Phoenix Suns Rumors

Goran Dragic Wins Most Improved Player Award

April 23 at 10:18am CDT By Chuck Myron

Suns guard Goran Dragic has won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, the league announced. He took the honor by a wide margin over Lance Stephenson of the Pacers, who finished second. Pelicans big man Anthony Davis came in third.

Dragic’s breakthrough season was a key for the Suns, who won 48 games in spite of Eric Bledsoe‘s lengthy absence with a torn meniscus. Dragic averaged 20.3 points, 6.6 more than his previous career high, set just last season. He also recorded a career mark with 40.8% shooting from behind the arc this year. He outperformed his $7.5MM salary, and he’ll make that much again next season before having the chance to opt in for one more season at that salary or hit free agency next summer.

Two other Suns garnered first-place votes for the award, as Gerald Green finished fourth while Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee was the lone voter putting Markieff Morris first on his ballot. DeAndre Jordan, Kyle Lowry, Blake Griffin, DeMar DeRozan, D.J. Augustin and Kevin Durant were the others who received first-place votes.

Rick Adelman Announces Retirement

April 21 at 10:05am CDT By Chuck Myron

Rick Adelman announced his retirement from coaching at a press conference today, the Timberwolves confirm (Twitter link). A parting of ways has been widely expected, and fellow Star Tribune scribe Sid Hartman wrote last week that there was “no chance” that Adelman would return. That followed a pair of reports last month that cast serious doubt on the coach’s future. The team and Adelman had a mutual option for 2014/15, and either side had the ability to walk away from the contract. He’ll remain with the team as a consultant, the team also says (on Twitter).

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Charlotte BobcatsTom Izzo, Fred Hoiberg and Stan Van Gundy are the team’s targets to coach next season, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported last week, though all three seem difficult targets. Hoiberg appeared unlikely to accept an offer from the team even before Iowa State gave him a raise, and report from February indicated Van Gundy probably won’t coach anywhere next season. Izzo vehemently denied rumors that he’d coach the Pistons. A more attainable replacement for Adelman could be Suns assistant coach Jerry Sichting, whom Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio identifies as a “name to really watch” in connection to the Wolves job (Twitter link). Wolves President of basketball operations Flip Saunders reportedly would like to take over as coach, but owner Glen Taylor prefers that two different people handle the top front office job and the head coaching gig.

Adelman, 67, is stepping away with the eighth-most wins in NBA history, having compiled a 1,042-749 record in 23 seasons. He arrived in Minnesota for the 2011/12 season after a three-year stint with the Rockets, but he failed to lift the Wolves into the playoffs during his tenure. He enjoyed much greater success elsewhere, leading the Trail Blazers to two Finals appearances in his first four seasons as an NBA coach and nearly guiding the Kings to the Finals in 2002, when they lost a seven-game heartbreaker in the conference finals.

Those Kings teams cemented Adelman’s reputation as an offensive wizard, but Zgoda suggested last month that if he hadn’t retired from the Wolves, the team would have declined to pick up his option for next season. In any case, the health of Adelman’s wife likely weighed heavily in his decision. He missed 11 games to tend to her during the 2012/13 season, when she was suffering from seizures, and Adelman missed time to deal with unspecified personal issues this season.

Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune was the first to report the news, via Twitter. Sam Amick of USA Today confirmed the report (Twitter link). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Spurs, Thunder, Bledsoe, Arthur

April 18 at 10:26pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Spurs owner Peter Holt is stepping down as chairman of the NBA’s Board of Governors, notes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Timberwolves owner and former chairman Glen Taylor will replace him on an interim basis until a new chairman is selected in October (Twitter links)

More from out west:

