Here's tonight's look around the Association..
- Eric Bledsoe is showing that he's going to be a big money player at some point, even if he doesn't get that payday from the Clippers, writes Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. Chris Paul echoed similar sentiments earlier today.
- Knicks coach Mike Woodson knows first-hand how tough Kenyon Martin and Jason Kidd can be in the playoffs thanks to his time as an assistant coach for the Pistons, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday (on Sulia). “Both of them are still relentless and savvy,” Woodson said. “I go back to that 2004 Detroit team when they had our backs against the wall [in the conference semifinals] big time...That to me was really our championship series."
- Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni called Tracy McGrady a "wild card" but Gregg Popovich says that the veteran is "another body" and isn't sure how he'll integrate him into the rotation, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com (on Sulia). The Spurs signed T-Mac shortly after cutting Stephen Jackson.
- Former Bulls veteran Keith Bogans is now an important part of the Nets' defense, writes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.
So far, Hoops Rumors readers have indicated in this morning's poll that Spurs/Lakers is the most-anticipated first round series of the NBA playoffs, with Celtics/Knicks and Thunder/Rockets rounding out the top three. We'll have to wait until Sunday for those two Western series to get underway, but Boston and New York will be the first two teams to begin their series on Saturday afternoon. As we look forward to what should be an exciting postseason, let's check in on a few odds and ends from around the NBA:
- Washington junior C.J. Wilcox has decided to return to school for his senior season, tweets Percy Allen of the Seattle Times. Wilcox was ranked 37th among this year's prospects by ESPN.com's Chad Ford.
- Michael McCann of SI.com (Twitter link) hears that, as commissioner David Stern has indicated publicly, expansion to 31 teams truly hasn't been discussed as an option by the NBA. As such, there will be no happy ending to the Kings saga for both Sacramento and Seattle basketball fans.
- With Lawrence Frank out as Pistons coach, GM Joe Dumars will be running the team's search for a new coach, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). Vince Goodwill of the Detroit News has heard Nate McMillan, Kelvin Sampson, Jerry Sloan, and Heat assistant David Fizdale mentioned as potential candidates (Twitter link).
- Sixers assistant Michael Curry will interview for Philadelphia's head coaching position while keeping an eye on other openings, reports Shams Charania of RealGM.com. In Doug Collins' exit interview today, he recommended Curry as his replacement.
- Tracy McGrady is a Spur at the moment, but his 2012/13 Chinese team, the Qingdao Double Star Eagles would like to re-sign him for next season, according to a Hupu.com report (English link via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando).
- Carchia also passes along word that Latvian forward Janis Timma has decided to enter the 2013 NBA draft, according to his agent. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com ranks Timma 27th among 1992-born international prospects.
As Tuesday night winds down, here are some odds and ends from around the NBA:
- Chase Budinger, a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, would like to return to the Timberwolves next season but is only likely to do so if Rick Adelman is retained as the head coach, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Adelman pushed the Wolves to acquire Budinger, who he coached in Houston, in a draft-day trade with the Rockets last June. Budinger missed four months this season with a knee injury.
- After he signed Tracy McGrady, general manager R.C. Buford said that with the status of the Spurs roster right now, they "felt like [they] needed to look at some depth and experience," tweets Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News (via Twitter).
- The true winner of last summer's biggest blockbuster was Magic GM Rob Hennigan, writes Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. Hennigan fleeced the Sixers and obtained three first-round draft picks and Arron Afflalo, says Bianchi, and most important, did not end up with Andrew Bynum.
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer looks at the biggest issues facing the lowly Bobcats this summer, specifically pointing at the futures of head coach Mike Dunlap, restricted free-agent-to-be Gerald Henderson as well as the six other Bobcats who could become free agents.
3:45pm: The Spurs have officially signed McGrady, the team announced in a press release.
3:25pm: The Spurs will sign Tracy McGrady for the remainder of the regular season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). Because McGrady hasn't played for an NBA team this season, he'll be playoff-eligible for the Spurs.
McGrady, 33, spent most of the 2012/13 season with China's Qingdao Double Star Eagles, averaging 25.0 PPG and 7.2 RPG in 29 games in the CBA. Despite his solid scoring totals overseas, one executive told Ian Thomsen of SI.com last month that he'd be "shocked" if McGrady signed with an NBA team this season. Zach Lowe of Grantland.com tweets that the move is one of the most "out-of-nowhere" end-of-season signings he can recall.
The agreement with McGrady comes on the heels of another surprising transaction by the Spurs, as the team waived Stephen Jackson on Friday. Jackson's release left the club with just 14 players, so a corresponding roster move won't be necessary to clear room for T-Mac.
McGrady was actually reasonably effective for a bench player in his last NBA action. He spent 2011/12 with the Hawks, putting up 5.3 PPG and a 13.6 PER in 52 contests (16.1 MPG).
A handful of players have joined the NBA after finishing their season in China, and Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops
wonders if Yi Jianlian
could attract some attention after dominating in the CBA thus far. The former NBA lottery pick has averaged 24.9 PPG and 10.5 RPG while shooting 59.4% from the field and 40.7% from long distance for the Guangdong Southern Tigers this year, and is currently playing in the CBA Finals. We've got several more links to share with you this evening:
It's a Wednesday night full of storylines in the NBA, as LeBron James and the Heat go for their 20th consecutive win in Philly and Carmelo Anthony returns to Denver for the first time since he was traded to the Knicks. Let's round up all the other Wednesday links from around the league here:
- An NBA executive told Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen, via text, that he would be "shocked" if any team picked up Gilbert Arenas or Tracy McGrady in the final month of the season. Both former NBA stars have spent this season playing in China.
- Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com caught up with 76ers president Rod Thorn on what has become an intriguing organizational situation in Philadelphia due to Andrew Bynum. While Thorn initially refused to comment on Bynum, he eventually said, "It's a little bizarre, no doubt about it." (Twitter links)
- With regard to Nikola Vucevic, who the Sixers gave up for Bynum and is now averaging a double-double at 22-years-old, Thorn said, "Nik is a very skilled player with great hands. You could tell he had a very good future ahead of him." (via Twitter)
- Sacramento city officials have given themselves an eight day window to construct a financing plan for a new downtown arena, writes Ryan Lillis, Tony Bizjak and Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee. With that timeline, the plan would be complete five days before the city council voted on the plan on March 26. Cementing the terms of an arena deal is vital in the city's claim to keep the Kings.
- The Bee's Marcos Breton writes that many knowledgable businessmen in the Sacramento area and beyond consider the city's last-ditch effort to keep the Kings a fool's errand. Breton spoke with a leading authority on arena financing who describes the offer from the Seattle group "considerably stronger."
Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld took to Twitter tonight to offer thoughts on various questions about the NBA. Here are some of the highlights:
On this date in 1987, Michael Jordan won his first NBA Slam Dunk contest in Seattle with his famous leap from the foul line maneuver that wowed the sold-out crowd and viewers across the country. Let's catch up on the latest news and stories making headlines from around the league.
- Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe hasn't let himself get too concerned about trade rumors involving his name, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. “Right now, I’m focused on Miami,” Bledsoe said. “We play Miami next and I’m thinking about Miami. I’m just worried about winning. Everything else is going to happen.”
- Unlike in 2012 when the whole world knew Anthony Davis would be selected number one overall in the NBA draft, there is a lack of certainty surrounding the pick in 2013, says Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). Ford analyzes six different potential selections, including Kentucky star Nerlens Noel, who he considers to be the closest thing to a top pick at this point in the year.
- Max Ogden of Sheridan Hoops looks at the current situations of former NBA stars such as Gilbert Arenas and Tracy McGrady as they continue their careers overseas.
Tonight's schedule includes a battle for Western Conference positioning between the Rockets and Jazz, Andrew Bogut's possible return to the court for the Warriors, and an opportunity for the Wizards to win their third straight game (and eighth of their last 11). As we look forward to the evening's slate of games, let's check out a few odds and ends from around the NBA....
- Dominic McGuire's second 10-day contract with the Pacers has expired, and the team has elected to let him go rather than sign him to a rest-of-season deal. According to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star (via Twitter), the Pacers will likely bring back Sam Young, though it's not clear whether he'll get a 10-day contract or a rest-of-season deal. Indiana released Young before his contract became guaranteed, and shortly after he suffered an ankle sprain.
- Agent Bill McCandless expects the Timberwolves to keep Mickael Gelabale for more than just one 10-day contract, as he tells Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype: "Based on my conversations with Timberwolves management, I understand
that Minnesota is very likely to offer M.G. a second 10-day contract." (Twitter links).
- With Sacramento and Seattle potentially set to battle over the Kings, Neema Hodjat of RealGM.com makes a case for why the NBA should consider expansion as an alternative to relocation.
- We heard last week that Kris Joseph had signed a contract to play for Orleans in France, but David Pick of Sportando reports (via Twitter) that Joseph backed out of that deal for a possible D-League offer.
- A.J. Mitnick of Sheridan Hoops makes his early picks for the top 10 European prospects of the 2013 draft class.
- Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, and D.J. White are among the former NBA players in China whose CBA teams won't qualify for the postseason, according to Shaopeng Shen of Hupu.com (via Twitter). As such, those players would be free to return to the NBA sooner, assuming there's any interest.
- The Timberwolves received a disabled player exception worth about $381K for Malcolm Lee, tweets Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times and HoopsWorld. Considering how small that amount is, the team is unlikely to use the exception.
While the majority of NBA executives are holding off on movement until December 15th, when most of the free agents signed this summer can be traded, there's plenty going on overseas. We'll round up the latest here.
- Nikoloz Tskitishvili, whom the Nuggets selected with the fifth overall pick in 2002, has signed to play for Champville in Lebanon, Sportando's Emiliano Carchia reports. He'll replace Dwayne Jones, who played parts of five NBA seasons (Twitter link). Tskitishvili, who hasn't appeared in the NBA since 2005/06, began the season with an Iranian team.
- Jermareo Davidson has inked with the Turkish club Antalya, according to Carchia. Davidson, a second-round pick of the Warriors in 2007, last played in the NBA in 2008/09.
- Jon Pastuszek of NiuBBall.com chronicles the struggles of Tracy McGrady in China, who's straining under the pressure of having to carry the winless Qingdao Double Star Eagles. Pastuszek notes the team is trying to unload fellow American import D.J. Mbenga, according to SinaSports (Chinese link). Mbenga signed with the team after the Mavericks cut him right before training camp.