Month: February 2024

Florida Notes: Heat, Magic, Riley, Oladipo, Melo

People close to the Heat told Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld earlier this week that 2014 isn't the year they need to worry about, it's 2015.  While the big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh can all opt out next summer, they essentially hold player options for the summer of 2015 as well.  Here's more on the Heat and the Sunshine State's other team..

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel looks at Pat Riley's assertion that he wanted to cannibalize the NBA free agent market in August and September.  At this stage, however, the Heat roster seems pretty complete and adding something from the open market no longer seems like a worthwhile or necessary pursuit.
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel looks at the position battle at point guard between incumbent Jameer Nelson and rookie Victor Oladipo.  The Indiana University product, who some believe is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, could give Nelson the first serious run for his starting job in nearly seven years.
  • In today's mailbag, a reader asks Winderman if the Heat have any interest in adding the recently released Fab Melo.  Winderman says that with the league's shift to smallball, there's no longer an urgency to add size just for the sake of it, so Melo doesn't seem like a fit for Miami.

Poll: Will The Blazers Make The Playoffs?

Dorell Wright is one of the newest members of the Blazers and he's understandably excited about his fresh surroundings.  How stoked is the 27-year-old sharpshooter?  He says that the Blazers can be a playoff team this season in the ulta-competitive Western Conference.

"Yeah, why not?” Wright told Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. “We’ve got the guys. We’ve got a star point guard that can be an All-Star next year. LaMarcus Aldridge was an All-Star last year, and you’ve got guys around them like [Nic] Batum and Wes Matthews that are solid players as well.” 

A team headlined by a sophomore Damian Lillard, Aldridge, and Batum can undeniably do some damage.  The Blazers also bolstered their second unit – a definite weakness last season – by adding Wright, Mo Williams, No. 10 overall pick C.J. McCollum, Thomas Robinson, Earl Watson, and Allen Crabbe.  Wright, who is among the best shooters in the Association, should be a major help to Portland after they finished 20th in three point field goal percentage (35.3%) in 2012/13.

The case against the Blazers, of course, is the rest of the field.  The fact of the matter is, there just aren't a lot of openings for a team like Portland – certainly good, but definitely not great – in this year's Western Conference.  Barring something unforeseen, one has to imagine that the Spurs, Thunder, Rockets, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Warriors are going to the postseason.  That leaves quality teams like the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Mavs, Lakers, (the dramatically improved) Pelicans, and Blazers to duke it out for the final two seeds.  Is Dorell delusional or is he Wright on the money?

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Blazers Expected To Cut Terrel Harris

The Trail Blazers reportedly added one player to their training camp roster today, but will likely remove another non-guaranteed contract from their books within the next month. According to Joe Freeman of the Oregonian, the Blazers are expected to waive Terrel Harris before camp gets underway.

Harris, 26, has played for Miami and New Orleans after the past two seasons, and was included for salary purposes in the three-way deal that sent Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans, Greivis Vasquez to the Kings, and Robin Lopez to the Blazers. Considering Harris was already a throw-in for cap purposes, it seemed reasonable to assume that he'd by cut by Portland — that possibility became even more likely when the NBA announced Harris would be suspended for violating the league's drug policy.

Assuming the Blazers do release Harris, it shouldn't have an impact on the outlook of the regular-season roster. With or without Harris, the team has 15 players on guaranteed contracts, so he would have been a long shot to earn a roster spot even if he had remained with the Blazers through camp and the preseason.

Odds & Ends: Odom, Dentmon, T-Mac, Minnerath

On the heels of reports that Lamar Odom has been arrested on suspicion of DUI, at least one NBA general manager believes the veteran forward's NBA career is over.

"Just going by what he is giving you on the court, he would have been a risk anyway, maybe someone you give a partial guarantee to just to see if he can turn things around," the GM told Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. "But with the circus that’s around him off the court now, no way."

As Odom continues to work through his off-court issues, let's check in on a few more odds and ends from around the Association:

Sixers Rumors: Trades, Young, FAs, White

Earlier today, we passed along a few quotes from Sam Hinkie, pulled from a conversation he had with Philadelphia Daily News scribe Bob Cooney. The Sixers GM, apparently making up for a few months of so-called "secrecy," also spoke to Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times, answering a few more questions about his team's offseason and plan for the future. Let's check out the highlights….

