Despite missing on all of their buyout market targets after creating some roster flexibility with the idea of adding veteran talent after the trade deadline, Doc Rivers is nonetheless content with the Clippers’ roster as it is, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Among the Clippers’ missed targets are Josh Smith (Rockets), Kendrick Perkins (Cavaliers), Kevin Garnett (Timberwolves) and Tayshaun Prince (Pistons). They still have an open invitation out to Ray Allen, Markazi notes, but execs around the league are reportedly losing faith that he’ll sign with any team.
“We like our team,” Rivers said. “We actually like our basketball team, and if we could add something that can help that, we will. What people don’t understand is chemistry is so freaking important. Unless it’s somebody you think is going to really change your team, this team was a couple bad plays in Game 6 away from the Western Conference finals last year. We lost some guys and added some guys, but we like our team.”
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Amar’e Stoudemire, who will be a free agent in July, would welcome a return to the Suns, where he spent his first eight seasons, sources told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. Stoudemire loves the city, and his knees could benefit from a reunion with the Suns’ renowned medical staff, Beck wrote, but it’s unclear if the Suns would reciprocate the interest. Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote earlier this month that a return to Phoenix for next season was “quite possible”.
- Andre Miller would be interested in re-signing with the Kings, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The 16th-year veteran whom the Kings acquired a week ago in a deadline-day trade turns 39 next month, but he still wants to continue playing after the season, when his contract is up.
- Archie Goodwin is showcasing his ability and making the most of his boosted minutes in the Suns’ regular rotation, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The Suns informed inquiring teams before the trade deadline that Goodwin, whose rookie scale contract runs through 2016/17, is a big part of the franchise’s future. Goodwin, who said earlier this season that comments attributed to him about his frustration with a lack of playing in a report were taken out of context, has made four rotation appearances in a row after making only four appearances totaling 16 minutes from New Year’s Day through the All-Star break.
2:03pm: Collison is set for surgery next week, and he’ll be re-evaluated three to six weeks later, Spears reports, reiterating that the point guard’s season is likely done (Twitter links).
11:22am: There’s little optimism that Darren Collison will play again this season, sources tell Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), who nonetheless cautions that a decision isn’t final. Collison has been out since February 5th due to a hip flexor strain he suffered against the Mavericks. The Kings initially said when he got hurt that he would be evaluated on a day-to-day basis. Collison met with a specialist in Los Angeles on Tuesday, reports Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.
“I think there’s still discussions going on with doctors,” coach George Karl said, according to Jones. “I think something will probably be known in the next couple of days. It’s in the hands of interpretations and doctors.”
Ray McCallum has started the last three games for Collison. Karl previously said he spoke with Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro about the idea of adding a point guard but added that he’d prefer not to make any more changes. The Kings are limited to giving out the minimum salary, and they have a full 15-man roster, though David Stockton is on a 10-day contract, as our roster counts show, giving Sacramento at least a measure of flexibility.
Collison, who signed a three-year, $16MM deal with the Kings in July, is suited to play the uptempo style that Karl favors because he can get up the floor quickly and attack, Jones added. In his first season with the Kings, Collison is averaging 16.1 points, 5.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game. It has been his best season statistically.
The Kings wouldn’t rule out trading DeMarcus Cousins or anyone else on their roster at the trade deadline, a person with insight into coach George Karl‘s thinking told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. Karl, who also worked with Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro when they were with the Nuggets, has a level of control over personnel decisions in Sacramento, that source said to Beck. Karl would love to acquire Ty Lawson or any of the other members of the 2012/13 Nuggets, the last team Karl coached, Beck also hears.
There were conflicting reports about whether the Celtics were pursuing Cousins prior to the deadline, but most of the chatter surrounding the star center had to do with his frustration regarding Sacramento’s coaching situation. Cousins was an advocate of former coach Michael Malone and expressed frustration about the upheaval that saw Tyrone Corbin and now Karl succeed Malone this season. Still, Cousins has indicated that he’s enthusiastic about playing for Karl, one of nine NBA coaches with more than 1,000 career wins. The 24-year-old center is in the first season of a four-year max extension.
