Phoenix Suns Rumors

Phoenix Suns trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Suns, Earl Barron Agree To Second 10-Day Pact

March 3 at 10:13am CST By Chuck Myron

The Suns and center Earl Barron have reached agreement on a second 10-day deal, a league source told Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). His first 10-day contract with Phoenix expired Monday. It’ll be the third time Barron has inked with the Suns this season, including his training camp deal.

The ninth-year veteran failed to make it to opening night with the team, but the Suns retained his D-League rights and he’s spent much of the season with Phoenix’s affiliate. Barron averaged 20.2 points and 10.9 rebounds in 32.6 minutes per game across 27 appearances for the D-League Bakersfield Jam, but he’s seen just 5.5 MPG in his five-game stint with the big club, his first NBA regular season action since 2012/13.

Phoenix has just 13 players signed through the end of the season after its flurry of deadline moves. So, GM Ryan McDonough and company would continue to have flexibility even if they re-sign Barron for the season, which they’d have to do to bring the 33-year-old back once his latest 10-day deal expires.

And-Ones: Griffin, McGee, Dragic, Garnett

March 2 at 10:11pm CST By Charlie Adams

Clippers forward Blake Griffin could return as early as Sunday’s game against Golden State, Arash Markazi of ESPN.com tweets. Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Griffin is running “full tilt” and participating in shooting drills, Markazi adds. Griffin has been sidelined since early February with a staph infection in his right elbow and was expected to miss four-to-six weeks. We’ll round up more from the league below..

  • Waiving JaVale McGee, who has one year and $12MM remaining on his contract, is a good indicator the Sixers will not pursue any top free agents next season, Tom Moore of Calkin Media tweets. McGee was released by Philadelphia on Monday, meaning he’ll still have the opportunity to sign with a playoff contender.
  • Suns management believes that Goran Dragic‘s representatives spent part of the All-Star break convincing the point guard to push Phoenix into trading him, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The BDA Sports client nonetheless insists his motives were his own, as Coro notes.
  • Doc Rivers called Kevin Garnett‘s allegiance to the Timberwolves “almost nutty loyalty,” recalling that KG twice held up being traded to Boston during his first stint playing in Minnesota since he didn’t want it to appear he was “bailing” on the Wolves. Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press has the full story.
  • The 2014/15 season has been a memorable one for the Knicks, but not for the right reasons. Still, Derek Fisher is confident that New York will have a chance to lure quality free agents this summer, as Fred Kerber of the New York Post details.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Thomas, Mudiay, Nets

March 2 at 6:53pm CST By Dana Gauruder

Isaiah Thomas was stunned when the Suns dealt him right before the trade deadline but he wasn’t surprised the Celtics wanted him, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reports. Thomas, who has three years and approximately $19.76MM remaining on his contract after this season, expected Goran Dragic to be traded but thought he’d remain with the club that acquired him in a sign-and-trade deal with the Kings last summer, according to Kennedy’s story.  Boston’s Danny Ainge was the first GM to contact Thomas when the free agency period began in July and had been intrigued by Thomas’ skills since Thomas was a college prospect, Thomas told Kennedy. Thomas, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday, is excited about his role with the Celtics and hopes to remain with the team in the long term, Kennedy adds.

In other news around the league:

  • Marquee draft prospect Emmanuel Mudiay is once more playing with China’s Guangdong Southern Tigers months after it appeared his overseas stint was at an end, as Nick Bedard of Basketball Buddha notes. Mudiay is the No. 2 ranked prospect in Eddie Scarito’s Hoops Rumors Prospect Power Rankings, while Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranks him third and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has the point guard fourth.
  • Mirza Teletovic, a restricted free agent after the season, wants to remain with the Nets, Alex Raskin of the Wall Street Journal tweets. Teletovic is out for the season after he was diagnosed with multiple blood clots in his lungs in January. Teletovic was averaging 8.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in 40 games this season before the diagnosis.
  • The Hawks recalled Mike Muscala from the D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team announced on Monday, Muscala, who appeared in six games with the Mad Ants, is averaging 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 20 games with Atlanta this season and gives the club some frontcourt depth.
  • The Sixers wanted to give JaVale McGee an opportunity to finish out the season with a playoff team, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said to Mannix it was “the right thing to do.” Several playoff teams are interested in McGee, who was acquired by the Sixers in a trade last month.

