With the Sixers season already taking a turn for the worse, rookie K.J. McDaniels needs to play more, argues Tom Moore of Calkins Media. McDaniels, who signed an unusual deal for a second-round draft pick that keeps him under contract for only one season, is averaging 9.3 points per game while playing only 22.6 minutes per game. If McDaniels continues to show potential, he could end up with a more lucrative deal than most players with his experience and draft status. If that is the case, his success may pave the way for other second-round picks to emulate his strategy of signing just a one-year deal, though that is just my speculation.
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
The Sixers do not have a timetable for when the team’s turnaround will begin, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The team began this season with a record of 0-12. Pompey compares the club to the 2007 SuperSonics, who lost their first eight games on their way to 20-62 record. The main difference between the two teams is that the Sonics had Kevin Durant during his rookie season, while the Sixers currently lack so much talent that many suggest the top team in college could beat them.
Kevin Love hasn’t looked like the superstar who many people hailed him as last summer, writes Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group. Kawakami also cites the Cavs’ current need for an additional wing defender as further evidence that the team shouldn’t have traded Andrew Wiggins. While Wiggins isn’t totally developed as an NBA player, defense is one of his specialties. Cleveland is reportedlyone of the teams looking to add Wolves defensive specialist Corey Brewer to its roster.
If the Pistons attempt to trade any of their players this season, Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings make the most sense as candidates due to their large contracts, opines David Mayo of MLive.com in his weekly mailbag. Although trading one or both of these players would financially benefit the team long term, Detroit has no financial urgency to move either contract as the team will be comfortably under the NBA’s salary cap this offseason. Mayo suggests that while the team may have the financial flexibility to re-sign Greg Monroe, it is unlikely he stays since he already turned down a substantial offer from the Pistons and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Minnesota is the latest team to be besieged by injuries, with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin out indefinitely and Ronny Turiaf also expected to miss time. Also among the Timberwolves to sit on the sidelines in street clothes tonight is Nikola Pekovic, who has a sprained wrist. With the league-maximum 15 players on their roster, the Wolves would not be able to sign another player without being forced to release someone. But if at least three of the players miss three consecutive games and an independent physician declares that they and a fourth player are likely to continue to miss time, Minnesota could apply to the league for a hardship provision that would grant them the ability to temporarily carry a 16th player. Still, “they don’t hand those things out like candy,” as Flip Saunders noted of the league’s willingness to grant 16th roster spots, in spite of recent allowances for the Thunder, Pacers and Grizzlies, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
Here’s more from around the league:
The Kings have sent Eric Moreland to the Reno Bighorns, the team announced. This will be Moreland’s second assignment to the D-League this season. The 22-year-old power forward has yet to make a regular season appearance for Sacramento
The Sixers have assigned JaKarr Sampson to the Delaware 87ers, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be Sampson’s first trip to the D-League this season, and the rookie is averaging 2.0 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in nine NBA appearances.
Former Blazers first round pick Nolan Smith is headed back to the NBA D-League, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest reports. Smith had cut ties with Turkey’s Galatasaray back in October and intends to use the D-League to showcase his talents for NBA teams, Pilato notes. The D-League will assign Smith to one of its teams through its waiver system. The 26-year-old point guard spent 2011/12 and 2012/13 with Portland, averaging 3.3 PPG and 1.2 APG in 9.9 minutes per contest. Smith had received partially guaranteed offers from the Bulls and the Thunder this summer but instead chose to try his luck in Turkey.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe unleashed some bulletin board material the other night when he declared that this year’s University of Kentucky Wildcats team could defeat the Sixers in a seven-game series. When prompted by a reporter who asked if Bledsoe’s alma mater, which many predict to go undefeated this season, could beat the lowly Sixers, Bledsoe said, “I’m definitely taking Kentucky. I think Philly would get probably, maybe one game. I know Sixers fans gonna be mad, but I love my Wildcats. “
Now I’m reasonably certain that Bledsoe’s comments weren’t meant to offend Philadelphia’s team or its fans, but rather to show pride is his college team, and he’s since backed off his assertion. None of it stopped the speculation and debate from running wild on Twitter. It also doesn’t help matters that Bledsoe’s Suns are in Philadelphia this evening to take on the Sixers. During the pregame player introductions, the Philadelphia faithful let Bledsoe have it with a chorus of boos when his name was announced, though in a city famous for booing Santa Claus during an Eagles game, the jeers weren’t necessarily noteworthy.
Despite the likelihood that the Sixers will be historically dreadful this season, we are still talking about NBA-caliber players, many of whom were highly regarded college players in their own right. Kentucky is also a squad laden with underclassmen. In fact, there are only two juniors who see regular minutes in Kentucky’s regular rotation: Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress.
There is a reason that most rookies struggle when entering the NBA. They aren’t physically ready or developed enough to compete with fully grown men who also happen to be some of the greatest athletes in the world. So, no matter how talented the Wildcats are, keep in mind these are still developing teenagers, not professional athletes. The prime example is Nerlens Noel, who also attended Kentucky. Noel is still experiencing growing pains, and he was touted just as highly as any player on the current Wildcats roster. If he has had more than a year to practice against NBA-caliber players and is still struggling, a group of college underclassmen would also have serious issues against NBA talent as well.
