Workers broke ground today on a new arena for the Kings that’s set to open in two years, the team confirms via press release. It’s the latest in a long line of steps toward a new building that the NBA has mandated must take place in a timely fashion in advance of a 2017 deadline for completion. The league would have the power to take control of the team and move it to another city if the Kings either miss the deadline or don’t show sufficient progress, but it seems the franchise is well on its way to opening the doors of its new home in Sacramento. There’s more on the Kings amid our latest look around the Pacific Division:
- The Kings are indeed looking for help on the wing even though they’re not ready to sign Terrence Williams at this point, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links). Williams, a four-year NBA veteran, reportedly worked out for Sacramento recently, and the Kings, who have an open roster spot, are looking for experience, Jones says.
- New Suns guard Isaiah Thomas confirms that he had interest in signing with the Lakers this summer, adding that the interest was mutual, as he tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe. “First off, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers. Who wouldn’t want to play for them? Second off, I felt like they always needed a point guard — a small guard like myself,” Thomas said. “I always envisioned myself playing with the Lakers, but like you said, they were waiting on Carmelo [Anthony] and other moves. The Suns came out of nowhere and showed a lot of interest, and I fell in love with them.”
- A report early in free agency indicated that the Lakers, Heat and Pistons were Thomas’ preferred teams, and he says to Lowe that all three, as well as the Mavs, showed interest, noting that Miami’s pursuit took place before LeBron James left, as Lowe passes along in the same piece.
- Steve Ballmer can write off about half of the $2 billion he paid to buy the Clippers as he files his federal taxes over the next 15 years, report Arash Massoudi and Alan Livsey of the Financial Times (hat tip to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News).
6:45pm: The options for Len and Goodwin have officially been picked up, the team announced.
3:27pm: The Suns are picking up their rookie scale team options on Alex Len and Archie Goodwin for 2015/16, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter links). Charania indicates that the moves have already taken place, though the team has yet to make any formal announcement. Len will make more than $3.807MM and Goodwin more than $1.16MM next year, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows. The Suns also have decision due by Friday’s deadline on a rookie scale team option of more than $2.109MM for Miles Plumlee, but they’ll almost assuredly pick it up, too.
Len, the fifth pick in 2013, had a slow start to his rookie campaign last season as injury kept him from contributing much at first. He still wound up appearing in half the team’s games, averaging 2.1 points in 8.8 minutes per contest. Goodwin, the 29th overall pick in the same draft, saw similar playing time, and he also appeared in five games for Phoenix’s D-League affiliate.
Picking up the options for both would bring the Suns up to about $50.3MM in commitments for 2015/16, and Plumlee’s option would take that figure to roughly $52.4. That still leaves at least some flexibility beneath a projected $66.5MM salary cap.
1:54pm: Barron has been officially waived, the team has announced.
1:34pm: The Suns have waived Earl Barron, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic reports (Twitter link). No official announcement from the team has been made, but this move would reduce Phoenix’s preseason roster count to 15 players, which is the regular season maximum. Barron’s contract was non-guaranteed, so the team’s look at Barron didn’t cost them anything.
Apparently, Barron didn’t impress the Suns enough to unseat one of their younger big men from the team’s rotation. If he’s healthy Barron should have an opportunity to catch on with another team now, or later on during the season on a 10-day contract, as veteran big men tend to be in higher demand as the season progresses and injuries begin to take their toll on rosters.
In 124 career games, Barron has averaged 4.9 PPG and 3.7 RPG. His career slash line is .375/.071/.716.
The Clippers tied for third among the teams most likely to win the NBA title as the league’s GMs see it, as John Schuhmann of NBA.com details amid the results of the league’s annual GM survey. Still, they figure to receive a strong challenge in their own division from the Warriors. While we wait to see how it plays out, here’s the latest from the Pacific:
- Jordan Hill confirmed rumors from this past spring that he wouldn’t have re-signed with the Lakers if Mike D’Antoni were still the coach, as he tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Medina adds the Heat, Spurs and Magic to the list of suitors who went after the power forward this summer.
