NBA Free Agency Tracker: All the latest signings, news, rumors in one place

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Welcome to the wildest NBA off-season anyone can remember.

Thanks to the new television deal the salary cap is spiking by $24 million. Look at it this way, last season the cap was $70 million, next season the salary FLOOR teams must reach is estimated to be $84.6 million. Throw in some quality free agents and things will be fast and wild.

We will keep this post continually updated for the first 24 hours of free agency so you can keep up with everything.

DEAL REACHED 10:49 PM: Kent Bazemore is staying in Atlanta — which means Al Horford is Not. Bazemore has reached a four-year, $70 million deal with the Hawks to stay in Atlanta.

The real story is with this move and the Dwight Howard move, the Hawks cannot afford to bring back Al Horford. He has been meeting with other teams — Houston and Washington among them — and is now on the move.

DEAL REACHED 10:45 PM: It’s done: Joakim Noah is going to the New York Knicks for four years, $72 million, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN broke the news. This has been expected for days. This is also a huge gamble on a body that has started to break down in recent years — he is not the Defensive Player of the Year Noah from three years ago. If healthy, he can still defend — and quarterback a defense — plus give the Knicks boards. He’ll be great in the locker room and for Kristaps Porzingis. But I fear by the end of this deal the Knicks will regret it. This was a lot of money for a guy who just appears to be in decline.

DEAL REACHED 10:40 PM: The New Orleans Pelicans have signed E'Twaun Moore for four years, $34 million. The Pelicans want shooting and Moore shot 45.2 percent from three last season for the Bulls. He’s not a great defender and can be streaky, but this is an average NBA player price so the Pelicans are not taking too much of a hit here. It’s a decent roll of the dice, and again another guy who can play the way Alvin Gentry wants to play.

DEAL REACHED 10:36 PM: Jared Dudley is headed back to Phoenix on a three-year, $30 million deal. While that is a little more than I might want to pay the veteran who primarily plays as a stretch four, that’s not unreasonable. Expect the Suns to shop that deal around within a year, he’s not part of the long-term future there but he can help a little. Dudley himself confirmed this is done.

9:42 PM: Here is the latest with Dwyane Wade (according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports):

Miami’s first offer to him was $10 million a year, which is half of what he made last year and angered Wade. (Note, the Heat are still in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes and this offer could be tied to that.) Wade told his people to start asking around and saying he wants at least $20 million a year and four teams are interested: The Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, and Milwaukee Bucks. Remember, Wade grew up in Chicago and played his college ball at Marquette not far from Milwaukee. Of those teams, Dallas and Chicago make the most sense on paper, but if Miami comes back to the table with a better offer expect a deal to get done.

9:28 PM: On Friday the Memphis Grizzlies agreed to massive deals for Chandler Parsons and Mike Conley. Now their owner has tweeted this:

9:16 PM: Kevin Durant’s four-hour meeting with the Clippers has ended, and according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard (who has overstated things before) Durant was “blown away” by the presentation. So that’s better than the Warriors “it went very well”? Whatever. The core problem for the Clippers’ pitch is that they cannot offer him a max contract without moving one of their core guys – no J.J. Redick, no Jamal Crawford, and on down the line. And even if the Clippers do all that for the “big four” Durant has to take a few million below max.

Remember last year when LaMarcus Aldridge came out of a meeting with the Lakers and word leaked about how bad it was? KD’s people learned a lesson and you will hear nothing but positives. Not to say the Clippers didn’t make a spectacular pitch, it’s just the salary cap math gets ugly fast and I can’t see Durant leaving OKC for that.

DEAL REACHED 8:34 PM: This is not exactly changing the balance of power in the NBA, but good on Justin Hamilton, who spent last season in the Spanish league, reaching a two-year deal with the Nets (no details yet about the guarantees on this contract, very seriously doubt both years are locked in). Hamilton is a center who played at Iowa State then bounced between the NBA and D-League for a couple years before going on his Spanish vacation.

8:18 PM: Multiple reports have Rajon Rondo meeting with the Chicago Bulls. Interesting. I completely understand why the Bulls needed to trade Derrick Rose, but if the plan was to get younger and more athletic, well, this ain’t that. Rondo’s side still trying to keep lines of communication open with Kings about a return, but they don’t seem interested.

