Tim Hardaway Jr. showed promise this season and Marc Berman of the New York Post believes the Michigan product has significant trade value. Berman believes Hardaway could net a late first-rounder or an early second-rounder in a trade. The Knicks reportedly were shopping the guard, among other players, at this year’s trade deadline, but his improvement down the stretch has impressed the team. “Tim Hardaway has been both good and average at certain times, but he has a bright future,’’ Team President Phil Jackson said. “He’s a solidifying guard who can move to small forward or guard.’’
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- If the Knicks win the draft lottery, Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) believes Karl-Anthony Towns is the no-brainer selection, as he writes in a collaborate piece with Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com. Ford notes that Okafor would be an option for New York, but he is a gamble the team is not in a position to make.
- The Sixers already spent three first-round picks on frontcourt players over the last two drafts and Pelton wonders if the team will draft either Towns or Jahlik Okafor if it lands one of the top two draft picks, as he writes in the same piece. Philadelphia is reportedly hoping to land D’Angelo Russell in the draft.
- Tim Bontemps of the New York Post wonders if changes will be made to the Nets‘ roster this offseason. If Brook Lopez opts to become a free agent, Brooklyn has to decide whether the retaining the core of Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams is worth paying the luxury tax. The Nets already have slightly under $58.7 in guaranteed salary for the 2015/16 season as our Salary Commitment page shows.
The Sixers are hoping to land Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell in June’s draft, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “That’s the word around the league,” according to an unidentified NBA executive. “You know the Sixers. They won’t come out and say it. But he’s the guy they want.” The source adds that Philly might have to land the first or second pick in the May 19th lottery to be assured of getting Russell. They finished the season with the league’s third-worst record. Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor have been widely considered the top two choices, but the Sixers have a wealth of young big men and are in need of backcourt help.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- If the Sixers want to keep coach Brett Brown beyond his current contract, they should start extension talks this summer, writes Tom Moore of Calkins Media. Brown is currently in the middle of a four-year deal that stretches through the 2016/17 season. His record through two years is 37-127, but that’s with a collection of young players and castoffs as Philadelphia has emphasized collecting assets ahead of winning, Moore notes.
- Jarrett Jack is turning out to be a valuable pickup for the Nets, contends Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com. Jack was acquired from Cleveland last summer in a three-team trade when the Cavaliers were trying to clear enough cap room to sign LeBron James. Mazzeo said Jack has been the Nets’ best point guard in their playoff series with Atlanta. He sparked an 18-0 surge that helped Brooklyn pull out today’s Game 3. Jack is signed through the 2016/17 season, making $6.3MM per year.
- Knicks president Phil Jackson said this week that the team needs “a player that wants to go to the basket,” reports Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. If New York doesn’t fill that need through the draft, it could use approximately $25MM to chase free agent guards like Goran Dragic, Rajon Rondo and Reggie Jackson this summer.
Bucks president Peter Feigin impressed upon bickering local and state government officials to wrap up a deal within the next 10 days to secure the public’s $250MM share of financing for a $500MM new arena for the team in Milwaukee, reports Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Without an arena, “the Bucks will be gone from the state of Wisconsin,” Feigin warned. Realistically, groundbreaking must take place by early this fall so that the arena remains on schedule to beat an NBA-imposed deadline, as Feigin told Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com for a story this weekend. Sources told Windhorst the NBA would indeed exercise its right to buy the franchise and seek to move it if construction doesn’t begin soon.
Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference:
- Despite the upgrade Tom Thibodeau would provide as coach, the Magic should pass on the longtime Bulls coach if it required the team to surrender its first round draft pick as compensation, Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel opines. Orlando previously traded for Stan Van Gundy, sending the Heat a second-rounder back in 2007 in return for the coach, Schmitz notes.
- 2014 second-rounder Jerami Grant turned out to be one of the Sixers‘ biggest surprises this season, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. An undersized power forward in college, Grant adapted well when the team moved him to small forward, Pompey adds. “Whatever position they put me at, I think I will be fine with it,” Grant said. “But in the offseason, I’m definitely going to work on a lot of things that a four-man can do and what a three-man can do. I’m just going to work on my overall game.” In 65 games this season Grant averaged 6.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per contest.
