Marreese Speights Opts Out

Marreese Speights has opted out of his 2017/18 contract with the Clippers, according to a tweet from his representatives, ASM Sports.

Speights, 29, signed a two-year deal with Los Angeles last summer that included a player option worth nearly $1.46MM for next season. He will be seeking significantly more in a long-term contract this summer.

Speights played all 82 games in his first season with the Clippers, mainly as a reserve, and averaged 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in about 16 minutes per night. A first-round pick by the Sixers in 2008, he has also played for the Grizzlies, Cavaliers and Warriors during his nine-year NBA career.

 

Knicks Target Tucker, Cunningham, Simmons

The Knicks are putting together their free agent shopping list with an eye toward players who can contribute on offense and defense, writes Ian Begley of ESPN.com.

One of those players is Raptors small forward P.J. Tucker, who previously played for coach Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix. Hornacek describes Tucker as an intense defender and a leader in the locker room. He could also give the Knicks a 3-point threat, shooting 35.7 from long distance this season, including 40% after a midseason trade to Toronto.

Another target is Pelicans small forward Dante Cunningham, who was the top 3-point shooter in New Orleans this year at 39.2%. Cunningham is also a solid defender and helped the Pels to a 13-8 record when he played at least 28 minutes per game.

Spurs forward Jonathon Simmons has fans in the Knicks organization, but he will be in demand around the league. Simmons is a restricted free agent, so San Antonio can match any offer he receives.

New York will enter free agency with about $19MM to spend, although that number could change significantly if efforts to trade Carmelo Anthony are successful. In addition to adding talent this summer, the Knicks are hoping to retain shooting guard Justin Holiday, who played all 82 games and averaged 7.7 points per night in his first year with the team.

The Knicks may also reopen trade talks for Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, Begley adds. New York and Minnesota discussed a deal involving Rubio at the trade deadline, and Knicks officials might still be interested.

New York will be looking for more players in the mold of Courtney Lee, who was their lone success among last summer’s major moves. Lee, who is signed for three more seasons, believes the Knicks worked out many of their problems late in the season and are headed in the right direction. He also defended center Joakim Noah, who became a lightning rod for criticism after signing a four-year, $72MM contract.

“Joakim had a lot of injuries that people weren’t aware of during the season,” Lee said. “I know how tough he is and how prideful he is and I’m looking forward to him coming back 100 percent healthy and doing what he does for us on the court. I know he will come back strong and help lead for us.”

Magic Choose Weltman As President of Basketball Operations

MAY 23, 9:31am: The Magic have announced the hiring of Weltman and will hold a press conference Wednesday, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.

MAY 22, 6:54pm: Bucks GM John Hammond also interviewed for the job, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

5:43pm: Raptors GM Jeff Weltman has reached a five-year agreement with the Magic to become their President of Basketball Operations, sources told The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The deal was finalized in a meeting between Weltman and Orlando’s CEO Alex Martins, as well as the team’s ownership group, Wojnarowski continues. He replaces Rob Hennigan, who was fired last month.

The Magic had seriously considered making an offer to Cavaliers GM David Griffin, but focused their attention on Weltman in recent weeks, Wojnarowski adds. Weltman had been working under Raptors president Masai Ujiri. He previously had high-level jobs with the Bucks and Nuggets after starting his front-office career with the Clippers. He had been with the Raptors since 2013 after leaving the Bucks organization.

Weltman will have the ability to hire a GM who’ll report to him but Matt Lloyd, who had been serving as the interim GM, could remain with the organization, Wojnarowski adds.

The Raptors will likely fill the GM vacancy with assistant GM Bobby Webster, Toronto beat reporter Doug Smith tweets.

Steve Kerr’s Status Remains Uncertain

The Warriors are headed back to the NBA Finals, but they aren’t sure if head coach Steve Kerr will be able to join them, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.

“Just day-by-day,” Kerr told ESPN’s Marc Spears after Golden State finished off a sweep of the Spurs Monday night. Games 3 and 4 in San Antonio marked the first time Kerr has been able to travel with the team since he was forced to take a medical leave of absence midway through the first round.

The Finals don’t start until June 1st, giving Kerr nine more days to recover from lingering complications related to back surgery he underwent two years ago. However, sources say he still has significant pain and his presence in San Antonio and at Game 2 in Oakland aren’t a sign of progress.