Suns Rumors: Dragic, Knight, Granger

March 2 at 11:46am CST By Chuck Myron

The Suns traded a conditional first-round pick for backup big man Brandan Wright in January, but the Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas deadline-day trades seemed to represent a different philosophical tack. GM Ryan McDonough told TNT’s David Aldridge recently that there is little use for the team to sacrifice the future for the present, as Aldridge writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com.

“I think we’re realistic about where we are in the league, especially in the Western Conference,” McDonough said. “We could have done things to load up. Giving away picks or taking on contracts may have given us a short-term bump but it wouldn’t have helped us toward our goal of building a championship contending team.”

While we wait to see if the organization shifts back toward win-now mode in the summer, here’s more from the Valley of the Sun:

  • Dragic expressed regret today for his remarks shortly before the trade deadline in which he said he didn’t trust the Suns front office, notes Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post. The new Heat point guard said he felt he was “too harsh” and should have shown more restraint, and he expressed his gratitude toward Suns owner Robert Sarver. McDonough also used the term “harsh” to describe the comments he and president of basketball operations Lon Babby made after the deal that sent Dragic, who has planned to opt out and hit free agency this summer, to Miami.
  • Still, Dragic rejects the notion that he’s selfish, as McDonough and Babby seemed to imply he was, according to Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic“It’s hard, but I know it’s not true,” Dragic said, as Lieser notes in his piece. “That’s their opinion. I cannot do nothing else. Everybody has their own opinon. It’s a, how you say, free country. Everybody can speak freely and it is what it is.”
  • The Suns thought after Dragic met with Sarver not long ago that Dragic had committed to staying with them long-term if they traded Thomas, a source tells Aldridge. That predated Dragic’s “harsh” comments prior to the deadline.
  • The trade that sent Brandon Knight to the Suns took Knight by surprise and, at first, made him angry, as he tells Aldridge. “Initially, I was,” Knight said. “Initially, after the trade, you’re kind of upset. But for me, I look at the bright side of things. The Suns gave up a lot to get me. So it’s someone that wanted me. A system where I can flourish offensively. And we’ve got a lot of young talent. So I take the bright side of things.”
  • Danny Granger and the Suns had discussed the idea of a buyout, but they missed Sunday’s deadline for Granger to hit waivers and remain playoff-eligible for other teams. Still, McDonough told Aldridge on Sunday that Phoenix was “keeping an open mind” regarding the forward’s future with the team.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Johnson, Knight

February 28 at 5:24pm CST By Chris Crouse

The Lakers seem to have quite a bit of turmoil surrounding the team, writes Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports. Dwyer cites the franchise’s dismissal of new technology and advanced statistics as reasons to why Los Angeles could spend a considerable amount of time in the cellar of the Western Conference. Coach Byron Scott’s disdain for analytics is well documented and Dwyer points out that the Lakers were one of the last teams in the NBA to install SportVU cameras that allow the tracking of player movement on the court. Such drawbacks could severely hinder the team’s chances of competing for a championship in the near future. Having said all this, if the Lakers can hold onto their 2015 first-round draft pick, which will head to Philadelphia if it doesn’t fall within the top five, the team could see a turnaround sooner. Los Angeles has a record of 16-41, the fourth worst in the league and, as our Reverse Standings indicate, it has a decent shot at keeping its pick.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Wesley Johnson has enjoyed his time in Los Angeles and hopes to be in the Lakers‘ future plans, writes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News“I want to definitely stay here,” said Johnson, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. “I like coach Scott and the whole coaching staff. I love it here. I definitely want to be a part of when they get back.” Johnson is currently making slightly more than $981K this season.
  • A high draft pick is what the Lakers need but Scott doesn’t see obtaining one as a goal this season, writes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “We’re not trying to tank games,” Scott said. “We’re going to try to win every game and whatever happens after that with the lottery pick, happens. I think if you go into it saying. ‘We’re going to lose every game to see if we can get the best pick,’ I think it backfires on you.”
  • The Suns believe new addition Brandon Knight can be a team leader, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. “He understands the game, so that’s always helpful,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “If you’re out there just relying on athletic ability, it’s tough to talk because maybe you don’t even know what’s going on. When you get a smart player who understands the game, I think he’ll help us offensively to get into things.” The 23-year-old will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Hoops Rumors Weekly Mailbag 2/21/15-2/28/15

February 28 at 10:29am CST By Eddie Scarito

In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have a second opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap, or the NBA draft? Drop us a line at HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com or @EddieScarito on Twitter. Now for this week’s inquiries:

“What a deadline!! I don’t think I can ever remember a trade deadline that crazy! Anyway, my question was about the Suns’ day. It makes sense that they got rid of Goran Dragic, but they also got rid of two others [point guards] in Tyler Ennis and Isaiah Thomas. Getting Brandon Knight back was a good haul, but they also didn’t address their frontcourt (even weakened it some). What kind of message do you think this is sending? Are they giving up on the season while keeping the core for the future or are they gearing for a run and trying to improve the chemistry?” Matt E.

