribe writes in the same piece. Coach Steve Clifford seems in favor of keeping Maxiell, writes Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
  • Christian Watford will play for the Celtics‘ D-League affiliate assuming he clears NBA waivers, reports David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). That means the C’s are following through on their plan to keep Watford’s D-League rights, though Pick hears that the power forward turned down many offers from European teams to instead go to the D-League.
  • Phil Jackson shared his scouting report on every Knicks player with Charley Rosen, writing for ESPN.com. The coach-turned-executive admits camp invitees Langston Galloway and Travis Wear are destined for the D-League.

Pacific Notes: Hill, Price, Thomas

October 22 at 11:04am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Clippers tied for third among the teams most likely to win the NBA title as the league’s GMs see it, as John Schuhmann of NBA.com details amid the results of the league’s annual GM survey. Still, they figure to receive a strong challenge in their own division from the Warriors. While we wait to see how it plays out, here’s the latest from the Pacific:

  • Jordan Hill confirmed rumors from this past spring that he wouldn’t have re-signed with the Lakers if Mike D’Antoni were still the coach, as he tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Medina adds the Heat, Spurs and Magic to the list of suitors who went after the power forward this summer.
  • Byron Scott stopped short of acknowledging that Ronnie Price is a lock to make the opening-night roster for the Lakers, but the coach said that injuries to the team’s other point guards would make it tough to let him go, Medina notes in a separate piece“If you look at it that way, we have to [keep him],” Scott said. “Ronnie gets more of an opportunity. So far in my opinion, he has taken full advantage of it.”
  • The Suns told Isaiah Thomas when they pitched him in free agency this summer that they valued him as a starter even though they made it clear they wanted to retain Eric Bledsoe, as Thomas tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Thomas isn’t concerned with whether he starts, but he did express continued bitterness toward the Kings, telling Kennedy he wasn’t surprised that they didn’t re-sign him and that he always felt the Sacramento organization underappreciated him.

League Rejects Lottery Reform

October 22 at 10:03am CDT By Chuck Myron

The NBA Board of Governors has voted against changing the draft lottery, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Only 17 teams voted to approve reform, short of the 23 needed for it to pass, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe (Twitter links). The Sixers, Suns, Thunder, Pelicans, Pistons, Heat, Bucks, Spurs, Jazz, Wizards, Hawks, Hornets and Bulls were the “no” votes, Wojnarowski tweets. The news is quite a shock, even though momentum seemed to be gathering to block the change, as most reports indicated that reform was likely to pass easily. Lowe heard from ownership sources as recently as 36 hours ago who expected only one or two teams to vote against the proposal (Twitter link), and the NBA was confident as of 24 hours ago the measure would pass, according to Wojnarowski (on Twitter).

Doubt crept in even for at least one team that voted for the changes that would have given the three teams with the poorest records longer odds at the top pick each year, as the Raptors had mixed feelings, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link). An owner told Wojnarowski that concern about unintended consequences influenced the thinking of several teams, who want to buy time to study the idea further (Twitter link). That echoes a pair of tweets from Lowe, who wouldn’t be surprised if the Board of Governors revisted lottery reform later this season.

The impetus for change came from leaguewide distaste for the drastic rebuilding effort of the Sixers, who’ve stripped their roster of virtually all of its serviceable veterans and whose losing threatens to drive paying customers away in one of the NBA’s large East Coast markets. Such a downturn in interest would affect revenue sharing leaguewide, though many fans have shown their support for the team’s plan to try for greater success later at the cost of middling success in the near term. The Sixers showed opposition to changes from the start, but Thunder GM Sam Presti this week campaigned to stress to league decision-makers the effects that lottery reform would have on small-market franchises. He argued that reducing the odds that inferior teams have of grabbing the No. 1 overall pick would serve as a further disadvantage to small-market teams that already have a handicap in free agency and trades, as Wojnarowski explained Tuesday.