Here are the likely starting lineups for this fictional matchup:
I don’t believe that the Wildcats would win even a single game against the Sixers, much less the required four needed to emerge victorious in a seven-game series. It might be competitive for a quarter or a half, but eventually NBA talent would win out and the Sixers would end up dominating. But what do you say? Who would win if these two squads faced off in a series? Cast your votes below and feel free to expand on the debate in the comments section.
3:24pm: The Nets would likely receive a trade exception if the teams were to do a deal, Youngmisuk tweets, meaning that the Sixers would probably send some combination of draft compensation, draft-and-stash prospects and cash to Brooklyn. Trade exceptions are created as functions of trades and they are not technically assets that change hands in deals.
3:05pm: Brooklyn and Philadelphia have had preliminary talks about a deal that would send Andrei Kirilenko to the Sixers, who would likely waive him, reports Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link). Sergey Karasev is also involved in those discussions, Youngmisuk adds. It’s unclear what the Sixers are talking about sending to Brooklyn. Kirilenko is away from the Nets for personal reasons.
A source told Tim Bontemps of the New York Post that Kirilenko’s absence wasn’t related to his lack of playing time, as we passed along earlier, but Bontemps wrote in the same piece that it appeared “inevitable” that if the Nets didn’t trade him, they would strike a buyout deal. Still, a trade would most likely happen after December 15th, Bontemps says, when most players who signed this offseason become eligible to be traded and trade talk usually picks up leaguewide.
Karasev, the 19th pick from the 2013 draft, has seen even fewer minutes than Kirilenko has this season for the Nets, who acquired Karasev over the summer from the Cavs. The 21-year-old swingman has scored only two points in 14 minutes of action so far in 2014/15, and he didn’t see much time as a rookie last year in Cleveland, either. The Sixers nonetheless may see value in Karasev, since he became a first-round pick just a year and a half ago. He and Kirilenko are both natives of Russia, like Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
The Nets and Sixers both have full 15-man rosters, but each team possesses multiple players without fully guaranteed salary, as our roster counts show. Kirilenko is making more than $3.3MM this season on his fully guaranteed contract, which expires this summer, while Karasev is due nearly $1.534MM this year and has one more guaranteed season on his rookie scale contract worth almost $1.6MM for 2015/16. Nets GM Billy King and Sixers GM Sam Hinkieswung a deal just last month in which the Nets gave up a protected 2019 second-round pick to entice the Sixers to absorb Marquis Teague‘s guaranteed salary, but Kirilenko is making about three times Teague’s pay, notes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).
Eric Bledsoe says he never worried about the Suns‘ acquisition of yet more high-level point guards in the offseason, but staying healthy was a concern as his contract negotiations dragged on, as he tells Chris Mannix of SI.com, who writes in his Open Floor column.
“I stayed in the gym working out. I just had to make sure I didn’t get hurt,” Bledsoe said. “My agent was calling me, telling me not to go play with everybody. I pretty much wrapped my body in bubble wrap.”
Bledsoe’s numbers are off a bit this year after the summer hiatus, so while we wait to see if he can regain his form once he shakes off the rust, here’s more from around the league:
Union executive director Michele Roberts has made an effort to forge a relationship with several top agents, in contrast to predecessor Billy Hunter, who kept agents at arm’s length, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News examines. Still, some agents are miffed about her choice of of Roger Mason, who supported her candidacy for the executive director job, to conduct a review of agent regulations, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com wrote earlier this week.
Rajon Rondo doesn’t see this season as a rebuilding year for the Celtics, notes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).
The Raptors are the best team in the Eastern Conference at 9-2, but the rest of the Atlantic Division is off to a rough start. The four other teams are all below .500, and the Sixers haven’t won in 11 tries. They’ll visit the 3-10 Knicks on Saturday in a game with early 2015 draft lottery implications. Here’s more from the struggling Atlantic:
Sixers coach Brett Brown and GM Sam Hinkie didn’t realize when they took their respective jobs in 2013 that the team’s roster this season would be so devoid of immediate contributors, Brown admitted Thursday, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Brown said the expectation had been that the Sixers would use their pair of lottery picks this year to bring in players who would be on the floor now instead of the injured Joel Embiid and Euroleaguer Dario Saric.“We put our big-boy pants on and made a decision that is best for the club long-term,” Brown said. “Time will tell. But the year that we are all now living in is a result of those types of decisions. That’s why you look on the floor and see a roster like you do and resumés like you do.”
Boston acquired Brandon Bass to be a complementary piece on a contending team, making his value to this version of the Celtics hard to divine, as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com writes in his mailbag column. If the Celtics make a trade, Bass is among the most likely candidates to go, Forsberg opines.
Executives from around the league tell Howard Beck of Bleacher Report that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has remained resolute with them that he won’t trade Rajon Rondo at this point. Still, many of those execs think the Celtics are in a position in which they simply must trade the point guard to avoid seeing him walk in free agency this coming summer. Ainge nonetheless continues to look for upgrades around Rondo, as he tells Beck. “Philosophically, we know who the players are, we know who the guys are that we would love to get,”Ainge said. “But we also know that certain players don’t make as much of a difference. We can’t sell our stockpile of assets just to appease one player. We’ve got to be smart in rebuilding. And we do have to remain patient. And yet at the same time, be ready to jump into the fray and pay a high price for special players, transcendent players.”