- Byron Scott stopped short of acknowledging that Ronnie Price is a lock to make the opening-night roster for the Lakers, but the coach said that injuries to the team’s other point guards would make it tough to let him go, Medina notes in a separate piece. “If you look at it that way, we have to [keep him],” Scott said. “Ronnie gets more of an opportunity. So far in my opinion, he has taken full advantage of it.”
- The Suns told Isaiah Thomas when they pitched him in free agency this summer that they valued him as a starter even though they made it clear they wanted to retain Eric Bledsoe, as Thomas tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Thomas isn’t concerned with whether he starts, but he did express continued bitterness toward the Kings, telling Kennedy he wasn’t surprised that they didn’t re-sign him and that he always felt the Sacramento organization underappreciated him.
Jamil Wilson is set to sign with the Bakersfield Jam of the D-League, tweets Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. Bakersfield is Phoenix’s D-League affiliate, so that suggests that the Suns have retained the D-League rights to the former Marquette forward who was on a non-guaranteed deal with Phoenix before the team waived him last week. Otherwise, Wilson would be subject to the D-League draft.
Wilson, who turns 24 next month, appeared in two preseason games for a shade under nine minutes while with the Suns after joining the Wizards for summer league. His 11.7 points per game in his senior year at Marquette gave him his lone double-digit scoring season in college, but the Suns, Jazz, Wizards, Raptors, Timberwolves, Mavs, Pacers, Spurs and Pistons all reportedly worked him out this spring prior the draft. Still, he didn’t hear his name called on draft night.
NBA teams can retain the D-League rights to as many as four of players they cut during the preseason, up from three last year. It’s unclear if Phoenix will do so with Joe Jackson and Casey Prather, whom the Suns also let go when they released Wilson.
Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press writes that assistant coaching positions are now some of the NBA’s more glamorous positions. Coaches tell Krawczynski that the rising salaries and profiles of the assistants are justified. “There’s a lot more to head coaching than actual coaching,” Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “There’s a lot of other stuff that comes up. To try to put your full effort into everything is tough to do. That’s where the assistants become really valuable in terms of getting the basketball stuff ready, narrowing it down for you to look at the game plan and it’s already done pretty much for you [to] just go from there.” More from around the league..
- Despite losing key cogs of their championship team over the past few years, the Mavs appear poised to contend in 2014/15, writes Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders. Familiar faces like J.J. Barea and Caron Butler have moved on since 2010/11, but Dallas has a strong new supporting cast built around Dirk Nowitzki. This offseason also saw the Mavs welcome back big man Tyson Chandler.
- Knicks associate coach Kurt Rambis is helping rookie head coach Derek Fisher adjust to the pressures of coaching in New York, writes Mark Berman of the New York Post. Rambis worked as an assistant under new Knicks president Phil Jackson with the Lakers and understands the pressures of coaching in a big-city atmosphere. “I’m giving him countless suggestions, even how to monitor his time,’’ said Rambis, who was hired in July. “… Derek is a perfectionist, constantly thinking about the game. He did it as a player and it’s worse when you become a head coach. I want him to find time to do it.’’
- The Knicks‘ Travis Wear has already seen his twin brother get cut from an NBA roster, and he is hoping to avoid the same fate, reports Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Wear has just $62K of his $507K contact guaranteed, and the Knicks have 15 players in camp with fully guaranteed deals. Zagoria reports that Wear has fit in well with the Knicks’ new triangle offense, but he may wind up with the team’s D-League affiliate in Westchester, N.Y. Wear’s brother, David, was waived Sunday by the Kings.
- The NBPA hired Gary Kohlman as its new general counsel, a source tells Ben Strauss of the New York Times.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The deadline for players and teams to agree to contract extensions is October 31st. A few members of the 2011 draft class have already inked their deals, but one of the more prominent players still awaiting his turn is the Warriors‘ Klay Thompson. Chris Bernucca of Sheridan Hoops runs down where Thompson and all of the 2011 first-rounders stand in regard to their contracts and extensions.
Here’s more from out west:
- One of the few rotation and roster decisions left for the Trail Blazers is at the backup power forward spot, Mike Tokito of The Oregonian writes. In the article, Tokito breaks down the available personnel and the options that GM Neil Olshey and coach Terry Stotts have at the position, and he also opines that the bench should be more productive this season thanks to the additions of Chris Kaman and Steve Blake.
