9:47pm: The deal also includes a fourth-year option, according to Adam Zagoria of SNY (on Twitter).
9:30pm: It’s a three-year deal, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com (on Twitter).
8:35pm: The 76ers are set to sign JaKarr Sampson, his agent tells Stefan Bondy of the New York Post (on Twitter). It’s a partially guaranteed deal for the former St. John’s notable.
Sampson opted to enter the 2014 draft after his sophomore year and it took some by surprise since he didn’t have a great deal of draft buzz at that point. Former Red Storm star Maurice Harkless went into the draft as an underclassman and was taken with the No. 15 overall pick, but he had much more attention than Sampson did. In any case, Sampson now has his chance with the Sixers.
Sampson worked out for the Celtics, Mavs, Clippers, Kings, Grizzlies, Bucks, and Suns in the weeks leading up to the draft.
The 2014/15 NBA regular season doesn’t officially begin until Tuesday October 28th, when the Spurs raise their Championship banner, and host the rival Mavericks. This is the time of year when most fans can still bask in the warm glow of hope, and every team is still undefeated. It’s also the time of year for predictions to start rolling in on how the upcoming season will shake out. Today we’ll be seeing who you folks think will win the Atlantic Division. Let’s take a quick look at the possible contenders…
Note: All projected starters taken from the respective team pages at ESPN.com.
The most compelling storyline in Boston this season will be if and when Rajon Rondo is dealt, and what pieces GM Danny Ainge is able to get back for his star player. This seems like another year of draft position jockeying in Boston, but there are some nice young building blocks in place for the future. The franchise is still very much in rebuilding mode, and isn’t expected to compete for a playoff spot this season. Instead the focus will be on developing those building blocks, players such as Marcus Smart, James Young, Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller, and Kelly Olynyk.
The Celtics best outcome would be to deal Rondo after he establishes that he’s healthy, which would up the potential return, which in turn would hopefully include a lottery pick or two. The franchise is moving in the right direction, but this isn’t the year the team can compete for the top spot in the division. Better to spend another year near the bottom, score a better draft position, and aim for 2015/16 for bigger and better things.
It’s hard to predict what we’ll see out of Brooklyn this season. Health will be the make-or-break factor, and “if” will be the key word for the team. The team can be a factor in the Atlantic “if” Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Joe Johnson stay healthy. “If” Kevin Garnett still has anything left in the tank “if” he returns for another campaign. “If” new head coach Lionel Hollins can win over the locker room while implementing his hard-nosed defensive system. Quite a few question marks for a veteran team, and Brooklyn’s fans might not like how all the answers turn out.
Despite losing starting small forward Paul Pierce to the Wizards, there is still quite a bit of talent on the roster. If the team can get full seasons out of both Williams and Lopez, the Nets have a decent shot at taking the top spot in the Atlantic. A long playoff run is another story, and a deeper, more talented roster away from happening.
The Knicks are a franchise still transitioning from one regime to the next. There is a sense of hope in New York, thanks to the arrival of Phil Jackson as team president, and owner James Dolan’s promise to give Jackson the space he needs to shape the franchise in his image. It remains to be seen if Jackson can be successful as an executive, or if Dolan can keep his promise of being “hands-off.”
Also adding to the uncertainty of what to expect from the team is the arrival of rookie head coach Derek Fisher and the decision to implement the triangle offense. Fisher has plenty of experience as a championship player, but how quickly he can adjust to being a head coach who has to manage egos will be a big factor early in the season.
The roster has improved from last year’s campaign, Carmelo Anthony has re-signed, and Jackson made a number of interesting moves so far. The most important addition will be Jose Calderon at point guard. The Knicks suffered from some of the worst point guard play in the league last season, and though Calderon isn’t a strong defender, he is a solid distributor and his shooting efficiency should be enhanced by the triangle offense.
I expect a bit of a bounce-back year from the Knicks, but with all the new pieces on the roster, and the new system that is being taught, expect the team to start slow and improve toward the end of the season, similar to what we saw from the Nets last year.
The Sixers intend to compete for the top spot next season, only it isn’t the Atlantic Division that they hope to win, but rather the top spot in next year’s NBA Draft. Whether you refer to it as tanking, or rebuilding, Philadelphia is going all in on its plan. The Sixers have stripped away almost every veteran player of note, and they have a very real shot at breaking the franchise’s own league record for losses in a season.
