NEWS OF THE MORNING
Report: Bulls looking to make blockbuster move | Report: Sixers taking extended look at Wiggins | Orlando a big fan of Smart’s intangibles | Report: Heat’s Allen mulling retirement | Nowitzki makes pitch for Anthony
No. 1: Report: Bulls looking to make deals to upgrade lineup — If the just-completed 2014 Finals have taught other NBA teams anything, it’s that building a team like the Spurs — one replete with superstars and solid, dependable depth — is the way to go in today’s NBA. The Chicago Bulls have apparently taken notice and are willing to part with just about anyone not named Derrick Rose, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:
According to several NBA sources Sunday, the Bulls have been actively looking to improve the starting lineup at almost any cost, with Derrick Rose the only untouchable player — and not by choice.
“They are looking to exhaust as many assets as it will take,’’ one source said of general manager Gar Forman and head of basketball operations John Paxson.
But the source said it was “doubtful” whether that meant the long-rumored departure of coach Tom Thibodeau could come into play.
Carmelo Anthony is still Plan A as the Bulls and the rest of the NBA await to see if the Knicks forward will opt out of his contract. But the Bulls are more active in their pursuit of Kevin Love than initially rumored. Also, don’t rule out LeBron James coming into play again if the four-time MVP opts out of his deal.
No. 2: Report: Sixers taking long look at Wiggins — The 2014 NBA Draft is one of the most anticipated events on the season calendar and is just 11 days away this morning. As such, expect teams in the lottery to start getting a better and longer look at some of the top names in the field — a practice that obviously applies to the Philadelphia 76ers. According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Sixers are taking a long look at former Kansas University star Andrew Wiggins:
The Philadelphia 76ers are getting an extensive look at mutually interested ex-Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins during a team visit, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Wiggins flew to Philadelphia and arrived Sunday night and is slated to work out for the 76ers on Tuesday, sources said. The 6-foot-8, 200-pounder is also scheduled to get a tour of Philadelphia and other key sites on Monday. The 76ers own the third pick in the NBA draft, and Wiggins would be excited to play for them if selected, a source said.
Wiggins also is scheduled to visit the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have the No. 1 overall pick, on Wednesday, and the Milwaukee Bucks, owners of the second pick overall, on Friday. Those visits with Wiggins are just one day as opposed to the three days he’s spending in Philadelphia. The 76ers have not scheduled workouts with other elite draft prospects such as ex-Kansas center Joel Embiid, ex-Duke forward Jabari Parker or Australian guard Dante Exum.
The 76ers also own the 10th overall pick in the draft, which is June 26 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
No. 3: Magic a big fan of Smart’s intangibles — Former Oklahoma State standout Marcus Smart was thought to be a top prospect in the 2013 Draft, but opted to return to school for a sophomore season. While Smart’s 2013-14 campaign in college was filled with ups and downs, he’s in the 2014 Draft now and may have a big fan in the Orlando Magic, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
Orlando Magic executives love Smart’s intangibles. They value his leadership, toughness and competitiveness so much that they might select him fourth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26.
In fact, the Magic might have drafted him with the second overall pick last year if Smart had decided to go pro after his freshman season at Oklahoma State. But Smart chose to stay in college for one more year. The decision was a shocking one; the 2013 NBA Draft was one of the weakest drafts in years, and Smart would have earned a salary of almost $4.8 million as a rookie if Orlando had taken him.
During a road game Feb. 8 against Texas Tech, and with the Cowboys just seconds away from their fourth consecutive loss, Smart hustled back on defense to prevent a fastbreak dunk. He contested the shot, and his momentum propelled him into the crowd. Smart stood up, heard something from a heckling fan, and confronted that fan.
The fan then said something else, and Smart shoved him.
The fan, a Texas Tech supporter named Jeff Orr, denied using a racial slur, but he acknowledged that he had called Smart “a piece of crap.”
Smart apologized and received a three-game suspension.
“He understood immediately where he was wrong,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford says. “He understood he needed to learn from that. It was just a situation where his competitiveness probably got the best of him in that split second. He learned so much from it, which he will tell you. But is that a reflection of him as a person or of his character? Anybody that’s been around him for an hour or 30 minutes will tell you, ‘Absolutely not.’ “
NBA teams asked Smart about the incident when they interviewed him at the NBA Draft Combine last month in Chicago.
“Just like I told them, it’s something that happened that’s in the past,” Smart says now. “I’m not proud of it, but I’m trying to move on from that. I’ve got bigger and better things to look forward to in my life, and if I’m too busy looking in the past, how can I see what’s in front of me in the future?”
No. 4: Report: Heat’s Allen mulling retirement — The Miami Heat already knew during The Finals that they’d have to find a roster replacement for Shane Battier, who is retiring. Could there be another key roster hole opening up on the Heat? According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, sharpshooter Ray Allen seemed to be mulling retirement after the Heat fell in Game 5 of The Finals last night:
Ray Allen hopes to decide in the next few days if he wants to continue his career or retire after 18 seasons.His contract with the Miami Heat ended when the San Antonio Spurs beat them 104-87 in Game 5 of the Finals on Sunday night.
“I’ve had a great career, I’m content with what I’ve done,” Allen said. “It’s hard to think past this moment. In the next couple of days I’ll think about it and see where my true heart lies.”
“One thing is for certain, to [make retirement decision] on my terms is the most important thing,” Allen said. “Whether that is me retiring, staying here or going somewhere else it will be on my terms. I’ve made it to this point and I felt great that I have the choice to make it for myself.”
There will be no suspense for Heat forward Shane Battier. He made his retirement official Sunday night.
“I’ve given everything I can to the game and I don’t have any more to give,” Battier said. “And I’m OK with it.”
No. 5: Nowitzki makes pitch for Anthony — Based on the most recent reports over the weekend, returning to the New York Knicks doesn’t seem to be too high on All-Star Carmelo Anthony‘s wish list this summer in free agency. The speculation will continue to run rampant from now until the opening of the free-agent market on July 1, so why not add the Dallas Mavericks to the mix? According to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, Mavs superstar Dirk Nowitzki made a bit of a pitch to Anthony over the weekend:
Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki has made a public pitch to recruit Carmelo Anthony to Dallas.
“If Carmelo would really love to come here, we’d love to have him,” Nowitzki said in an interview on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.
Anthony is under contract for next season but is expected to opt out of the final season of his deal with the New York Knicks and test free agency this summer.
The Mavericks, Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets are teams Anthony would consider, sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. Miami Heat officials also have started to explore their options in trying to create enough financial flexibility to land Anthony in free agency, ESPN.com reported last week.
Dallas is projected to have as much as $30 million in cap space this summer.
Nowitzki, who led the Mavericks to an NBA title in 2011, said that he would have no problem coexisting with Anthony, the No. 2 scorer in the NBA last season.
“Listen, I think I’ve showed over my 16 years that I can play with anybody,” Nowitzki said. “The only tough season I think we’ve had is when we had [Antawn] Jamison and Antoine Walker and myself who are all three kind of the same four-men, but other than that I think I’ve shown over my career that I can play with anybody. I’ll adjust, whether I have to get out of the way or go to the corner more, post up, pass. I’ll do whatever, really, that needs to be done out there to win or for this franchise to be a winner.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Bucks have workouts scheduled this week with Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid … Wolves big man Ronny Turiaf wants to visit every country in the world … The Spurs have become the new team of Texas … Should the Heat re-sign Michael Beasley this summer? This fella says yes … Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis has reportedly backed out of the 2014 Draft … Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is reportedly NOT interested in selling the team …
ICYMI of The Night: The 2013-14 season is officially over and the San Antonio Spurs reign supreme. Relive some of their best moments from the Game 5 clincher with our Phantom Cam …