After the Pacers took a 1-0 lead over the Knicks with a win in New York yesterday, the second Eastern Conference Semifinal will get underway tonight, as the Heat play their first game since April 28th. As we look forward to the first game in the Bulls/Heat series, let's round up a few items from out of the Eastern Conference....
- The Hawks are facing a potential roster overhaul this summer, but Louis Williams, one of just three players on a guaranteed contract, says he's looking forward to playing with the other two (Al Horford and John Jenkins) next season. Williams also told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he'd be glad to help recruit free agents if he's asked.
- Two Hawks free agents, Zaza Pachulia and Kyle Korver, are interested in re-signing with the team, as Vivlamore and Jeff Schultz write in a separate Journal Constitution piece. According to Korver, the Hawks have expressed interest in bringing him back.
- Now that the Rockets are out of the playoffs, assistant Kelvin Sampson figures to receive plenty of phone calls from teams seeking a new head coach. Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Sampson has an interview lined up for Thursday with the Bucks, and that the 76ers and Bobcats have also requested permission to speak to him.
- With the Nets searching for a new head coach, Deron Williams indicated he wouldn't be opposed to playing for ex-Jazz coach Jerry Sloan again, and Sloan says he'd be open to the idea as well, writes Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com. "I'm open, I would listen," Sloan said of the Nets. "I haven't did the research on their roster, but I would definitely listen if they called."
- Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show today, the Nets' former coach, P.J. Carlesimo, said he doesn't think a first-round Nets victory would have saved his job. "I think short of winning a championship, it wouldn't have made any difference," Carlesimo said, according to Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com. "I mean, [GM] Billy [King] was pretty candid....
I think anything short of winning a championship wasn't going to change his mind or [ownership's] mind."
Having already examined free-agents-to-be on postseason teams at each of the other four positions, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld turns his attention to the playoff centers heading for free agency this summer. Here are a few highlights from his piece:
- The Lakers will be able to offer Dwight Howard over $30MM more than any other team, as I outlined here, but that doesn't mean he's a sure bet to be back. As Kyler notes, money and market are usually deciding factors, but L.A. will have to convince Howard that he won't be signing up for five more years as bad as 2012/13.
- Zaza Pachulia will be recovering from a partially torn Achilles, raising significant questions about his next contract. The Hawks are unlikely to bring him back for more than the minimum, according to Kyler.
- With Pachulia out in Atlanta, Johan Petro has improved his stock recently and could be in line for a new deal with the Hawks, particularly if the team strikes out on higher-profile targets.
- Despite a report suggesting the Nuggets will extend a qualifying offer to Timofey Mozgov, Kyler is skeptical that Denver will really make such an offer (one year for nearly $4MM), since Mozgov could accept it. A two-year deal from another team is the most likely scenario for Mozgov, in Kyler's view. There has been enough reported interest for Mozgov that it wouldn't surprise me if the Nuggets retained him and considered him a trade asset going forward.
- Kyler hears from sources that when Samuel Dalembert worked out for the Heat prior to the 2011/12 season, the team decided he had put on too much weight, and passed. As such, it's probably unlikely that Dalembert ends up in Miami this offseason.
- Although Andris Biedrins is viewed as a lock to opt in to the final year of his contract, worth $9MM, Kyler wonders if the Warriors could convince him to opt out if it meant adding an extra year to his deal. For instance, the team could re-sign him to a two-year, $10MM pact to reduce his cap hit for 2013/14. I'd be surprised to see that happen though.
In his Weekend Dime piece, ESPN's Marc Stein writes that one of the main reasons for the Wizards dealing Jordan Crawford for Leandro Barbosa's expiring contract - despite Barbosa being out from a season ending injury - was to create more flexibility to increase their chances of retaining Martell Webster this summer. The former Seattle Prep star is arguably having his best pro season in Washington this year, putting up career bests in scoring (11.7), free throw percentage (86.4%), field goal percentage (45.4%), and three-point percentage (43.3%) in 29.3 MPG. Here are a few more tidbits from around the league tonight:
- Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago (via Twitter) expects Mavericks big man Brandan Wright to be an under-the-radar commodity this summer as an unrestricted free agent.
- Hawks center Zaza Pachulia - projected to be out six months after season ending surgery next week - says that he hasn't thought about his future and adds, "I'm still part of this team until July 31," tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
- Derek Page of HoopsWorld held his weekly chat with readers this afternoon, discussing how Nerlens Noel and Cody Zeller are his top overall draft prospects and that the Mavericks won't rebuild until Dirk Nowitzki is finished playing, among other topics.
- Looking back at the summer of 2010, former Suns GM Steve Kerr says that he, along with Phoenix brass and their medical staff, agreed that a large financial commitment to Amare Stoudemire would not have been prudent considering the possible health issues down the line (Frank Isola of the New York Daily News).