The most compelling aspects of the 2014/15 season in Philadelphia will be the development of Nerlens Noel, the recovery of Joel Embiid, and just how low the team can sink. While I applaud the Sixers’ attempt to speed up the rebuilding process by hitting bottom instead of laboring in mediocrity, it might not bear fruit this season. Next year’s best prospects are primarily big men, and Philadelphia has already spent two high draft picks on interior players. If a dominant wing or guard doesn’t emerge as a potential top pick, it could create an interesting logjam on the Sixers depth chart.
Unless the franchise gets into a situation like the one portrayed in the film “Major League,” and finds some way to defy every sane preseason prediction of a last place finish, another year of living in the Atlantic Division’s basement is most definitely in the cards.
The Raptors were one of the league’s surprise teams last season, winning the Atlantic Division with a record of 48-34. They kept the core of the team intact and are in good shape to repeat as division champs. The Eastern Conference will be extremely competitive next season, and the Raptors could arguably be considered the third or fourth best team in the conference behind the Cavs, Bulls, and Wizards.
Health will be a big key, as Toronto isn’t an especially deep team at key positions. It will also be interesting to see if Kyle Lowry‘s big year was a fluke, the product of a contract-year push, or if he is indeed ready to be a franchise star. The continued development of Jonas Valanciunas will also determine just how far this franchise can go in the postseason. Toronto has enough talent to win the division and a playoff series, but more than that is probably wishful thinking.
SEPTEMBER 12TH: The Sixers and Roberts have a signed contract, according to the RealGM transactions log, which confirms the arrangement is for multiple years. The team has yet to make an official announcement.
AUGUST 12TH: 7:33pm: Adam Pensack,Roberts Jr.’s agent, wouldn’t confirm that there was a deal in place between the two sides, reports Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com. Pensack added that there’d be news on his client within the next few weeks, says Lynam.
8:41am: The Sixers have agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with undrafted power forward Ronald Roberts Jr. that covers three seasons, as Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi confirms. Cauchi reported earlier this month that Roberts was likely to join the team. The 23-year-old from St. Joseph’s had inked a preliminary deal with Chalon-Sur-Saone of France, but it included a clause that allows him to back out to head to the NBA. It’s likely a minimum-salary arrangement with Philadelphia, though the Sixers have no shortage of cap room if they wanted to exceed that amount.
Roberts had been a long shot to hear his name called on draft night, ranking 93rd in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress listings and just 143rd with Chad Ford of ESPN.com, but an impressive summer league stint lifted his stock. He averaged 10.2 points and 7.4 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game across five appearance for the Sixers summer league team in Orlando. He saw fewer minutes in four games with the Heat’s summer league squad in Las Vegas, notching 7.0 PPG and 3.8 RPG in 14.0 MPG, but he apparently had shown the Sixers enough.
The client of Pensack Sports Management Group joins 13 others on the Sixers, as our roster counts show. Philadelphia has fully guaranteed deals with only six players, an NBA low, and the team’s five agreements that include no guarantee at all are a league high.
The Knicks have partially guaranteed the contracts of Travis Wear for $62K, and Langston Galloway for $31K, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). Both players were recently signed to one-year, minimum salary deals.
The Cavaliers had the biggest offseason of any franchise with the return of LeBron James and the acquisition of Kevin Love. The crew at Basketball Insiders previews Cleveland’s upcoming season, and the consensus has them finishing first in the Central Division.
There’s a new regime in Detroit this season with the arrival of Stan Van Gundy. In their season preview, the majority of the staff at Basketball Insiders pick the Pistons to improve slightly and finish third in the Central Division this upcoming season.
The Sixers might “best” their 2013/14 total of 63 losses this upcoming season, according to Adi Joseph of USA Today. In his pre-season rankings, Joseph predicts Philadelphia will lose 74 games next season, which would eclipse the current NBA record of 73 losses set by the 1972/73 Sixers team.
There are two remote possibilities for the Pistons to keep Greg Monroe past this season, Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press writes. The first way would be for Detroit to offer Monroe a max contract, something they have been unwilling to do thus far, Farrell notes. The second would be for coach Stan Van Gundy to convince Monroe that his future would be best served by staying with the Pistons, something that can only happen if Detroit starts winning, opines Farrell.