7:42 PM: Evan Fournier is in a good mood after agreeing to a five-year, $85 million deal. No kidding.

https://twitter.com/EvanFourmizz/status/749023995102658562/photo/1

DEAL REACHED 7:28 PM: Sorry, this one slipped through from about an hour ago during a rush of deals: Jeff Green has bet on himself and taken a one-year deal in Orlando, reports Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today:

DEAL REACHED 7:23 PM: Dwyane Wade is still trying to get leverage on Miami (I still think it’s as much that as him actually looking around) and may set up meetings with the Knicks and Bucks next week, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

The Knicks already have Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, plus have talked with Eric Gordon, do they really need another guy with health issues on that roster?

DEAL REACHED 6:55 PM: It’s not yet official, but Mike Conley is on the verge of his expected five-year max contract with the Grizzlies, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. Arguably the most underrated player in the NBA, he’s not going to be the most underpaid any longer.

DEAL REACHED 6:36 PM: Dwight Howard is headed to Atlanta, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports, three years at $70.5 million. While he didn’t get max money (which he expected for some reason), he did get more than many thought he would at an average of $23.5 million a season over the course of three years. He just opted out of a $23 million deal.

Atlanta has built a solid team, one based around guys buying into the system, moving the ball, playing their roles, and just fitting in the overall plan. It’s Spursian. Can Dwight Howard really do that? Can he kick the ball to Kyle Korver and not complain? Can he defend and rebound and not demand 15 post touches a night? If so this is a good get, but there are a lot of questions.

DEAL REACHED 6:32 PM: Veteran reserve forward Darrell Arthur is on his way to Denver. The deal is three-years, $23 million.

6:20 PM: It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone — if Memphis offered Mike Conley a full five-year max he was going to take it. Then he helped recruit Chandler Parsons to Memphis. What did you expect was next?

5:46 PM: The Utah Jazz are going to have a second meeting with Jared Dudley. He’s the kind of solid veteran off the bench that can help them, if they can get him at a good price.

5:35 PM: Chandler Parsons makes it official on Instagram:

4:45 PM: The Dallas Mavericks are meeting right now with Mike Conley, trying to convince the last of their big targets to join them. However, after Conley just helped recruit Chandler Parsons to Memphis, it seems a meer formality that Conley is going to re-sign with the Grizzlies. Free agency has been rough on Dallas.

4:43 PM: We said below that the Cavaliers would have three days starting July 10 to match the Matthew Dellavedova offer from the Bucks. But the guy with the most power in Cleveland just basically said the team will not do so.

DEAL REACHED 4:24 PM: I like this move for New Orleans — they have signed Solomon Hill to a four-year contract. He will likely come off the bench, but he can play some stretch four next to Anthony Davis at the five for the Pelicans and make them a much more dangerous team. This is a good get.

DEAL REACHED 4:10 PM: Matthew Dellavedova has signed a four-year, $38.5 million offer sheet with the Milwaukee Bucks. Dellavedova is a restricted free agent, meaning come July 7 the Cavaliers will have three days to match that offer, or Delly will be coming off the bench for the Bucks.

DEAL REACHED 3:35 PM: The Orlando Magic were going to have to pay to keep Evan Fournier after his breakout season, and man is that the case.

DEAL REACHED 3:30 PM: This may pass the Mozgov deal as the most stunning of free agency so far: Evan Turner just got four years, $70 million from Portland. Turner is a nice player, Portland has money to spend, but this feels a lot like overpaying.

DEAL REACHED 3:17 PM: It looks like Chandler Parsons is headed to Memphis — which means Mike Conley will stay there and the Grizzlies just got better. Adrian Wojnarowski with the news:

DEAL REACHED 3:10 PM: The Bucks have reached a three-year, $30 million deal with forward Mirza Teletovic, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. I like this for the Bucks — Teletovic averaged 12.2 points a night in 21 minutes off the bench for the Suns, and shot 39.7 percent from three. This is the kind of bench player the Bucks could use.

3:07 PM: Out of virtually every free agent meeting you hear things went “well” (nobody wants to repeat the LaMarcus Aldridge/Lakers PR disaster of a year ago), but the notes that there was a connection between Dwight Howard and the Hawks out of their meeting seems genuine. That could come together.

2:29 PM: Be careful reading much into it, but Andre Iguodala tweeeted this.

DEAL REACHED 2:25 PM: Philadelphia has agreed to terms with Jerryd Bayless, three years and $27 million. That’s a fair price for a backup combo guard who can get them 10 points a night (10.7 a game last season) and will knock down midrange jumpers. This is the kind of deal the Sixers should get while they bring the young core along.

