DeJuan Blair

Western Notes: Kobe, Mavs, Johnson

Kobe Bryant endorses the Knicks hiring of Phil Jackson despite his well-documented disappointment with the Lakers front office for not bringing Jackson back to Los Angeles. In an article by Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles, Bryant said, “I just think his mentorship shifts. I think it goes from having a direct influence on the players themselves to having a direct influence on the coaching staff, which he’s accustomed to doing because that’s how he coached as well. He really had a great rapport with his coaching staff and he was really a great mentor for them, and I’m sure he’ll do the same thing and it will just kind of trickle down from there. It’s really no different from what Pat [Riley] has been able to do in Miami with [Erik] Spoelstra.” According to the article, Bryant also believes that Jackson will be able to help Carmelo Anthony improve as a player. On what Phil can do for ‘Melo, Bryant said, “Phil will be able to provide that knowledge and he’ll learn more about the game and open up dimensions of the game that he never saw before. So, he’ll just continue to improve.”

More from out west:

  • The Kings had appeared likely to keep 10-day signee Orlando Johnson for the season, but the team has decided against doing so, notes Matt Kawahara of The Sacramento Bee. Johnson’s second 10-day contract expired Monday.
  • The Warriors have assigned Nemanja Nedovic and Ognjen Kuzmic to the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA D-League the team has announced. Both players had just been recalled from the D-League yesterday and played in last night’s victory over the Magic.
  • If the Mavericks are able to sign a proven big man after the season, the player most likely to lose his roster spot is DeJuan Blair, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Sefko also says that proven big man target is most likely to be Marcin Gortat.
  • In a separate article, Sefko writes that he thinks the Mavs would be well served to pursue Gortat as well as Luol Deng after the season. Both players will be free agents and would fit nicely in the team’s system. Sefko also thinks that Kyle Lowry will be another player the team will take a look at signing, and believes he is ready to be a lead guard on a “top-shelf” playoff team.

Western Notes: Aldridge, Thunder, Blair

Posting up career-numbers in points, rebounds, and assists in addition to leading the Trail Blazers to a current three-way tie for the league’s best record, LaMarcus Aldridge is arguably a strong candidate for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award at this point in the season. Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge relayed some noteworthy comments from Aldridge during an interview with ESPN’s Chris Broussard, and it appears that the 28-year-old forward wants to remain in Portland for the long-term:

“I’m here. I love it here. This team is good and we’re winning. I’ve been here my whole career. I’m in the history books here. I don’t want to leave. I feel this team is good enough to win it all one day and be there.” 

Here’s more of what we’ve gathered out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • Although some offseason narratives had the Thunder taking a step back this year after losing Kevin Martin to free agency, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix writes about how Oklahoma City’s young bench – in addition to career-best numbers from Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka as well as elite play from Russell Westbrook – has played a major role in keeping the team within title contention this season. Interestingly enough, Mannix points out that the reserves’ combined 34.1 PPG marks the highest output of the entire Durant era.
  • Sam Amick of USA Today echoes the same sentiments from Mannix and revisits how the Thunder, facing drastic changes due to the NBA’s harsh new collective bargaining agreement, were able to recover nicely after making the tough call to deal James Harden over a season ago.
  • Previously relegated to spot minutes in San Antonio, DeJuan Blair has had tonight’s matchup against the Spurs circled on his calendar for quite some time, says Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas, who adds that the 6’7 forward has been a bargain banger since signing with the Mavericks this past summer. Blair, who is currently averaging 8.3 PPG and 7.0 RPG in 20.9 MPG, has made it known on several occasions about being unhappy with the way his 4-year stint with the Spurs had ended.
  • According to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, Lakers forward Ryan Kelly has carved out a role in the team’s rotation and earned some public praise from Mike D’Antoni after practice earlier today: “He knows how to play, defensively and offensively…Defensively he’s the first one to get to the right spot. I think that going forward, he can keep earning more time. I’m pretty excited about him.” D’Antoni also suggested that Kelly’s newfound opportunity to earn floor time could come at the expense of Chris Kaman and Robert Sacre‘s rotation minutes.

