The Atlantic Division is dreadful this year, and while that may be a matter of happenstance, it could lead to an unbalanced playoff bracket, as SB Nation’s Tom Ziller examines. The Atlantic-leading Raptors have a record that’s worse than the Pistons, but Toronto would draw the Bobcats in the first round while Detroit would have to face the Heat if the postseason began today. Of course, there’s plenty of season left, so while we wait to see if such disorder comes to fruition, here’s the latest from the NBA’s worst division:
- The “wheel” proposal for assigning NBA draft picks is the brainchild of Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren, as Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald points out. GM Danny Ainge supports the idea as well, though Hoops Rumors readers aren’t quite as receptive.
- Beno Udrih has been the subject of public criticism from Mike Woodson of late, and while the point guard isn’t calling his coach out by name, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com thinks it’s clear that Udrih is frustrated with Woodson. “I’ve always been pretty good with not turning over the ball and this year it’s totally different. I don’t know what happened [last] summer. I don’t think I forgot [how] to play basketball. So there’s a lot of factors,” Udrih said. “You can point fingers at me as much as you can but if things don’t work it’s not one person’s fault … It’s a team sport.”
- Former Nets, Knicks and Celtics guard Stephon Marbury recently signed a long-term deal to remain in China with the Beijing Ducks, and tells Marc Berman of the New York Post that there’s no chance he’ll play in the NBA again. The 36-year-old Marbury, who hasn’t appeared in the Association since the 2008/09 season, made similar comments about his future this past June.
- We passed along news on the Knicks‘ interest in Rajon Rondo earlier this morning.
Stephon Marbury hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since 2009, having joined multiple Chinese teams since then, and it seems as if he won’t be returning to play stateside anytime soon. According to a Sina.com report translated by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, Marbury has reached a deal on a contract extension with the Beijing Ducks that will keep him under contract through 2017.
Marbury, once a perennial 20+ PPG scorer in the NBA, continues to play at an elite level in the CBA, having averaged 28.3 PPG to go along with 5.8 APG last season. The 36-year-old guard led the Ducks to their first ever championship in 2012, toppling the powerhouse Guangdong Southern Tigers, who have won eight of the last 10 CBA titles, including in 2013.
Be sure to check out our international player movement tracker to keep tabs on the contract status of thousands of players in non-NBA leagues all over the world.
Stephon Marbury hasn't played in the NBA since the 2008/09 season, and he's not interested in making a comeback, telling reporters Tuesday in China that he prefers to continue playing in the Chinese league. Jonas Terrado of Tempo has the details. With the draft now just hours away, there's plenty of news on guys who are and will be a part of the NBA, and here's the latest:
- New Nuggets coach Brian Shaw has a three-year deal with an option for a fourth, and his annual salary will be around $2MM, reports Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. It's not clear whether the option belongs to the Nuggets or to Shaw, though usually options in coaching contracts belong to the team.
- The top priority for the Knicks this summer is retaining J.R. Smith, a source tells Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, who passes along the note in an updated version of his story on the team's decision to extend a qualifying offer to Pablo Prigioni.
- The Mavs own the rights to former second-round pick Nick Calathes, and there's mutual interest in bringing him to the NBA next season, reports Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Other NBA teams are interested, too, and the Mavs are willing to trade him if they can't fit him on their roster, McMahon writes.
- While noting that Luol Deng's camp is dismissing the idea that there's an extension in the works with the Bulls, as we heard yesterday, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the Bulls are calling around to see what they can get for Richard Hamilton.
- Pacers assistant Jim Boylen has an agreement in place with the Spurs to join Gregg Popovich's coaching staff in San Antonio, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Boylen is not to be confused with former Bucks coach Jim Boylan, whom the Cavs hired as an assistant coach earlier today.
- Sixers insiders expect minority owner Dave Heller to take over Adam Aron's role as liaison between the team's basketball operations and principal owner Josh Harris, writes Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
SBNation's Tom Ziller looks at Basketball-Reference statistics to examine players who've significantly outperformed their contracts this season. Not surprisingly, Chandler Parsons, in the middle of a four-year, $3.63MM contract that runs through 2015, rates highly. Many of the other players Ziller mentions are either minimum-salary signees or former first-round picks still on their rookie-scale deals. There's more on a few players who could be the next to sign rookie contracts and other news from around the Association, as we share here:
- Jordan Hill was expected to be out for the season with a hip injury, but doctors have told him there's a slim chance he could return in late April or early May, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Either way, the Lakers will get to keep the $1.78MM disabled player exception the league granted them, even though they don't intend to use it.
