Could Jason Richardson be a long-term fixture in Orlando?

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No one should blame the Phoenix Suns for their reluctance to make a commitment to Jason Richardson. The now-Magic shooting guard is 30 years old after all, and with franchise centerpiece Steve Nash in the later stages of his career, it makes little sense to lock up veteran pieces for the long haul.

You should blame the Suns, however, for their reluctance to make a commitment to Jason Richardson after signing Channing Frye for five years and $30 million, Hakim Warrick for four years and $18 million, and then agreeing to ship out Leandro Barbosa’s relatively cap-friendly deal for Hedo Turkoglu’s far more imposing one. It’s as if Lon Babby and Robert Sarver couldn’t quite decide on whether to start disassembling the roster or adding new pieces to keep the team competitive, so they shot for somewhere in the middle. It didn’t make much sense then, and makes little more now, even after Richardson, Turkoglu, and Earl Clark have been jettisoned for Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, and Marcin Gortat.

Somehow, Suns’ management drew the line at Richardson, despite the fact that he led Phoenix in points per minute, and was second on the team in PER. Richardson is far from a perfect player, yet in most evaluations he’s still a far more useful contributor than Turkoglu, Frye, or Warrick. Something just never clicked for J-Rich and the Suns off the court, a fact which Richardson insists is due to no fault of his own. From Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse:

“The trade didn’t catch me off guard at all. I knew when they wouldn’t talk about an extension that I wasn’t going to be there the whole season,” Richardson said before the Magic played the San Antonio Spurs. “They wouldn’t even sit down and talk to us. I kind of figured when they were dodging calls from my agent, something was going to happen.”

Richardson, who is making $14 million this season, was pushing hard for the extension in Phoenix, preferring to avoid free agency this summer. He was riding a strong playoff performance last spring and a fast start this season, knowing his stock would never be higher. In Orlando, he is resigned to the fact that no extension will come during the season, needing to prove he can fit on a team with a dominating center and a handful of guys who all need the ball in their hands.

Orlando could be a fairly ideal situation for Richardson, but as Povtak mentioned, it will be difficult for J-Rich to produce at a level worthy of an in-season extension. Still, it should surprise no one if the Magic choose to retain Richardson, an efficient scorer and prolific three-point shooter, at season’s end. He may not put pen to paper until all the details are hammered out on a new collective bargaining agreement, but Orlando is as logical an off-season landing spot for Richardson as any.

Thabo Sefolosha’s lawyer: White police officer targeted black Hawks forward

Thabo Sefolosha
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NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer representing a professional basketball player arrested outside a New York City nightclub has told a jury his client was targeted because he’s black.

Attorney Alex Spiro said Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court that a white police officer saw a black man in a hoodie when he confronted the Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on April 8.

Sefolosha was arrested while leaving a Manhattan nightclub following a stabbing. He subsequently suffered a season-ending leg fracture after a confrontation with police.

A prosecutor said in opening statements that Sefolosha called an officer who repeatedly told him and others to leave a “midget.”

Sefolosha pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. The Swiss citizen declined a plea deal from prosecutors.


DeMar DeRozan says he hates talking about free agency, takes pride in Raptors longevity

DeMar DeRozan
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DeMar DeRozan has a $10,050,000 player option for 2016-17. Given the rapidly escalating salary cap, it’s a practical certainty DeRozan will opt out and get a major raise.

But he says he doesn’t want to talk about it.

DeRozan, via Eric Koreen of the National Post:

“I hate that, honestly,” DeRozan said in a one-on-one interview. “I never speak about it. With me, I’ve always been that one player: I’ve been loyal. I’ve been every single thing you can think of here. I think people don’t understand how much pride I take in playing (in Toronto). A lot of times when I do get asked that, it kind of frustrates me.

“Everyday I wake up, I take pride in being the longest Raptor here. People bring up third or whatever in franchise scoring — there is so much stuff like that.”

This sounds awfully similar to LaMarcus Aldridge, who stated his desire last year to become the great Trail Blazer ever and then signed with the Spurs this summer.

Things change, and the impracticality of an extension ensures DeRozan will hit free agency. I believe he’s devoted to the Raptors right now, but his loyalty might change in the next nine months – especially once he sees contract offers from other suitors.

Toronto’s interest in DeRozan might fluctuate, too. He’s a nice player, but the Raptors haven’t won a playoff series with him despite winning the division the last two years. Depending how this season goes, Masai Ujiri might want to rework the roster significantly next summer, and letting DeRozan walk could create major cap space.

I believe DeRozan wants to return to the Raptors, and I believe they want to keep him. But so much can change between now and when both sides must make that call.