Month: April 2017

Odds & Ends: Seattle, Kyrie, Sixers, Wiggins

Earlier this month it was discovered Chris Hansen, the venture capitalist behind the Seattle group bidding for the Kings franchise, had funded an Anti-Kings-Arena group. Many believed the news would derail any future NBA franchise in Seattle. While others wrote that it would not affect a future team in the former home of the Supersonics. 

Today, 95.7 The Game radio host Ric Bucher spoke with an influential NBA owner about whether the Hansen discovery would have any bearing on Seattle landing an NBA franchise. The anonymous owner's response, via Sulia, "none."  

But, Bucher goes on to write – with an important caveat that the translation might have been altered in the text – that the Seattle group might have to write a $1 billion check for the expansion fee.

Bucher adds that he did not think expansion was going to happen during the Sacramento-Seattle back-and-forth, but that the $1 billion cost lining the coffers of the NBA owners would be hard to pass up if Hansen and his group agreed to pay. If the Seattle group balks at the price, then no harm no foul – and, no 31st team.

Here's what else is happening around the league as we come up on just a month remaining before training camps start…

  • Moke Hamilton of HoopsWorld believes the future is now for the Cavs and it's time for Kyrie Irving to lead them to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James donned the No. 23.
  • Marc Porcaro of Secret Rival went through the short- and long-term futures of the Sixers and Suns on Twitter tonight, discussing their current draft picks over the next three offseasons, and possible changes to their current rotations.
  • At the FIBA Americas tournament in Venezuela, tournament favorites Puerto Rico beat Canada after a strong fourth quarter, reports the Toronto Sun's John Chick.
  • If Canada qualifies for the FIBA World Cup in Spain next summer, Andrew Wiggins' AAU coach Tony McIntyre told SNY.tv (via ZagsBlog.com) Wiggins will play along with fellow Canadians: No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk and incoming Syracuse freshman point guard Tyler Ennis.
  • J.R. Smith tells Newsday's Will Sammon he doesn't know whether he'll be ready for the Knicks' training camp in the first week of October. 
  • Jonathan Givony of Draft Express posted part 1 of his detailed scouting reports on the top of the 2014 high school class. The first part focuses on point guards like Tyus Jones and Australian Emmanuel Mudiay, the latter of whom may skip college to declare for next summer's NBA Draft.
  • Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman tweets that DeAndre Liggins was arrested in Oklahoma City tonight on complaint of domestic abuse. Liggins is on a non-guaranteed minimum contract this season, so he'll have to make the team to earn that money.

Western Notes: Lakers, Landry, Blazers, Frye

The Clippers signed Antawn Jamison earlier this week, and Jamison conducted a radio interview with ESPN 710 in Los Angeles on Friday, transcribed and given context by ESPN Los Angeles scribe Ramona Shelburne this morning.

In the interview Jamison spoke about last season under the microscope with the star-studded Lakers, applauded the competitive drive of Kobe Bryant, and discussed his sometimes strained relationship with coach Mike D'Antoni, who removed Jamison from the rotation late in the year. Said Jamison of Bryant:

"I would never count Kobe Bryant out of anything. I've played with some special players. Gilbert Arenas when he was [in Washington D.C], at the top of his game, LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal [in Cleveland]. I've played with a lot but never played with an individual player who had the type of mindset, the drive that he has. If [Bryant] says he's going to win a sixth ring, believe me, he's going to do everything possible to get that ring."

Jamison also said there was little communication or rapport between the players and D'Antoni after Mike Brown was fired five games into the season.  

"Mike was pretty much put in a difficult situation. There was no training camp where he could get a feel for guys. There was a breakdown of communication when we first got there. And throughout the season it was kind of up and down."

Here's more from around the Western Conference, including a possible D-League addition to the Lakers next season…

  • The Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus shares the offseason workout video (via Ryan Ellerbusch of Maximum Exposure) of Lakers summer league standout forward Marcus Landry
  • Landry – younger brother of Carl Landry – averaged 15.2 PPG in 5 games this summer and in February was named to the Futures All-Star roster for the 2013 D-League All-Star Game.
  • Pincus adds that the Lakers are planning to bring 16-20 players to training camp despite having just 12 players under contract. They're expected to sign second round pick Ryan Kelly.
  • Sam Tongue of Blazers Edge wonders whether Blazers President Chris McGowan can enhance fan experience by upgrading their digital properties to "talk with the fans, rather than at them."
  • The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn tweets that Suns GM Ryan McDonough says they'll know whether Channing Frye will play in 2013/14 in the next few weeks, but he's "optimistic he'll be able to play."

LaMarcus Aldridge On Offseason Trade Rumors

After reports surfaced in July that LaMarcus Aldridge was unhappy with the Trail Blazers, his reps apparently met with Blazers GM Neil Olshey to discuss trade options. Earlier today, Aldridge denied requesting a trade, telling Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears that he “wasn’t ready to make a move yet.” 

Later today, Aldridge sat down to discuss the offseason rumors with CSNNW.com’s Chris Haynes.

On the reports claiming that Portland was “too small” and “too boring” for him:

“Nah, that’s not true. I’m a quiet person that keeps to himself, really. Portland doesn’t bother me. I don’t have an issue with the city of Portland. I’ve been there my whole career. I like the smallness of it and the passionate fans. That’s not true at all.”

On how he’s been dealing with the trade rumors:

“I just block it out and go to the gym. That’s it. I can’t do anything about that. I feel like if there was really something serious going on, [Trail Blazers general manager] Neil [Olshey] would have told me but that didn’t happen. I’m a Trail Blazer.”

On whether he ever requested a trade:

“No.”

On what Aldridge told Yahoo! Sports earlier today about giving Olshey a chance:

“I was just frustrated with how we ended the season. I’ve been on a team where we were one of the top four teams in the Western Conference. I know what that feels like and to go through what we went through last season was disappointing. At this stage of my career, it’s all about winning for me. I don’t care where it’s at, I just want to win. But I never asked to be traded. And Neil told me when he came in that we had some holes on the roster and to give him an opportunity to make things right here. I just had to keep that in mind. But it was just a tough season for me last year.”

On whether his agents have attempted to get him moved:

“Agents talk. I don’t know what goes on there. I just worry about playing basketball.”

On the accuracy of the report that if Olshey’s moves weren’t to his liking, he’d like to be moved:

“Yeah, but I don’t have to worry about that because we’ve added some good pieces this summer and I’m looking forward to working with them.”

On the Blazers moves this summer that he liked:

“I think they all were solid. Neil kept me in the loop the entire process, asking me what I thought of certain players. He asked me about [Robin] Lopez and I said he’s good and would be a quality pickup. That’s another thing about this: if Portland was trying to move me, I don’t think they would have been keeping me involved throughout the [free agency] process.”

On his goals for next season:

“Playoffs. I think if we can put the pieces together, we’re definitely a playoff team. It’ll be tough, but I think we got the guys that can get the job done.”

On which seed he see’s the Blazers attaining for the playoffs:

“I think eighth or seventh.”

On the chances Aldridge re-signs with Portland when he becomes a free agent in 2015:

“I’m not the kind of person that thinks that far ahead because I feel like you won’t be doing all you can at the current time to help your team. I’m focused on next season and how we can come together to be a playoff team. That’s the only thing on my mind.”

On a statement to Blazers fans:

“That we’re going to try to bring you guys a winning team. They’re the best fans in the world. I know they’ll be behind us.”

Eastern Notes: ‘Melo, Magic, Smith

After J.R. Smith called out Paul Pierce for being bitter after being traded from the Celtics in a piece by ESPN New York's Ian Begley, Begley offered up some additional material from his conversation with Smith.

Begley asked J.R, about Carmelo Anthony's impending decision next summer whether to opt-out of his contract with the Knicks. 'Melo's current deal will pay him $23.333MM for the 2014/15 season. If he does terminate the contract early, as many expect, he'll be eligible to re-sign with the Knicks for a five-year, $129MM deal. Another team could only sign him for $95MM over four years.