The primary proposal the Board of Governors considered would have given 12% chances at the top pick to each of the teams with the four worst records. A report Tuesday indicated that other ideas, including one that would give each lottery team equal odds at the No. 1 pick, were in play, but it’s unclear if they drew any significant support. Changes, if they had passed, likely would have taken effect for the 2015 lottery, but instead it appears the current system will remain in place for at least one more lottery.

Introducing The Trade Rumors App

October 21 at 11:34pm CDT By Tim Dierkes

After many months of hard work, we’re very excited to bring you the new Trade Rumors app for iOS and Android devices!

The Trade Rumors app brings together content from our three sites: MLB Trade Rumors, Hoops Rumors, and Pro Football Rumors. You can easily scroll left to right and click on the image of the article you want to read. You can also filter your feeds to show only the top stories within that category, if you prefer.

Once you’re within a feed, you can swipe to read older or newer articles without going back to the home screen. Each article can be easily shared via Twitter, Facebook, email, or text message.

The Trade Rumors app is highly customizable. You can add feeds for any of the 92 MLB, NBA, and NFL teams, as well as for any of the thousands of players in our archives, by using the settings icon up top for iOS and the pencil icon up top for Android. You can create a multi-sport experience tailored to your specific interests, or you can limit your app entirely to one sport by removing the others.

Best of all? The Trade Rumors app is free! Download it for iOS or Android and leave a review!


C’s To Waive McGruder, Murphy, Frazier, Watford

October 21 at 10:25pm CDT By Chuck Myron

10:25pm: The Celtics have waived McGruder, Murphy and Watford, according to the RealGM transactions log, though the team has yet to make a formal announcement. Frazier has not been waived yet, though all indications are that he will be tomorrow, as Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com tweets.

10:59am: The Celtics will waive Rodney McGruder, Erik Murphy, Tim Frazier and Christian Watford, coach Brad Stevens told reporters, including Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). All are on non-guaranteed contracts, except for Murphy, whose deal is partially guaranteed for $100K. The moves will leave the Celtics with 16 players, all of whom have fully guaranteed pacts, with one more cut to come before opening night.

Murphy is the only one of the trio with NBA regular season experience, having appeared briefly in 24 games last season with the Bulls, who drafted him 49th overall in 2013. He was nonetheless an afterthought in a series of cap-related moves that began when the Jazz claimed him off waivers from the Bulls late last season. Utah sent him to Cleveland in a three-for-one swap in July, and the Cavs shipped him to the Celtics in their Keith Bogans trade. McGruder, who went undrafted in 2013, was in an NBA training camp for the second autumn in a row after spending last October with the Thunder. Watford also went undrafted that year, though he signed a pair of deals with the C’s this year as Boston waived him to accommodate the Bogans trade, then brought him back. Frazier has had a more conventional tenure with Boston after going undrafted this past June.

The moves still leave president of basketball operations Danny Ainge with a decision to make with Monday’s opening-night roster deadline looming. Will Bynum appeared at one point this weekend to be the guaranteed contract set to go, but the Celtics have yet to commit to parting ways with him.

And-Ones: Roberts, Spurs, Vucevic, Rubio

October 21 at 9:45pm CDT By Alex Lee

After his sit down with Michele Roberts, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post doesn’t get the feeling that the new NBPA head is on board with the idea of a gradual increase in the salary cap starting in 2016 (Twitter links). The alternative is to allow the cap to jump up after the 2015/16 season — Bontemps estimates a spike to over $90MM — due to the injection of the money from the league’s new TV deal. That increase, of course, could coincide with the free agency of superstar Kevin Durant.