Western Links: Faried, Blair, Bledsoe, Nuggets

As we look forward to the first meeting of the season tonight between the Thunder and Clippers, two title contenders, let’s round up a few items from around the Western Conference:

Odds & Ends: Burke, Jefferson, NBPA

Jazz rookie Trey Burke  fractured his right index finger and will be evaluated on Monday tweets Jody Genessy of the Deseret News. Genessy notes, via Twitter, that Scott Machado has been given the most time behind Burke and John Lucas III at point guard this preseason.

Genessy  also wonders, in a tweet, whether the Jazz will bring someone else in depending on the severity of Burke’s injury, and mentions Jamaal Tinsley as a possibility. Marc Stein of ESPN tweets that he’s heard of interest from the Jazz about the Bulls’ Marquis Teague, and postulates they may revisit that with Burke going down. The Jazz will find out Monday whether Burke’s fractured finger will require surgery, Stein adds (Twitter).

Here are a smattering of other links from around the league tonight:

  • After the Bobcats‘ big free agent, Al Jefferson, severely sprained his ankle, he told the AP in Milwaukee that he’s trying to be back for opening night, tweets the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell.
  • That’s 18 days away, Bonnell adds on Twitter, and he wonders in his next tweet whether the Bobcats might look to add a center in the interim.
  • The Mavericks pickup of DeJuan Blair this summer might be huge for them,  as we noted earlier tonight. Blair is looking forward to playing his former team, the Mavs intra-state rival Spurs, writes the Star-Telegram’s Dwain Price.
  • Blair’s bitterness about his time in San Antonio is evident when he tells Price, “[the Spurs] didn’t give me nothing when I was there. I mean, the fans gave me everything, but everything else, it is what it is. I don’t look at that. I look for us to get a win.”
  • Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News reports that the NBPA will not pay their new union head the $3MM annually that former executive director Billy Hunter made before he was ousted. Union sources say the annual pay will be around $1.5MM for the new executive director.
  • The Knicks lost to the Celtics by 30 tonight in preseason action, but Touré Murry and Ike Diogu both made a case for a roster spot, writes ESPN New York’s Ian Begley.

Western Notes: Blair, Durant, ‘Wolves

With Brandan Wright out indefinitely after a left shoulder injury, free agent signee DeJuan Blair, is learning both the power forward and center assignments with the Mavs, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News.

The 6’7″ Blair is under-sized for a center, but as he told Sefko, “I’ve been playing five all my life against 7-footers.” Blair was largely relegated to the Spurs bench the last season. He only started 16 games and played only 76 minutes during their run to the Finals last year. So look for him to be extra motivated if given a significant opportunity in Dallas.

Here’s more from around the West tonight:

  • As mentioned previously, the Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry spoke with Thunder coach Scott Brooks about Kevin Durant‘s minutes with Russell Westbrook expected to miss the first quarter of the season.
  • Assuming Durant appears in at least 79 games this season, at 38 minutes a night, that would have him playing over 3,000 regular season minutes for the fourth time in five seasons. Ben Wallace in 2004/05 was the last player to win a title after playing over 3,000 minutes during the regular season.
  • But it’s a workload Brooks plans to manage with off days and practice time and Durant appears up to the challenge, as long as it helps them win.
  • Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman is looking for more continuity from his starters in preseason despite the second straight game without Kevin Martin, he tells  Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune.
  • But, Zgoda tweets that Adelman has no idea if a week of rest will get Martin back on the court, though he certainly hopes so.
  • Zgoda goes on to say that Othyus Jeffers, A.J. Price, Robbie Hummel and Lorenzo Brown are battling for what will likely be two spots when the team waives Chris Johnson.
  • But Adelman says the Wolves could add players cut from other training camps once teams pare down their rosters in the final week of preseason.
  • Adelman is also happy former ‘Wolves assistant Bill Bayno was hired as lead assistant for the Raptors (Twitter).

