In the coming days, the Spurs will officially sign and introduce LaMarcus Aldridge, which means he will need to pick a jersey number. The number he wore for nine years in Portland, 12, has been retired for Bruce Bowen. However, Bowen has given Aldridge permission to wear the number, as sort of a welcoming gift.
“You want LaMarcus to feel part of the family,” Bowen told the Express-News. “If I can have a hand in that, shoot, why not? I don’t play anymore.”
Not long after Aldridge agreed to a four-year deal worth more than $80 million to join the Spurs last week, general manager R.C. Buford phoned Bowen to ask about bequeathing the number to the team’s new prize.
The 44-year-old Bowen, who last played in 2009, agreed immediately.
“I hope it helps (Aldridge) feel comfortable,” Bowen said. “If he’s comfortable, the sky’s the limit for him here. It’s one less thing he has to worry about.”
It’s a cool gesture by Bowen, who was a starter on three of the Spurs’ five title teams and would have had every right to want his number to stay in the rafters.
Report: Tim Duncan’s new deal is for two years, starting at $5 million
Now that the moratorium has been lifted, the Spurs are starting the process of formalizing their signings for a blockbuster summer. Before signing LaMarcus Aldridge and David West, they’re going to get Tim Duncan’s deal done, and according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge, it’s a two-year deal worth $5 million annually.
Spurs housekeeping: working toward finaliIng two year deal for Tim Duncan ($5M first year, player option for second year).
It’s a steep pay cut from the $10 million Duncan made last year, but you knew he was going to take less in order to make the Spurs’ signings work under the cap. At 39 years old, his production has yet to decline, so if he continues to perform at his current level, his new contract will be even more of a steal than his previous one.
Expect changes to NBA moratorium rule in wake of DeAndre Jordan decision
You might want to avoid Mark Cuban today. Nobody can really blame him for being in a bad mood — DeAndre Jordan, one of the best centers in the game, verbally agreed to come to Dallas, and then at the last minute backed out and re-signed with the Clippers. Jordan started what became one of the wildest days in free agency memory by calling up Doc Rivers directly, blocking out his agent and refusing to take a call from (let alone meet) Cuban face-to-face. It blew up the Maverick’s summer plans to try and be one of the elite teams in the West (they were probably still on the second tier, but if Jordan hadn’t given them a verbal Cuban likely would have gone in a very different direction this summer).
Cuban isn’t the only team executive ticked off.
There are a lot of other front offices around the league that thought this looked bad for business — players hiding out at a home, avoiding responsibility while playing cards and video games. It was certainly dramatic. It was also unprofessional. There are a lot of people — scouts, assistant coaches, and so many others that work for teams on the business side — whose livelihoods depend on the $5 billion NBA business, and this made it look like a toy.
What Jordan did was within his rights, I don’t have a problem with a player deciding to go where he wants. I don’t blame the Clippers — they got a direct call from Jordan saying he was having second thoughts, and their title hopes hinged on him changing his mind.
But there will be fallout from how this is done.
Other teams also saw how this shook out and feared the repercussions. For one it could mean even when a free agent decides to move on — and it doesn’t happen that often, major targets stay put about two-thirds of the time — the recruiting of them might not stop. Up to now, there had been an unwritten rule that once a player verbally committed everyone backed off. What’s more, teams note that Jordan’s decision to go to Dallas led to a number of other dominoes to fall in free agency. Teams chased other players, and those players made decisions based on Dallas not having cap space. Dallas likely doesn’t sign Wesley Matthews to a $57 million deal if Jordan says no the first time. Now all of that could open up again.
As a result, there is one thing you can bet on this summer — there will be a push to change the NBA’s moratorium period.
The challenge is that the moratorium is collectively bargained, so that changing it requires the union to buy in and tweak the CBA. That is a combative relationship as the two sides posture for the 2017 lockout, getting that done may not be easy. Plus don’t forget the Clippers’ Chris Paul is the union president, and that long break worked out pretty well for him this year.