- Dwyane Wade isn’t in a rush to make a decision regarding his player option worth $16,125,000, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes. The veteran also indicated that the 2015/16 campaign isn’t likely to be his last in the league, Reynolds adds. “I don’t sit on my hands,” Wade said. “Obviously, everything’s about life after [basketball] and seeing what you want to do as well. So this is a perfect time to figure it out. I signed my deal the way I did for a reason … and the organization did it for a reason. It’s my option. I’ll decide when the time is right. Everyone knows I always try to do what’s best for the organization, but I also have to do what’s best for Dwyane Wade as well.” This conflicts with earlier statements from Wade that he intended to opt in for next season.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Lou Williams paid dividends for the Raptors, and it seems he believes the trade that brought him to Toronto this year was mutually beneficial. The guard reiterated Monday after winning the Sixth Man of the Year award that he wants to re-sign with the Raptors in free agency, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca observes.
“[Staying in Toronto] would be ideal for me,” he said. “Just the culture that they’re building here, just the identity that this team and this town has, I really want to be a part of it. I look forward to it. I don’t want to say hopefully we get something done, I’m really positive that we will get something done. I don’t see why not, at this point. So I just look forward to the future here.”
Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:
- Bojan Bogdanovic struggled in his NBA playoff debut, but a player who has European postseason experience, as Bogdanovic does, has a measure of added value, notes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. Bogdanovic is in his first NBA season after signing with the Nets for the taxpayer’s mid-level exception in the summer.
- Jarvis Varnado, who was in camp with the Sixers this past fall, has signed to play in Puerto Rico with Piratas de Quebradillas, Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia reports. Varnado also spent time with the Lakers D-League affiliate this season.
- The Sixers, who’ll pay Furkan Aldemir nearly $2.837MM in guaranteed salary next season, didn’t invest much in the former draft-and-stash prospect, but it still seems like too much for a player who showed limited skills, as John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com examines.
Luc Mbah a Moute, who will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, would like to remain in Philadelphia and he believes the team wants him back as well, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.
“Ever since I came here, I didn’t get the sense that it was a one-year kind of deal,” said Mbah a Moute. “We will see what happens this summer, but pretty much what’s been kind of [established] is that I’m part of what they are trying to grow here. I’m part of the culture. When you been through a season like this, when you see ups and downs, you see glimpses of what could be you want to be a part of it. You want to be there when things turn around and we finally get hopefully that right team and become a good team. So yeah, [re-signing is] what I’m thinking now.”
The UCLA product enjoyed his best offensive season in the NBA last year and has worked to improve his shooting. He made 62 three-pointers after only making 24 total during his first six years in the league.
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Ish Smith, who has played for eight teams during his five year career, also would like to play for the Sixers again next season, Andy Jasner of NBA.com writes. “I hope so,” Smith said when asked if he’ll be back in Philadelphia. “I really like it here. I knew I had to play and work hard and not worry about all the other things. I figure that will all take care of itself. It was important to me to come in and do my work and take in everything the coaching staff was teaching me. I still have so much to learn.” The speedy point guard averaged 12.0 points and 6.1 assists per contest during his 25 games as a Sixer.
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun can’t envision Lou Williams, who earlier today was announced the winner of this year’s Sixth Man of the Year award, playing for Toronto next season due to the sizable contract he might earn in free agency (Twitter link). The Raptors already have slightly more than $49MM on the books for the 2015/16 season, as our Salary Commitment page shows.
- James Johnson, who didn’t play in Saturday’s game against the Wizards, understands his role and why the Raptors signed him, Eric Koreen of the National Post, writes. “Matchups. I’m here for matchup problems,” Johnson said. “I’m here for the long season, when Kyle [Lowry] got hurt or DeMar [DeRozan] got hurt. Those were when I had opportunities to play a lot. I’m the fill-in. And I’m OK with that.” The forward signed a two-year, $5MM deal with Toronto last offseason.
