It was a successful night for a pair of teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, as the Pistons blew out the Sixers en route to their first win after an 0-8 start, while the Bobcats dropped the Wolves for their third win in a row, moving to 4-3. The Wizards failed to join that group, and are the NBA's lone remaining winless team after losing to the Mavericks tonight. There's more on Washington and other news from the East right here.
While most players' contracts include annual raises, or at the very least, identical annual salaries, Steve Novak's new contract with the Knicks is a little different, as Mark Deeks of ShamSports explains (Twitter link). Novak's deal starts at a little over $4MM, dips to below $3.5MM by 2014/15, then rises back up to $3.75MM for 2015/16. The unusual structure of the deal provides the Knicks a small amount of savings in the years when the rest of the team's roster will get extremely expensive.
Deeks shared a number of other contract details from around the league, via Twitter, so let's round them up....
JULY 11, 7:12pm: The move is now official, according to the Nets (Twitter link).
JULY 3, 3:53pm: The second-round pick heading to the Clippers will likely be for 2017 or 2018, tweets Howard Beck of the New York Times.
3:02pm: The Nets have reached a sign-and-trade agreement with the Clippers for Reggie Evans, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). SI.com's Sam Amick reports (via Twitter) that the Nets will send a future second-rounder to the Clippers.Evans, 32, saw limited playing time for the Clippers in 2011/12, averaging 1.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in just 13.8 minutes. He signed for Los Angeles for a one-year, minimum-salary contract, but he'll make a little more than that on his new contract. Amick tweets that the Nets will absorb Evans into their $3MM trade exception, adding that the power forward will earn $1.6MM annually over the next three years. Wojnarowski has the total value of the contract at $5MM over three years.
By using the trade exception they acquired when they sent Shawne Williams to Portland, the Nets are able to give Evans more than the minimum salary and avoid using their bi-annual exception to sign him. For the Clippers, who didn't intend to re-sign Evans, getting anything out of the deal is a bonus, even if it's a distant second-round pick, as Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld tweets.
It's been a busy week so far for the Nets, who have agreed to re-sign Gerald Wallace, agreed in principle to acquire Joe Johnson from the Hawks, and committed their mid-level exception to Mirza Teletovic. The team is still awaiting word on Deron Williams' decision.
Blake Griffin doesn't hit free agency this summer, but the Clippers figure to make his future a top priority in the coming days nonetheless. According to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, when free agency begins, the Clippers are expected to offer Griffin a five-year extension, with an opt-out after four years. Griffin is expected to agree to either that offer or a four-year extension, says Turner. Here are the rest of the Clippers rumors from Turner's piece:
With another week of the playoffs in the books, let's check again on how soon-to-be free agents are faring in the postseason. You can catch up on the first and second installments by clicking the links. A number of players on expiring contracts are putting up impressive performances in the second round, but with size always a premium in the NBA, let's focus on three big men who are getting it done:
Kevin Garnett, Celtics: Garnett turns 36 today, but he's not atop this list because it's his birthday. It's hard to overlook his 3-for-12, nine-point, seven-turnover outing in the Celtics collapse against the Sixers last night, but Garnett's playoff renaissance has been one of the most compelling stories of the past few weeks. His 192 total points in 10 playoff games is more than anyone except Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and teammate Paul Pierce. Garnett's scoring (19.2) and rebounding (11.0) averages are his best in the playoffs since the Celtics' run to the title in 2008. He's protecting the basket, too, averaging 1.8 blocks per game. That's a figure he only exceeded once in the regular season, during his MVP year in 2003/04.
Tim Duncan, Spurs: A few weeks after his 36th birthday, Duncan can't believe how healthy he feels, and that's certainly been reflected in his play. He's led in his team in scoring with 22.0 PPG in two wins over the Clippers, while also averaging 7.5 rebounds, two steals and a block during the series. His 53% shooting for the postseason as a whole is the third-best percentage he's ever had in the playoffs, and his 25.4 PER is the fifth best of anyone on any playoff team this year. It's hard to imagine him leaving the Spurs, but he's probably earned a few extra dollars and another year or two on his next contract with his throwback performance.
