Dan Tolzman

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Nash, Fernandez, Raptors’ Draft, Simmons

James Harden‘s free agency will likely come down to re-signing with the Sixers or signing up for a second stint with the Rockets, Shams Charania of The Athletic said on the Ryen Russillo podcast (hat tip to RealGM). Harden is expected to decline his $35.64MM option.

“I really think he’s torn with the prospect of staying in Philadelphia or moving on to Houston potentially and returning back to his home,” Charania said. “That’s where his roots are and his family there, of course. They (the Rockets) have got upwards of $60 million (in cap space). They can make even more money available. Close to $70 million in cap space.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • As of Monday, neither former Nets coach Steve Nash nor Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez had been invited for a second interview for the Raptors head coaching job, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. However, the front office is taking its time on hiring Nick Nurse’s replacement, so they could eventually be called in for another interview. There’s no immediate need to fill the position, since assistant GM and VP of player personnel Dan Tolzman and his staff are handling draft preparations.
  • Speaking of the Raptors’ draft, they hold the No. 13 pick in the first round. Eric Koreen of The Athletic discusses a handful of candidates they could consider at that spot, with Michigan’s Kobe Bufkin and Kansas’ Gradey Dick viewed as the best fits if they’re still available, since the shooting guard position is in flux.
  • The Nets’ Ben Simmons posted a couple of workout images on social media, indicating that he has moved from rehab and recovery to getting back on the court, Nets Daily relays. Simmons didn’t play after Feb. 15 due to a nerve impingement in his back. He could be added to Australia’s roster for the FIBA World Cup if he’s healthy enough to play later this summer.

Raptors Promote Bobby Webster To GM

JUNE 28: The Raptors have officially announced Webster’s promotion to general manager (Twitter link). Dan Tolzman has also received a promotion and will be the team’s new assistant GM and VP of player personnel.

Ujiri, rumored to be a Knicks target, continues to oversee the Raptors’ basketball operations department.

JUNE 26: Raptors assistant general manager Bobby Webster has been considered the favorite to receive a promotion since GM Jeff Weltman‘s departure earlier this offseason, and it sounds like the club will make it official soon. According to Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050 (Twitter link), the Raps are expected to announce Webster as their new GM at some point this week.

After working at the NBA offices for several seasons, Webster joined the Raptors’ front office in 2013 as the team’s VP of basketball management and strategy. Webster, who is well-versed in salary cap matters, ascended the ranks quickly in Toronto, earning a promotion to assistant GM last summer. Now, according to TSN’s full story on the move, Webster is set to become the NBA’s youngest general manager, just four years after joining the Raptors.

Masai Ujiri, Toronto’s president of basketball operations, retains control over the club’s basketball decisions, but the general manager position is still a crucial one. Weltman’s performance in the Raptors’ front office earned him the president of basketball operations job in Orlando, vacating the GM position in Toronto.

Webster and Ujiri will have plenty of big decisions to make this summer, with key Raptors like Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Patrick Patterson, and P.J. Tucker all eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Atlantic Notes: Saric, Kaun, Jason Smith, Carroll

The Sixers apparently wanted to bring Dario Saric over for 2015/16, and Saric shared that desire, reports David Pick, writing for Basketball Insiders. However, the No. 12 pick in the 2014 draft doesn’t have a way to escape his contract with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes until next year. Saric was circumspect when Pick asked him about the idea of coming stateside and the situation with his overseas team.

“It’s really hard for me to answer that,” Saric said. “I can’t comment. I think I’m ready to compete in the NBA, against the best players, but we built a great team in Efes and I want to help the club win a championship.”

In any case, it would seem that Saric is anxious to sign with the Sixers as soon as he can, rather than wait until 2017, when he wouldn’t be bound by the rookie scale, though that’s just my observation. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The most recent talks the Nets have had with the Cavaliers were about Cleveland draft-and-stash center Sasha Kaun, not Joe Johnson, as Chris Mannix of SI.com reports as part of a larger piece. The Nets and Kaun, a 6’11” 30-year-old, have had mutual interest for some time, tweets Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com. The Spurs have also reportedly talked to the Cavs about him. The Johnson discussion is reportedly dormant.
  • The Knicks offered their $2.814MM room exception to Jason Smith, but he turned it down for more money from the Magic, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. New York could have offered as much as $3,933,600 via Non-Bird rights, but agent Mark Bartelstein made it clear there are no hard feelings, as Berman relays. “The Knicks made a great attempt to try to keep him,’’ Bartelstein said.
  • Soon-to-be Raptors signee DeMarre Carroll authored an homage to the Hawks, his former team, in The Players’ Tribune, giving credit to a handful of figures, especially former Hawks assistant Quin Snyder, who’s now head coach of the Jazz.
  • New Raptors D-League one-to-one affiliate Raptors 905 has named Dan Tolzman as its GM and Jesse Mermuys its head coach and assistant GM, the team announced. Both were already employed within the Raptors organization.