NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Cavs to sign rookie Wiggins soon — Normally, a first-round pick closing in on signing his first contract is not news in this space as the deals for all first-round picks are predetermined and basically just need pen to be put to paper. But in the case of the No. 1 overall pick — Andrew Wiggins of the Cleveland Cavaliers — and his ties to trade talks dealing with Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love, we’ll make an exception. As Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com points out, the Cavs’ expected signing of Wiggins would, if nothing else, significantly delay any kind of Love-to-Cleveland deal:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are planning to sign No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins to a contract in the coming week, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Cavaliers’ delay in signing the former Kansas star has nothing to do with the prospect of Wiggins being dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of Cleveland’s ongoing trade discussions for Kevin Love.
The Cavaliers, sources say, are merely exploring options for using their estimated $1.4 million in remaining cap space before signing Wiggins to a contract that will pay him in the neighborhood of $5.5 million as a rookie.
The Cavs and Timberwolves have been discussing a Love trade since the return of LeBron James, with sources saying that Minnesota is insistent on getting Wiggins back in any deal that sends Love to Cleveland.
Once Wiggins signs, though, league rules stipulate that the Cavs must wait 30 days before trading him.
The Cavs’ delay in formalizing Wiggins’ contract has garnered extra attention because of the Love factor, but the reality is that this process is a fairly routine bit of salary-cap management that takes place this time of year with draft picks.
No. 2: Report: Knicks open to dealing a guard — As it stands today, the New York Knicks have the following guards under contract: Shannon Brown, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Shane Larkin, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith. That’s a lot of guards to find time for (and some of them are very well-paid), so it’s no surprise that the team may be looking to deal at least one of those players, writes Ian Bagley of ESPNNewYork.com:
Working to clear the logjam in the backcourt, the Knicks are discussing their potential trade options with guards J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Shane Larkin, a league source said Sunday.
“They’re working on trying to make a move in the backcourt,” the NBA source familiar with the Knicks’ thinking said Sunday.
The idea that the Knicks are trying to make a trade to balance the roster isn’t earth-shattering. President Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills have mentioned the Knicks have a surplus in the backcourt, with Mills saying last week the Knicks are “heavy” at shooting guard.
The issue for the Knicks, of course, is deciding whom to send out in a trade and figuring out what they can get in return in such a transaction.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has been deemed virtually untouchable, per a source.
The Knicks have four shooting guards on the roster. They also haven’t ruled out re-signing free-agent PG/SG Toure’ Murry. He has drawn interest from the Utah Jazz and Miami Heat, according to a report Sunday from the Salt Lake Tribune.
No. 3: Bird still baffled over Stephenson leaving Pacers — Indiana Pacers boss Larry Bird is the man who took a chance on drafting Lance Stephenson and played a well-documented and integral role in Stephenson’s rise from iffy prospect to a triple-double threat on an East contender. But now that Stephenson is gone to the Charlotte Hornets, Bird can’t help but feel remorse about his departure from Indiana’s locker room. Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star sheds some light on Stephenson’s departure — which may be to blame because of what his agent was seeking for his client:
“I really feel bad about losing him,” Bird said. “I hope it doesn’t interfere with our relationship. But I did what I could possibly do to keep him here. Even if he didn’t have any other offers, I was committed to giving him that $44 million because I believe in the kid. If you look at our roster, we have five or six guys in the last year of their deals, plus David (West) and Roy (Hibbert) can opt out, so don’t you think I wanted to keep Lance and Paul (George) locked into long-term deals?”
But it came down to this.
Stephenson and his agent thought he belonged in eight-figure-a-year territory, $10 million or more, much more, and the Pacers were right to stand firm. Stephenson is a nice player, but he’s not a $10-million-plus player, not yet anyway. If the Pacers had met that price, they would have been left with a thoroughly depleted bench and been forced to deal with the luxury tax.
And in the end, Stephenson didn’t get his eight figures.
When Bird met with Stephenson, his family and his agent the first night of free agency, he had a couple of five-year options and was sure one of them was going to be acceptable. But a few days later, Stephenson’s lawyer/agent, Alberto Ebanks, called back Bird and told him, “I don’t think this is going to work. I don’t believe you have the money available to re-sign Lance.”
Bird was stunned.
They ultimately went back and forth, contemplated different options, but the money was never right.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Great story about Clippers assistant video coordinator/aspiring assistant coach Natalie Nasake … Pacers star Paul George opens up a little about what went wrong for the team last season … Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko told a Russian newspaper that coach Jason Kidd couldn’t handle the pressure of coaching in New York … The Kings say their drafting of Nik Stauskas doesn’t show a lack of faith on their part in last year’s lottery pick, Ben McLemore … Hawks rookie Adreian Payne is still trying to get used to the NBA life
ICYMI of The Night: The final day of Summer League is here, so let’s look at the players that were selected to the All-Summer League teams …