Free Agency Rundown 7.1.12: The movers, they are a shaking

12 Comments

Here’s what’s going on with free agency news and rumors as the moratorium period began Sunday night at 12:01 a.m..Do not, by any means, consider this comprehensive. There’s so much going on, we’re just trying to get you an overview. (HT: Hoopshype, IAmAGM.com)

Atlanta Hawks

Well, for starters, they’re exploring a deal for Joe Johnson to the Nets, per Yahoo. That’s a pretty strong indication of where they’re at. The Hawks are considered to be extremely active in the trade market, angling for a total overhaul of the team under new GM Danny Ferry. Nothing may come of it, but they’re on the phone, taking calls.

They’re also talking about, or to:

Ray Allen (link)

Rashard Lewis (link)

Brandon Bass (link)

Boston Celtics

They re-signed Kevin Garnett for a lot of money over three years and he’s old and is only going to oh, you know what? It’s Kevin freaking Garnett. You pay the man.

The Celtics want to get Ray Allen back in the fold and have reportedly offered him two years at $12 million. That’s a LOT for him, and a lot for him to turn down.

Everything else hinges on those two getting locked in first.

Bass reportedly wants to come back, Boston’s his preferred destination.

Brooklyn Nets

Oh, you know. The usual. Trying to trade for Joe Johnson, Dwight Howard, re-signing Gerald Wallace.

If they get Johnson, they don’t get Howard. They may not get Howard anyway. They definitely have Wallace. They’ll try and get O.J. Mayo if Johnson falls through. They have a lot of pans in the fire.

Charlotte Bobcats

Eric Gordon might take a meeting with them. There’s not much point.

Chicago Bulls

Omer Asik has agreed to sign a 3-year, $25.1 million offer with the Houston Rockets. The Bulls have until the 14th to match. The third year is structured to pay Asik $15 million, which may be a poison pill to the Bulls if they still want to dodge the luxury tax. It’s hard to see them matching.

They have interest in:

Kirk Hinrich (link)

Cleveland Cavaliers

They reportedly have interest in:

Nicolas Batum (link)

Ersan Ilyasoava (link)

Dallas Mavericks

They meet with Deron Williams on Monday, and meet with him first. But neither Mark Cuban nor Dirk Nowitzki will be in attendance, and you’d think that those two missing the meeting has some level of importance. But Rick Carlisle, Donnie Nelson, and Michael Finley isn’t a slouchfest by any means. Something interesting, though.

Steve Nash is going to hold off on making a decision until he’s met with the Mavericks. He has a three-year, $36 million offer from the Raptors on the table.

They have interest in:

Ray Allen (link)

Brandon Roy (link)

Denver Nuggets

Josh Howard (link)

Detroit Pistons

All’s quiet on the Pistons front.

Golden State Warriors

The Dubs are not going to work on an extension with Stephen Curry at this point. They don’t seem to have a very firm lock on who their “core” is.

Houston Rockets

Signed Asik to that three-year deal mentioned above. The Rockets have been looking for a franchise center forever. This does seem to indicate a step away from Dwight Howard, however, as they’re now tied up with a significant chunk of change towards a center. There will be talk about Asik being overpaid, but the third year of the contract, Asik will be a $15 million expiring. That’s a trade chip Morey can use.

The Rockets are expected to host Eric Gordon at some point.

Indiana Pacers

Roy Hibbert has agreed to terms with the Blazers on a max contract, four years, $58 million. Will the Pacers sign? That’s a huge question. They have long thought highly of Hibbert, but have never been in love with him, so to speak. They like to date him, they enjoy going steady with him, but they don’t consider him marriage material. They might let him go because they just don’t consider him worth it. But if they do, who plays center? Hibbert was a huge advantage in the playoffs for the Pacers, especially against the Heat. Do they really want to let that walk?

They have interest in:

Eric Gordon (link)

Nick Young (link)

Restricted free agent George Hill (link)

Jamal Crawford (link)

Los Angeles Clippers

They inked Griffin to an extension as expected, and Chris Paul turned them down for an extension out of a pretty basic understanding of the CBA, no reason to read into it.

The Clippers are going to take a shot at Ray Allen.

Jason Terry is on their radar. They clearly want a two-guard upgrade.

