Who is still out there: Top 10 free agents still on the market

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At this point in what has been a fast-moving summer, most teams are just rounding out the final couple spots on their rosters. The guys at the end of the bench who may not see much playing time once the season tips off. Yet, there are still a few interesting free agent targets still on the market — a couple at the top of the list who could play significant roles for the Cavaliers next season. But even farther down are solid, veteran reserves still trying to find a chair for next season before the music stops.

Here’s our updated list of the top 10 guys still on the market.

1) Tristan Thompson — The Cavaliers and Thompson are still haggling, but a deal will get done — because LeBron James wants a deal to get done. Thompson is a restricted free agent but neither of the teams with a lot of cap space — Philadelphia and Utah — will use it to make him a big offer. He doesn’t have a ton of leverage. Plus the Cavs are deep into the luxury tax now, so every dollar spent on Thompson comes with an additional price. Kevin Love got maxed out and Thompson saw what Draymond Green got, but he’s going to have to take less than those guys to get a deal done.

2) J.R. Smith — He likely regrets opting out of the $6.4 million in the final year of his deal because he is going to take a pay cut (and very likely be on a one-year deal). He is still expected to re-sign with the Cavaliers, with whom he met last week, in part because there is not a strong market for the classic volume scorer (those Lakers rumors that popped up online Tuesday were pure fantasy, LA is not interested).

3) Jason Terry — In the wake of the Ty Lawson trade it has been expected around the league Terry would reach a deal as a reserve in Houston, but that has yet to be finalized. In fact, the Rockets renounced their rights to him (he can still sign with Houston, the Rockets cannot offer more than any other team now, however). He may not defend much anymore, but he did shoot 39 percent from three last season.

4) Carlos Boozer — He’s much maligned by fans for his shortcomings (particularly on defense), but he still averaged 11.8 points a game shooting nearly 50 percent last season for the Lakers. As a scoring big off the bench who can run the pick-and-pop Boozer has value. The Mavericks, Knicks, and Rockets are reportedly interested.

5) Kevin Seraphin — A solid, traditional, backup big who thought there was a healthy market for him outside Washington where he played behind Marcin Gortat. Turns out not really. The Knicks, Lakers, and Wizards are reportedly still interested on some level.

6) Darrell Arthur — Denver is expected to re-sign him this week. He averaged 6.6 points a game last season for the Nuggets, plus he is a solid defender who plays a smart game. As a reserve at the four he makes a lot of sense.

7) Dorell Wright — The small forward shot 38 percent from three last season for Portland, but he played a limited role for that team. Coming off hand surgery, there hasn’t been much of a market for him.

8) Andre Miller — He had some early talks with the Sacramento Kings, but it seems unlikely he goes back to his friend George Karl after the Kings picked up Seth Curry. Miller is a high IQ, veteran reserve point guard that some team will eventually pick up, but the league is deep at that position, and there aren’t many openings.

9) Norris Cole — He’s a restricted free agent who may end up playing in New Orleans next season on the qualifying offer, and then will test the market again next summer. He played pretty well for the Pelicans at the end of last season (9.9 points a game, shot 38 percent from three) and would back up Jrue Holiday. There have been talks with the Sixers, but are they going to make an offer large enough that the Pelicans will not match it? Not likely.

10) JaVale McGee — Dallas reportedly has shown interest, and other teams may as well, but only if he can pass a physical and prove he’s healthy. His contract was bought out by the Sixers, so he’s getting paid anyway, will he be motivated?

Jonathan Isaac, Al-Farouq Aminu not expected to be back for Magic when games restart

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Jonathan Isaac was having a breakout season for Orlando. He had become a go-to defensive stopper for the Magic, a long, athletic, switchable defender averaging 2.4 blocks and 1.6 steals a game. He was going to get All-Defensive team votes this season and looked like a future Defensive Player of the Year candidate. (On offense he’s averaged 12 points and 6.9 rebounds a game, both career bests, but he is still a project.)

He hyperextended his knee and suffered a bone bruise in January, but it looks like neither he nor veteran Al-Farouq Aminu (torn meniscus) will be on the court for the Magic when games restart in July, reports Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.

Injured forwards Jonathan Isaac (knee) and Al-Farouq Aminu (knee) most likely will not be healthy enough to return…

“Not a whole lot of news there,” [Magic president of basketball operations Jeff] Weltman said when asked about the possibility of Isaac or Aminu returning. “As always, we’re going to wait and see how they respond to rehab. They’re both working very hard.

“There’s a difference of being healthy and then being safely healthy. It will have been a long, long time since those guys played and you know organizationally that we’re never going to put our guys in a position where they’re exposed to any sort of risk of injury. So that being said, we’ll just continue to see how they progress.”

Put plainly, the risk is not worth the reward. Isaac is a key part of what the Magic want to build in the future and they do not want to push him too hard to return for this handful of games.

Come July, the Magic will head down the street to the Walt Disney World resort complex in Orlando as the eighth seed in the East with a 5.5 game lead over the ninth-seeded Wizards (who will not have John Wall back). If Washington can close that gap to four games or fewer during the eight “seeding games,” then there will be a two-game play-in series between the teams, with the Magic just needing to win one of the two to advance (assuming they are still the eight seed).

After that, it’s on to the first round of the playoffs and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Isaac’s defense would be helpful against Bradley Beal and/or Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Magic are thinking bigger picture.

Winning percentage will determine final seedings in NBA restart; regular tiebreakers used

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Heading into the NBA’s restart in Orlando, the Trail Blazers are the nine seed in the West, followed by the Pelicans and Kings. All three of those teams are 3.5 games back of Memphis for the eighth seed, however, Portland gets the nine seed because it played two more games than either New Orleans and Sacramento, went 1-1 in those two games, and that gives Portland a slightly better winning percentage (.439 to .438).

That winning percentage matters because it’s how the league will determine seeding in a situation where teams have played a different number of games, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

In practical terms, this may not matter much.

In the West, if Portland and New Orleans both went 8-0 in the seeding games then winning percentage would play a role with the Blazers getting the higher seed. However, that scenario is highly unlikely. More likely is wins and losses in Orlando will decide this and other tiebreakers (New Orleans beat Sacramento in their one head-to-head meeting, but our projected schedule for those teams has them playing twice, so the head-to-head tiebreaker is still up in the air). Because of how the records shake out, tiebreakers are irrelevant to Portland — it will not tie any teams, winning percentage will decide their seed.

In the East, winning percentage is irrelevant for the playoff chase — either Washington gets within four games of Orlando hand forces play-in games for the final playoff spot, or it doesn’t and Orlando is in.

Eight teams not headed to Orlando considering mini-camps, summer games to help players

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Nine months is a long time to go without playing a basketball game.

That’s what the eight teams not going to the NBA season restart in Orlando — Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Golden State, Minnesota, and New York — face. And for all of those teams except the Warriors, developing young players to be the future core of the franchise is their goal, and no games from March to December will set that effort back.

Which is why the teams are talking about “mini-camps” — think college spring football — with two teams at least playing each other during those camps, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Among the front-office ideas presented to the NBA, sources said:

• A combination of voluntary and mandatory workouts for two weeks in July.
• Regional minicamps in August that include joint practices for a period of days and approximately three televised games.

Those teams also want other “voluntary” team workouts and to start their training camps for next season earlier than the teams headed to Orlando.

The NBA isn’t going to grant teams everything on their wish list, but there should be some allowance for organized mini-camps and scrimmages/exhibitions. This would be particularly important to New York (and maybe Chicago), where a new coach will be installing a new system and trying to start a new culture.

Those eight teams missed out on 17 or so “meaningless” games with their season put on hold, games that would have meant something in terms of developing young players and giving guys key minutes. The league should — and almost certainly will — take steps to allow those off-season camps and scrimmages, helping teams get their player development programs back on track.

Gregg Popovich’s powerful statement: ‘Our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race’

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As protests continue across the nation — sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, but really the culmination of decades of systemic and, sometimes, overt racism across the United States — NBA voices have spoken up. Players, coaches, and staff have done more than take to social media, they have participated in and led marches across the nation, and put their money where their mouth is.

One of those voices is Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

He had spoken to Dave Zirin at The Nation, and on Saturday he released a powerful video statement through the Spurs.

Popovich has been at the forefront of NBA voices willing to speak out on social issues and criticize President Donald Trump. Popovich’s voice carries a lot of weight, both as a leader of men, and as a former Air Force officer who underwent intelligence training and specialized in Soviet studies.

In addition to coaching the San Antonio Spurs, Popovich will coach the USA Basketball team in the Tokyo Olympics, now set for July of 2021.