Author: Kurt Helin

Roy Hibbert

Report: Pacers “quietly” shopping Roy Hibbert. Good luck with that.


Roy Hibbert is owed $30.4 million over the next two seasons (the second of those is a player option), which is a lot for a player who went on mental walkabout the second half of last season. He played in the All-Star Game but by the end of the season his PER had fallen to 13.5 — below the league average — which was indicative of his poor play. Then in the playoffs he posted multiple 0-0 games (averaging 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds a game) as the Pacers went from looking like contender to a team that was lucky to make the conference finals.

As you might imagine, the Pacers might like to get out from under Hibbert’s deal and think there might be a team willing to bet that a change of scenery brings them the best defensive big man in the game, the one from a couple of years ago.

So the Pacers are testing the trade waters, reports Sean Deveney of the Sporting News.

But, according to multiple front-office sources, the Pacers have quietly sought out possible new landing spots for their enigmatic big man.

“I would say they’ve been doing that, but quietly,” one front-office source said.

The Pacers had thought that if they kept their core together they could grow a contender and for a long time it looked that way, but the second half of last season shook that belief to the core. Now the Pacers are looking at their options.

They have made a five-year, $44 million offer to Lance Stephenson and are not likely to budge off that ballpark. Stephenson doesn’t like it but isn’t having much success finding other offers yet (that could change after the Carmelo Anthony/LeBron James free agency bottleneck breaks). The Pacers have shopped George Hill and others, basically anyone save Paul George is available (although David West would be next to impossible to get).

“They’re open to making major changes, if they’re there,” one general manager told Sporting News. “I think they’d be disappointed to see that same core group back intact, so it is a matter of, how drastic can the changes they make be? Moving Hibbert for multiple pieces would be a pretty drastic change, but they’re asking.”

I can’t see another team taking on Hibbert right now, unless the Pacers threw in a sweetener (future pick for example).

But do expect the Pacers to make some moves.

Reports: Kings shopping power forwards, Isaiah Thomas could be Lakers bound

Isaiah Thomas

Ever since owner Vivek Ranadive took over and brought in GM Pete D’Alessandro, the Kings have been aggressive — a welcome change for Sacramento fans following the final, blundering years of the Maloof ownership.

That hasn’t changed this summer — they are looking to move power forwards and add some defense to the front lines. What they are not looking to do is keep Isaiah Thomas (unless his offers are ridiculously lowball).

Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee tweeted about the power forward situation.

The Kings have their anchor up front — DeMarcus Cousins is the center and the focal point of the future, but next to him they are still looking for the right fit. The Kings have a number of guys who can play the four with Derrick Williams, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Reggie Evans, and even Quincy Acy, yet not one of those guys really brings rim protection, something crucial in the NBA.

The Kings are making changes in the backcourt as well — they clearly don’t want to match what the market seems likely to offer for point guard Isaiah Thomas (they got Darren Collison instead). As PBT reported, Thomas has had conversations with teams saying they will make offers in the $6 million range, but he could get more. It appears the Kings will not match, while Thomas is a fan favorite he’s not been a management’s favorite there.

One team that could offer more is the Lakers and they have interest, reports Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report.

If the Lakers get Carmelo Anthony and bring back Pau Gasol they become limited in what they could offer Thomas (the Kobe Bryant contract does that). Still, the Lakers are interested and for a charismatic guy in a major media market there are a lot of reasons to like that option. (Anthony, aging Kobe Bryant and Thomas do not exactly make a good defensive team, we should note.)

Thomas is one of a number of players behind the Carmelo Anthony/LeBron James bottleneck in free agency.

Just expect when the bottleneck breaks the Kings will be very active.

While NBA rumors fly in wild ride, LeBron James plays patient game

LeBron James

It’s only been five days. We’re just starting Day 6.

That’s how long we have been in this NBA free agency period (it feels like three weeks, but it just started July 1). Six days is too fast to expect even Pat Riley to have pulled off a miracle, or to have rebuilt key parts of the Heat’s roster. We’re not at the point yet where most players will take a discount, they are still dreaming big.

Six days is far faster than LeBron James needed to make a decision. And he knows it. So he hasn’t.

In today’s constant news cycle/social media landscape opinions — and the emotions of fan bases — swing on droplets of news. Especially where it concerns LeBron because he swings the balance of power with him — whatever team he plays for is instantly a contender. Other players will come there. He brings that kind of power.

But clearly the man is in no rush to use it. He went on vacation right as free agency started and has another one planned within a week.

Why should he be in a rush?

The message he sent to Pat Riley about improving the roster got through and is still hangs over the Heat, forcing actions. LeBron can let his agent sort through potential Plan B options, to meet with other interested teams. LeBron can even sit down this week with a handful of those other suitors.

And then still not make an instant decision.

Would LeBron like to get this wrapped up before he heads to Brazil to watch the World Cup final? I’m sure he would. That’s different from real pressure to get a deal done — what real pressure is on him to make a fast decision? Other teams may get frustrated with the waiting, so what?

Right now the pressure is on Riley, but he is caught in a vicious cycle — quality free agents don’t want to commit to the Heat until they know LeBron is on board, LeBron doesn’t want to be on board until some more quality players are.

