Slava Kravtsov

Slava Kravtsov To Play In China

Two-year NBA veteran Slava Kravtsov has signed a deal to play with China’s Foshan Long Lions, agent Misko Raznatovic tweets (hat tip to Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi). The terms aren’t unknown, and it’s not clear whether the contract includes an NBA escape clause, but the early end to the Chinese schedule usually allows signees to return stateside toward the end of the NBA season and hunt for a deal at that point.

The 27-year-old center became a free agent shortly after the Suns let him go at the beginning of March to make room for Shavlik Randolph. The 6’11” Kravtsov saw precious little playing time in the NBA, averaging 2.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.3 minutes per game over 45 appearances over two seasons with the Suns and Pistons, who signed him to a two-year, $3MM deal in 2012.

Kravtsov made a strong impression against Team USA in the World Cup, scoring 15 points and grabbing four rebounds in 26 minutes of work for Ukraine in its matchup against America. He averaged 7.4 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 21.4 MPG over five games in the event, but it didn’t appear as though it helped him generate enough NBA interest to bring him back to the league.

Suns Sign Shavlik Randolph, Waive Kravtsov

3:46pm: The contract will cover the remainder of this season with a team option for 2014/15, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. It’s rare for team options to be a part of free agent contracts, so it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a non-guaranteed year rather than an option year.

1:21pm: The Suns have signed Shavlik Randolph, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The team also officially announced the moves. Randolph is a 30-year-old power forward who’s played for four teams NBA teams over the course of his career, most recently for the Celtics in 2012/13, where he averaged 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16 games. The specifics of the contract haven’t been revealed yet.

Randolph had been playing overseas in China, where he put up impressive marks of 22.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per night, albeit in just six appearances. This move should help bolster the Suns frontcourt depth as the team looks to make some noise in the playoffs after missing three straight postseasons.

In order to make room for Randolph, the Suns have waived rarely used center Slava Kravtsov. Throughout 20 contests, Kravtsov played just 59 minutes, and averaged one point per night. Phoenix will be on the hook for the remainder of his $1.5MM salary.

Suns Trade Caron Butler To Bucks

THURSDAY, 3:37pm: The Bucks have officially announced in a press release that their acquisition of Butler is complete. It looks like it'll just be Smith and Kravtsov for Butler, with no draft picks involved.

WEDNESDAY, 11:37pm: Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic hears the Suns will receive point guard Ish Smith, center Viacheslav Kravtsov, and a draft pick (Twitter link). Even though the Bucks acquired Kravtsov on July 31st as part of the Brandon Jennings sign-and-trade, they're exempt from the two-month moratorium on packaging him in a trade with another player, since they're under the cap.

10:45pm: The Bucks and Suns have reached agreement on a trade that will send Caron Butler to Milwaukee, according to HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy (Twitter link). Butler has already been told the trade will indeed happen, a source tells Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who adds that the teams are still working on the details of the deal (Twitter link). Butler is a native of Racine, Wisconsin, which is about 30 miles south of Milwaukee, and it appears the Suns are attempting to do a favor for the 33-year-old, who's heavy on community involvement, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Since the Suns acquired Butler from the Clippers in a three-way swap that became official July 10th, Phoenix can't package Butler with any other players in a trade until September 10th, under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. However, the club can trade the veteran by himself at any time. It's conceivable that the teams could wait a couple of weeks to officially announce the trade if Milwaukee wants anyone else on the Suns roster, but given the timing of the deal and the speed with which it seems to have come together, I think Butler will be the only Sun going to Milwaukee.

The rebuilding Suns are looking for draft picks and short-term contracts, Stein noted. That jibes with the notion that the Bucks are unlikely to give up any of their key players in the swap, as Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times wrote when he first reported that the teams were in trade talks. I speculated earlier this evening that a big man would likely be headed to Phoenix, since the Bucks have eight of them on their roster. Milwaukee is about $7.5MM below the cap, but Butler's set to make an even $8MM in the last season of his deal this year, so the Bucks can't absorb him in the trade without sending a player to the Suns.

Butler averaged 10.4 points per game last season, his lowest output in nine years, but the two-time All-Star has added the three-point shot to his arsenal in recent years, nailing 38% of his 3.8 long-range attempts per game the past three seasons. He shot just 31.2% on 1.8 three-point tries per contest over the first eight years of his career. That outside threat will help the Bucks make up for the losses of Brandon JenningsJ.J. Redick and Mike Dunleavy, who went to other teams this summer, and Carlos Delfino, who signed with the Bucks but could miss a part of the regular season recovering from a fractured bone in his foot.

Pistons Among Teams Targeting Josh Smith

Five or six teams are expected to go after Hawks free agent forward Josh Smith, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com, and one of them will be the Pistons, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Detroit will have plenty of cap room for the maximum-salary offer Smith and agent Wallace Prather are likely to seek.

The Celtics are also reportedly high on Smith, and teams that miss out on Dwight Howard could be in the mix as well. It's unclear how much of a priority retaining Smith will be for the Hawks, but Atlanta can give him the best financial offer. The maximum starting salary for Smith, a nine-year veteran, will be 30% of the salary cap, or approximately $19.5MM, but the Hawks can give him a five-year deal instead of the four years other teams can offer. They can also give him 7.5% raises each season, as opposed to the 4.5% raises he'd get from the Pistons and everyone else.

Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said he's targeting help at point guard and the wing, as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press notes, so the team would seem to envision Smith as a small forward rather than a power forward. 

The Pistons made one decision affecting their cap space Saturday, keeping Viacheslav Kravtsov for $1.5MM for next season rather than waiving him while his $500K partial guarantee was still in effect. Rodney Stuckey's contract is only guaranteed for $4MM if he's waived today, but the Pistons plan to keep him, according to MLive's David Mayo. Detroit also plans to renounce its cap holds on all of its free agents, including Jose Calderon, whom the team is unlikely to pay more than $7MM annually to re-sign, Mayo writes.

The Pistons and Corey Maggette had mutual interest in his return a few months ago, but he won't be back, and neither will Jason Maxiell, according to Mayo.

Odds & Ends: Humphries, Pistons, Warriors, Celtics

Rick Bonnell from the Charlotte Observer tweets that the Nets may have offered Kris Humphries either a two-year, $20MM or a three-year, $26MM contract. 

As summer league kicks off tonight in Las Vegas, here's some more news from around the league. 

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