Blake Griffin arrives for a news conference announcing the players selected for the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team in Las Vegas

Welcome to NBA signing day tracker: Griffin, Nash, more ink deals


It’s official, Steve Nash is a Los Angeles Laker. And Blake Griffin is a very rich Clipper.

All the deals that have been reported in the past 10 days — such as Deron Williams re-signing with the Nets — go from “agreement reached” to “pen on paper” today. The league has a 10-day moratorium on signings that begins with free agency July 1, but that is over. Today you sign your name on the line that is dotted.

Here is a running tracker of deals we know to be signed and new deals announced on what will be a busy day (so check back often, all times Eastern).

9:04 P.M.

• Jamal Crawford made it official and signed a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. Adding him and Lamar Odom to their core from last year is an upgrade, we’ll see if it’s enough of one to keep Chris Paul happy.

• Ian Mahinmi was sent to the Pacers in a sign-and-trade (4-years, 16 million) for Darren Collison and Danhtay Jones go to Dallas.

• With Collison gone, the Pacers have targeted D.J. Augustin for a trade.

• J.J. Hickson has signed a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

5:44 P.M.

• Center Chris Kaman has tweeted that he will be signing with the Dallas Mavericks, teaming up with fellow German National Team member Dirk Nowitzki.

• The Nets have reached a four-year, $61 million deal to keep Brook Lopez. That’s overpaying for him.

5:29 P.M.

• The Dallas Mavericks have reached terms with Chris Kaman, who is a German national team teammate of Dirk Nowitzki.

• Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey confirms that Portland will match Minnesota’s offer for Nicolas Batum and keep him.

4:20 P.M.

• Dwight Howard to the Nets is dead and it sounds like the Magic are retreating from the trade talks for a bit and will reassess where things stand.  What a mess. For Howard, for the Magic, for everyone. And this is really just a hiatus for the trade talks, not an end.

• The Kings re-signed forward Jason Thompson, as had been agreed to a few days back.

3:25 P.M. 

The Dorell Wright trade sending the Warriors swingman to the 76ers just expanded — Jarrett Jack is going to Warriors as part of the deal. The Hornets clear $5.4 million off their books and the Warriors get a true point guard to come off the bench and put up some points. The Hornets are taking back a second round pick, stash in Europe kid.

2:50 P.M.

In another expected move, Tim Duncan has signed his three-year deal to remain with the Spurs.

• It’s official, Marcus Camby is once again a Knick, the trade from the Rockets has been approved by the league.

• The Jazz have officially re-signed the human pogo stick, Jeremy Evans.

• The Nuggets have bought out the European contract of draft pick Evan Fournier and he will be in Denver next season.

1:56 P.M.

• The Nuggets have made the re-signing of Andre Miller official, a three-year deal the sides agreed to last week.

• The sign-and-trade of Ryan Anderson to the Hornets is official now as well.

• Gerald Wallace has signed with the Nets, four years and $40 million.

• Patrick Ewing Jr. has signed to play in Germany.

 12:52 P.M.

• Trades keep on becoming official, including Gary Forbes being sent to the Rockets.

• And Gustavo Ayon trade from the Hornets to the Magic has been cleared by the league.

• There is a growing buzz that Kyle Korver will be traded from the Bulls to the Timberwolves. Not sure what would be coming back the other way yet.

11:52 A.M.

• The complex cap moves of the Houston Rockets — which impacts Jeremy Lin and more — are underway. First, the trade of Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors has been approved. Now they are waiting for approval on the Marcus Camby trade to the Knicks. After those deals are formal the Rockets will have the cap space to sign Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to offer sheets.

The Knicks will match the Lin offer sheet, but now they need to soothe his ego, too, reportedly.

11:05 A.M.

• And it’s official, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are Miami Heat. They have signed their deals. And the Miami heat team record for most threes taken in a season is about to fall. We can call that one now. By the way, Allen will go back to his old No. 34 with the Heat.

10:40 A.M.