Said Smith, via Begley's tweet, "I don't see him leaving, but I said the same thing in Denver so it's up to him." Here's more around the Eastern Conference during a Saturday night when many are watching the opening day of college football…

  • In reaction to the same Begley piece from earlier today, CBS Sports' Zach Harper debates whether the NBA could possibly issue a fine after misconstruing Smith's comments as a more deliberate "threat." 
  • The fine would come on the heels of the news earlier this week that David Stern called a meeting to clear the air last season between Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Knicks owner James Dolan.
  • Orlando Sentinel columnist Brian K. Schmitz tweets that the Magic are negotiating with Hedo Turkoglu for a buy-out. The Magic are on the hook for $6MM of Hedo's $12MM 2014/15 salary, and the full amount if he's still on the roster by January 7th. 
  • But that's highly unlikely since Turkoglu could well be playing in his native Turkey by that time. Can Pelister of TrendBasket.net reported earlier this week that Turkish team Fenerbahce Ulker is prepared to make Hedo a substantial offer.
  • Schmitz also adds that the Magic are inviting 2nd rounder Romero Osby to training camp as well as four free agents.

Ric Bucher Compares T-Mac to AI & ‘Melo

After announcing his retirement this week, there's been a large debate surrounding the career of Tracy McGrady. That polarization could best be summed up in the split vote in our poll asking whether McGrady should make the Hall of Fame earlier this week.  McGrady's peak seasons between 2001-2007 point to a dominant scorer who could also pass the ball and rebound.

T-Mac's 2002-03 season with the Magic saw him post the 16th best PER (Player Efficiency Rating) in NBA history, according to basketball-reference. Despite the numbers and the seven consecutive All-Star game appearances from 2001 through 2007, McGrady never led his team out of the first round of the playoffs. 

Grantland's E-I-C, Bill Simmons, wrote a long piece on the Friday before Labor Day weekend in which he blames McGrady's playoff failings almost exclusively on his supporting cast. Radio host for 95.7 The Game Ric Bucher has some thoughts on the matter (Sulia link).

While referencing Simmons' piece — where he spoke with McGrady's former coaches and peers and concluded that McGrady just wasn't hardwired to be a leader — Bucher believes that is a referendum on why McGrady didn't reach his full potential over his career. 

Bucher then compares McGrady with a contemporary, Allen Iverson, who also officially announced his retirement this month, and current player Carmelo Anthony:

Bill Simmons, in his wonderfully written and one of the longer dissertations on the subject, acknowledges TMac was not a leader. That's just it — once you state that and acknowledge how talented TMac was, you've outlined the crippling combination that foretold TMac never would be all that his talent promised. Such players aren't all that unique; Carmelo Anthony is another example. One of the absolutes in the NBA is that when the best player doesn't set the work-ethic bar for everyone else, a team has no hope of reaching its potential. Allen Iverson doesn't get to play the I-never-had-enough-talent-around-me card for the same reason. Both AI and TMac were never the defensive players they could've been. And when your effort to be in pristine condition is a question mark, as it was with McGrady, and injuries become chronic and sometimes debilitating, it's not as easy to blame bad luck and weak supporting casts.

Bucher goes on to write that McGrady chose to go to Orlando and Houston, even if they didn't have the supporting players he could have used to make a larger dint in the playoffs:

The other element either being overlooked or not widely known is that TMac chose to go to both Orlando and Houston, so it's not as if he was some helpless victim cast into inferior situations. Maybe that's how it turned out, maybe management misled him as far as what they intended to do, but he chose those situations over others. I've long said that on pure talent, TMac had more than Kobe; he was one of the rare few who had the pure ability to dominate whatever aspect of the game he chose, no matter who the opponent was. And as personalities go, I can vouch firsthand that few NBA players had a warmer one. All of which makes painting him as a sympathetic figure or a guy who didn't have the luck that so many others enjoyed easy. Dead wrong, but easy.

Odds & Ends: 76ers, Odom, Waiters, Evans

The 76ers took their time in naming a new head coach and they're still working on filling out the staff.  New head man Brett Brown made yet another hire today by hiring former Nuggets assistant Chad Iske, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.  Iske served under George Karl in Denver and has built a great reputation for player development.  Here's more from around the Association..

