Amar’e Stoudemire may be with another team next season, especially if the Mavericks can land a top-tier free agent this summer, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. After being waived by the Knicks, Stoudemire came to Dallas and averaged 10.8 points in 23 games while emerging as a locker room leader. However, the Mavericks are expected to chase LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, which would make Stoudemire’s return unlikely. Sefko also examines some other Dallas free agents, writing that Rajon Rondo and Greg Smith are definitely leaving, although the writer is just making an educated guess on Smith. Sefko says Bernard James may find a better deal elsewhere, and the fate of Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva will depend on the market.
There’s more free agency news from Dallas:
- Al-Farouq Aminu is probably looking for a larger role and larger contract than the Mavericks are willing to give him, Sefko writes in a separate story. He’s the type of young, high-energy player Dallas needs, but as a small forward he could be trapped behind Chandler Parsons for the next two seasons, although Parsons can opt out next summer. Aminu can also play power forward, but Dirk Nowitzki is in his way there.
- If Monta Ellis decides to opt out of the $9MM he is owed next season, it will leave Dallas with a difficult decision, Sefko writes. Ellis is a big-time NBA scorer and would form a lethal inside-outside combination if the Mavericks are lucky enough to land Aldridge. However, Ellis’ defense is suspect and he tends to be a streak shooter. If Dallas gives him a max contract, Sefko argues, he would be another overpaid player on the roster along with Parsons.
- The Mavericks’ poor choices at point guard may force them to keep J.J. Barea, Sefko contends. With Devin Harris and Raymond Felton competing for the starting job, Dallas needs a competent backup, and Sefko notes that the free agent options aren’t promising.
LeBron James and Stephen Curry finished atop the voting for the All-NBA Teams, with James Harden, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol joining them on the first team, the league announced via press release. Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Paul, Pau Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins comprise the second team. Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Tim Duncan, Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving make up the third team.
Curry, the league’s MVP, and James each received 645 points through a system in which five points are awarded a first team vote, three points go for a second team vote and one point is given for a third team vote. The duo garnered 129 first team votes each, making them unanimous first team selections. They were followed closely by Harden, with 125 first team votes and 637 points, and Davis, who had 119 first team votes and 625 points. Marc Gasol, who’s heading into free agency, wasn’t as widely seen as a first-teamer by the media members who cast their ballots, rounding out the squad with 65 first-team votes and 453.
Every member of the second team received at least one first team vote, and Thompson and Irving were the only members of the third team not to get a first team vote. Al Horford also received a first team vote even though he didn’t make any of the teams. The NBA will soon display the votes of each media member on its website, but the league has already distributed the information via press release, so click here to check it out in PDF form.
Ricky Rubio did his best to stamp out rumors that his camp is pushing for a trade, making it clear in comments to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press that he’s not making any such effort to leave Minnesota and that he wants to be there when the team starts winning (Twitter links). “I really want to make it work here,” Rubio said. The point guard’s four-year, $55MM extension kicks in for 2015/16, a season in which the Wolves are in position to become the first team to have three consecutive No. 1 overall picks on the roster. Here’s more from around the Northwest Division:
- Kyle Singler‘s tenure with the Thunder got off to a rough start, but the team wants him back, and the soon-to-be restricted free agent makes it clear that interest is mutual, as The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry details. “I want to be back for sure,” Singler said. “This is the type of environment that I think I thrive in. A winning team. A winning organization. Talented players. This is where I want to be.” Singler also said that joining the team at midseason gives him a leg up on next year in Oklahoma City, furthering the notion that he expects to re-sign.
- Perry Jones III has one more year left on his rookie scale contract, but it seems as though there’s some uncertainty that he’ll return to Oklahoma City for next season, given the Thunder‘s roster logjam, writes fellow Oklahoman scribe Anthony Slater. He’s eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer, but I’d feel safe in speculating that it’s a longshot that he’d receive such a deal.
- A quartet of Blazers beat writers, in a piece for The Oregonian, agree that Portland seems likely to retain Allen Crabbe, whose contract is non-guaranteed for next season. That’s in part because of the low cost associated with the deal, which calls for him to make the minimum, observes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.
