Shaquille O'Neal

Southeast Notes: Wizards’ Bench, Hawks’ FO, Winslow

The Wizards fell just shy of the Celtics in their Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown and now must look at ways to improve if they hope to take the next step as a potential contender. One place they can start, point guard John Wall tells Chris Miller of CSN Mid-Atlantic, is with their bench.

I think we have to add pieces to help our bench,” the Wizards All-Star said. “Just to be honest I think that’s been our downfall.

While Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 27.2 and 24.8 respective points per game this postseason, mid-season trade acquisition Bojan Bogdanovic was their most potent reserve averaging a modest 8.8 points per game.

Brandon Jennings, another mid-season Wizards target charged with the task of jump-starting the second unit, posted averages of just 2.8 points and 1.8 assists per game in the playoffs.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks have interviewed Wizards VP of basketball operations, Tommy Sheppard and Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk in their ongoing search for a new executive, Marc Stein of ESPN writes.
  • A recent profile from the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman features Heat assistant general manager Adam Simon‘s and his background scouting internationally.
  • The Celtics may have offered a first-round pick to the Heat in exchange for Justise Winslow back on draft night in 2015 but it wasn’t the Nets pick, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel clarifies.
  • A column by George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel draws comparisons between Lonzo Ball and Shaquille O’Neal, citing the overbearing presence of their respective father figures.
  • The Magic have several options that could realistically be available to them at the No. 6 pick, including De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel breaks them down.

And-Ones: Davis, Pacers, Clippers, Warriors

Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis has been medically cleared to play, according to the team’s official website in news that was passed along by ESPN.com’s Justin Verrier. Davis participated in his first scrimmage on Wednesday and GM Dell Demps said at a season-ticket holder event that Davis is expected to start the season without any restrictions, Verrier adds. Davis’ 2015/16 season ended prematurely because of a left knee injury. He underwent an ultrasonic debridement and received an injection of his own bone marrow March 25.

In other news around the league:

  • Nick Zeisloft’s training camp deal with the Pacers includes a $25K guarantee, league sources told Scott Agness of VigilantSports.com. Zeisloft’s one-year, rookie minimum contract allows the Pacers to retain his rights for D-League purposes, Agness adds. The signing of the 6’4” shooting guard was somewhat surprising, considering he only averaged 6.5 points with the Indiana Hoosiers last season and wasn’t on the Pacers’ summer league teams.
  • The Clippers have hired Monte Mathis as a scout under new GM Lawrence Frank, sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein (Twitter link). Mathis was previously an assistant coach with the Mavericks and Magic.
  • Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t see the Lakers becoming playoff contenders any time soon, he told Bill Oram of the Orange County Register and other reporters during Hall of Fame weekend. “I mean, they’ve still got to go up against Golden State in the West, they’ve got to go up against OKC, still got to go up against Cleveland, the Rockets. So they have a long way to go to be a contender,” O’Neal said. “Every now and then they’ll make some noise and get the people in the Staples Center excited.”
  • Warriors rookie center Damian Jones is showing progress from a pectoral injury but is unlikely to be healthy enough to participate at the start of training camp, Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News tweets. Jones, who suffered the injury in June, has begun to lift weights, Slater adds. The 7-footer was the 30th overall pick in the draft.

Heat Notes: Arison, Bosh, Shaq, Reed

Don’t read too much into Heat owner Micky Arison’s “look forward to seeing in camp” tweet to Chris Bosh, cautions Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Bosh was expected in camp regardless of his immediate playing status, and he still must pass a team physical before being cleared for any action. Bosh’s health and future with the Heat remain uncertain after missing the end of the past two seasons with blood clots, and Winderman suggests that Miami has few options with the veteran power forward and his hefty contract unless there is “an overwhelming consensus” that his NBA career is over.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Bosh may have looked impressive in his on-line workouts, but the Heat need to see him in a contact situation before making a decision on his ability to play with or without medication, Winderman writes in a separate story. That’s why it would be helpful to the team if he is cleared to participate in training camp.
  • Heat president Pat Riley calls the trade that brought Shaquille O’Neal to Miami in 2004 the most important move in franchise history, Winderman relays in another piece. O’Neal, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame tonight, came to Miami in 2004 in exchange for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and two draft picks. He led the Heat to the 2006 title before being traded to Phoenix two years later. “I’ll say this, and I mean this,” Riley said. “Shaq’s acquisition was bigger than any acquisition that we ever made, including the Big Three.”
  • After appearing in just 39 games with the Nets during his rookie season, Willie Reed hopes he has found the right situation in Miami, according to Joe Beguiristain of NBA.com. The 6’10” power forward signed with the Heat in July, accepting a two-year minimum-salary deal with a player option for the second season. Beguiristain notes that Reed often produced when given an opportunity, and scored 14 points to go with eight rebounds and four blocks in a March 5th game against Minnesota.

Pacific Rumors: Bryant, Kings, Rivers

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant addressed their previous feuds as Lakers teammates and made it clear they now have an amicable relationship during a podcast hosted by O’Neal and his co-host John Kincade, with the transcript posted on the team’s website. O’Neal declared that his disagreements with Bryant gave both of them motivation to play their best. “I just want to clear the air and let everyone know that: No, I don’t hate you,” O’Neal said. “We had a lot of disagreements. We had a lot of arguments. But I think it fueled us.” Bryant reflected that his issues with O’Neal made him understand how to handle future problems with teammates. “To me, the most important thing was really to just keep your mouth shut. You don’t need to go to the press with stuff,” he said. “You keep it internal. We have our arguments and our disagreements, but I think having our debates within the press was something I wish would have been avoided. … But I enjoyed playing with him. I had a great, great, great time playing with him, and I appreciate it to this day.”

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers will “probably” sign one to three more players before training camp, a league source told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. That will apparently include Marcelo Huertas, who agreed to a one-year deal with the club on Monday. Metta World Peace has also discussed a contract with the team, Medina adds.
  • Vlade Divac has been named Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager of the Kings amid a number of front office personnel moves announced by the club via the team’s website. Divac had been hired in March as the club’s VP of Basketball and Franchise Operations. Mike Bratz has been named Assistant GM, Roland Beech was hired as VP of Basketball Strategy and Data Science and former Kings player Peja Stojakovic was announced as Director of Player Personnel and Development.
  • Austin Rivers has signed with ASM Sports, according to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal (Twitter link). Andy Miller and Andrew Vye will represent the Clippers guard. Earlier in the day, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported that Clippers teammate DeAndre Jordan had dropped Relativity Sports agents Dan Fegan and Jarinn Akana as his representatives.

Atlantic Notes: Larkin, Celtics, Blake

Shane Larkin, who recently inked a two-year, $3MM deal with the Nets, believes his career was stalled by the Knicks‘ triangle offense during the 2014/15 season, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes. “[The triangle] just wasn’t the best fit for me,” Larkin said. “It’s a good system but I’m a pick-and-roll point guard. That’s how I got in the NBA, playing pick-and-roll in college. That’s how I got here and now being back in a system where I can play the pick-and-roll and just getting in the lane, create for others, shoot my floater, and do a bunch of other things.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets still haven’t made a decision regarding whether the team will attempt to negotiate a buyout with point guard Steve Blake or keep him on the roster, Bondy adds. “I know we have a lot of guys at the point guard position. That’ll be resolved hopefully in the next month, eliminate, so hopefully we won’t have as many going to camp,” GM Billy King said.
  • The Knicks signed Derrick Williams for less than initially thought, as he’ll get $8.8MM over two years, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • Thaddeus Young has a 15% trade kicker in his deal with the Nets, Pincus relays (on Twitter).
  • DeMarre Carroll‘s four-year deal with the Raptors comes to $58MM total, notes Pincus (Twitter link).
  • The Celtics have officially renounced their rights to Shaquille O’Neal, Stephon Marbury, Michael Olowokandi, Michael Finley, Carlos Arroyo, Nenad Krstic, P.J. Brown, and Scot Pollard, which in turn removes their cap holds, Pincus notes (Twitter links). These moves drop Boston below the salary cap line for the first time in nearly 20 years, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com writes. Boston also loses any form of Bird Rights to these players, though that is a mere formality since it is highly unlikely any of them would be suiting up for the team in the future.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Trade Retrospective: Shaq To The Heat

With the impending blockbuster deal that will send Kevin Love to the Cavaliers less than a day away, I’ve been taking a look back at past trades involving superstar players. It’s always interesting to see how these deals have worked out over the years for all of the franchises that were involved.