Mavericks Sign DeJuan Blair

AUGUST 7TH, 3:52pm: The Mavericks have officially signed Blair, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 31ST, 9:15pm: For the second time in as many days, Blair has taken to Twitter to announce he has signed with the Mavs.  While Blair's tweet indicates that it is official this time around, neither the team nor its beat writers have confirmed the deal. 

JULY 30TH, 10:04pm:'s Jared Zwerling is reporting that a deal between Blair and the Mavericks has yet to happen. 

6:45pm: The Mavericks and DeJuan Blair have reached an agreement on a new deal. After's Marc Stein reported earlier today that the two sides were in serious talks, Blair himself broke the news via his Twitter account. Dwain Price from the Star-Telegram tweeted that the contract will be a one-year deal at $1.4MM, though if it's a minimum-salary deal, as expected, its value will be closer to $948K.

Blair's deal with the Mavs is the latest move in a busy offseason for the club. Although Dallas missed out on its top target, Dwight Howard, the team has used its cap space to add several free agents, including Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Samuel Dalembert, Gal Mekel, and Wayne Ellington. The Mavericks also re-signed Brandan Wright and Bernard James, and are on track to finalize a contract with ex-Mav Devin Harris.

Blair, 24, has spent the first four seasons of his NBA career with the Spurs, but saw his role reduced as Tiago Splitter emerged as a productive rotation player for the team. After he averaged 8.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and a 17.5 PER in his first three years, Blair's rates fell to 5.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and a 14.6 PER in 2012/13. As Kennedy tweets, the Happy Walters client looks poised to see a boost in playing time in Dallas, as part of a frontcourt that also features Dirk Nowitzki, Wright, James, and Jae Crowder.

The signing of Blair likely means the Mavs won't end up landing Greg Oden, who is drawing interest from several teams, most of whom can offer a larger salary than Dallas can.

Mavs In Serious Talks With DeJuan Blair

11:19am: If the Mavs and Blair agree to terms, it will likely be for a one-year, minimum-salary contract, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. While there was some talk of a sign-and-trade, Blair figures to sign for a year and test the market again next summer, says Kennedy, adding that the ex-Spur figures to choose Dallas' offer over similar proposals because he'll get a chance to play major minutes with the Mavs (all Twitter links).

9:58am: The Mavericks are engaged in serious talks on a deal for DeJuan Blair, reports Marc Stein of (via Twitter). According to Stein, the odds of the two sides reaching an agreement are "promising."

It'd be a little surprising if the Mavs were able to land Blair, since the team appears to be capped-out, and Blair's asking price was said earlier this month to be in the $3MM range. The big man was also reportedly seeking a multiyear commitment. Based on reported contracts and salaries to date, it seems as if the Mavs have used their cap space and signed Wayne Ellington using the $2.65MM room exception. Assuming that's the case, Dallas could only offer Blair the minimum, unless a sign-and-trade deal can be worked out with the Spurs.

Blair, 24, has spent all four seasons of his NBA career with the Spurs, but saw his role reduced as Tiago Splitter emerged as a productive starter for the team. After averaging 8.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and a 17.5 PER in his first three years, Blair's rates fell to 5.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and a 14.6 PER in 2012/13.

According to Stein (via Twitter), the Mavs are also likely to complete a new deal for Devin Harris later this week, and remain in the mix for Greg Oden.

FA Rumors: Maggette, Blair, Telfair, Tinsley

Restricted free agents like Nikola Pekovic, Brandon Jennings, and Gerald Henderson represent the most intriguing names left on the free agent market, but in his latest piece for HoopsWorld, Alex Kennedy takes a look at a few unrestricted free agents who have flown more under the radar. Here are some highlights from Kennedy:

