Mavericks owner Mark Cuban takes the blame for his team's subpar season, saying he failed to construct an adequate roster and promising he'll be more attentive this summer, observes Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. "I'm not making any predictions," the owner said. "All I'm saying is we're not going to do a traditional rebuild. That's (why) we got all this cap room, so we wouldn't. We're going to be opportunistic."
Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors contributed to this post.
Usually, roster moves this time of year involve tweaks to the end of the bench, so San Antonio's decision to waive Stephen Jackson, who averaged close to 20 minutes per game this season, comes as a surprise. We're beginning to hear some of the reasons why the team let Jackson go, as well as some reaction from the locker room.
5:13pm: The Spurs have sent out a press release officially announcing that they've waived Jackson.
4:50pm: Jackson and head coach Gregg Popovich had been "sparring" about Jackson's role with the Spurs all season, according to Wojnarowski. The two sides discussed a potential release prior to the trade deadline, but agreed to move forward for the rest of the season. However, the disagreements resurfaced this week, says Wojnarowski (Twitter links).
4:24pm: With just over a week until the postseason gets underway, the Spurs have waived Stephen Jackson, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). It's not clear yet why the Spurs are parting ways with Jackson, but one source tells Wojnarowski that it's been "brewing for a few days" (Twitter link). Art Garcia of FOX Sports Southwest first tweeted word of the roster move.
Jackson, 35, hadn't been having a strong season on the court, with his averages of 6.2 PPG and 8.1 PER the lowest he has posted in over a decade. Nonetheless, given the timing of the move and his place in the Spurs' rotation, I would assume he's out of work for off-the-court rather than on-court reasons.
Jackson had been playing out the final year of his contract, earning more than $10MM this season. He won't lose any of that money by being waived, though he will hit free agency a few months earlier than expected. Since he was released after the March 1st buyout deadline though, he'd be ineligible for the postseason, making it unlikely that he catches on with another team next week.
As for the Spurs, they had been carrying a full roster of 15 players, so the move opens up a spot for a free agent, should they choose to make an addition.
As ESPN.com's Chad Ford noted in his chat this afternoon, the Jazz are one of the league's most close-to-the-vest teams, which may explain why we haven't heard a ton of rumors about trade candidates and soon-to-be free agents Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. However, according to Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops, one team has emerged as a frontrunner to acquire Jefferson: the Spurs.
Sheridan points out that various members of San Antonio's and Utah's front offices used to work for the other club, strengthening the relationship between the two teams. As one source tells Sheridan: "Those teams are practically incestuous, they are on such good terms internally."
The Spurs don't have a ton of obvious trade assets, but Stephen Jackson's $10MM+ expiring contract could be used in an offer for Jefferson, who makes $15MM. From there, Sheridan suggests that a package including Tiago Splitter, Patrick Mills, and the rights to European prospects Erazem Lorbek could make some sense for both sides, though he cautions that he's not sure whether that specific deal has been discussed. Like Jefferson and Jackson, Splitter will be a free agent after this season, while Mills has a 2013/14 player option for a modest $1.13MM, so the Jazz wouldn't be giving up much future flexibility in that hypothetical trade.
Some reports have suggested the Jazz would prefer to move Millsap rather than Jefferson, while others have indicated the team would be fine with simply standing pat and keeping both big men. Given the club's secrecy when it comes to trade talks, we likely won't know for sure what Utah's intentions are until a move is made or the deadline passes.
Bob Finnan of The News-Herald blames Cavs GM Chris Grant and coach Byron Scott for the team's struggles this season, and calls on the team to take a more aggressive approach and pull the trigger on a deal for a "good, young piece" at the trade deadline if someone like that is available. The Cavs should carry that aggression into free agency, Finnan believes, and use their cap space for better assets than they've pursued recently. Finnan has more on the team, which we'll round up along with other notes from their Central Division rivals.
Dirk Nowitzki says that despite his team's poor place in the standings, their goal is still the playoffs, according to ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon. If Nowitzki's thoughts are shared by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, this could indicate that the team is a buyer, instead of a seller, before the trade deadline.
We normally don't cover injuries here at Hoops Rumors, but when a star player goes down or there's an absence that could prompt a roster move, we're on it. After news earlier today that Brandon Roy, Kyrie Irving and Tyrus Thomas will miss significant time, Stephen Jackson has become the latest injury victim, as he'll miss four to six weeks with a fractured pinky finger, tweets Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman notes that it's a non-displaced fracture to his right pinky (Twitter link).
The timing is unfortunate for the Spurs, who are already without Kawhi Leonard for several more days. Jackson had been filling in for Leonard at small forward. The Spurs have limited options at the three with both out, though they could use Danny Green and Manu Ginobili, both 6'6", at the position. They have 14 players on the roster, so there's an open spot if they want to sign someone. It probably has to be a minimum-salary deal, since they're over the salary cap and have only $500K left on their mid-level exception. The Spurs are also about $1MM below the tax line.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News suggests Derrick Brown, one of the team's training camp invitees, could get a look (Twitter link). Wesley Witherspoon, who was also with the team in camp, is on the roster of the Spurs' D-League affiliate and may also receive consideration, though I'm only speculating. The biggest name on the Hoops Rumors list of remaining free agent small forwards is probably Mickael Pietrus, but he may not want to sign for the minimum. As I explained when news of Irving's injury broke, the trade market isn't a likely path, since most teams aren't looking to deal at this point in the season, and the Spurs might not want to tinker too much with their roster just to solve a short-term problem.
Over the summer, the Rockets were aggressive in trying to facilitate a trade for then Magic center Dwight Howard. Multiple reports at the time said Howard was reluctant to play in Houston, and that if a trade were to occur he wouldn't be happy. Earlier today, Howard told the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen that he "didn't have a problem" with the Rockets heavy pursuit, but his two most desired teams were still the Lakers and Nets.
Last season, Stephen Jackson forced his mid-season exit from Milwaukee as he demanded a contract extension from the club. Now with San Antonio, Jackson says that he is still hoping to land an extension to his deal which expires after the 2012/13 season, writes Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News.
“I want it, but I can’t control it,” said the 34-year-old. “Every day when I walk in here I’m hoping they’ll call me in and say, ‘Jack, here’s your extension.’"
Jackson went on to say that he won't let the contract situation or his off-the-bench role affect his play going into this season. While the veteran's demands for a contract extension ultimately pushed the Bucks to send him to Golden State as a part of the Monta Ellis blockbuster, his deteriorating relationship with coach Scott Skiles also played a measurable role in his exit.
The small forward arrived in San Antonio two days later, where coach Gregg Popovich informed him that an extension was not in the works. Jackson is set to earn $10MM in the final year of his pact.
The Clippers had a breakthrough season in 2011/12, but their ability to build on that will be compromised by their offseason health issues, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups are expected to miss the entire preseason, while Lamar Odom, who's working his way back into playing shape, and Blake Griffin figure to be limited training camp participants. That means the Clippers will likely start the season having to play catch-up, Markazi says. That's compounded by Vinny Del Negro's task of having to integrate five new free agent acquisitions in the lineup while also juggling part-time GM duties. Here's more from around the Association tonight: