The Warriors beat the Pelicans by a score of 109-98 on Saturday to sweep their first round series. Golden State is hitting on all cylinders and I chronicled the moves that GM Bob Myers made to put a championship contender on the floor in his Executive of the Year Candidate piece.
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- The Lakers might be the only team to offer Rajon Rondo a sizable contract, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post opines. Bomtemps speculates that the point guard will struggle to get a contract that exceeds $10MM to $12MM per year.
- The Suns are optimistic that Eric Bledsoe can be a cornerstone for the team, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic writes. “The exciting thing for us about Eric is he’s still just starting to scratch the surface of his potential,” GM Ryan McDonough said. “Last year [2013/14], he started for half a season and you saw glimpses of it. I think there some questions externally, certainly not from us, but could he do it as a starter, could he do it over the course of an 82-game season? I think he certainly proved he could with the numbers he averaged.” The point guard averaged 17.0 points, 6.1 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game.
- Golden State has assigned James Michael McAdoo to its D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, according to the team’s twitter feed. This will be the forward’s fourth stint in the D-League this season.
The Suns could face a situation with Brandon Knight that is similar to the one the team endured with Eric Bledsoe last summer in regards to re-signing the player, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. The Suns and Bledsoe remained at an impasse for the bulk of last summer while the two sides haggled over the amount of the contract, and Bledsoe didn’t put pen to paper on his deal until the end of September. When Knight was in discussions with the Bucks regarding an extension last offseason, the player was requesting a deal in the range of $12MM per season, while Milwaukee held fast at $9MM per year, Deveney notes.
Knight only made 11 appearances for the Suns after being acquired at the trade deadline from Milwaukee thanks to a foot injury he suffered. The guard is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, provided Phoenix tenders him a qualifying offer of $4,790,680. If the two sides are unable to reach an agreement on a new deal this summer, Knight could simply ink the qualifying offer and play out the 2015/16 season. He would then hit free agency in the summer of 2016 when the salary cap is expected to increase significantly, Deveney adds.
Here’s more out of the Pacific Division:
- Lester Hudson‘s $1,015,421 salary for 2015/16 with the Clippers is non-guaranteed, but if the guard is still on the roster on July 15th his salary becomes fully guaranteed, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (Twitter link).
- The Lakers paid Vander Blue a total of $14,408 for the three days he spent with the team after being inked to a pact that covered the remainder of the 2014/15 campaign, Pincus tweets. Blue can become a restricted free agent this summer if Los Angeles tenders him a qualifying offer worth $1,147,276.
- Jerel McNeal‘s minimum salary arrangement with the Suns for 2015/16 will become fully guaranteed if he is still on Phoenix’s roster past July 21st, Pincus adds (Twitter link).
Kawhi Leonard could sign an offer sheet that allows him to become an unrestricted free agent in three years or a qualifying offer that takes him to unrestricted free agency in 2016, but the Spurs are confident he’ll remain in San Antonio for the long term, Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes. “I don’t know that I’m worried about [the cap],” GM R.C. Buford said. “It is what it is. We’ll deal with the guidelines. I hope that Kawhi is with us for a long time, and I know that’s no secret to Kawhi or his family.”
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Lowe continues to hear talk among sources who say that the Spurs might get to have a meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge, as Lowe writes in the same piece. That echoes a report from January in which Lowe wrote that he’d spoken with a half-dozen executives from four different teams who raised the possibility that Aldridge would sign with San Antonio.
- Plenty of executives would point to the notion that Danny Green would be much more successful within the Spurs‘ system than out of it, and they’d be hesitant to shell out $10MM a year for him, Lowe surmises. The Grantland scribe nonetheless stumps for Green’s value based on “elite” defense and his status as a legitimate “3-and-D” player. An executive who spoke with Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops said that he wouldn’t mind paying a $6MM annual salary for the swingman.