Jason Richardson is open to re-signing with the Sixers this summer, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. The 34-year-old, who is set for unrestricted free agency, envisions himself in a similar role to the one he had this season. He served as a mentor to younger players while attempting to make the most of playing time. Richardson returned to the court on Feb. 20th for the first time in more than two years after suffering knee and ankle injuries. In 19 games, he averaged 9.1 points per game, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 21.9 minutes. In March, Sixers coach Brett Brown said he didn’t see a reason why the 34-year-old couldn’t play for another couple of seasons.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- In a separate piece, Pompey opines that it’s very likely Sixers fans will be calling for front office firings if winning is not made a priority after two straight seasons of tanking. Sixers co-managing owner Josh Harris said the team is “making progress” after its second season of tanking, Pompey writes. Harris did not say, however, when the team expects to start winning more games. “I just don’t think we’re there yet,” Harris said. “I think over time, the team will tell you. We’re going to continue to add great players, the best players we can, and really make sure they are well-coached and well-conditioned and ready to play and excited to be part of our organization and to bring it. And they are going to ultimately answer that question themselves.”
- Marc Berman of the New York Post listed LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe, Paul Millsap, Rajon Rondo, Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, Robin Lopez, Tobias Harris, DeMarre Carroll, Khris Middleton, Danny Green and Patrick Beverley as 12 realistic free-agent targets for the Knicks. Those are a lot of names, of course, and some are more realistic than others. The Knicks are expected to be one of Monroe’s top choices. Berman writes that Hawks guard/forward Carroll has expressed interest in New York and playing for Derek Fisher. Last week, Carroll said he would “most definitely” give a great deal of consideration to the Knicks.
Danny Ferry may be on a leave of absence as Hawks GM, but he hasn’t been forgotten, writes Scott Cacciola of The New York Times. Coach Mike Budenholzer said Ferry deserves a lot of credit for building Atlanta into the top seed in the East. The coach added that he talks to Ferry frequently. “I think it’s probably important to both of us that those conversations are somewhat private,” Budenholzer said. “It’s safe to say that we talk about everything.” Ferry has been on indefinite leave since racially insensitive comments about Luol Deng‘s African heritage surfaced in September. Budenholzer declined to suggest a resolution to Ferry’s situation.
There’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- J.R. Smith probably would have picked up his $6.4MM player option if he had remained with the Knicks, according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Despite the team’s awful season, Smith’s love of New York and his friendship with Carmelo Anthony would have influenced his decision. “I think I would have opted in,” he said. “I would have stayed. I wanted to be part of the building process to be one of those teams that ‘this is the team we got and we’re going to give a shot at it.’ I wanted to be a part of it.” A January 5th deal sent Smith to a Cavaliers team that is among the favorites for the NBA title.
- Rival executives don’t expect a quick fix in New York, Iannazzone writes in a separate piece. The Knicks will have a top five draft pick and are expected to have about $30MM to spend in free agency, but that doesn’t guarantee a huge jump in wins. “They don’t really have any trade assets,” said an unidentified Western Conference executive. “It’s going to be hard to get off the deck. They have a long road up the hill. They got to go one block at a time. One piece at a time and have some patience.”
- Sixers rookie Nerlens Noel told Tom Moore of Calkins Media that he would like to see the team improve its outside shooting through the draft. Philadelphia finished third in Hoops Rumors’ Reverse Standings and will find out its draft position at the May 19th lottery. “I think we’re pretty good with the frontcourt,” Noel said. “I think we definitely need to add shooting, whether it’s with the first pick we have or [possible] second pick.”
Knicks point guard Jose Calderon had a difficult first season in New York, but he insists that he’ll turn things around if he’s still a member of the organization in 2015/16, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “One hundred percent, we didn’t see the Jose Calderon I was all these years,’’ Calderon told Berman. “Personally, [I was] just disappointed how it was individually because I can do a much better job. And I didn’t get it right. The only good thing about it, I know I’m going to be much better next season. I know what they want, I know what they want from me and how it’s going to work. Hopefully I’ll get better with [avoiding] injuries.’’
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- There is still a chance that the Knicks could waive Calderon using the stretch provision, but the veteran says his first choice is to return to New York, Berman adds. “I’m pretty confident I’m going to be here,’’ Calderon said. “I want to be here. That’s the feeling I got from the coaching staff. That’s what I feel about next year. But you’re only one phone call away for something to happen. I always got to be prepared. It’s how the NBA works. I don’t want to get out now because the good part is coming. You don’t want to leave now.’’