Here’s more from the east:
Sixers coach Brett Brown was in Spain to check out Dario Saric, the No. 12 overall draft pick that Philadelphia acquired from the Magic in a draft night trade, Rigas Dardalis of Eurohoops.net reports. Saric won’t play in the NBA this season, but when asked what he thought of Saric’s potential, Brown said, “I think he can play [in the NBA] now! I think that in Philadelphia we are about development and about opportunity. He would look around and see a lot of fellow young players that just want a chance to play. Our whole emphasis in Philadelphia is about development and help our players. We are trying to be as good as we can be in sport science and growing up players physically and from a skill perceptive. He is an other one of our young lottery picks that we hope to grow the program with”.
Celtics team president Rich Gotham is excited for the potential of Boston’s two first-rounders, Marcus Smart and James Young, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com writes. “I’ve been loving Marcus Smart’s play, because he’s just tough. He goes out there and he competes. I saw James Young for the first time the other day, and I saw him stroke a couple of lefty 3-pointers from a couple feet beyond the arc and I was like, Hmmm, we could use that.”
One single play may have led to David Blatt becoming the first European coach to make the jump to being an NBA head coach with the Cavs, and Ettore Messina becoming an assistant with the Spurs, Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News writes.
The crew over at Basketball Insiders ran down their predictions for the Sixers 2014/15 season, and the consensus was that Philadelphia would finish fifth in the Atlantic Division and miss the playoffs yet again.
The Sixers waived Hasheem Thabeet on Monday, according to the RealGM transactions log, though the team has yet to formally announce the move. That means the club released him on the final day before his non-guaranteed $1.25MM salary for this coming season was to have become fully guaranteed, even though it initially appeared as though the Sixers missed that deadline. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported last week that they were likely to release the former No. 2 overall pick after acquiring him via trade from the Thunder.
The move is the latest indignity yet for the once highly touted 7’3″ prospect whose NBA career started slowly, with a D-League assignment in his rookie season, and never reached its potential. Thabeet is set to become a free agent later today providing he clears waivers, a likely outcome even though his salary isn’t for too much more than the minimum. Teams can’t claim a player making any more than the minimum unless they have cap space, a trade exception, or a disabled player exception, and Thabeet probably isn’t tempting enough to entice a club to burn one of those resources. Still, providing he hits free agency, the timing of the move gives him a chance to sign with a team for training camp.
The trade that sent him to Philadelphia appeared to be chiefly about clearing his salary and creating a trade exception from Oklahoma City’s perspective, while the Sixers netted $100K in cash for their trouble. Thabeet’s release leaves the Sixers with 16 players, only half of whom have guaranteed deals for the coming season.
Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski tells Marc Stein of ESPN.com that he plans to play Derrick Rose in three consecutive days of international pool play, an encouraging sign of his confidence in the point guard’s conditioning and progress. Here’s more from around the East:
Jared Dudley tells Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he’s ready to prove himself on the Bucks, after being traded there from the Clippers last week. “Going from a contender to a team that’s rebuilding, to me that really doesn’t matter,” Dudley said. “As a professional, you’ve got to come in with the right mind-set and play in the right way.”
Dudley also tells Gardner that his play suffered last season while he played through knee injuries. “We had so many injuries. J.J. [Redick] was out; Matt Barnes was out. Basically [coach Doc Rivers] wanted me to fight through it,” said Dudley. “I told him I could, I just wouldn’t be 100%. I think what I did was give him a body to hold the minutes down until those guys got back. For me personally, I might have suffered. But from the team standpoint we were able to get that three spot (playoff seeding) we needed to have. When you look back, would I have done it different? Maybe. But that was just me trying to give my body for a new team and a new coach.”
Michael Kaskey-Blomain of The Philadelphia Inquirer doesn’t believe Henry Sims will become a starting-caliber center, but thinks starting Sims on the 2014/15 Sixers could help him develop into a quality rotation player, while also aiding in the development of Nerlens Noel, who would spend more time at power forward as a result.
2:59pm: The Grizzlies are again in the hunt for Ingles, Stein reports (Twitter link). Ingles turned down a two-year offer from Memphis last year, as we noted below.
TUESDAY, 2:13pm: Ingles is a “virtual lock” to sign with an NBA team for the coming season, as seven or eight teams are in pursuit, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The Sixers still appear to be one of them, but Ingles is unlikely to sign with Philadelphia, Stein adds (on Twitter).
MONDAY, 1:26pm: Australian small forward Joe Ingles has fielded interest from the Sixers, sources tell Sporando’s Orazio Cauchi (Twitter link). David Pick of Eurobasket.com reported this weekend that multiple NBA teams were eyeing the 26-year-old, so it looks like Philadelphia has some competition.
