Winderman: NBA’s post-lockout startup time can be quick

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Based on the slow-go turn in lockout negotiations, it is safe to say that we’re officially on the clock, a backwards timetable to the earliest-possible start to the NBA season.

Those involved in the process are virtually unanimous in a two-week timetable being necessary for agreement-into-final draft and then a union vote.

Conversations with others indicate that a one-week schedule for camp/exhibitions is feasible, if only because while rosters still have to be rounded out, there are a significant number of teams that not only have their starting lineups in place, but many of those lineups are the same that ended last season.

In some respects, the timing of this 2011 lockout could not have been better, with this having already set up as an offseason of continuity for many teams.

But what about free agency, a process that normally runs for three months, a typically measured, methodical approach by front offices?

Don’t overstate the process. A week sounds about right. And with most teams merely looking for complementary pieces, you conceivably could have a workable resumption even with teams fiddling with rosters through the opening days of the regular season.

Foremost, with a rookie wage scale already assured in a new agreement, draft picks could be signed immediately, as was the case even when the moratorium period was in place in previous agreements.

As for free agents, consider that in the last free-agent signing period, 15 players were signed on the opening day of free agency in 2010 and 44 in the first week of the process.

While an argument could be made that the seven-day signing moratorium positioned teams for such swift movement, an argument could be made that teams, in effect, this time already have had a three-month moratorium period to mull such considerations.

Further, while the previous agreement had the mid-level exception, bi-annual exception and all varieties of Bird Rights, the new agreement, one that at the least will have hard-cap characteristics, may have none of them.

In other words, agents won’t have as much ability or need to shop offers. There will be teams with cap space, teams with minimum-scale offers, and perhaps incumbent teams still with some sort of Bird Rights to retain their own free agents.

The reality is teams have had more than ample time for Plans A, B, C, all the way to the ones that forecast Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler to instead play in China.

Put it this way, one agent confided he already has a $4 million offer in place from a team for his middling swingman.

Which means either people already are talking, or plenty of advance work was set in motion before the July 1 onset of the lockout.

No, you’re not allowed to discuss such matters during a lockout. But you also were never allowed to discuss potential free-agency machinations prior to July 1 of any other year, and, well, we’ll leave that conspiracy conversation for those who want to revisit elements of LeBron, Wade, Bosh.

Basically, in the wake of slow-moving negotiations, there still can be a fast-moving free-agency process.

So while pondering those reverse calculations about how quickly meaningful games can be played upon an agreement, don’t overstate the personnel game.

Those plans are in much better shape than, apparently, any plan to actually end the lockout itself.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Former Lakers forward Tommy Hawkins dies

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, has died. He was 80.

Hawkins died Wednesday in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once worked as director of communications.

He graduated from Notre Dame in 1959. Hawkins was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor and his 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest record on the books in Fighting Irish basketball history.

Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played for them as well as the Cincinnati Royals, and notched 6,672 career points and 4,607 rebounds.

Nuggets hire assistant coach, assistant general manager

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DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach Bob Weiss as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff and announced the hiring of Calvin Booth as an assistant general manager.

Weiss has coached 31 seasons in the NBA, including the last four as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been a head coach with four teams, compiling a 223-299 career record with the Spurs, Hawks, Clippers and SuperSonics.

Prior to coaching, Weiss played a dozen seasons in the NBA.

Also Wednesday, the Nuggets made official their hiring of Booth, 41, who spent the previous four seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season.

Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent. He was one of the holdovers in the front office when Tom Thibodeau was hired to take over last summer as president of basketball operations and coach.

After one season working under Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, Booth left for a promotion with the Nuggets, taking a position that will give him more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Booth joins a Nuggets front office that includes Tim Connelly, who was promoted earlier this summer to president of basketball operations, a move that allowed Denver to hold on to promising executive Arturas Karnisovas as the team’s general manager.

Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Connelly was working there. The two also worked together in New Orleans in 2012-13, when Connelly was the assistant GM and Booth was a scout.

 

Rasheed Wallace says Zach Randolph isn’t a drug dealer: ‘The bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party’

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Kings big man Zach Randolph is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, a felony – not because law enforcement has evidence Randolph planned to sell the drug, but because of the amount of the drug found.

Randolph’s agent/attorney denied the allegations.

Also sticking up for Randolph? Rasheed Wallace, who played with Randolph on the Trail Blazers.

Wallace, via TMZ:

“It seems to be — no matter who you are — the bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party,” Sheed says.

“I know for a fact he ain’t no dope dealer.”

Charging someone for intending to distributing drugs without any proof he intends to distribute drugs is hazardously lazy. Randolph – who has earned about $175 million in his career and is on a two-year, $24 million contract with Sacramento – can afford more marijuana than most. That doesn’t mean he plans to sell it.

The stakes are high for Randolph. If he’s convicted of “a felony involving the distribution of marijuana,” per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’d be banned from the NBA for at least two years.

Report: Enes Kanter not yet permitted to travel to Mexico, where Thunder scheduled to play

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Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?

That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.

Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.

Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.