The Timberwolves secured the top pick in Tuesday night’s NBA Draft lottery, and though the franchise is unlikely to trade the pick, team owner Glen Taylor indicated that the idea will at least be discussed internally, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com writes. “You never know what it could mean, if you could get the right one or two guys that could change your team,” Taylor said. “When you already have a bunch of young guys, you have to look at this type of stuff. But I think it’s a very hard decision to make.”
Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The Wolves owner also noted that the Cavs were reluctant to part with Andrew Wiggins, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, in the deal for Kevin Love, Berger adds. “They didn’t want to do that,” Taylor said. “I can tell you, because I ended up negotiating with their owner. They didn’t want to do that, because you just don’t know how good Wiggins could be in the future and you’re going to hear about that forever and ever and ever. So I think it’s probably highly unlikely, but I think it’s part of the discussion.”
- The Thunder achieved payroll flexibility as a result of the James Harden trade, and while the deal hasn’t resulted in an NBA title as a result, it has allowed the franchise to add a number of useful players to its roster, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes.
- Robin Lopez is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and the big man indicated that he would like to return to the Blazers for the 2015/16 campaign, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. “Nothing’s 100% certain,” Lopez said. “Obviously I’ve loved my time here in Portland. I would love to come back. I’d be very open to coming back, but it’s hard to say 100%. You just never know what’s going to happen.“
- With the Timberwolves having secured the top overall pick in June, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders breaks down Minnesota’s potential choices and what each player could bring to the franchise. The three players who make the most sense for the franchise to potentially take are Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, or Emmanuel Mudiay, Brigham opines.
Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities believes Jahlil Okafor is the guy at No. 1 for the Timberwolves (Twitter link), who won last night’s lottery, though he cautions that nothing is set in stone. That jibes with the feeling Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune had as of a week ago, when he said he thought the Wolves would go with the Duke center. However Chad Ford of ESPN.com and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress top their mock drafts with the Wolves picking Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns instead. Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders played coy Tuesday night, not even deigning to narrow the field to those two, Zgoda notes.
“It’s not that simple,” Saunders said. “We have an idea but there are a lot of different directions we can go. … We have to rely on our ability to select the right players. This will give us great flexibility. Every spot you move up in the draft, you have more control over what’s going to happen and you have more people talking to you.”
Saunders did make it clear that the team almost certainly won’t trade the pick, as Zgoda relays. Here’s more from the Northwest:
- Persistent rumors indicate that Jahlil Okafor has his heart set on becoming a Laker, according to Givony, who wonders if agent Bill Duffy, who also represents Andrew Wiggins and who is college buddies with Saunders, will let Okafor work out for the Wolves.
- Thunder GM Sam Presti is pleased with the depth of the draft and said that while he’ll have exploratory talks about trading the team’s pick, at No. 14 overall, with all sorts of teams, he’d probably wait until draft night to make a move if he indeed makes one. Presti made those comments and many others to Royce Young of Daily Thunder, who provides a full transcript of their conversation.
- Alonzo Gee has been on the roster of a half dozen NBA teams in the past 12 months, but Joe Freeman of The Oregonian will be surprised if he sticks in Portland with a tumultuous summer ahead for the Blazers, as Freeman writes in a roundtable piece examining Gee’s future. Gee becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.
The Timberwolves got their apparent wish to receive Thaddeus Young in the final version of the Kevin Love trade instead of the Heat’s protected first-round pick this year, and Minnesota flipped Young for Kevin Garnett at this year’s trade deadline. The Sixers, who ended up with that protected Miami pick instead, have about a 9% chance to end up with it as a lottery pick this year, as the lottery odds show. Still, it’s more likely that it ultimately winds up going to Philadelphia next year as a late first-rounder, given the Heat’s strong chance to field a better team next season. Wolves coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders doesn’t have any regrets about trading for a aging superstar who’s mentoring rookies and veterans alike, as he told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck in part two of a lengthy oral history on Garnett.
