What are the Rockets‘ chances of luring free-agent-to-be Goran Dragic? As good as anyone’s, the Suns’ guard tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “Every team in the NBA is an option to me, because it is a privilege to play for any team in the NBA,” Dragic said. “When the time comes I’m going to sit down with my family and my agent and try to make the best decision for myself.” Dragic, who is expected to opt out of a $7.5MM player option and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, insists he has no resentment toward the Rockets for letting him go in 2012.
There’s much more from the Southwest Division:
- At age 37, Rockets guard Jason Terry has no thoughts of retirement, Feigen reports. “I think I can play until the age 40,” Terry said. “That’s my goal, something that I set out to do when I first came into the league. My idol is Gary Payton. He played 20 years. Hopefully I can do the same.” Terry is making nearly $6MM this season and will become a free agent in July.
- The uncertainty currently surrounding the Pelicans‘ ownership is just the latest example of the instability that has plagued the franchise, Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune writes. The intra-family dispute regarding who will be in charge of the team could potentially scare off prospective free agents from signing long-term deals, Smith opines. With the franchise bereft of draft choices for the immediate future, New Orleans’ growth as a team could be severely hampered as a result, Smith adds.
- Forbes valued the Mavericks franchise at $1.15 billion, good for 10th highest of any NBA team, but Mark Cuban thinks the figure is off by “about 150%,” as Corbett Smith of the Dallas Morning News details. Still, Cuban adds that any valuation is irrelevant since the team isn’t for sale.
- Cuban said former Maverick Shawn Marion can have a job with the team when his playing days are over, Smith reports in a separate story. Marion, now with the Cavaliers, said Wednesday he will retire when this season is over.
Charlie Adams contributed to this report.
FRIDAY, 7:43am: Dragic feels better about his situation in Phoenix this year than he did last, a source tells Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype. He’s happy where he isn’t thinking much about free agency, but he’s confident that he’ll attract strong offers this summer, the source also said.
MONDAY, 1:09pm: The Rockets have tried to trade for Goran Dragic this season, according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick. It’s unclear how recently GM Daryl Morey has sought the Suns guard, and whether it came before or after Houston’s trade for Corey Brewer and signing of Josh Smith, but the Rockets’ interest in Dragic appears to be longstanding. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported in September that Houston was considering a free agent run at Dragic next summer, when the seventh-year veteran has said he plans to turn down his $7.5MM player option for 2015/16. Dragic reiterated recently to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News that he intends to opt out, and he wouldn’t rule out playing with any team, including the Lakers, who are known to be interested in pairing Dragic with Kobe Bryant, as Zillgitt and Amick write.
“Any player that is one of the best players in the league would be cool to play with. Kobe is a legend,” Dragic said to Medina. “I know how awesome it is to be around those superstars. If you’re patient enough and you listen, you learn a lot.”
Dragic has had similar praise for the Knicks, as it seems the point guard doesn’t want to close off any potential avenues in free agency, which jibes with what Sean Deveney of The Sporting News heard in November. GMs from around the league told Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher earlier this season that the Suns were open to trading the 28-year-old native of Slovenia. However, rival executives have had the impression that Phoenix would be more willing to part with Eric Bledsoe or Isaiah Thomas amid multiple inquiries on all three, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, who wrote last month.
Dragic’s numbers have tailed off this season after a career year in 2013/14, though that’s no surprise given the crowded situation in the backcourt for the Suns, who signed Bledsoe and Thomas to long-term deals this past summer. Suns GM Ryan McDonough said after the Bledsoe signing that he and the Suns “fully anticipate taking care of” Dragic, who’s in his second stint with the Suns after leaving the Rockets to sign with Phoenix in 2012.
The results of an MRI exam performed earlier today showed that Lakers icon Kobe Bryant has suffered a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, the team has announced. Bryant will return to Los Angeles to be examined by team doctors on Friday, and an update will be given on his condition at that time. This marks the third season in a row that Bryant has suffered a significant injury.
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Bryant didn’t appear too worried about his latest malady after Wednesday night’s game, the contest during which the injury had occurred, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. “I’ve played on a torn labrum before,” Bryant said. “I’m not too concerned about it.” Prior to receiving the MRI results, coach Byron Scott had stated that Bryant could potentially continue to play this season in spot duty and on a minutes limit, Holmes notes.
