Kevin Murphy has signed a deal to join Zhejiang Guangsha in China, as Priority Sports, the agency that represents Murphy, announced on Twitter. We had already heard that the former Jazz camp invitee was leaving the D-League to pursue an opportunity to play overseas. We’ll round up more international news and have a look at what’s happening around the rest of the NBA below..
- Marco Belinelli, a free agent at season’s end, wouldn’t comment on whether or not he was interested in re-joining the Spurs next season, reports Riccardo Pratesiba of La Gazzetta dello Sport (translation via Basketball Insiders). Still, it’s fair to assert Belinelli would have some interest in returning to San Antonio, where he’s enjoyed quite a bit of success over the past two seasons.
- MLive’s David Mayo has never witnessed the sort of “mental and spiritual turnaround” that the Pistons have seemed to experience since waiving Josh Smith. Mayo sees the decision to part ways with Smith as a similar move to the one that sent Rudy Gay from the Raptors to the Kings,
- Anthony Tolliver‘s partially guaranteed 2015/16 contract seemingly makes it less likely that the Pistons retain Jonas Jerebko next season, Mayo argues in the same piece. Given the relatively similar characteristics of the two players, Mayo thinks it’s likely the Pistons hang on to Tolliver rather than Jerebko, who is a free agent at year’s end, since they already have Tolliver under contract and can cut him loose for only $400K if he doesn’t meet expectations.
- Turkey’s Istanbul BSB has officially announced (via Twitter) the signing of Sasha Vujacic along with three other players (translation via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Vujacic played two games for the Clippers last season on a 10-day contract before signing a deal to play in Europe.
It seems as though the top eight teams in the Western Conference are in many ways already set, but the Kings aren’t giving up on the idea that they can find a way into the playoffs this year, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck writes. Sacramento will add an impact player if an opportunity arises, according to Beck.
“This league, it’s a league of injuries, it’s a league of things that happen, chemistry,” Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro told Beck. “And you’ve seen things happen really fast in this league. So I don’t think we buy into the notion of, ‘Well, it’s locked to eight.’ We really don’t believe that. From our perspective, it’s: How are we getting better? How are we pursuing that spot?”
The Kings are 13-18, four games behind the Suns for the last playoff spot. There’s another Kings-related item amid the latest from the Pacific Division:
- Brady Heslip has decided against signing with Banvit of Turkey because he believes he’s close to joining an NBA team, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). David Pick of Eurobasket.com reported earlier this week that Heslip, who’s been playing for Sacramento’s D-League affiliate, had a deal with the Turkish team. The Kings and Clippers have reportedly held interest in adding the sharpshooter to their NBA rosters.
- Kobe Bryant still doesn’t rule out playing beyond his current contract, which expires in 2016, but for now he plans to retire after next season, as he said Tuesday to reporters, including Bill Oram of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). “If you asked me if I’m going to play beyond that, right now the answer is no,” Bryant said.
- Sasha Vujacic is leaving Laboral Kuxta Vitoria (aka Saski Baskonia) of Spain, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). He’s next headed to play for Turkey’s Istanbul BSB, Carchia writes. Vujacic, who spent time on a 10-day contract with the Clippers last season, is one of several among 2013/14 10-day signees who are now playing overseas, as I noted Tuesday.
- Warriors backup center Marreese Speights said he was especially motivated to beat the Sixers, as Golden State did Tuesday, not because of anyone with the team at current but because he harbors ill will toward Doug Collins, tweets Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle. Speights saw a career low 11.5 minutes per game under the former Sixers coach in 2010/11.
Warriors owner Peter Guber expressed regret Monday after sending an email that appeared to play on ethnic stereotypes, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports details. At least one team employee took offense, according to Spears. Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson is selling his stake in the Atlanta franchise after the discovery of an email he sent that contained racial overtones, and Hawks GM Danny Ferry is on indefinite leave of absence from the team after his racially charged comments. It remains to be seen if any such fallout with happen with Guber in the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal that touched off heightened awareness around the league. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Extension-eligible Klay Thompson reiterated his desire to stay with the Warriors in comments to Michael Lee of The Washington Post, who notes Stephen Curry‘s verbal influence on the team’s decision to keep Thompson out of Kevin Love trade proposals. “It’s arguments either way if you make a move or what not, how your team is going to look and if it’s a good move or not,” Curry said to Lee. “Obviously, you know that other guy was pretty good, but when you have a core that’s continuing to get better, you got a lot of good chemistry, we fit together, it makes sense. And you want to fight for that. [Thompson is] nowhere near his ceiling.”