• Well, didn’t see this one coming. The Nets have agreed to a one-year, $1.3 million deal to have Jerry Stackhouse on their team, reports ESPN’s Chad Ford. I think all season I’m just going to refer to him as “the corpse of Jerry Stackhouse.” At age 37 he barely got on the court last season for the Hawks, but I guess the Nets saw something they liked. That or they accidentally were watching scouting tape from 2001.

• The Knicks have signed James White to a deal.

9:59 A.M.

• The Pacers and Roy Hibbert skipped the formalities of matching the Portland max offer sheet and Indy just offered him a max deal, which he will sign, Ken Berger at tweets. The outcome is the same but the Blazers don’t have their cap space tied up for three days while the matching process takes place.

• The Suns and Hornets apparently will go through the matching game motions, Eric Gordon is expected to sign a max off sheet from Phoenix today, reports the Arizona Republic. The Hornets will match eventually, even though Gordon has said he wants to play for the Suns. He is key to the rebuilding in New Orleans.

• Nenad Krstic has signed to stay with CSKA Moscow and will not be returning to the NBA.

9:35 A.M.

• The Lakers and Suns made the Steve Nash trade official. Nash joins Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol (the last two of those for now at least) in L.A. to form a contender that could challenge the Thunder if everything comes together for them (and they get another perimeter shooter/defender). By the way, Nash will wear No. 10 with the Lakers (his No. 13 is retired as Wilt Chamberlain’s number).

• We told you already that Deron Williams remains a Net and will make enough money to live in New York City. Which is no small feat. The only interesting note here to add is that he was given the official contract on an iPad and signed his name with his finger. Honestly not sure how my signature would look if I tried that.

• Blake Griffin put his name on the dotted line and will remain with the Clippers, a five-year deal but the final year of that is a player option. This is Griffin’s first post rookie deal contract and there was never any doubt he would take the big payday to stay in L.A. The real challenge for the Clippers now is getting Chris Paul to stay next summer.

• J.R. Smith inked a two-year deal to be a designated gunner with the New York Knicks.

• Darrell Athur is in Memphis and signed a new three-year deal with the Grizzlies.

• The Grizzlies also added Jerryd Bayless. That is a couple good, affordable role players signings for them.

According to reports out of Spain, Portland has signed Joel Freeland to a three-year, $9 million deal. Freeland was the last pick of the first round by the Blazers back in 2006, but he has only played in Europe (Spain, specifically) since then. He is a 6’11” power forward who is fairly athletic and has a midrange game, according to reports. We will see, a three-year deal is a risk, but you can bet Freeland is taking a pay cut to come to the NBA. There also is a buyout issue that could kill this deal.

• For those that follow the international game, interesting tweet from Sportando: “In NBA McCalebb was offered up to $4.7M per season but his Buyout is too high plus he would be a backup getting less money than Europe”

• By the way, the league made the salary cap numbers for next year official and as expected they track this year’s — the cap is at $58.044 million, the luxury tax line is $70.307.

• Keep checking back, we’ll be adding to this post and tracking the signings as the day goes on.

Byron Scott: Kobe Bryant “at peace” with decision to retire after season

Kobe Bryant
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant was never going to go quietly into that good night. He would rage, rage against the dying of the light — and torn Achilles, knee ligaments, shoulders, and everything else holding him back.

But now, the end is near, and Kobe will face the final curtain at the end of this season. And he is at peace with it, if you ask his coach.

“It was so matter of fact, and he was so at peace with (the decision),” Lakers’ coach Byron Scott said of when Kobe told him this season would be it. “After I thought about it, I felt better about that. It wasn’t like he was agonizing over it or anything, it was like ‘I’m announcing I’m retiring’ and just kind of went on from there.”

Bryant told Scott before anyone else in the Lakers’ organization, and told him sometime Saturday (when the Lakers played and lost in Portland).

“I said, ‘what?’ He just told me at a very awkward time; we started laughing about it,” Scott said. “He said ‘you looked like you were saying ‘what they hell are you talking about’ but it just caught me off guard.”

It’s been an ugly season for Kobe, his body can no longer do what he expects of it — he can’t get the separation, the lift needed for his shoots. He was shooting 31.1 percent on the season going into Sunday’s game against Indiana, and he started 1-of-11 from the floor Sunday night. Yet he kept gunning.

