Rudy Gay

Texas Notes: Gay, Paul, Harden, Withey

Rudy Gay was back on the court for the first time since January in Friday’s preseason game against the Kings, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio’s top free agent addition of the summer managed just four points in 18 minutes, but was happy that he felt no effects from the left Achilles tendon tear that ended his time with the Kings. “I’ve practiced pretty hard, just knowing I can get up there still, jump and be athletic,” Gay said. “It takes a lot of pressure off me.”

Gay got the start at small forward Friday and may continue in that role as long as Kawhi Leonard is sidelined with a right quadriceps issue. Gay has been a starter throughout his 11-year NBA career, but is expected to step into a reserve role once the team is at full strength.

There’s more today out of Texas:

  • The Spurs‘ latest rookie project comes to the team with a desire to be a great defender, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Brandon Paul went undrafted out of Illinois in 2013 and has spent most of his career in Europe. The 26-year-old shooting guard signed a two-year deal with the Spurs in July with a one-season guarantee of $815,615. “Anybody can put the ball in the basket,” Paul said. “But in order to stick out, you’ve got to be able to play both ends of the floor.”
  • Rockets star James Harden is engaged in a verbal battle with former coach Kevin McHale through the media. After McHale said on NBA TV this week that Harden is “not a leader,” the MVP runner-up responded today by calling McHale a “clown,” relays Tim MacMahon of ESPN“I did anything and everything he asked me to do,” Harden said. “I’ve tried to lead this team every day since I stepped foot here in Houston. To go on air and just downplay my name, when honestly he’s never taught me anything to be a leader … but I’ve done a great job. The organization, my coaches, you can ask any of those guys how I’ve worked extremely hard every single day to better [myself], obviously as a basketball player, but be a leader as well.”
  • Mavericks center Jeff Withey has worked on his 3-point shooting to try to fit into coach Rick Carlisle’s system, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Withey signed a two-year contract worth nearly $3.4MM this summer, but only $350K of that is guaranteed. “We like his length, shot-blocking ability,” Carlisle said. “[Owner] Mark [Cuban] was really a key guy on this. He’d been studying him for a while. And he’s shown that he can knock in some perimeter shots from time to time.”

Spurs Notes: Leonard, Popvich, Gay, Lauvergne

The right quadriceps injury that might keep Kawhi Leonard sidelined through the preseason is a carryover from last season, writes Melissa Rohlin of The San Antonio Express-News. The Spurs issued a press release today explaining that Leonard is in a rehab program for quadriceps tendinopathy, with coach Gregg Popovich noting that the All-Star forward’s recovery has gone slower than anticipated. He added that it is not related to the ankle injury Leonard suffered in the playoffs.

Although the team isn’t sure when Leonard might be ready, Popovich offered hope that he might be back before the regular season starts. “They are still rehabbing his thigh,” the coach said. “He will probably miss the beginning of preseason or a good deal of preseason. We are not going to put a timetable on it. But he is working on it, and we will get him back as soon as we can.”

There’s more tonight from San Antonio:

  • Popovich, who was one of the pioneers in resting healthy players, supports the NBA Board of Governors’ move to allow commissioner Adam Silver to fine teams who take similar action, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Teams can be docked up to $100K if they hold players out of nationally televised games. “The NBA is trying to make the game great for players, for fans and they’ve been very fair,” Popovich said. “Owners, coaches, general managers, the league have all been great about sharing information and trying to figure out ways to take care of the players and, at the same time, make sure it’s a great experience for everybody. So we are all on the same page.”
  • Free agent addition Rudy Gay was among the most impressive players in this week’s scrimmage, Orsborn writes in a separate piece. Gay delighted the coaching staff with his ability to take the ball strong to the basket after having surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon in January. “He has surprised all of us by being ready so quickly, so that’s great,” Popovich said. “He will have to get a little bit of rust off. But you can tell this guy is a basketball player. At both ends of the floor, he’s got a great basketball mind.”
  • The Spurs have also been impressed by Joffrey Lauvergne, who signed a two-year deal in July, Osborn adds in the same story. The French center, who spent time with the Thunder and Bulls last season, is expected to be a primary backup to Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge“His offensive awareness has been really good as far as choosing when to try to score, when to kick the ball, play with his teammates on defense,” Popovich said. “Rebounding-wise, he’s very willing. He’s got a good aggressiveness to him.”