- The Jazz haven't decided whether to re-sign Travis Leslie, whose 10-day contract expires Wednesday night, but coach Tyrone Corbin likes what he's seen so far from the swingman, notes Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Stephon Marbury, who played for the Chinese league's Beijing Ducks this season, will serve as an assistant coach for Beijing's entry in the China National Games this year, reports Jon Pastuszek of NiuBBall.com.
- HoopsWorld and Chris Mannix of SI.com examine key NBA draft prospects in the NCAA tournament. Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld checks in with a list of prospects on teams likely to make early tournament exits.
- Coach Lawrence Frank is back with the Pistons after missing the past six games to be with his wife, who's recovering from "major surgery," as MLive's David Mayo details.
- John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes the Sixers should go after Al Jefferson rather than Andrew Bynum in free agency this summer, though it might take an inflated contract to make it happen. Yesterday, I argued a max deal could be in play for Jefferson.
As if the Atlantic division didn't have a busy enough offseason, the Celtics were active again on Thursday . After waiving Keyon Dooling, who then retired, Boston signed Micah Downs to what is likely a non-guaranteed deal and gave guaranteed dollars to Darko Milicic. They now have 14 guaranteed roster spots and 19 total players in training camp. John Hollinger of ESPN gives his take, insider only, on the Celtics roster.
Surely, that couldn't have been it for the ever-changing Atlantic. Let's keep track of all the other links floating around on Thursday within the division:
- We have detailed at great length the roster overhaul that the Sixers went through this offseason. John Hollinger of ESPN breaks down their new roster for the 2012-13 seasons (Insider access only).
- Dei Lynam of CSN Philly looks at Andrew Bynum and Andre Iguodala, both of whom could be unrestricted free agents this offseason. Bynum seems like a good bet to re-sign in Philly, while the future of Iguodala, should he opt out, is far more difficult to predict.
- The ankle injury that has hobbled Sixers first round pick Arnett Moultrie for most of the summer has not progressed as well as the team has hoped, reports John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Moultrie's effectiveness is heavily reliant on his athleticism, making it crucial for him legs to be at full strength as a rookie.
- Jonathan Abrams examines the enigma that is Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith for Grantland. Smith is ultra-talented and has been productive, but for whatever reason has not been able to find a home.
- Former Knick Stephon Marbury talked all things Knickerbockers with Ian Begley of ESPN New York. Marbury questions Amare Stoudemire's ability to thrive without Steve Nash, the ownership's motives in bringing in Carmelo Anthony and the potential of the team to advance in the playoffs.
A number of this morning's items of note relate to overseas players, so let's round them up in one place:
- Stephon Marbury has high praise for the Chinese Basketball Association and doesn't intend to return to the NBA even if there's interest, according to Sina.com (Chinese link; translation via HoopsHype).
- British forward Joel Freeland, who was picked by the Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2006 draft, would cost $1.5MM for Portland to buy out, according to Cesar Nanclares of TuBasket.com (Spanish link; translation via HoopsHype). A number of international clubs are also interested in Freeland, though his buyout to play elsewhere would be even more expensive ($3.1MM).
- Nets' 2011 second-rounder Bojan Bogdanovic confirmed to Kosarka.org (Croatian link) that he met with GM Billy King, but says coming to the NBA isn't up to him, according to HoopsHype.
- Earlier this week, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando passed along an interview between Petteri Koponen and Il Corriere di Bologna, in which the point guard said he expects to talk to the Mavericks this summer. The Mavs own the rights to the 30th pick in the 2007 draft, and the Dallas Morning News looks at the possibility of Koponen coming to Dallas for next season.
Former Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury has no interest in returning to the Knicks even if the team reaches out to him to help their beleaguered backcourt for the remainder of the season, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post. The New York Post contacted Marbury via email and asked him what he would do if the Knicks contacted him about a roster spot now that former head coach Mike D'Antoni is no longer with the team to which Marbury responded that he would do nothing.
The former Georgia Tech star led his team to the CBA championship on Friday night by scoring 42 points in the series-clinching game. While Marbury may be playing well and in great shape according to J.R. Smith, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson seems content moving forward with Baron Davis, Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas at the point. Davis will remain the starter with Bibby and Douglas competing for backup minutes as the season winds down.