So far I’ve examined the trades that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers; Deron Williams to the Nets; Kevin Garnett to the Celtics; and Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. Next up on the agenda is a look back at the July 14, 2004 trade that saw Shaquille O’Neal head from the Lakers to the Heat.

Let’s first recap the players and assets involved:

  1. The Heat received O’Neal.
  2. The Lakers received Caron Butler; Lamar Odom; Brian Grant; and a 2006 first-rounder (Jordan Farmar).

Shaq’s last few seasons in purple-and-gold were tumultuous to say the least. His relationship with the franchise became contentious over his perception that the front office was catering to the whims of Kobe Bryant; his displeasure at being called out publicly over his lack of conditioning by the front office and coaching staff; and his contract squabbles, which Bryant slammed O’Neal over, implying that Shaq was putting himself before the good of the team.

2004 was an offseason of big changes for the Lakers franchise as a whole. Phil Jackson had stepped down as coach of the team, Bryant was a free agent, and was courted heavily by the Clippers, and the roster was in a state of flux. This was after the franchise had gone 56-26, and lost to the Pistons in the NBA Finals.

O’Neal wanted a contract extension, despite having a year left on his current deal, being scheduled to make $29.5MM in 2004/05, a raise from his 2003/04 salary of $26.57MM. O’Neal was the highest paid player in the league at the time, and for comparison, the second highest paid player was Dikembe Mutombo, who earned $19.68MM in 2004/05.

The day after the season ended, O’Neal demanded a trade. “The team wasn’t going in the right direction, and it wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of, so I asked to be traded,” O’Neal said at the time. After the trade, Shaq would end up signing a five-year, $100MM extension with the Heat in 2005. O’Neal was still the highest paid player that year, with Chris Webber coming in a close second, earning $19.12MM in 2005/06. Shaq would later be overtaken for the top spot in 2006/07 by Kevin Garnett, who was paid $21MM that season, compared to Shaq’s $20MM.

The Heat had a record of 42-40 the season prior to O’Neal’s arrival, and reached the second round of the playoffs where they lost to the Pacers in six games. They improved to 59-23 in Shaq’s first season, losing to the Pistons in the Conference Finals. In his second season, they went 52-30, capturing the franchise’s first NBA title by defeating Dallas in six games.

Lets look at O’Neal’s numbers during his time with the Heat:

  1. 2004/05: 22.9 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 2.3 BPG. His slash line was .601/.000/.461.
  2. 2005/06: 20.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 1.8 BPG. His slash line was .600/.000/.469.
  3. 2006/07: 17.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. His slash line was .591/.000/.422.
  4. 2007/08: 14.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. His slash line was .581/.000/.494.

From Miami’s perspective the trade paid off handsomely the first two seasons, as O’Neal performed rather well, despite not being the same dominant player that he was during his time in Los Angeles. But injuries and conditioning problems eventually took their toll. In 2006/07, O’Neal missed 35 games with a knee injury, and wasn’t quite the same when he returned, and the team only won 44 games, losing to the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

The next season saw career lows from O’Neal in virtually every statistical category, and he missed time with various injuries. His coach at the time, Pat Riley, even went as far as to accuse O’Neal of faking some of the injuries to take time off. This was one factor that contributed to his relationship with Riley fracturing, and was the main reason the team decided to trade O’Neal midway through the 2007/08 season.

In February of 2008, O’Neal was dealt to the Suns for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Shaq would see an upswing in his performance during his first full season in Phoenix, averaging 17.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG, while appearing in 75 contests, his most since the 1999/00 campaign. This was Shaq’s last productive season in the league, and his one-year stints in Cleveland and Boston after that were unremarkable.

During Shaq’s eight seasons in Los Angeles, the franchise averaged 54 wins and captured three championships. O’Neal averaged 24.3 PPG and 11.8 RPG during this stretch. The Lakers took an immediate hit after Shaq’s departure, going 34-48 and missing the playoffs during the 2004/05 season.