4:35pm: Pachulia's surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, and his recovery time will be six months, the Hawks announced via press release. That would put him on track to return just in time for training camp next season.
1:59pm: Soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Zaza Pachulia will undergo surgery on his right Achilles tendon and miss the rest of the season, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The nature of the surgery is unclear, as is Pachulia's timetable for recovery, according to Vivlamore, but the news appears to be a blow to the center's free agent stock. The 6'11" 10-year veteran has missed the last 15 games for Atlanta with soreness in the tendon.
The 29-year-old previously said he's been exercising caution so that he doesn't tear the Achilles, a serious injury that could jeopardize his readiness for training camp in the fall. Whether or not the tendon is torn, teams could be wary of committing to a spot starter whose health is in question. He's making $5.249MM this year in the last season of four-year, $19MM contract he inked with the Hawks in 2009.
The Hawks will miss Pachulia's size and rebounding as they fight for positioning and try to make a run in the playoffs this spring, but he'd have been hard-pressed not to take a paycut even if were entering the offseason healthy. Pachulia saw approximately 25% fewer minutes per game this year compared to 2011/12, and he's never shot 50% from the floor in any season. Only once, in 2009/10, has he averaged as much as a single block per 36 minutes.
Last night, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported that many teams around the NBA are convinced that the Hawks will move Josh Smith by Thursday's trade deadline. Stein cited the Celtics as one team with interest, but wrote that he couldn't see them giving up Paul Pierce in a deal for Smith. We'll likely hear a few more rumors and rumblings on Smith today, so we'll round all those up in one place, with the latest updates added to the top of the page throughout the day:
- ESPN's Chris Broussard tweets that although the Suns have been in touch with the Hawks regarding Smith, a deal is very unlikely.
- The Hawks called the Clippers and asked about acquiring Eric Bledsoe
in a Smith trade, but the conversation was short, according to Broussard, who says the Clips aren't really interested
in Smith (Twitter link).
- Broussard adds in a second tweet that Smith heading to the Suns in a package headlined by Marcin Gortat is "unlikely."
- Most of the offers the Hawks have received so far for Smith have been underwhelming, tweets Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.
- Several members of the Warriors organization tell Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group (Sulia link) that they think Smith would be an ideal fit in Golden State. However, the club wouldn't want to give up Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes for a free-agent-to-be, so a trade is "improbable at best."
- In talks with the Bucks, the Hawks' primary target is believed to be Monta Ellis, according to Stein (via Twitter).
- While the Nets continue to pursue Smith, the Hawks don't have interest in any offer that sees them take on Kris Humphries, tweets
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. There aren't many clubs interested in
acquiring Humphries in a three-way deal either, says Windhorst.
- One team close to the situation predicts that the Nets will ultimately land Smith in a three-team deal, according to Stein.
- Stein adds that the Suns and Bucks are also viewed as strong suitors for Smith. However, with both clubs, there are doubts about whether the veteran forward would be willing to re-sign as a free agent this summer.
- The Rockets are fans of Smith, but are more likely to pursue him this summer than this week, says Stein.
- ESPN.com's Chris Broussard tweets that the Wizards have made all but three players (John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Nene) available in talks for Smith.
- The Timberwolves still aren't believed to be in the mix for Smith, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
- Sources tell John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Hawks approached the Sixers about trading Smith for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes. However, it seems Philadelphia wasn't interested.
Sunday's NBA action has already begun with a matinee between the Thunder and Raptors. It could be an even more active day off the court, as teams must make decisions on players with non-guaranteed contracts by the end of tomorrow. Here's the latest from around the Association.
- The Cavs won't rush to fill the open roster spot they'll have once Samardo Samuels clears waivers, tweets Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal.
- While the Grizzlies have made it known that Rudy Gay might be available in a trade, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld doesn't think the team is in any hurry to pull the trigger, and may wait for a better deal at draft time (Twitter links).
- Serge Ibaka's four-year, $49MM extension doesn't kick in until next season, but he's already rewarding the Thunder with improved play, as Jeff Latzke of The Associated Press examines (link via the National Post).
- Mark Cuban, who is once more complaining about officiating, thought about selling the Mavs after they lost the 2006 NBA Finals, but now he wants to keep the team in his family for generations to come, notes Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.
- Zaza Pachulia is pulling down more rebounds per 36 minutes than he ever has, but he isn't giving much thought to his unrestricted free agency this summer, as HoopsWorld's Lang Greene chronicles.
- Fellow HoopsWorld scribe Tommy Beer categorizes the league's best bargains at multiple price points.
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune details the twists and turns of Patrick Beverley's life that have led him to the verge of a deal with the Rockets.
- Ryan Ripley of Ridiculous Upside argues that Ron Howard deserves to be listed among the top prospects in the D-League.