Steve Nash has been away from the Lakers since being ruled out for the rest of the season, but the veteran finally paid the team a brief visit, Arash Markazi of ESPN.com writes. Nash greeted the team at the airport as they prepared to board a flight to Chicago, Markazi notes. “It was great to see him, first of all, and for all the players to see him,” coach Byron Scott said. “It was a great gesture on his part to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. He still has to deal with the fact that his career might be over. That’s still something he’s wrestling with. I’m still inviting him to come around here for practice and to join in and just be a part of the team and part the coaching staff. That’s something that he has to deal with and when he wants to and he feels he’s able to do that, whatever time that might be, he’ll be welcome with open arms.”
Here’s more out of the West:
- The improved play this season of Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad is making the 2013 trade of Trey Burke to Utah look like a great deal for the Wolves, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes.
- Former Lakers guard Manny Harris has inked a deal to play in Turkey with Eskisehir Basket, the team announced via Twitter (translation by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Harris was with Los Angeles on a pair of 10-day contracts during the 2013/14 campaign, and he spent parts of 2010/11 and 2011/12 with Cleveland.
- With the Nuggets‘ season all but lost, it is now up to GM Tim Connelly to try and rebuild the franchise through trades, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post opines. If the Nuggets want to tank for a chance at a higher draft pick, then Ty Lawson is the obvious player to trade, Kiszla notes. After Lawson, there isn’t another player on the roster who can consistently direct Denver’s already unreliable offense, and the result of dealing him could be a top five draft pick, Kiszla adds.
The Jazz have exercised their third year team options for Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert, the team has officially announced. This doesn’t come as a surprise since both players factor into Utah’s longterm rebuilding plans. Burke is set to make $2,658,240 and Gobert $1,175,880 during the 2015/16 season. By exercising these options the Jazz now have approximately $47.6MM in guaranteed money on the books for that campaign.
Burke is continuing to develop after being selected in 2013 with the ninth overall pick. During his rookie season he appeared in 70 games, including 68 as a starter, averaging 12.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 5.7 APG. His slash line was .380/.330/.903. The pressure is on Burke to improve his outside shooting and cut down on his 1.9 turnovers per game. Utah drafted Dante Exum with the No. 4 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and Exum projects more as a point guard at this stage of development.
The 7’1″ Gobert was also part of the 2013 draft class, being selected 27th overall. During his rookie campaign, Gobert appeared in 45 games, averaging 2.3 PPG and 3.4 RPG, while logging 9.6 minutes a night.
WEDNESDAY, 5:30pm: The Jazz are finalizing the deal with Murry, writes Stein, who adds that the Lakers were also interested in the guard’s services.
5:53pm: Murry’s agent, Bernie Lee, said the report of a pending deal with the Jazz is “news to him,” notes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter link).
TUESDAY, 5:31pm: Toure’ Murry is close to signing a two-year, $2MM deal with the Utah Jazz, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Murry had also been pursued by the Heat, and his former team, the Knicks, notes Stein. Murry will be able to provide depth at both guard positions for the Jazz, and will compete for playing time off the bench.
Utah will most likely begin the season with Trey Burke as the starting point guard, and Alec Burks at the two guard position. No. 5 overall pick, Dante Exum, will begin his career at shooting guard, but the franchise hopes he can develop his ball-handling and decision-making skills enough to eventually shift over to the point.
Last year, his first season in the league, Murry appeared in 51 games for the Knicks, and averaged 2.7 PPG, 0.9 RPG, and 1.0 APG, while logging 7.3 minutes a night. His slash line was .434/.417/.590.
There’s genuine fear within the Bulls’ front office that owner Jerry Reinsdorf will refuse to use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer this summer, passes along Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News. Chicago will have a hard time creating the cap room necessary to pursue marquee names if they don’t find a way to get Boozer off the books. Here’s more from Lawrence:
- Carmelo Anthony would be interested in teaming up with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, says Lawrence, but the Lakers are unlikely to have the cap space to bring in both superstars.
