Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker tell Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer that Walker’s recruiting played a part in “Big Al” signing with the Bobcats last summer. Although Walker wasn’t optimistic, Jefferson says the point guard’s pitch made a difference. “Nothing feels better than knowing somebody wants you,” said Jefferson. “It made me feel special. And their top player had come to me in the offseason and really wanted me to come.” Here’s more from the East:
- Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com looks at how the projected cap increase for next year could help teams like the Bulls and Rockets pursue Carmelo Anthony, should he opt out of his final contract year with the Knicks.
- Joe Dumars has no interest in the Cavs GM opening, sources tell Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio.
- Sixers coach Brett Brown tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he believes in the process Philadelphia’s front office has designed heading into the draft. “I will be led by [GM Sam Hinkie]. I have gone through a very system-oriented process for the past 12 years [as San Antonio Spurs assistant] with an organization that’s proven they’ve made way more good decisions than bad decisions,” said Brown. “I’m going to let him use me how he wants to use me. That’s my nature–to immerse myself into it all and be highly opinionated. Somewhere out there, analytics people and Sam as the architect of all of it and the coaches will share an opinion. And the club will roll with it.”
- Tom Moore of Calkins Media says that Sixers owner Joshua Harris’s assessment of Philadelphia’s season as a “success” is premature, and ultimately will depend on how well Hinkie uses the team’s abundance of draft picks this summer.
- Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens were interviewed for the first time since becoming the new Bucks owners by Don Walker of The Journal Sentinel. The pair emphasized the plans to bring a new arena to Milwaukee, and their commitment to building a winner. “Part of this for us, [is that] you can only go up. If you look at this, if we do the right things, if we pick the right players, if everything works the way hopefully it will and we can follow the model of San Antonio or the Thunder,” said Lasry. “I think everybody wants the same thing we do. Everybody just wants a winner.”
We rounded up the Knicks news earlier today. Here’s more from around the Atlantic:
- Sixers owner Joshua Harris tells Dan Gelston of The Associated Press that Philadelphia’s 19-win season has been a “huge success” towards rebuilding the franchise. While Harris said the Sixers don’t use the term “tanking,” he does think that their losing season was more beneficial than a better, but mediocre performance would have been. “All these pieces are in place to make this an elite team that will compete consistently for the NBA championship,” Harris said. “There [are] no shortcuts to it. Unfortunately, it takes a long time. I’m really happy with the progress.”
- Celtics GM Danny Ainge tells Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com that he is working to duplicate the kind of turnaround he has pulled off before in Boston, as early as this offseason. “We’re hopeful,” said Ainge. “I have some ideas and some plans that I’d like to do, but there are just no guarantees that we can do it. We need to find good trading partners. We always are trying to make fireworks. Every summer, we try to do something that’s unique and special and we will definitely try this summer.”
- Celtics coach Brad Stevens said in an interview with Boston.com that he is ready to give his input on this year’s draft crop. “I know a lot of the kids that are coming out,” said Stevens. “We have two picks in the top 18, so they’ve gotta be good. They’ve gotta be good for us as far as fitting in with our team for us to continue to progress.”
- Stevens also commented on Keith Bogans, who parted ways with the team early in the season. “That was a mutual situation where he wasn’t playing a whole lot, so he decided and we decided that if he wanted to go back home and spend time there then that was okay with us,” said Stevens. “Sometimes you don’t have the exact role that you envision when you start a season. I don’t see a reason why Keith won’t continue to have success and be a player in this league.
Thaddeus Young is confident that the Sixers would meet any demands he makes on the organization, as he told reporters, including Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. Young indicated that he might use the possibility of declining or exercising his player option for 2015/16 as leverage, and he also raised the possibility that he’ll ask for a trade, as we noted last night.
More from the east:
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Depending on what the Sixers do this offseason, forward Thaddeus Young said it is “a possibility” that he asks the team to trade him, writes Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com. Young is under contract next season and has a player option for 2015/16, but it would be hard to blame him for not wanting to endure another tank-fest in Philadelphia.
