From NBA.com staff reports
The courting of Dwight Howard is officially over (thank goodness!) … now we’ve just got to wait on his decision. The Dwight/Lakers drama isn’t affecting what the Clippers are doing this offseason as they continue to add solid pieces to their Pacific Division-winning group, with their most recent move coming courtesy of three-team trade. The Clippers picked up free-agent shooter J.J. Redick and Suns marksman Jared Dudley in a deal between themselves, the Suns and Bucks. Although the Clips had to deal prized guard Eric Bledsoe to pick up the shooters, it’s a deal that keeps the Clips humming along. Other teams out West either made themselves better (in the case of the Wolves, who added Kevin Martin and re-signed Chase Budinger) or kept a key piece in place (such as the Grizzlies, who retained defensive ace Tony Allen).:
Smith’s chances of staying with Knicks improving?
As shooting guards like Redick, Martin and others have been snapped up on the free-agent market, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, J.R. Smith, waits for an offer. Smith opted out of his contract to test the waters on a big payday, but according to the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola, Smith could decide to go back to New York if the market keeps playing out as it has:
J.R. Smith’s list of potential suitors continues to grow but the contracts signed by two free agent shooting guards on Tuesday increases the likelihood of Smith returning to the Knicks.
The Clippers agreed to acquire J.J. Redick in a sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks while Oklahoma City Thunder free agent Kevin Martin verbally agreed to a four-year, $28 million deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The maximum the Knicks can offer Smith, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, is a four-year contract starting at approximately $5.5 million per season.
Smith has told close friends that if the money is comparable his preference would be to re-sign with the Knicks. Still, some of the teams that contacted Smith’s representatives have the ability to offer a deal approaching $30 million. The Pistons, Mavs, Rockets, Bucks and Bobcats have all expressed interest in Smith, who is coming off his best season.
With Redick and Martin setting the market for shooting guards, there is a sense that Smith’s free agency can reach a conclusion by the end of the week. The Knicks have made it known that they want their second leading scorer back and ideally they’d like to sign Smith to a two-year deal. But Smith, who came to the Knicks midway through the lockout season during a tumultuous stint in China, is looking to be rewarded for his performance and loyalty.
The fact that both Carmelo Anthony and Garden Chairman James Dolan are both in Smith’s corner is a factor to say the least. Dolan, according to a source, was briefed on the club’s free agent negotiations on Tuesday. Dolan has been more involved in the day-to-day operations of the basketball side since 2010 when he was front and center during the Knicks free agent presentation to LeBron James.
Report: Pistons make offer for Raptors’ Gay
When the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay as part of a three-team deal with Memphis, Detroit and Toronto, the Grizz came out of the deal with Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye. The Raptors ended up with Gay, who played 33 games for them and — on a points-per-game basis — finished as their top scorer. But apparently the Pistons originally wanted Gay in the first swap, so they’ve solicited the Raptors to try and get him again, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
The Detroit Pistons were among the bidders for forward Rudy Gay when the Memphis Grizzlies made him available last season and they are once again going after him now that there’s been a management changeover in Toronto.
The Pistons have offered the Raptors the expiring contracts of Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva in an attempt to acquire Gay, league sources told ESPN.com.
Stuckey and Villanueva are both scheduled to make $8.5 million this season and Gay has two years and $37 million left on his contract. Gay averaged 19.5 points on 43 percent shooting in 33 games after a midseason trade sent him to Toronto.
Rockets trying to land J-Smoove and Dwight?
Our man David Aldridge touched on this overnight, but it seems that what Howard does in free agency may have a direct effect on what Hawks free agent Josh Smith does as well. USA Today’s Sam Amick reports on Smith, who has long been on the Houston Rockets’ radar. Houston is also actively pursuing Howard and is thought to have a good shot to land the All-Star center. And while some have reported Smith is a backup plan for Houston should it lose out on Howard, that may not be the case:
According to two people with knowledge of the situation, the Rockets’ Monday meeting with free agent forward Josh Smith in Los Angeles included a discussion about a possible partnership with him and his childhood friend from Atlanta in Howard.
Smith has long been known to be on the Rockets’ radar, but he is not viewed solely as a backup plan to Howard should he decide to sign elsewhere and the possibility remains of another superteam being created with Howard and Smith joining franchise centerpiece James Harden. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the talks.
There would be serious hurdles to this sort of deal, but the Rockets may be able to get it done if they could convince Smith’s former team, the Atlanta Hawks, to take part in a sign-and-trade that would clear the necessary salary cap space to sign both players.
To that end, a CBSSports.com report on Sunday indicated that the Rockets have been discussing possible trades involving center Omer Asik and point guard Jeremy Lin with other teams. Both players are scheduled to earn $8.3 million in each of the next two seasons, meaning they could possibly be moved as a way to free up the funds to bring Howard and Smith together.
Howard completed his free agency meetings on Tuesday by meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers. He met with the Rockets first on Sunday night, followed by Golden State and Atlanta on Monday and the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday before the Lakers. Smith is also being targeted by the Detroit Pistons and is believed to have at least five suitors.
Suns-Clips trade spells trouble for Marshall
Kendall Marshall was the 13th overall pick of the 2012 Draft and the third point guard (behind Rookie of the Year winner Damian Lillard and the Pelicans’ Austin Rivers) off the board that night. However, he struggled to find minutes with the Suns and even had a nine-game stint in the NBA D-League. The Suns’ acquisition of Bledsoe from the Clippers in last night’s trade may only spell more bad news for the second-year guard, writes Bob Young of The Arizona Republic:
The Suns won’t say it, but we will.
The Kendall Marshall draft pick last season was a mistake.
Then again, maybe the Suns did say it by taking part in a three-team deal first reported by Yahoo! Sports to obtain a quick, athletic point guard in Eric Bledsoe and veteran small forward Caron Butler from the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Suns sent Jared Dudley to the Clippers, who once played in his hometown. The Milwaukee Bucks, the third-team in the deal, ship guard JJ Redick to the Clippers and get second-round draft picks in exchange.
This isn’t to say that Marshall, who was selected when Lance Blanks served as general manager, doesn’t have a place in the Suns future. It’s just that it’s probably as the team’s third point guard.