- It sounds as if the Rockets‘ pursuit of ‘Melo is unlikely to result in a success. “The only reason Carmelo will go to Houston to listen (to the Rockets) is because of Kevin McHale,” a source told Lawrence. “If the coach wasn’t a top-50, all-time player or was a lesser-name coach, then ‘Melo wouldn’t even visit there. But he’ll listen because it’s Kevin McHale.“
- The Grizzlies are interested in bringing aboard former Knicks president Glen Grunwald to come in and serve under Chris Wallace for two years before taking over the reins as GM, Lawrence writes. That echoes an earlier report from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com but appears to add an expiration date for Wallace’s time in charge of the front office.
- One league source told Lawrence that he wasn’t sure if Bruno Caboclo was even worth a second-round selection. The Raptors selected Caboclo with the 20th pick in the draft, and Lawrence writes that it’s virtually impossible to find a GM who agrees with their decision.
- Utah’s decision to draft Dante Exum isn’t surprising since the the Jazz aren’t sold on Trey Burke as a franchise point guard, reveals Lawrence.
- Dirk Nowitzki won’t even consider signing with a team other than the Mavs this summer, Lawrence confirms.
If the Jazz stay at No. 5, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune (on Twitter) hears that Aaron Gordon will likely be the pick. Earlier today it was reported that Marcus Smart was a consideration for Utah even though he hasn’t worked out for them. Here’s more from Utah:
- Some around the Jazz aren’t high on Smart but nonetheless believe he’s the best choice, according to Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter link).
- Trading down is also a possibility for the Jazz, Jones suggests (on Twitter). Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, and Smart are all in consideration at No. 5 but they also like guys like Doug McDermott and Nik Stauskas who could be had later, Jones says.
- Trey Burke would have no concerns if the team does indeed wind up selecting Smart, a fellow point guard, as Burke’s camp tells Genessy (Twitter link).
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams headlines the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team, which also features Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, Mason Plumlee and Tim Hardaway Jr. The Second Team is composed of Kelly Olynyk, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Gorgui Dieng, Cody Zeller and Steven Adams. Carter-Williams was a unanimous first-team selection among the media members who voted for the award. Had Kevin Calabro of ESPN Radio not left Oladipo off his ballot entirely, the Magic guard would have been a unanimous first-teamer, too.
Still, the first team is made up of the only five players who received first-place votes for Rookie of the Year. Ben McLemore was the player with the most All-Rookie votes not to make either the first or the second team, and 29 players received at least one vote for one of the teams. That includes 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, who drew a single second-team vote.
Only three of the top 10 picks from the 2013 draft appear on either All-Rookie Team. Still, all 10 players selected to the team were first-round picks, with Hardaway, the 24th overall selection, the last to come off the board on draft night a year ago.
Once a catalyst in the movement that paved a way for players to go from high school straight to the NBA, former NBA All-Star Spencer Haywood ironically supports the idea of raising the league’s age-limit to 20-years-old, details Sam Amick of USA Today. Haywood is currently concerned about the potential effects of the one-and-done rule on college basketball and in the NBA:
“You have no locker room camaraderie…You have no veteran leadership. It’s just young guys making up their own rules as they go. They don’t have the examples to show them what this game is all about. So it’s going to hurt the league, and it’s definitely hurting college basketball.”
Here are more miscellaneous news and notes from around the Association tonight:
- Current Bulls assistant and former NBA player Adrian Griffin spoke with Sean Deveney of the Sporting News about his aspirations of eventually becoming an NBA head coach: “It’s definitely my goal…I have been learning a lot in this role, this is my sixth year. I learned under (Tom Thibodeau), I learned under Scott Skiles and overall, it is great to see how things work in an organization, especially an organization like the Bulls. That’s something I could bring to any team.”
- Griffin may ultimately need more experience as an assistant before landing a head-coaching job, but he could definitely be active on the interview circuit if there are head coaching vacancies this summer, writes Deveney.
- Nick Young‘s agent, Mark Bartelstein, tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News that it still remains presumptuous whether or not his client will opt out of his contract with the Lakers this summer.
- It’ll be surprising if recently-waived Erik Murphy goes unclaimed, as he appears to be drawing interest from around the league (Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports via Twitter).
- The Rockets are not currently seeking a replacement on their coaching staff for former assistant Kelvin Sampson, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
- Sacramento city officials plan to unveil key details of an arena deal for the Kings in the next few weeks, leading up to a formal vote on the plan by City Council on May 13, reports Tony Bizjak and Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee.
- Jazz rookie Trey Burke tells Spencer Checketts of 1280 The Zone that he loves Utah and “plans on staying here for as long as they’ll let me” (Twitter link).
The Pelicans may be looking to switch things up before the trade deadline according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News. With things not going as planned for New Orleans this season it appears everyone but Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis are movable assets for the Pelicans. Sam Amico of FOX Sports points out (via Twitter) that list of movable assets would include Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans.
Other notes on the Pelicans and teams around the league.
- When the Pelicans waived Lou Amundson it was believed the reason was to bring up Pierre Jackson from their D-League affiliate. It appears the recent acquisition of point guard Tyshawn Taylor squelches those rumors and the rumors of Jackson being allowed to seek a trade are more likely. Jackson told Gino Pilato of D-League Digest “it’s a business, and things happen like that. I’m just going to continue to do whatever I can here in the D-League to help this team win games.”
- Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune asks fans to not look at Trey Burke as another “one that got away” because the Timberwolves would have never drafted him if they weren’t planning to trade him away. Minnesota had three point guards at the time (Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, and Luke Ridnour) and were drafting him purely to acquire Shabazz Muhammad from Utah. It is the belief that Ricky Rubio is the team’s future at point guard and drafting Trey Burke would have conflicted with that belief.
- It appears the Clippers roster will remain intact for some time. Head coach and senior vice president of basketball operations Doc Rivers told Arash Markazi of ESPN the Clippers aren’t “looking to make changes” right now. This is a team that Rivers likes and he would be fine ending the season with them plus Chris Paul added back from injury.
- While the Clippers roster may be set, the Pistons are expected to be “really active” as the trade deadline approaches. Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News discussed (via Twitter) that he anticipates Detroit will make at least one trade prior to next month’s deadline.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton wonders if the Suns can continue to play well without Eric Bledsoe, mentioning that in the ten games Bledsoe has missed, Phoenix has gone 5-5 (Insiders only). Should the 24-year-old guard be unable to return this season, Pelton doesn’t think the Suns will have trouble finding a viable backup point guard, whether it be Leandro Barbosa (recently signed to a 10-day contract) or acquiring one with an expiring deal via trade.
Here are some more links to share out of the Western Conference tonight:
- In the midst of mounting frustration in Minnesota, Ken Berger of CBS Sports wonders if the Timberwolves should consider trading Kevin Love before he hits free agency.
- Lakers center Chris Kaman is still confused about his on-again/off-again role in Mike D’Antoni’s rotation, telling Mike Bresnahan and Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times: “I honestly can’t answer that question for you without telling you a lie. I really have no clue why. I’d just be making something up…I haven’t played in six games and then all of a sudden I play [Wednesday]…I really have no rhyme or reason for it. When it’s my turn, it’s my turn and when it’s not, I just sit and be positive and try to be professional about it.”
- The city of Sacramento filed an eminent domain lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court that seeks to take control of a former downtown Macy’s department store for the development of a new sports arena, reports Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee. The Kings wired $4.3MM to the city in anticipation of the city taking the eminent domain action.
- Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune briefly mentions that at a reasonable price of $4MM this season, Brandon Rush could become one of the Jazz’s best assets leading up to the February trade deadline.
- Doug Robinson of the Deseret News discusses how Trey Burke has been one of the lone bright spots of a “bad” 2013 NBA Draft.
- Despite their continued struggles, the Lakers aren’t resorting to any finger-pointing, writes Janis Carr of the OC Register.
Beckley Mason of the New York Times examines the chemistry and cohesiveness that have galvanized the Trail Blazers this season, prompting LaMarcus Aldridge to call this the ‘happiest time in his career': “Guys are playing so (unselfishly) — our team chemistry is unreal right now…Coach Stotts gives us the freedom to play loose and make plays, and guys aren’t abusing it.”
Veteran point guard Earl Watson also weighed in: “Everyone accepts their role, and the roles were never defined. It’s the truth of our team, the DNA of our team. The way we fit together, it’s like the perfect storm, so to speak.”
Here’s more out of the Western Conference tonight: