Eastern Notes: Heat, Hawks, Knight, Ware

October 23 at 3:30pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Heat front office wasn’t deflated when they learned that LeBron James and his talents were returning to the Cavs, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. Miami’s brass looked at the departure as a new opportunity and a fresh chapter, notes Zillgitt. The team wasn’t interested in a long rebuilding process, and Zillgitt points to the team bringing back Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as well as signing Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng as proof that the team still intends to be contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Here’s more from the east:

  • The Hawks have hired Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports to help facilitate the sale of the franchise, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link).
  • With 16 players remaining on their preseason roster the Celtics have at least one more personnel move to make prior to the regular season commencing. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com hands out his preseason grades for the players and notes where each currently fits in Boston’s plans.
  • New Bucks team owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry face their first major franchise decision, Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times writes. The two have to decide the contract future of Brandon Knight, whom they have until October 31st to work out an extension with or else he is eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer, notes Woelfel. Knight’s numbers and age compare favorably with Eric Bledsoe‘s, but many around the league feel that the Suns overpaid when the re-signed Bledsoe to a five year, $70MM deal, so Knight may be hard pressed to duplicate Bledsoe’s near $14MM per season average, the Journal Times scribe relays.
  • The Sixers still have 20 players on their preseason roster and a number of decisions to make before Saturday’s deadline to finalize regular season rosters. Casper Ware is in camp on a non-guaranteed deal, but has a very real shot to stick with the team, Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com writes. “I feel good about it,” Ware said. “I don’t know what they have planned, I just control what I can control and play hard.”

Wolves Notes: Cunningham, Taylor, Chairman

October 23 at 2:18pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The domestic assault charges against Dante Cunningham were dropped more than two months ago, but he tells Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press that his client hasn’t received so much as a minimum-salary offer from an NBA team. Agent Joel Bell estimates that Cunningham would have otherwise received a deal with annual salaries of more than $4MM, and said he heard as recently as Monday from a team that said the public relations hit it would take from signing him would be too much to bear, as Krawczynski writes. A report from two months ago indicated Cunningham and the Timberwolves were in talks, but he remains unsigned.

Here’s more from Minnesota:

  • Execs from a pair of teams tell Krawczynski for the same piece that the stigma that remains from those charges wouldn’t by itself prevent their clubs from signing him, but they acknowledged it would be a factor.
  • At this point it’s about justice and it’s about clearing my name,” the 27-year-old forward told Krawczynski. “Clearly this adds a terrible stigma to my name. … Now when anyone looks up Dante Cunningham, oh, wasn’t he the one that was in trouble? There’s nothing out there saying there was a false charge.”
  • The NBA Board of Governors elected Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor as the chairman of the board, Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press reports (Twitter link). Taylor previously served in this position from 2008 to 2012, and also held the position on an interim basis since April of this year.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Spurs Waive Bryce Cotton, Josh Davis

October 23 at 1:09pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

1:09pm: Both players have officially been waived, the team announced.

12:57pm: The Spurs intend to waive Josh Davis and Bryce Cotton, Mike Monroe of The San Antonio Express-News reports (Twitter link). Both players’ deals carry partial guarantees, with Cotton set to receive $50K, and Davis due $20K if they are not claimed on waivers. These moves will reduce San Antonio’s preseason roster count to 16, with JaMychal Green and his partially guaranteed deal being the lone one on the Spurs’ books that isn’t fully guaranteed.

The 23-year-old Davis played for three colleges, first for North Carolina State as a freshman, where he averaged 2.6 PPG and 1.7 RPG in 10.4 minutes a night. During his sophomore and junior seasons at Tulane, Davis averaged 17.6 PPG and 10.7 RPG. For his senior campaign with the San Diego State Aztecs, his numbers were 7.7 PPG and 10.1 RPG. His slash line for this past season was .455/.000/.472.

Cotton went undrafted out of Providence where he notched 21.8 points, 5.8 assists and 2.4 turnovers per game during his senior season with the Friars. Several teams offered to draft him if he agreed to play overseas next season, but he rejected those offers for a shot at the NBA. The NBA D-League is a possibility for both players, as teams can retain the D-League rights for up to four players that they waive.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Barnes, McLemore

