The Bulls and Jimmy Butler are “millions apart” in extension talks, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, and while the precise gap is unclear, it’s not uncommon for sides to be as far apart as the Bulls and Butler are even a week before the extension deadline, Johnson writes. The team and Butler’s representatives at Relativity Sports this week had their first extensive talks in awhile, Johnson adds. Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:
- The Wizards recently tried to pry Julyan Stone out of his contract with Reyer Venezia of Italy, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (on Twitter). The point guard has an escape clause in the pact, according to Charania, who suggests that Stone would be disinclined to leave the team since he’s seeing heavy playing time. It’s unclear if the Wizards maintain interest after signing John Lucas III earlier this week.
- Jason Maxiell will remain with the Hornets on opening night in spite of his non-guaranteed contract, coach Steve Clifford confirmed today to reporters, including Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).
- Bucks rookie Damien Inglis will miss at least another six weeks because the right foot he broke during a predraft workout for the Thunder has not healed, tweets Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Bucks drafted Inglis 31st overall in June. His deal is guaranteed for this season.
The Magic have more money that counts against the cap for players who are no longer with the team than any other NBA franchise this season, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. That $14.2MM figure is likely to escalate soon with partial guarantees out to four of the team’s camp invitees. It also doesn’t include the cash going to the amnestied Gilbert Arenas, which doesn’t affect the cap. Still, Orlando isn’t alone, since “dead money” is piling up around the league as teams make cuts in advance of opening night. There’s more on the Magic amid the latest from the Southeast Division:
- Lance Stephenson admits he wanted to re-sign with the Pacers, but he told Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star that he wasn’t ready to commit when the team set a tight deadline for him to accept its offer. The team quickly moved on and struck a deal with C.J. Miles on the second day of free agency, depleting its limited room against the luxury tax line, and that sealed Stephenson’s departure, as the new Hornets guard said to Buckner. “They didn’t have nothing else. They had no more money or anything. That was basically it right there,” Stephenson said. “Soon as I said no to that offer, they went and signed C.J. I figured they thought I had no chance of coming back, they just went on and signed C.J. … I felt like it was a wrap after that.”
- The Pacers did follow up their five-year, $44MM offer to Stephenson with offers of three and four years, Buckner writes, refuting an earlier report.
- Jameer Nelson‘s agent, Steve Mountain, said as recently as June that the point guard wanted to remain with the Magic for this season, but Nelson tells Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that he instead felt it was time to leave Orlando. The Mavs signee referred to his departure from the Magic, who waived him at the end of June, as a mutual decision.
- Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld doesn’t think the lack of a one-to-one D-League affiliate significantly hinders his team, but he nonetheless told Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post that the Wizards are looking into the possibility of having a D-League partner for future seasons.
Although the Thunder have sustained a rash of injuries, the team will only keep 14 players on the roster, writes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Slater also notes that Michael Jenkins, Richard Solomon, Talib Zanna and Lance Thomas have all played vital roles in the preseason, yet it is unlikely any of them force the team to consider filling their 15th and final regular season roster spot before opening night.
Here’s more from around the league:
- The Raptors still have 17 players on their preseason roster, and haven’t decided on who will make the final cut. Head coach Dwayne Casey said the final roster decisions would come down to the wire, Jay Satur of NBA.com reports.
- The Wizards signing of Paul Pierce was a short-term fix with the franchise hoping that Otto Porter can develop into a valuable contributor in the coming season, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. With the injury to Bradley Beal, and with Trevor Ariza departing as a free agent to Houston, Porter may be called upon to log heavy minutes early in the season.
- Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is against maximum individual salaries for NBA players, writes David Mayo of MLive. “If it were more of a free-market system, I think things would change,” Van Gundy said. “I think you’d see greater parity in the league — especially having the (salary) cap and no individual max.”
- Teams are finding ways to get around the D-League’s individual maximum salary restrictions to entice players to sign with their affiliates, writes Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). This preseason, many NBA teams have signed players to their active roster only to release or waive the player shortly thereafter. By doing this, the team obtains the player’s D-League rights and the player can sign a partially guaranteed contract that trumps the D-League maximum salary which is slightly less than $26K per year. Elhassan points out this loophole would motivate fringe NBA talent to play in the D-League rather than take international offers.
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links) disputes the notion that the Kings had interest in Jordan Crawford prior to him heading over to China to play. The two sides never had serious discussions, and if Sacramento was interested in signing a veteran shooting guard they would have preferred MarShon Brooks, who played well for them in Summer League, Jones notes.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.
8:29pm: Michael has updated his report to reflect that Butler, James and Silas have yet to be released, and could actually still be retained. Though, in a later story, the CSN Washington scribe suggests that the chances the Wizards retain any of the trio is slim.
9:38am: The Wizards are set to part ways with Rasual Butler, Damion James and Xavier Silas, reports J. Michael of CSNWashington.com, who writes amid his story on Washington’s deal with John Lucas III. That indicates that the club will place its non-guaranteed contracts with the trio on waivers in advance of Monday’s deadline to set its opening-night roster. The addition of Lucas will give the team 15 players with at least a partial guarantee, which puts the squeeze on Butler, James and Silas.