- Matt Petersen of NBA.com looked back on Suns guard Eric Bledsoe‘s 2014/15 campaign, his first after inking a five-year, $70MM deal with the team. The 25-year-old appeared in all 81 games for Phoenix this past season, averaging 17.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.1 assists.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Kings have several decisions to make regarding their backcourt, Antonio Gonzalez of the Associated Press reports. Starting shooting guard Ben McLemore only showed slight improvement in his second season while backup Nik Stauskas struggled during his rookie campaign, in part because the team had two coaching changes during the season, Gonzalez continues. The club also has to decide whether to retain backup point guards Ray McCallum and David Stockton. McCallum’s approximate $947,000 contract for next season is not guaranteed, while Stockton has a non-guaranteed salary of $845,059 for next season.
In other news around the Pacific Division:
- Danny Granger has not decided whether to exercise the approximate $2.17MM player option on his contract for next season, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Granger, who was acquired by the Suns from the Heat during the trade deadline, has been working with the team’s athletic training staff to overcome health issues associated with his twice-surgically repaired left knee, Coro continues. Granger is building a house in the area, Coro adds, a potential sign that he’s planning to return to the team next season.
- Isaiah Thomas learned quickly that he made a mistake when he signed with the Suns as a free agent last summer, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes. Thomas, who was dealt to the Celtics at the trade deadline, was sold on the idea of joining Phoenix after getting advice from Jason Terry, Himmelsbach reports. Thomas realized once the season started that sharing playing time and the ball with fellow point guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe was not going to work out, Himmelsbach continues. “I was taking a step back,” Thomas said to Himmelsbach. “We all wanted the ball and are all talented, but somebody ended up upset every night. It’s something that everyone thought would work, but it just didn’t.”
- Jeremy Lin views a return to the Lakers as a possibility despite a tumultuous season, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reports. Lin, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, believes the prospects of remaining with the club improved after a productive exit meeting with coach Byron Scott and GM Mitch Kupchak, Pincus adds. “That would be great,” Lin said to Pincus about re-signing with the Lakers. “There’s so much that needs to happen, but that’s definitely an option for me.” Lin averaged 11.2 points on 42.4% shooting this season, his lowest output in both categories since his rookie season in 2010/11.
Brandon Knight would like to re-sign with the Suns, and he’d like that to happen in a swift process that would contrast sharply from last summer’s drawn-out negotiations with Eric Bledsoe, and Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic relays.
“If it can be quick and easy, that’s the best thing,” Knight said. “You don’t want to go through a fight or anything like that or you don’t want to drag it out as well. Definitely don’t want anything that leads up to training camp. For me, it’s just about doing what’s best for me and my family and the Suns will do the same. I’m optimistic about the situation. I like it here. I like the way I’ve been treated so far. Top-class organization. I’m looking forward to a future with the Suns.”
GM Ryan McDonough admits the team has learned from what happened with Bledsoe and expressed belief and hope that negotiations with Knight will go more smoothly, as Coro notes in separate piece. The Suns want to bring him back, and he told them that he has no issues pairing with Bledsoe in the backcourt, Coro writes. While we wait to see how it turns out for Knight and the Suns in restricted free agency this summer, here’s more from Coro on the Suns:
- McDonough said the team will go after a star this summer and pledged to be active on the trade market, and he expressed confidence that the team is in a strong position to land any marquee players who become available, according to Coro. “Short of that, we’ll try to do it with depth and do it as a team,” McDonough said. “We tried to do that last year. It’s just the roster wasn’t as balanced as it should’ve been and, frankly, the players didn’t handle it as well as we would’ve liked them to.”
- Adding size, rebounding, shooting and veterans will be priorities, McDonough said, as Coro notes.
- The team would like to re-sign Brandan Wright, according to Coro, and that feeling is mutual, Coro writes via Twitter.
- Soon-to-be free agent Gerald Green struck a more optimistic tone about a future with the Suns than emanated recently from agent Kevin Bradbury, who alleged coach Jeff Hornacek of unwarranted criticism of his client. “I think they want me back as well … Actually, it was a good conversation [with president of basketball operations Lon Babby] so I’m a little positive about that,” Green said, as Coro tweets.
