J.R. Smith is expected back in the United States this week an NBA free agent. His team in China has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and the season ends this week.
And the Clippers want him. Badly. Especially now that their starting two guard is gone for the season.
The Clippers are not alone in coveting Smith — the Knicks are considered the frontrunners, the Lakers and others are in the mix — which is why Chris Paul has become the Clippers lead recruiter, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
The Clippers were interested in Smith even before the season-ending injury to Chauncey Billups last week, believing they could use more offensive firepower off the bench. That was going to be a harder sell to Smith, who is looking for a larger role. Now, they can offer Smith the opportunity to start.
Like Billups did with recently-signed Kenyon Martin, point guard Chris Paul has taken a lead role in recruiting Smith, according to the source. The two are close from their two seasons as teammates with the Hornets.
If you want a connection, Kenyon Martin (and Chauncey Billups) have the same agent as Smith.
But it may come down to money. Which is good for New York.
The Knicks can offer $2.5 million (their mini mid-level) and he would get most of that (it is pro-rated from only Feb. 10). The Clippers can only offer a veteran’s minimum deal that is pro-rated from the start of the season. The Knicks also have room for a starting two guard so he gets his run.
But CP3 is trying. And unlike the Knicks, the Clippers are a threat to make it to the finals. Just depends on what Smith wants.
About a month ago, the Bulls said they hadn’t discussed a buyout with Dwyane Wade.
Have the two sides progressed since?
Nick Friedell of ESPN:
Dwyane Wade isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.
Expected by whom?
People with direct knowledge of momentum toward a buyout?
Or everyone who can see that a 35-year-old earning $23.8 million fits poorly on a rebuilding team?
For the Bulls to now drop their biggest name and a large expiring contract that could prove useful in trades should require Wade surrendering a large portion of his salary. He doesn’t sound like someone inclined to do that yet.
A few months is a long time. As long as Wade gets bought out by March 1, he could join another team’s playoff roster. It’d surprise nobody if he gets bought out after the February trade deadline, which we already knew. I don’t see strong indication of something more imminent.
LeBron James has done a terrible job shooting down rumors about him leaving the Cavaliers
Except this one from Chris Sheridan, who cited a source saying LeBron would “100 percent” leave Cleveland next summer due to a rift with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Sheridan’s source saying LeBron is leaving doesn’t make that true. But other anonymous sources denying it doesn’t make the denials true, either.
The Pelicans have been crushed by injuries the last few years.
Why? That’s an incredibly complex question.
But the New Orleans Saints – who share an owner (Tom Benson), a front-office leader (Mickey Loomis) and other staff with the Pelicans – have found culprits for their own injury woes.
Mike Triplett of ESPN:
The Saints have fired team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, per source, after it was discovered that CB Delvin Breaux has a fractured fibula and will require surgery expected to sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. Breaux was originally diagnosed with a contusion
Suri is a Pelicans team physician.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Fairly or not, Suri – after the Saints deemed him unacceptable – will be in the crosshairs if he keeps his job with the the Pelicans and their injury woes continue.
Chris Sheridan was ahead of the crowd in 2014, reporting LeBron James would likely leave the Heat for the Cavaliers – which obviously happened.
But Sheridan called it a “90 percent chance,” a small – but large enough – hedge. He also said LeBron would announce the decision on LeBron’s personal website. Of course, LeBron revealed his choice in a Sports Illustrated essay.
So, maybe Sheridan knows what he’s talking about. Maybe he doesn’t.
But the longtime NBA writer just fanned the flames of the already hot LeBron-leaving-Cleveland rumors.
Of course, the denials came quickly.
There have already been plenty of warning signs about LeBron’s relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, which didn’t restart in a great place.
It’s entirely believable LeBron would leave Cleveland, in large part due to Gilbert.
But it’s also fun to speculate about that salacious storyline.
Maybe Sheridan or his source got carried away for that very reason. Or maybe they know something.
Neither possibility should be discounted.