Although the Thunder have sustained a rash of injuries, the team will only keep 14 players on the roster, writes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Slater also notes that Michael Jenkins, Richard Solomon, Talib Zanna and Lance Thomas have all played vital roles in the preseason, yet it is unlikely any of them force the team to consider filling their 15th and final regular season roster spot before opening night.
Here’s more from around the league:
- The Raptors still have 17 players on their preseason roster, and haven’t decided on who will make the final cut. Head coach Dwayne Casey said the final roster decisions would come down to the wire, Jay Satur of NBA.com reports.
- The Wizards signing of Paul Pierce was a short-term fix with the franchise hoping that Otto Porter can develop into a valuable contributor in the coming season, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. With the injury to Bradley Beal, and with Trevor Ariza departing as a free agent to Houston, Porter may be called upon to log heavy minutes early in the season.
- Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is against maximum individual salaries for NBA players, writes David Mayo of MLive. “If it were more of a free-market system, I think things would change,” Van Gundy said. “I think you’d see greater parity in the league — especially having the (salary) cap and no individual max.”
- Teams are finding ways to get around the D-League’s individual maximum salary restrictions to entice players to sign with their affiliates, writes Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). This preseason, many NBA teams have signed players to their active roster only to release or waive the player shortly thereafter. By doing this, the team obtains the player’s D-League rights and the player can sign a partially guaranteed contract that trumps the D-League maximum salary which is slightly less than $26K per year. Elhassan points out this loophole would motivate fringe NBA talent to play in the D-League rather than take international offers.
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links) disputes the notion that the Kings had interest in Jordan Crawford prior to him heading over to China to play. The two sides never had serious discussions, and if Sacramento was interested in signing a veteran shooting guard they would have preferred MarShon Brooks, who played well for them in Summer League, Jones notes.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.
Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson believes Klay Thompson has “got to get” maximum salaries in his next deal, even as the team is reportedly pushing for him to take less as the October 31st extension deadline nears. Of course, after a controversial end to his tenure in Golden State, it’s quite possible that Jackson’s advancement of the idea of max money for Thompson is a dig at the Warriors, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News suggests (Twitter link). In any case, we’ll soon see if the team is willing to come to terms with Thompson or set him up for restricted free agency next summer, and as we wait, here’s more from around the Pacific Division:
- Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss takes exception to an ESPN.com report that indicated that Kobe Bryant is driving free agents away from the Lakers, as she made clear today in an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “”Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team,” Buss said. The report indicated that Paul George signed his extension with the Pacers last year in part because he had reservations about Bryant and didn’t want to hit free agency and sign with the Lakers, though George has publicly questioned the report’s veracity (Twitter link).
- Matt Barnes felt as though he was being replaced when the Clippers pursued other small forwards in free agency this summer, as he tells Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. Barnes nonetheless says he would like to come off the bench even though coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday that he’ll start on opening night.
- Ben McLemore is leaving agent Rodney Blackstock, as he confirmed to reporters, including James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom, who originally reported the move. The shooting guard hasn’t decided when he’ll hire a replacement, Ham adds. The Kings picked up their team option on McLemore this past weekend.
Outgoing Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson has the power to force as much as 60% of the team to be sold, even though he and his partners have only 50.1% of the team, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The NBA appears to be pressuring all of the other owners to sell so that the entire franchise can change hands, Vivlamore adds. All of the team’s owners still have yet to meet to discuss how much of the franchise they’re going to sell, and so far, their only action as a group has involved preparation for vetting prospective buyers, though vetting itself has yet to begin, as Vivlamore explains.
Here’s more from around the league:
- When Jordan Crawford signed with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association for $1.4MM it wasn’t because he didn’t receive any NBA offers. The Kings had tried to sign Crawford this summer, but he wasn’t comfortable with a backup role in Sacramento, David Pick of Eurobasket reports (Twitter links). Crawford also relayed that he felt “overlooked” by the league, and that’s what led him to China, Pick notes.
- Brock Motum‘s one year, minimum salary deal with the Jazz is non-guaranteed, as is reflected on the Basketball Insiders salary page for Utah.
- Many of the teams that joined the Sixers in a voting bloc that scuttled immediate lottery reform are nonetheless miffed about Philadelphia’s stripped-down roster, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes. Teams voted down lottery changes in part because they feel too much is in flux, and that includes the unknown of just how or whether the league will phase in the substantial increase in the salary cap that the league’s enhanced TV revenues will bring about, Lowe adds. Some influential agents oppose the idea of any phase-in, preferring that the cap simply leap in the summer of 2016 based on the idea that teams might be uncertain of how to handle the changed landscape and hand out contracts they’ll later regret, according to Lowe.
