Knicks GM Steve Mills denies last month’s report that he met with Phil Jackson about the possibility of the Zen Master coaching the team, though he admits that the team’s pursuit of Jackson, now team president, caused “problems” with coach Mike Woodson. Mills made his comments to Spike Lee in an interview airing tonight on SiriusXM NBA Radio, and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com provides an early peek. Mills also said that he feels he and Jackson can “do something special” as they work together in the Knicks front office. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Danny Ainge wants to “blow off some fireworks” with splashy moves this summer, but he isn’t making promises, as he said today in his weekly radio appearance on 98.5 the Sports Hub (transcription via Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com). Ainge reiterated that he’s looking for rim protection and said he’s also seeking a “closer.” The Celtics boss also expressed concern about the injury history of soon-to-be free agent Avery Bradley, though Ainge once more spoke of the team’s interest in the guard.
- Trevor Booker started his 41st game for the Wizards on Wednesday, so the value of the qualifying offer the Wizards must make to keep him from unrestricted free agency this summer has risen from $3,420,443 to $4,677,708. I explained last month that Booker was approaching the league’s “starter criteria” for restricted free agents.
- The Cavs have assigned Sergey Karasev and Scotty Hopson to their D-League affiliate in Canton, the D-League team announced (Twitter link). Karasev and Hopson, who’d just been recalled to Cleveland on Wednesday, will be available for Canton’s playoff game tonight.
- We rounded up more on the Cavs and other Central Division news earlier today.
The Magic didn’t expect Al Harrington would be able to play for them last season after a staph infection in his knee, and they wouldn’t allow him to hang around his teammates, as Harrington alleges in a first-person account with Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling.
“Orlando was more about rebuilding, but they could’ve been more professional about my situation,” Harrington wrote. “In fact, the general manager, Rob Hennigan, told my agent that I was done, saying I ‘cannot play.’ Those were his exact words. And I was like, ‘He has some nerve.’ He’s a 32-year-old young executive, and I’ve been in the league longer than him, I probably know more than him and he’s going to tell my agent I’m done, and not think my agent is going to tell me that. So, to me, it was like he told me that pretty much to my face.”
There’s more from the current Wizards forward among the latest from the Eastern Conference:
- Harrington, a free agent at season’s end, isn’t sure he wants to continue playing, and writes in the same piece that he’d ideally re-sign with the Wizards next season after the All-Star break to save early-season wear and tear on his body. He’d like to remain with the Wizards either as a player, coach, or executive, and says he’s had conversations with the team about his future.
- Rookie Peyton Siva is finally starting to see minutes for the Pistons, and though he doesn’t acknowledge the season’s final weeks as a de-facto audition, that’s exactly what it is, since his contract is non-guaranteed for 2014/15, writes MLive’s Brendan Savage.
- Phil Jackson should up his workload and act more like the team president he is and less like a consultant, opines Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, who thinks the Zen Master should take heed to the recent comments of former Knicks coach Larry Brown.
- Trevor Ariza of the Wizards and Shaun Livingston of the Nets, both set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, are among the most vital-yet-overlooked players in the league, as Michael Pina of Sports On Earth examines.
UConn is headed to the NCAA championship game under second-year head coach Kevin Ollie. Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times thinks that the Lakers should try and pry Ollie away from Connecticut to become their next head coach. Pincus believes Ollie would be a good fit, with the added bonus of being a potential draw for Kevin Durant down the road, since Durant has an affinity for Ollie since his time spent as an assistant with the Thunder. Here’s a roundup of the rest of the night’s notes:
- The Wizards have recalled rookie Glen Rice Jr. from their D-League affiliate, per a team release. Rice has spent multiple stints with both the D-League and NBA clubs, and has averaged 2.9 points and 9.9 minutes played in 11 games with the Wizards.
- An NBA scout tells Adam Zagoria that UConn’s DeAndre Daniels ought to declare for this summer’s draft (Twitter links). “He’s playing the best he’s ever played, he might as well go for it,” the scout said. “It elevates his draft stock. He is taking a big step on the biggest stage.”
- The Magic could have Rookie of the Year candidate Victor Oladipo play on their summer league team in the coming months, coach Jacque Vaughn tells John Denton of Magic.com. While it’s unusual for a player as established as Oladipo to see summer league action, it is being considered as an option in case Orlando decides to continue experimenting with him as a point guard.