October 23 at 11:30am CDT By Chuck Myron

Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson believes Klay Thompson  has “got to get” maximum salaries in his next deal, even as the team is reportedly pushing for him to take less as the October 31st extension deadline nears. Of course, after a controversial end to his tenure in Golden State, it’s quite possible that Jackson’s advancement of the idea of max money for Thompson is a dig at the Warriors, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News suggests (Twitter link). In any case, we’ll soon see if the team is willing to come to terms with Thompson or set him up for restricted free agency next summer, and as we wait, here’s more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss takes exception to an ESPN.com report that indicated that Kobe Bryant is driving free agents away from the Lakers, as she made clear today in an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “”Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team,” Buss said. The report indicated that Paul George signed his extension with the Pacers last year in part because he had reservations about Bryant and didn’t want to hit free agency and sign with the Lakers, though George has publicly questioned the report’s veracity (Twitter link).
  • Matt Barnes felt as though he was being replaced when the Clippers pursued other small forwards in free agency this summer, as he tells Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. Barnes nonetheless says he would like to come off the bench even though coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday that he’ll start on opening night.
  • Ben McLemore is leaving agent Rodney Blackstock, as he confirmed to reporters, including James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom, who originally reported the move. The shooting guard hasn’t decided when he’ll hire a replacement, Ham adds. The Kings picked up their team option on McLemore this past weekend.

Nets Waive Willie Reed

October 23 at 10:39am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Nets have waived power forward Willie Reed, the team announced via press release. The 24-year-old had signed a non-guaranteed contract, so Brooklyn isn’t on the hook for any of his salary. The move takes the Nets down to 16 players, with one more subtraction required before opening night.

Reed is technically a two-year veteran, even though he’s never played an NBA regular season game. He’s signed at the end of the regular season each of the last two years with the Grizzlies and Kings, respectively, but those teams cut him loose before he saw any action. The 6’10” Reed averaged 4.0 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game in two preseason contests this month, but it wasn’t enough to win a spot for opening night.

Brooklyn has 13 fully guaranteed contracts plus $75K guaranteed for Cory Jefferson and $25K for Jorge Gutierrez, but Jerome Jordan has impressed on his non-guaranteed deal. Coach Lionel Hollins admitted he’s rooting for Jordan to stick with the team.

Rockets Sign Geron Johnson, Waive Akil Mitchell

October 23 at 9:40am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Rockets have signed former University of Memphis shooting guard Geron Johnson and waived power forward Akil Mitchell, the team announced via press release. The terms of the deal for Johnson aren’t immediately clear, but it’s probably a minimum-salary arrangement, perhaps with a nominal guarantee. Houston will be stuck with the $150K partial guarantee on Mitchell’s contract unless another team claims him off waivers.

Johnson went undrafted this past June, but he’s been on Houston’s radar for a while. The Rockets were among the teams that worked him out prior to the draft, and he joined Houston’s summer league team in July. The now 22-year-old Johnson averaged just 8.9 points in 27.9 minutes per game as a senior with the Memphis Tigers last season, but he grabbed 4.9 rebounds per contest even though he’s only 6’3″.

Mitchell also went undrafted this summer and scored his deal with the Rockets shortly before training camp began. Still, he didn’t play in any of the team’s preseason games and a report last week indicated he hadn’t been with the Rockets for several days.

Houston still has 20 players on its roster, and with 15 fully guaranteed contracts plus a non-guaranteed pact with starting point guard Patrick Beverley, the Rockets have a logjam they must resolve by Monday’s deadline for teams to set their opening-night rosters. Johnson seems unlikely to remain with the team into the regular season, so it appears the Rockets are signing him chiefly to be able to claim his D-League rights, though that’s just my speculation.

Dee Bost To Play In Turkey

October 23 at 8:25am CDT By Chuck Myron

Former Jazz camp invitee Dee Bost has a one-year deal with Trabzonspor of Turkey, Sportando’s Enea Trapani reports. Utah had reportedly maintained interest in having the point guard play for its D-League affiliate, but it appears he’ll go overseas instead. It’s not clear what Bost will make with Trabzonspor, but it likely involves a greater salary than he would have made in the D-League.

The Jazz waived Bost nearly two weeks ago, and he didn’t appear in any preseason games, suggesting that he was a long way from making Utah’s regular season roster, even though the team guaranteed his salary for $65K. He had more extensive involvement with the Blazers last year, averaging 3.5 points in 10.4 minutes per game across four preseason contests before Portland let him go about a week before opening night.

Bost, now 25, spent much of last season with the Blazers one-to-one affiliate, the Idaho Stampede, which this year serves as the one-to-one affiliate of the Jazz. He also saw action with Trotamundos de Carabobo of Venezuela last year, and he’s no stranger to European competition, having played with Montenegro’s KK Buducnost VOLI in 2012/13.

Jazz Waive Dahntay Jones, Jack Cooley

October 22 at 10:37pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

10:37pm: Both players have indeed been waived, the team has officially announced.

4:41pm: The Jazz have waived Dahntay Jones and Jack Cooley, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). The team has yet to make an official announcement, but these moves would reduce Utah’s preseason roster count to 15 players, which is the regular season maximum. Jones was in camp on a non-guaranteed minimum salary deal, but Cooley’s arrangement came with a partial guarantee for $65K, so he won’t walk away empty-handed. Cooley is likely headed to the NBA D-League, notes Pincus.

