Mike James (Duquesne)

And-Ones: Extension Candidates, BIG3, Sports Betting

With the NBA postseason set to tip off this weekend an equally intriguing offseason draws nearer. Recently, Keith Smith of RealGM took a nice, long look at the upcoming batch of players eligible to sign rookie contract extensions after July 1.

While some players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker are no-brainers for rich contract extensions, other players like Kristaps Porzingis and Myles Turner are intriguing cases.

Porzingis, Smith writes, could be a candidate for a conditional contract extension similar to the one Joel Embiid signed last summer. Turner, meanwhile, proved himself a worthy NBA starter early in his career but has dealt with injury setbacks of his own in the time since.

A number of the top lottery picks in the 2015 draft class aren’t likely to sign significant extensions, if they’re even eligible to do so at all. Two of the top five picks – Jahlil Okafor and Mario Hezonja – didn’t even have the fourth-year of their rookie deals picked up.

For a breakdown of all 30 first-round picks, how they fared through their first three seasons in the NBA and whether or not you can expect them to hit the restricted market in 2019, be sure to check out Smith’s full piece.

There’s more from around the NBA.

  • With discussion over the legalization of sports betting a hot topic these days, the NBA Player’s Association has issued a statement, urging consideration for players’ rights ahead of any consequent negotiations over associated fees. Ben Fawkes of ESPN has the latest about the pressing issue while Chris Crouse of Hoops Rumors confirms that the NBA is open to having the union involved.
  • The BIG3 held its offseason draft last night in preparation for the league’s second season set to begin on June 22. Andre Owens, an international journeyman who played sparingly with the Jazz and Pacers over a decade ago was the first overall pick. Notable NBA alums, including Jason Maxiell, Quentin Richardson, the original Mike James and Bonzi Wells were also taken over the course of three rounds. Josh Peters of USA Today has a full breakdown of the draft.
  • The NBA draft order is set, ahead of the May 15th lottery that is. We broke down what happened when a series of tiebreakers decided the fates of 12 impacted teams.

And-Ones: Trade Rules, BIG3, Georges-Hunt

New NBA rules allow teams to place protections on draft picks that they’re in line to acquire if they want to flip them to another team, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe. As Lowe explains, if the Celtics wanted to trade the rights to the Nets‘ 2017 first-rounder, they wouldn’t necessarily have to make it unprotected — the club could, for instance, trade the Nets pick to another team with top-two protection, then if Boston keeps the selection, that team could get Brooklyn’s unprotected pick from the C’s in 2018.

As we wait to see if the Celtics or another team takes advantage of that rule, let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • The BIG3 has formally announced a new group of 10 players who will be eligible for the upcoming draft. Keith Bogans, Rashad McCants, Voshon Lenard, and Mike James are among the former NBA players set to participate in the three-on-three league.
  • Marcus Georges-Hunt‘s recent 10-day contract with the Heat has expired, but the rookie is drawing interest from multiple NBA teams, a league source tells Chris Reichert of The Step Back (Twitter link).
  • After previously playing a game in 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the NBA will be returning to the city this summer, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. Team Africa will take on Team World at Johannesburg’s Ticketpro Dome on August 5, the league confirmed.
  • Bobby Marks of The Vertical continues to publish his team-by-team trade guides this week, focusing more recently on playoff teams. Marks takes a closer look at the Celtics and Rockets, as well as the Raptors and Jazz.

Bulls Eye Mike James, Jannero Pargo

11:40am: Chicago no longer plans to fill its open roster spot in the wake of GM Gar Forman‘s declaration today that the team expects Rose back in four to six weeks, Johnson tweets.

9:54am: The Bulls have had preliminary conversations with the representatives for Mike James and Jannero Pargo, league sources tell K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. That’s in addition to exploratory talks with team has held with Nate Robinson, which Shams Charania of RealGM reported earlier this week and which Johnson confirms. Chicago is likely to fill its open roster spot regardless of the timetable for Derrick Rose‘s recovery from his torn meniscus, Johnson writes, though the team won’t necessarily sign a guard, sources told the Tribune scribe. Johnson indicated Thursday that the team’s decision regarding that 15th roster spot would hinge on whether Rose is out for the season.

There’s “considerable optimism” that the tear in Rose’s right meniscus is small, Johnson has heard. If that’s the case and only a small part of the meniscus is trimmed during surgery today, the likely timetable “could” be three to six weeks, according to Johnson. Still, a quick return entails Rose coming back to on-court activity but not necessarily to games, Johnson cautions (Twitter link).

James is certainly no stranger to the Bulls, having signed seven different contracts with the team since January 2012. The 39-year-old point guard is averaging 15.0 points, 6.4 assists and 3.4 turnovers in 33.1 minutes per game for the Mavericks D-League affiliate. James, a client of Bernie Lee, is only two years removed from having finished the season as the starting point guard for the big club in Dallas.