- The Lakers aren’t planning to apply to have Steve Nash‘s salary wiped from their cap based on a medical retirement, GM Mitch Kupchak told reporters Monday, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times notes (Twitter link). Nash hasn’t announced his retirement even though the 40-year-old is out for the season with nerve damage in his back. The team is instead applying for a Disabled Player Exception.
- Sasha Vujacic has signed with Spain’s Laboral Kuxta, the Euroleague announced. Sportando’s Enea Trapani first reported the move involving the eight-year NBA veteran who spent time last season with the Clippers on a 10-day contract. He’ll replace former Kings swingman Orlando Johnson, whom the team is letting go, according to Trapani.
Former Lakers, Nets and Clippers shooting guard Sasha Vujacic has signed with Reyer Venezia of Italy, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). Massimo Oriani of La Gazzetta dello Sport originally reported the deal. The contract covers the rest of the season for the 30-year-old, who had briefly returned to the NBA last month on a 10-day contract with the Clippers. Doc Rivers said shortly after the deal expired that the club might re-sign Vujacic at some point this season if there was a roster spot available, and though the Clippers have just 14 players at this point, it looks like a reunion won’t materialize.
Vujacic spent most of this season attempting to revive his NBA career, which had been dormant since 2010/11, but his recent decision to join the Interperformances agency might have signaled a shift in plans. He spent 2011/12 and 2012/13 playing for Anadolu Efes in Turkey.
The Slovenian native last played in Italy before the Lakers drafted him 27th overall in 2004. He won a pair of championships with the purple-and-gold, but in parts of eight NBA seasons, he’s never averaged more than 9.8 points per game. He set that career high with the Nets in 2010/11, the only year he averaged as many as 20 minutes per contest.
Kent Bazemore played sparingly during his stint on the Warriors, averaging 4.4 MPG as a rookie in 2012/13 and 6.1 MPG in 44 games this season. After being dealt to the Lakers a few weeks ago, the 24-year-old guard is now seeing 29.8 MPG and has made quite an impression thus far. With 14.6 PPG on 45.9% shooting overall and 40.4% from long distance over his last 10 games, Bazemore may not only resemble a potential piece for L.A.’s future, but a possible free agency target for other teams as well.
With that being said, Bazemore wants to remain with the Lakers long-term, and his camp is confident that if he continues to play as he has so far for the team, L.A. will tender a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer, writes Jeff Caplan of NBA.com.
Here’s more out of Los Angeles this evening:
- Phil Jackson has been recently linked to a few front office opportunities around the league, and despite his lack of experience as an executive, the Lakers – with a dire need for stability and direction – can ill afford to let him get away again, opines Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.
- Though Pau Gasol‘s frustration for most of this season implies an infinitesimal chance that he re-ups with the purple and gold beyond this year, it could still be mutually beneficial for Gasol and the team if he were to return, explains Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report. One idea involves re-signing the Spanish big man to a gargantuan one-year deal for next season, which would allow L.A. to eventually clear Gasol and Steve Nash‘s contracts at the same time and thus have ample cap space for 2015.
- In the above piece, Bucher also shares a list of players who Kobe Bryant said he envisions returning after this season, including Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar, and Wesley Johnson.
- During a recent interview with Kustoo.com, Bryant admitted that he has been frustrated with the slow recovery process from his knee injury (hat tip to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times): “It’s progressing slowly. It really tests my patience…There’s only so much you can do, so I find myself relegated to riding the bike.”
- Former Clippers swingman Sasha Vujacic has signed on with basketball agency Interperformances, according to Sportando (Twitter link).
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Earlier tonight, we learned that former Lakers and Clippers standout Lamar Odom has agreed to play in Spain for the remainder of the season. Odom was once deadset on making his NBA return with Doc Rivers and the Clippers, but he’ll presumably be more open to other opportunities as he tries to work his way back. Here’s the latest out of the Staples Center..
- The Clippers won’t re-sign Sasha Vujacic to a second 10-day contract, tweets Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Coach Doc Rivers says that the club could re-sign the veteran guard later on if they don’t use the roster spot on someone else.
- Word from the Clippers camp indicates that they won’t part with a meaningful asset like Reggie Bullock or a first-round draft pick to avoid the luxury tax, tweets Zach Lowe of Grantland.com. However, Lowe is somewhat skeptical and believes that might not prove to be true.
- Kobe Bryant thinks the Lakers are well-positioned for the summer ahead, but he says doesn’t want to have input on the team’s decision-making, observes Brett Pollakoff of NBCSports.com.