Let’s take a look at what else is going on around the league on Tuesday:

  • It would be shocking if any of Bryce Cotton, Josh Davis or JaMychal Green were to end up on the Spurs’ final roster, writes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. Cotton, Davis and Green all have partially guaranteed deals, but as our Expanded Roster Counts show, the Spurs already have 15 fully guaranteed contracts on the books.
  • A strong showing in 2014/15 would have likely netted Nikola Vucevic a more lucrative deal next summer than the one he agreed to earlier tonight, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe. However, Lowe believes Vucevic’s shortcomings on the defensive end add risk for the Magic while also conceding the deal should be a fair one considering the rising cap (Twitter links).
  • Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated, also pointing to the increasing salary cap, writes that Vucevic’s extension compares favorably to the four-year, $48MM deal Utah’s Derrick Favors inked last October. Golliver adds that the pact eliminates any chance of a bidding war over Vucevic for the Magic next summer which could have resulted in an overpay.
  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities expects Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to soon become more involved in extension talks for point guard Ricky Rubio (via Twitter). The Wolves reportedly upped their offer to four years, $48MM shortly after we heard that Rubio and Taylor had spoken several times on the phone. Wolfson, who speculates that a total offer of $52-54MM might do it, adds that Taylor’s loyalty to Rubio could “change the dynamic” of the talks (Twitter links here).

Wizards To Cut Butler, James, Silas?

October 21 at 8:34pm CDT By Chuck Myron

8:29pm: Michael has updated his report to reflect that Butler, James and Silas have yet to be released, and could actually still be retained. Though, in a later story, the CSN Washington scribe suggests that the chances the Wizards retain any of the trio is slim.

9:38am: The Wizards are set to part ways with Rasual Butler, Damion James and Xavier Silas, reports J. Michael of CSNWashington.com, who writes amid his story on Washington’s deal with John Lucas III. That indicates that the club will place its non-guaranteed contracts with the trio on waivers in advance of Monday’s deadline to set its opening-night roster. The addition of Lucas will give the team 15 players with at least a partial guarantee, which puts the squeeze on Butler, James and Silas.

The three swingmen appeared to have better chances at remaining with the team into the regular season once Bradley Beal went down with injury, but it looks like GM Ernie Grunfeld is going a different direction to bolster his backcourt. James and Silas were reportedly the strongest contenders among the three to remain with the team. Silas went to training camp with the Wizards this fall for the second year in a row, while James was the 24th overall pick in 2010 and showed promise before a series of injuries derailed his career. The 35-year-old Butler was hoping to duplicate what he did with Indiana last year, when he made the Pacers out of camp and wound up contributing in the playoffs.

The subtraction of Butler, James and Silas will drop the Wizards to 15 players, seemingly setting the club’s opening-night roster. Washington released Daniel Orton, Vander Blue and David Stockton earlier in the preseason.

Eastern Notes: Harris, Celtics, Barganani

October 21 at 7:59pm CDT By Alex Lee

Here is a look at what is going on in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday night:

  • After locking up Nikola Vucevic earlier tonight, the Magic will continue to work on reaching an agreement with forward Tobias Harris, who is also entering his fourth season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). While the Magic are reportedly eager to extend Harris, Wojnarowski cautions that the sides are not close on the terms.
  • Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders checks in on last week’s Pistons/Celtics trade that sent Will Bynum to Boston and Joel Anthony to Detroit. According to Pincus, the Celtics utilized the $4.25MM trade exception they received in July’s Kris Humphries deal to take on Bynum’s $2.9MM salary, reducing the exception to approximately $1.3MM. They received a new trade exception of $3.8MM for Anthony. Because these exceptions expire a year after the trade in which they’re acquired, Boston essentially downgraded their trade exception by about $450K in return for three months of additional time with which to use it (Pincus Twitter links here).
  • Any hope that Derek Fisher and the triangle offense could salvage last summer’s trade for Andrea Bargnani has been temporarily derailed by a preseason hamstring injury, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. There was talk that Phil Jackson and the Knicks were trying to move Bargnani this offseason, but his bloated $11.5MM salary for this season made that impossible.

Magic To Extend Nikola Vucevic

October 21 at 7:11pm CDT By Alex Lee

7:11pm: The base salary of the deal is for $48MM with incentives that could push it to $53MM, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (via Twitter).