There are couple reasons for the moratorium, which is usually seven to nine days (although next year it is scheduled to be until July 12.). One is to allow the league to crunch the numbers from the previous season, then use the final financial figures to set the new salary cap and tax line for next season. This year, that number jumped from the anticipated $67 million up to $70 million. That also impacts how much a max salary is and more.
The other (and league officials will tell you the main reason) is to give other teams the chance to meet with free agents and pitch them fairly. If there is no moratorium, it encourages teams to tamper and talk to players before free agency starts (which happens anyway through back channels, this would just make it more imperative and a larger operation).
Team officials would like one of two things to happen: The moratorium gets killed all together, or it gets shrunk down to three or four days.
The league wants free agents get the chance to meet with multiple teams and make a more patient, less pressured decision. That had some advantages for teams, but now some teams would like to do away with it all together. From Zach Lowe at Grantland.
That brings us to a simpler solution popular among team executives: Finish the damn audit on June 30, set the cap, and start real free agency — signings and everything — on July 1. Kill the moratorium. There would still be some back-channeling ahead of July 1, but since all players are technically under contract through June 30, such pre-free-agency chitchat would fall much more clearly under the league’s tampering rules. If some free agent were to switch teams at 12:01 a.m. July 1 without taking a single meeting, it would raise huge red flags.
If the union goes along with this — and that is no guarantee — my guess is next season will see a three-day moratorium. Maybe five tops. That way, the next time a player changes his mind, other teams and other decisions are not so far down the road. And the entire thing looks more professional.
Mark Cuban issues statement on DeAndre Jordan situation: “He never responded to me at all”
It was only a matter of time before Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would break his silence on Wednesday’s DeAndre Jordan situation. Jordan reneged on a commitment to sign with the Mavericks, choosing instead to go back to the Clippers. Many emojis were involved. You know the story by now. All we needed was Cuban’s side of the story.
We haven’t fully gotten that, but he says it’s coming soon. In the meantime, he’s issued a brief statement (via CyberDust, obviously), claiming that Jordan never responded to him, and announcing that nothing has changed regarding the four-year, $57 million agreement the Mavericks reached with former Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews. Here’s the full text, via ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon:
Dear Mavs fans,
There will be a time when I detail everything I know regarding the last 48 hours.
I don’t think the time is right to say anything beyond the facts that he never responded to me at all yesterday. Not once. To this minute I have not heard anything from him since Tuesday night.
More importantly, I specifically told Wes that I would not hold him to his commitment if he wanted to go elsewhere. I can’t print his exact response, but suffice it to say he is excited to play for our Mavs Wes Matthews is exactly the type of player we want in a Mavs uniform and our fans will love him.
He will be in Dallas today so if you see him give him a MFFL welcome
Cuban also called out ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who reported last night that he was desperately trying to get Jordan’s address:
CORRECTION: Sources: Cuban beside himself. Driving around downtown HOUSTON begging (thru texts) Jordan's family 4 address to DeAndre's home
Just a few days ago, fresh off his biggest free-agent score in years, Mark Cuban told a Dallas-area radio station that this summer was do-or-die for the current era of Mavericks contention. They were either going to land a star free agent — as they had just done, luring DeAndre Jordan away from the Clippers — or blow it up and start over, something Cuban has been vocal about his aversion to in the past.
“If we got shut out, we weren’t going to just try to fill the roster,” Cuban said (via The Sporting News). “We had the discussion that if we couldn’t get a serious free agent, whether it was one of the guys still out there or some of the guys who already went, then it was time to take a step back.”
Yeah, so, about that.
