Knicks team president Phil Jackson has sounded like a defeated man during his end of season press conferences, which isn’t what the organization or its fans need to see at this critical juncture in New York’s rebuilding process, Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post writes. The Zen Master has taken on a somewhat pessimistic attitude when discussing the team’s ability to attract free agents, Vaccaro notes. “The market value is going to be really interesting,” Jackson said. “There’s going to be a zillion guys being chased, and it’s not just us trying to do this. It only takes one individual team that says, ‘We want this guy.’ The prevailing attitude is: Guys get overpaid in this situation. You have do that in free agency to get a player. We know we have a limited amount and have to do some judicious shopping. We’re not going to the dollar store, but we may not be at one of the bigger [stores].”
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- If Knicks guard Ricky Ledo is still under contract through August 1st, $100K of his minimum salary arrangement for 2015/16 will become guaranteed, with another $100K becoming guaranteed if he begins the season under contract, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
- Jorge Gutierrez‘s minimum salary deal for 2015/16 with the Bucks is non-guaranteed, Pincus tweets.
- Will Bynum‘s contract with the Wizards was strictly for the remainder of the 2014/15 campaign, and the guard will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Pincus notes (Twitter link).
- Commissioner Adam Silver indicated that he still has faith that a deal can be reached on a new arena in Milwaukee for the Bucks, Kami Mattioli of The Sporting News tweets. The franchise is struggling to secure $250MM worth of public financing toward the construction of a $500MM arena.
Thabo Sefolosha said his right leg hurt following his arrest last week outside a New York nightclub, but he refused immediate treatment, a New York City Police Department spokesperson told Greg Hanlon of SI.com. Sefolosha’s attorney told Hanlon that he advised his client not to appear before a judge before he went to the hospital. The Hawks swingman suffered a season-ending broken fibula in the incident.
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Former Celtics big man Vitor Faverani intends to use the NBA summer league to try and work himself into playing shape as he recovers from a knee injury, David Alarcón of HoopsHype.com relayed via Twitter (translation). If Faverani is unable to land an NBA deal he intends to play in Europe next season, Alarcón adds. Boston has been in contact with Faverani to check on the status of his balky knee, Alarcón notes.
- Paul Pierce backtracked a bit on the negative comments he made yesterday regarding his time with the Nets, Rachel Nichols of CNN.com relays (Twitter links). Pierce said that he regretted using the word “horrible” to describe his 2013/14 season in Brooklyn, but he did relay that the Wizards have more of a “family feel,” and that there is a distinct culture difference between the two organizations, Nichols notes.
- Goran Dragic said that the Heat missing the playoffs this season would not affect his opinion of the organization in regards to his pending free agency, Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald tweets.
- The 28-year-old guard also indicated that he is more than open to re-signing with Miami this summer and that it might not be necessary to speak with other teams prior to inking a new deal, Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post writes. “Of course,” Dragic said. “If you’re gonna find the same language, then it’s easy for everybody. It’s hard to talk about that right now. We’ll see. I need to sit down with my family and explore the options and see what option is the best, but the last two months that I was here [in Miami] was beautiful for me.”
Paul Pierce has found the Wizards to be a much better fit for himself than the Nets were last season, Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com writes. Speaking about being in Washington, Pierce told MacMullan, “I’m much happier. It was a tough situation [in Brooklyn] last year. Horrible, really. It was just the guys’ attitudes there. It wasn’t like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn’t want to play and didn’t want to practice. I was looking around saying, ‘What’s this?’ Kevin Garnett and I had to pick them up every day in practice. If me and Kevin weren’t there, that team would have folded up. That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day.”
Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
- The veteran forward also relayed that the player who most perplexed him on the Nets was Deron Williams, MacMullan adds. “Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,” Pierce said. “But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that. I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”
- Pierce indicated he would have remained in Brooklyn this season for the sake of his longtime teammate, MacMullan notes. “I would have stayed in Brooklyn because of Kevin,” Pierce said. “I told him, ‘I don’t really like this situation but I would never leave you if you want me to stay.’ But they decided not to re-sign me so I never had to make a choice. I would never have left Kevin like that.”
- The Nets are currently a half game behind the Pacers for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, but even if the team makes the postseason this campaign still will be considered an expensive failure, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post writes.