“What KG brings, the other things, how he might help these other guys analytically be better, is more important than a low first-round pick or whatever it is,” Saunders said.
Here’s more from around the Northwest Division:
- LaMarcus Aldridge finally had the surgery on his left thumb that he put off in late January, the Trail Blazers announced. He’s expected to be able to return to basketball activity in about eight weeks, and while that would carry into July, when he’s set to become a free agent, it shouldn’t affect his stock, given how well he played while he was dealing with the injury, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The Spurs, Mavs, Knicks, Lakers and Celtics are reportedly among the teams gearing up for a run at the Blazers star.
- Thunder draft-and-stash prospect Alex Abrines has officially signed an extension with Barcelona of Spain that carries through the 2018/19 season, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi). Jose Ignacio Huguet of Mundo Deportivo first reported the deal, though it remains unclear what sort of NBA outs, if any, are in the contract.
- The Thunder let some of the top shooting prospects know that shooting is an area of need for the team, and Oklahoma City’s interviews at the combine also revealed that the club is focusing on point guards, as The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry examines.
The Spurs are widely expected to focus their attention on LaMarcus Aldridge first before turning their attention to fellow free agent target Marc Gasol, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The understanding as of two months ago was that Gasol would be San Antonio’s No. 1 target, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported then, though that was before a series of reports that made it clear that Portland’s star is strongly considering a move elsewhere. Stein indeed deems Aldridge as the more “gettable” free agent, though it’s not entirely clear whether San Antonio would prefer Aldridge over Gasol, all things being equal.
The Spurs are the team that Memphis fears most, Stein writes, cautioning that it’s premature to anoint San Antonio the most likely non-Memphis destination for the Spanish center given the expectation that the Spurs will attempt to woo Aldridge first. Most teams around the league predict that Gasol will wind up re-signing with the Grizzlies given his strong ties to the city of Memphis and his desire to win a title, according to Stein. Still, Gasol has given little precious little indication of his thinking, Stein notes.
The Knicks have long been linked to Gasol as a suitor, but former Knick and current Gasol teammate Beno Udrih recently posited that New York is out of the running. Many of Gasol’s comments about Memphis have made his love for the city undeniable, but Gasol in February refused to rule out the Knicks or any other team.
Memphis has Gasol’s Bird Rights and can give the 30-year-old a five-year deal with 7.5% raises, while other teams are limited to four-year contracts with 4.5% raises. Still, the expected leaps in the salary cap over the next couple of years stand to mitigate that advantage if the Arn Tellem client is confident he can still warrant maximum-salary consideration in another year or two. The Spurs will have the flexibility to make a maximum-salary bid on Aldridge, Gasol or another sought-after free agent this summer, but it may well require Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to retire or take drastically reduced salaries, as I explained.
The Spurs believe they can sign Aldridge, who’s considering them as well as the Mavericks and a new deal with the Blazers, as Stein recently reported. The Knicks and Lakers are apparently planning to become Aldridge suitors, too, as are the Celtics.
Several NBA executives told Chris Mannix of SI.com they wouldn’t dare draft Robert Upshaw in the first-round, leading Mannix to conclude that it’s unlikely that any team guarantees the troubled center any salary. Two seasons of guaranteed salary come with the rookie scale contracts that go to first-round picks. People from three different teams with lottery picks told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com that Upshaw would be a certain lottery pick if not for his troubles in the past, which have involved drugs, but none of those teams are willing to draft him that highly, Blakely adds. Upshaw, who tells Blakely that he’s working with Bill Walton, among other mentors, is 29th in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings but 38th with Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Here’s more on the draft, which takes place just a week and a month from tonight:
- Multiple executives told Mannix for the same piece that they think D’Angelo Russell plans to accept workout invitations only from the teams that hold the top three picks. Mannix also cites multiple execs who told him that they believe former Kentucky sharpshooter Devin Booker will go within the top 10 picks.
- Cameron Payne, who spoke with Zach Links of Hoops Rumors, is quickly lifting his stock, having become a strong candidate for the lottery, according to Mannix. Rakeem Christmas, J.P. Tokoto and Jordan Mickey were standouts in the five-on-five drills at last week’s combine, Mannix adds.
