Iman Shumpert

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Jamal Crawford finds it ‘baffling’ no team has called to sign him yet

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Iman Shumpert got his call from the Brooklyn Nets.

Carmelo Anthony got his call from the Portland Trail Blazers.

Jamal Crawford is still waiting for his call, and he’s confused why it hasn’t yet come. From Shaun Powell of NBA.com.

“I know I can play,” Crawford told NBA.com, “and I would think my reputation is still solid. It’s baffling to me…

“Physically, I feel better than I did last season,” he said. “I’m able to get my body together. My skill set is sharp. I feel that I’m good. My mindset is be patient and hopefully something good comes about it. I’ll be ready for the opportunity.”

Like Anthony, Crawford needs the right role, but he can help teams.

He’s not young at age 39 but, in the right situation, he could help a team get buckets off the bench. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year has slowed in recent years, and his defense is a bigger concern to front offices, but the man still averaged 7.9 points per game last season off the bench and lit it up for the depleted Suns at the end of last season (including a 51-point game against Dallas). 

Some team is going to give Crawford a chance. Probably. Until then, he is staying ready, waiting for the phone to ring.

 

 

Nets’ Caris LeVert has surgery to repair right thumb ligaments

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NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert has undergone surgery to repair ligaments in his right thumb.

LeVert was hurt Sunday in Phoenix and missed his first game of the season Tuesday in Utah. He returned to New York and had the procedure Thursday at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

The Nets did not give a timetable for his return, however, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had one.

The Nets saw this coming and, with a roster spot opened up by the suspension of Wilson Chandler, signed Iman Shumpert to a short-term contract.

LeVert started the first nine games of the season for Brooklyn (every game before his injury), averaging 16.8 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. The Nets have been +7.3 per 100 possessions when he is on the court. LeVert missed half of last season with a dislocated right foot.

 

Seven veteran free agents that could help teams now

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Cuts have been made and NBA rosters are set for the start of the season. Optimism abounds around the league.

However, it will only take a couple of weeks before glaring holes are exposed, injuries inevitably hit, and some GMs are scrambling to repair their rosters get their team back on track.

That’s where these veterans come in. Here are seven guys that can step in and help a team right now. They’re flawed players (or they wouldn’t still be free agents), but they’re names that will pop up once teams start scrambling in the coming weeks and months.

1) Iman Shumpert

Wing is a position of need around the NBA, and wing defenders in particular are in demand. While everyone knows Shumpert is not the peak defender he once was, he can still provide some solid play on the perimeter. Shumpert shot 34.8 percent last season, played in eight of the Rockets’ playoff games, and continues to be a respectable role player. The Grizzlies and Bulls are reportedly interested in Shumpert.

2) Jamal Crawford

Crawford may be 39 but he can still get some buckets off the bench. No doubt the three-time Sixth Man of the Year has slowed in recent years, and his defense is an issue, but the man still averaged 7.9 points per game last season off the bench and lit it up for the depleted Suns at the end of last season. He’s also improved the playmaking aspect of his game. Some team is going to turn to him for bench scoring.

3) Joakim Noah

He’s the best big man still on the board, and a guy the Lakers seriously considered until Dwight Howard convinced members of the staff there he is is a changed man. Noah had a good run the second half of last season with the Grizzlies — 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds a night, plus solid defense in the paint, playing more than 16 minutes a game — which showed he can still help a team out.

4) J.R. Smith

Cleveland waived Smith in a cost-cutting move, the Bucks quickly talked to him, but since then nothing has materialized. Smith is 34 and his skills are in decline, including shooting just 30.8 percent from three last season, but it’s too early to write him off. In the right situation, he could help a team off the bench with veteran play. Just don’t have him on the floor to close NBA Finals games anymore.

5) Kenneth Faried

When Clint Capela was out injured for the Rockets last season, Faried stepped in and played well — he averaged 12.9 points per game on 58.7 percent shooting in 25 games for the Rockets. He’s just 29, and he can be counted on to get buckets. What he can’t be counted on to do is defend very well, which is why no team has snapped him up (and why he fell out of the Rockets’ rotation last season). Still, he can bring energy off the bench for a team.

6) Corey Brewer

He came off the bench for the Kings at the end of last season, in a very limited role, and while he had a workout with the Rockets, Brewer has not found a new home. Wings are in demand, and Brewer would be a good fit for a team that likes to get out and run (he’s at his best in transition), but the fact he struggles as a shooter from three has teams hesitant. Still, once the season starts, don’t be surprised if some team picks Brewer up.