- When the Suns signed Zoran Dragic he became the 15th fully guaranteed deal on their books, which made Earl Barron‘s bid to make the regular season roster unlikely, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. But Barron has continued to impress the team and coach Jeff Hornacek said Barron has a shot at making the regular season roster, and that managing partner Robert Sarver has expressed a willingness to waive a player with a guaranteed contract if Barron’s presence makes the team better in the long run, Coro notes.
- Kevin Durant‘s injury that will sideline him for at least six to eight weeks is part of a rash of preseason injuries suffered by players this year. In an Insider article, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com examines the science behind Durant’s injury, if it was preventable, and what future issues the “Slim Reaper” and the Thunder might have to deal with.
The Suns are giving Earl Barron legitimate consideration for a spot on the regular season roster, and while that would force the team to rid itself of a fully guaranteed contract, coach Jeff Hornacek says that’s a move the team would be willing to make. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic has the details.
“The one guy that sticks out and is really fighting for the team is Earl Barron,” Hornacek said. “He’s still on the roster for a reason. I know our guys are saying, ‘If he’s going to help us and we have to eat a contract somewhere, I think [owner] Robert [Sarver] is willing to do that.’ If it’s going to help us win games and he’s better than another guy, Robert is all for it.”
Hornacek’s comments sound familiar to the ones that Mavs coach Rick Carlisle made recently in which he insisted that owner Mark Cuban would be willing to sacrifice guaranteed salary to keep the non-guaranteed Charlie Villanueva. However, the Mavs are reportedly eager to open up an opening-night roster spot, which would appear to cut Villanueva out of the mix, and Sarver has never been particularly generous in his spending on the Suns. While we wait to see how it plays out in both Dallas and Phoenix, here’s more from around the league:
- Potential changes to the league’s revenue sharing system join the draft lottery among the major topics on the agenda for the NBA’s Board of Governors next week, tweets Grantland’s Zach Lowe. The board appears poised to implement a new lottery system for the 2015 draft.
- Erik Spoeltra this week called Heat signee signee Shawne Williams “one of the great surprises of the offseason” and raved about his shooting, notes Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post. Williams has a fully guaranteed deal with Miami.
- Shawn Marion admits the Mavs reached out to him the instant he became a free agent this summer, as Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes (Twitter link). Carlisle, Dirk Nowitzki and other Mavs figures retain a soft spot for the versatile Cavs addition who’ll be a free agent again at season’s end, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com details.
Former NBA player and Harlem Globetrotter Jamario Moon returns to the D-League this season and is confident in his ability to play in the NBA again, writes Gino Pilato of D-League Digest. “I’m at the point now where I want to show people that I can still play the game, even at 34 years old. I’m a freak of nature, and I’m a better player now. I’ve always kept myself in good physical condition, but I hit the weights harder than I ever have before this last summer. I’m ready.” Moon said.
Here’s more from around the Association:
- Shooters might be valued more now by NBA teams than ever, argues Bruce Ely of The Oregonian. Ely identifies those who can connect from beyond the three-point line as the most valued player assets and notes that more than 86% of those who played in the league attempted at least one three-pointer last season.
- Blake Griffin chronicles his time playing for Donald Sterling and shares his thoughts on playing for new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer in a piece for The Players’ Tribune. Griffin applauds the new owner’s management style, “Ballmer wants to win no matter the cost. Donald Sterling didn’t care if we won — at least if it meant he had to spend money.”
- Jazz players and coaches believe the team’s chemistry has improved, writes Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News. Guard Trey Burke sees the teams chemistry as a foundation. “We’ve got a lot of guys on this team who are easy to get along with and hold each other accountable, so we’ll just continue to build from here,’’ said Burke.
- New Warriors coach Steve Kerr badly wanted to draft Stephen Curry when he was the GM of the Suns back in 2009, writes Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Cooper adds that the Suns had internal conversations about trading Amar’e Stoudemire for the point guard but without Stoudemire showing a strong likelihood of re-signing with the Warriors, Golden State was not going to pull the trigger on the trade.