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Chinese Team May Release Jerian Grant

Jerian Grant, who reached an agreement last month to play in China after four years in the NBA, may no longer be wanted by his new team, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The Qingdao Doubloe Star Eagles are considering releasing Grant before he ever takes the court for them.

Grant began last season as the backup point guard for the Magic, but slid down the rotation as the year progressed. Shooting woes were among the reasons for his demotion, as he hit just just .418 from the field and is a career .412 shooter. He averaged 4.2 points and 2.6 assists in 60 games.

Grant was taken by the Wizards with the 19th pick in 2015 and shipped to the Knicks in a three-team trade on draft night. He lasted just one season in New York before being dealt to the Bulls, who sent him to Orlando in 2018. The Magic decided in June not to extend a qualifying offer to Grant, making him an unrestricted free agent.

With training camps set to open in a few days, there may not be any immediate opportunities available for Grant in the NBA. If the Chinese deal falls through, he will likely try to find another opening overseas.

Kevin Durant To Play This Season?

“The feeling within the league” is that Kevin Durant‘s ruptured Achilles tendon may not keep him out for the entire season, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

The Nets are still being cautious about the injury to their newly signed star, but optimism is growing that he won’t need all of 2019/20 to recover. Durant got hurt on June 10 during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Lewis notes that Kobe Bryant and NFL wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders were able to return from similar injuries in eight months — a time frame that could put Durant back on the court by February.

“I know KD is taking the rehab process ultra-serious,” teammate Spencer Dinwiddie said. “He wants to come back as soon as it’s appropriate, and healthy and the right decision for him …

“The beautiful part about this is, the man is 7-foot and one of the best shooters of all time. At worst you get Dirk (Nowitzki), and Dirk was a monster. So we’re ready for him to come back whenever he wants to and whenever he’s ready to do so, and we know that he’s going to be a phenomenal major piece of our roster.”

Even with the injury, Durant was one of the top prizes on the free agent market. He shifted the balance of power in the league when he agreed to a four-year max deal with Brooklyn worth more than $164MM. Durant had no injury concerns before the playoffs, appearing in 78 games and posting a 26.0/6.4/5.9 line.

David Levy, the Nets’ new CEO, told Lewis that the organization may decide to chronicle Durant’s progress toward a return.

“When you start thinking about the Kevin Durant comeback story and filming that, just opportunities,” he said.

John Wall On Torn Achilles Recovery: ‘Taking Baby Steps’

Wizards point guard John Wall, in the midst of recovering from a torn Achilles, is making some strides in his recovery.

“I’m great, man. Just rehabbing, working out and lifting weights. I’m shooting some jumpshots, doing some ball-handling and stuff like that,” Wall said to NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller.

Wall, 29, suffered the injury this past January during a fall at his home as he was recovering from a heel injury. Given Washington’s lofty financial commitment to the five-time All-Star, it’s uncertain how much he will be able to contribute when he’s healthy.

At his peak, Wall has shown himself as one of the premier point guards in the NBA. Just last season, he averaged 20.7 PPG and 8.1 APG in 32 contests before the injuries set in.

However, at this point, Wall is taking a conservative approach in his recovery so he does not end up re-injuring himself more.

“I understand because I’ve played through injuries before that if I try to come back too soon or too fast, I could be hurt and have to start all over again. I’m not trying to go through that process again, so I’m finally taking my baby steps,” he said.

NBA’s Board Of Governors Approves Anti-Tampering Measures

The NBA’s Board of Governors formally approved a stricter series of rules and measures in an attempt to clamp down on possible tampering and salary cap circumvention, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported today. The vote was unanimous, with all 30 team governors voting to sign off on the new rules, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

We detailed the NBA’s anti-tampering proposals in a series of stories over the the last week, though Wojnarowski cautions (via Twitter) that it’s unclear whether every one of the proposed rules will be implemented immediately. There had been league-wide apprehension about approving the proposal allowing the league to conduct random team audits each year, Woj notes. Reynolds suggests the specifics still need to be worked out on those audits.

Although teams can now be fined up to $10MM in “egregious” instances of tampering, commissioner Adam Silver admitted in a press conference this afternoon that fines can often be the least effective way to ensure compliance with the rules. Silver said that suspending executives, taking away teams’ draft picks, and even voiding contracts are all possibilities in the event of a tampering violation (Twitter link via Woj). Of course, the league would prefer to see teams simply comply with existing rules.

“We need to ensure that we’re creating a culture of compliance in this league,” Silver said, per Reynolds. “Our teams want to know that they’re competing on a level playing field and frankly don’t want to feel disadvantaged if they are adhering to our existing rules.”

General managers and player agents expect free agency to be altered by the NBA’s renewed focus on tampering, and will be more apprehensive about negotiating or agreeing to deals prior to June 30, tweets Wojnarowski. It remains to be seen exactly how effective the new measures will be though.

