Eric Bledsoe is the top remaining player still unsigned, though as a restricted free agent the Suns have the right to match any offer sheet that Bledsoe agrees to. Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic looks at why Bledsoe hasn’t received any offers, and examines the player’s options going forward. Bickley also opines that Bledsoe is risking alienating the fans in Phoenix by turning down the Suns’ four-year, $48MM deal.
Here’s more from around the league:
- George Karl told Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune that the Wolves can’t afford to pass on trading Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, if the Cavs are truly offering that package (via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer’s tweet). Karl coached through a tumultuous season with the Nuggets when Carmelo Anthony eventually received his desired trade to the Knicks.
- Every year when the dust settles and the free agent signings begin to wind down there are winners and losers. Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today weigh in on this year’s successes and disappointments.
- The Thunder‘s Josh Huestis might become the NBA’s first domestic “draft-and-stash” player, writes Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman. If Huestis does skip signing with the Thunder and heads directly to the NBA D-League, it could signal a major shift in the future of the D-League and how it’s utilized, notes Mayberry.
- Sixers GM Sam Hinkie‘s rebuilding plan might not be popular in Philadelphia as the losses keep piling up. Jason Wolf of USA Today profiles the GM, as well as takes a look at the moves he’s made so far in his efforts to retool the franchise.
- The Jazz are interested in signing free agent Toure’ Murry, tweets Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune. Falk notes that Murry might be waiting for an offer from the Heat. The Knicks had also expressed interest in bringing Murry back, but currently have a logjam in the backcourt.
Cray Allred contributed to this post.
Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times tweets that he doesn’t expect Kendall Marshall, whom the Lakers released yesterday, to clear waivers. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- The Lakers were pleasantly surprised to have won their amnesty claim on Carlos Boozer, tweets Bill Oram of The Orange County Register.
- Dan Bickley of USA Today thinks that Eric Bledsoe should relent on his demands for a five-year, $80MM contract with the Suns, and risks earning a poor public image if he doesn’t.
- The Warriors commitment to defense is manifesting itself in the team’s unwillingness to give up Klay Thompson in a Kevin Love trade, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Amick notes that new coach Steve Kerr has prioritized the defensive end in choosing his assistants, and that Love’s inability to reach the players is a black eye among some league executives.
- New Hornets addition Lance Stephenson tells Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star that he’s surprised he didn’t remain with the Pacers. “I’m definitely surprised,” said Stephenson. “But I’m happy here. I can definitely help this program. It’s a family here. I’m definitely going to miss Larry Bird. But it’s a business, and I feel like here is more of a family. Let’s go get wins.”
While members of June’s coveted draft class have yet to wow executives in the NBA summer leagues, it hasn’t curbed the chatter among the league’s decision-makers in Las Vegas, writes ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz. Arnovitz provides a plethora of big-picture issues being regularly discussed in the desert. Let’s round them up here:
- Between the hefty prices that NBA franchises have fetched this offseason and a new television deal for the league on the horizon, insiders have been “downright giddy” in Vegas this week. Soaring revenues have resulted in teams investing in technology and analytics, though there is a growing fear that the NBA could be headed for another lockout in 2017.
- Speaking of lockouts, the CBA negotiated during the last one has successfully limited the lengths of contracts in the NBA while simultaneously making it more difficult to plan for the long term, according to some executives. By limiting risk, shorter contracts have flooded the marketplace with bidders, in turn driving up the prices on free agents.
- The reactions to the Rockets‘ offseason have been mixed, according to Arnovitz. On one hand, GM Daryl Morey has essentially traded Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and first and second round draft picks for Trevor Ariza, a first round pick and a trade exception. On the other hand, Morey has landed two max players in two years while maintaining the cap space to add another. However, there is sentiment that Morey’s analytics-based approach might eventually discourage future targets from coming to Houston.
- The Spurs are still undoubtedly the model franchise of the NBA, though there is a buzz about what the Suns are building in Phoenix. Citing several insiders, Arnovitz writes that the Suns are adding assets while simultaneously producing an exciting product for their fans.
- LeBron James‘ return to Cleveland hasn’t evoked nearly as much gossip among league insiders as his departure did, but one general manager expressed appreciation for the Cavaliers‘ star “carrying” the NBA right now from a business standpoint.
- The analytics movement continues to devalue the mid-range game, resulting in widespread approval of Channing Frye‘s four-year, $32MM deal with the Magic and even some support for the three-year, $19.5MM deal that Jodie Meeks signed with the Pistons.
