Here are a few Wednesday afternoon odds and ends from around the Association:
After indulging in his love of soccer to make a cross-sport comparison of LeBron James and Lionel Messi, Marc Stein of ESPN.com delivers his usual assortment of juicy NBA rumors from around the league as part of his Weekend Dime. Here are the highlights:
Without Bird or even Early Bird rights, The Nets could be in a tricky situation if they want to re-sign Andray Blatche, whom Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors ranked among the best one-year contract signings this season. Blatche indicated to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that he might make it easy on Brooklyn, since he'll still be drawing paychecks from his amnestied contract with the Wizards. "I’m very aware (of my unique situation)," Blatche said. "That’s what I’m saying. Everybody is probably thinking I’m looking to get that big check. I’m not. Not at all. I’m looking at what’s best for me."
Here's more from around the league on the one-year anniversary of the 2012 trade deadline:
Luke Adams contributed to this post.
The Jazz have waived Raja Bell, agent Herb Rudoy tells Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). The move, which had been expected as the team neared an agreement Friday with Travis Leslie, ends a season-long standoff between the Jazz and Bell, who hasn't played a single game this season after the team told him not to come to training camp. Bell will receive his full $3.48MM salary this season, Oram tweets, and that money will remain on Utah's books as long as he clears waivers.
Bell asked for a trade last May after clashing with coach Tyrone Corbin, and he and the team have gone back and forth about the possibility of a buyout for months, reportedly even agreeing on one in July, but Utah never finalized his exit from the team until now. Bell started 33 games at shooting guard for the Jazz last season, but suffered a left knee injury in mid-March and appeared in only one game after his return, playing 18 minutes off the bench in the team's regular-season finale.
The 36-year-old Bell was reportedly telling those close to him last month he'd sign with the Lakers, but that was before the March 1st deadline for players to be waived and still be eligible for the postseason with another team. L.A. could sign Bell and use him in the regular season, but the Lakers are apparently wary of adding more salary that would increase their luxury tax bill. Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni failed in his effort to talk the team into making Bell an offer before March 1st, and without a guarantee he'd find a job with another team, Bell turned down Utah's final buyout offer before the deadline passed.
Rudoy tells Oram that Bell definitely plans to play again (Twitter link), and the Wolves and Bulls have shown interest at various points this season, though it's unclear whether they would want to give him a look now. Bell named the Heat his top choice in the fall, and as Jody Genessy of the Deseret News points out, he has spent the season hanging around Miami, where he attended high school and college. The Heat could open a roster space by electing not to re-up 10-day signee Juwan Howard, but they would have to reciprocate Bell's interest, and there's been no indication that they want to bring him aboard.
One of the reasons Bell remained in limbo for so long is that the Jazz didn't want to give in and reward what the team believed was poor behavior on Bell's part, Oram tweets, so that could scare other teams off. The 12-year veteran averaged his fewest minutes and points per game in nine seasons last year, but he still shot 39.1% from three-point range, just slightly below his 40.6% career mark.
David Aldridge's latest Morning Tip column at NBA.com is packed full with updates on a few notable stories from around the league. Here's Aldridge's latest on the Kings' sale, the NBPA, Andrew Bynum, and more:
Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld has a new column that surveys several topics from around the NBA, including info on several buyout candidates. Here are the highlights:
8:51pm: Though no team made a commitment, several NBA clubs have spoken with Rudoy recently about signing Bell if he were to be waived by the Jazz, Charania reports.
8:43pm: The buyout offer was for the minimum, Oram notes. I believe that means it would have been for the equivalent of the minimum salary, which for a 12-year veteran like Bell would be a prorated portion of $1,352,181. Jazz senior vice president Kevin O'Connor told a team-owned radio station this week that the club offered Bell the minimum buyout before the season, but never heard back from him.
7:20pm: Raja Bell is declining a buyout offer from the Jazz, reports Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). Agent Herb Rudoy told Shams Charania of RealGM.com that it "does not look like" Bell and the Jazz will get a buyout done by tonight's 11pm Central deadline (Twitter link). Previous reports had indicated Bell wouldn't accept the buyout unless he could line up a deal with another team, and Oram and TNT's David Aldridge both tweet that he has no outstanding offer from another club. Rudoy tells Jody Genessey of the Deseret News that he'll hold out until the deadline comes, but believes his client will remain with the Jazz (Twitter link).