Tension surrounds Lawson and the Nuggets, and GM Tim Connelly recently exhorted the 27-year-old point guard to “grow up” after he was late returning from the All-Star break. The Kings were among the teams with apparent interest, but while the Nuggets reportedly received calls from numerous would-be suitors, they were turning them away. The team did engage in exploratory talks with the Celtics, several sources told Grantland’s Zach Lowe, but it appeared as the deadline drew near that Denver hadn’t seriously considered any deal. Lawson makes more than $12.404MM next season and in excess of $13.213MM in 2016/17, the final season of his contract.
No trades can take place before the end of the season, since the deadline has passed. Teams are eligible to trade players as soon as the regular season is over if they’re not in the playoffs, but typically moves don’t happen until June.
The Suns were already planning to a hard push for Brandon Knight in free agency before they traded for him at last week’s deadline, according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, who writes amid a chat with readers. Phoenix was willing to trade the rights to the Lakers’ top-five protected first-round pick to Milwaukee for Knight, but the Bucks decided instead to take a package that included Michael Carter-Williams from the Sixers in what ended up a three-way deal, Ford adds.
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- It was tough for Kendrick Perkins to turn down former coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers, but a pitch from LeBron James was too tempting to pass up, notes Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “He was real honest with me,” Perkins said of Rivers. “He told me, ‘I think your best two situations right now is either us or Cleveland.’ So I was like, ‘Doc? Or I have a chance to go play with The King [LeBron James]. Doc? The King? Uh, I choose The King.”
- New Kings assistant coach Vance Walberg is being counted on to bring creativity to Sacramento’s offense, which is something the team was looking for when it fired former coach Mike Malone, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes.
- The hiring of Steve Kerr as coach was the final ingredient needed to change the Warriors from a one-and-done playoff team into a title contender, Chris Ballard of SI.com writes. Ballard also runs down how GM Bob Myers constructed the rest of the team’s roster, which is currently an NBA best 44-10.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Pistons claimed Shawne Williams off waivers to offset the loss of Jonas Jerebko, who was traded to Boston last week, David Mayo of MLive.com writes. “We’re a little thin up front and Shawne played very well in Miami this year, got put in that trade to New Orleans, New Orleans waived him before they got everybody hurt, so we got some luck there,” Stan Van Gundy said. “So we got a little luck there. But we needed a little depth and he’s a guy that comes in, again, on a value contract, and he’s got a non-guaranteed contract for next year. So it gives us a lot of flexibility.”
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- The Wizards are sending $839K to the Kings as part of the Andre Miller for Ramon Sessions trade that occurred last week, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter link).
- There’s a decent chance the sale of the Hawks won’t be complete until May or June, a person familiar with the deal told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Today is the deadline for prospective owners to submit preliminary bids, Vivlamore reports.
- Newly acquired Goran Dragic has become a fan of his new team already, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald relays (Twitter link). Speaking about the Heat, Dragic said, “They take care of players. I feel I’m spoiled here. So much great stuff.“
- Kevin Garnett said that it was difficult for him to leave the Nets mid-season because of his loyalty to the organization, but he believed that returning to Minnesota was a great opportunity, Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com writes.
- The Knicks are counting on oft-injured Andrea Bargnani to help make up for the scoring the team lost with Carmelo Anthony being out for the season, Justin Tasch of The New York Daily News writes. “Well, he has the skillset and the versatility to do those things,” coach Derek Fisher said. “Whether he can average the same amount of points [as Anthony], we’ll see. He’s capable of it. I think if he can stay healthy and just continue to get a comfort out on the floor again, playing basketball, competing hard every night, the physical and mental grind that exists in doing that – which is different when you haven’t done that for a year, which is basically what it’s been for him.“
Isaiah Thomas insists he didn’t verbally push the Suns to deal him to the Celtics last week, as Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald relays. Suns GM Ryan McDonough said Thomas’ desire to start was the catalyst for last week’s swap, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
“They said that? I did want to start, who doesn’t?” Thomas said. “I don’t get that. I was a team player, didn’t complain about anything. The guys who complain, you see it in the media. I didn’t say anything. For the most part, it was good. When we did play together it was positive and it worked, but it’s tough to do when you have three talented point guards who need the ball to be effective. It’s three point guards that want the ball.”