Then there is the money issue — Riley doesn’t know exactly what he can spend. That’s thanks to LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade not giving Riley firm numbers to go by. Our own Aaron Bruski reported that contenders speaking to Isaiah Thomas were giving him a $6 million to $7 million starting number. Other free agents were told the starting salary was $5.5 million, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, although the Heat talked of trying to make a sign-and-trade deal. Luol Deng and the Heat spoke but could only go so far because there are no solid numbers, reports David Aldridge of

Those are strikes against the Heat, but every potential landing spot has its own big strikes, especially for a guy such as LeBron who wants to win instantly. The Cavaliers roster is talented but very, very green and untested (plus there is some ugly history with the last exit). In Houston, can two ball dominant wing players — LeBron and James Harden — share the ball, plus get Dwight Howard enough touches? In addition the Rockets are in the West and any trip to the West is a much tougher road to the Finals. In Los Angeles it would still be seen as Kobe Bryant’s team, plus that roster is a long, long way from contending. The Bulls can’t offer a max contract like LeBron wants. The Suns have cap space and a nice core, but if LeBron wants to play for an owner really willing to spend does he trust Robert Sarver? The list goes on and on, there is no easy, clean answer for LeBron, especially since moving again to chase a ring likely leads to another public backlash (even if it is Cleveland).

So he can be patient. Let the suitors tweak their rosters and make their pitches. All the while Pat Riley keeps pulling things together to round out the Miami roster. LeBron can sit back and let it play out much longer.

And all the while, the NBA rumor mill will just keep on cranking. Droplets of information will produce wild swings, at least until LeBron reaches an actual answer.

NBA’s best urged to take less “if they want to win.” Agents, unions unhappy with trend.

LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler

Just how badly did the owners smack down the players in the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)? Take these now regular comments as examples:

“If Carmelo Anthony really cares about winning he will take less money.”

“LeBron James demanding the max shows he only cares about himself, not the Heat.”

“Dirk Nowitzki showed he cares more about winning by taking that Tim Duncan-sized contract.”

In the last CBA negotiations the players went from receiving 57 percent of the league’s income down to 50 percent — that’s an estimated $350 million a year going from the players straight to the owners’ pockets. At the same time NBA owners are seeing the value of their franchises skyrocket ($2 billion for the Clippers from Steve Ballmer) and there is a new television deal coming in two years that is going to flood the owners with more cash.

Yet it is the players that are asked to sacrifice “if they care about winning.”

It was a complete and total rout by the owners two years ago at the negotiating table. The Christians had more success against the lions in the Colosseum.

As you can imagine, agents and representatives of the players’ union do not like this “take less” trend. A couple spoke to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News about it.

“Why is it that our best players should be getting less than they’re worth?” one union official told Sporting News. “We have a collective-bargaining agreement that already limits what star players can make, and limits the total amount teams can pay. We have a very tough luxury tax. And now you have teams publicly shaming their best players into a bigger cut?”

“It’s just ridiculous,” one agent told SN. “There is this whole brainwashing thing going on and teams are selling it to their fans that this player or that player should take less, that they would not take their money if they truly cared about winning. That’s BS. If you want to win, you’re the owner, go over the tax line.

“This is the CBA you wanted, this is what the owners wanted. Why does the money come out of the players’ pockets? The players just gave back a huge amount in the CBA. But, no, that’s the brainwashing — that the players are the bad guys if they try to get what the CBA says they should get.”

LeBron is getting criticism for exactly that stance — the Heat amnestied Mike Miller simply to save money last season (don’t let Pat Riley spin it another way, they could have done it this summer) and LeBron wants Micky Arison to spend. Part of what LeBron is doing now is making his point to Heat management. He wants to win and as his new contract, even at the max, is half (at most) of what he’d make on a true open market so he wants the owner to show he is committed to spending to win too. (And you think LeBron is going to get Robert Sarver to do that in Phoenix?)

The problem comes back to just how much the owners dominated the last CBA. As Mark Cuban has ranted more than once, being into the tax is more than just a money issue, the new CBA limits teams flexibility to make moves once their salary is up in the tax range — smaller mid-level exception, no sign-and-trades, and more. You can’t build a team the same way and GMs want that flexibility.

It’s not fair to the top players, but you had to know that many fans would side with management, because they pretty much always do. We don’t relate to what even an average NBA player makes, but we know we want our team to win. So the star player gets the pressure and too often to make that happen while the owner gets to skate.

Agents and union members may not like it, they can fight to change it, but it’s not going to change. They can tune it out as LeBron is doing, but the calls for players to take the hit aren’t going away.

Report: Devin Harris reaches three-year deal with Dallas Mavericks

San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three

Last summer, Devin Harris and the Dallas Mavericks reached a three-year deal for $9 million for him to be their reserve point guard. Then X-rays found a dislocated toe that was going to keep him out for a chunk of the season.

Harris did bounce back and play solidly for Dallas, getting in 40 games at an average of 20 minutes a night.

With Jose Calderon gone to New York the Mavericks wanted to lock down Harris again, and they did, agreeing to terms with him again on Saturday, reports Marc Stein of ESPN and confirmed by’s Tim MacMahon.

This is for three years, $9 million. Right at what he got last year.

In a world where Shaun Livingston and Darren Collison each just got $16 million, this is a good deal for Dallas.

Harris is a good pick-and-roll point guard who can get to the rim, passes fairly well and can manage a game. He’s not a great three point shooter but he can hit some (30.7 percent last year). He’s a solid veteran. This is a nice signing for Dallas.