In the most bizarre sequence of events the NBA has seen since the vetoed Chris Paul/Lakers trade in 2011, the Clippers emerged victorious from the wreckage of the Great Emoji War. Jordan is staying in Los Angeles, and the Mavs are left hanging like Jordan trying to get a high five from CP3, with a ton of cap space and nobody left to spend it on. In the short term, for a news cycle or two, it’s a disaster. But if this is the catalyst for Cuban and the Mavericks to finally embrace a full-on rebuild, it could be a blessing in disguise.
Let’s be clear about something: even with Jordan in the fold, the Mavericks weren’t going to be contending for a title this year. In fact, it was more likely that they’d miss the playoffs than make it out of the first round. The west is too deep for anyone outside of the Spurs/Warriors/Thunder tier to be a sure thing, and Dallas still had (and has) too many question marks on its roster. Their other marquee free-agent signing of the summer, Wesley Matthews, is coming off a torn Achilles, an injury that has historically been difficult to come back from. Starting small forward and master free-agent recruiter Chandler Parsons may or may not have had microfracture surgery on his right knee. Dirk Nowitzki has finally started to visibly decline. They still don’t have a clear starting point guard — they were linked to Jeremy Lin recently, but he’s off the board now, and they’re left to pencil in Raymond Felton for at least some of those minutes, which…no. Elsewhere, their depth is nonexistent.
With Jordan, the Mavs’ roster is essentially where it was last year, in the mix for an eighth seed and a first-round exit as they’ve been every year since the 2011 title run. Without Jordan, and with their other injury and depth concerns, they can hardly be considered a playoff team. And if they’re not a playoff team, now is the time to finally start what Cuban has put off for too long. It’s time to blow it up.
That won’t take too much work, as there’s not much of a roster to blow up. Parsons can opt out next summer, and if he’s healthy it’s all but a lock that he will. The Mavs will have barely over $20 million on the books besides that: basically Nowitzki and spare parts. They also have an added incentive to be bad if they want to add to that: they owe Boston their pick next year with top-seven protections. Eventually, they’re going to need another young foundational player to transition them to the post-Dirk era. And given their free-agency track record, their best bet to get one is in the draft.
Luckily, if a team is going to be bad in the west, this is the year to do it. Most of the west’s bottom-feeders have gotten significantly better this summer. The Lakers and Kings won’t sniff the playoffs, but they’ve both added legitimate talent to the mix. Utah and Phoenix will be in the playoff hunt. Minnesota is a year or two away from contending for the postseason, but they’ll be better with Karl-Anthony Towns next to Andrew Wiggins. If Denver doesn’t blow up its own roster, there’s enough talent there to be mediocre rather than outright bad. The bottom of the west is Dallas’ for the taking: they’re really only competing with Portland, who are in a similar position after losing four of five starters, including LaMarcus Aldridge.
Without the pressure to contend, the Mavs can bring Matthews along slowly. He’s supposedly ahead of schedule in his rehab from the Achilles injury, but he faces an uphill battle that hasn’t had very many success stories. They can sit him out the entire season if they want to. That probably won’t be necessary, but if they’re not fighting for a playoff spot, there’s no reason to rush him back when they’ve just committed $57 million to him over the next four years.
Elsewhere, they have plenty of flexibility. They can take on other teams’ bad contracts to pick up extra draft picks. The next time an opportunity comes up like the recent Kings-Sixers trade, Cuban is in as good a position as Sam Hinkie to snag a Nik Stauskas-type prospect for nothing.
The Mavs haven’t dealt with anything like this since Cuban bought the team in 2000. It’s to his credit that they’ve always been competitive under his watch, always in the playoff mix and always in the mix to land the top free agents, even if that part of it didn’t usually work out. Now, in the wake of Jordan bailing, in the twilight of Nowitzki’s career, and without much young talent to speak of, it’s time to face the reality that an impressive 15-year run has come to an end. Starting over is going to be rough, but Cuban understands long-term payoff as well as anyone. He’s built a rock-solid organization and infrastructure in Dallas, one that’s better positioned than most to handle a rebuild. But that’s the reality he’s been handed.