  • Hinkie tells Moore that he isn't looking to trade another veteran, such as Thaddeus Young, in order to clear even more cap space this year and next. "We have the most cap space (next summer) in the league right now," Hinkie said. "I wouldn’t say we necessarily have a need for a whole lot more. We have a lot to work with."
  • According to Hinkie, head coach Brett Brown has been in touch with each player on the Sixers' roster to discuss what's expected of them for the coming season.
  • The Sixers aren't targeting a specific position in free agency, but are still in contact with available players, says Hinkie: "We’re active out on the market, talking with lots of people. I’m focused on talent more so than (position)."
  • Hinkie is looking forward to seeing what Tony Wroten can do for the team, and is hopeful Philadelphia is a place where the young guard can "really improve."
  • A source tells Moore that the 76ers essentially have nothing invested in Royce White, since the Rockets included enough cash in that trade to cover his 2013/14 salary. Furkan Aldemir was Sixers' main target in the deal, and there's no indication yet that White is in the team's plans as more than a small expiring contract. Philadelphia has until late October to exercise or decline the forward's '14/15 team option.

Grizzlies Waive Fab Melo

Just two weeks after acquiring him from the Celtics, the Grizzlies have released big man Fab Melo, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). It's not clear if that was Memphis' plan all along, or whether the team changed its opinion on Melo after trading for him, but either way, his stint with the Grizzlies didn't last long.

In the deal that sent Melo to Memphis and Donte Greene to Boston, the Grizzlies gave up a non-guaranteed salary of about $1.03MM to add a guaranteed $1.31MM salary. However, as Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld tweeted last week, the Celtics also included $1.66MM in cash in the swap. So even though the Grizzlies still take a cap hit for Melo, ownership technically saved a little money in the deal, at the expense of some flexibility.

Assuming Melo isn't claimed on waivers, he'll become an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team except the C's. Meanwhile, by cutting him prior to the August 31st deadline, the Grizzlies can use the stretch provision on Melo, allowing the club to stretch his salary payments and cap hit into three equal parts over the next three years.

Of course, it's no given that Melo will clear waivers. As Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter) it's possible that a team with cap space or a trade exception big enough to absorb his salary will take a flier on the young seven-footer, which would take the Grizzlies entirely off the hook for his contract.

Chris Babb Accepts Celtics’ Camp Invite

Former Iowa State guard Chris Babb has agreed to a training camp deal with the Celtics, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter).

Babb, 23, went undrafted this past June, but joined the Suns for Summer League play in July. In his senior year at Iowa State, the 6'5" guard averaged 9.1 PPG to go along with 38.2% shooting from three-point range.

Like fellow camp invitees Kammron Taylor and DeShawn Sims, Babb probably isn't a strong bet to make the Celtics' regular-season roster, since the team already has 14 guaranteed contracts on its books, plus Donte Greene's non-guaranteed deal.

Cavs, Kenny Kadji Agree To Terms

Undrafted free agent Kenny Kadji has agreed to sign a non-guaranteed contract with the Cavaliers and will be in camp with the club, reports Shams Charania of RealGM.com. According to Charania, Kadji turned down several "substantial" offers from overseas in favor of trying to earn a regular-season roster spot with the Cavs.

Kadji, 25, played his senior year at Miami in 2012/13, averaging 12.9 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 36 games with the team. The power forward worked out for the Lakers, Jazz, and Knicks in the weeks leading up to the 2013 draft, and was ranked as the 68th-best prospect in his class by ESPN.com's Chad Ford, but didn't hear his named called on draft night.

By our count, the Cavs have 14 players currently on their roster, and not all of those contracts are guaranteed, so there could be an opening for Kadji to earn a roster spot with a strong camp. The Miami product also played for Cleveland's Summer League squad in Las Vegas last month.

Poll: Are The Bucks A 2013/14 Playoff Team?

Having landed their presumed starting small forward by acquiring Caron Butler from the Suns this week, the Bucks appear to have completed their major moves of the offseason. And it's certainly been a busy summer for Milwaukee — only four players currently on the roster (Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders, John Henson, and Ekpe Udoh) finished the 2012/13 season with the team.

Heading into the offseason, Milwaukee was expected to retain at least one of its big free agent guards (Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings, and J.J. Redick), but all three players ended up elsewhere. As such, the Bucks will head into next season with an entirely new backcourt, led by Brandon Knight, Luke Ridnour, O.J. Mayo, and Gary Neal. The frontcourt didn't receive as drastic an overhaul, but there are plenty of new faces there too, including big man Zaza Pachulia, and forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo, Carlos Delfino and Butler.

Most of the team's top players, including Ilyasova, Sanders, and Mayo, aren't quite NBA stars, so the roster isn't exactly top-heavy. But it's more balanced and probably features more depth than last year's squad, which earned an eighth seed in the East behind high-volume shooting from Ellis and Jennings.

So what do you think of the new-look Bucks? Are they better than last season's version? Even if you believe they've improved, are they good enough to make the playoffs in the East? The Heat, Nets, Bulls, Pacers, and Knicks look like strong bets for the postseason, and the Pistons, Cavs, Hawks, Wizards, and Raptors should all be in contention as well. Is there enough room for Milwaukee, or are the Bucks headed for the 2014 lottery?