Thomas qualified that remark, saying that he would have liked to have played more, according to Coro. He called the Phoenix backcourt “a tough situation” that’s “not what I expected” in November, but later made comments indicating he was pleased with the setup. Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:
- Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob reiterated that he’s willing to pay the luxury tax next season, telling Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard that the team has no choice but to do so barring “some massive deal.” “[GM] Bob [Myers] keeps saying I must have the only owner in the NBA who says, ‘Stop worrying about the luxury tax,’” Lacob said. “Even today I said, ‘I don’t care about the luxury tax.’ I don’t want to make decisions based on the luxury tax. We want to get better. Our job is to get better. Secondarily, we’ll worry about the money.”
- Lacob wouldn’t address soon-to-be restricted free agent Draymond Green directly but said to Ballard, “It would take a lot to not sign our core players. Does that answer your question?”
- George Karl said he spoke with Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro about the idea of adding a point guard but added that he’d prefer not to make any more changes, observes Matt Kawahara of The Sacramento Bee. Darren Collison has missed the last six games with a right hip flexor strain and doesn’t appear on his way back anytime soon, so Karl has turned to Andre Miller and is giving him a much greater role than he had with the Wizards, as Kawahara examines.
- Karl’s reps impressed upon the Kings during negotiations earlier this month that the coach would likely have other opportunities in the offseason, putting pressure on Sacramento to hire him as soon as possible, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.
Blake Griffin has reached a significant milestone in his recovery from a staph infection in his right elbow, tweets Dan Woike of The Orange County Register. The Clippers star is out of his elbow brace and his stitches have been removed. Woike also reported that Griffin can start working out, but he won’t be joining the team on its upcoming road trip (Twitter link). Griffin, the Clippers’ leading scorer at 22.5 points per game, had surgery on the elbow February 9th.
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Suns guard Brandon Knight has moved around quite a bit, but he sees that as a positive, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “I know if I would’ve been playing terrible or not playing as well as I was, I wouldn’t have been able to be moved for three players,” Knight said. “It’s a good thing and it’s a bad thing. I’m never going to try to play bad, but playing as well as I did put me in this position to be traded.”
- The Lakers‘ Steve Nash hasn’t lost his desire to play, reports Scott Stinson of The National Post. Nash had planned for this to be his 19th and final season in the NBA. but nerve damage in his back prevented him from ever stepping on the court. Instead, Nash has become involved with projects such as filmmaking and a fitness center, and it’s uncertain whether he would give the league another try next season at age 42. “It’s tough,” he said. “I still wanted to play, but my body wouldn’t let me.”
- George Karl has returned to coaching with the Kings because basketball is his calling, according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Karl still has a desire to teach the game the “right way,” which is the Dean Smith way he learned at North Carolina. That’s especially true with a talented but volatile young player like DeMarcus Cousins, who evokes memories of the relationship Karl had with Gary Payton in Seattle two decades ago.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Golden State stood pat at the trade deadline, but Warriors consultant and part-owner Jerry West, who has plenty of say on personnel, thinks the team still needs to make some kind of move, as he told Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.
“I think for sure we need to have a piece. For sure,” West said. “And I think as we get further into the year, I think if you watch how teams are going to particularly concentrate on our backcourt, we need more shooting and people who can make shots consistently. I think in games that we flounder in is when our guards are not able to go out there and score 45 to 60 points on any given night. … There’s going to be a bull’s-eye on those two guys’ backs.”