9:08pm: Randolph’s deal for 2014/15 is for $1.23MM, the minimum for a seven-year veteran, reports Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic.
7:02pm: The Suns will fully guarantee the 2014/15 contract of Shavlik Randolph, writes Shams Charania of RealGM, citing Randolph’s agent Joel Bell in the report. The terms of the now-guaranteed contract are not yet known, though Randolph is likely on a minimum-salary deal as our schedule of contract guarantee dates indicates. Charania adds that today was the final day the Suns could guarantee Randolph’s deal before releasing him.
The Suns signed the 30-year-old power forward last March after the former Dukie put up some impressive numbers in China. The deal covered the remainder of last season and included a non-guaranteed year in 2014/15, which the team has now guaranteed. Randolph averaged 6.8 minutes in 14 contests in Phoenix, contributing 1.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.
The Suns are the fifth team Randolph has played for in seven seasons in the NBA. He spent a few years overseas before latching on with the Celtics in 2012/13, where he averaged 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16 games. He will likely provide depth inside in Phoenix behind fellow Duke product Miles Plumlee and Markieff Morris.
5:42pm: The Suns’ current offer to Bledsoe is four years, $48MM, tweets Broussard, who adds that the point guard is insistent on a max offer of five years, $80MM.
10:40am: The Suns are offering Eric Bledsoe much less than the maximum salary he’s likely seeking as the team and agent Rich Paul aren’t moving anywhere close to agreement on a new contract for the restricted free agent, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. Phoenix’s insistence that it will match any offers for Bledsoe has effectively deterred would-be suitors, as Broussard details. The Suns have so far refused to discuss sign-and-trade scenarios, but rival teams nonetheless continue to believe the Suns would trade him, given Phoenix’s acquisition of Isaiah Thomas and decision to draft Tyler Ennis. Both are point guards, like Bledsoe.
The Bucks had reportedly been pursuing Bledsoe earlier this month, and while it seems they discussed an offer sheet with him, it isn’t clear whether they’re still in the mix nearly two weeks later. Broussard makes mention of the Bucks in his story, and he also points to the Rockets and Kings as teams in need of a point guard, but it appears as though there’s no sign of legitimate interest from either Houston or Sacramento.
The Jazz had reportedly been preparing to make an offer to Bledsoe, but they’ve largely exhausted their cap flexibility on new deals for Gordon Hayward and Trevor Booker. Some around the league apparently believed Rich Paul’s meetings with teams interested in LeBron James were geared more toward selling those clubs on Bledsoe. The Cavs, Mavs, Lakers and Bulls were among the teams that reportedly met with Paul.
It’s not uncommon for negotiations to become drawn out between marquee restricted free agents and their incumbent teams. The Timberwolves and Nikola Pekovic didn’t reach agreement until August 14th last year. Bledsoe is the top restricted free agent on the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings.
The league office proposed a new lottery system for as soon as next season that would more evenly distribute the odds that non-playoffs teams would have of ending up with the No. 1 overall pick, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports. The proposal to the competition committee, which would cut the worst team’s chance from 25% to 11%, was the dominant subject of talk about lottery reform at league meetings this week, but it’s nonetheless one of many the NBA has considered, Lowe cautions. There’s more draft-related fodder among the latest from around the league:
- Chad Ford of ESPN.com unveiled his top 100 top prospects list and mock draft for 2015 in a pair of subscription-only pieces. His top three players are Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Karl Towns, Jr. Mudiay’s recent decision to withdraw from college basketball and play overseas shouldn’t much affect his draft stock, according to Ford.
- Phil Jackson doubts that Jerry Buss, as has been reported, made the final decision to pass Jackson over to hire Mike D’Antoni as Lakers coach in 2012, as the Zen Master writes in an update to his latest book with Hugh Delehanty, as excerpted in the New York Daily News. Jackson also says that he spoke to the Nets, Raptors and Suns about jobs in the wake of Lakers’ choice.
- J.R. Smith appeared on ESPN’s First Take Thursday, telling the hosts that he wouldn’t blame the Knicks if they traded him (transcription via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com). “No. Absolutely not,” Smith said. “The way I was playing, I was playing like a person who didn’t want to be there. Not looking as focused as a person should be in that situation that we were, in the trenches. I wouldn’t blame them at all.”