The 6’9″ Cooley went undrafted following his senior year at Notre Dame in 2013, but performed well in summer league action that year. Still, he didn’t catch on with an NBA team for camp or the regular season. Instead, the big man headed overseas, averaging 12.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 22.9 minutes per game in Turkey.

Jones spent last season out of the NBA, which was the first time he went without a deal in the league since he went 20th overall in the 2003 draft. Jones’ numbers in 589 career games are 5.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 0.9 APG. His career slash line is .441/.334/.751. Jones doesn’t seem like a candidate for the D-League, but he probably hopes to catch on with another team prior to the regular season. He could also try sign with a team on a 10-day contract later in the season.

And-Ones: Hawks, Motum, Crawford

October 22 at 10:28pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Outgoing Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson has the power to force as much as 60% of the team to be sold, even though he and his partners have only 50.1% of the team, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The NBA appears to be pressuring all of the other owners to sell so that the entire franchise can change hands, Vivlamore adds. All of the team’s owners still have yet to meet to discuss how much of the franchise they’re going to sell, and so far, their only action as a group has involved preparation for vetting prospective buyers, though vetting itself has yet to begin, as Vivlamore explains.

Here’s more from around the league:

      • When Jordan Crawford signed with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association for $1.4MM it wasn’t because he didn’t receive any NBA offers. The Kings had tried to sign Crawford this summer, but he wasn’t comfortable with a backup role in Sacramento, David Pick of Eurobasket reports (Twitter links). Crawford also relayed that he felt “overlooked” by the league, and that’s what led him to China, Pick notes.
      • Brock Motum‘s one year, minimum salary deal with the Jazz is non-guaranteed, as is reflected on the Basketball Insiders salary page for Utah.
      • Many of the teams that joined the Sixers in a voting bloc that scuttled immediate lottery reform are nonetheless miffed about Philadelphia’s stripped-down roster, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes. Teams voted down lottery changes in part because they feel too much is in flux, and that includes the unknown of just how or whether the league will phase in the substantial increase in the salary cap that the league’s enhanced TV revenues will bring about, Lowe adds. Some influential agents oppose the idea of any phase-in, preferring that the cap simply leap in the summer of 2016 based on the idea that teams might be uncertain of how to handle the changed landscape and hand out contracts they’ll later regret, according to Lowe.
      • The surging salary cap projections have some small-market teams worried about how they’ll manage in a league where $100MM payrolls are the norm, in spite of the TV money that would make that sort of spending more palatable, as Lowe writes in the same piece. Small-market teams also fear that they’ll become slightly profitable and lose the benefit of tens of millions in income through the league’s revenue sharing program, the Grantland columnist explains. The Lakers handed out $50MM, the Knicks $27MM and the Bulls $17MM in revenue sharing last season, Lowe reports.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Sixers, Lottery Reform

October 22 at 9:17pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

One of the big question marks in New York for the upcoming season is how well the Knicks will adapt to the triangle offense. Former head coach and current broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy doesn’t believe the offensive scheme by itself will be enough to turn around the franchise,  Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “The triangle itself is just an offense based on freedom of the ball to go to different places, everybody feeling involved,’’ Van Gundy said. “It’s a good thing. It won’t be the triangle itself that will be the reason they win or lose. It’s going to come down to Carmelo Anthony playing exceptionally well. Iman Shumpert and J.R. bouncing back with a big year. J.R. Smith playing well. It’s not going to be because of a system. I think anybody confusing a system with a reason for success is making a huge mistake. Systems don’t win games. Players do.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Paul Pierce was stunned by how quickly things changed with the Nets this offseason,  Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News writes. “It just happened so fast,” Pierce said. “I had a chance to talk to Jason [Kidd] and he has his reasons, the way things went down. But like I said, the business — you’ve got to understand the business aspect of it. He moved on. The Nets moved on and people went their different directions. You see that a lot in this business.” Still, Pierce harbors no-ill will towards the franchise, Abramson notes.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown said nothing was etched in stone for Philadelphia’s roster, and that the team would consider signing players waived from other teams, Tom Moore of Calkins Media notes (Twitter link). The Sixers still have 20 players on their preseason roster, but only nine of those players have fully guaranteed deals, and four others possess partially guaranteed pacts.
  • Speaking about his thoughts on the lottery reform vote not passing, Brown said that he wasn’t sure which way the vote would turn out, tweets Moore. “Different times I thought it’d go one way. Other times I thought it’d go the other way,” Brown said. The Sixers had a vested interest in the outcome of the vote since their rebuilding plans are tied to striking it big in the next draft.