- After going undrafted and spending time in the D-League, Carlon Brown has improved his game overseas, leading the Israeli league in scoring. Brown tells Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders that the path he hopes will lead to an NBA opportunity has been worth it. “Going from college to the D-League to here has definitely been a learning experience, a humbling experience, gratifying to know that my patience and my hard work has paid off,” says Brown. “For me as a person it just lets me know that I’m headed in the right direction, that if I really put my mind to it like I did this summer to change my ways and habits that I can improve and I can dramatically improve my stats and be a better player. Hopefully I can continue to do that.”
Grant Hill says he understands what Kyrie Irving is going through, telling Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that the criticism and speculation surrounding the Cavs former No. 1 pick is par for the course. “In the NBA, that’s the epitome of it, but also what makes it difficult. The sport we are in, you constantly have to meet and surpass expectations, because you are constantly being evaluated by people. If you don’t succeed, you get traded, you get fired, you get criticized. That is what we sign up for,” said Hill. “After 19 years, you realize that’s part of the job, you are going to be evaluated and you are going to be criticized — it is not all glamour.” More from the East:
- President Phil Jackson is looking to add one or more additions to the Knicks front office, and he’s targeting a young salary cap expert to assist him and GM Steve Mills, a source tells Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The only candidate for such a position within Jackson’s inner circle would be Steve Kerr, who only appears interested in a return to coaching.
- Stein says it’s possible that Kerr could wind up coaching and bringing along a front office executive of his own, with one potential name being David Griffin, the Cavs interim GM at the moment.
- J. Michael of CSNWashington.com thinks the latest defensive performance by Trevor Ariza against Carmelo Anthony is a reminder that the Wizards should do what it takes to retain the small forward when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Ariza is shooting a career best from three this season, and has helped Washington reach the playoffs after a long drought.
- Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel thinks the Heat should pay whatever it takes in tax penalties to keep LeBron James. Since James’ salary is limited by the CBA to a value much below his practical worth for Miami, Winderman says exceeding the tax to provide him with a quality supporting cast is one way they can make up the virtual salary gap to him.
- Cody Taylor at Basketball Insiders looks at what it will take for the Magic to turnaround their franchise as they continue the rebuilding process.
- Ed Rendell of The Philadelphia Daily News thinks that the Sixers rebuilding strategy is brilliant, and sees it paying off with a competitive team next season.
LeBron James‘ $19MM salary makes him the ninth highest paid player in the NBA, but the Heat superstar is admittedly a bit jealous of players in other professional sports leagues who aren’t bound by a salary cap, revealed an Associated Press report (via USA Today). “The best players in each sport should be rewarded,” James said. “It would be nice to sign a 10-year contract for $300MM. I would do it. I would do it for sure… I wish we didn’t have a salary cap.” Here’s more from around the Southeast:
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer explores Chris Douglas-Roberts‘ role on the Bobcats and examines the steps he’s needed to take to make a comeback in the NBA after failing to secure a contract for the 2011/12 season.
- Josh McRoberts has become a key piece for the Bobcats, and his former Magic teammate Jameer Nelson told Charlotte coach Steve Clifford that he’d be wise to keep McRoberts around, reports John Denton of NBA.com. McRoberts is averaging 8.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per contest this season.
- The Magic‘s decision to select Victor Oladipo second overall in last June’s draft looks like it’s going to pay off, opines Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. Schmitz thinks Oladipo is the type of a player a franchise can be built around.
- The Wizards are looking to make the postseason for the first time since 2007/08, and offseason signee Al Harrington will provide a young Washington team with veteran leadership and playoff experience, writes Brandon Parker of the Washington Post. Harrington has appeared in six postseasons throughout his career.
The topic of Mark Jackson’s job security with the Warriors is riddled with complexity, and ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez and J.A. Adande discuss how this year’s struggles may affect the third-year head coach’s future in Oakland. Gutierrez suggests that Jackson bears some responsibility for Golden State’s frustrating play at times this year, while Adande surmises that Jackson will be in big trouble if the Warriors fail to improve on their six playoff wins from last season. Adande adds that ownership has spent nearly half of a billion dollars to purchase the team and upgrade the arena, and doesn’t think that patience accompanies those types of expenditures.
You can find additional coaching-related links below, including more from the above piece:
- Adande believes that a contract extension for Jackson would imply a significant vouch of support from management; however, the fact that there hasn’t been one yet makes him wonder if anyone within the organization’s hierarchy has Jackson’s back.