Here’s more on today’s Board of Governors vote, including additional details on the tampering policies and notes on a couple other league changes:

  • Silver acknowledged that the NBA’s tampering rules give the league the ability to review personal electronic communication devices. That worries team officials, according to Wojnarowski, who tweets that those officials have privacy concerns and want to protect their information. “None of us want people looking into their personal communications,” Silver said, per Reynolds. “But I think people who operate in a public company environment or operate in a financial world who are used to compliance procedures understand that you have to find a balance between disclosure and privacy so you can ensure that people will understand that there will be consequences for inappropriate behavior.”
  • Altering the start date for free agency is an idea the NBA is still considering, but it wasn’t voted on today and no changes appear imminent, according to Silver (Twitter link via Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic).
  • The NBA is adjusting the language in its rule book on traveling and will formally define the concept of the “gather,” according to a press release. Getting those calls right will be a point of emphasis this season, so we’ll see whether the clarified rules have a noticeable effect on certain players in 2019/20. For what it’s worth, the league said the following: “The revision will not change the substance of the rule but will help eliminate the gap between the rule as written and how it has been applied in NBA games.”
  • The Board of Governors also voted to approve a new rule that will require teams to submit their starting lineups at least 30 minutes before tip-off, rather than 10 minutes. That should be good news for daily fantasy players and sports bettors.

Vince Carter Re-Signs With Hawks

SEPTEMBER 20: Carter’s signing is official, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

AUGUST 5: Vince Carter, the oldest player in the NBA, has agreed to return to the Hawks, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Carter, 42, will be playing for a record 22nd season. It’s expected to his last, Wojnarowski adds.

Carter will surpass Dirk NowitzkiRobert Parish, Kevin Willis and Kevin Garnett, who each played 21 seasons. Carter had already established the record for most seasons by a wing player. Kobe Bryant played 20 seasons.

Carter’s return to Atlanta was not a surprise. The team had held a roster spot open for him in anticipation a deal would eventually get done. The Hawks will now have 14 players with guaranteed contracts.

Other than Carter, the Hawks have the league’s youngest roster that includes rookies Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter and Bruno Fernando and last season’s Rookie of the Year finalist, Trae Young.

Carter proved that he was still an effective and durable player last season in Atlanta, appearing in 76 games, including nine starts. He averaged 7.4 PPG and shot 38.9% beyond the arc in 17.5 MPG. The future Hall of Famer began his career in 1998 with Toronto. The Hawks became the eighth team to acquire his services prior to last season.

Carter will add depth at the wing positions while also serving a mentorship role.

Rockets To Sign Thabo Sefolosha

10:37am: Sefolosha’s contract will be fully guaranteed, tweets Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic, who adds that Sefolosha had an impressive performance at Houston’s mini-camp.

9:50am: Thabo Sefolosha will sign with the Rockets, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The veteran swingman is participating in a mini-camp with Houston players and other unsigned veterans this week in Las Vegas.

Sefolosha, 35, spent the past two seasons in Utah, where injuries limited him to a combined 88 games. He appeared in 50 games last season, averaging 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in about 12 minutes per night. He has also played for the Bulls, Thunder and Hawks during his 13 years in the NBA.

The defensive specialist has plenty of ties to the Rockets organization, notes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). He was a former teammate of James Harden and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, and coach Mike D’Antoni was hoping to bring him to Phoenix in the 2006 draft.

Sefolosha will sign for one year at the veteran’s minimum, according to Feigen (Twitter link). With just 10 guaranteed contracts heading into training camp, the Rockets have been looking for veteran help to fill out their roster.

Klay Thompson Wants To Be Part Of Olympic Team

Despite a torn ACL that will sideline him for most of the upcoming season, Warriors guard Klay Thompson is committed to representing his country in the 2020 Olympics, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.

“I would love to play (for) Team USA,” Thompson said. “That is the plan. I would love to be on the Olympic team.”

Thompson was part of the team that went undefeated during the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Although he shot just 36.4% from the field in eight games, he averaged 9.9 PPG as the Americans cruised to the gold medal.

He would love for his next Olympic experience to include his fellow Splash Brother, Stephen Curry, who had to withdraw in 2016 after suffering an MCL sprain in the playoffs. Although they’ve never played in the Olympics together, Curry and Thompson were teammates on the gold medal squad in the 2014 World Cup.

“That would be amazing,” Thompson said about the possibility of teaming up with Curry in the Olympics. “Amazing. Because even when we played in the World Championships together, we were barely on the floor together.”

The Americans are coming off their worst international performance since NBA players began participating in 1992, finishing seventh at this year’s World Cup. That was preceded by a series of big names declining invitations to training camp or pulling out before the final roster was announced, but it appears that won’t be a problem in 2020. Thompson, Curry and Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard have already announced their intentions to play in the Olympics.

“It was hard to watch us lose,” Thompson said. “Those guys, they sacrificed their summers for that. I’m not going to dog them for losing, though. The world is good.”

