As the Hawks try to replicate the success of last year’s 60-win campaign, they will have one major question mark hanging over their heads: Al Horford’s impending free agency. Obviously, the marquee free agent next summer will be Kevin Durant, and he will be the object of the biggest free-agency frenzy since LeBron James in 2010. But Horford will be arguably the second-best player on the market, and coming off a bargain five-year, $60 million deal as the salary cap explodes, he’s going to get paid.
Throughout the season, there will be plenty of speculation about Horford’s future, in Atlanta or elsewhere. But one person who will not be participating in that talk is the Dominican big man himself, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Al Horford, entering final year of his contract, says he will wait until after season to discuss any new deal. Wants focus on season.
Horford’s free agency talk isn’t going to go away, but with the Hawks looking to be an Eastern Conference contender again, it’s smart of him to nip the speculation early. He may stay with the Hawks and he may not. Either way, he’s going to command a max contract as one of the best and most versatile centers in the NBA at both ends of the floor. It’s a good bet that Atlanta will be aggressive in their effort to keep him. With a good core and coaching staff in place, they have to be considered the clubhouse leaders at this point to sign Horford. But he’ll have no shortage of suitors around the league.
Report: Kyle Korver was upset over being cut from Team USA for World Cup
It was great. Obviously, it was a great honor just to be invited to that, to be a part of that. It was a good learning experience. It got me playing good basketball earlier in the summer. I usually do a lot of shooting, but I don’t usually do a lot of 5-on-5 playing. I think that will help me out as far as preseason and training camp. Overall, it was a really good experience for me.
Even when asked specifically about getting cut, Korver remained positive:
It was a long experience to not make it at the end. But it was good. We’re having our second baby.
So, it was good to be able to come back home, just be with my wife.
So, there’s always a silver lining.
But in reality, Korver might have felt a little differently.
Even in the middle of the off-season there are so many news and notes around the NBA we can’t keep up with all of them, so here is a collection of short thoughts and news items we couldn’t plug in anywhere else.
• We learned this week with the new NBA schedule that the Houston Rockets open the season Oct. 28 against the Denver Nuggets, but Dwight Howard will have to sit that game out as a suspension for crossing the flagrant foul threshold during last season’s playoffs.
• Stephen Jackson says he is the best NBA player alive — on the mic. And by the way, he says Kobe Bryant’s rap career was “horrible.” Which frankly may be kind.
• Jackson may be able to rap a little, but can he lip-sync to Whitesnake like Nick Young?
• The Atlanta Hawks are about to hire former NBA player Malik rose as their manager of basketball operations, according to multiple reports.
• How much trouble is the Hawks’ Mike Scott in for his arrest on drug charges? Like 25 years in jail worth of trouble. There were drugs in a car where he was a passenger that was stopped by police, then Scott told police the drugs were his and his brother (the driver) did not know about them.
• What will be interesting with the Scott case is how the Hawks and league handle it. He is innocent until proven guilty, and Georgia law calls for the drugs in his possession (marijuana and Molly) to be tested before a court date is set, which takes a couple months. Meaning after the NBA season starts. Do they play him?
• Michael Jordan testified in court this week against now-defunct Chicago-based supermarket chain Dominick’s. The chain ran a 2009 ad for steaks using a picture of Jordan without his permission — Jordan and his attorneies are incredibly protective of his brand, and he sued the chain for $10 million. The worst part, just two people used the coupons to get steaks at the stores. There is no verdict yet.
• Chicago is one of America’s great food towns, and the Bulls (and Blackhawks) are teaming up with Levy Restaurants (the “hospitality partner) at the arena) to bring some of that food to the United Center. Trendy Chicago eateries such as Big Star, Publican Quality Meats, Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap, Leghorn Chicken, Lillie’s Q, LQ Chicken Shack, Frontier, Lottie’s Pub and The Pony will have food at concession stands in the arena. This is brilliant. If you want a boiled hot dog and a Bud Light you can still get it, but now you have options.
• Levy runs the food operations at a number of NBA arenas, and they have been great at bringing in local flavor in a lot of places. Maybe the best arena food is at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where you can get grub from Brooklyn Bangers, Paisano’s Meat Market, Blue Marble Ice Cream, Café Habana, Buffalo Boss, and Nathan’s. That is a fantastic job of capturing local flavor.
• A little news about a former NBA player taking the cash in China.
Shavlik Randolph signed w Liaoning in China. 3yr deal worth $7-8M (depending on bonuses) w NBA out after each season, according to source.
Do any other players have excused absences? I doubt Lillard does. Rose carries such a high profile, we’d probably know if he did. But I wouldn’t rule out Chandler, Korver, Lee and/or Williams.
Even if those four are still under consideration for 2016, I doubt they’d make it. Ditto Iguodala.
Like Chandler and Williams, Iguodala won a gold medal in 2012. He’s a glue player – capable of defending multiple positions and a good enough 3-point shooter. But he’ll also be 32 for Rio.
His 2012 contributions should give him a little extra leeway, and his wedding is a good reason to miss the minicamp. Kudos to Colangelo and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski for not being unreasonable hardliners on the rules.
Iguodala still deserves a chance to earn inclusion on the merits. It’s just hard to see him playing well enough to take advantage of that opportunity.
after a 16-year career in the NBA, Brand announced his retirement.
I could get in shape if I got the call but this looks like the end of the run for me, right now it is family time,” stated Brand.
I wouldn’t be shocked if a contender wants Brand to fill a roster spot during the season. Size comes at a premium, and Brand seems to be a positive locker-room presence.
If this is the end of Brand’s career, it was a strong one.
He faced oversized expectations at the No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft, and that still colors opinions of him. It’s not unheard of to hear Brand called a bust. That’s not fair, though. Brand posted more win shares than anyone in his draft class aside from Shawn Marion. Simply by being one against 57, the No. 1 pick has low odds of being the very best player in each draft.
But Brand did plenty to warrant praise. He made a couple All-Star games, led the Clippers to their first playoff-series victory since moving to California and had more 20-point, nine-rebound seasons than any current players except Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.
Neither Brand’s prime (seventh-place in 2006 MVP voting) nor longevity (16 seasons, including 13 with an above-average PER) have gotten their just due. Brand wasn’t all time great, but he was very good for a bit and pretty good for a while longer.