The Suns deadline moves told me two things. The first was that Dragic more than likely gave Phoenix the distinct impression that he wasn’t going to re-sign with them this summer. I don’t believe the team wanted to trade Dragic, but only did so to recoup something of value for him. The second message was that the multi-headed point guard experiment wasn’t working out as well on the court, or in the locker room, as the franchise had hoped.

If GM Ryan McDonough didn’t believe that Phoenix had a good shot to retain Dragic beyond this season, which I don’t think it did, flipping him for Knight was an excellent tradeoff. But I’m not as thrilled with the team parting with Ennis, who is a player with quite a bit of upside. I get the Suns wanting to move Dragic and Thomas, but the team dealing away three point guards seems like overkill to me. Keeping Ennis, who is on a team-friendly rookie contract, would have been a wise move for a rebuilding franchise like Phoenix. I also agree that the Suns’ moves failed to improve their frontcourt. This was one of the things McDonough had reportedly wanted to address heading into the deadline, and Knight does nothing to change the team’s needs. This is an area that Phoenix will absolutely need to address this offseason if it hopes to contend in 2015/16.

To be realistic, Phoenix wasn’t likely headed to the conference finals this season, so blowing up its nucleus isn’t necessarily a bad move. The trade will give the Suns a bit more cap flexibility this summer with Thomas’ deal off the books, and now the team doesn’t have to sweat out Dragic’s free agency decision. Knight isn’t going to be cheap to re-sign, but the Suns will be able to match any offer sheet that the guard is offered, which gives the team some more stability. I also really like Knight as a player, and he and Eric Bledsoe should form a dynamic tandem, though defense is going to be a persistent issue for the pair.

“Who are the Pistons more likely to keep–Greg Monroe or Reggie Jackson? Who should they push harder to retain?” Ozzie

Well, seeing how Monroe declined to work out a long-term deal with the team and has given a number of indications that he intends to depart this summer as a free agent, picking Jackson is the easy answer for who is more likely to remain in Motown. Jackson wasn’t acquired to be just a rental, so the team will likely match any offer sheet the point guard receives as a restricted free agent after the season. Monroe is an unrestricted free agent, so there is no safety net for Detroit in regards to re-signing him. My crystal ball sees Monroe wearing a Knicks jersey next season and Jackson still sporting Detroit’s in 2015/16.

As for who the team should push harder to keep, I would still say Jackson. That isn’t meant to diminish Monroe’s value, it’s about which player is the best fit for them right now. Monroe and Andre Drummond don’t mesh together very well offensively, and the Pistons need to improve their backcourt production, something Jackson’s presence will certainly help. Having Jackson and Brandon Jennings sharing a backcourt next season isn’t an ideal situation for anyone involved, but with Jennings set to become a free agent after next season, the problem should be short-lived. Jennings’ injury will complicate matters, but look for Detroit to try and deal him this summer. Drummond and Jackson are a nice foundation for Stan Van Gundy to work with, and if the team is able to retain Jackson this summer, this was an excellent trade by the executive.

“Which team won the trade deadline?” Parker

This one is a tough question since the success of many of the trades can’t be gauged until the playoffs are complete. But with that caveat in place, I’ll say that the Thunder won the deadline this season. Sure, the franchise gave up Reggie Jackson in the deal, but to add Enes Kanter, D.J. Augustin, and Kyle Singler for a player whose role had diminished significantly since the arrival of Dion Waiters was a strong move for GM Sam Presti. OKC added some needed frontcourt scoring in Kanter, and two solid rotation players in Singler and Augustin. I really like what the team accomplished at the deadline. This is a much better trade for the franchise than swapping for Brook Lopez would have been. Now if the Thunder could only remain healthy…

I would also like to give Heat president Pat Riley credit for making the second best deal of the trade deadline, acquiring Dragic was a solid move by the executive. But it is also one that will unfortunately be tarnished a bit by Chris Bosh being lost for the season. With Bosh and Dragic on the court, the Heat would have had a very real shot to go deep into the playoffs in the East and this deal looks like a master stroke as a result. Without Bosh, Miami will play out the string and hope to make a favorable enough impression on Dragic, with the hope that he’ll re-sign with Miami this summer.

