Monta Ellis has told the Milwaukee Bucks he is opting out of the $11 million he is owed next season become a free agent this summer.
As noted at the time, it would be interesting to see what teams would go after a volume shooter — he scored 19.2 points a game but shot just 41.6 percent — but one entering what should be the prime of his career.
How about Dallas and Atlanta? And somehow the Lakers, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com.
Sources say the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers have interest in Ellis, although the Lakers could get Ellis only via an unlikely sign-and-trade deal.
Ellis, who originally signed a six-year, $66 million deal with the Golden State Warriors, is close with Lakers free agent Dwight Howard. The two have long desired to play together.
Atlanta is looking to build a Spurs-style organization (GM Danny Ferry and coach Mike Budenholzer are Spurs alums) with Al Horford in the middle of it. Does that strike you as a fit with Ellis?
Dallas is looking for a superstar to build around and until they get that are offering only short-term deals until they find that guy. I could see them making a one or two-year offer to Ellis, but likely not the kind of deal he is looking for.
The Lakers? Not bloody likely. Even if Howard re-signs with the Lakers the L.A. pitch is that in 2014 they will have only him and Steve Nash on the payroll. Plus, Ellis could only come to the Lakers on the taxpayers midlevel exception of $3 million a year — the Lakers cannot take a free agent in a sign and trade deal (unless it brings their team salary under $76 million, which this would not). The new CBA says the Lakers or any team over the tax apron ($4 million above the tax line) can send a player out in a sign-and-trade (Howard, hypothetically) but cannot take a free agent in that way. No way that happens.
It’s interesting to hear the teams thrown out early on, it will be more interesting to see which ones actually offer a contract. One of those teams might be the Bucks.
Jusuf Nurkic did not enjoy his time as a member of the Denver Nuggets. His trade to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee was a welcome change of scenery.
On Tuesday night, Nurkic got to take on his old team with huge playoff implications at stake. Portland beat the Nuggets, 122-113, moving a game ahead of their rivals in the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and giving them the best tiebreaker between the two.
Nurkic was impressive, blasting his old squad with 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting, adding 16 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.
Nurkic was interviewed in the arena after the game, and he was obviously happy he helped his team while also sticking it to Denver. Speaking with Portland reporter Brooke Olzendam, Nurkic took one last shot at the Nuggets, telling them to enjoy their summer.
Nurkic quite possibly sent the Nuggets packing for the year with the game at the Moda Center on Tuesday, so he might have been the guy who helped start their summer.
Still, that is ice cold.
Miami Heat forward James Johnson is one of the NBA’s best in-game dunkers. On Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, he yammed down a huge one-handed slam that embarrassed Marcus Morris and drew gasps from the crowd at the Palace.
The play came midway through the fourth quarter with Johnson at the top of the key. After a quick pass over to him, Johnson gave a quick hesitation before driving to his left and past his defender.
With the quick step, Johnson’s only remaining opponent at the basket was Morris, who was unfortunate enough to find himself between the high-flying Heat and the rim.
This is what happened next:
Morris was whistled for a foul on the play.
The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.
The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.
That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.
Miami now sits at 36-38, a game above the Bulls for the No. 8 seed.
Whiteside, meanwhile, is never going to wash that hand again:
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.
Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.
Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”
Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.
Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.
“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.
The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.