Caron Butler only spent one season in purple-and-gold, averaging 15.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 1.9 APG. He would then be dealt along with Chucky Atkins to the Wizards for Kwame Brown and Laron Profit.

Brown spent three seasons with the Lakers, and his numbers were:

  1. 2005/06: 7.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.0 APG. His slash line was .526/.000/.545.
  2. 2006/07: 8.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 1.8 APG. His slash line was .591/.000/.440.
  3. 2007/08: 5.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 0.8 APG. His slash line was .515/.000/.406.

The Lakers would trade Brown, along with Javaris Crittenton; Aaron McKie; the rights to Marc Gasol, and the Lakers’ 2008 (Donte Greene) and 2010 (Greivis Vasquez) first-rounders, for Pau Gasol and the Grizzlies’ 2010 second round pick (Devin Ebanks).

Brian Grant spent one season with the Lakers, appearing in 69 games, and averaging 3.8 PPG and 3.7 RPG. He was released after the season, then signed as a free agent with the Suns, but he only appeared in 21 games during the 2005/06 campaign, averaging a career low 2.9 PPG. This was Grant’s last year in the NBA.

Jordan Farmar was selected with the No. 26 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, and spent four seasons with the Lakers. His numbers during that stretch were:

  1. 2006/07: 4.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG, and 1.9 APG. His slash line was .422/.328/.711.
  2. 2007/08: 9.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 2.7 APG. His slash line was .461/.371/.679.
  3. 2008/09: 6.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 2.4 APG. His slash line was .391/.336/.584.
  4. 2009/10: 7.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG. His slash line was .435/.376/.671.

Farmar left after the 2009/10 season to sign a three-year, $12MM contract with the Nets. His numbers improved in New Jersey, where he averaged 10.0 PPG in his two seasons there, before being included in the deal with the Hawks that sent Joe Johnson to the Nets in 2012.

Lamar Odom was the most important and productive piece the Lakers received in the trade, and he was a valuable part of their Championship teams in 2009 and 2010. His numbers with the Lakers were:

  1. 2004/05: 15.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 3.7 APG. His slash line was .473/.308/.695.
  2. 2005/06: 14.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 5.5 APG. His slash line was .481/.372/.690.
  3. 2006/07: 15.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 4.8 APG. His slash line was .468/.297/.700.
  4. 2007/08: 14.2 PPG, 10.6 RPG, and 3.5 APG. His slash line was .525/.274/.698.
  5. 2008/09: 11.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 2.6 APG. His slash line was .492/.320/.623.
  6. 2009/10: 10.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 3.3 APG. His slash line was .463/.319/.693.
  7. 2010/11: 14.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 3.0 APG. His slash line was .530/.382/.675.

While Odom didn’t measure up to O’Neal’s production during his prime, he was certainly an effective player for the Lakers, and his versatility was a big part of Los Angeles’ success during his years with the team. It’s sometimes easy to forget just how talented a player he was in light of how far he’s fallen in the past few years, mainly due to his off the court issues and reported drug problems.

Odom’s time with the Lakers came to an end in 2011. He was originally a part of the trade with the Pelicans that would have sent Chris Paul to Los Angeles, but the league vetoed the trade. This was when the New Orleans ownership situation was in a state of flux, and the NBA was in charge of the franchise. Many team owners spoke up against the deal, but the league office said the trade was turned down for purely basketball reasons.

After the details of the proposed trade were made public, Odom stated that he felt disrespected, and demanded a trade to a contending team. One week later his wish was granted, and he was shipped to the Mavericks along with a 2012 second-rounder (Darius Johnson-Odom), which was later sold back to the Lakers, for an $8.9MM trade exception, along with a 2012 (top-20 protected) first-rounder. The first round pick was later sent to the Rockets in the deal that netted the Lakers Jordan Hill. The pick was then sent to the Thunder in the James Harden trade, who in turn used it to select Mitch McGary with the No. 21 selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.

The O’Neal trade was one that worked out in the end for both sides. The Heat reaped the immediate benefits, winning the title in his second season with the team. Most franchises would gladly make a deal that netted them a banner to hang in their arena’s rafters. But Shaq’s tenure didn’t end well in Miami, due to injuries and clashes with the coaching staff, which somewhat lessens the Heat’s end of the trade despite their having obtained the best player in the deal.

