Dan Feldman

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 05:  Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during a break in the action against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on April 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Thunder defeated the Nuggets 124-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Serge Ibaka’s agent: Thunder promised bigger role and didn’t deliver

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The Thunder and Serge Ibaka clearly soured on each other, Oklahoma City trading Ibaka to the Magic on draft night.

What caused the friction?

Ibaka’s agent, Andy Miller, via Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

“There was an expectation of a larger role,” Ibaka’s agent, Andy Miller, told The Vertical. “It was overpromised and under-delivered. Everyone should be held to the same level of accountability across the board.”

I don’t know what Oklahoma City promised Ibaka. To a degree, it matters only how he interpreted the conversations. If he walked away with the wrong impression, that becomes the Thunder’s problem. Ditto if they actually promised him a bigger role than he received.

Ibaka’s numbers declined across the board for the second straight season. Just a couple years ago, he seemed to be blossoming as a third scoring option behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But that never took off, and Ibaka’s primary contributions – defense, rebounding, spot-up shooting – also dipped. Maybe that’s for related reasons.

Ibaka will get a fresh start in Orlando, and the Magic can afford to give him more touches. He’ll have a year to prove himself before 2017 free agency.

The stakes are high.

If he puts up big numbers, he could get a massive contract with a huge salary cap. If he continues to decline, their will be major questions about his career arc.

I can see why Ibaka – regardless of what the Thunder promised, but especially if they actually guaranteed a larger role than he received – might want to play this pivotal season outside Oklahoma City.

Attempted-murder charge dropped against D-League prospect Eric Griffin

Dallas Mavericks' Eric Griffin dunks the ball against the New York Knicks in an NBA summer league basketball game Friday, July 11, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Eric Griffin – a 26-year-old former D-League All-Star who was still a viable NBA prospect – was charged with attempted murder in April.

Bret Strelow of The Fayetteville Observer:

The state of Florida on Wednesday dropped a two-month-old charge of attempted first degree murder with a firearm against professional basketball player and Campbell alum Eric Griffin.

The state said the case was “not suitable for prosecution.” Griffin will now attempt to continue his pro career after being falsely accused of a serious crime and having his reputation damaged severely.

“We’re happy that Eric was completely exonerated from these false charges,” Griffin’s agent, Tod Seidel, said in a statement released to The Observer. “Eric is eager to put this incredibly unfortunate case of mistaken identity behind him and move on to focus on his career.”

Griffin is now a free man, but advancing his basketball career might not be easy.

Our legal system is not set up to find innocence. If Griffin can convince teams of his innocence – and his defense presented evidence of it – he’ll have a much easier time getting signed. If it looks like the charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence rather than evidence of his innocence, teams might stay away. For a fringe player like him, he’s not guaranteed the benefit of the doubt.

This remains an unfortunate situation all the way around.

Report: Darrell Arthur opting out of Nuggets contract

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 23:  Darrell Arthur #00 of the Denver Nuggets reacts to a three point shot against the Phoenix Suns during the second half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 23, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Nuggets defeated the Suns 104-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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When the Nuggets signed Darrell Arthur with their room exception last summer, I praised the deal for Denver then added:

If Arthur continues to develop his jumper, this signing could be a major steal. I wouldn’t count on that, but there’s a little upside with the 27-year-old.

Well, Arthur posted career highs in 3-pointers made (45) and 3-point percentage (38.5).

So, he doesn’t want to be a major steal any longer.

Arthur, who would’ve made $2,940,630 by opting in, should get a substantial raise in this cap environment. At age 28, this is his chance to secure a major contract.

Once again, Denver defended far better with him on the floor – 103.5 points allowed per 100 possessions with him on, 108.3 with him off. The combo forward is extremely versatile in the range of players he can guard, and his basketball IQ is high on that end. At 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, he’s not the best rebounder, though.

Nearly every team could use someone like Arthur. At least a few will likely bid for his services.

Mavericks’ reported Plan A: Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 03:  Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat takes a shot against JaVale McGee #11 of the Dallas Mavericks in the first half at American Airlines Center on February 3, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Mavericks, upon agreeing to terms with DeAndre Jordan last summer, believed they situated themselves as a legitimate contender to sign Kevin Durant.

Oops.

Jordan returned to the Clippers, and Dallas rode a hastily assembled roster as far as it could (to a first-round loss). That probably won’t sway Durant.

Assuming it doesn’t, Dallas has a new more realistic plan: Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside.

Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Dallas Mavericks expect to be granted a meeting in the opening hours of free agency with Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside, one of the Mavericks’ two primary targets this summer, sources told ESPN.com.

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley is the other top target for the Mavs, according to sources, as Dallas attempts to construct a core that will allow the franchise to be competitive during veteran Dirk Nowitzki‘s twilight and beyond.

That’d be a fantastic coup for Dallas. Conley, Wesley Matthews, Dirk Nowitzki and Whiteside would be about as good a core as the Mavericks can get. That’s how you maximize Nowitzki’s remaining years.

And it might actually be realistic.

The Heat don’t have Whiteside’s Bird Rights, and they also want to re-sign Dwyane Wade. It won’t be easy managing that.

The Grizzlies are reportedly concerned about Conley leaving. That’s a change in tone.

Signing Conley and Whiteside to max deals – surely what it’d take to land them – would leave about $13 million to sign Nowitzki and a small forward. Justin Anderson might be ready for a bigger role, but Dallas would likely also target a safer choice to provide insurance.

With that roster, a decent veteran would probably be tempted by the cap space Nowitzki doesn’t want. Then, Dallas would be rolling.

Of course, there’s a lot of wishful thinking here. Plan A might work, but it probably won’t. What’s Plan B?

Report: Thunder to guarantee Ersan Ilyasova’s contract

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 06:  Kelly Olynyk #41 of the Boston Celtics defends Ersan Ilyasova #23 of the Detroit Pistons during the first quarter at TD Garden on January 6, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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This is the best indication yet the Thunder believe they can re-sign Kevin Durant.

Ersan Ilyasova – acquired from the Magic in the Serge Ibaka trade – will make $8.4 million season unless he’s waived by July 1. If dropped by then, his salary is just $400,000 guaranteed.

Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

If Durant re-signs, the Thunder wouldn’t have cap space anyway. All they’d accomplish by waiving Ilyasova is saving money and losing a useful role player (maybe their starting power forward).

If Durant leaves, Oklahoma City might want to free the extra cap space to pursue other free agents. (There’s a chance they’d keep Ilyasova, anyway. He’s not bad value at $8.4 million. But they’d probably prioritize wing help and someone better fit to play up-tempo with Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo.

Because the Thunder have to decide on Ilyasova before Durant likely makes his decision, they’re signaling how they feel about their odds of keeping Durant.