“With the issues Rajon Rondo is having with [coach] Rick Carlisle, does this mean Rondo’s gone at the end of the season?” Clyde S.

The recent difficulties between Rondo and Carlisle won’t be the determining factor in Rondo’s free agent decision. They certainly don’t help, but Rondo should be used to having clashes with coaches by now, and the one game suspension he received as a result shouldn’t drive an irreparable wedge between Rondo and the team.

What Dallas should be more concerned about is how poorly Rondo has fit in with the team thus far. The Mavs seem to play more effectively as a squad when Rondo has been seated, which shouldn’t be the case when talking about an elite point guard like him. There will likely be more than a few teams that will pursue Rondo when he becomes a free agent this summer, and the point guard may find a fit he prefers to the one he has in Dallas. In the end, I think Rondo will end up leaving Dallas this summer, but for a multitude of reasons beyond a simple tiff with his coach.

“Which trade was the worst one of the season?” Roberto N.

I’m going to cheat a bit on this one and pick a deal that happened prior to the season beginning — the Knicks’ trade of Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Mavs for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, and two second rounders. It’s an understatement to say that this deal didn’t work out on the court, with the Knicks currently owning the worst overall record in the league. But the bigger loss is what New York potentially missed out on at the trade deadline as a result of this previous transaction.

If the Knicks had held onto Chandler last offseason, it’s quite possible that Reggie Jackson would be wearing a Knicks jersey right now instead of a Pistons one, and New York would have the inside track on re-signing him this summer. With the Thunder’s reported pursuit of Brook Lopez, it’s more than likely that OKC would have had some level of interest in acquiring Chandler at the trade deadline. At the very least, the Knicks would have had a better than average shot at flipping Chandler for a major upgrade at the point, instead of having to watch helplessly on the sidelines thanks to a lack of assets. Knicks fans had to settle for the Zen Master unloading Pablo Prigioni to the Rockets as the team’s biggest splash of the trade deadline.

The Knicks also managed to make this trade look even worse by declining Shane Larkin’s team option. As a result, New York is unable to offer Larkin more than the $1,675,320 value of his option if they wish to re-sign him, which could prove problematic in retaining his services if the team so desires. The young point guard hasn’t set the world on fire this season, but Larkin does have the potential to develop into a valuable role-player, and that’s something the Knicks could certainly use more of.

That’s all the space I have for this week. Thanks for all of the submissions. Keep sending in your questions, and I’ll see you back here next Saturday with more responses.

Financial Impact Of Deadline Trades: Pacific

February 27 at 12:15pm CST By Chuck Myron

Last week’s trade deadline was a dizzying affair, with 39 players and 17 teams involved in a dozen trades, including a trio of three-team transactions. The day had wide-ranging effects on the salary structures of those 17 teams, and we’ll examine the aftermath for each of them in this multipart series.

Four of the deadline’s 12 trades involved Pacific Division teams, and the Suns were part of three of them, as we detail today. The salary figures listed below denote this season’s salaries, though we’ll also discuss salary for future seasons.

Phoenix Suns

In: ($17,121,160)

Out: ($19,205,456)

Perhaps no team defined the 2015 trade deadline quite like the Suns. They dealt the deadline’s most prominent player, Goran Dragic, and among the 10 players going back and forth from Phoenix, more than a quarter of the players who changed places leaguewide that day, five of them were point guards. The moves the Suns made carried their requisite share of the day’s confusion, too. They started the day with a team salary of $61,848,216, more than $1MM beneath the $63.065MM cap. Their team salary at day’s end was $59,763,920, even farther under the cap. However, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link), they actually wound up over the cap and created a $5.5MM trade exception.

What that means is that at some point last Thursday, the Suns crossed over the cap. So, it appears either or both of the trades in which the team added money to its payroll were processed before the Dragic deal, the one in which the Suns cut salary. Either the three-teamer with the Bucks and Sixers or the Isaiah Thomas-Marcus Thornton swap would have done the trick, since they both added a greater amount of net salary than the Suns had in cap room. That meant those trades had to conform to salary-matching rules, and in the case of the Thomas-Thornton deal, the Suns took in less than 150% plus $100K of what they gave up, making the trade kosher. However, the incoming salary in the Bucks-Sixers three teamer, which brought Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall to Phoenix, exceeded that 150% plus $100K cushion. The minimum-salary exception that was so helpful for other teams at the deadline once more came into play, since the Suns were able to absorb Marshall into that, meaning his $915,243 didn’t have to count as incoming salary. Knight’s salary is within 150% plus $100K of the sum of the salaries for Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee, so the trade works.