After the season, Chase Budinger’s contract with the Timberwolves will be down to one year at $5MM and Kevin Martin’s deal will go to two years for $14.4MM, making it easier for Minnesota to find trade partners for both players this summer, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. The Wolves were exploring ways to deal both players, as previous reports indicated and as Deveney confirms. There were conflicting reports about Minnesota’s willingness to trade Martin, but while coach/executive Flip Saunders likes him and won’t give him up easily, the Wolves aren’t expecting significant return for either Martin or Budinger, according to Deveney. In the same story, Deveney notes that the Wolves’ biggest question mark heading into the summer is if Saunders will remain coach or return to solely a front office role.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Speaking of the Wolves, they came pretty close to originally signing Arinze Onuaku back in mid-January, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities tweets, but Minnesota instead went with Miroslav Raduljica, who played five games with the team. The Wolves officially inked Onuaku earlier today, a few months later.
- Kevin Seraphin, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, told J. Michael of CSNWashington.com that he is adjusting to his smaller role within the second unit. He hasn’t scored more than 12 points in a game since January 19th. The big man said in January that he would like to re-sign with Washington.
- Reggie Jackson’s production increased and the Pistons played well without Greg Monroe, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the season, but the team is determined to make things work with the big man expected back on the court Wednesday, David Mayo of MLive.com writes. The Pistons were 7-4 without Monroe. Jackson is a restricted free agent this summer and it’s a distinct possibility that the Pistons will match any potential offer he receives from a different team, so it is much more likely that he is with Detroit next season than Monroe is, Mayo adds.
- Cameron Payne, who announced Monday he will enter the draft fresh off finishing up his sophomore season with Murray State, has signed with agent Travis King of Relativity Sports, HoopsHype tweets.
- Sixers rookie Nerlens Noel has quickly emerged as one of the league’s top big men because of his defensive efficiency, Wesley Share of RealGM.com writes. Noel, unlike many other rookies who were drafted in the first round, will hit free agency in 2017, and not 2018, because he signed his rookie scale contract before sitting out the entire 2013/14 season with an injury.
Greg Monroe becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer and Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is eager to see how Monroe blends with point guard Reggie Jackson and center Andre Drummond before the season ends, David Mayo of MLive.com reports. Monroe is expected to return Wednesday for the team’s five remaining games after missing 11 games with a right knee strain. Jackson has appeared more comfortable playing with Drummond and Anthony Tolliver, a power forward who shoots 3-pointers, rather than a low-post player in Monroe, Mayo continues. “Reggie will have to adjust, and I’ll have to adjust, and we’ll have to figure it out,” Van Gundy said to Detroit beat reporters. “We’ve seen Reggie play real, real, well; we’ve seen Greg play real, real well. So we’ve just got to make it all fit together.” Evaluating how that alignment works in conjunction with Monroe’s impending free agency is the biggest goal the Pistons have in their remaining games, Mayo concludes.
In other news around the Eastern Conference:
- Veteran power forward Drew Gooden, whose contract expires after the season, has become an important rotation player for the Wizards, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. Gooden has received more playing time with the team trying to rest Nene Hilario for the postseason. His ability to make 3-pointers has given more space for guards John Wall and Bradley Beal to operate, Castillo continues. “It opens avenues for John to penetrate, for Bradley to put the ball on the floor, for our wings to put it on the floor,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said to Castillo. “That’s really big.” Not only has Gooden played himself into an important postseason role, as Castillo adds, it could also enhance his chances of remaining with Washington.
- Celtics rookie forward James Young has been productive during his stint with the franchise’s D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, and remains in the Celtics’ future plans, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com reports. The No. 17 overall pick in last year’s draft is averaging 21.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17 games with the Red Claws. Young’s development was hampered by a car accident prior to the draft that prevented him from playing on the Celtics’ summer league team, Blakely continues. Young lost his rotation spot to Luigi Datome after a deadline trade with the Pistons but the organization has kept a close watch on Young after sending him to the D League, Blakely adds. “Our front office is watching him with every opportunity,” Boston coach Brad Stevens told local reporters. “The progress is good.”
The regular season ends a week from Wednesday, and by now most of the playoff spots and non-lottery draft order have been decided. A team’s place in the draft order can mean a lot when there are protections attached to a pick that’s been sent out in a trade. There are two first-round picks that could change hands or stay put based on the final days of the regular season, as we chronicled last week, and there are also second-round picks still up in the air. The protection clauses attached to some of them are complex, so we’ll dive in and analyze each of the three cases individually:
- The Clippers owe their second-round pick to the Lakers if it falls from No. 51 through 55 and the Nuggets if it’s 56th through 60th. The Clips can’t finish with a record outside of the top 10 in the league, which they’d need to do to keep the pick. Still, whether it goes to the Lakers or the Nuggets is anybody’s guess. It would go to the Nuggets as it stands, but the Clippers are only a half-game better than the Spurs, with the Blazers and Cavs right behind them. So if any of those teams passes the Clippers, the pick goes to the Lakers.
