Let’s head out West for a look at the Pacific Division..
Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld (via Twitter) would be surprised if the Lakers didn’t have interest in Knicks guard Iman Shumpert. Unfortunately for L.A., they don’t have the kind of young impact big that New York is looking for.
In his new book, Lakers forward Pau Gasol discusses the trade that brought him to Los Angeles and the trade rumors that have swirled around him ever since, writes Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. ”The last two season have been challenging and difficult. The constant trade rumors, injuries and coaching changes — from Phil Jackson to Mike Brown, from Mike to Bernie Bickerstaff and from Bernie to Mike D’Antoni — have been a lot to take in.“
The new-look Suns are the top fast break team in the league and they have no intentions of taking their foot off of the gas, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
All day long, media outlets have been reporting that Knicks guard Iman Shumpertmight be traded in an attempt to aid the team’s ailing frontcourt. Despite the flux of rumors, Lang Greene over at HoopsWorld reports Shumpert isn’t fazed by seeing his name involved in trade talks: “If it’s going to happen, it will happen. I’m young. I’m an asset. So I’ll be in the [trade] rumors, I guess.” Although a move to Denver has been reportedly ruled out, several teams are still thought to be interested in the third year Georgia Tech product.
Here are some more interesting notes from around the NBA:
We found out earlier today that the Nuggets weren’t keen on sending Kenneth Faried over to New York, but Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tweets that there is league-wide interest in the young forward. However, Wojnarowski also notes that despite the interest, the Nuggets don’t appear likely to dish Faried unless he’s involved in some sort of blockbuster deal.
The Suns and 76ers are off to better-than-expected starts, but Mark Deeks from SB Nation does’t believe that either team should exit rebuilding mode in an attempt to make a playoff run.
Three projected lottery picks took the court in Chicago last night for the Champions Classic. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle showed off their skills to a packed arena that included 68 NBA scouts. Alex Kennedy from HoopsWorld breaks down how each of the young phenoms performed under the spotlight.
While the Suns have to be pleased with Eric Bledsoe‘s impressive play so far this season, he may be driving up his price tag and taking Phoenix out of the running for a top pick in 2014, writes Tom Ziller of SBNation.com.
The new look Clippers looked sharp in last night’s win over the Rockets, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. New starter J.J. Redick had a strong game, scoring 22 points off of 8-15 shooting, including 3-7 from beyond the arc.
New Los Angeles D-Fenders coach Bob MacKinnon spoke with Dakota Schmidt of Ridiculous Upside about his relationship with the Lakers and the future of the D-League. ”The biggest thing is that your players know that the way things are done are the ‘Lakers Way’. We’re trying to be a mini-model of the Lakers and I think that’s attractive for players who want to achieve their dreams.“
Former Suns GM Steve Kerr is enjoying life behind the microphone, but he still has the itch to get back to the other side. However, if he does transition back to the NBA, it might not be as a General Manager. “I have a lot of thoughts about coaching,” Kerr said. “If I get back in, I think it will be on the coaching side. My favorite part of the GM role in terms of my relationships was just dealing with players down on the court. I’d go to practice every day, and I’d let the coaches coach, but just getting to know the players and dealing with them and talking strategy, that really appealed to me. I think if I get back, which I anticipate, it would be on the coaching side,” Kerr told Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld. Here’s more from around the Association..
All indications are that even though an extension didn’t get done at the October deadline, Eric Bledsoe wants to stay with the Suns, writes John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports. Gambadoro also opines that it makes sense for both parties to wait things out until after Bledsoe’s first full season as a starter.
Guards O.J. Mayo and Monta Ellis are playing well after swapping teams in the offseason, and as the Bucks and Mavs prepare to meet tonight, Mayo isn’t too hung up on his time in Dallas, as Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel observes. “I forgot all about it, man,” Mayo said of his Mavs stint. “It’s another year. I’ve got a short memory span. I’m looking forward to (Saturday).“
Eric Bledsoe has kicked off his inaugural campaign as a full-time starter in Phoenix with a bang, averaging 21.0 PPG, 7.2 APG, 5.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG in 33.8 MPG, and helping the Suns to a 3-2 record after five games. The 4th year veteran is set to become a restricted free agent next summer after failing to land an extension last week, and while some may be worried that this potentially means a short tenure for Bledsoe in Phoenix, GM Ryan McDonough was openly optimistic about being able to re-sign him (Adam Green of Arizona Sports, hat tip to Burns and Gambo of Arizona Sports 620):
“I feel very confident that he’s going to be a Sun long-term…We negotiated with Eric and his agents. I think the contract situation was handled very professionally on both ends…We can match any offer to Eric next summer…Another advantage would be we have an extra year to play with. Other teams who are making Eric an offer can offer him four years, we can offer him up to five if we chose to do so…So there’s some inherent advantages that I just mentioned, also we can give higher percentage increases than another team could give Eric in a contract.”
Here are some more miscellaneous news and notes to pass along tonight:
Looking into Lance Stephenson‘s comments that he thinks the Pacers would “do anything” to keep him in Indiana for the long term, Candace Buckner of IndyStar.com (along with USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt) explores how the 23-year-old shooting guard could be positioning himself for a five-year max deal next summer. While I’m not too sure about labeling Stephenson as a max-level player at this point, if he can maintain his current averages of 16.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.6 APG, and 47% shooting from the field, he should draw some very lucrative offers next July.
Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post notes how the Nuggets’ plans to recruit Kyle Korver this past summer led to nothing more than brief contact because of the massive turnover that had been going on within the front office and coaching staff. Korver would eventually re-sign with the Hawks.
The Thunder have hired former Raptors vice president and assistant GM Maurizio Gherardini in a senior adviser/international affairs position, according to Darnell Mayberry of NewsOK.
The divergent paths the Nets and Pacers took to upgrade their teams this summer underscores how the current collective bargaining agreement allows deep-pocketed owners to further their advantage, opines Mark Deeks of ShamSports in a piece for HoopsWorld. Indiana steadfastly refuses to pay the luxury tax, while Brooklyn is set to pay about $80MM in penalties on its $100MM+ payroll this season. Still, the Pacers are the NBA’s lone unbeaten team and my pick to win the championship. Here’s more from a nine-game NBA evening:
There were 13 coaching vacancies this past offseason, and Patrick Ewing didn’t receive an interview for any of them, notes Fred Kerber of the New York Post, who catches up with the Bobcats assistant pining for a chance to lead a team.
Alex Oriakhi, whom the Suns drafted 57th overall this summer, is leaving the French team Limoges, but he wants to continue to play somewhere in Europe, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia.
This year is crucial for Reggie Jackson, as he’ll have a chance to prove his worth as a sixth man. The Thunder believe he can lead their second unit, but they must find out for sure before he becomes extension-eligible in the summer, as The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater examines.
Larry Sanders is averaging just 17.3 minutes per game after signing a four-year, $44MM extension with the Bucks this offseason, but he simply hasn’t earned any more playing time with his performance so far, the Journal Sentinel’s Michael Hunt argues.
The Suns have made a number of major trades since the end of the 2012/13 season, but arguably none were bigger than the three-way deal that sent Eric Bledsoe to Phoenix. In Bledsoe, the Suns acquired a player capable of being a starting NBA point guard, and one with star upside.
While the trade itself was a coup for the Suns, skeptics immediately questioned how Bledsoe would fit with incumbent point guard Goran Dragic, the club’s most productive player last season. Team executives insisted the two players could coexist in Phoenix’s backcourt, but there were rumblings that Dragic, an acquisition of the old regime, could be shipped out by new GM Ryan McDonough.
McDonough denied that he was interested in moving Dragic, and things got a little more interesting when the Suns failed to work out an extension with Bledsoe last week. That means the former Clipper will be a restricted free agent next summer, and will likely be in line for a much larger salary than the $7.5MM being earned annually by Dragic. I wouldn’t expect Phoenix to let Bledsoe walk, but it sounds like a sign-and-trade isn’t out of the question, if the price tag gets too high.
Keeping both Bledsoe and Dragic long-term doesn’t make much sense for the Suns, since each player represents a valuable asset that could be turned into a productive piece at another position. Still, that doesn’t mean that the club won’t ride out the 2013/14 season with both players still in tow.
What do you think? Will Dragic be the next veteran player moved by the Suns, or will he stay put through this season’s trade deadline?
No team except perhaps the Sixers was viewed as more likely to tank the 2013/14 season than the Suns, who shipped out Luis Scola over the summer and traded Marcin Gortat just days before the regular season began. But team president Lon Babby takes issue with the idea that Phoenix is intentionally trying to lose games, as he tells Sean Deveney of the Sporting News.
“There is a key difference between acknowledging that you’re rebuilding, which we are, and some notion that you’re not trying to succeed,” Babby said. “Anybody in this business, because you’re competitive, and you have a competitive nature, it is not going to do anything but give your heart and soul to try to win every night.”
It may be an question of semantics, but Babby’s comments, along with the strong starts to the season for the Sixers and Suns, are a reminder that while a front office may put a team in position to lose games, the players on the court are certainly trying to win.
Here’s more from around the West:
Rival team executives will continue to monitor LaMarcus Aldridge‘s situation in Portland, but the Blazers forward tells Sam Amick of USA Today that he has no desire to be moved. Asked about his current attitude, Aldridge replied: “It’s not ‘If there’s a better deal, then get me out of [Portland] or take that.’ It’s ‘We’re here. Let’s win, and let’s try to have the best season that we can.’” Amick adds that there’s a league-wide belief that GM Neil Olshey wouldn’t even consider an offer for Aldridge unless it included at least an All-Star player, among other things.
Responding to comments made by ESPN’s Bill Simmons, Oklahoman contributor Jon Hamm rebuts the idea that the Thunder need to become a taxpaying team to win the title.
Daniel Orton and Brandon Davies were late additions to the Sixers‘ roster, but they received the same kind of deals that many of the team’s other offseason signees did: Non-guaranteed four-year pacts. Hollis Thompson, meanwhile, landed a $35K guarantee for this season on his four-year contract.
When Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors listed the camp cuts who had been owed guaranteed money, he noted that the guarantees for Vander Blue, Khalif Wyatt, and Richard Howell were still unknown. Deeks fills in those amounts, reporting that the Sixers paid Blue $55K and Wyatt $35K. Howell received $50K from the Trail Blazers.
Unlike most players on non-guaranteed contracts, A.J. Price won’t have to wait until the new year for his salary to become fully guaranteed. He’ll get his full minimum salary as long as he’s not waived by the Timberwolves on or before December 8th.
Julyan Stone‘s two-year contract with the Raptors was initially guaranteed for $50K, but that amount was bumped up to $100K when he earned a spot on the regular season roster.