The three swingmen appeared to have better chances at remaining with the team into the regular season once Bradley Beal went down with injury, but it looks like GM Ernie Grunfeld is going a different direction to bolster his backcourt. James and Silas were reportedly the strongest contenders among the three to remain with the team. Silas went to training camp with the Wizards this fall for the second year in a row, while James was the 24th overall pick in 2010 and showed promise before a series of injuries derailed his career. The 35-year-old Butler was hoping to duplicate what he did with Indiana last year, when he made the Pacers out of camp and wound up contributing in the playoffs.
The subtraction of Butler, James and Silas will drop the Wizards to 15 players, seemingly setting the club’s opening-night roster. Washington released Daniel Orton, Vander Blue and David Stockton earlier in the preseason.
11:10am: The deal is official, the team announced.
9:21am: The contract will be non-guaranteed, according to J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.
8:04am: The Wizards are close to signing John Lucas III, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Washington’s interest is related to shooting guard Bradley Beal‘s injury, Stein suggests, though Lucas plays point guard. Still, Lucas would help provide depth that would allow Andre Miller and Garrett Temple to shift to the two-guard position. The Wizards are limited to giving the minimum salary to Lucas, who turns 32 next month, but it’s not clear whether there’ll be any guaranteed money involved.
The seven-year veteran became a free agent last month after the Celtics waived him shortly following their acquisition of him from the Cavs via trade. It was the second trade of the offseason for Lucas, who went from the Jazz to Cleveland in July. His non-guaranteed contract called for him to make $1.6MM for 2014/15, not much more than the minimum, but enough to help two teams view him more as trade ballast than as a potential contributor. He saw 14.1 minutes per game for Utah last season, nearly setting a career high, but his scoring and assists per contest declined for the second year in a row.
Washington has been carrying 17 players, as our roster counts show, and the addition of Lucas would be an ominous sign for Rasual Butler, Damion James and Xavier Silas, each of whom has a non-guaranteed salary. The Wizards have 13 full guarantees plus a partial guarantee with Glen Rice Jr.
Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press writes that assistant coaching positions are now some of the NBA’s more glamorous positions. Coaches tell Krawczynski that the rising salaries and profiles of the assistants are justified. “There’s a lot more to head coaching than actual coaching,” Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “There’s a lot of other stuff that comes up. To try to put your full effort into everything is tough to do. That’s where the assistants become really valuable in terms of getting the basketball stuff ready, narrowing it down for you to look at the game plan and it’s already done pretty much for you [to] just go from there.” More from around the league..
- Despite losing key cogs of their championship team over the past few years, the Mavs appear poised to contend in 2014/15, writes Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders. Familiar faces like J.J. Barea and Caron Butler have moved on since 2010/11, but Dallas has a strong new supporting cast built around Dirk Nowitzki. This offseason also saw the Mavs welcome back big man Tyson Chandler.
- Knicks associate coach Kurt Rambis is helping rookie head coach Derek Fisher adjust to the pressures of coaching in New York, writes Mark Berman of the New York Post. Rambis worked as an assistant under new Knicks president Phil Jackson with the Lakers and understands the pressures of coaching in a big-city atmosphere. “I’m giving him countless suggestions, even how to monitor his time,’’ said Rambis, who was hired in July. “… Derek is a perfectionist, constantly thinking about the game. He did it as a player and it’s worse when you become a head coach. I want him to find time to do it.’’
- The Knicks‘ Travis Wear has already seen his twin brother get cut from an NBA roster, and he is hoping to avoid the same fate, reports Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Wear has just $62K of his $507K contact guaranteed, and the Knicks have 15 players in camp with fully guaranteed deals. Zagoria reports that Wear has fit in well with the Knicks’ new triangle offense, but he may wind up with the team’s D-League affiliate in Westchester, N.Y. Wear’s brother, David, was waived Sunday by the Kings.
- The NBPA hired Gary Kohlman as its new general counsel, a source tells Ben Strauss of the New York Times.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Mary Stevens of Basketball Insiders looked at three under-the-radar rookies to watch, including Doug McDermott of the Bulls. The former Creighton standout will have to adjust to pace of the NBA quickly as Chicago has high hopes for this season, but he is widely regarded as one of the most NBA-ready players out of the 2014 class. More from the Central Division..
- Bucks coach Jason Kidd told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com he now believes the rumors that the Nets wanted to fire him as their coach last December. Later, the offseason trade that sent him to Milwaukee in exchange for two second-round draft picks convinced him of that, though many would say that it was Kidd who forced that situation. Kidd also questioned the Nets’ decision not to retain free agent forward Paul Pierce, who signed a two-year, $11MM deal with the Wizards. “I believe it,” Kidd said regarding Pierce’s claim about not being offered a contract. “I mean, if they don’t offer [Pierce] a contract worth what a first-round pick is, then why did we do the deal [last year for Pierce and Kevin Garnett]?”