- Gutierrez thinks the Warriors are hastily trying to figure out Jackson’s potential as a head coach, and that Jackson could be heading into the postseason with his future in Golden State on the line.
- Timberwolves executive Flip Saunders is close to college coaches Fred Hoiberg and Tom Izzo, both of whom owner Glen Taylor admires, notes Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Walters senses that the chances of Rick Adelman returning to coach the Wolves are “remote” and points to the team’s coaching search from six years ago, when the team was willing to give the job to Izzo. Still, Izzo was strident in saying this week that he has no interest in coaching the Pistons. Saunders will be in New York to watch both Hoiberg and Izzo coach in the NCAA tournament this week, Walters adds via Twitter.
- Aside from Mark Jackson, there are many other coaches are in worse situations, notes Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. Toronto’s Dwane Casey, Washington’s Randy Wittman , Portland’s Terry Stotts, and Utah’s Tyrone Corbin are all finishing up their contracts this year and have yet to receive extensions.
- Deveney also groups Knicks coach Mike Woodson with Corbin as two contract-year coaches who are on “ice that is thin as ice can get”, though it’s worth mentioning that Woodson actually had his 2014/15 contract option picked up last September.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Iowa Energy in the NBA D-League have signed center Josh Boone, the team has announced. Boone had previously signed a contract to play in the Philippines with Bangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, but only appeared in two contests for the team. In an unusual move the Kings signed former NBA player Kevin Jones to take Boone’s place before he had even appeared in his first game for the team, writes Carlo Pamintuan of Yahoo! Sports.
Boone was the 23rd overall pick by the Nets in 2006. The former Connecticut Husky averaged 5.2 PPG and 4.9 RPG in his four years with the Nets. He played for the Wizards summer league team before they cut ties with him prior to this season.
Boone appeared in two games for the Energy last season, averaging 16.5 PPG and 7.5 RPG before an injury ended his season. Boone will wear number 33 and will available for tonight’s game.
Brook Lopez recently underwent ankle surgery while sitting out the year for a foot injury, and Kevin Garnett is sidelined for at least a few more games due to back spasms. The Nets frontcourt woes have been alleviated by rookie Mason Plumlee‘s performance at center, writes Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News. “He’s growing each time he takes the floor,” coach Jason Kidd told Bondy. “The more minutes he gets, the better he gets. It’s fun to watch. Mason is a big part of our success right now.” Here’s more from around the East:
- Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel doesn’t think the Heat‘s choice to trade away Roger Mason Jr. has worked out well for the roster. The opened spot was recently filled by Justin Hamilton, but Winderman wonders if the Heat had their eye on a veteran player that didn’t pan out when they sent Mason to the Kings.
- Wizards point guard Andre Miller spoke to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post some more about his falling out with the Nuggets. He maintains that he was unfairly portrayed to the media, and says he was surprised at how long of a process it was for him to get moved. “Yeah, I sat out for a while. But I had some time to reflect on what happened and was pretty much told to keep my mouth closed. I just worked out and tried to keep myself ready for whatever happens,” said Miller.
- Willis Reed says the Knicks ”won the lottery” by getting Phil Jackson to come take over their front office, he tells Fred Kerber of The New York Post. Reed was pessimistic about New York’s chances to sign Jackson considering his connections to the Lakers organization, but is happy they did.
- Tom Moore of The Burlington County Times asked Sixers coach Brett Brown whether second year guard Tony Wroten can overcome some of his decision making deficiencies and earn a long term place with the team. “I don’t know. It’s his development. We talk to him and show him. We try to teach him. He has shown subtle signs of improvement. But the magic word or coaching trick to have him not do that entirely — I do not know,” said Brown. Philadelphia holds a $2.2MM team option for Wroten’s 2015/16 season.
Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune details the close relationship between Pelicans coach Monty Williams and Raptors point guard Greivis Vasquez, who played for New Orleans last season. The trade that split up the pairing last summer stung Vasquez, who’ll be a restricted free agent at season’s end. “It hurt,” Vasquez said. “It really touched me a little bit. I was close not only with Coach Monty, but I was close with (assistant) Fred Vinson, all the coaching staff, the guys, messing around with Austin Rivers, Chief (Al-Farouq Aminu), Anthony Davis . . . . it was hard for me to let it go. But it’s part of the business.”