- Jabari Young of CSNNW.com adds the Blazers to the list of the teams that have interviewed Oregon shooting guard Joseph Young, and he’ll also be working out with Portland, as the CSNNW.com scribe has reported. Still, Young the writer suggests it’s nonetheless unlikely that the Blazers will end up drafting Young the player.
Recently fired Pelicans coach Monty Williams is among Billy Donovan’s targets for assistants with the Thunder, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Other rumored candidates are Bulls assistant Andy Greer, Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts and Knicks assistant Brian Keefe, who left Oklahoma City for Derek Fisher’s staff in New York last season. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook reportedly have a close relationship with Keefe and would be happy to see him return. Mike Brown, former head coach of the Cavaliers and Lakers, allegedly turned down an offer to join Donovan’s staff. Wojnarowski reports that Donovan will retain Thurnder assistants Mark Bryant and Darko Rajakovic and will make ex-Alabama coach Anthony Grant his third assistant coach. Billy Schmidt, who was part of Donovan’s staff at Florida, may come to OKC in a player development role.
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- More than half of the Thunder’s interviews at this week’s NBA Draft Combine were with point guards and shooters, notes Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. With Oklahoma City slotted at 14th headed into Tuesday’s draft lottery, that’s probably too low to get any of this year’s talented big men. However, Mayberry points out that the Thunder are in need of shooting help. “They said they know they need outside shooting,” said Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison, one of the players interviewed. “And I’m a shooter. I just got to hopefully get a workout with them and just dominate the workout.”
- The Blazers‘ Nicolas Batum won’t be resting this summer after a disappointing season, writes Casey Holdahl of nba.com. Batum plans to represent France at EuroBasket [the European Championships], which his nation is hosting. Batum, who is entering the final season of a four-year contract and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, admits the recently ended season didn’t go as he had hoped. “I can say this was my toughest [season],” Batum said. “I didn’t play the way I used to play. I was thinking too much.”
- Tim Frazier presents an intriguing decision for the Blazers, Holdahl contends in a separate story. The D-League’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player signed with Portland late in the season and has a non-guaranteed contract for next year worth $845K. Holdahl also focuses on Blazers veteran guard Steve Blake, who will probably be entering his final NBA season, Holdahl contends.
Center Joel Freeland can become a restricted free agent this summer if the Blazers tender him a qualifying offer worth $3,766,890, and Sean Meagher of the Oregonian, along with a panel of writers, runs down the case for the team to retain the big man. While Freeland’s numbers don’t stand out, he can be a solid backup when healthy, the panel notes. Working against Freeland is the fact that he is relatively easy to replace, though there is mutual interest in the 28-year-old returning to Rip City next season, the writers add.
Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The Jazz interviewed UNLV’s Christian Wood, Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Chris McCullough of Syracuse, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune relays in a series of tweets. Also scoring an interview with Utah was Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant, Jones adds.
- Arizona forward Stanley Johnson is set to interview with representatives from the Jazz on Saturday, Jones tweets.
- The Jazz also have an interest in Cameron Payne, and the team is expected to bring him in for an individual workout, Jones adds (Twitter link). Utah also wants to schedule individual workouts with Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Kansas swingman Kelly Oubre, Jones relays.
- The Trail Blazers interviewed Arkansas’ Bobby Portis and Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, both forwards, Jabari Young of CSNNW.com relays (Twitter links).
- Duke point guard Tyus Jones met with the Timberwolves today, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes. Jones, who is a native of Minnesota, dished on his excitement about joining the NBA, Zgoda relays. “Every kid who plays basketball dreams it, but it’s one of those things that might not seem realistic,” Jones said. “You don’t necessarily see a lot of guys from Minnesota go to the NBA. Especially for me, being out of Apple Valley, it doesn’t seem like it’s possible. But it’s just one of those things: If you work hard, put your mind to something, you can do it. I’m proud to be from Apple Valley, Minnesota, and I’m very excited about this opportunity.”