Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game Seven

Agent for Lance Stephenson: ‘We’re in no rush’ to get a deal done


Lance Stephenson appeared to be an obvious choice for the Pacers as someone the team would want to re-sign, considering the fact that they’re maxed out from a salary cap perspective and can’t just go out and replace Stephenson with comparable talent available on the open market.

But the available dollars for Stephenson have only dwindled since the initial offer of 5 years, $44 million was rejected, and now the Pacers would need to trim salary just to up their offer, even by the smallest of margins.

There’s no panic in Stephenson’s camp, however, at least not yet. His agent believes the process has gone as expected, and is preaching patience as the scenario continues to play itself out.

From Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star:

Besides the discussions with the Pacers, Stephenson, 23, must wait until the big sharks of free agency open the waters for everyone else. …

“If we’re talking about a deal with the Pacers, I don’t know if any of the dominoes have to fall,” Stephenson’s agent Alberto Ebanks predicted before the start of free agency. “(But) if we were talking about some of the other teams, I would think that those teams are looking to explore the very, very top tier LeBron James and company … so I would think that yes.” …

“We’re in a rush to get a really good deal done,” Ebanks has said, “and we’re in no rush to enter into something that’s short of being a good situation for him and the next team or the current team.”

The ancillary players who have agreed to deals in the early days of free agency have been overpaid, which in theory, is good news for Stephenson. In a world where Avery Bradley is going to get $8 million per year, the offer to Stephenson that falls short of $9 million a season feels (somewhat ironically) like a bit of a slap in the face.

It’s unclear if Indiana is willing to shed the salary necessary to up their offer to Stephenson. But once teams start missing out on the bigger names in free agency, it’s likely that one of them with cap space will come calling with a much larger offer to retain Stephenson’s services.

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

LeBron James
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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.

Rumor: Nets testing trade waters for Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanovic, Otto Porter Jr.
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If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.

First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.

Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.

Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.

Just a reminder that Joakim Noah would like some more run

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Joakim Noah is playing 20.6 minutes a night coming off the bench for Fred Hoiberg and the Chicago Bulls this season.

And he doesn’t like it. He wants more run. He was getting 10 minutes more a night last season under Tom Thibodeau, and Noah wants some of those minutes back. Nick Friedel of ESPN sent out a tweet that was a reminder of just that.

Three thoughts here.

1) Reducing minutes for guys who battle injuries every season by the time the playoffs roll around was one huge reason Fred Hoiberg was brought in to coach the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau was shown the door. This isn’t just Hoiberg, the minutes reduction comes from management. While it is possible Noah’s spot in the rotation shifts (he could start at some point) and he might get a little more run, the Thibodeau era is gone.

2) There are legit reasons for Noah to want to play. First, he is a competitor who doesn’t like sitting. Second, the Bulls’ defense is elite when he plays (allowing 95.5 points per 100 possessions) and the Bulls outscore opponents by 1.3 per 100 when he plays. Finally, Noah is in the final year of his contract and scoring just 3.1 points per game is not going to help him earn more cash in the next deal.

3) Barring injury to another big, don’t expect a change.