7) Carmelo Anthony

The reason he is on this list is his poor defense. Teams have questions about his willingness to play a role, the number of midrange jumpers he takes, his efficiency, how he would be a big story wherever he lands, and how the game has moved away from ‘Melo’s style of play, but in the end his defense remains the biggest stumbling block to landing on a new team. That said, nobody questions his talent or that he can still get buckets. If a team believes he will take a role off the bench, he could be a good pickup.

Report: Iman Shumpert rejects offer from Rockets, who’ll have several familiar names in minicamp

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Iman Shumpert is the best free agent available.

Why hasn’t he signed yet? Apparently because he spent the offseason negotiating with the Rockets, but those talks haven’t produced a deal.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Kelly Iko of The Athletic:

Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic:

I wonder whether Houston tried to sign Shumpert to a contract similar to Nene’s, creating another trade chip. The Rockets are close to the luxury tax and probably wouldn’t guarantee Shumpert much. It doesn’t take months to negotiate a simple minimum contract.

Shumpert (29) is a credible wing in a league starving for them. He played well for the Kings last season before getting traded to Houston, where he struggled. Other teams should be interested.

The Rockets have just nine players with guaranteed salaries. There’s plenty of room for some of these past-their-prime veterans to make the regular-season roster. It might mostly depend on which of Terrence Jones (27), Nick Young (34), Luc Mbah a Moute (33), Corey Brewer (33), Raymond Felton (35) and Thabo Sefolosha (35) are in the best shape at this stage.

Rockets betting on talent of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, everything else be damned

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

There is a tried-and-true method for winning an NBA championship: Get two recent MVPs. It has worked every time.

The Celtics paired Bill Russell and Bob Cousy. Won a title.

The 76ers paired Moses Malone and Julius Erving. Won a title.

The Warriors paired Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. Won a title.

By acquiring 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook to join 2018 MVP James Harden, the Rockets are testing the limits of this plan.

Houston upgraded from Chris Paul to Westbrook in its trade with the Thunder. There’s certainly logic to that. Harden is in his prime, so this is the time to push in. It’s almost impossible to win a championship without stars. Stars are also hard to come by. Sometimes, you must just get whichever stars you can and hope for the best.

But Westbrook came at a significant cost.

Houston had to send Oklahoma City top-four-protected first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, a top-four-protected pick swap in 2021 and a top-10-protected pick swap in 2025. By the time most of those picks convey, the Rockets could be far worse.

The trade is salary neutral for the next three seasons, which partially explains why Houston gave up so much. Most teams would require a sweetener for taking Paul’s contract. But Westbrook’s contract runs a season longer, and the Rockets will owe him $47,063,478 at age 34.

There will be diminishing returns with Harden and Westbrook, two ball-dominant guards. They have the talent to figure it out offensively, though it will require major adjustments to how they’ve played lately. The defensive concerns are far bigger. Both players have frequent lapses on that end.

Westbrook, 30, has also declined the last few years. He remains quite good. But the way he relies on his athleticism, he could fall rapidly.

Based on name recognition on both sides, this is the most monumental trade in NBA history. In Houston, it will likely define the rest of Harden’s prime then – with those picks outgoing – the Rockets’ next phase.

Beyond that, Houston did well to build depth on a budget. The Rockets re-signed Danuel House (three years, $11,151,000 million), Austin Rivers (1+1, minimum) and Gerald Green (one year, minimum) and signed Tyson Chandler (one year, minimum). Most of the mid-level exception remains unused with the free-agent market largely dried up. But hey, luxury tax. Houston could still re-sign Iman Shumpert through Bird Rights.

The Rockets look pretty similar to last year – except Westbrook replacing Paul. That’s the enormous move.

I’m not even sure it will help next year, though. Houston could’ve kept Paul and fit squarely into a wide-open championship race. At least on paper.

The big unknown: How toxic was the relationship between Harden and Paul? Several Rockets denied a problem, but there was plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Westbrook is better than Paul. The two stars will likely get along better.

But will Westbrook add enough value to justify the high cost? All those draft considerations could have gone toward addressing other needs. Really, just needs. Houston didn’t need another ball-dominant guard one bit.

I support the Rockets prioritizing the present. Westbrook could propel them to a championship.

But given the fit concerns, the cost was too steep for my liking.

Offseason grade: C-