NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Celtics getting out of Love chase? — As it stands this morning, the race to land Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love seems to be a two-horse one between the leader (Cleveland Cavaliers) and a couple of others (Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors and, perhaps, Denver Nuggets). But what about the Boston Celtics? That team was thought to be a favorite to land Love — especially when he took a trip to Boston shortly after the season — but the Celtics’ name has appeared less and less in the Love chatter. According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, Boston might be ready to move on from its Love pursuit:
There’s no waiving of the white flag just yet, but the Boston Celtics appear to be ready to move on from their pursuit of Minnesota star Kevin Love, league sources tell CSNNE.com.
“The more teams step up and show interest in Love, the further Boston falls in the pack,” a source said on Wednesday. “Danny [Ainge]’s a smart guy. He knows when to keep pushing for something and when to move on.”
That’s why the Celtics are reportedly among the clubs to express some interest in being a third team to help facilitate a trade involving Love to what one source said has become his “preferred” destination, Cleveland.
Throughout the Celtics’ offseason, they have made no secret about being open to using whatever resources they have (draft picks, trade exceptions, players) to add a high-impact player like Love who earlier this summer had expressed interest in Boston.
But as this summer continues to wind down, acquiring Love or a comparable, high-impact player become less likely with each passing day.
That’s because teams, for now at least, are far more consumed by acquiring proven talent as opposed to assets and players with potential (read: young talent).
Boston’s most tradable asset is Rajon Rondo, but the market for him is unclear because teams aren’t sold on the four-time all-star returning to the form he displayed prior to suffering a torn right ACL injury in 2013.
No. 2: Gibson hoping he’s not dealt by Bulls — Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson has a lot of reasons to be excited about the 2014-15 season. With the team using the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer, he’s got a good shot at being the team’s starter. There’s also the expected healthy return of former MVP Derrick Rose, the offseason additions of Nikola Mirotic, Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott to the roster as well as playing under coach Tom Thibodeau, who always gets the most out of the Bulls’ crew. Gibson has heard his name bandied about in the Kevin Love trade talks and as he tells the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson, he’s doesn’t want to leave the Bulls now:
Each time Taj Gibson works out at the Berto Center, team officials tell him not to focus on trade rumors involving his name.
That said, they’re not stopping. And Wednesday brought another round as the Bulls continue talking with the Timberwolves about Kevin Love.
“It’s tough, but it’s part of the business,” Gibson said at his youth basketball camp in Deerfield. “I’ve been in the league for awhile and have been around some great veterans who taught me a lot about the game. The one thing they always say is be grateful that somebody wants you and that you’re in the NBA and just focus on your game.
“Without a doubt (I want to be here). I’m a nonchalant kind of guy. I let my game speak for myself. But this place has been home for me, a lot of good times. I’m looking forward to the future and playing here hopefully for a long time.”
Gibson said he talked to his agent on Tuesday and that nothing specific or imminent was relayed to him. Multiple outlets, including the Tribune, reported the Bulls inquired about Love after putting him on the back burner to chase Carmelo Anthony in free agency but that the Cavaliers are firmly in the lead.
The Tribune previously reported that Nikola Mirotic sought a commitment from the Bulls before completing his buyout from Real Madrid. And league sources indicated to the Tribune on Wednesday that reports of offers of Mirotic and first-round acquisition Doug McDermott for Love are “overstated.”
“It reminds me of the time we went to the (2011) Eastern Conference finals,” Gibson said. “We were real deep. We had at least 10 or 11 guys who could really go. I’m looking forward to it. Everybody on this team is mostly focused on winning championships.
“It’s scary at times if you think about the potential of the front line and our depth. (Mirotic) is going to be extremely good. Joakim (Noah), we won’t have to put so many minutes on him because every year late in the season he’s always banged up.”
Gibson praised the Gasol acquisition and said he would have no problem coming off the bench again.
“It’s a great addition,” Gibson said. “It gives us more depth. We have more size up front. One thing about our bigs is (coach Tom Thibodeau) can have so many different options. He can go small. He can go big. He can go quick. You have a lot of different lineups.”