1:53 PM: Austin Rivers has a couple of meetings coming up, with the Knicks and Trail Blazers. Of course, Doc Rivers might yet overpay to keep his son in Clippers’ colors.

1:24 PM: Interesting note on Hassan Whiteside‘s max deal — it’s not a guaranteed max. The two sides negotiated a second plan where Whiteside takes less if the Heat can convince Kevin Durant to come to Miami.

1:07 PM: Wow, this is a shocker — O.J. Mayo has been “dismissed and disqualified from the league for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.” He is kicked out of the league, but he can reapply for reinstatement in two years.  Mayo had a rough season for the Bucks, playing in just 41 games and shooting 37.1 percent last season (he missed the end of the season with a broken ankle). He was a free agent, this is a rough time for this to come down on him (although he brought it upon himself).

The NBA will not say officially why he was booted from the league, but it has to be testing positive for a “drug of abuse,” a list that includes meth, cocaine, heroin, LSD and others. Back in 2011 Mayo served a 10-game suspension for a PED violation, however, this ban cannot be for that under the terms of the CBA (he would have had other suspensions before reaching this threshold). This is not unprecedented, remember Chris Andersen — the Birdman — was suspended back in 2007 but was reinstated two years later and went on to win a ring with the Heat.

12:58 PM: The Hornets have kept Nicolas Batum, but that meant losing Jeremy Lin and Al Jefferson via free agency. They are in negotiations right now to keep Marvin Williams.

12:57 PM: In case you were worried Kris Humphries wouldn’t be back in the NBA…

12:50 PM: The Warriors just ended a more than two-hour meeting with Kevin Durant. It takes a lot of time for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Steve Kerr all to beg. The Clippers are up Friday night, the Spurs and Heat are on Saturday for KD.

By the way, Andre Iguodala was in the meeting with KD. Interesting. He was rumored to be one of the guys who would be traded if the Warriors land KD, apparently not.

11:53 AM: http://nba.nbcsports.com/2016/07/01/report-pacers-nearing-deal-with-al-jefferson/

This is reportedly a three-year, $30 million deal, which adds some front line bench scoring to the Pacers.

11:42 AM: The Sixers have reached a deal to bring in Jim O’Brien as an assistant coach under Brett Brown. Good hire.

DEAL REACHED 11:12 AM: As had been expected, the Washington Wizards and Bradley Beal reached terms on a five-year, $128 million max contract. They had been talking since free agency opened.

10:51 AM: When Dwyane Wade put out feelers to other teams about leaving Miami, those other teams were understandably skeptical. We saw this movie last year, he used other teams as leverage against Miami. But this time, he may be serious (although I’ll beleive it when I see it).

10:36 AM: The Sacramento Kings are talking with Dion Waiters, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports. That is a bit of a risk by the Kings, but they need shooting are in a position where they need to take risks. Dave Joerger is good with challenging personalities.

10:29 AM: Mike Conley has always been most likely to re-sign in Memphis (if they offered the fifth year of a max deal) and he has been talking with Chandler Parsons about joining him there, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. Parsons met with the Grizzlies. By the way, there is zero chance they would team up in Dallas.

DEAL REACHED 10:15 AM: Jeremy Lin is going back to New York… Brooklyn that is. As had been rumored, Lin has reached a three-year, $36 million deal with the Nets, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. This is a good fit, the Nets need a point guard and someone who can sell tickets, and with the Nets Lin will get the ball in his hands and be asked to create and attack.

DEALS REACHED 9:53 AM: A lot to catch up on this morning:

http://nba.nbcsports.com/2016/07/01/report-pistons-andre-drummond-nearing-five-year-max-contract

http://nba.nbcsports.com/2016/07/01/hassan-whiteside-says-hes-re-signing-with-heat

http://nba.nbcsports.com/2016/07/01/report-nicolas-batum-agrees-to-five-year-120-million-contract-with-hornets

http://nba.nbcsports.com/2016/07/01/report-lakers-re-signing-jordan-clarkson-to-four-year-50-million-contract

http://nba.nbcsports.com/2016/07/01/report-pistons-signing-ish-smith-to-three-year-18-million-contract

http://nba.nbcsports.com/2016/07/01/report-magic-signing-d-j-augustin

2:24 AM: There’s been conflicting reports about who was meeting with Chandler Parsons when, but the Trail Blazers just got done with their meeting and threw a max offer down on the table, according to Sam Amick of the USA Today.