- The surging salary cap projections have some small-market teams worried about how they’ll manage in a league where $100MM payrolls are the norm, in spite of the TV money that would make that sort of spending more palatable, as Lowe writes in the same piece. Small-market teams also fear that they’ll become slightly profitable and lose the benefit of tens of millions in income through the league’s revenue sharing program, the Grantland columnist explains. The Lakers handed out $50MM, the Knicks $27MM and the Bulls $17MM in revenue sharing last season, Lowe reports.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Clippers tied for third among the teams most likely to win the NBA title as the league’s GMs see it, as John Schuhmann of NBA.com details amid the results of the league’s annual GM survey. Still, they figure to receive a strong challenge in their own division from the Warriors. While we wait to see how it plays out, here’s the latest from the Pacific:
- Jordan Hill confirmed rumors from this past spring that he wouldn’t have re-signed with the Lakers if Mike D’Antoni were still the coach, as he tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Medina adds the Heat, Spurs and Magic to the list of suitors who went after the power forward this summer.
- Byron Scott stopped short of acknowledging that Ronnie Price is a lock to make the opening-night roster for the Lakers, but the coach said that injuries to the team’s other point guards would make it tough to let him go, Medina notes in a separate piece. “If you look at it that way, we have to [keep him],” Scott said. “Ronnie gets more of an opportunity. So far in my opinion, he has taken full advantage of it.”
- The Suns told Isaiah Thomas when they pitched him in free agency this summer that they valued him as a starter even though they made it clear they wanted to retain Eric Bledsoe, as Thomas tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Thomas isn’t concerned with whether he starts, but he did express continued bitterness toward the Kings, telling Kennedy he wasn’t surprised that they didn’t re-sign him and that he always felt the Sacramento organization underappreciated him.
2:12pm: The Kings confirmed that they have waived the trio.
8:43am: The Kings intend to waive Sim Bhullar, Deonte Burton, and David Wear, Sean Cunningham of News 10 Sacramento reports (Twitter link). Burton and Wear were in camp on non-guaranteed minimum salary deals, but Bhullar had a partial guarantee of $35K on his pact which Sacramento is on the hook for unless another team submits a waiver claim. These moves will reduce the Kings’ preseason roster count to 15, with 13 of those agreements being fully guaranteed. No announcement from the team has been made yet.
When Bhullar was signed by the Kings it marked the first time a player of Indian descent joined the NBA. The 7’5″ big man had declared for the NBA draft in mid-April, shortly after he and New Mexico State were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Bhullar averaged 10.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 2.4 BPG in 24.4 MPG while shooting 62.1% from the field as a freshman and 10.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 3.4 BPG, while shooting 64.8% as a sophomore.
The 23-year-old Burton spent summer league with the Wizards after going undrafted, averaging just 1.8 points in 17.3 minutes per contest, but he put up much better numbers as a senior with the Nevada Wolf Pack this past season, chipping in for 20.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 4.4 assists against 2.0 turnovers in 38.6 MPG.
Wear, a 6’9″ 23-year-old, spent time in the summer league with the Bulls, averaging 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game across five appearances. He didn’t log impressive numbers at UCLA, going for 6.5 PPG and 3.8 RPG in 22.9 MPG. His playing time decreased each successive year after he saw 28.4 MPG as a sophomore. Wear transferred to UCLA after spending his freshman year at North Carolina.
The Kings announced that they have picked up the 2015/16 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract. The move was something of a formality as it was widely expected.
The guard averaged 8.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 26.7 minutes per contest as a rookie last season. On the surface, the two guard didn’t have a hard time adjusting to the pros as he saw time in all 82 games in 2013/14. McLemore’s name was brought up in trade rumors more than once last year, particularly in connection with Celtics star Rajon Rondo. Nothing came from those talks, however, and McLemore could prove to be an integral part of the Kings’ future.
The Rockets have not settled on their opening night roster yet, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “That’s why we’re experimenting,” coach Kevin McHale said. “There are still a lot of unknowns. We have a lot of guys who haven’t just taken a spot where you say, ‘I’m really comfortable. This guy has really taken the backup spot.’ We have a lot of guys still fighting for spots.” Houston brought 20 players to camp and has not made any official cuts, although it would seem the team is down to 18 players for 15 roster spots with Robert Covington and Akil Mitchell not having been with the team for the last week.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Jeremy Lin is humbled by the offseason trade that sent him to the Lakers, writes Mike Bresnahan of the The Los Angeles Times. Lin said, “When I first got there [Houston], I was supposed to be the guy and they were supposed to kind of hand the torch to me. And I ended up getting traded away basically for nothing. Actually, they had to give a draft pick to convince someone else to take me. Pretty much given away for nothing. Definitely not how I envisioned it.”
- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich loves the play of JaMychal Green, tweets Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News. The unfortunate thing for Green is that the Spurs don’t currently have an opening-night roster spot for him, Monroe adds.
- Wolves head coach Flip Saunders is praised by local high school and college coaches for his open-door policy, writes Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “We are a very close fraternity as far as coaches, and what you want to do is make sure you’re open,” Saunders said.
- Jazz forward Enes Kanter has as much to gain this season as anyone on the team, opines Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune. Kanter will head into restricted free agency next summer if the Jazz do not reach a deal on an extension with him by the October 31st deadline.