Owner Joe Lacob told ESPN his advice to Kerr was to take “as long as he wants” to get back to coaching.

“He is a fantastic coach and a fantastic human being and a great friend,” Lacob said. “I told him the other day, ‘I don’t even want to talk about or think about anything other than winning this championship. You can contribute in any way you can, and we’ll worry about the future in the future.’ He is still here. He’s in the locker room. He’s around. His imprint is all over this I don’t view it as he’s not here; he’s just not on the bench.”

2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Minnesota Timberwolves

A popular sleeper pick to earn a playoff spot in the West heading into the 2016/17 season, the Timberwolves got off to a terrible start and never recovered, proving that they weren’t quite ready to make that leap. Nonetheless, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins continue to improve, and Tom Thibodeau now has a year under his belt with his new team. With another top-seven pick on the way and some cap space available, the Wolves are in position to continue improving their roster and perhaps to get back to the postseason in 2017/18.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Timberwolves financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2017:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

  • Shabazz Muhammad ($4,187,598 qualifying offer / $7,615,748 cap hold)
  • Total: $7,615,748

Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $101,000,000

Maximum Cap Room: $32,037,943

  • Although Pekovic remains on the Timberwolves’ books, medical retirement appears likely for him. If that becomes official, the Wolves could remove Pekovic’s charge from their cap, leaving the team with nine guaranteed salaries, a cap hold for a first-round pick, and two cap hits for empty roster spots, totaling $68,962,057. That would leave enough room to offer a maximum-salary contract to any free agent with less than 10 years of NBA experience.

Footnotes:

  1. Hill’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 30.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and The Vertical was used in the creation of this post.

Draft Notes: Aldridge, Robinson, McIntosh, Kuzma

The Celtics are likely to select one of the top two point guards, Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, rather than moving their pick, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com. Boston has to protect itself with a tough decision coming on whether to re-sign Isaiah Thomas in the summer of 2018 and Fultz would make the most sense, Aldridge continues. Ball would be a natural fit with the Lakers, while the Sixers will probably go with small forward Josh Jackson, though Kentucky’s Malik Monk is an intriguing alternative, Aldridge adds. A trade in which the Suns move up a spot to snag Jackson to settle their small forward issues isn’t out of the question, according to Aldridge, who goes through each team’s need on a pick-by-pick basis.

In other news involving the draft:

  • Austin Peay’s Josh Robinson will hire an agent, meaning he won’t be able to return to the university, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). The 6’2″ guard, who missed time this season after being suspended from the school’s basketball team, will look to play overseas.
  • MiKyle McIntosh is working out for the Raptors today, Goodman tweets. The Illinois State product has until Wednesday to make a final decision on entering the draft.
  • Iowa State point guard Monte Morris headed the list of prospects worked out by the Kings today, Sean Cunningham of KXTV tweets. Morris is considered second-round material by both DraftExpress and ESPN’s Chad Ford.
  • Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss and Indiana big man Thomas Bryant were among the prospects the Lakers worked out on Monday, Robert Morales of the Orange County Register reports. None of the players Los Angeles brought in are considered first-round prospects.
  • University of Utah forward Kyle Kuzma, who has already hired an agent, will work out for the Jazz on Tuesday, according to Aaron Falk and Tony Jones of the Salt Lake City Tribune. The 6’9” Kuzma, who is considered a second-round prospect, was one of the other hopefuls who worked for the Lakers on Monday.

Eastern Rumors: Griffin, Yabusele, Teodosic, Magic

The Cavaliers did not grant GM David Griffin permission to interview for front office jobs with the Magic and Hawks, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The Magic were interested in hiring Griffin as President of Basketball Operations and had discussions with him but were not allowed to formally interview him and ultimately decided to hire Raptors GM Jeff Weltman, Windhorst continues. The Hawks are looking for an new GM. Griffin’s contract expires at the end of July and has been negotiating with team owner Dan Gilbert, Windhorst adds.