Pargo is another former Bull, having signed with Chicago on five previous occasions, though the Mark Bartelstein client’s last action for the team took place in 2009/10. His health is a question mark, and Hornets coach Steve Clifford said at the beginning of the month that he wasn’t close to being able to play, citing that as the reason Charlotte cut him loose to ink Elliot Williams to a 10-day contract instead in the wake of Kemba Walker‘s injury. The Hornets apparently weren’t ruling out a reunion with Pargo, but that was before the team let go of Elliot Williams to trade for Mo Williams.

The Bulls only have the prorated minimum salary to offer. Still, they’re nowhere close to the luxury tax threshold as they were last year, so they have some financial flexibility.

Pelicans Sign Nate Wolters To 10-Day Contract

WEDNESDAY, 9:20am: The signing is official, the team announced via press release.

TUESDAY, 7:25pm: Wolters has agreed to a 10-day contract with the Pelicans and is on his way to join the team in Detroit, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link).

5:58pm: The Pelicans are targeting free agent Nate Wolters for a 10-day contract, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Wolters cleared waivers today after being waived by the Bucks earlier this week. The point guard was released by Milwaukee to clear a roster slot for Kenyon Martin, who was inked to a 10-day pact of his own.

New Orleans currently has two open roster spots, so no corresponding move will need to be made to add Wolters to the team. The Pelicans had also been considering signing Mike James or Gal Mekel prior to Wolters becoming available, Stein adds in a separate tweet.

The 23-year-old Wolters appeared in 11 contests for the Bucks this season, averaging 2.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 0.9 assists. His shooting numbers were .433/.269/.638.

Central Notes: Gasol, Cavs, James

Pau Gasol thought the Bulls were the best overall situation for him when choosing his free agent destination this summer, Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. The veteran did give the Knicks some consideration before making his decision, saying, “I considered them just because of different factors, mainly Phil [Jackson] and Derek [Fisher] being involved, the Knicks being a great organization as wel. It would’ve been interesting, but I thought there were better situations for me.”

Gasol also added that it was possible that his brother Marc Gasol could end up in New York when he becomes a free agent, notes Braziller. “We’ll see what happens next year what he decides and hopefully he’ll have a strong year and all the options in the world because he’s one of the top centers, interior players in the league, so any team would be fortunate to have him,” Gasol said. “It’s a personal decision. I talked to my brother enough about Phil that he knows what he brings to the table.”

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls hold no ill will toward Carmelo Anthony for spurning them in free agency this past summer, Braziller writes in a separate article. “He made his decision, and like I said at the time, of course who wouldn’t want to play with a talent like that,” Derrick Rose said. “But he came back [to the Knicks]. You can’t get mad at him.” Chicago is perfectly happy with their roster as currently constituted and believe they have the depth to contend in the east, Braziller writes.
  • Even when things appeared to be at their worst Cavs, owner Dan Gilbert never believed his relationship with LeBron James was irreparable, Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal writes. “Unless you’re really doing some significant harm to another human being, I don’t think the bridge is ever burned,” Gilbert said. “We had a night where emotions were flying high on all sides. Things like that happen a lot in business where people have phone calls and heated exchanges and people are writing each other emails and letters, and then the next day they’re eating lunch and doing business. It’s not a be-all or end-all type thing.”
  • Veteran guard Mike James will be joining the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League in an effort to showcase himself for NBA teams, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). James appeared in 11 games for the Bulls last season, and his career numbers are 9.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 3.5 APG.

Bulls Waive Amundson, Brewer, James

The Bulls have waived Lou Amundson, Ronnie Brewer and Mike James, the team announced via press release. The move wipes their non-guaranteed salaries from Chicago’s books. All three were on minimum-salary deals to which Chicago signed them at the end of last season in the hopes they could end up helping the Bulls aggregate salaries in a trade. Instead, Chicago opens up the cap space necessary to complete their deals with Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic.

The trio will hit free agency unless another team picks them up off waivers. The trio combined to play a total of three minutes for the Bulls after the team signed them, but each isn’t too far removed from a more prominent role. James finished the 2012/13 season as the starting point guard for Dallas, Brewer started 34 games for the Knicks that year, and Amundson, though long a reserve, was well-regarded enough to merit deals with three teams that season.

Eastern Notes: Hornets, Draft, Bulls

The Hornets‘ top priority this offseason is finding players who can shoot from the outside, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte GM Rich Cho said, “I think shooting is hard to find – especially mid-range shooting. You don’t see a lot of kids practicing that. Shooting is at a premium now because a lot of teams want to take threes instead of long twos, just from an efficiency standpoint. In an ideal world you want a shooter who can also really defend. But in the real world, there’s not a lot of that.”

