Kurt Helin

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Another summer, another round of Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey going after big-name targets.

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Just like you can count on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival being exceptional, you can be assured of one thing every summer in the NBA:

Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey is going big game hunting.

The Dwight Howard experiment didn’t exactly work out (to put it kindly), but that is not stopping Morey’s quest to find the right star to go next to James Harden, reports Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

According to a source the Houston Rockets are looking at the following high-level free agents: Al Horford, Kevin Durant, Hassan Whiteside and Ryan Anderson. The team’s search to upgrading the roster will be wide and not just strictly with these four players.

The Rockets can’t even get a seat at the table with Durant, so that’s out.

Whiteside would be a good fit — particularly with Mike D’Antoni running the show — but he also is in serious demand, and the expectation is the Heat will keep him by maxing him out. Pat Riley can’t afford to lose him.

Ryan Anderson would be a good fit at the four, but he will be in serious demand once free agency opens.

Morey has a lot of work to do this summer — he has a nice roster, but not one that can play the way Mike D’Antoni wants. James Harden can. Trevor Ariza can. Guys like Corey Brewer, Clint Capela, and Patrick Beverley can be role players, but much of this roster needs to be changed over. A star certainly helps that, but it’s going to be the depth and fit of role players that needs to be addressed.

 

Report: Wizards’ new top free agent target — Ryan Anderson

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The Kevin Durant dream is dead. Even the most die hard of Wizards’ fans have accepted this fate.

So if not the hometown hero, then who?

How about Ryan Anderson? That’s the franchise’s top target now, according to J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com.

Now that Kevin Durant has dropped from the wish list for the Wizards with free agency set to open at the end of the week, Ryan Anderson is their next priority, multiple league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com on Monday, and they’ll make an aggressive move in hopes of securing the three-point shooting forward.

Anderson, a 6-10 free agent from the New Orleans Pelicans, averaged 17 points and six rebounds in 66 appearances last season. He shot 36.6% from three-point range and is the type of stretch option that could work better than Jared Dudley and Kris Humphries did in a disastrous 41-41 season.

The interesting question is this: If the Wizards are interested in Anderson, what does that say for Markieff Morris? The Wizards went after Anderson at the trade deadline but ended up with Morris, who played fairly well for them and has a very reasonable three years, $24 million left on his deal.

Because he’s missed time with injuries and been essentially hidden in New Orleans (a team with few national television games) people have forgotten that when healthy, Anderson is arguably the best stretch four in the NBA. He averaged 17 points a game and shot 36.6 percent from three last season, plus pulled down six boards a game. He’s able to do more than just shoot the rock, he can put the ball on the floor and create a little too. His weakness is the other end of the floor; he’s not getting you a lot of stops.

There will be a lot of demand for his services. For the Wizards to win that battle, they are going to have to offer the most money. Is Ted Leonsis ready to write those checks?

Bulls’ Fred Hoiberg confuses Brook Lopez’s name with twin Robin during press conference

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It was the best thing the Bulls got back in the Derrick Rose trade with the Knicks. If they could have, the Bulls would have shipped Rose out of town for a rack of shoot around basketballs, but what they got in return was a quality NBA center who can defend the rim in Robin Lopez (there were other parts to the deal).

Except, during his press conference Bulls’ coach Fred Hoiberg confused Robin with his brother (and Brooklyn Net) Brook.

Fred, you can tell them apart by the hair.

Obviously, this was an accidental slip of the tongue — Hoiberg goes on to describe Robin’s game, not the more offensive-minded Brook — and nobody is going to be mad at him four it. Not the Lopez brothers, who are used to it.

Besides, Robin’s game probably better fits what the Bulls need in their retooling.

The only person who would probably rather have Brook is Benny the Bull.

Report: Memphis declines $9.4 million option on Lance Stephenson, he is free agent

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As the injuries mounted (and mounted and mounted) in Memphis this season, Lance Stephenson put up numbers. Starting with when he was traded to Memphis — the Clippers, who wanted to move on from him — he averaged 14.2 points per game with a PER of 17.1 and a true shooting percentage of 53.6 percent, both a little above league averages. He helped keep the Grizzlies in the playoffs despite all the injuries.

That doesn’t mean the Grizzles wanted to keep him around, at least at $9.4 million per season.

Memphis declined their player option with him, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Grizzlies declined the option in order to keep as much cap space as possible, sources said, as they hope to retain point guard Mike Conley, who is an unrestricted free agent after nine seasons with the Grizzlies.

Stephenson, 25, will become an unrestricted free agent. There remains interest in a possible return to the Grizzlies as well as interest from other organizations, sources said. Stephenson showed with Memphis that he can have an impact as a playmaker and source of energy.

Stephenson could have an impact as a sixth man, a guy who gets the ball in his hands more and can create with that unit. That said, when he went to a contender like the Clippers where he had to work off the ball more (because they’re not taking it out of Chris Paul and Blake Griffins’ hands) he struggled to find a role, struggled to fit in the locker room, and was slid out the door quickly. It’s going to be all about fit and buy in with Stephenson.

That and, how much will teams be willing pay him? And for how many years? My guess is he takes a pay cut by a couple million, but more importantly, teams will not want to be locked in long-term with him.

Grizzlies release video in attempt to keep Conley in Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies’ pitch to keep free-agent guard Mike Conley in the fold includes a short video with an introduction from singer Justin Timberlake.

The Grizzlies released the 2 minute, 44 second video Monday.

The video is titled “Our Conductor” and features an orchestra playing over highlights of Conley in action. The video includes testimonials from Grizzlies teammates Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen. Randolph calls Conley the “Memphis maestro.” At the start of the video, Timberlake says that “when we show love to one of our own (in Memphis), it’s all hands on deck.” The video is directed by Craig Brewer, whose movie credits include “Hustle and Flow.”

Conley has been with the Grizzlies his entire nine-year NBA career but becomes a free agent Friday.