- After dropping Stephen Holt and Chris Crawford today, the Cavs need to make at least one more cut before the regular season begins. However, it’s more likely that they will make two cuts to leave a roster spot open for a free agent, writes Chris Haynes of The Plain Dealer.
- Spencer Dinwiddie sees an opportunity for increased playing time with the Pistons, between his improving knee and this week’s trade that sent Will Bynum to the Celtics. The point guard, who suffered a torn ACL last winter, told Keith Langlois of Pistons.com that his knee is feeling better and that he is ready to compete for minutes. Detroit traded Bynum away within days of Dinwiddie taking part in his first simulated game action, which may or may not be coincidental.
Arthur Hill contributed to this post.
2:12pm: The Kings confirmed that they have waived the trio.
8:43am: The Kings intend to waive Sim Bhullar, Deonte Burton, and David Wear, Sean Cunningham of News 10 Sacramento reports (Twitter link). Burton and Wear were in camp on non-guaranteed minimum salary deals, but Bhullar had a partial guarantee of $35K on his pact which Sacramento is on the hook for unless another team submits a waiver claim. These moves will reduce the Kings’ preseason roster count to 15, with 13 of those agreements being fully guaranteed. No announcement from the team has been made yet.
When Bhullar was signed by the Kings it marked the first time a player of Indian descent joined the NBA. The 7’5″ big man had declared for the NBA draft in mid-April, shortly after he and New Mexico State were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Bhullar averaged 10.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 2.4 BPG in 24.4 MPG while shooting 62.1% from the field as a freshman and 10.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 3.4 BPG, while shooting 64.8% as a sophomore.
The 23-year-old Burton spent summer league with the Wizards after going undrafted, averaging just 1.8 points in 17.3 minutes per contest, but he put up much better numbers as a senior with the Nevada Wolf Pack this past season, chipping in for 20.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 4.4 assists against 2.0 turnovers in 38.6 MPG.
Wear, a 6’9″ 23-year-old, spent time in the summer league with the Bulls, averaging 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game across five appearances. He didn’t log impressive numbers at UCLA, going for 6.5 PPG and 3.8 RPG in 22.9 MPG. His playing time decreased each successive year after he saw 28.4 MPG as a sophomore. Wear transferred to UCLA after spending his freshman year at North Carolina.
The Wizards have waived Daniel Orton, the team announced (Twitter link). The center’s contract was non-guaranteed, so the team won’t be on the hook for any of what was to have been a minimum salary. The move leaves 17 players on Washington’s roster.
The 24-year-old former first-round pick inked his deal to join the Wizards for camp after working out for the Pistons and canceling another workout with the Clippers once they signed Ekpe Udoh. Orton also reportedly auditioned for the Lakers. The Ara Vartanian client made the Sixers out of camp last year, but Philadelphia waived him in January shortly before his salary was to have become guaranteed for the rest of the season. The 29th overall pick from the 2010 draft proceeded to sign with the D-League in January, and he played 24 games with the affiliate of the Celtics.
Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld still has decisions to make before the team finalizes its opening-night roster. Wing players Rasual Butler, Damion James and Xavier Silas are all on non-guaranteed deals and seemingly competing for the 15th spot, though it’s uncertain whether the team will carry the maximum 15 players when the regular season starts.
The Wizards have announced that they have exercised their options on Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, which will keep them under their rookie scale contracts for 2015/16, the team announced in a press release. “Bradley and Otto are both big pieces of the core group of players that we will build around as we continue to improve our team,” said team president Ernie Grunfeld. “We look forward to them playing significant roles in our success both now and in the future.”
The moves are not unexpected, as Beal is an integral part of Washington’s offense and one of the team’s building blocks moving forward, despite suffering a broken wrist that will sideline him for a minimum of six to eight weeks. Porter is also part of the Wizards’ future, and is only one season removed from being a lottery pick. The team option was for the fourth year of Beal’s deal, and he is slotted to make $5,694,674 in 2015/16. Porter’s option was a third-year one, and Porter is on the books for $4,662,960 next season.
Beal ended last season second on the team in scoring at 17.5 PPG, and added 3.7 RPG, and 3.3 APG. He shot 41.9% overall, and 40% from long range Beal was selected third overall by Washington back in the 2012 NBA Draft. The team is expected to try to work out a long-term extension with Beal next summer, and with the new TV deal on the horizon it will be interesting to see how much he commands.
Porter was selected third overall by Washington in the 2013 NBA Draft. He was a disappointment in his first year, averaging 2.1PPG and 1.5 RPG in 37 games contests last season. Porter showed some flashes this summer when he was named to the 2014 All-NBA Summer League First Team after logging 19.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 1.8 APG. With the arrival of Paul Pierce, Porter won’t see huge minutes this season, but he has the opportunity to be a rotation contributor.