They’ve already gotten out in pursuit of getting Chauncey Billups back.

Los Angeles Lakers

Dwight Howard! Again!

Nick Young and Brandon Rush are on the Lakers’ targeted list. That’ a fairly big indication that they want a bench shooter to add behind Kobe Bryant. Interesting, considering how many minutes Bryant played last season,and how often Metta World Peace plays at that position.

They’re already reaching out to Ramon Sessions to get him back under contract.

They’re also interested in:

Lou Amundson (link)

Kirk Hinrich (link)

Rashard Lewis (link)

Memphis Grizzlies

Targeting Ray Allen. They’ve reportedly offered the full mid-level exception.

Randy Foye, Kirk Hinrich, and Andre Miller are all also on the list.

Miami Heat

Ray Allen. So much Ray Allen. Targeting Ray Allen. Need the Ray Allen. Want the Ray Allen. May not have the money to get the Ray Allen. Boston’s offer throws a major wrench in their plans. Jason Terry will likely become option 2 if Allen goes back to Boston.

You can put them on the list if Jose Calderon is amnestied.

Milwaukee Bucks

Not sounding like Ersan Ilyasova will be back. With John Henson, Samuel Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders, the Bucks have a lot of depth down low. But they don’t have a lot of skill offensively. Could get tough to get balanced scoring.

Minnesota Timberwolves

They’re reportedly hot to trot for Nicolas Batum. Can’t see a situation where Portland lets him get away. But the Hibbert deal could change all that.

Jamal Crawford is reportedly on their list.

New Orleans Hornets

Laughing as teams host Eric Gordon before they match any offer and continue their rebuilding plan, I’d imagine.

New York Knicks

Got Steve Nash in the building to try and stay in the conversation. The Raptors offer may have been a death knell.

Oklahoma City Thunder

YOU GOT THABEET (maybe).

Orlando Magic

Oh, you know. Dwight.

Philadelphia 76ers

Got Lavoy Allen back on a great, two-year, $6 million deal. Total steal.

Phoenix Suns

Looking at all options as it looks like Nash is gone. Going to take a whack at Eric Gordon.

Portland Trail Blazers

Offered Roy Hibbert a max contract. That impacts their ability to re-sign Nicolas Batum, but also gives them maybe the best guy to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge in the league. If they get him, they may be overpaying, but they’re also going to have a ridiculously tough frontcourt.

Sacramento Kings

All’s quiet on the Kings front, for now.

San Antonio Spurs

Looking at options, nothing heavily invested now.

Toronto Raptors

Offered Steve Nash a 3-year, $36 million contract to come back to the motherland. Raptors would then presumably amnesty Jose Calderon. Where Nash fits in with the Raptors’ defensive approach is still up in the air.

Utah Jazz

Josh Howard is visiting a number of teams, and it doesn’t look likely he’ll return.

Paul Millsap wants an extension for more than $10 million per year.

Washington Wizards

All’s quiet on the Wizards front, for the most part.

Report: Dennis Smith Jr. planned to have J. Cole dunk in dunk-contest routine

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. seemed pretty steamed about getting eliminated in the first round of the dunk contest:

The dunk-contest scoring system – five judges ranking dunks on a scale of 6-10 – is plenty flawed. There should have been a larger difference between the Smith and Victor Oladipo dunks the Dallas point guard mentioned. But Oladipo didn’t advance, either. Personally, I thought the right two players – eventual-winner Donovan Mitchell and runner-up Larry Nance Jr. – advanced.

Maybe Smith was more upset about the missed opportunity – dunks (plural!) involving rapper J. Cole.

Amin El-Hassan of ESPN on Black Opinions Matter:

If Dennis had made it to the finals, Cole was going to throw him the alley-oop. But then the plan was, he was going to throw him the oop, Dennis would dunk it, and then Cole would catch the ball, and then he’d dunk it too. That was going to be the ill, craziest dunk-contest use of a prop or a person ever. But we never got to saw it, because they were holding out until the final round. They didn’t want to bring it out in the first round.

This certainly would have been unprecedented and cool. But unless Smith had something amazing planned for the alley-oop, the best element would have been Cole dunking. That would have upstaged Smith, who’s presumably the one being judged.

