NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Kings, Pistons re-open J-Smoove trade talks — A few days before the 2014 Draft, there was buzz that the Pistons had engaged in trade talks with the Sacramento Kings with forward Josh Smith being the top name shifting from one team to another. In the weeks since, there hasn’t been much chatter on that front … until now. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that the teams have started talking about a J-Smoove swap once again:
The Detroit Pistons and the Sacramento Kings have resumed trade discussions on a deal that could send Josh Smith to Sacramento, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.
Sources told ESPN.com the Kings have continued to express interest in Smith and the parties are on the hunt for a third team that could help facilitate the deal.
As ESPN.com reported last month, Detroit and Sacramento have engaged in trade discussions that would potentially land Smith in the same frontcourt with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. Initial talks called for Sacramento to send Jason Thompson and either Derrick Williams or Jason Terry to the Pistons for Smith, but those discussions reached an impasse and were pushed into July along with the rest of both teams’ free-agent business, sources said.
Sources said the Pistons also seriously discussed various sign-and-trade scenarios this month that would have landed restricted free agent Greg Monroe in Portland, but the Blazers ultimately pulled themselves out of the race for Monroe by signing free-agent big man Chris Kaman to join Robin Lopez in the Blazers’ center rotation.
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, furthermore, is known to be fond of splashy moves. And trading for Smith, given the lukewarm reviews of his first season with the Pistons, would certainly qualify as bold.
Another potential bonus is Smith’s close relationship with Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, whom Sacramento has been targeting in trade talks for some time.
The Kings, sources say, prefer to trade Terry rather than buy him out of the final year of his contract valued at nearly $6 million, while Terry has said he’s interested in a return to the Dallas Mavericks if he’s ultimately released and can get to free agency.
No. 2: Spoelstra has no ‘regrets’ about LeBron’s departure — As a member of the Miami Heat, LeBron James won his first two championships and raised the team to a level of success it had never previously enjoyed. His coach during that run, Erik Spoelstra, forged a solid relationship with the superstar over time, too. But now that James is back in Cleveland, Spoelstra told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel‘s Shandel Richardson that he doesn’t bemoan James’ decision and has only pleasant memories of their time together as coach and player.
Spoelstra, speaking after the Heat’s summer-league loss to the Washington Wizards, said he had no ill feelings toward James and his decision to bolt after four seasons in Miami.
“He seemed at peace with the decision,” Spoelstra said. “We don’t have any regrets. He shouldn’t have any regrets. It was a historic four-year run.”
“This league does teach you that it’s inevitable that there’s constant change and you always have to continue to embrace change, adapt with change,” Spoelstra said. “This is a big, monumental change that we didn’t necessarily anticipate but you have to respect it because when you’re a free agent in this league you have the right to make a decision that’s best for you and your family. When he made that decision that was best for his family, where his heart is, all you can do from our side is respond with respect and love.”
The Heat were in panic-mode for about “two or three” hours after the decision. Spoelstra met with team President Pat Riley and General Manager Andy Elisburg to discuss their options. He described it as a scene from the movie Jerry Maguire, with each making countless phone calls to agents and players on their cell phones.
“Probably, we were all in Pat’s office about five minutes just to collect ourselves and then from there it was madness,” Spoelstra said. “The board was right there. So we said we better get to work and we didn’t leave until after 1 in the morning.”
Spoelstra said he’s yet to speak with James. At some point, the two plan to talk once everything settles.
“I’m sure there will be a time for that,” Spoelstra said. “Again, you forge bonds through competitions and through great experiences like we’ve had. There will be a time for that. My message wouldn’t be any different whenever that time comes.”
Even though it was unexpected, the Heat handled the situation easier because of a backup plan. They met with all the new acquisitions before James’ announcement, needing just two days to agree to terms with Luol Deng.
“I didn’t really try to anticipate one way or another,” Spoelstra said. “Pat and I were flying around trying to meet with players as much as we could. Then when we came back, Pat and Andy were able to have a meeting [with James]. The meeting went well and then everything happened pretty quickly on Friday.”
No. 3: NBA considering changes to lottery — Much of the discussion in NBA circles last season — and especially as the Philadelphia 76ers went on a 27-game losing skid — was about whether or not “tanking” was harming the overall product of the league. Many theories have been bandied about to make it so the NBA Draft lottery didn’t reward blatantly awful teams too much, the foremost theory being a draft “wheel” notion. Our Scott Howard-Cooper reports on a story from Grantland.com’s Zach Lowe about the NBA perhaps evening out the Draft lottery odds more:
The NBA is weighing dramatic changes to the lottery intended to further deter tanking, Grantland.com reported Wednesday, noting the shift could take effect as soon as the 2015 drawing to determine the draft order.The proposal, different than the so-called Wheel plan that received attention early last season, calls for at least the four teams with the worst record in the league to have the same chance at landing No. 1 in the ping-pong drawing. While the odds are still open to revision from the current 11 percent, according to the Grantland story by Zach Lowe citing anonymous sources, the numbers would decrease beginning with the club with the fifth-worst finish.
The odds for the team with the best record among the lottery entrants would increase, though, a sign the league wants to give franchises scheduled to pick later a greater chance to jump to near the top on lottery night. The new terms under consideration call for a 2-percent chance to go from 14th to first, the report says, compared to .5 percent in the 2014 drawing.
The suggested plan also calls for the ping-pong balls to determine the order of the first six selections, a change from the process in place of the drawing for the top three, with teams then falling in order based on worst record.
League officials here for summer league and key meetings, including the Board of Governors gathering the day before, made it clear Wednesday that the new proposal is only in the discussion stages. The Competition Committee has not approved anything on the subject, a necessary step before it gets sent to the Board of Governors to be voted on, with the likelihood that whatever makes it out of committee would almost certainly be ratified by the Board.
No. 4: Wolves owner wants Love in Minnesota next season — The biggest name left in terms of player movement this summer isn’t a free agent. It’s a player under contract with his current team: Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love. The versatile big man has heard his name tossed about in trade talks seemingly since season’s end, but his team is truly under no real obligation to deal him. It’s that fact that Wolves owner Glen Taylor tried to get across to the NBA public and Timberwolves fans as he spoke with NBA TV yesterday at Summer League in Las Vegas:
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: He’s not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but new Nets coach Lionel Hollins says the pace in Memphis is the ‘stone age’ when compared to New York … The Magic are finalizing a deal to bring Luke Ridnour aboard … Donatas Motiejunas has been pretty impressive in Summer League thus far … Anthony Morrow is hoping to fill the Thunder’s long-held need for 3-point shooting … LaMarcus Aldridge reportedly withdrew from USA Basketball consideration so he could rest upc some for the season … Cool, documentary-style series on Charlie Villanueva and his quest for another NBA contract. Here’s Part I, and here’s Part II
ICYMI of The Night: The Summer League Horry Scale is getting a workout! Two nights ago, Jordan Clarkson had a buzzer-beating, game-winning tip-in. Last night, Roberto Nelson does one better with an impossible, game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the Hornets …