In other developments around the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics forward Amir Johnson is questionable for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals because of a shoulder injury, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets. Johnson played only nine minutes in Game 3. Jonas Jerebko, who scored 10 points in 12 minutes in Boston’s victory at Cleveland, could replace him in the starting lineup, ESPN’s Chris Forsberg tweets.
  • Celtics first-rounder Guerschon Yabusele recently had surgery to remove bone spurs in both feet and will not be available for summer-league games, a source told Forsberg. The 6’8” draft-and-stash prospect, who was chosen with the No. 16 pick last June, spent much of last season in China before joining the Celtics’ D-League team, the Maine Red Claws, in March. Yabusele appeared in seven D-League games and averaged 12.8 PPG and 5.4 RPG in 27.3 MPG.
  • The Nets will have stiff competition from the Nuggets and Jazz for the services of Euroleague point guard Milos Teodosic, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The Nets are among several teams scouting Teodosic, who plays for CSKA Moscow, and he’s their top free-agent priority, Lewis continues. The Nuggets already have a Serbian connection to Teodosic in Nikola Jokic, his national teammate. The Jazz will have a point guard need if George Hill leaves in free agency and coach Quin Snyder is a former CSKA assistant, Lewis adds.
  • The Magic parted ways with several front office members, including Director of Pro Scouting Harold Ellis, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders tweets.

Community Shootaround: Paul Millsap

The news that Hawks forward Paul Millsap will foresake the last $21.4MM on his current contract and become a free agent this summer was expected. Considering the lack of quality big men around the league and the recent jump in the salary cap, Millsap should do well in the open market and get several more years of guaranteed money.

Like former teammate and current Celtics big man Al Horford, Millsap will not turn a franchise around but he could help a playoff team get deeper into the postseason. Millsap, 32, posted career highs in scoring (18.1 PPG) and assists (3.7 APG) this season. He shot a career-low 44.2%, largely due to an increase in 3-point attempts.

The Hawks’ front office is in a state of flux, which could influence Millsap’s decision whether to re-sign with Atlanta or join forces with another playoff team. According to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, the Hawks regard Millsap as their top offseason priority.

The team that lands Millsap will not only get a versatile scorer and solid rebounder, they’ll also get an unselfish player who can guard multiple positions.

Which teams might make a run at Millsap? The Celtics might consider reuniting Millsap and Horford, considering the they don’t have an impact player alongside Horford and small forward Jae Crowder. The Raptors could be in the mix, depending upon what their own free agents decide to do. Same goes for the Clippers, with their top two players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin hitting the market at the same time.

The Spurs have become a haven for veteran free agent big men the last couple of seasons, so they could be a darkhouse in the Millsap sweepstakes. It would stand to reason that the Jazz could try to find another quality big man to insert between Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert, provided that Hayward doesn’t sign elsewhere.

There will also be plenty of other fringe playoff teams with cap space (Bulls, Heat, Nuggets, Pacers) that could make a run at Millsap.

That leads us to our question of the day: What team do you think would be the best fit for Paul Millsap?

Please take the comments section and share your thoughts. We look forward to your opinion on this topic.

Multiple Prospects Withdraw From Draft

This Wednesday is the deadline for players who are testing the draft waters to make a final decision. Several players have made a decision today, opting to withdraw from the draft. Here are some players who’ve decided to stay in school (all decisions are reported by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman unless otherwise indicated):

Wizards To Pursue John Wall Extension

An extension for John Wall will be Washington’s top priority this offseason, sources tell J. Michael of Comcast Sportsnet. The team hasn’t yet reached out to Wall, but the front office is expected to do so now that Wall has made an All-NBA team this season and is eligible for the Designated Veteran Player Extension.

Wall can sign on for an additional four years and nearly $170MM with the CBA’s new extension. While that may be tempting to most, Wall isn’t ready to sign on the dotted line just yet. Sources tell Michael that Wall would like to see the front office’s plan for the future before committing long-term.

Wall had his most effective season as a pro during the 2016/17 season. He scored 23.1 points, dished out 10.7 assists and made 45.1% of his shots from the field. He wasn’t able to elevate the Wizards past the second round in the Eastern Conference, but that was arguably due to the team’s lack of firepower off the bench.

The Wizards will have several pressing issues this offseason, including Otto Porter‘s restricted free agency. Locking up Wall long-term is No. 1 on the list and once they know how long the point guard will be in Washington, they can move onto other objectives.

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