Southwest Notes: Gay, Smith, Mavericks, Pelicans, Grizzlies

Rudy Gay‘s season in Sacramento ended abruptly last season due to a torn left Achilles tendon. After declining his $14.2MM option for 2017/18, Gay signed a two-year pact with the Spurs looking to reestablish himself. Early indicators for the 31-year-old are positive, Tom Osborn of San Antonio-Express News writes.

“I think he’s going to be great,” guard Danny Green said to Osborn. “He’s going to give us that versatility of playing four smalls (because) he can play inside and out and guard bigs. Once he gets into shape and gets comfortable with that Achilles, I think he’ll be great for us.”

Gay has a career average of 18.4 PPG in 11 NBA seasons. If he can regain his pre-injury form for the Spurs, San Antonio will have another productive scorer in their lineup. A scorer that Green compared to Kevin Durant due to his ability to quickly shoot the ball.

Below are additional news tidbits around the Southwest Division:

Texas Notes: Nowitzki, Gay, D’Antoni

Fans are paying an average of $1,300 per ticket for the Mavericks‘ season finale in hopes of seeing Dirk Nowitzki‘s final game, but Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News warns that Nowitzki’s retirement isn’t a sure thing. The German star hasn’t made a decision about playing beyond this season and says health may be the main factor. A right Achilles problem early last season limited Nowitzki to 54 games and doomed the Mavericks to a 3-17 start.

“If I miss another 30 to 40 games in a row, then obviously, it’s not meant to be,” said Nowitzki, who is preparing for his 20th NBA season. “But if I can stay sort of healthy like I did at the end of the season, when I thought I moved OK and had some good games, then maybe we’ll do two more [seasons]. But we’ll see how it goes.”

There’s more news tonight out of Texas:

  • Assuming he spends the entire year in Dallas, Nowitzki will join Kobe Bryant as the only players with 20 years of service to the same organization. During an appearance this week on Sirius XM radio, Nowitzki lamented the league’s move away from franchise cornerstones (h/t to Michael Singer of USA Today). “The new NBA is a little different,” he said. “It’s about making money, it’s about winning and not as much about being loyal anymore.” Nowitzki displayed his loyalty this summer by re-signing for $10MM over two years after opting out of a $25MM salary.
  • Rudy Gay hasn’t played a game yet for San Antonio, but he already calls himself “a Spur for life,” relays Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. Gay agreed to a two-year, $17MM contract this summer that contains an $8.8MM player option for next season, but he sounds fully committed to San Antonio. “I think it was a do-or-die point in my career,” said Gay, who is coming off an Achilles injury that ended his season in January. “I wanted to be with an organization that was known for winning and can help me raise my game to the next level.”
  • Rockets mentor Mike D’Antoni accepted his Coach of the Year award Friday from the National Basketball Coaches Association, writes Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. D’Antoni was a co-winner along with Miami’s Erik Spoelstra after guiding Houston to a 55-27 record and the third seed in the Western Conference. “The tie was legitimate and there were five or six others who received significant votes,” said NBCA president Rick Carlisle of the Mavericks. “So it really spoke to the quality job that everybody did from top to bottom.”

Southwest Notes: Miller, Gay, Morey

With a vacancy in their starting lineup, the Pelicans could look to trot out Darius Miller in their first five, Will Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes. Miller was acquired after seasoning his game abroad over the last two seasons.

Miller may be a better bet to replace Solomon Hill than Tony Allen because of the spacing issues that will present themselves with Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday in the backcourt together.

Of course free agent Dante Cunningham could potentially take that spot if he is eventually signed but Guillory notes that there’s no indication that will happen before training camp begins next week.