- The Wizards owe their pick to the Celtics, but only if it falls from No. 50 to No. 60. Washington would pick 49th if the season ended today, but the Raptors are only one game better, and the Mavericks and Bulls are tied at one game above Toronto. So, while the Wizards could improve their playoff seeding, it could cost them their second-rounder. Washington’s obligation to the Celtics would end if the pick doesn’t convey this year, so it all comes down to the final games of the season.
- The Trail Blazers and Bulls will be giving up their second-rounders this year, but the teams that get those respective picks could switch places. The Magic get whichever pick is better, and the Cavaliers get the other one. Chances are that Chicago’s pick will be going to Orlando and Portland’s to Cleveland, since the Blazers have a four and a half game lead on Chicago. Still, the Bulls aren’t mathematically eliminated from passing the Blazers just yet.
RealGM was used in the creation of this post.
MONDAY, 2:13pm: The deal is official, the Wizards announced via press release.
SUNDAY, 8:34pm: The Wizards will retain Will Bynum, who signed a 10-day deal with the team on March 27th, for the rest of the season and playoffs, J. Michael of CSNWashington.com reports. Michael cited sources with knowledge of the situation.
Bynum is still battling a left hamstring strain, as Michael notes, but he provides the Wizards a serviceable option in a backcourt that relies heavily on John Wall and Ramon Sessions. Bynum has appeared for a total of eight minutes in three games since landing the prior deal. The seven-year veteran hasn’t scored and has taken only two shots. Bynum developed the hamstring injury while playing overseas, but Michael writes that he is “rounding into form physically and should be ready for the postseason.”
In December, Bynum, 32, signed with China’s Guangdong Southern Tigers. It was a guaranteed arrangement reportedly worth more than a $1MM. That deal came following his release from the Celtics before the season. Bynum carved a name for himself in the league while spending six seasons with the Pistons.
Unlike Orlando’s past star big men such as Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, Nikola Vucevic is determined to be a member of the Magic for his entire career, Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes. “Yeah. I’m here for the long haul,” Vucevic said. “I love it here. I really love the city. I’ve improved a lot as a player. I’d love to stay here for a long time and make something special happen. If it takes years, it takes years. I ain’t going anywhere.” The big man will have a few years before his loyalty to Orlando will be tested since his current deal runs through the 2018/19 season.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Wizards swingman Garrett Temple began running and participating in drills this week and said he is at 80% strength, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post notes. Temple, who strained his right hamstring back on March 9th, was projected to be out approximately four to six weeks, putting his return date within the original prediction.
- The Mavericks have re-assigned center Dwight Powell to the Texas Legends, their D-League affiliate, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com tweets. This will be Powell’s 13th trek of the season to the D-League.
- The 2015 NCAA tournament is winding down and only four teams remain standing. Chris Mannix of SI.com looks at the draft prospects who have the most to gain from standout performances in the Final Four and beyond. Mannix’s list includes Justise Winslow (Duke), Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin), and Devin Booker (Kentucky).
The Wizards have officially signed Will Bynum to a 10-day contract, the team announced via press release, a statement that also formalized the termination of Toure’ Murry‘s second 10-day contract with the club. Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post originally reported both moves late Thursday. Bynum and the Wizards have been linked for quite some time as the point guard had seemingly been the team’s top target since at least the beginning of February. Shams Charania of RealGM first reported in January about Washington’s interest in Bynum, who’d been playing for China’s Guangdong Southern Tigers.
Bynum, 32, signed his Chinese deal, a guaranteed arrangement reportedly worth more than a $1MM, in December after spending about a month as a free agent following his release from the Celtics just before opening night. Boston had acquired the seven-year NBA veteran from the Pistons, his longtime team, via trade earlier that month. He put up 22.3 points, 7.0 assists and 3.2 turnovers in 32.1 minutes per game for Guangdong, which strung together the majority of its 26-game winning streak with Bynum on the roster. There was reportedly mutual interest that developed between the Cavs and Bynum while he was overseas, but Cleveland’s addition of Kendrick Perkins, who filled the team’s last open roster spot, seemingly put the Cavs out of the mix. A hamstring injury had Washington looking at Bobby Brown and eventually led the Wizards to Murry, but the team never lost interest in Bynum.
Washington slides Bynum into its only roster spot not occupied by a player who has a contract that runs through at least the end of the season. It’s somewhat surprising to see the Wizards give the point guard only a 10-day deal, given the team’s longstanding interest, but it allows for maximum flexibility, and it seems likely that the team will retain Bynum once his short-term deal is up, though that’s just my speculation.