- The Suns have assigned Tyler Ennis and T.J. Warren to the Bakersfield Jam, their D-League affiliate, the team has announced. This will be the third trek to the D-League of the season for both players.
- Jordan Farmar relinquished $949,998 in his buyout deal with the Clippers, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). He’ll draw nearly $1.765MM of his $2.077MM salary this season, and the rest of his buyout fee is deducted from the more than $2.17MM he would have made if he’d exercised his player option for next season. The team used the stretch provision on Farmar’s remaining salary for next season, so it’ll be spread in equal amounts of about $511K each season from 2015/16 through 2017/18, as Pincus shows on the Basketball Insiders salary page for the Clips.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday is expected to miss two to four weeks of action after tests revealed that he has developed a stress reaction in his lower right leg, the team has announced. The injury is in the same leg that required surgery during the 2013/14 campaign. In 37 appearances this season, Holiday is averaging 15.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 33.7 minutes per game.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Josh Davis, who was in training camp this season with the Spurs, is leaving the D-League to sign a contract with the Meralco Bolts in the Philippines, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). Davis has appeared in 22 games for Austin, San Antonio’s D-League affiliate, averaging 13.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 34.0 minutes per contest.
- The Suns have informed inquiring teams that Archie Goodwin is a big part of the franchise’s future, Charania writes in a separate article. Goodwin’s comments about being frustrated with his playing time were taken out of context, according to his agent, Charles Briscoe, Charania notes. “Archie doesn’t want out of Phoenix,” Briscoe said. “His words have been twisted in a recent article: We’re willing to wait for Archie’s opportunity. Any player in the NBA wants to play immediately, but we understand that Phoenix is in a playoff push. If we have to wait for next year, we’re OK with that. We know he will get his opportunity, and he’ll be ready.”
- A number of league executives have brought up the possibility that LaMarcus Aldridge could sign with the Spurs this summer, something that Dan McCarney of The San Antonio Express-News thinks is highly unlikely to occur. Either Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili would need to retire for San Antonio to free up enough cap space to sign Aldridge, and neither player is a safe bet to stop playing, McCarney notes.. Aldridge would also have to sacrifice roughly $30MM in salary to leave the Blazers, which is also improbable, McCarney adds.
- The Clippers have recalled C.J. Wilcox from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA D-League, the Mad Ants have announced. Wilcox has appeared in five games for Fort Wayne this season, averaging 13.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe spoke with a half-dozen executives from four different teams who brought up the possibility that LaMarcus Aldridge would sign with the Spurs this summer. It’s still unlikely that the All-Star power forward winds up with San Antonio, Lowe asserts, noting that Aldridge pledged this past summer to re-sign with the Blazers when he hits free agency after this season. The Spurs declined to give Kawhi Leonard a max extension this past fall, reportedly in part to preserve flexibility to sign a max-level free agent this summer in case Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili retire. The Blazers have nonetheless always been leery of teams from Aldridge’s native Texas above all other potential suitors for the 29-year-old who hits free agency this coming summer, according to Lowe. A November report indicated that the Mavs planned a run at him, though that was before Dallas acquired Rajon Rondo, and the Mavs would have to renounce their rights to some desirable free agents to chase Aldridge, as Lowe points out.
The Grantland scribe has more tidbits picked up from this past weekend’s D-League showcase in his must-read column, and we’ll focus on the news related to player movement here:
- Larry Sanders will likely miss many more than 10 games on his latest drug-related suspension, according to Lowe, who hears from league sources who expect the Bucks and Sanders to eventually strike up buyout talks. Sanders is in the first year of a four-year, $44MM extension.
- The Celtics have been calling teams in the past week and letting them know that they’re willing to take on cap-eating contracts, Lowe writes. Boston is over the cap but about $11.8MM shy of the luxury tax line this season, and the Celtics have only about $33.5MM in commitments for next season.
- There’s “major skepticism” that the Suns will be able to acquire a first-round draft pick in exchange for Miles Plumlee, Lowe hears. That’s certainly no surprise, though Phoenix is looking for a first-rounder as they shop the big man, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported Sunday.