For what it’s worth, Cole can dunk. We’ve seen it in the celebrity game:

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard returns this season

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
1 Comment

When announcing last month Kawhi Leonard was out indefinitely due to a lingering quad injury, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich dismissed the idea his star forward would miss the rest of the season:

Apparently, Popovich’s expectation has changed.

Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

The Spurs (35-24) are third in the West despite Leonard playing just nine games. Popovich has done a great job (maybe Coach of the Year-worthy). LaMarcus Aldridge is having a bounce-back season in a leading role. Pau Gasol leads a supporting cast of players good in their roles.

But San Antonio’s ceiling is so much lower without Leonard.

He’s an elite defender who shuts down opposing scorers on the perimeter and can comfortably switch inside. He can isolate offensively to score efficiently, and he spaces the floor off the ball with strong 3-point shooting. Those are all skills that translate to the playoffs.

Without him, the Spurs rely too heavily on older, slower defenders. That’s ripe to be exploited in the postseason.

Teams might even jockey to match up with San Antonio – the most vulnerable-appearing Western Conference team in line to get home-court advantage in the first round.

Of course, this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of Leonard returning. Popovich could just be trying to shut down speculation. He clearly doesn’t like discussing this issue.

But the Spurs are the most cautious team on injuries. If Leonard risks further injury, they’ll keep him sidelined.

This injury has already caused tension. This won’t help.

Mark Cuban’s fine third-largest known fine in NBA history

Bryan Steffy/Getty Images
5 Comments

While explaining how he told his players the team was better off losing this season, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said “I’m probably not supposed to say this” and “Adam would hate hearing that.”

Cuban was right.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver fined Cuban $600,000 for “public statements detrimental to the NBA.” The league doesn’t announce all its fines, but that’s the third-largest known fine in NBA history.

The leaderboard:

1. Timberwolves, $3.5 million in 2000 (signing under-the-table agreement with Joe Smith)

2. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, $2.5 million in 2014 (making racist comments)

3. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, $600,000 in 2018 (saying he told his players the team is better off losing)

4. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, $500,000 in 2002 (criticizing officiating)

4. Knicks, $500,000 in 2006 (fighting Nuggets)

4. Nuggets, $500,000 2006 (fighting Knicks)

4. Vladimir Radmanovic, $500,000 in 2007 (injuring his shoulder while snowboarding)

4. Pistons general manager Joe Dumars, $500,000 in 2010 (leaking confidential league memos)

4. Heat owner Micky Arison, $500,000 in 2011 (tweets during the lockout breaking rank with other owners)

I’d be on Cuban (and/or the Mavericks) getting yet another spot on this list following the investigation of the franchise for a culture tolerant of sexual harassment and domestic abuse. That one will probably be deserved – not just the league trying to preserve the illusion of pure competition amid a system that incentivizes losing.

Mark Cuban fined $600,000 for telling team “losing is our best option”

Getty Images
13 Comments

Of all the hot water Mark Cuban is in right now with the Mavericks and the NBA league office, this is probably the smallest tub. And the least expensive fine.

Cuban recently went on Julius Erving’s podcast, House Call with Dr. J, and said:

“I’m probably not supposed to say this, but I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night. And here we are, we weren’t competing for the playoffs. I was like, “Look, losing is our best option.” Adam would hate hearing that, but at least I sat down, and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we’re not going to tank again.”

You were not supposed to say that — the NBA Wednesday fined Cuban $600,000 for “for public statements detrimental to the NBA.”

Cuban’s not wrong, it’s just a matter of perception. The NBA has worked very hard to lessen the image that teams are tanking for draft position (why do you think there was pressure on the Sixers to replace Sam Hinkie?), they don’t need an owner saying it’s the smart thing to do. Even though it is. Teams tank — it is still the only way for a small or medium market team to get a superstar, get high in the draft and hopefully pick one (it’s not that simple, ask the Magic) — but the league wants at least the facade that all of its teams are competitive. All the way through the end of the season.

As you read this, the bottom eight teams in the NBA are within three games of each other for the worst record — and a higher lottery slot. Does anyone think any of them are not going to roll out young, less-talented rosters in the name of development when the real goal is to lose as many games as they can the rest of the way? Most scouts think there is some real talent at the top of this draft, and teams are going to try to get up there and get it.

Just nobody can talk about it.