“I think it’s one of those things where everything has to be talked about and put on the table, and everything has to be laid on the line,” Young said.
However, as Moore points out, come June the Sixers are likely to have two top-10 picks in what many pundits consider to be a loaded draft. They also have plenty of cap room and will add Nerlens Noel to the mix next season, so it isn’t out of the question that Young’s excitement level for Philly’s future could receive a significant boost in the short term. He recently said he’s become more optimistic about the team’s potential.
Young averaged a career-high 17.9 points per game in his seventh season in the NBA, but had to wade through a record-tying 26-game losing streak after the Sixers front office dealt Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes at the trade deadline. Turner and Hawes were essentially the only other notable veterans on the roster besides Young. There seems to be some discord in the Philly media regarding whether or not Young is part of the team’s future plans.
The general consensus among several NBA executives is that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh will presumably re-sign with the Heat, says Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio. As for Carmelo Anthony, most executives reportedly believe that the seven-time All-Star will re-up with the Knicks (Twitter links).
Unfortunately, the Knicks reported today that an MRI revealed a small tear in Anthony’s right labrum; however, no surgery is needed and he’ll be re-evaluated in a month (Twitter links via the official Knicks PR account). Depending on how one looks at it, it may be considered a blessing that the star forward will not risk aggravating the injury by trying to play through pain had New York made the playoffs this year. Al Iannazzone of Newsday (via Twitter) notes that Anthony decided to continue playing on a torn labrum in his left shoulder at the end of last season.
Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
- Thaddeus Young isn’t sure if his time with the 76ers is running out, but the veteran forward tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he’ll remain with the team as long as they want him and he’s under contract. Young is still on the books for 2014/15; however, the Sixers could look to deal him this summer if they feel that he’ll eventually choose to turn down his $9.8MM player option for 2015/16, adds Pompey.
- Soon-to-be restricted free agents Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez are “immensely open” to re-signing with the Raptors on long-term deals this summer, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. Charania also hears from DeMar DeRozan, who says he never thought about trying to push for an early escape from his four-year extension when the team was struggling early this season.
- Nets GM Billy King is exploring all of the team’s options in the NBDL right now, relays Tim Bontemps of the New York Post (via Twitter). King added that an announcement will be made as soon as a decision is reached.
- Toney Douglas considers himself to be in a more advantageous position heading into free agency this summer after making the most of his chance to revive his career with the Heat this season, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Sixers are locked into finishing with the league’s second worst record, as our Reverse Standings show, somehow managing to lose out on pole position for the top draft pick despite an NBA-record-tying losing streak of 26 games this season. Philadelphia’s eyes have been on next season and beyond for a while, and here’s the latest on the team’s plans for what’s ahead:
- The team’s latest deal with Casper Ware is a multiyear arrangement that includes non-guaranteed salary after this season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers have yet to make an official announcement.
- Henry Sims also has a non-guaranteed deal for next season, but coach Brett Brown is enamored with him and hopes the team hangs on to the midseason trade acquisition, notes Jason Wolf of The News Journal.
- Arnett Moultrie, back from his five-game drug suspension, has a fully guaranteed salary worth more than $1.136MM coming his way next season, but Brown indicated that it’s not certain whether he has a future with the team, as Wolf writes in the same piece.
- Brown also spoke about the team’s plans for a new practice facility and trumpeted its value for attracting free agents, as Wolf also points out. However, sources tell Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News that the site the team envisioned for the building is a no-go, leaving the team scrambling to find a new location.
TUESDAY, 8:09am: Ware and the Sixers have agreed to a deal for the rest of the season, as Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News reports at the end of his latest piece.
MONDAY, 10:31am: Point guard Casper Ware is practicing with the Sixers today even though his second 10-day contract with the team expired Sunday night, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News note (Twitter links). That appears to signal that the Sixers are signing him for at least the rest of the season.
The former Long Beach State standout has averaged 12.6 minutes per game with the team in seven appearances after it signed him out of Italy. Ware’s posted 4.1 points and 1.1 assists per contest, though defense is his strong suit, and he’s notched an impressive 1.1 steals per game in his limited playing time.