- Former Lakers guard Kareem Rush says he isn’t through playing just yet, writes Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Steve Nash tells Grantland’s Bill Simmons he’s considered the possibility that the Lakers will waive him this summer and use the stretch provision to spread out his cap hit for next season. If that happened, Nash, who wants to continue living in Los Angeles, would probably either retire or play for the Clippers if they have interest, Simmons writes. There’s more on Nash amid our look at a pair of Los Angeles teams in distinctly different places with the deadline a week away:
- The Clippers were pleased with Sasha Vujacic while he was with them on a 10-day contract that expired last night, but they’ll wait until after the All-Star break to determine whether they’ll sign him to another one, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter links).
- Shawne Williams describes the reality check that his D-League stint this season represented, and he’s grateful to be back with the Lakers, as he tells Shahan Ahmed of NBCLosAngeles.com. The Lakers will probably hold off on deciding whether to give him a second 10-day deal until after the deadline, Ahmed writes.
- Nash might have saved the Lakers plenty of money if he had walked away from the game earlier this season, but he’s still worth rooting for, Shelburne argues.
MONDAY, 12:02pm: The Clippers have officially announced the signing, via press release.
SUNDAY, 3:05pm: It now looks like Vujacic will ink his 10-day deal with the Clippers tomorrow, Turner tweets. The plan is for the guard to meet the club in Denver and suit up tomorrow night (link).
2:12pm: The Clippers are close to signing Sasha Vujacic to a 10-day deal, sources tell Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). Los Angeles has long been known to have interest in the veteran guard.
Vujacic took his physical and could sign as soon as Tuesday, according to Turner. Ostensibly, Vujacic’s first crack at making the Clippers roster passed him by when the club signed Hedo Turkoglu to a deal covering the remainder of the season. However, after opting not to re-sign Darius Morris after his deal expired, the club had an opening on the roster and a void to fill in the backcourt.
Over parts of seven seasons in the states, mostly with the Staples Center’s other tenants, Vujacic averaged 5.6 PPG and 1.3 APG in 15.9 minutes per game. He also showed that he can fill a stat sheet during a run with the Nets in 2010/11 where he put up 11.4 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 28.5 minutes per contest.
Derek Fisher is breathing a little easier today with the news that the judge, Huey Cotton, who is presiding over Billy Hunter’s wrongful termination lawsuit had dismissed most of the allegations against Fisher, and all against his former business manager, Jamie Wior, writes Ken Berger of CBS Sports.com. Hunter had alleged that the two conspired to oust him and seize control of the NBPA during and after the 2011 lockout. Cotton ruled that Hunter’s claims against Fisher regarding breach of contract and intentional interference with contractual relations may go forward, but struck 12 other allegations against the former NBPA president from the lawsuit, including defamation. The judge also ruled that Hunter must pay legal fees for Fisher and Wior related to the claims that were dismissed. The rest of Hunter’s lawsuit is cleared to continue against the NBPA.
Here’s some other notes from around the Western Conference:
- Pierre Jackson still hasn’t been able to reach a deal with the Pelicans, who hold his rights after drafting him 42nd overall in last year’s draft. Not long before Jrue Holiday was ruled out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his right tibia on January 10th, Jackson’s representatives requested and received permission to explore trade opportunities. Jackson’s agents, who also represent Holiday, met with Pelicans general manager Dell Demps this week, but Jackson still doesn’t have a contract with the team. This has Jackson and his camp disappointed, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Jackson is currently the D-League’s second-leading scorer at 29.9 PPG, and feels his production warrants some NBA playing time.
- The Warriors will be keeping MarShon Brooks, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. Brooks was acquired as a part of today’s three-team trade involving Boston and Miami. An earlier tweet by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe had indicated the team might waive Brooks.
- Spurs guard Nando De Colo‘s agent denied reports that the player was attempting to return to Europe and play for Fenerbahce, as he told French newspaper L’Equipe (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). De Colo is currently averaging 2.0 PPG in limited action.
- The Clippers continue to have interest in Sasha Vujacic even as they near a deal with Hedo Turkoglu, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
WEDNESDAY, 12:45pm: The Clippers have officially re-signed Wayns to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release.
TUESDAY, 2:12pm: After releasing him on Sunday, the Clippers are expected to re-sign Maalik Wayns, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. Stein reports that the Clips continue to assess Hedo Turkoglu, Sasha Vujacic, and other free agents, but the team will likely announce a 10-day contract for Wayns later today (Twitter links).
Wayns was waived this week so that the Clippers could avoid keeping him beyond today’s contract guarantee deadline, which would have put the team on the hook for his full-season salary. Re-adding him would give the club a full 15-man roster, but two players – Wayns and Darius Morris – would be on 10-day deals, so it wouldn’t necessarily preclude the signing of a player like Turkoglu, Vujacic, or Andrew Bynum later in the month.
Wayns, 22, has yet to appear in a regular season contest for the Clippers this season, having been sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in October.