  • Several GMs are convinced that either Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook will leave the Thunder, given the difficulty of sharing top billing in small-market Oklahoma City, according to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. Neither can become a free agent until 2016.
  • Suns GM Ryan McDonough is confident the team will be able to re-sign Eric Bledsoe this summer, writes Bob Baum of the Associated Press. McDonough said that the backcourt of Bledsoe and Goran Dragic is as good as any in the league, according to the article.  Bledsoe is a restricted free agent and the team has repeatedly said they will match any offer another team may make, but the team hopes to work out a deal prior to the free agency period beginning, writes Baum.
  • The Suns front office discussed the team’s season and their future, including the upcoming NBA Draft and the free agent signing period, writes Matt Petersen of NBA.com.
  • Darrell Arthur expects to exercise his $3.5MM player option and return to the Nuggets next season, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post.
  • Despite having ample cap space this summer the Lakers might just stand pat during free agency, writes Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders. It’s possible the team limits itself to possibly re-signing Pau Gasol, hoping to land a good player in the lottery, and waiting until the summer of 2015 to strike in the free agent ranks, opines Koutroupis.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Leonard, Jazz, Bledsoe, Nash

April 18 at 4:03pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Kawhi Leonard is up for a rookie scale extension this summer, but it appears he envisions a long-term future with the Spurs, based in his comments to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press. Gregg Popovich believes the small forward will become the face of the franchise once Tim Duncan retires.

“I’ve been working hard to be one of the focal points in the NBA, one of the top guys. For him to say that and see that I could be the face, it just brings joy to me,” Leonard said. “I’m just happy that someone else sees it other than myself.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is on shaky ground in Utah, but soon-to-be free agent Gordon Hayward said Corbin did a “tremendous job” considering the circumstances this year, observes Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune.
  • Eric Bledsoe has been non-committal in his public statements about the notion of re-signing with the Suns this summer, though teammate and neighbor Ish Smith is confident Bledsoe will return, observes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The Suns have said they intend to match any offer for Bledsoe, a restricted free agent.
  • Steve Nash is fine with a reduced role on the Lakers next season, one he expects will be his last in the NBA, notes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports“They can’t rely on me, frankly,” Nash said. “Hopefully, I come back and play 82 games next year and the sky is the limit. But they can’t rely on me if they don’t know what I’m going to bring, so they got to evaluate those guys for next season.”
  • There’s a “strong possibility” the Jazz will have a one-to-one affiliation with the D-League’s Idaho Stampede next season, reports Gino Pilato of D-League Digest (on Twitter). The Jazz shared the Bakersfield Jam with four other NBA teams this season.
  • The Warriors recalled Ognjen Kuzmic from the D-League today, the team announced. Golden State has been shuttling him back and forth to help the Santa Cruz Warriors in the playoffs, and Kuzmic had 23 points and 18 rebounds in Thursday’s win.
  • Santa Cruz beat the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who announced Thursday that the Rockets had assigned Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington to play in the game (Twitter link). Houston brought them back to the big club today, the Rockets announced via Twitter.

Projected 2014 First-Round Draft Order

April 18 at 1:54pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The NBA has announced the winners of random drawings that broke ties in the draft order among teams that finished with the same records. Only one of those drawings involved lottery teams, and the Jazz were the beneficiaries, snagging the fourth-most lottery combinations instead of the Celtics. It’s only a slight advantage, since the Jazz will have a 10.4% chance at the top pick, while the Celtics will have a 10.3% chance, but perhaps most importantly, Utah will pick ahead of Boston if neither move up on May 20th, when the lottery is held.

Here’s the complete order, with places determined by drawing in bold:

