From NBA.com staff reports
The biggest news — other than CP3 staying in Clipperland — from free agency’s opening day wasn’t that big at all. Mostly, a smattering of smaller-name reported signings dotted the map, including Mike Dunleavy to the Bulls, C.J. Watson to the Pacers and Eric Maynor to the Wizards among the notables. There was also Tyreke Evans getting a $44 million offer from Pelicans. As we gear up for Day 2 of free agency, here are some overnight items that you may have missed …:
Bucks, Mavs interested in trade for Bledsoe?
Chris Paul‘s tweet yesterday not only assured Clipper fans that he’ll be in the fold for years to come, but re-opened the door to trading his understudy as well, it seems. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, the Clips are thinking of moving reserve point guard Eric Bledsoe to either the Bucks or Mavs in an effort to land 3-point specialist J.J. Redick or scoring swingman O.J. Mayo.
According to the ESPN.com report, new Clippers coach Doc Rivers wants to keep Bledsoe on the roster, but the Clippers are nonetheless engaged in “live” talks with the Bucks and Mavs regarding trades. The Magic and Raptors may also factor into a Bledsoe deal as the Clips have been in touch with those teams with talks that would land either Arron Afflalo (from Orlando) or high-flying swingman DeMar DeRozan (from Toronto).
The primary driving force behind any trade for Bledsoe is the summer of 2014, which is when he will become a free agent. The Clips are reportedly concerned they wouldn’t be able to match the kind of offer sheet Bledsoe would draw and, thus, lose him to the open market for nothing. As you can tell, this is a fairly complex story, but some details are below:
Sources told ESPN.com that the Clippers have this week exchanged sign-and-trade scenarios with both the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks in potential deals that would bring either J.J. Redick or fellow free agent O.J. Mayo to L.A.
The discussions with Dallas, sources said, center on Mayo, whom the Clippers are said to have contacted in the first few hours of NBA free agency Monday. Talks with the Bucks, meanwhile, center on Redick, with one source close to the process telling ESPN.com that a face-to-face meeting between Redick and the Clippers was imminent, perhaps as soon as Monday night.
The Clippers, in their previous discussions with Orlando and Toronto, have targeted Magic guard Arron Afflalo and Raptors swingman DeMar DeRozan, although it’s not immediately clear what Toronto’s pending trade of Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks does to the Raptors’ ability to stay in the Bledsoe hunt. The Clippers had interest in Bargnani as a potential solution to their lack of floor-spacing shooters.
A trade with any of the known suitors would almost certainly have to include other pieces — such as Caron Butler‘s expiring contract — because Bledsoe is due to make only $2.63 million next season in the final year of his rookie contract.
If they can acquire another player or two Rivers likes, it’s believed he can be convinced to part with Bledsoe before the start of the season. The 23-year-old is eligible for a contract extension before the Halloween deadline for such deals for members of Bledsoe’s draft class.
Yet there’s clearly also a part of Rivers who wants to ignore the conventional wisdom that the Clippers can’t afford to keep Bledsoe as Paul’s backup and try to keep him around for one more season as the ultimate insurance policy for Paul.
The Clippers, with or without Bledsoe, are focused on adding perimeter shooters around Paul and Blake Griffin, sources say, as well as upgrading their perimeter defense.
Blazers interested in Rockets’ Asik?
The acquisition of Thomas Robinson from the Houston Rockets on Sunday could signal the Portland Trail Blazers interest in Rockets’ center Omer Asik, according to Chris Haynes at CSNNW.
But what’s being overlooked in all this was the Trail Blazers’ willingness to facilitate the deal in order for Houston to free up the necessary cap space to pursue free agent center Dwight Howard.
According to league sources, several teams including the Trail Blazers, are closely monitoring the Omer Asik situation. Reports are out that the 7-0 center is available. If the Rockets get that verbal agreement they so desperately want from Dwight Howard, Asik will be moved.
One source who is tuned-in with how things could develop tells CSNNW.com that the Trail Blazers are in the Rockets’ good graces, which could have an influence on where they choose to ship Asik when it’s time to do so.
Heat, Spurs pursuing Oden
Former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden hasn’t played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009 as a member of the Blazers. Since then, he’s undergone surgeries on his troublesome knees and flirted with comebacks with the Cavs, Heat and other rumored teams. As free agency chatter picks up, Oden’s name is buzzing again, with the reigning-champion Heat and the reigning Western Conference champion Spurs at the top of his list, per ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman:
Greg Oden will likely choose from a group of suitors that includes the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies, a source close to Oden told ESPN.com.
A source close to Oden told ESPN’s J.A. Adande that the Cavaliers and Spurs appear to be the best fits at this time.
Oden, 25, has battled numerous knee injuries and hasn’t played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009. He is coming off his third microfracture knee surgery in February 2012.
Oden was the top overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft out of Ohio State, chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers one spot ahead of Kevin Durant.
Oden has averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 82 career games and has been working out in both Columbus and Indianapolis this past offseason.
Kirilenko seeking long-term deal with Wolves … or elsewhere
On the injury-riddled Timberwolves last season, the sometimes-brittle Andrei Kirilenko surprisingly started the second most games (64). Kirilenko provided what the Timberwolves hoped for when they brought him back to the NBA after a self-imposed one-season hiatus in Russia as the spindly forward was second on the team in blocks (62) and was among Minnesota’s leaders in rebounds, points, steals and, not surprisingly, minutes played. Kirilenko chose to opt out of his contract last week to enter free agency, but tells the Russian newspaper Sport Express that he’s not opposed to a Minnesota return, provided the deal is right:
Kirilenko told Russian website, Sports Express, that he still has a few years of high-level play left in him.
“I’m sure I can play at a high level for three seasons more, at minimum,” he said. “After that, maybe, I’ll be forced to think about the veteran minimum. But what will be in three years, who knows? Before, I used to think my career would end at 30. But now I’m 32, and I still feel strong and full of the desire to play.
“I want to sign a longer-term contract. That doesn’t mean I’m definitely leaving Minnesota, I really like it here. I like everything, except the length of the deal.”
He went on to say that while he wants to be on a winning team, he doesn’t think he has to leave for that.
“The situation in Minnesota is terrific,” he said. “In that respect I’m very lucky. And the current team, I think, is capable of achieving a lot more than it did last season, when we were out of the playoff race early.”
Pelicans’ Rivers attainable now?
As our main man David Aldridge reported last night, the New Orleans Pelicans are looking to make a splash in the free-agent market and have offered up a $44 million contract to Kings guard (and restricted free agent) Tyreke Evans. Provided the Kings let Evans go (which, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick, is something Sacramento’s brass may not be ready to do), the Pelicans would boast a guard corps of All-Star Jrue Holiday, rising guard Greivis Vasquez and Evans, among others. That may leave last year’s No. 10 pick, Austin Rivers, as the odd man out.