Only a handful of NBA players have officially signed to play in China during the NBA lockout, but another may not be too far behind. According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Yahoo’s Scoop du Jour blog), Rodney Stuckey is being courted by the Guangdong Southern Tigers, and unlike many other NBA players, actually has the free agent status to make a deal with a Chinese team possible. The Chinese Basketball Association has outlawed the signing of players with existing contracts in other leagues (even if those leagues are inactive), and thus can only target restricted and unrestricted free agents among the suddenly available crop of NBA players.
It’s natural that Stuckey would be a target among the current free agents; he’s not exactly a stellar player, but Stuckey is nonetheless an intriguing, balanced talent capable of contributing across the board. He’d likely do very well in a stint with the Chinese Basketball Association, and in the process earn himself some lockout coin. So long as he’s willing to give up on the possibility of playing in the NBA through March, the Tigers could be a nice spot for Stuckey to spend a few months.
That said, Guangdong’s interest in Stuckey pales in comparison to the NBA’s mid-season reality if free agents continue to sign deals in China. As Marc Stein noted in his report, Yi Jianlian would be able to return to the NBA at a time of his choosing, but Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler, and any player who isn’t a Chinese national would be obligated to remain in China until the CBA season wraps in March (at the earliest; championship-level teams continue playing into April). Martin and Smith would then become unrestricted free agents, giving some lucky team (with cap space or a salary cap exception to spare) the opportunity to add a rotation-caliber player for a final push. There are obviously some problems with adding a contributor so late in the season, but the prospect of picking up Martin or Smith at that stage — past the trade deadline, mind you — without surrendering any assets will undoubtedly be appealing.
As for Chandler (and Stuckey, should he choose to take the Tigers up on their offer): who knows what the restricted free agency protocol will be like for a player entering the pool mid-season? Will the Nuggets get Chandler back by default because they issued him a qualifying offer? And if so, why is he being treated like a true free agent in regard to his ability to sign in China? Chandler and Stuckey could induce a surreal mid-season bidding war if they’re allowed to go through their customary free agent process while the season is still in stride. Denver and Detroit would have the natural advantage in retaining their respective players, but there’s always a chance that either player could be swept off of their feet — particularly if either incumbent team is leery of the penalties of a new, oppressive luxury tax. There will either be an odd contradiction in free agent status or one of the weirdest mid-season events in league history. The kicker? Things will only get crazier as more free agents commit to play in China for a chunk of the NBA’s season, leading to an unprecedented influx of familiar NBA talent with the playoffs just around the corner.
Kings’ general manager Vlade Divac took a parting shot at DeMarcus Cousins‘ character when he spoke to the media about the deal.
Cousins could be challenging in the locker room, but he was committed to Sacramento in ways most teams wish their star would be. He was active in the community, did charity work, and was not one of the players that alerted the media and dragged along a video crew when he did. Cousins loves Sacramento.
You can see it as he tears up when saying goodbye to those close to him in this video.
On the court, the trade to New Orleans and the chance to play next to Anthony Davis could be a huge boost for Cousins’ career. We’ll never know what could have been if the Kings knew how to draft or stuck with a system/coach.
But off the court, Sacramento will miss him. And he will miss them.
NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA All-Star game drew an average audience of 7.8 million viewers, making it the most-viewed All-Star broadcast since 2013.
Turner Sports announced the numbers on Monday. The number of viewers peaked at 8.5 million and the total audience was up 3 percent from last year’s game.
The hype surrounding the game centered on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook playing on the Western Conference team together. Durant left Oklahoma City last summer to join Golden State, leaving his longtime teammate Westbrook behind with the Thunder. Westbrook did not hide his dissatisfaction with Durant, which ratcheted up the intrigue heading into the game on Sunday.
The two shared the court for just 81 seconds and Oklahoma City posted the highest local market rating with a 10.9.
The Timberwolves — 3.5 games and five teams out of playoff position — have made reaching the postseason this year a priority.
So, within that nonsensical goal apparently comes a nonsensical idea: Trading for Derrick Rose.
Ian Begley of ESPN:
The Minnesota Timberwolves have reached out to the Knicks recently to discuss potential trades for New York point guard Derrick Rose, sources told ESPN.
The Timberwolves, sources say, are among several teams to reach out to the Knicks asking about potential trades for Rose.
Rose, of course, played for Timberwolves president/coach Tom Thibodeau with the Bulls. That makes this report both plausible and something the Knicks would leak to drum up interest.
I can’t imagine a market especially eager to acquire Rose, who will become a free agent next summer. His $21,323,252 salary is difficult to match in trades without sending out too valuable of players. Rose has become a good downhill driver, but the rest of his game is lacking after years of injuries.
The Timberwolves have nearly $13 million of cap space, which could be useful in facilitating a deal. But they also have three intriguing point guards: Ricky Rubio, Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones.
If Minnesota really wants Rose, it could just sign him this summer. His Bird Rights shouldn’t matter much. Who would give the 28-year-old a five-year contract?
Rubio for Rose straight up works financially, for what it’s worth. The Timberwolves shouldn’t do that, but we don’t know enough about Tom Thibodeau running a front office to assume they won’t.
After their trade today, the Pelicans have the NBA’s most dynamic big-man tandem: Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
Davis and Cousins are tall, athletic and skilled in a combination we might have never seen from any power forward-center duo since Charles Barkley-Hakeem Olajuwon. New Orleans’ two could thrive together, and while they develop chemistry, they’ll each likely get minutes without the other.
That doesn’t leave much playing time for someone like Terrence Jones.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Jones settled for a one-year minimum contract after an injury-plagued and inconsistent tenure with the Rockets. His inconsistency remains, but considering his salary, his highs more than justify dealing with the lows. At just 25, Jones could still figure out how to reliably contribute.
Jones’ contract dictates he be rental, which will lower his trade value. But he could help teams trying to win down the stretch — including New Orleans.
Dante Cunningham seems more favored at power forward, and Donatas Motiejunas can fill in. But the Pelicans could still use Jones.
Shopping him might be a favor to the player, but we’ll see whether an actual trade is part of the gesture.