6:21pm: The Magic are finalizing a four-year, $53MM contract extension with Nikola Vucevic, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. The year-by-year salary breakdown is the only detail still up in the air, according to Robbins (via Twitter). The pact does not include any opt out clauses and will thus keep him in Orlando through the 2018/19 season. The 23-year-old Montenegrin is a former first round pick entering his fourth season in the NBA, which gave the Magic until October 31 to come to an agreement that would prevent him from becoming a restricted free agent next summer. Vucevic is scheduled to make $2.751MM this season in the final year of his rookie deal.

Vucevic exploded in 2012/13 after coming over from Philadelphia in the Dwight Howard blockbuster. He averaged 13.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in his sophomore season, making him the league’s second leading rebounder behind Howard. While Vucevic was again excellent last season, his overall numbers seemed to plateau more than an improving young player’s should in his third year, as our Chuck Myron pointed out in Vucevic’s entry in our Extension Candidate series. Chuck also predicted a four-year, $48MM pact for the center in our 2014 Rookie Scale Extension Primer.

We heard in July that the Magic would prioritize extending Vucevic and teammate Tobias Harris, also entering his fourth season, once the season approached. Those rumors proved true even before tonight’s news broke, as there was neutral interest reported last month and  just last week there was word that Vucevic and the Magic were in talks.

Michele Roberts On Union, Salaries, Age Limit

October 21 at 6:16pm CDT By Alex Lee

New NBPA head Michele Roberts seems to be making the media rounds after stepping into the role vacated by Billy Hunter. She recently sat down with Tim Bontemps of the New York Post to discuss several topical issues that she is sure to address in her tenure as the executive director of the NBPA. There is a little overlap with her conversation last week with Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops, but the entire story is still worth a read. Here are some of the key quotes from Roberts:

On the status of the union:

“But I think what is equally important, for me, is to repair what has been a foundation that has been subjected to some injury by, unfortunately, my predecessor. What we don’t have, and what we will have, is a management structure that is both able to interact with our counterparties with the league and elsewhere, but a structure that allows the players to do unequivocally what they want to do, and that’s run their own union…. They didn’t hire me, and they were not interested in hiring, someone to run things for them, to simply let them know what’s going on.”

On having a max salary rule:

“I’ve had conversations with guys who have said, ‘Look, when I go to play in New York, I’m not selling out the Garden. I can get on the subway and no one knows who I am. But when LeBron goes to the Garden, he’s selling it out, and he can’t get on the subway because he’ll be mobbed’ … so there’s an appreciation of what we all realize is true. The LeBrons of the world, the Durants of the world, the Kobes of the world, they make a ton of money for this league and empower everybody. So I don’t hear players complaining about max salaries or getting rid of max salaries. Because, frankly, everyone gets it.

On the NBA minimum age:

“It sounds trite, but you can go to war and you can’t make a living. If I had my way, you could work at 14, and whenever someone is prepared to hire you. If people say, ‘They’re not yet members of the union, why should we care?’ Michele cares that anybody that’s able to work can. The notion that the union shouldn’t be concerned about people who will one day become members of the union, that’s nonsense. We may not legally be able to do anything about that, but to not care about people we know are going to become members of our union, of course we care about them, and we should consider any policy that’s going to impact our future members. Michele needs a better argument with respect to why that policy needs to be increased from 19 to 20, but I’ll find out from my bosses what they think, and I’ll let you know.”

On the 2017 labor talks:

“The only way that happens is when people have not been engaged in the process going forward. In other instances [I've been in] where there have been multiple stakeholders who have had interest in the outcome but internally and there has been a dissension in the ranks, it’s always been when people are lied to or had a complete misunderstanding of what the goals were.

“I can’t say what happened in 2011 because I wasn’t there, but I was told there was internal dissension, and I can imagine there was a communications breakdown. There’s no sort of magic bullet you can have, but you can certainly minimize the possibility of that happening.

“But if you get people engaged and involved in the discussion as early as possible, and if you have a common agenda and everyone knows this is what we’ve agreed we’re going to do and try to accomplish, it would minimize — I think dramatically — the possibility of people fighting internally. It could happen, but it will not happen because I don’t get people I needed to be in the room in the room, and so we’re going to start getting people in the room right now.”