2:12 AM: With Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah the Knicks do not yet apparently have enough players with worrisome injury histories to reach their quota, they are talking to Eric Gordon (most recently of the Pelicans), according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

I’ll need to see the terms of the proposed deal, but the Knicks training staff should get a raise.

DEAL REACHED 2:05 AM: DeMar DeRozan said he was only going to meet with Toronto, that he wanted to stay. Not a shock then that the two sides have reached a deal, something first reported by Sam Amick of the USA Today.

1:57 AM: There were fewer deals in the opening hours of free agency Friday than there were a year ago, and on the Vertical’s live show Adrian Wojnarowski had an interesting explanation for why: The league had called around to GM’s Friday asking about all these meetings that were set before players and teams could talk. While a number of deals were reached in the first hours of free agency, teams wanted to hold off on announcing them to avoid the appearance of tampering. That makes a lot of sense.

1:41 AM: The meeting between Hassan Whiteside and the Miami Heat has ended without a formal deal being reached. Dallas and Portland still will get chances to woo him.

1:21 AM: Chandler Parsons will meet with the Portland Trail Blazers and they will offer him a max contract ($26 million a year for him).

DEAL REACHED 1:13 AM: And it’s done (well except that the papers can’t be signed until July 7), the Lakers got their man in 7-foot Cavaliers’ center Timofey Mozgov for an average of $16 million a year, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

What surprises me most here: How does Mozgov fit in with the up-tempo style Luke Walton wants to play? This is going to play poorly with Lakers fans but it’s a decent short-term fit — with their young, more athletic players they needed a rim protector, a guy who can set screens and do the dirty work. I’m not sure I’d want to give him four years — it basically kills the idea of offering two-max players next summer — and that’s a lot of cash for a big the numerous small-ball teams in the West can marginalize. I don’t think this deal is horrid, but I don’t think it’s good. And it will fall to whoever takes over Lakers basketball operations after Jim Buss to clean it up.

1:11 AM: In addition to Mozgov, the Lakers also have reportedly reached out to Evan Turner, and there is mutual interest.

1:07 AM: Chandler Parsons is going to meet with Memphis and Portland in the next 24 hours, and despite missing more than 60 games the past two seasons with knee injuries, he is expected to be offered a max contract by at least the Blazers ($26 million for him). I’d say that is unprecedented, but Wesley Matthews got nearly the same thing coming off an Achilles injury the season.

12:40 AM: The Brooklyn Nets need a point guard, and while they are going to go after Jeremy Lin they also will take a look at Brandon Jennings, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.

12:32 AM: Did not see this coming — Timofey Mozgov may be the Lakers’ big fish. The Lakers and Mozgov are in “advanced discussions” about a four-year, $65 million deal for the old-school big man, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports. My initial reaction is: That is vastly overpaying a guy who doesn’t really fit well in Luke Walton’s preferred up-tempo style. That soft weeping you here is Lakers’ Nation.

12:23 AM The Washington Wizards are nearing a max deal of five years, $128 million with Bradley Beal. While that is a lot of money for a guy who will be battling stress fractures his entire career (and have reduced minutes to prevent issues) if the Wizards didn’t max him out they’d lose him for nothing. The Wizards did what they had to do here. The two sides will reach a deal but he will sign that last, giving the Wizards about $30 million in cap space to chase other free agents.

12:14 AM: The first of many, many signs about how overheated this market will be.

12:08 AM: Who was Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak’s first call at midnight? Timofey Mozgov, the old-school center of the Cavaliers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports. Not exactly what Lakers fans were hoping for this summer.

12:06 AM: We knew that the Knicks wanted Joakim Noah and he wanted them, no surprise the two sides are meeting already. But man, this seems like a lot of money and a lot of guaranteed years for a guy battling injuries.

12:02 AM: The Houston Rockets have a midnight meeting with coveted swingman Kent Bazemore (who would be a fantastic fit in Mike D’Antoni’s system). James Harden is reportedly at the meeting.

12:01 AM: The Dallas Mavericks are waiting their turn to meet with Hassan Whiteside, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. The Mavs are one of the favorites, along with the Heat, to land Whiteside, and they will offer him a max contract (Whiteside has said he wants to make a quick decision).

Midnight: IT’S ON!

Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett Hall of Fame induction pushed back to May

Kobe Hall of Fame
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ASSOCIATED PRESS — Kobe Bryant and the rest of this year’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class won’t be inducted in 2020 – or at the birthplace of basketball.

The Hall announced Friday that the enshrinement ceremony will be held May 13-15, 2021, and the entire festivities will be moved to Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.

This year was to be a highlight for the Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, Massachusetts. Bryant, killed in January in a helicopter crash, headlined a decorated class featuring Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett that would have been enshrined in the recently renovated museum.

But the coronavirus pandemic scuttled those plans and hit the Hall so hard that it eliminated several full-time positions and cut senior management pay in the 25-40% range.

“These are people who have been a big part of the Hall’s success in recent years; it hurts deeply,” said John Doleva, President and CEO of the Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “The decision to reschedule Enshrinement into May of next year, along with diminished museum guest visitation and a very uncertain future regarding our multiple collegiate and high school basketball events this fall, has forced us to make these very difficult decisions. Our goal now is to conserve resources so that we may stabilize in 2021 and return to our growth trajectory in 2022 and beyond.”

“For this single event, and only because of the pandemic, we will relocate the entire event one time to Mohegan Sun which has been a long-time marketing partner of the Hall. Mohegan Sun has shown they can effectively operate a ‘near-bubble’ for our event which provides a more secure environment for our guests,” Doleva explained. “In making this announcement today, our goal is to provide this date and location change with ample notice for our network broadcast partners, nationally and internationally traveling guests and the many basketball constituents the Hall serves.”

Mohegan Sun is a long-time partner of the Hall. Doleva says it can operate a “near-bubble” to provide a secure environment for guests.

 

Vlade Divac steps down as Kings GM; Joe Dumars takes over in interim

Vlade Divac out
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Days after the Kings’ playoff drought reached 14 seasons — second-longest in league history and only one year behind the Donald Sterling Clippers — the repercussions hit GM Vlade Divac and he is out.

Divac has stepped down as the Kings’ general manager, the team announced Friday. Joe Dumars, the former Pistons GM who had been working as a consultant with the team, will step in during the interim while the search for a new GM takes place.

“This was a difficult decision, but we believe it is the best path ahead as we work to build a winning team that our loyal fans deserve,” Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé said in a statement. “We are thankful for Vlade’s leadership, commitment and hard work both on and off the court. He will always be a part of our Kings’ family.”

While there are legitimate questions about the job Luke Walton did in his first season in Sacramento, his job is safe, something first reported by Sam Amick of The Athletic and since confirmed by James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. The Kings also said there will be no other major roster moves made until a new GM is in place.

“Joe has become a trusted and valued advisor since joining the team last year, and I am grateful to have him take on this role at an important time for the franchise,” said Ranadivé.

Divac was a member of the best Kings’ teams ever (during the Chris Webber era) and is in the Hall of Fame as a player. Playing and being a GM, however, are two very different skill sets. Divac did sign a contract extension with the Kings a year-and-a-half ago.

The NBA restart bubble was not kind to the Kings, and that ultimately doomed Divac.

After a promising finish as the ninth seed a season ago, playing a fast-paced style that suited young star De'Aaron Fox, Divac made a move to switch coaches last off-season and fired Dave Joerger to hire Walton. However, under Walton the Kings played slower and were much easier to defend. The Kings did get healthy and start to find a groove right before the league was shut down, going 7-3 in those last 10, but once in the bubble Sacramento was a mess again with a bottom-10 defense in Orlando, and they finished 3-5 in the seeding games.

The salt in the wound in Orlando — and what really eats at Kings’ fans — was the elite play of Luka Doncic in Orlando, and all season long.

Divac — who had scouted in Europe and has deep connections there — chose to use the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on Marvin Bagley out of Duke instead of Doncic. While the Kings had scouted Doncic extensively (Ranadive even went to Europe to watch him play and backed taking Doncic), Divac and the front office staff thought the athleticism of Bagley gave him a higher upside than Doncic. (Scouts were often divided on Doncic: Nobody thought he would be bad, but some questioned his ceiling because he already had so much polish to his game and he’s not an explosive athlete by NBA standards. Divac and the rest of the Kings’ front office fell into this camp.) Plus, Divac liked the idea of a big man to pair with their point guard Fox, rather than bringing in another ball handler in Doncic.

Doncic almost certainly will make an All-Seeding Games team out of the bubble in Orlando, and in his second NBA season is an MVP candidate (he will get bottom of the ballot votes). Bagley did not play in any seeding games due to another injury, this one to his foot.