More from the east:
- The Wizards‘ Andre Miller says the Nuggets unfairly portrayed him as the bad guy, writes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. When Miller’s streak of playing in 239 consecutive games ended with the first “Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision” of his career, Miller screamed at coach Brian Shaw. The Nuggets suspended him for two games without pay after the incident before excusing him from team activities with pay until the trade to the Wizards. Miller said,”They gave me an opportunity to represent Denver. I tried to do that the right way, but I was looked at as the bad guy, a disgruntled player. [The Nuggets said] I was complaining about minutes and that was never the issue. They made it look that way, and that I was upset. I understand that they have to protect themselves as an organization, but don’t blast the player.“
- Sixers coach Brett Brown said the team will pick the best player available in the upcoming draft, and not for need, writes Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com. Brown does not think need should influence who a team select in the NBA draft, and cites the example of the Spurs drafting Tim Duncan despite having David Robinson already, writes Lynam.
- Amar’e Stoudemire says that it was his idea for the Knicks to trade for Carmelo Anthony, writes Brian Spurlock of USA Today. In an interview with Bleacher Report Stoudemire said, “I also knew that I needed a star teammate, and that’s something I talked to Mr. Dolan about when I signed. I mentioned a few players to Mr. Dolan who would be fun to play with, and Melo was one of them. Mr. Dolan and I talked about, ‘Which players in the near future are going to be available?’ Then we said, ‘Let’s make the move and try to trade for ‘Melo.’ That’s how things first started with the Knicks going after Carmelo Anthony.”
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The stretch run of the season matters a lot to members of this summer’s free agent class. But the effect of what happens between now and the end of the regular season will perhaps be more well-defined for Trevor Booker, Brian Roberts and Jordan Crawford than anyone else. That’s because all three have a chance to trigger the league’s starter criteria and boost the value of their qualifying offers.
Teams must extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents to reserve the right to match offers that other teams might make. Without a qualifying offer, a restricted free agent becomes an unrestricted free agent. For most players, the amounts of their qualifying offers are set in stone, and they’re usually determined by draft position. Whether or not the starter criteria come into play depends on whether or not a player logs at least 2,000 minutes or 41 starts during the season prior to his free agency, or hits those benchmarks over the average of the final two seasons before he becomes a free agent. Here’s what’s at stake:
- A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive the same qualifying offer equal to 120% of the amount applicable to the 15th overall pick.
- A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to 120% of the amount applicable to the ninth overall pick.
- A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to 100% of the amount applicable to the 21st overall pick.
These four players have already triggered higher qualifying offers for this summer:
- Avery Bradley, Celtics ($4,677,708) — would have been $3,581,302
- Greivis Vasquez, Raptors ($4,677,708) — would have been $3,203,780
- Isaiah Thomas, Kings ($3,450,156) — would have been $1,148,163
- P.J. Tucker, Suns ($3,450,156) — would have been $1,148,163
Conversely, three will likely see their qualifying offers reduced:
- Ekpe Udoh, Bucks ($4,268,609) — would have been $5,962,377
- Ed Davis, Grizzlies ($4,268,609) — would have been $4,361,788
- Patrick Patterson, Raptors ($4,268,609) — would have been $4,319,474
Booker, Roberts and Crawford are toss-ups, as we explain here:
- Trevor Booker, Wizards — This appears to be the most intriguing case. Booker could be in line for a higher qualifying injury because of Nene‘s injury. Booker has been starting in his place, and if he makes 10 more starts over Washington’s final 14 games, his qualifying offer increases from $3,420,443 to $4,677,708. Nene is already in the middle of his original four-to-six week timetable for a return, so if he comes back anytime soon, Booker will end up with the lower qualifying offer.
- Brian Roberts, Pelicans — An injury also affected Roberts’ case. He became the starter at point guard when Jrue Holiday went down with injury in January, and with Holiday lost for the season, it looks like Roberts will make the 41 starts needed to raise his qualifying offer from $1,115,243 to $3,450,156. He’s seven starts shy, and the Pelicans have 15 games left.
- Jordan Crawford, Warriors — He’d have to average 28.5 minutes over the last 12 games for the Warriors, or start half of those contests. Both are long shots, but if he accomplishes either, his qualifying offer would escalate from $3,206,867 to $4,677,708.
Basketball Insiders and ShamSports were used in the creation of this post.