The Lakers’ situation was different than the one that the Wolves now find themselves in with Love. Shaq was openly disruptive his last season and a half in Los Angeles, and he publicly demanded a trade. Retaining him could have caused Bryant to sign elsewhere as a free agent, which would have been disastrous, especially if he went to the Clippers.

Love has been a good soldier throughout all of the losing seasons in Minnesota, but the franchise still has no choice but to deal their star, lest they lose him for nothing next summer. It’s not an ideal situation, but the Timberwolves’ return for Love could turn out to be rather decent if Andrew Wiggins develops into the superstar many scouts project him to be.

Los Angeles didn’t net a player of Wiggins’ potential in their trade with Miami, but Odom was a vital piece of the puzzle during his time with the Lakers. It’s doubtful that the Wolves will contend for a championship in the next few seasons, though the Cavs hope to repeat what the Heat did after the Shaq trade and vie for the title in the coming years. It’s never an easy decision to trade away a star player, but some franchises have no other choice. Time will tell who wins the Love-Wiggins swap.

Kings Links: Shaq, Cousins, Ranadive

There was plenty of news coming out of Sacramento yesterday, as it was reported that Shaquille O'Neal had bought a stake in the Kings and would join the franchise's ownership group. Additionally, fourth-year big man DeMarcus Cousins appears to be closing in on a long-term extension with the club, and there's a chance something could be done in time for camp. Today's Kings links deal primarily with the fallout from those two stories, so let's dive in….

  • Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro confirmed today that extension talks with Cousins are progressing, but didn't offer any specific details or a timeline for the deal, tweets Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.
  • The Kings held a presser today to introduce O'Neal as a minority shareholder, and Shaq suggested that when he looks at Cousins, he sees "a young Shaquille O'Neal" (Twitter link). We heard yesterday that the former Laker hopes to "teach [Cousins] a few things to add to his game."
  • Shaq's share of the Kings will amount to between 2-4%, according to Mike Ozanian of Forbes.com.
  • Tom Ziller of SBNation.com weighs in with five thoughts on the seemingly inevitable Cousins extension, discussing, among other things, Vivek Ranadive's role in negotiations and whether the Kings would be better off waiting until next summer.
  • As Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee writes, O'Neal will continue as a TNT analyst, but plans to spend a "significant" amount of time in Sacramento.

Read more

Shaquille O’Neal Buys Stake In Kings

Over a decade ago, when Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the Lakers won three consecutive championships, the team eliminated the Kings from the playoffs during each of its title runs. Now, putting a spin on an old cliche, after beating them, O'Neal is joining them. Sam Amick of USA Today reports that Shaq has bought a stake in the Kings, becoming a minority owner of the Sacramento franchise.

O'Neal joins a new ownership group in Sacramento that includes Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov, among others. Mastrov and O'Neal have a long-standing friendship, according to Amick, that dates back to when Shaq frequented Mastrov's 24-Hour Fitness gyms during his playing days in Los Angeles. Mastrov introduced O'Neal to Ranadive, who had been seeking a buzzworthy addition to the team's ownership group.

"I wanted to find somebody to add to the ownership group who truly represented 21st century basketball," Ranadive said. "[Someone] who represented my vision of NBA 3.0, which is having an understanding of technology, wanting to build a global brand and being global in their thinking, and really being committed to having an impact in the community."

For his part, Shaq is interested in turning the franchise he once dubbed "the Queens" from a perennial lottery team into a club that players are "knocking on the door" to join.

"Hopefully Vivek, with Mr. Mastrov and myself and the team and organization can get it back to where it used to be," O'Neal said. "I'm telling you these new plans, oh my. You're going to be like, 'Sacramento is doing what?' That's what we want people to say."

Amick suggests that O'Neal intends to be actively involved with the Kings, starting today. Shaq is set to meet with players and coaches in Sacramento today before having dinner with "new protege" DeMarcus Cousins, according to the USA Today scribe. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee adds (via Twitter) that the Kings will introduce the former Laker as a member of the ownership group tomorrow.

Post Dwightmare Reactions: Shaq, Lakers, Howard

Dwight Howard's decision to spurn the extra $30MM the Lakers could offer in order to join the Rockets has led to some revelations around the rest of the league. With Dwight as the big free agency coup of the summer, he's turned into the first domino as other teams have made moves in the wake of his announcment. 