  • We've now reached the point with Lamar Odom where it's pointless to talk about his free agency or immediate future in basketball, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com.  Stein says that Odom might have been the one NBA player who never wanted the 2011 lockout to end as he was still working to rebound mentally from two personal tragedies.
  • Cavs guard Dion Waiters isn't the biggest star in the Cleveland backcourt, but he's confident that he's the league's next great two-guard, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.
  • Tyreke Evans is already bonding with his new Pelicans teammates, writes John Reid of the Times Picayune.
  • Mark Porcaro of Secret Rival runs down the current list of players who have accepted training camp invites with an NBA team this summer.

LaMarcus Aldridge Denies Asking For Trade

Back in July, Blazers fans got a jolt when LaMarcus Aldridge's reps reportedly met with GM Neil Olshey to discuss trade possibilities.  While it appeared from the outside that the All-Star forward was entirely unhappy with his situation in Portland, Aldridge tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) that isn't quite the case.

"I wasn't ready to make a move yet. I was just frustrated in the moment. I haven't given Neil (Olshey) a chance yet," Aldridge explained.

At the time of the report, talks apparently got serious between the new GM and a number of clubs.  However, the Bulls, Timberwolves, Clippers, Hawks and Pelicans declined to include Joakim Noah, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Al Horford and Anthony Davis, respectively, in any deal for Aldridge.  The big man's salary could have something to do with it – he's owed $14.628MM this season and $15.756MM in 2014/15.

Earlier today, we asked Hoops Rumors readers if the Blazers are playoff bound in 2013/14 and opinions were more or less split.

Knicks Notes: Nets, Smith, Bargnani

There has been a war of words going back and forth between Manhattan and Brooklyn this summer and Knicks guard J.R. Smith is the latest to join the fray.  "I just look at [Paul Pierce] as a bitter person just getting out of Boston. He doesn't really know what New York is all about. He's been playing in Boston his whole career," Smith told Ian Begley of ESPN New York on Saturday."Here's the latest out of MSG..

  • Within the story, Smith also told Begley that doctors have yet to give him an exact timetable for his potential return.  He should be back in action for the first Nets-Knicks showdown in early December, but his status for the season opener is still in question.  The Knicks signed Smith to a lucrative four-year, $24.7MM deal this summer before the news of his surgery was disclosed.
  • Andrea Bargnani told Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport that he'll miss Eurobasket with his national team due to pneumonia, but he wants to be ready for camp with the Knicks, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.  Bargnani is hoping to turn over a new leaf in New York after coming over via trade from the Raptors.
  • Earlier today we learned that Chris Smith, J.R.'s younger brother, will be in camp with the Knicks.

Chris Smith To Join Knicks’ Training Camp

It has been reported for much of the summer that the Knicks planned to bring Chris Smith, younger brother of J.R. Smith, into training camp this year.  Whether he would attend was in question earlier this month there was speculation that he was preparing to play in Italy this season.  However, as August comes to a close, we have our answer: the younger Smith will be in camp with the orange and blue, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. 

Of course, Smith's training camp invite is far from a guarantee that he will be with the Knicks when the season opens.  In fact, the invitation could be more of a courtesy of J.R. than anything else.  The Knicks already have a crowded roster and they found their third point guard in Beno Udrih earlier this offseason.

International Notes: Zaid Abbas, John Shurna

Earlier this week, former Blazers forward Luke Babbitt reached a deal with Russia's BC Nizhny Novgorod on a one-year contract that doesn't include an NBA out clause.  Agent Bill Duffy explained that his client will benefit from playing 30 minutes per contest and developing his game further before returning stateside.  Here's today's look around the globe..

  • Jordanian forward Zaid Abbas has signed with Tianjin of China, agent Giovanni Funiciello told HoopsHype (on Twitter).  Abbas had a bit of NBA interest, but his new deal means that he'll play a fourth consecutive season in China.  The 29-year-old was said to be holding off on a new deal in China over optimism for an NBA deal this month, but it would appear that nothing materialized to his liking.
  • Forward John Shurna signed with Spanish club Joventut de Badalona, according to Mark Porcaro of Secret Rival (via Twitter).  The Northwestern product was in summer league with the Hawks after going undrafted in 2012 and joined the Bucks' squad this offseason.
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