- Executives from teams around the NBA have tried to sell league brass on an earlier trade deadline, Lowe reports, suggesting that the teams are aiming to move the deadline up by at least a week or two. This year’s deadline is February 19th.
The Suns‘ three point guard system was one of the factors that led Isaiah Thomas to agree to a sign-and-trade deal this past summer, the guard said during an interview with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (hat tip to Matt Petersen of NBA.com). “That’s what I signed here for, was to play with those other two guards and to cause havoc on both ends of the floor playing with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe,” Thomas said. “Everybody’s getting a consistent rotation. Guys know when they’re really going to come in and play, and who they’re going to play with. I think everybody’s just getting comfortable with everybody.”
Here’s more from the West:
- The Spurs are finding their quest to repeat as NBA champions a rather difficult road to travel, Michael Lee of The Washington Post writes. Because of injuries and the age of his roster, coach Gregg Popovich has already had to use 23 starting lineups through 42 games so far this season, which is tied with Knicks for the most in the NBA, Lee notes. “You just deal with whatever you have and move on,” Popovich said. “I don’t think there are too many coaches who aren’t concerned about something.”
- Rajon Rondo‘s true value to the Mavericks isn’t necessarily reflected in his stat line, but rather in his excellent play during clutch situations, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com writes. “He’s a big-time player, and big-time players make big plays down the stretch,” Dallas big man Tyson Chandler said. “He’s not going to always put up the huge numbers that are going to wow you, but he’s one of those guys that you want with you in the trenches when you know the game is on the line. He’s just going to do something – something – to make an impact on the game.”
- Jazz rookie Rodney Hood, who injured his left foot during Sunday’s contest against the Spurs, will be out of action through the All-Star break, at which point his status will be reevaluated, the team has announced. The 22-year-old has appeared in 24 games for Utah this season, averaging 5.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 18.3 minutes per contest.
The release of Josh Smith is easily identifiable as the turning point for the Pistons, but the acquisition of Anthony Tolliver, which took place two days later, has benefited the team, too, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic examines. The deal appears to have helped all three sides, with the Suns on a roll just as the Pistons are and Tolliver having seen an uptick in playing time since his arrival in Detroit. Tony Mitchell, the player the Pistons gave up in the deal, has found a new home after the Suns let him go, as we passed along earlier today. There’s more on the Pistons amid the latest from the Eastern Conference:
- The Celtics are reportedly meeting with Andre Dawkins this week as they mull signing him to a 10-day contract, but if they do, he’ll spend most if not all of his time with the C’s on D-League assignment, a league source tells A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com (Twitter link).
- Retirement is far from the mind of 35-year-old Rasual Butler, who credits his time with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate in 2012/13 for his keeping his career aflame and helping spark his sudden resurgence with the Wizards this season, as he tells Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Celtics coach Brad Stevens admires the Hawks, as Julian Edlow of WEEI.com observes while wondering whether the best path the Celtics can take back to contention involves following Atlanta’s egalitarian approach instead of chasing stars.
- The Pistons are recalling Gigi Datome and Spencer Dinwiddie from the D-League, tweets Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Datome averaged 13.3 points in 25.3 minutes per game and made 6 of 13 three-point shots in his first-ever D-League action, while Dinwiddie has put up 13.0 PPG and 5.4 assists per game in 29.8 MPG across seven D-League games this season.
- Heat camp invitee Chris Johnson has signed with Turk Telekom Ankara of Turkey, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). The former LSU center, who’s not to be confused with the swingman by the same name from the University of Dayton, played in China earlier this season following his release from the Heat prior to opening night.
Suns reserve shooting guard Archie Goodwin is frustrated with his lack of playing time amid Phoenix’s continued addition of guards, as he tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Goodwin cautioned that he understands all the guys ahead of him on the team are talented players and that he wants to maintain a professional attitude. Still, the 20-year-old is putting up a strong performance while on D-League assignment, and he tells Deveney that he won’t tolerate a limited NBA role next season.
“I don’t know what they’re doing,” Goodwin said. “Honestly, I really don’t. I guess they know what they’re doing — I can just play ball and let them make the decisions. I don’t know what the purpose is for it, but there is nothing I can do about it.”