No. 3: Reports: Allen leaning toward signing with Cavs — Roughly a week ago, new Cavs guard Mike Miller told ESPN radio that he’s been actively trying to recruit his former Heat teammate, Ray Allen, to join him (and LeBron James) in Cleveland. Apparently the efforts are working as Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reports that Allen is leaning toward joining his ex-Miami teammates in Ohio:
Former Celtic and Heat standout Ray Allen is leaning towards returning for a 19th NBA season and joining former teammate LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to a league source.
Allen, who turned 39 Sunday, has been pondering retirement since the Heat lost in the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs last month.
But James, along with ex-Heat swingman Mike Miller, who signed with the Cavaliers earlier this month, have been lobbying Allen to join them with the resurrected franchise.
Allen hardly looked as if he was ready to finish his career during the Miami playoff run. He averaged 9.3 points in 20 postseason games.
Allen played two seasons with the Heat after five successful seasons with the Celtics that included the 2008 NBA title and capturing the all-time 3-point mark.
ESPN.com also confirmed the report that Allen is leaning toward heading to Cleveland.
No. 4: Report: Mavs set to add Nelson, Aminu — ICYMI yesterday, the Dallas Mavericks voided the contract of one of their offseason additions, Rashard Lewis, when he failed his physical due to a lingering knee injury. While he won’t be with the Mavs anytime soon, Dallas did continue to bolster its roster with more less-heralded moves by reportedly closing in on deals with ex-Magic guard Jameer Nelson and ex-Pelicans forward Al-Farouq Aminu. Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News has more:
When it was determined that 6-10 Rashard Lewis could not pass his physical because of a problem with his right knee, the Mavericks voided the contract he signed last week. The severity of the injury was not known. But the Mavericks elected to void the deal, and Lewis will return to the marketplace as an unrestricted free agent when he recovers from the expected knee surgery.
It’s possible the Mavericks could sign him again during the season, but a source said at this time that appears unlikely.
Meanwhile, two sources said the Mavericks were preparing to welcome 6-foot Jameer Nelson to town on Thursday. He is expected to take a physical and if everything is in order, will sign with the Mavericks for their cap-room exception of $2.7 million.
They also reached an agreement on a two-year, $2.1 million contract with New Orleans free agent Al-Farouq Aminu, who has a nose for rebounding and defense but is limited offensively. He would be an option when it comes to guarding the toughest offensive matchups in the Western Conference such as Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.
No. 5: Why shooting matters in the NBA — The NBA game has changed over the last few seasons and the emergence — and importance — of 3-point shooting has led that transition in how the game is played. Our John Schuhmann takes a look at why shooting in general — whether it’s from 3-point range or just good jump shots — matter in today’s game and has seven teams who did a great job of addressing their deficiencies in that area in the offseason:
In today’s NBA, if you want to win, you have to be able to shoot. There are lots of factors that go into good offense and good defense, but the most important are how well you shoot and how well you defend shots.
Over the last two seasons, 3-point shooting has taken a big jump. From 2007-08 to 2011-12, the league took from 22.2 to 22.6 percent of its shots from 3-point range. Then in 2012-13, that number jumped to 24.3 percent. And last season, it jumped again to 25.9 percent.
The correlation between 3-point shooting and offensive efficiency is strong. And shooting a lot of threes is almost as important as shooting them well.
Ten of the top 15 offenses in the league were above average in terms of 3-point percentage and the percentage of their total shots that were threes. Four of the other five were in the top 10 in one or the other. And teams that didn’t shot threes well or often were generally bad offensive teams.
Threes aren’t everything, but three is greater than two. And if you have shooting threats on the perimeter, other guys have more space to operate inside. The teams near the bottom of the table above know that to win more games, they have to score more efficiently. And to do that, they need more shooting in their rotation.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Interesting look at the Sacramento Kings’ recent run of moves, some of which have been very puzzling … Why is Eric Bledsoe one of the last big-names still left in the free-agent pond? … ICYMI, Pacers All-Star center Roy Hibbert looks like he’s working with Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on polishing his post moves … Cavs forward Anthony Bennett recently had his tonsils removed … Hornets guard Kemba Walker recruited Al Jefferson last summer, and helped recruit Lance Stephenson this summer … Is it time for the Blazers to just part ways with little-used Victor Claver?