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
The Bucks’ roster features two starters who are 19 years old, a stark contrast to head coach Jason Kidd‘s Nets team of a year ago, which featured seven players 32 or older, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. Kidd says it’s still just basketball to him, adding, “It’s just the age difference. They’re basketball players. This is a younger team, the team I had last year was vets. They knew how to play, a couple of them won championships so they knew what it took to win. We won a Game 7 on the road, so experience, time and minutes are probably the only thing that’s different.” The other difference for Kidd in Milwaukee is that he’s now coaching a team on the upswing rather than one constructed to contend for a single year like Brooklyn was last season, notes Deveney.
Former SixerEvan Turner believes he can speak for those players unfortunate enough to be stuck in the middle of GM Sam Hinkie‘s rebuilding plan, writes Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Turner said of Hinkie’s approach, “It’s different. It goes the right way, or not. That kind of trend can make or break certain situations. Hopefully they don’t get penalized for what they’re doing, but if they do put the right guys on the team they can be really successful thanks to the leadership of coach [Brett] Brown. The biggest thing is having the unity. That’s all you have and you have to stay focused on going to battle with who you have.”
Delonte West has been released by the Shanghai Sharks after making only four appearances for the team, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. West had played for the Clippers‘ summer league squad this year but was unable to secure a training camp invite. The 31-year-old guard had hoped to play his way back into the NBA but this latest setback in his career doesn’t bode well for that possibility, Amick notes. West last played in the NBA during the 2011/12 season when he made 44 appearances for the Mavericks.
Here’s more from around the league:
With the college season underway we are getting our first good look at a number of prospects who are expected to fill out next year’s NBA draft lottery. Basketball Insiders’ Yannis Koutroupis has released his first mock draft of the season and it is headlined by the Sixers selecting Emmanuel Mudiay, who is currently displaying his wares for Guangdong of the Chinese Basketball Association, first overall.
It originally appeared that University of Kentucky would keep NBA personnel out of their practices for much of the season after the Wildcats held an unusual October combine, but the school has let NBA teams know they’re welcome again, a source tells Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress (Twitter link).
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders runs down the 10 biggest surprises in the NBA so far this season, which include the stellar play of the Bulls‘ Jimmy Butler, the Cavs’ defensive woes, and Reggie Jackson putting up career-best numbers for the Thunder. Both Butler and Jackson are set to become restricted free agents next summer and the competition for their services should be increased if they can continue their early-season performances, notes Kennedy.
Robert Covington‘s four-year, $4.2MM deal with the Sixers will pay him $1MM for the first year which includes a partial guarantee of $400K, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). Covington’s second year is also slated to pay him $1MM but is non-guaranteed, and the last two seasons are for the league minimum and include no guaranteed money, notes Pincus.
THURSDAY, 12:17pm: The value of the contract will be $4.2MM, Pick tweets. That’s slightly more than the $3,925,706 that a four-year minimum-salary contract would entail for the one-year veteran if he signed today.
WEDNESDAY, 8:19am: It’ll be a four-year pact, reports David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link).
TUESDAY, 7:08pm: The Sixers are intending to sign free agent Robert Covington this week, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Covington came close to inking a deal with the Sixers earlier, but decided to take the D-League route to begin the season. He was selected first overall by the Grand Rapids Drive in this year’s NBA D-League draft.
Covington spent much of last season with Houston’s D-League affiliate despite being on the team’s NBA roster the entire year. He earned himself a trip to the D-League’s All-Star game by averaging 23.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG in 34.1 minutes per game in 42 D-League appearances. He spent the preseason on Houston’s roster, though he was away from the team for weeks mulling offers to play in Europe before being waived.
Philadelphia had recently waived the injured Malcolm Thomas in order to clear a roster slot to ink Drew Gordon to a multi-year deal. With the Sixers current roster count sitting at the regular season maximum of 15 players, a corresponding move would need to be made in order to accommodate the addition of Covington. It’s unclear who the odd man out will be, but one of the non-guaranteed deals for Brandon Davies, Chris Johnson, Henry Sims, or Hollis Thompson seem likely candidates, though that is just my speculation.
Today’s dealings involving Covington and Johnson will still leave the Sixers with the league-maximum 15 players, so if the team wishes to add Onuaku they will need to make a subsequent roster move. One of the non-guaranteed deals for Brandon Davies, Henry Sims, or Hollis Thompson seem likely candidates to be waived in the event of a new signing, though that is just my speculation.
The 6’9″, 27-year-old Onuaku appeared in a total of five games last season, split between the Pelicans and the Cavaliers, and he averaged a combined 0.6 PPG, 1.6 RPG, and 0.6 APG. His slash line was .200/.000/.500. Onuaku spent training camp with the Pacers and was among the group of players cut as Indiana pared down its preseason roster to the regular season maximum.