Indeed, there isn’t much recourse for Goodwin, since his rookie scale contract runs through 2016/17, but he’s not the only one dissatisfied in Phoenix, even as the Suns have won 13 out of their last 17. Here’s more from Phoenix and elsewhere in the Pacific Division:
- Gerald Green isn’t pleased with his decreased minutes this season for the Suns, as free agency looms in the summer, but there’s “no way” Phoenix will trade the swingman this year, sources tell Deveney for the same piece.
- J.J. Redick foresees a max contract for Clippers teammate DeAndre Jordan this summer, notes Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. Jordan is No. 9 in the latest Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings.
- Shaun Livingston isn’t seeing nearly as much playing time with the Warriors this season as he did with the Nets last year, but the 29-year-old, who signed as a free agent with Golden State this past summer, prefers this year’s situation because it offers a legitimate chance at the title. Carl Steward of The Bay Area News Group has the details.
- Tony Mitchell, whom the Suns released to make room for Brandan Wright, is drawing offers from European teams, reports David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). Mitchell’s stay in Phoenix was brief, as he came over in last month’s Anthony Tolliver trade with the Pistons.
6:32pm: Phoenix is believed to be looking for at least one first-round pick for Plumlee, and agent Mark Bartelstein is working together with the team to find a trade partner, Stein writes in a full story. That’d be quite a high return for a player who’s slipping out of his team’s rotation, but the two first-round draft picks that the Nuggets acquired for Timofey Mozgov appears to have inflated the market for big men.
6:24pm: The Suns are actively shopping Miles Plumlee, a league source tells Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Stein doesn’t provide any indication that Phoenix has found a team interested in acquiring Plumlee, but it’s fair to infer there would be a club who wouldn’t mind acquiring the third-year big man out of Duke who’s making just $3,279,174 combined over this season and the next one.
Plumlee has appeared in each of the Suns’ games this year after playing in all but two last season. He’s put in an impressive 56.2% of the shots he’s taken this year, but his 13.2 PER ranks below the league average. Already 26 years old, Plumlee is not brimming with superstar upside, but he’s definitely capable of providing solid minutes off the bench for a contender in need of a backup big man.
The former 26th overall pick has seen his playing time cut in his last three games, averaging just 7.4 minutes per night over that trio of contests. His seemingly decreased role in Phoenix’s rotation appears to be an ominous sign when juxtaposed with Stein’s report, as the club has given the recently acquired Brandan Wright a greater amount of burn just as Plumlee’s minutes have dipped.
A month after the Kings shocked the league by firing coach Mike Malone, the move remains puzzling, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Interim coach Ty Corbin has been tasked with changing the team’s style of play midseason and players feel the strategy is unusual. “With Avery, P.J. pretty much stuck to the script, stuck to what we had been doing—nothing really changed a lot,” said veteran Reggie Evans, who experienced a midseason coaching change earlier in his career while playing for the Nets. “This year is different. We are changing some things and that’s the different part. We have to make it work to the best of our ability. I was surprised when Avery got fired, and I was surprised with this situation, too.” Sacramento is 16-23, which puts the team in danger of missing the postseason for the ninth straight season.
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- New addition Reggie Bullock should find himself in a good situation on the Suns, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The team certainly believes he can become a contributor. “He’s a young player who has shooting ability, who has good size and length,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “It’s going to be hard in the middle of the season to get him acclimated to everything, but he seems like a smart kid, and I think he’ll pick up things fast just like Brandan (Wright) did.” Bullock was acquired from the Clippers in a three team trade earlier this week.
- The Clippers waived Jordan Farmar with the future in mind, writes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “We think this will be another buyout season for a lot of guys,” coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers said. “You want to have flexibility and it gives us that.” After its recent moves, the team is left with a 13-man roster.
- The Lakers might be in better position to land Kevin Love in free agency than originally anticipated when the forward was dealt to the Cavs in August, speculates Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. Pincus cites the Cavs struggles this season as a reason that Love could move on from the team when given the opportunity either this summer or next. Love reportedly plans to opt in and remain in Cleveland through the 2015/16 season. That will be the same offseason that Kobe Bryant‘s extension, worth $25MM in the final year of the deal, comes off the books for Los Angeles, which could allow the Lakers to have cap space for two maximum-salaried players.