  • Corey Maggette considered retiring to pursue a front office job, but it looks like he'll postpone that plan for at least a year. Maggette would like to play for a contender, and could likely be had for a one-year, minimum-salary deal.
  • Although more than a dozen teams, including the Bulls and Clippers, have expressed some level of interest in DeJuan Blair, the big man still hasn't been able to secure the sort of multiyear offer he's seeking.
  • There continues to be mutual interest between the Knicks and Sebastian Telfair, who has also attracted some interest from contenders like the Heat and Thunder.
  • The Nets nearly signed Jamaal Tinsley earlier in the offseason, but opted for Shaun Livingston instead. Tinsley is now considering teams like the Mavericks, Rockets, Bobcats, and Suns.
  • Keyon Dooling still appears likely to make a decision on a team within the next week, and he figures to land a one-year contract worth the veteran's minimum.
  • After turning down the Bobcats last summer to join an apparent contender (the Lakers), Antawn Jamison could end up returning home to Charlotte this time around, according to Kennedy.

Kyler On Jennings, Henderson, Blair, Mozgov

When I asked a week ago how Brandon Jennings' free agency would play out, over 41% of you predicted that he and the Bucks would ultimately work out a sign-and-trade agreement that sends him to another team. However, according to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, while some sign-and-trade scenarios have been explored, the Bucks aren't about to "sandbag their season" by moving Jennings in a deal that doesn't land them a starting-caliber point guard. Here's more from Kyler's latest NBA AM piece:

  • The Bucks and Jennings continue to maintain a dialogue, and Kyler thinks a deal in the $8MM-per-year range could be worked out, but something that pays Jennings $11-12MM annually is unlikely.
  • Mo Williams is considering a few scenarios, but is still hoping to land a "solid multiyear offer." If one doesn't materialize, he may be willing to take a small one-year contract to join a contender, as we heard last week.
  • Like the Bucks with Jennings, the Bobcats are waiting for a rival suitor to set Gerald Henderson's price. According to Kyler, several teams would be willing to do mid-level type offer sheets for Henderson, but the Bobcats would almost certainly match such an offer. Kyler adds that it appears likely Henderson will return to Charlotte on a multiyear deal, rather than signing his qualifying offer or being traded.
  • "Most of the league" has called about DeJuan Blair "in some capacity," writes Kyler. It sounds as if plenty of clubs would be willing to do one-year, low-money deals, but Blair is still seeking a multiyear pact, or a sign-and-trade that would allow him to keep his Bird rights.
  • Timofey Mozgov's destination remains unclear, with Kyler suggesting that the Spurs may be interested in the Nuggets' restricted free agent.

Free Agent Rumors: Miller, Oden, Camby, Blair

Free agent rumors and rumblings have slowed down since the start of July, as most of the bigger names have come off the board. Still, even though not a ton of teams have significant cap space or exception money remaining, plenty of intriguing players remain on the market. We're entering the point in the summer where teams are hunting for bargains and value signings, so here's the latest on a few players who could fit that bill:

  • Mike Miller is meeting face-to-face for a second time with both the Thunder and Grizzlies, who appear to be the two favorites for him, says Marc Stein of The Rockets and Nuggets aren't out of the running yet, but Miller's choice will likely come down to OKC or Memphis (Twitter links).
  • The Heat, Pelicans, and Kings will observe Greg Oden in person as he works out this week, according to Stein and Jeff Goodman of, though Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports says (via Twitter) it'll just be the Pelicans and Kings. The Spurs and Mavericks are still in the hunt as well, with Miami and San Antonio still viewed as the frontrunners for the former first overall pick.
  • Marcus Camby is expected to make a decision on his next team within the next week, with the Rockets, Bulls, and Heat among the finalists, tweets Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
  • According to Jared Zwerling of, DeJuan Blair's asking price is in the $3MM range, Lamar Odom is only interested in playing for a Los Angeles team, and Josh Akognon is drawing heavy interest from Chinese teams.
  • Zwerling adds (via Twitter) that the Knicks have some interest in Ivan Johnson, but the big man is still seeking a mini mid-level deal.
  • Prior to reaching an agreement with the Nuggets, Nate Robinson received serious interest from the Wizards, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld (via Twitter). Washington had already used its mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, so making a competitive offer would have been tricky.
  • Free agent point guard Delonte West spoke to Tzvi Twersky of about his desire to return to an NBA roster.