There’s more from the Southwest:

  • After tearing his Achilles last season, Rudy Gay is betting on himself to salvage his career with the Spurs. The forward signed for $17M over two seasons but could opt out of his 2018/19 commitment to pursue a more lucrative offer if he earns one after this year, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News writes.
  • The NBA is more about money and winning than it is about loyalty, Dirk Nowitzki says. Dane Carbaugh of NBC Sports recently parsed through comments that the 19-year Mavs veteran made this week.
  • Rockets general manager Daryl Morey may be the NBA’s most outspoken executive, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports writes. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Morey is fined far more often than is reported, not necessarily surprising considering how quick he is to issue provocative statements through the press.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Gay, Clark, Harden

The Shreveport City Council voted on Tuesday against moving forward with the plan to invest $30MM into building an arena capable of housing a G League franchise for the Pelicans, according to William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. As we heard last month, Shreveport and Pensacola, Florida are considered the two finalists for the Pelicans’ G League affiliate.

A new facility in Shreveport would likely have made the Louisiana the strong favorite to become the home of the Pelicans’ G League squad, which is expected to begin play in 2018/19. However, even with the city reluctant to commit financially to the project, Shreveport remains in the conversation, per Pelicans VP of communications Greg Bensel.

“We are still moving in the process,” Bensel said, per Guillory. “Shreveport is part of our Saints and Pelicans family and we value that market and both teams will continue to promote our community outreach efforts throughout the area.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Less than eight months after tearing his Achilles, Rudy Gay has been cleared for all basketball activities and is ready to begin his first season with the Spurs, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. As McDonald notes, it remains to be seen how long it will take Gay to get back to full strength, but the veteran forward is optimistic. “I’m feeling great,” Gay told reporters on Wednesday. “I know a lot of people say that. I don’t think you’d expect me to say anything else. But I actually feel great.”
  • After winning a title with the Warriors last season, Ian Clark is looking forward to a new challenge – and a potentially larger role – with the Pelicans in 2017/18. Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com has the story on Clark, who explains why he decided to sign a one-year contract with New Orleans this summer.
  • While James Harden was happy to play some pickup ball with Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony this week, he was focused more on meshing with his new teammate CP3 than he was on the rumors that Anthony could become a member of the Rockets as well, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Rudy Gay: Winning Outweighs Bigger Contract

Rudy Gay doesn’t have any regrets opting out of his contract with the Kings and taking less money to play for the Spurs, as he discussed with ESPN’s Michael C. Wright during a Q&A session. Gay could have made $14.26MM next season if he had opted in but instead wound up signing a two-year, $17.2MM deal with San Antonio. The Spurs offered the 31-year-old forward their mid-level exception. He’ll make $8.4MM in the first year and has a player option next summer. Gay met with the Clippers during free agency and the Heat, Thunder, Jazz and Warriors were also reportedly interested in him.”Looking at my career, it’s just time to win,” he told Wright. “That’s what it’s mostly about. I’ve been in this league for a little while now, and I haven’t gotten out of my career what I wanted.”

Other interesting tidbits from the Q&A session:

  • Gay says he’s medically cleared “to do everything” after recovering from a torn Achilles tendon injury that limited him to 30 games last season. He’ll “definitely be ready” to play by training camp.
  • He’s had multiple conversation with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich regarding his role and is eager to prove he’s more than just a scorer. His ability to switch defensively is another aspect of his game that attracted San Antonio. “I’ve been known to get buckets, and I’ve had that stigma of just being a scorer. But I think there’s a lot more to my game. I think I can show that here in San Antonio.”
  • Gay has no qualms about playing for the hard-driving Popovich: “You want to play for somebody that you respect on the court and off the court. That’s a guy you’d want to go to battle for, a guy that’s not afraid to say how he feels on the basketball court or off the basketball court.”

Eastern Rumors: Nets, Hardaway, Hornets, Celtics

Before Rudy Gay signed with the Spurs, the Nets expressed interest in the veteran forward, having viewed him as a contingency plan in the event that the Wizards match their offer sheet for Otto Porter, reports Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