Moving on from Divac may be the right move for the Kings, but it begs the question: Who are they going to hire to replace him? What is the new GM’s basketball philosophy and what kind of team does he want to build? And, will he have the power to do it, or will Ranadive keep his reputation as an owner who likes to meddle in basketball operations?

The Kings need a change — but they need the right change. That will be the tricky part.

Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. taken off court on stretcher after collision

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It was the kind of play that happens countless times a game: Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. was trying to chase Doug McDermott over an off-ball (and moving) screen when collided with pick-setting 6’11” center Goga Bitadze.

This ended up being no standard collision — Jones’ head and neck whipped back, and he instantly went to the ground.

Jones was grabbing his neck at first and was on the ground for about 10 minutes — in the eerie silence of a fanless bubble arena in Orlando — before being taken off the court on a stretcher.

The good news is Jones has just suffered a neck strain, the team announced. There is no timeline for his return, but this could have been much worse.

The Heat and the Pacers, who already have tension between them thanks to a beef between Jimmy Butler and T.J. Warren, will face each other in the first round of the playoffs starting Monday.

Jones, who tested positive for the coronavirus before coming to Orlando (and was quarantined), will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has been making the NBA minimum since coming into the league and was in line for a life-changing payday this summer after playing strong defense while averaging 8.6 points per game — and some spectacular dunks — in nearly 23 minutes a night for Miami. Our thoughts are with him after this incident.

The time Shaq peed in Suns teammate Lou Amundson’s shoes – and worse!

Suns players Lou Amundson and Shaquille O'Neal (Shaq)
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Gilbert Arenas has earned a reputation as the NBA player who relieved himself in a teammate’s shoe (Wizards forward Andray Blatche’s).

But Arenas’ tactic wasn’t unique.

Shaquille O’Neal got into a prank war with Suns teammate Lou Amundson during the 2008-09 season. It got intense as Phoenix, coached by Alvin Gentry, reached the final game of its season.

ESPN’s Amin Elhassan on “The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz” local hour, hosted by Mike Ryan:

Shaq is the big prankster, the big joker. But if you do something against him, there’s no tit for tat. There’s tit for nuclear war.

He goes to Lou’s locker, grabs his sneakers, pees in them.

That’s the start, right? He then goes and let’s just say “messes with” some of Lou’s haircare devices, like his brush and his comb and stuff. Messes with them. Let me put it this way: Messes with them in a way that – I was comfortable telling you he peed in the shoes. I’m not comfortable telling you what he did to the hair stuff. And then this part, I will tell you: He tampers with Lou’s mouth guard.

He tampers with it.

He tampers with it.

Lou shows up at like 8 or whenever he usually shows up. And he’s skittish and nervous. And Suns.com is there like, “What do you think Shaq is going to do?” “I don’t know. I think he’s going to do something, though.”

So, I’ll never forget this. He’s sitting at the locker, and he opens – he starts to reach for the sneakers and then looks at them and says, “Nah, something doesn’t feel right.” Opens the door up, pulls out a fresh pair of sneakers for the last game of the year, right? Again, this is irregular behavior. Usually, you have a couple of sneakers. You break them in for the year, and you switch between two or three or three or four, whatever. So to break out a whole brand new pair … was weird.

Most of the time when you’re an NBA player, you don’t put on the mouth guard immediately. You have it in a case, and you give the case to the trainer. Then, you go out to the bench. Then, when you’re about to come into the game, that’s when you grab your mouthpiece.

There’s no funnier image than Alvin drawing up a play, kneeling down, coaches standing around him. Lou is sitting there, because now he’s in the game. The guys who are in the game are usually seated. Sitting there just staring at the clipboard, like, “OK, coach. I got you.” And everyone else is just staring at Lou. No one’s paying attention.

Puts the mouth guard in. One, two [sounds of disgust], takes the mouth guard out and flings it with tremendous accuracy at the bench. Everyone starts dying. I remember going back and watching the broadcast, “Oh, Suns bench seems to be getting a lot of fun.” They had no idea what’s happening.

What did Shaq do to Amundson’s mouth guard? My imagination is running WILD.

Elhassan also explains why Grant Hill took 25 shots – his most in four years – in that game. Hill needed to score 26 points to average 12 points per game for the season, which would trigger a large bonus in his shoe contract. Hill’s gunning got him 27 points.

It’s a good podcast with other fun anecdotes and worth a listen.