That leaves the matter of the Dragic trade, which the Suns evidently pulled off as an over-the-cap team. Essentially, they split the deal into two separate exchanges. They matched salaries with Zoran Dragic and Danny Granger, as Granger’s salary is within that 150% plus $100K range of Zoran’s. The trade-within-a-trade of Goran Dragic for John Salmons involves a $5.5MM difference between their salaries. New Orleans didn’t need to worry about that difference because it didn’t have anything to do with Goran’s salary. The same was true of Miami and Salmons. Phoenix’s only obligation to match salaries involves keeping the incoming salary from exceeding the outgoing salary by too much, and not the other way around. When the outgoing salary exceeds the incoming salary, a capped-out team can reap a trade exception, and that’s how the Suns wound up with their $5.5MM exception.

That gives the Suns an asset for the start of the offseason, but that trade exception might not last until its expiration date next February. It disappears if the Suns open cap space this summer, and Phoenix afforded itself a greater opportunity to do so with last week’s trades. The Suns cleared $12,390,773 from next year’s payroll, not counting the $7.5MM player option Goran has been planning to decline, and replaced it with contracts that end after this season Granger’s $2,170,465 player option. Granger’s reps and the team have reportedly talked about the idea of a buyout, and there’s a chance that he would decline the player option, or reduce its value, as part of such a deal. Entirely eliminating the salary in the option year would mean the Suns had traded for five players without contracts that extend beyond this season, a rare feat. The team has already cut ties with Salmons and Marshall, each of whom the Suns waived immediately upon their acquisition. Phoenix surely would have sought to re-sign Dragic this summer, so adding his salary to the eight-figure amount that the trades cut from next year’s books would serve as further demonstration of just how drastically the team altered its payroll for next season. The Suns have only about $41MM in commitments for 2015/16, more than enough against a projected $68MM salary cap to dangle a max offer in front of a marquee free agent whom they’d like to lure to the Valley of the Sun.

Sacramento Kings

In: ($4,625,000)

Out: ($2,077,000)

The capped-out Kings were able to receive a player making more than double the amount of salary coming to the player they sent out thanks to the remnants of one of their two deadline trades from last year. The Kings shipped Marcus Thornton (yes, the same Thornton for whom the Suns traded this year) to the Nets for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans a year ago. Evans is still with Sacramento, but the Kings traded Terry to Houston in the offseason, creating a trade exception worth Terry’s $5,850,313 salary in the process. It was the largest of the five trade exceptions the Kings possessed at the trade deadline, and the only one valuable enough to absorb Miller’s salary in this year’s trade. The Kings took advantage, and that in turn allowed Sacramento to send out Sessions’ salary by itself, which begets a new trade exception worth the $2,077,000 that Sessions makes. The Terry exception still exists, though it’s reduced to $1,225,313.

Sacramento upped its salary for this season, but next season’s payroll went in the other direction, since Sessions has a guaranteed salary of more than $2.17MM for 2015/16 while Miller’s contract expires this summer. The Kings have about $53.1MM in commitments for next season in the wake of the trade, and with the salary cap projected to come in around $68MM, $2.17MM could make a significant difference if Sacramento elects to open cap room and chase some attractive free agent targets. That $53.1MM figure is somewhat skewed considering that money is going to only seven players, necessitating another $2,625,465, at least, in cap holds. Plus, opening cap space would mean waving goodbye to those trade exceptions. Still, the money that the trade saves the Kings for next year gives the team a few more options to explore during the July Moratorium, when they’ll be able to negotiate with free agents without committing one way or another to the idea of opening cap space.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Stoudemire, Miller

February 26 at 2:29pm CST By Will Joseph

Despite missing on all of their buyout market targets after creating some roster flexibility with the idea of adding veteran talent after the trade deadline, Doc Rivers is nonetheless content with the Clippers’ roster as it is, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Among the Clippers’ missed targets are Josh Smith (Rockets), Kendrick Perkins (Cavaliers), Kevin Garnett (Timberwolves) and Tayshaun Prince (Pistons). They still have an open invitation out to Ray Allen, Markazi notes, but execs around the league are reportedly losing faith that he’ll sign with any team.