  1. Bucks
  2. Sixers
  3. Magic
  4. Jazz — won drawing against Celtics
  5. Celtics — lost drawing against Jazz
  6. Lakers
  7. Kings
  8. Pistons — will send pick to Bobcats if the fall to ninth or lower in lottery
  9. Cavaliers
  10. Pelicans — will send pick to Sixers unless they win one of top three picks in lottery
  11. Nuggets — will send least favorable of own pick and Knicks’ pick to Magic
  12. Knicks — will send pick to Nuggets
  13. Timberwolves — will send pick to Suns if Phoenix passes them in the lottery
  14. Suns
  15. Hawks
  16. Bulls — from Bobcats
  17. Celtics — from Nets; won drawing against Suns
  18. Suns — from Wizards; lost drawing against Celtics
  19. Bulls — won drawing against Raptors
  20. Raptors — lost drawing against Bulls
  21. Thunder — from Mavs
  22. Grizzlies
  23. Jazz — from Warriors
  24. Bobcats — from Trail Blazers; won three-way drawing against Rockets and Heat
  25. Rockets — finished second in three-way drawing against Bobcats and Heat
  26. Heat — finished third in three-way drawing against Bobcats and Rockets
  27. Suns — from Pacers
  28. Clippers
  29. Thunder
  30. Spurs

And-Ones: ‘Melo, Grizzlies, Stotts, Frye

April 17 at 4:34pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The intersection of exit interviews for teams that missed the playoffs and a steady stream of draft-related news has made for a busy Thursday around Hoops Rumors. We’ll catch up on the latest from around the league here:

  • Carmelo Anthony suggested today that he’s considered opting in for 2014/15, but he believes he’s better off hitting free agency this summer rather than waiting, according to Scott Cacciola of The New York Times (Twitter link).
  • Zach Randolph‘s failure to make the All-Star Game and trigger a $438,333 bonus that had been considered likely gave the Grizzlies the flexibility to claim Beno Udrih off waivers without going into tax territory, as Mark Deeks of ShamSports explains in a piece for the Score.
  • Blazers coach Terry Stotts appears nervous about his future with the club, which has yet to pick up its option on him for next season, as The Oregonian’s Jason Quick observes, wondering if the coach’s fate will be tied to the team’s postseason performance.
  • Channing Frye has a $6.8MM player option for next season, but whether he opts in or not, Ryan McDonough would like to have him back, as the Suns GM said Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, notes Dave Dulberg of ArizonaSports.com. Frye wants to negotiate an extension with the team.
  • The league is considering a proposal that would tie an increased NBA age minimum to better D-League pay, sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Some D-Leaguers could earn between $100K and $200K per year under the plan, Deveney tweets.
  • Pelicans GM Dell Demps said in a press conference Wednesday that he likes the team’s core and wants to see more of those players on the court together after an injury-plagued 2013/14, notes Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com. Demps also said it would be unfair to judge coach Monty Williams, given all the injuries.
  • Williams indicated Thursday that he’d like to see the Pelicans make a move to bolster their defense, particularly in the paint, as Eichenhofer writes in a separate piece.
  • The Warriors have assigned Ognjen Kuzmic to the D-League, the team announced. The rookie center will assist the Santa Cruz Warriors in their playoff game tonight, fresh off his best performance of the year for Golden State on Wednesday.

Channing Frye Seeks Extension With Suns

April 16 at 9:30am CDT By Chuck Myron

Channing Frye was one of many pleasant surprises for the Suns this year, returning after having missed all of 2012/13 with an enlarged heart to play, and start, every one of Phoenix’s games so far in 2013/14. Frye has a player option worth $6.8MM for next season, the final one on his contract, but he’d like to remain with the Suns for longer than that, telling Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic that he wants to discuss an extension with the team.

“I want to talk to the Suns and make sure we’re both on the same page about what I want,” said Frye, who grew up in Phoenix and went to college at the University of Arizona. “I’d love to stay here. It’s up to them and their future and what they want to do. I love wearing this uniform. I think I take a little more pride in it than everyone else because I’m from here. It’s looking for the future and if I could get something longer. I got kids and I want to be somewhere. I’ve been here for five years already so it wouldn’t be bad to kind of not be worried about being traded or buying a house.”

The Landmark Sports Agency client is eligible to sign an extension immediately, but it seems more likely that he’d do so in July after opting in, since that would allow the extension to run through 2017/18 rather than end a year earlier. If Frye opts out and signs an extension before July, the salary in the first year of the extension can’t be any less than what he’d make next season if he opts in. Otherwise, he can make anywhere from the minimum salary to 107.5% of his previous salary in the first season of an extension.