NBA Owners To Vote On Anti-Tampering Proposal On Friday

Tampering and salary cap circumvention were chief among the topics at the league’s Board of Governors meeting back in July. The NBA’s owners will take a vote on Friday to determine whether radical new procedures to curb tampering will be implemented starting with the 2019/20 season.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com report that some teams believe the league is rushing the process of changing the rules. An annual random audit of five NBA clubs’ communication with rival front offices and player agents is a concern for many involved in the decision making.

“I don’t think he (commissioner Adam Silver) should have any right to get into my phone,” one GM said. “I wish my owner would vote no, but I doubt he will. You’ll only make yourself a target for investigation if you do.”

The ESPN duo adds that some executives are planning to “wean themselves off electronic communication” in anticipation of potential rule changes. Messaging services such as WhatsApp could become more popular in NBA circles.

The player movement era has brought on challenges for teams and a bevy of accusations and possible misconduct among players changing uniforms. For example, there’s a belief in some circles that Dennis Robinson—Kawhi Leonard‘s uncle and advisor— requested benefits that fall outside the salary, sources tell the ESPN duo. That’s already not allowed under the current rules, though the league wants to increase the penalties for such action.

In addition to the audits, top executives in front offices would have to “certify annually” that they did not tamper with free agents ahead of the start of free agency or offer any unauthorized benefits. Furthermore, both teams and players would be subject to increased fines under the new proposal. In order for the new proposal to become effective, 23 of the 30 owners/ownership groups would have to vote “yes’ to it.

Many small-market teams are expected to support the proposal for fear that teams in bigger markets may continue to sign away their players. This offseason, Leonard and Kevin Durant were among the player who signed with big-market teams. Anthony Davis and Paul George each demanded a trade to a bigger market with time remaining on their respective contracts.

Silver insists that it isn’t the league’s intention to “establish a police state,” per the ESPN duo. Silver simply wants the owners to create a culture of compliance and accountability.

Regardless of whether the proposal passes, the league will continue to address the tampering issues. Silver has authority to investigate allegations of tampering, according to the CBA, and penalize teams via fines as high as $6MM for unauthorized agreements as well as take away draft picks from clubs.

While the league wants to halt the verbal agreements ahead of free agency, it is to the benefit of both player agents and teams to have an idea of what clubs’ and players’ respective plans are.

“There’s a big difference between having conversations about how a team wants to build its roster, what it prioritizes in free agency and whether they have interest in your player — or having a deal done on June 20,” one prominent agent said. “Both sides are in the information gathering business; that’s the nature of the job.”

NBA Ruling On Nene’s Contract Limits His Trade Value

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have made a ruling on Nene‘s unusual new contract with the Rockets, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). As we detailed last week, Nene’s two-year contract has a base value worth the minimum, but features over $7MM annually in likely bonuses that push the value of the deal to $10MM per year.

As Charania explains, Nene’s deal will essentially remain unchanged, but the $7MM+ in likely bonuses will be excluded in the event of a trade. In other words, he’d count for just $2.56MM in both outgoing and incoming salary for matching purposes, rather than being considered a $10MM outgoing piece.

According to Charania (via Twitter), who confirms that the Rockets had discussed a similar deal with Iman Shumpert, Nene will still have the opportunity to earn his bonuses, though the team figures to limit his playing time to avoid paying him significantly more money. In order to receive the full $10MM, Nene must appear in 40 games and his team must compile at least 52 wins.

Word first broke earlier today that the NBA was still weighing how to handle the contract. As we observed at the time,the league has the right to challenge deals that it believes violate the spirit of rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, even if those deals are technically legal based on what’s written in the CBA.

It’s a tough turn of events for the Rockets, who appeared to have found a creative way to maximize their flexibility for in-season deals, having generated a $10MM trade chip without being at risk of paying out the full $10MM. As a result of today’s ruling, that won’t be the case after all.

Because he signed a two-year contract, Nene will have a cap charge of $2.56MM rather than the $1.62MM cap hit he would have had if he’d signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract, pushing Houston closer to the tax. On a one-year deal, Nene would’ve had the right to veto trades.

Nuggets Sign Tyler Zeller

The Nuggets have signed free agent center Tyler Zeller to their roster for training camp, tweets Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports.

Zeller, 29, was out of the league for most of the 2018/19 campaign, but signed a 10-day contract with Atlanta in March, then joined the Grizzlies for the final week of the regular season. In total, he appeared in six games for the two teams, averaging 7.7 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 15.5 minutes per contest.

The former first-round pick has spent seven total seasons in the NBA, having also appeared in regular season games for the Celtics, Cavaliers, Nets, and Bucks.

The Nuggets are carrying 14 players on guaranteed contracts, so Zeller could theoretically have a chance to earn the final spot on the team’s regular season roster as a third center behind Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee. However, Denver is precariously close to the luxury tax line and may simply prefer to keep that roster spot open.

With Zeller under contract, the Nuggets now have 18 players on their roster. In addition to the 14 players with guaranteed salaries, Denver is carrying Tyler Cook and Bol Bol on two-way deals and PJ Dozier and Zeller on non-guaranteed contracts.