Pistons owner Tom Gores gave Andre Drummond a vote of confidence during tonight’s contest against the Knicks, calling the big man a “max player,” David Mayo of MLive.com relays (Twitter link). Drummond, who is set to earn $3,272,091 next season, is eligible to ink an extension this summer, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the Pistons will offer him one, since the team would have the right to match any offer sheet the big man were to sign as a restricted free agent in 2016. Detroit could be wary of taking that chance given how the team is likely to lose Greg Monroe, who reportedly declined to ink an extension of his own with the club, as a free agent this summer, though that is merely my speculation.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Arron Afflalo will let his playoff performance dictate whether he picks up his $7.75MM player option for next season with the Blazers, as a source close to the swingman tells Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops that he’ll opt out if he plays well.
- One executive who spoke with Scotto for the same piece pegged Danny Green‘s value at $6MM a year. The Spurs swingman is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
- Ronnie Price indicated that his desire is to remain with the Lakers, even if it is as a third-string guard, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. “I enjoyed being a voice in the locker room. I enjoyed being able to help younger guys. I helped great veterans that can help me. I’d be selfish not to extend that knowledge to players that are younger than me,” Price said. “Of course you want to play. That’s why we do what we do. You want to play. You never know what’s ahead. Whatever role is my role, I’ll embrace it whether it’s being here or the third guard.” Price will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
- Suns forward Markieff Morris believes that the team needs to add players with more experience to its roster, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic tweets. “Veteran leadership for sure,” Morris responded when asked about Phoenix’s needs. “We have to have more older guys around so we can keep this thing intact.“
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Suns GM Ryan McDonough admits the team had no intention of reshaping its roster as much as it did this season, but while he’s disappointed with the way this year has gone, he feels the Suns are still better off than they were two years ago, when he took over, as he tells Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
“We’ve tried to do something that’s not easy to do,” McDonough said. “We tried to turn over the roster with talented, young players who have some potential but probably aren’t ready to win yet at the highest levels. But we also tried to stay competitive in a brutal Western Conference. Usually, teams try to do one or the other. They load up on veteran guys and trade draft picks and go all in or they completely blow up and gut the team and try to acquire and play a bunch of young guys.”
Phoenix will look to achieve more roster balance, among other goals, this summer, McDonough added. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- The sense is that Wayne Ellington will largely favor the Lakers in free agency this year, but he’s mindful that the market is uncertain for both himself and the team, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links), who’s identified mutual interest between the sides. Ellington backed up his end of that, referencing coach Byron Scott and GM Mitch Kupchak during his exit interview with the media Tuesday when he said, “I flat out told coach and Mitch I want to be back,” Medina notes.
- Jeremy Lin seemed lukewarm to the idea of returning to the Lakers during his exit interview, saying that he has “definitely not ruled out” the possibility and that the Lakers wouldn’t be a “last resort.” He said that losing his starting job in December “hurt,” but that his respect for Scott has grown throughout the season. Medina (separate piece), Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles (Twitter link), Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding (Twitter link) and Bill Oram of the Orange County Register (Twitter link) have the details.
- Trade rumors are partly to blame for the sour mood DeMarcus Cousins has been in of late, but Kings executive Vlade Divac, who’s in charge of the front office, is in awe of Cousins’ talent, according to Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Voisin advises Cousins to get away from the noise now that the season is ending.
The Suns could show their faith in coach Jeff Hornacek by picking up his 2016/17 contract option year, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Hornacek will enter the last guaranteed year on his contract next season, though he has a strong relationship with the team’s management. He has been hampered by the Suns’ major roster overhaul during the season, with point guards Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas getting dealt and replacement Brandon Knight getting injured, Coro continues. Hornacek’s system requires multiple playmakers and quality shooters but after all the changes the Suns have been the worst 3-point shooting team in the league since the trade deadline, Coro adds.