Veterans don’t often sign extensions in part because they can start out at no more than 107.5% of what they were making, though perhaps Frye, who turns 31 next month, wants to hedge against a decline in play, particularly given his medical history. Starting power forwards who can stretch the floor the way Frye does are usually worth salaries of greater than $7MM on the open market, so it seems there’s a decent chance that Suns GM Ryan McDonough and company will share his enthusiasm about an extension.

Pacific Rumors: Lakers, Bledsoe, Warriors, Kings

April 15 at 4:30pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Mike D’Antoni didn’t exactly endear himself to Lakers fans when he revealed that he was unaware of the draft lottery implications of the team’s game against the Jazz on Monday night, as Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding chronicles. The Lakers are the sixth-worst team in the league, as our Reverse Standings show, but they could have moved into a three-way tie for fourth with a loss. Here’s more on the Lakers and their Pacific Division rivals:

Lakers, Suns Interested In Luol Deng

April 14 at 3:00pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Lakers and Suns are among the teams interested in soon-to-be free agent Luol Deng, sources tell Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. There were conflicting reports in February about Deng as an offseason target of the Lakers, but the Suns appear to be a newcomer to his list of suitors. Both teams will have plenty of cap flexibility this summer for the Herb Rudoy client, who’s rumored to be eyeing salaries of more than $13.5MM.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote shortly before the trade deadline that there was increasing doubt the Lakers would make a run at Deng in the summer. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times countered soon afterward with a report that the Lakers are high on Deng, but that they don’t want to overpay him, with the franchise’s focus primarily on 2015′s free agent class. Around the same time, Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News put the Lakers on a list of teams likely to pursue Deng in free agency that also identified the Mavs, Celtics, Magic and Bobcats.

Deng has appeared unlikely to re-sign with the Cavs almost since he arrived from the Bulls in a January trade. The Cavs explored flipping him at the trade deadline, but other teams were wary of taking him on without an assurance he would re-sign. Deng, who turns 29 on Wednesday, is No. 8 on the Hoops Rumors 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.

Western Notes: Lakers, Suns, Barton

April 12 at 12:40pm CDT By Cray Allred

The Lakers are limping their way toward the offseason. Both Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman are likely done for the year, per a pair of tweets from Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Kobe Bryant will not take part in the team’s scheduled exit meetings, opting to meet with GM Mitch Kupchak at a later date, per Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report (via Twitter). Kobe has expressed his frustration with the front office this year, but Kupchak recently said that Lakers brass won’t be making roster or coaching moves at Bryant’s behest. Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Dan Bickley of USA Today wonders whether contract concerns for Eric Bledsoe and Gerald Green could disrupt the Suns‘ chemistry next year. President Lon Babby tells Bickley that Phoenix can’t count on a repeat of this year’s dynamic. “I think chemistry is very, very important,” Babby said. “But I also know from experience that if we brought back the entire group with no changes in personnel, it would be very difficult to re-create the same chemistry…The analogy I use is that it’s like a new year of school. You come back, and everything is a little different. Your friends are a little different.” 
  • Will Barton is enjoying his role with the Blazers, but is uncertain about his future with the team, he tells Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com“I try not to think about it as much but I do sometimes,” said Barton, whose contract is non-guaranteed for next year. “You just never know what people are thinking. Hopefully I make it past the deadline…Portland took a chance on me. It would be huge if I can stay in Portland. But like I said, it’s a business and I’m aware of that. You just never know.”
  • In an on-air interview with the Spurs broadcast team, Adam Silver commended San Antonio as a model franchise (transcription via Mike Monroe of San Antonio Express-News). “This is a model franchise, not only for NBA teams but teams in any sport,” said Silver. “This is the prototype of a small market team that is competing in a first-class manner and a well-run business on top of that.”
  • Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders takes a look at what it will take for the Nuggets to make a turnaround next year. Blancarte doesn’t think a drastic roster overhaul is necessary.