- The Sixers have many needs that need to be addressed this offseason, but coach Brett Brown says the team needs to prioritize improving its defense, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer notes. “In my heart of hearts, I know we have to build on our defense,” Brown said. “That’s just who we are.” Philadelphia ranked 20th in opponents points allowed this past season.
- The Celtics made the playoffs this season not by bringing in more talented players, but by acquiring players who better fit their philosophy, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com opines. “It’s very unusual,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of Boston’s rebuilding efforts while still making the playoffs. “They’ve done it with overhaul, and at the same time losing an All-Star point guard [Rajon Rondo). We kind of did the same thing last year [with Rudy Gay]. We lost an All-Star wing guy, kind of rebuild. Sometimes it’s good, addition by subtraction. And Boston is a good example of that.”
Nets forward Mirza Teletovic has been cleared to resume basketball activities and he could return during Brooklyn’s first-round playoff series against Atlanta, Andy Vasquez of NorthJersey.com relays. The 29-year-old has been out of action since January, and has been receiving treatment for multiple blood clots in his lungs. “The doctors … they know what’s best for me,” Teletovic said. “And the coaches are there, they know what’s best for them and for the team, and they’re going to decide. It’s not up to me. They’re going to look at it and see. And then probably decide if I’ll play or not play, but for now I’m just happy to be back.”
Teletovic is in the final year of his contract, making slightly more than $3.368MM, and he said in the fall that he planned to listen to offers from the Nets as well as others after the season. Brooklyn can make him a restricted free agent if they extend a qualifying offer worth $4,210,125.
Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
- Sixers coach Brett Brown hasn’t been enamored with injured rookie Joel Embiid‘s work ethic this season, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “There were times that I wasn’t happy,” Brown said. “And you know it’s been well-documented. I tell my guys, you want me to coach you. You want to show up on time. You want to do the right thing. You want to act the right way.”
- Ricky Ledo is hoping that he can remain in the NBA next season, and that he can change the perception around the league that he is a troubled player, Tim Casey of USA Today writes. The Knicks had inked Ledo to a deal that covered the remainder of this season after his second 10-day contract with the team ended. In 12 appearances for the Knicks Ledo averaged 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game.
- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge when discussing what he termed the league’s “transcendent players” mentioned Stephen Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James, Ben Rohrbach of WEEI 93.7 FM notes (Twitter links). Omitted from Ainge’s list was his former player Rajon Rondo. When asked, Ainge said he never thought Rondo would reach that level of excellence, Rohrbach adds. Rondo will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and some around the league have doubts that the veteran is worth a max contract, which Rondo is likely to be seeking this summer.
The Sixers finished a game behind their mark from last season, but owner Josh Harris sees progress toward the goal of eventual title contention, as Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays. “The bottom is behind us and we’re on the way up, and we expect to get better consistently from here,” Harris said. Brookover isn’t convinced, but coach Brett Brown said that the team’s record will matter much more next year as the franchise takes the next step in its rebuilding.
“It’s during-the-year changes that have hurt us,” Brown said. “At the end of the day to coach gypsies, to have to coach a revolving door, that’s not what I’m looking for. The program understands, Sam understands, Josh understands that we need a level of consistency to move it forward. That doesn’t mean we have to be pregnant with average players. We’re looking for players that move the program forward in a big way. If there is volatility that comes our way because of that last comment, then so be it. Consistency and carryover can’t trump the fact that we’re looking for talent.”
Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News sees frustration in that remark and others from Brown, and GM Sam Hinkie has signaled that he doesn’t plan a significant push in free agency this summer, so it’s unclear just how Philly will improve, aside from the maturation of its young talent. While we wait to find out, here’s more on the Sixers:
- Harris says he hasn’t had any talks about an extension for Brown, but the owner said the coach has exceeded expectations and wouldn’t rule one out, notes John Smallwood of the Daily News. Brown has two more seasons on his contract, and Smallwood argues that he deserves an extension even though it isn’t possible to judge whether he’ll ultimately be a successful NBA head coach given the lack of talent he’s had to work with.
- Rising franchise values and the league’s new $24 billion TV contract mean Harris is under no pressure to win in the short term, since the Sixers have a steady flow of revenue, writes John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com.
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News takes a crack at predicting who’ll be back on the team next season, speculating that Furkan Aldemir and Isaiah Canaan won’t return in spite of the guaranteed salary on their contracts.