But the fall-out from Dwight's decision is just starting to expand in scope, and there have been reactions all over. Perhaps most notably, are the words from another former Lakers and Magic star, Shaquille O'Neal.

O'Neal has been critical of Dwight Howard in the past, but he was a bit more condescending when he called Dwight's decision the "safe move," while speaking to assembled media Saturday. But O'Neal's reaction to Dwight's decision wasn't the only fall-out from D-12's move to Texas. Here are more Dwight Howard links now that he's finally made up his mind on where he's going next year:

  • A year ago, Howard's camp warned the Rockets that he wouldn't re-sign with Houston if he were traded there. This summer, other Howard suitors tried to convince the big man that James Harden is a selfish teammate. Still, the Rockets persevered, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
  • Former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy thinks Orlando got the better end of the deal when they dealt Howard in the blockbuster trade involving the Sixers, Nuggets and Lakers this past fall. Van Gundy spoke with Fox Sports Florida's Chris Tomasson about how the Magic ended up on top after the initial response had them losing the deal badly.
  • There's video of Shaq talking about Howard and the decision, via NBA.com
  • ESPN.com columnist J.A. Adande writes about the flummoxing decision by Dwight to leave the Lakers and the extra money, especially when considering his stated motivation to win now.
  • The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen sat down with the best Rockets center since Hakeem Olajuwon to get Howard's side of the story about what brought him to Houston.
  • Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News offers a sobering insight for Lakers fans after Howard's decision: Kobe Bryant might have lost his last chance at title number six.
  • Finally, we have Mike Bresnahan at the Los Angeles Times on the sketchy Lakers future after Dwight's decision to leave. Their first decision appears to have been not to amnesty Pau Gasol before the last season of his contract.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Odds & Ends: Clippers, Collins, Shaw, Karl

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports that Lionel Hollins met with the Clippers today and engaged in a lengthy conversation about their head coaching job. Turner also relays that Brian Shaw is expected to interview with team brass on either Monday or Tuesday next week (Twitter links). As for George Karl, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles tweets that while the Clippers haven't spoken to him directly, they have been in contact with his representative. Both ESPN's Marc Stein and Shelburne report that Karl and Shaw have emerged as the team's top two candidates for the job. 

As we gear up for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, here are a few miscellaneous notes to share from around the league tonight:

  • As far as his next contract goes, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki says that it'll probably be a two- or three-year deal (Jon Machota of SportsDayDFW). 
  • Sam Amick of USA Today hears that the Grizzlies reached out to Karl almost immediately after he was let go in Denver today. The Nuggets had to grant permission to Memphis in order to reach out to Karl because the severance agreement hasn't been finalized and the 62-year-old coach is still under contract.
  • Amick notes that the Grizzlies had their sights set on assistant Dave Joerger as their top candidate to replace Hollins, but made that option contingent on whether or not Karl would become available. 
  • Sportando.net's Emiliano Carchia tweets that former NBA player Andres Nocioni is in talks regarding a contract extension with Baskonia, a Spanish ballclub that participates in the ACB and Euroleague. 
  • Flip Saunders confirmed on KFAN radio in Minnesota that the Timberwolves currently have Victor Oladipo ahead of Ben McLemore on their draft board, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. 
  • ESPN Insider Chad Ford says that many teams are bummed that Dario Saric is considering withdrawing his name from this year's draft, adding that several NBA executives had him ranked in their top five or top seven prospects. He also mentions that there are other teams who had no intention of drafting Saric that aren't thrilled with the news either, considering the notion that the draft gets weaker when talent leaves. Interestingly enough, Ford says he wouldn't be surprised if some NBA teams that are currently in Italy for the Eurocamp will try to travel to Croatia in order to make an attempt to persuade Saric to keep his name in consideration this year (All Twitter links). 
  • Ricky Ledo's agent, Seth Cohen, tells SNY.tv's Adam Zagoria that his client will not work out for the Thunder (Twitter link).
  • For whatever it's worth, Shaquille O'Neal said that he and Chris Webber would like to own the Kings (Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram noted the comment via Twitter).