“I gave up hoping he would change his approach 15, 18 years ago,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. “He is what he is. And I’m thankful for it.”

Kupchak added hoped this decision would ease the pressure on Bryant.

“I would hope that he has more fun, and appears less frustrated, and also gets more appreciation,” Kupchak said. “He’ll get it at home, but on the road too, because people will have to recognize this is his last year and they are watching one of the all-time greats.”

Kobe got plenty of appreciation from Lakers’ fans on Sunday night with a massive ovation when he was introduced. Kobe had wanted to avoid a Derek Jeter style farewell tour, but with that announcement and the Lakers playing 13-of-17 on the road in December you can bet there will be some of that.

“One of the best ever to play the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said pregame. “I don’t know if there’s any one moment, just throughout the course of his career you didn’t want him to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line, period. Because you knew he was going to beat you.”

No doubt Kobe goes down as one of the game’s all-time greats — five-time NBA champion, MVP, two Finals MVP’s, 17 All-Star Games, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg — but what Scott ultimately wants is Bryant to leave the game on his terms.

“What I want from Kobe is basically his last game to be able to walk off the court, wave to the fans, and be able to go into the locker room standing up,” Scott said.


Here is Kobe Bryant’s letter given to every fan at Lakers’ game Sunday

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

LOS ANGELES — In a classy move — and one done in a very Kobe Bryant tone — every fan coming into Staples Center Sunday night to see the Lakers take on the Pacers received a letter from No. 24.

Inside a sealed black envelope, on quality, embossed paper, was this letter from Bryant (photo below):

When we first met I was just a kid.

Some of you took me in. Some of you didn’t.

But all of you helped e become the player and man in front of you today.

You gave me confidence to put my anger to good use.

Your doubt gave me determination to prove you wrong.

You witnessed my fears morph into strength.

Your rejection taught me courage.

Whether you view me as a hero or a villain, please know I poured every emotion, every bit of passion and my entire self into being a Laker.

What you’ve done for me is far greater than anything I’ve done for you.

I knew that each minute of each game I wore purple and gold.

I honor it as I play today and for the rest of this season.

My love for this city, this team and for each of you will never fade.

Thank you for this incredible journey.

It speaks to Kobe’s mindset over the years that he talked about the fuel from the rejection of Lakers’ fans motivating him. As a Los Angeles native (and former Laker blogger), let me tell you there was precious little rejection of Kobe from this fan base. There were questions and doubters early on, but even when Shaquille O’Neal was seen as the driving force of the team Kobe was beloved in Los Angeles. Something that continued through his trial in Colorado — Lakers fans have almost always had his back.

But Kobe finds fuel everywhere. Which is why he is a future Hall of Famer.


Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor

The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.

Kobe Bryant announces this is his final season


LOS ANGELES — It has seemed like this has been coming for a while. Kobe Bryant has been frustrated; he hasn’t been able to produce like he expects — his play has been hard to watch — and the Lakers are a train wreck. All that surrounded him was talk of his play and speculation about the future he didn’t want.

Kobe made it official Sunday via the Players’ Tribune — this is his final season. He did it via a letter called “Dear Basketball.”

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

It’s not coincidental this was announced a couple days before the Lakers travel to Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to face the Sixers. Also remember Kobe is an investor in The Players’ Tribune.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly released this statement:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.  Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Kobe will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Few can come close to his resume: Five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, 15 time All-NBA teams, one MVP, 17 times an All-Star (and the All-Star Game MVP four times). And we could go on and on.

Good on Kobe for doing this now. After 55,000 NBA minutes his body has quit on him, and where his mind is still willing the flesh is clearly weak right now. He has not been able to adapt his game to the changing realities of what he can do.

Kobe has said he doesn’t want a “Derek Jeter Farewell Tour” but that will be the feel from here on out. Expect some special recognition at the All-Star Game in Toronto.

Ad we’ll all be watching for those flashes of vintage Bryant we have hoped to see more of this season.