Ware is one of a half-dozen players who’ve signed 10-day contracts with the Sixers this season, as our 10-Day Tracker shows. Jarvis Varnado is the only one who’s received a deal covering the rest of the season so far, though the team’s 10-day deal with Adonis Thomas carries through the final day of the regular season. Varnado received a four-year deal that isn’t fully guaranteed beyond this season, a contract structure that GM Sam Hinkie has employed liberally in his first season on the job. The Sixers probably have a similar long-term arrangement with Ware, though that’s just my speculation.
Kentucky freshman James Young hasn’t made a decision on if he’s entering the NBA Draft yet, reports The Kentucky Advocate Messenger. Young’s godfather, Sean Mahone said, “I am not even certain what the deadline is for deciding. That shows how we are not fixated on the draft. That is just an innocent admission of where we are and what we have been thinking about. It’s just been chaos the last few weeks during this incredible run with a lot of late night worries and anxiety and then some great, great moments. That was our focus, not next year.”
More from around the league:
- The Heat were offered Evan Turner in a trade by the Sixers before the trade deadline with Udonis Haslem being the only significant piece they would have had to send in return, writes Dan Le Batard of The Miami Herald. The Heat didn’t make the trade, at least in part because they didn’t like how it would look to deal one of the club’s longest tenured players, reports Le Batard.
- According to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link), whoever takes over as GM of the Pistons needs to clear out the logjam at power forward. Greg Monroe is looking for a big pay raise and Josh Smith doesn’t mesh well with Brandon Jennings and Monroe, opines Wolstat.
- The Cavaliers are going to have to figure out if Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving can play together, writes Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer. It’s not the players personalities that are the problem, but rather that their ball-dominant games are too alike, opines Pluto.
- The Lakers Pau Gasol is officially done for the season, reports Mike Trudell of Lakers.com (Twitter link). Team doctors had told Gasol that he was still a few weeks away from returning to action.
- Hofstra senior guard Zeke Upshaw has signed with agent Brian J. Bass, reports Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link).
The Knicks have a plan for the future that they will pitch to Carmelo Anthony, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The plan will be to re-sign Anthony this summer, bottom out in the 2014/15 standings, clear the contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, and Tyson Chandler, then make a big free agent signing during the summer of 2015, opines Berman.
More from the east:
- The Sixers rebuilding process is going to take time and patience, writes Tom Moore of Calkins Media. Moore’s piece looks at a number of the obstacles the team will have to face, along with the positive factors the Sixers have going for them.
- There are several factors that would indicate the Cavaliers intend to bring back coach Mike Brown for next season, writes Bob Finnan of The Morning Journal. Finnan points to the team’s improved play as of late, the need for stability, and the remaining four years on Brown’s contract as some of the primary things that could net Brown another season in Cleveland.
- Charles Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines what the Bucks’ plan for Giannis Antetokounmpo is this coming summer.
The Knicks beat a tough opponent in the Raptors last night, but didn’t get any help from their division mates, as the Nets fell to the Hawks. New York is now on the brink of playoff elimination. Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Part of the Knicks strategy in signing Lamar Odom would be to add trade flexibility, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. The thinking is that an additional non-guaranteed year on Odom’s contract would allow Phil Jackson to include him as a cap consideration in a potential deal down the road.
- While Thaddeus Young has become optimistic about the Sixers future, he tells Jason Smith of CSNPhilly.com that he still wonders whether he will be traded in the offseason all the time. “One thing I’ve always said: Just like upstairs, they put their GM hats on,” said Young. “I put mine on also. It’s not just about basketball. It’s about me as a player. This is a business, and it’s about doing what’s best for my family. It may be here, or it may not be here.”
- Adonis Thomas is playing out the season on a 10-day contract with the Sixers, and tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he thinks he’s making a good impression. “I just wanted to stay aggressive,” Thomas said after his first Sixers appearance. “I think I did a great job. Coach [Brett Brown] put me in there. One of the biggest things they want me to do is be aggressive no matter how much time you get. Just go in there and give your all.”