- In a roundtable preview for the Kings, SB Nation’s Tom Ziller predicts that Sacramento will pull off a major trade this season, citing GM Pete D’Alessandro‘s aggressive track record and abundance of assets at his disposal.
Cray Allred contributed to this post.
The league had better enjoy the windfall of their TV deal while it lasts, because big money deals like this are likely to disappear in the future, Steve Ginsburg of Reuters writes. Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist warns that the point of sports saturation on television in the United States is rapidly approaching. “At the end of the day, we have a lot more sports programming than we’ve ever had,” Zimbalist told Reuters. “And we’ve had pretty much the same number of household television sets. Ultimately what has to happen is that supply and demand have to meet at a lower price.”
Here’s more from around the league:
- David Arseneault Jr. was officially named head coach of the Reno Bighorns, the Kings‘ D-League franchise, the team announced.
- With the NBA’s new $24 billion TV deal set to take effect in 2016 player salaries are likely to reach new heights. For now, the league’s star players will have to continue to make ends meet with the current CBA salary structure, and the crew at FOX Sports Ohio runs down the top 25 player salaries for the 2014/15 season. Topping the list are Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, and Amar’e Stoudemire.
- One prospect who NBA franchises will be keeping an eye on this season is Emmanuel Mudiay, who chose to play over in China rather than attend college this season. Mudiay played his first game yesterday and notched 20 points and five assists in 27 minutes. One of his opponents was former NBA player Pooh Jeter, who relayed his impressions of the 18-year-old phenom to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. Mudiay is currently slotted second in Givony’s prospect rankings.
With Kevin Durant expected to miss a minimum of six to eight weeks with a fractured foot, the Thunder will have to look for help from within the organization, Nick Gallo of NBA.com writes. “The process is ongoing and it will continue to be ongoing,” coach Scott Brooks said. “The first part of that process is not making an excuse. If you can all come to grips with that, then you have a better chance to have success. We’ve always done that as an organization. Whatever is thrown at us, we’re going to control what we can and not worry about the things that we can’t.”
Here’s more from around the league:
- One of the players in the running to be the first overall draft choice next June is Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress (video link) profiles the top ranked player in the ACC.
- Newcomer Ryan Hollins‘ biggest value to the Kings may be taking the defensive weight off of DeMarcus Cousins, Nick Avila of SI.com opines. Hollins is part of a crowded frontcourt mix in Sacramento that includes Jason Thompson, Reggie Evans, Carl Landry, and Sim Bhullar.
- Jamelle McMillan, son of former NBA player and head coach Nate McMillan, was named the player development coach for the Pelicans, the team announced in a press release. McMillan was on New Orleans’ staff as an intern the last two seasons.
- A few head coaches enter the season already on the hot seat, while others’ perches will heat up as the season progresses. Sam Amick of USA Today looks at each coach’s job status entering the new campaign.
- Chris Webber is part of a potential ownership group that has registered interest with the NBA league office about buying the Hawks, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link).
Lance Stephenson entered free agency anticipating the NBA signing a new TV deal, Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report writes. Stephenson was looking for a shorter deal that would allow him to have a shot at an even bigger payday down the line. The Pacers weren’t willing to agree to those terms, but the Mavericks were, notes Zwerling. Alberto Ebanks, Stephenson’s agent, confirmed reports that both sides had verbally committed to a two-year contract worth $20MM, but it was Dallas’ negotiations with Chandler Parsons that prevented the deal from being completed, Zwerling writes. “It was a domino effect,” Ebanks said. “Dallas did not think that Houston was going to let Parsons walk. Lance was very close to being a member of the Mavericks. When you’re a little further along into free agency, people are more in the position to pull the trigger when they see what they’re looking for.” It wound up being Charlotte that pulled the trigger on a deal.
Here’s more from out west:
- Jason Kapono is performing well in training camp and is in the running for the Warriors‘ final regular season roster spot, Diamond Leung of The Bay Area News Group reports. “He’s in great shape,” head coach Steve Kerr said of Kapono. “I’m convinced he has a place in this league. Whether it’s with us or not, we’ll see.”
- During a media day interview posted on NBA.com, David Lee was asked about the Warriors slow offseason that saw the team’s only notable additions be Shaun Livingston and Brandon Rush. Lee believes the roster continuity is good, adding, “I think it’s huge, yeah. I think first of all it’s a sign of things getting better. If you’re winning 25-30 games there’s going to be constant change. We’ve finally been very consistent these last couple years in winning games and I think that’s how players stick around and how teams stick around. I think using San Antonio as a model, when you have those core guys together year in and year out, I think the familiarity can really help, especially in pressure situations and close games.”
- Jamel McLean scored the game winning basket in Alba Berlin’s 94-93 victory over the Spurs Wednesday. This might not be the last the NBA hears from McLean, Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders opines. McLean worked out for the Kings last summer, and should warrant more attention from the league next offseason, Koutroupis notes.