With Gay off the board and Porter likely to be retained by Washington, the Nets will be a “strong contender” for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. That’s no surprise, now that the 24-year-old is unrestricted, but for Caldwell-Pope to be an option for Brooklyn, his camp may have to be patient, since the Nets’ cap room may be tied up for a few days until the Wizards make their decision on Porter official.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Before the Knicks swooped in with a $71MM offer sheet, the Hawks were willing to offer Tim Hardaway Jr. a four-year deal in the $48MM range, league sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. We’ll see if Atlanta is willing to go significantly higher than that to match New York’s offer, or if Hardaway will return to the Knicks.
  • The Hornets are in the market for another big man, GM Rich Cho said today (Twitter link via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer). Charlotte is also evaluating whether to sign a third point guard or keep Briante Weber in that role. Weber has a non-guaranteed contract.
  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri said today that he’s comfortable entering the 2017/18 season as a tax team, but there’s still plenty of time to make moves. He’s waiting for the trade market to open up a little, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050.
  • The plan for the Celtics has always been to have draft-and-stash prospect Guerschon Yabusele on their roster this fall, a league source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), Boston will likely need to waive or trade Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson to retain Yabusele’s cap hold.

Spurs Sign Rudy Gay

7:49pm: The Spurs have officially signed Gay, the team announced in a press release.

7:15pm: The Spurs have reached an agreement with free agent forward Rudy Gay, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Gay’s new deal with San Antonio will be a two-year contract worth $17MM+ and will feature a second-year player option (Twitter link).RudyGay vertical

Since striking a deal to bring back point guard Patty Mills shortly after the new league year got underway, the Spurs have been fairly quiet this week as they waited out the first couple waves of free agency. However, Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that the team “worked hard” to close a deal with Gay over the last 72 hours.

Gay, who will turn 31 in August, averaged 18.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG in 30 games for the Kings this past season before going down with an Achilles injury. Despite the injury, the veteran forward elected to decline a player option for 2017/18 that would have paid him approximately $14.26MM.

Gay will earn less than that for the Spurs this season, as San Antonio will use its mid-level exception to complete the signing. The mid-level for a non-taxpaying team like the Spurs is worth $8.406MM in 2017/18, and Gay’s two-year total will be $17.232MM. Although he’ll take a pay cut, the UConn alum seemed frustrated with the organization in Sacramento, and is likely thrilled to be joining a championship contender in San Antonio.

Despite committing to Gay, the Spurs retain the flexibility to match an offer sheet for Jonathon Simmons, who is still on the restricted free agent market.

As for Gay’s other suitors, the Jazz were said to have interest, as were the Heat and Thunder. However, Utah has been working to land Jae Crowder from the Celtics, while Oklahoma City used its mid-level exception on Patrick Patterson and Miami used its remaining cap room on Kelly Olynyk.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Wolves, Knicks, Waiters, Jazz

The Timberwolves were linked to free agent swingman C.J. Miles earlier today, but weren’t necessarily considered a probable landing spot for Miles due to the team’s lack of cap flexibility. However, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link), who passed along the initial report on Miles, the Pacers are open to the idea of a sign-and-trade which would net them Cole Aldrich‘s contract and OKC’s 2018 first-round pick from Minnesota.

Both teams would have to agree on that sign-and-trade scenario, and of course Miles would also have to be on board, so there may be some snags along the way. But as Wolfson points out, there are ways for the Wolves to get creative if they really want to land Miles or another free agent.

Wolfson has more on the Wolves, tweeting that he has heard the team made an offer to Nick Young. That offer would likely be worth the $4.3MM room exception, and Young turned down a $5.67MM player option with the Lakers last month, so I’d be surprised if Minnesota’s offer is enough to land him, but the club clearly remains on the lookout for shooting help.

Here’s more on free agency:

  • The Knicks continue to stay in touch with free agent guard Dion Waiters, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that Waiters and Rajon Rondo remain on the Lakers‘ radar.
  • With Gordon Hayward and Otto Porter off the board, the Jazz have expressed interest in Rudy Gay, says Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). As Royce Young of ESPN tweets, Patrick Patterson essentially took the deal that Gay was unwilling to with the Thunder, so OKC may be out, leaving the Heat and Jazz as the top contenders for Gay.
  • Having already brought back nearly all of their key free agents, the Warriors are also considered likely to re-sign Zaza Pachulia, according to Sam Amick of USA Today.
  • After a strong showing for the Pistons in Summer League play, Eric Moreland is believed to have received a multiyear contract offer from Detroit, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
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