“We like our team,” Rivers said. “We actually like our basketball team, and if we could add something that can help that, we will. What people don’t understand is chemistry is so freaking important. Unless it’s somebody you think is going to really change your team, this team was a couple bad plays in Game 6 away from the Western Conference finals last year. We lost some guys and added some guys, but we like our team.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire, who will be a free agent in July, would welcome a return to the Suns, where he spent his first eight seasons, sources told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. Stoudemire loves the city, and his knees could benefit from a reunion with the Suns’ renowned medical staff, Beck wrote, but it’s unclear if the Suns would reciprocate the interest. Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote earlier this month that a return to Phoenix for next season was “quite possible”.
  • Andre Miller would be interested in re-signing with the Kings, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The 16th-year veteran whom the Kings acquired a week ago in a deadline-day trade turns 39 next month, but he still wants to continue playing after the season, when his contract is up.
  • Archie Goodwin is showcasing his ability and making the most of his boosted minutes in the Suns’ regular rotation, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The Suns informed inquiring teams before the trade deadline that Goodwin, whose rookie scale contract runs through 2016/17, is a big part of the franchise’s future. Goodwin, who said earlier this season that comments attributed to him about his frustration with a lack of playing in a report were taken out of context, has made four rotation appearances in a row after making only four appearances totaling 16 minutes from New Year’s Day through the All-Star break.

And-Ones: Rondo, Towns, Rivers

February 25 at 10:23pm CST By Dana Gauruder

Rajon Rondo was suspended for one game by the Mavs for conduct detrimental to the team, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. The point guard and coach Rick Carlisle had a verbal altercation on the court that led to Rondo being benched in Dallas’ game against Toronto on Tuesday. The argument continued inside the Mavs’ locker room after that game, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com (Twitter link).  Rondo becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer and it’s unknown if his friction with Carlisle will impact the veteran’s decision on possibly re-signing with Dallas.

In other news around the league:

  • University of Kentucky forward Karl-Anthony Towns is threatening to surpass Duke big man Jahlil Okafor as the No. 1 pick in the June draft, according to draft expert Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). Towns is more athletic, a better defender and a superior shot-blocker compared to Okafor, in Ford’s evaluation, and some NBA GMs that Ford interviewed believe that Towns is the better long-term prospect.
  • Doc Rivers, who is the Clippers’ president of basketball operations, has been a failure as an executive, according to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. Rivers has not found an adequate backup at small forward behind Matt Barnes, secured a rotation player in the draft or fortified his bench, Bolch contends. Rivers’ inability to re-sign Darren Collison and his commitment to Spencer Hawes, whom he signed to a four-year contract during the off-season, are examples of his shortcomings as an executive, Bolch adds. Hawes is averaging 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds this season, a reflection of his minimal impact.
  • The Heat sent $369K to the Pelicans to complete the Norris Cole side of the deal which brought Goran Dragic to Miami, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The Heat also gave the Suns $2.2MM in that same trade.
  • Victor Claver could wind up with Spanish power Real Madrid, David Pick of Eurobasket.com reports (Twitter link). Any Liga ACB team seeking his services must negotiate with Valencia, which owns his rights, Pick added in a separate tweet. The 26-year-old forward played in 10 games with the Trail Blazers this season before he was acquired by the Nuggets last week. Claver was subsequently waived by Denver.

Pacific Notes: Knight, Perkins, Kerr

February 25 at 4:31pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The Suns were already planning to a hard push for Brandon Knight in free agency before they traded for him at last week’s deadline, according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, who writes amid a chat with readers. Phoenix was willing to trade the rights to the Lakers’ top-five protected first-round pick to Milwaukee for Knight, but the Bucks decided instead to take a package that included Michael Carter-Williams from the Sixers in what ended up a three-way deal, Ford adds.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • It was tough for Kendrick Perkins to turn down former coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers, but a pitch from LeBron James was too tempting to pass up, notes Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “He was real honest with me,” Perkins said of Rivers. “He told me, ‘I think your best two situations right now is either us or Cleveland.’ So I was like, ‘Doc? Or I have a chance to go play with The King [LeBron James]. Doc? The King? Uh, I choose The King.”
  • New Kings assistant coach Vance Walberg is being counted on to bring creativity to Sacramento’s offense, which is something the team was looking for when it fired former coach Mike Malone, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes.
  • The hiring of Steve Kerr as coach was the final ingredient needed to change the Warriors from a one-and-done playoff team into a title contender, Chris Ballard of SI.com writes. Ballard also runs down how GM Bob Myers constructed the rest of the team’s roster, which is currently an NBA best 44-10.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.