- DeJuan Blair went into Washington’s $2,016,000 trade exception left over from when the team traded Eric Maynor at the deadline, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Previous reports had indicated that the Wizards would absorb Blair into their new $8,579,089 trade exception created through Trevor Ariza‘s sign-and-trade to Houston, but it appears the team will instead preserve that exception. Just how much of the Maynor exception Blair will take up remains to be seen, since the precise amount of Blair first-year salary has yet to be reported.
Cray Allred contributed to this post.
10:52pm: The Suns have officially waived Smith, the team announced on their official website.
4:50pm: The Suns are waiving Ish Smith this evening to avoid his non-guaranteed contract becoming fully guaranteed for $992,435, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Today’s the last day the team can make that maneuver without shelling out for Smith this year, as our schedule of contract guarantee dates shows.
Smith played a prominent role for the Suns this past season, averaging 3.7 points, 2.6 assists and 14.4 minutes per game. It appears to be a numbers crunch at part to blame for his departure, even given Phoenix’s commitment to lineups featuring two point guards. The Suns added point guards Isaiah Thomas via sign-and-trade and Tyler Ennis through the draft to supplement Eric Bledsoe, whom they intend to retain through restricted free agency, and Goran Dragic.
The Bulls were among the teams with which agent Rich Paul took meetings to discuss LeBron James during the first week of free agency, as Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reveal in a behind-the-scenes look at LeBron’s choice. Regardless, James was no longer willing to accept being underpaid, as Windhorst examines in a separate piece. James decided before free agency began that he’d take a max contract, and no matter where he would end up, he would demand a deal with a player option after year one, Windhorst writes. James wants to continue to sign short-term deals for the foreseeable future to maintain flexibility in case the maximum salary jumps or is eliminated in the next collective bargaining agreement, as Windhorst explains. He also wants to keep the pressure on Cavs brass to improve the team around him, the ESPN scribe adds. Here’s more on the Heat as they pick up the pieces after LeBron’s departure:
- It wasn’t merely a two-team race between the Rockets and Heat for Chris Bosh, as the Nuggets, Suns and Lakers all made offers to the No. 3 player in the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings, reports Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com.
- The Heat’s contract with Mario Chalmers calls for him to make $4MM for this coming season and $4.3MM in 2015/16, Windhorst tweets. The ESPN scribe pegs the likely salary for Dwyane Wade at $15MM based on the Heat’s other moves this summer and the cap space the team still has available (Twitter link).
The Rockets and the Mavericks are interested in Mike Miller, reports Mark Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Nuggets have the best financial offer on the table for Miller, but Dallas, Houston, and the Cavaliers offer him a better chance to play for a winner, tweets Stein.
More from out west:
- The Pelicans extended a two-year contract offer to undrafted free agent center Patric Young, reports David Pick of Eurobasket (Twitter link).
- In addition to the Rockets and Heat, Chris Bosh was also being pursued by the Nuggets, Suns, and Lakers, notes Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com. On why he chose to re-sign with Miami, Bosh said, “There were very enticing offers. There was some surprising advances made in everything, but I ultimately decided to stay in Miami. I think it was the right choice. I benefit from it, the team will benefit from it, from here. My heart was in Miami. I wanted to be there and keep my family there and build relationships and really keep building on something special.“
- It was a long road for P.J. Tucker, but the hard work paid off with his new contract with the Suns, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic.
- Mavericks‘ president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson would like to re-sign free agent center Bernard James, tweets Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Nelson said, “We love to be able to have Sarge [James] back because of his shot blocking.” James averaged 0.3 BPG in 30 games last season for Dallas.
- Mavs owner Mark Cuban suggested that Chandler Parsons was the team’s top free agent target all along, writes Bryan Gutierrez of ESPNDallas.com. Cuban said, “I looked at all the main guys that were young that we thought would be available and we loved his game. We liked him the best of all the free agents and that was point one.” In the article Cuban also said that if he was in the Rockets position, he would have matched their offer sheet on Parsons.
The Suns have signed T.J. Warren, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports (on Twitter). Phoenix nabbed Warren with the No. 14 overall pick in June’s draft. Warren will earn $1.95MM as shown in Hoops Rumors’ chart for 2014 first-round picks.
Last season, the NC State star led the ACC in scoring and averaged 24.9 points per game. Warren likely would have been a first round pick in the 2013 draft as well, but he stayed in school and still wound up as a lottery choice in the talent-rich 2014 class.
Warren made his Summer League debut on Saturday night for the Suns and scored 22 points off of 10-of-16 shooting.