More from the east:

  • In a separate article, Bonnell examines the Hornets‘ top-10 franchise assets, which include the presence of Al Jefferson, Coach Steve Clifford, and abundant cap space.
  • Bonnell also writes that the Hornets need frontcourt depth and a backup point guard. If the team uses a first round pick on a point guard, the names to watch, according to Bonnell, are Elfrid Payton, Zack LaVine, and Shabazz Napier. In the frontcourt, possibilities would be Aaron Gordon, Adreian Payne, or Jusuf Nurkic.
  • The Bulls first round draft choices have been a series of hits and misses, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. In the article he looks back at the 10 first rounds of the John PaxsonGar Forman era.
  • The Bulls are offering players with non-guaranteed contracts in most of their trade talks, writes Johnson in a separate article. Johnson mentions Mike James, Ronnie Brewer and Louis Amundson as the players the team has been trying to include. If some or all of them were needed to acquire Arron Afflalo, this could limit the Bulls’ preferred scenario of acquiring Carmelo Anthony via sign-and-trade discussions with the Knicks, notes Johnson.

And-Ones: Buford, Popovich, Chandler

Spurs GM R.C. Buford is “incredibly happy” in San Antonio and has no intention of leaving even as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili near retirement age, as Buford tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe (audio link; transcription via Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News). McCarney, in the intro to his transcription, notes that Gregg Popovich has backed away from his assertion a year ago that he’ll retire when Duncan does, referring to Popovich’s remark as merely a joke.

Here are more of tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes:

  • On the idea that the Knicks might be focusing on the summer 2015 rather than be competitive next season, Tyson Chandler hopes that it isn’t the case: “I definitely don’t want to waste another season….I’m not into wasting seasons. Your time is too short in this league and I want to win a championship, another one” (Marc Berman of the New York Post reports). Berman adds that with his expiring contract and ability to still play at a high level, Chandler could be Phil Jackson‘s number one trading chip this summer. 
  • It appears that soon-to-be restricted free agent Gordon Hayward would like to stay with the Jazz, but he acknowledges that nothing’s certain at this point, notes Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune.
  • Currently without a contract after July, Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin isn’t ready to field questions about his impending future just yet, writes Falk in a separate piece. Corbin elaborated: “I don’t know if that’s a good question to ask right nowI have a lot of evaluating to do that I want to do for myself and figure out what’s my next step.” 
  • The Rockets have recalled Robert Covington and Isaiah Canaan from the D-League, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • Melvin Ely‘s contract with the Pelicans runs through next season with non-guaranteed salary, reports Mark Deeks of ShamSports, writing for the Score. The ninth-year veteran’s minimum salary he’d get makes him a trade chip in the same manner that Scotty Hopson is for the Cavs, but Ely comes much more cheaply, as Deeks points out.
  • Deeks also reports that the Bulls’ deal with Louis Amundsonlike teammates Ronnie Brewer and Mike James, covers next season with non-guaranteed salary.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post. 

Central Rumors: Brewer, James, Cavs, Sanders

The Bulls have made four roster moves in the past week, waiving Erik Murphy and signing Ronnie Brewer, Mike James and Louis Amundson. Still, more meaningful changes seem likely to come from elsewhere in the Central Division, where the Pistons and Cavaliers will probably be searching for new top basketball executives in the weeks ahead. Here’s the latest from around the Central:

  • Chicago’s contracts for Brewer and James extend through next season with non-guaranteed salary, reports K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Johnson suggests the Bulls structured those deals with offseason trades in mind, though it’s worth noting that neither is eligible to be traded until after the July Moratorium.
  • Cavs interim GM David Griffin believes in the backcourt pairing of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiterstweets Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, who thinks it’s unlikely that either will be traded if Griffin is formally named GM.
  • It was clear that the Bucks had no intention of bringing Larry Sanders back to play this season, writes SB Nation’s Tom Ziller. So, the revelation that the team and the NBA deemed him medically ready, allowing him to begin serving his suspension this year instead of next, shines a light on the league’s tanking problem, Ziller opines.

Bulls Sign Mike James

THURSDAY, 11:59am: The signing is official, the team announced.

WEDNESDAY, 7:56pm: The Bulls will sign veteran point guard Mike James tomorrow, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The deal will cover the remainder of the season, making James eligible for Chicago’s postseason run. James, a favorite of coach Tom Thibodeau, was expected to sign with the Bulls once Chicago was freed of Erik Murphy‘s salary thanks to a waiver claim of Murphy by the Jazz.

James has played exclusively for the Bulls this season, having his non-guaranteed deal waived early on and, until now, not getting an opportunity to re-sign after a 10-day deal expired in January. James joins recent signings Jimmer Fredette and Ronnie Brewer to bring Chicago’s roster up to 14 players, one short of the league maximum. The Bulls could still add another player now that the team is more comfortably below the tax line for the year.

In his time with the Bulls this season, the Lee Basketball Services client has averaged 1.0 points and 1.5 assists in 7.0 minutes per game. For his career, the 38-year-old averages 9.9 points and 3.5 assists per contest.