West made his remarks the day after the team signed James McAdoo for the season, filling the last open roster spot. Here’s more from around the Western Conference:
- Former Pelicans and Mavs point guard Gal Mekel is close to a deal with Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod, a source tells David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter links). The GM of the Russian team is confident that Mekel will sign the deal, which would have an NBA escape clause, Pick adds. Mekel had been holding out hope for an NBA deal since his brief stint with New Orleans in December, but he recently appeared to be losing patience.
- It’s been a rough year for Kawhi Leonard, Spurs president/coach Gregg Popovich said, with the reigning Finals MVP suffering through injury woes and a shooting slump as restricted free agency looms this summer, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News explores. He’s nonetheless averaging career highs virtually across the board and, as McDonald writes, he remains eminently valuable to the Spurs.
- Amar’e Stoudemire is having an instant effect on the Mavericks, notes Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPNDallas.com. The Mavs signed the ex-Knick last week, and it’s a prorated minimum-salary deal that goes until season’s end, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders shows (Twitter link).
- The Kings have hired Vance Walberg as an assistant coach, the team announced. Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group first reported that the move would be expected if Sacramento hired George Karl as head coach. Of course, the Kings did indeed hire Karl last week. Walberg is leaving the Sixers staff for his new job.
Harrison Barnes has improved this season and the North Carolina product could have a greater role on the team going forward, writes Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group. Barnes is making more than $3.87MM this season and slightly over $5.19MM during the 2015/16 season, after which he will become a restricted free agent. If the forward continues to improve his play, Barnes may get a significant raise on that figure, something the Warriors should keep in mind if they decide to hand a hefty contract to restricted free agent Draymond Green this offseason, although that is just my speculation.
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- The Clippers failed to make any noise at this year’s trade deadline and the team’s faith in reserve forward Glen Davis was part of the reason it didn’t add a piece to the frontcourt, writes Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. “His energy, I stay on him all the time because it’s contagious,” Clippers point guard Chris Paul said this week. “When he brings that, he brings a different element to our team.” The Clippers have gone 4-1 since Blake Griffin exited the lineup because of an elbow injury. The team currently sits in fifth place in the Western Conference with a record of 37-19.
- New addition Andre Miller believes coach George Karl will succeed in Sacramento, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. “He knows how to deal with players and egos,” Miller said of Karl, “and that’s why he’s been so successful in this league.” The Kings acquired Miller from the Wizards in exchange for point guard Ramon Sessions at Thursday’s trade deadline.
- The Lakers are looking at their final 28 games of the season as a chance to evaluate their young players to see who can fit into the team’s long-term plans, writes Bill Oram of Orange County Register. Coach Byron Scott believes their current starting point guard may have a chance to be one of those players. “I’m still really excited about Jordan Clarkson,” Scott said. “I keep getting excited about that kid because his growth is getting better and better. I’m excited with the way he’s played so far, he’s come a long way in a short period of time.”
SATURDAY, 11:10am: The signing is official, the Pistons announced in a press release.
THURSDAY, 5:39pm: The Pistons agreed to sign Quincy Miller to a 10-day contract on Saturday, agent Jared Karnes tells Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). Miller and the Kings had been set to talk after the All-Star break about a deal that would cover the rest of the season, but it appears there’s been a change of plans for the 38th overall pick in the 2012 draft. The Pistons are juggling their roster amid their deal to acquire Reggie Jackson.
The Pacers, Hawks, Spurs, Thunder and Clippers were all reportedly interested in Miller before he joined the Kings on a pair of 10-day deals, and he had a workout set with the Lakers earlier this season. He averaged 2.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 10.2 minutes per game across six appearances with Sacramento.
Miller put up strong numbers in the D-League with Sacramento’s affiliate earlier this season, averaging 25.3 PPG and 7.6 RPG in 28.9 MPG across 15 appearances. That helped rehabilitate his value after the Nuggets cut him loose at the end of the preseason after failing to find a trade partner.