Roy Hibbert, Pacers (restricted): He has exploited the Heat's weakness inside to the tune of 14.7 PPG and 13.3 RPG in three games against Miami, with three blocks a night to boot. He's pulled down 14 offensive rebounds in the series so far, and forced Miami coach Erik Spoelstra to start little-used Dexter Pittman in a vain attempt to match up with Hibbert's 7-foot-2, 278-pound size. For the playoffs as a whole, he's averaging 12.4 PPG and 11.8 RPG, and at age 25, he might be the No. 1 center on the free agent market this summer.
Ray Allen, Celtics: His 1-for-7 performance in Boston's closeout victory over the Hawks in the first round has carried over to the series against the Sixers. Allen is averaging only 9.3 points per game against Philadelphia on 29.4% shooting from behind the arc. That's not much of an improvement over his 27.8% three-point accuracy against the Hawks. Odder still is his 60% postseason free-throw shooting. He says his right ankle feels all right, but you have to wonder.
Matt Barnes, Lakers: His appearance on this list has a lot to do with Metta World Peace's return from suspension, but it never helps a free agent's case to become a forgotten man. He's played just 41 minutes so far against the Thunder, taken just seven shots, pulled down four rebounds and has more turnovers (four) than steals (three). The red flags will be flying especially high if he doesn't get much time tonight, with the Lakers playing a rare playoff back-t0-back.
Reggie Evans, Clippers: Evans, too, has seen his minutes cut drastically in the second round, but in his case there's not a clear reason why. Foul trouble might be to blame for his paltry eight minutes in Game 1, but he picked up just one foul as coach Vinny Del Negro went to him for just 11 minutes in Game 2, and his lack of playing time has contributed to an 82-66 advantage for San Antonio on the boards. Evans has seven rebounds in the series so far after bettering that total in six of the seven games against Memphis.
Last week we looked at some players on the cusp of free agency who were making some surprising postseason impressions, both positive and negative, on prospective employers. With the first round almost over and the conference semifinals about to begin, let's check in with some more soon-to-be free agents in the playoffs:
Reggie Evans, Clippers: Anyone who can spark a 27-point comeback in the playoffs, as he did in Game 1, deserves to be on this list, and his energy throughout the first round has been critical for the Clippers. His already superb number of rebounds per 36 minutes has jumped from 12.7 in the regular season to 13.7 in the playoffs, and, for what it's worth, has his team's best defensive rating in the playoffs, per Basketball-Reference.
Andre Miller, Nuggets: It's easy to forget about Miller sometimes, particularly since he's been coming off the bench for Denver. Yet the NBA's 10th leading assist-maker all-time reminded everyone, including the Lakers, of what he can do with a 24-point, eight assist performance full of clutch shots in Tuesday's Game 5. He's the team's third leading scorer in the postseason at 12.7 PPG, outdoing Arron Afflalo, who signed a $36.75MM deal before the season.
Jordan Hill, Lakers (restricted): He had his breakthrough in the final week of the regular season against the Thunder, and he's continued to justify coach Mike Brown's decision to use him as the primary backup to both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the playoffs. He's pulling down more rebounds per game than Gasol in significantly fewer minutes, and has 25 offensive boards, more than anyone else in the postseason. Hill's rebounds-per-36-minutes number (13.4) nearly equals that of Reggie Evans.
O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies (restricted): The postseason is a terrible time to go through a shooting slump, but that's exactly what's happened with Mayo, who's hitting on just 31.4% of his field goal attempts against the Clippers. He went a combined 3-for-20 in Games 3, 4 and 5, and took only three shots in Game 6. His inability to efficiently handle the backup point guard duties -- he's got 13 assists and 17 turnovers -- isn't helping his cause, either.
Randy Foye, Clippers: Foye's minutes are up but his scoring is down for the playoffs, which is about as inauspicious as it gets for a free agent wing player. The culprit appears to his inability to get off shots and get to the line. His attempts in both categories are off while his postseason shooting percentage of 37.8% is not that far down from the 39.8% he shot in the regular season. His excuse may be that he's being guarded by Tony Allen, an elite defender, but Allen isn't with him on every possession. His Basketball-Reference defensive rating is the second worst on the team, so his struggles aren't limited to one end of the floor.
Jodie Meeks, Sixers (restricted): He started 50 games this season and played 24.9 minutes per contest, but barely got off the bench once he was removed from the starting five after Game 1 against Chicago. He took a total of three shots from the floor, missing each of them, in 32 minutes during the first round.