In other news around the Western Conference:
- Flip Saunders expects Kevin Garnett to play again for the Timberwolves next season, Jon Krawcyznski of the Associated Press reports. Garnett has missed 20 of 25 games since being traded back to Minnesota in February and he’s also expected to miss the season finale against the Thunder. Saunders says that’s an indication that Garnett plans on playing another season, the story continues. “If he plays, to me it would be an indication that he didn’t want to play next year,” Saunders said. “He’s looking at this as not being over.” Garnett becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer but is expected to stay with the club if he does not retire.
- Interim coach Melvin Hunt has the Nuggets playing the fast-paced style of his former boss and current Kings coach, George Karl, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports. Hunt, who replaced Brian Shaw, will receive consideration for the full-time job in part because of his willingness to make bold changes, Jones adds. “He [Karl] has showed me a lot of things – that it is OK to not be traditional,” Hunt said to Jones.
- The Jazz will host a summer league for the first time since 2008, the team announced on Monday. The Celtics, Sixers and Spurs will join the Jazz in the six-game event on July 6-9.
Marcus Thornton has not improved his free agent outlook since he was dealt to the Suns at the trade deadline, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic reports. The Suns only acquired Thornton to facilitate the Isaiah Thomas trade to the Celtics, which allowed them to acquire the Cavaliers’ 2016 first-round pick in the multi-team deal, Coro explains. Thornton, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season, has only appeared in nine games since the deal and has been battling a left Achilles’ tendon injury, Coro adds. That has rendered Thornton as a non-rotation player on a non-playoff team, which is not the best way to head into the free agent market, Coro points out.
In other news around the Pacific Division:
- Wesley Matthews, Omer Asik and Khris Middleton are some of the free agents that the Lakers should consider pursuing this summer, Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders opines. The Lakers should target free agents like Matthews and Asik that still have several productive years remaining and could be signed at a reasonable price, as well as budding talents like Middleton, Blancarte continues. What the Lakers should avoid is appeasing Kobe Bryant by signing quick-fix, high-priced free agents like Rajon Rondo, since the Lakers are a long way from contention, Blancarte adds. The club also needs to re-think its offensive strategy and embrace the 3-point shot by bringing in some long-range shooters that can space the floor, Blancarte argues.
- Andrew Bogut‘s gamble when he signed an incentive-laden, three-year extension prior to last season is paying off, Antonio Gonzalez of the Associated Press writes. The Warriors center will play his 65th game of the season Saturday night, fulfilling one of the requirements for a potential bonus. Bogut’s deal calls for him to earn a 15% bonus — or approximately $1.93MM this year — any season he plays at least 65 games and is named to the NBA’s First or Second All-Defensive Team, Gonzalez continues. Bogut leads the league in defensive plus-minus rating, Gonzalez adds.
- James Michael McAdoo was recalled by the Warriors on Saturday after he helped the D-League’s Santa Cruz Warriors win a playoff series over the Oklahoma City Blue, the team’s website reports. McAdoo has appeared in 14 games with Golden State this season, averaging 3.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in 8.6 minutes. He had 25 points and 13 rebounds in Santa Cruz’s clinching win over the Blue on Friday.
Jerel McNeal has been signed by the Suns through the 2015/16 season, RealGM reports. Further details were not immediately made available. McNeal’s first 10-day contract with the club expired after Friday night’s action.
McNeal has appeared in four games with the Suns, though he has only scored two points in 19 minutes. McNeal signed the 10-day contract April 1st after Phoenix opted not to re-sign guard A.J. Price after Price’s first 10-day contract expired. McNeal, a shooting guard who was not drafted when he was eligible in 2009, was playing for the Bakersfield Jam, the Suns’ D-League affiliate, prior to joining Phoenix.
In 27 games for the Jam, McNeal averaged 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 32.6 minutes per contest. He has previously had NBA training camp stints with the Clippers, Raptors and Rockets. The Pelicans and Jazz have briefly carried him on regular season rosters in the past, but he didn’t see action with either team, so he’s technically a two-year veteran even though he did not make his official NBA debut until this month.