The Grizzlies, Hawks and Jazz were reportedly interested in Ingles as of March, when Pick wrote that he was thinking about making the jump to the NBA this summer. Ingles rejected a two-year offer from Memphis last year, around the same time that the Pacers, Bucks and Clippers also seemingly had their eyes on the veteran of international play. NBA teams passed on him in the 2009 draft, and his pro numbers haven’t been impressive. Ingles averaged just 6.0 points in 21.2 minutes per game for Maccabi Tel Aviv this past season, but he’s been a more significant part of the offense for the Australian national team in the FIBA World Cup this week, notching 14.5 PPG in 26.5 MPG.
The Sixers have no shortage of cap flexibility to outbid other NBA suitors and float an offer large enough to pry Ingles from overseas. They also have plenty of roster space. They’re carrying only eight guaranteed deals, as our roster counts show. Philadelphia can also provide Ingles with a familiar presence in coach Brett Brown, who coached him on the Australian national team in the 2012 Olympics, as Paul Garcia of Project Spurs notes (on Twitter).
Only a half dozen second-round picks from this June are without deals to play in the NBA, overseas or the D-League, as our log of this year’s draft pick signings shows, and Friday looms as a key date for them. That’s the last day their NBA teams have to make a required one-year tender for the minimum salary without losing their rights to them. Such glorified training camp invitations might not be ideal for draftees who’d hoped to establish more solid footing in the NBA, but if any are at an impasse in negotiations, the deadline could be a tipping point. While we wait to see how that plays out, here’s the latest from around the league:
Ray Allen has fielded recruiting calls from LeBron James and others, as the sharpshooter tells Don Amore of The Hartford Courant, but Allen cites a desire to stay around his family as he continues to insist that there’s a strong chance he’s played his last game. “I don’t want to go into a situation where I don’t understand the coaching, don’t understand the direction of the team,” Allen said. “My family is very important in making the decision. Right now, there is nothing that I need to do. If I ultimately decide this will be it for me, I’m content with that.”
Hasheem Thabeet remains on the Sixers roster, so it appears they’ve guaranteed his salary for the coming season. Monday was the last day they could waive him without owing him his $1.25MM pay for 2014/15, as Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman confirmed. Philadelphia was reportedly likely to waive him in advance of that deadline.
NBA teams would have to buy Carlos Arroyo out of his deal with Galatasaray in Turkey to bring him stateside for this season, and while he’d consider returning to the Association, no one from the NBA has shown serious interest, as he tells HoopsHype’s David Alarcon.
The widespread NBA interest in Joe Ingles is surprising, observes David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). The Australian small forward was having a tough time generating interest from European teams before this week’s strong FIBA World Cup showing, according to Pick.
Sixers GM Sam Hinkie garners plenty of attention for his bold rebuilding plan, but lost amid the team’s efforts to build from the ground up is Hinkie’s unmatched willingness to trade. Philadelphia has been a part of 14 trades since Hinkie took the job in May 2013, and no other team has come close to that total.
The Sixers have traded away mainstays Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes and netted cap flexibility, draft picks and cash in return through their various dealings. Our recap of the trades from the 2014 offseason, 2013/14 regular season and the 2013 offseason tell the tale. The next most eager executive on the trade market over that time has been Bucks GM John Hammond, who’s pulled off nine trades. Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro will join Hammond at nine once Sacramento’s Jason Terrytrade becomes official, and D’Alessandro, like Hinkie, made his debut as an NBA front office chief last summer.
It’s worth noting that the two teams most willing to trade over the last 15 months had the worst records in the NBA this past season, with the Kings not far behind. There’s a general corollary between winning and stability, but three of the four teams that have traded the least since the 2013 offseason failed to make the playoffs last year, including the Pistons, the only team that didn’t swing more than a single deal. Former president of basketball operations Joe Dumars executed that lone swap, the Brandon Jenningssign-and-trade.
A ranking of the teams that have completed the most trades since the beginning of the 2013 offseason is below, in descending order. This takes into account sign-and-trades, draft-pick swaps, and cash transactions, but it doesn’t count draft picks surrendered as compensation for another team letting a coach out of his contract, as we’ve seen with Doc Rivers and Jason Kidd. The number of trades from this offseason is at the left, followed by those from the 2013/14 season and those from the 2013 offseason. The total number of trades is after the equal sign.