Players who aren't waived by tonight's deadline are ineligible to play for another team in the postseason, but Bell would still like to shake free from Utah and elsewhere this season, even if it means missing the playoffs, Rudoy tells Charania (Twitter link). Rudoy insists his client is in "fabulous shape" despite not playing all season after the Jazz asked him to stay away from training camp, Charania tweets. Bell clashed with coach Tyrone Corbin last season, leading to the shooting guard's estrangement from the club.
Bell had recently been telling people close to him that he would join the Lakers, HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy reported, but Marc Stein of ESPN.com indicated L.A. wasn't necessarily his most likely destination, given the team's luxury tax situation. Still, the rest of the regular season means as much to the Lakers as anyone as they look to climb into a playoff spot, and they may be inclined to have Bell around for the stretch run, if not the playoffs, though that's just my speculation. The Jazz are one of the team's competing with the Lakers for a postseason berth, so they may be unwilling to part ways with anyone who could help the purple and gold, as senior VP Kevin O'Connor indicated this week.
Bell is making $3.48MM in the final year of his deal. It's unclear how much the buyout offer from the Jazz is worth.
THURSDAY, 2:01pm: The Jazz and Bell will continue discussing a buyout right up until tomorrow night's deadline, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein (via Twitter). Stein adds that the Lakers aren't necessarily the most likely destination for Bell if a buyout occurs, since the team isn't eager to add to its significant tax bill (Twitter link).
TUESDAY, 1:15pm: Utah's senior VP Kevin O'Connor appeared on team-owned radio station 1280 The Zone to address the Bell situation, as Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune details. O'Connor said that the Jazz are willing to buy out Bell's contract, but want the veteran forward to give up a portion of his guarantee, particularly if he intends to sign with the Lakers, to make it worth Utah's while.
"I think it's been from the start. We'll be willing to look at a buyout," O'Connor said. "We're not just going to let him walk away. We're paying him the money. He's going to get money. He can't get all the money from us and then go make more with the Lakers. Oh, thank you. I'd get fired for that. I'd fire me for that."
MONDAY, 6:15pm: Veteran Raja Bell, who is nearing a buyout agreement with the Jazz, has been telling players and friends around the league that he'll join the Lakers, tweets Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. Bell won't sign off on a buyout arrangement with Utah until he has his next job lined up.
Bell is in the final year of his deal in which he is earning $3.48MM and the two sides have been going back and forth on a buyout all season. The Lakers are among the teams with interest in the 36-year-old and an available roster spot to add him to the mix.
Bell has to be cut loose prior to Friday's buyout deadline if he hopes to appear in the postseason for another team this season. Free agents who haven't been on an NBA roster at any point this season could still sign after that date and be playoff-eligible, but anyone currently on a roster must be released by March 1st to retain postseason eligibility.
With Friday's buyout deadline looming, the Jazz and Raja Bell have an agreement in place that would see the team buy out the veteran's contract, according to Shams Charania of RealGM.com (via Twitter). However, the deal hinges on Bell's ability to find a contract elsewhere, and so far there are no takers, Charania reports.
According to Charania (via Twitter), Bell's agent Herb Rudoy continues to talk to several clubs about a possible role for his client, but hasn't made serious progress yet. Bell has been on Utah's roster all season, but the disgruntled wing was asked not to report to the club. He and the team have been working on a buyout off and on all year, with his $3.48MM salary set to come off the books at season's end, but have yet to finalize a deal.
The Lakers reportedly have some interest in Bell, so presumably they're one of the teams with whom Rudoy has been in contact. Los Angeles has a roster space available, but perhaps the club wants to wait to see what other players hit the market before committing to Bell. Salary could also be a point of contention.
March 1st represents the NBA's buyout deadline, meaning that players must be released before the deadline if they hope to play in the postseason for another team this season. Free agents who haven't been on an NBA roster at any point this season could still sign after March 1st and be playoff-eligible, but anyone currently on a roster must be released by Friday to retain his postseason eligibility.