NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Marion meets with Pacers — About a week or so ago, there was talk that free-agent forward Shawn Marion was interested in meeting with the Indiana Pacers and, also, that he was leaning toward signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. So, do the Pacers still have a shot at him or not? According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, Marion recently met with the Pacers and talked with president Larry Bird about the team and more:
The Indiana Pacers have jumped into the race for Shawn Marion’s signature — competing with LeBron James‘ Cleveland Cavaliers — by hosting Marion on a visit to Indianapolis, ESPN.com has learned.
Marion met face-to-face with Pacers president Larry Bird Monday, according to sources close to the situation, after Bird urged the free-agent defensive specialist and former All-Star to come to town to consider signing with Indiana in the wake of the devastating compound leg fracture suffered by Pacers star Paul George.
Heading into Monday, the Cavaliers were widely considered to be the front-runner to sign Marion, despite the fact that Cleveland is restricted to offering him a minimum salary of $1.4 million after using all of its cap resources and exceptions elsewhere.
Sources say that Marion, meanwhile, has maintained for weeks that he hopes to wind up with a championship contender if he leaves the Dallas Mavericks in free agency, so it remains to be seen whether Indiana’s financial advantages can trump the promise of championship contention playing alongside James in Cleveland.
No. 2: Report: Monroe OK with just qualifying offer — Pistons big man Greg Monroe is still on the NBA’s open market as he and Detroit seem to be unable to come to an agreement on a new deal for the restricted free agent. Would Monroe be willing to play out next season on a qualifying offer and test the free-agent waters next summer as an unrestricted free agent? According to a report from Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, the answer may be yes:
The Greg Monroe watch is entering its seventh week, with another seven weeks remaining before there’s a guarantee his restricted free agency will be resolved, one way or another.
While the Pistons big man has not pursued an offer sheet from another team, he has pursued sign-and-trade possibilities, and Monroe is “definitely” willing to take the one-year qualifying offer worth $5.3 million from Detroit in order to ensure his unrestricted free agency next summer, a source familiar with Monroe’s thinking told The Detroit News.
The source requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the contract talks. Monroe has until Oct. 1 to agree to a deal or sign the qualifying offer.
While taking the qualifying offer is a risk if he gets injured — he has missed just one of his last 310 games — it’s the biggest leverage he and his agent, David Falk, have.
If Monroe signs the qualifying offer, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent next summer, free to sign wherever he likes — and for the following season, he would have to approve any trade, as he likely would try to secure a long-term deal with any new team.
Monroe reportedly doesn’t have anything against the Pistons or new coach/president Stan Van Gundy. In fact, the source said, Monroe “likes Van Gundy and likes what he says,” but added that Monroe “needs proof (of Van Gundy’s vision).”
The sum of Monroe’s time in Detroit has been marred by constant upheaval, drama and instability on the sidelines; Van Gundy would be his fifth coach in five seasons. It took John Kuester some time to realize the talent level he had in Monroe as a rookie, Lawrence Frank lost the team very early in his two-year tenure, and Maurice Cheeks was fired after 50 games last season.
“We have tried (to recruit Monroe). Look, right off the bat he was the first person we saw,” Van Gundy said the day the Pistons introduced Caron Butler and D.J. Augustin. “Then a lot of conversation — because that’s the way he wanted it for a while — went through his agent and we hooked back up in Orlando (Summer League) and tried to make a strong case for ourselves and our organization.”
While Van Gundy’s comments have been pro-Monroe, and Andre Drummond has made public pleas that the team retain Monroe, it would not be unreasonable to think Monroe might like a fresh start elsewhere, as opposed to taking a leap of faith with Van Gundy.
No. 3: Report: George to switch to No. 13 — The Pacers won’t have Paul George in the lineup next season as he recovers from the broken leg he suffered in Las Vegas during Team USA camp a few weeks ago. When he does return to the Indiana lineup, he’ll look markedly different in one way — he’s changing his jersey number from his familiar No. 24 to No. 13. ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell has more:
Despite Paul George’s absence, the Indiana Pacers will surely sell some of his jerseys this upcoming season, but they will bear a different number.
George applied for and was granted the right to switch from No. 24 to No. 13, sources told ESPN.com.
Because George applied for the change before the March deadline, he doesn’t have to pay for the remaining old No. 24s on the market. Sources, however, said he still elected to do so.
Per league rules, a player who changes jersey numbers on the same team must buy up all of the old jerseys on the market.
He has been dropping hints of the change to fans. Over the past month, he has tweetedtrece, which means 13 in Spanish, seven times.
George finished last season 15th in the league in jersey sales, according to sales at the NBA Store in New York City and the online NBA Store.
Ironically, George wore No. 24 because of Kobe Bryant, who in 2006 changed his number to 24 from No. 8.
No. 4: Report: Hornets plan to submit All-Star weekend bid — The city of Charlotte last hosted All-Star weekend in 1991, just three years after the city entered the NBA with the expansion Charlotte Hornets in 1988-89. The offseason has been busy for the franchise formerly known as the Charlotte Bobcats as they reclaimed the Hornets name, added Lance Stephenson in free agency and are looking to capitalize on last season’s playoff run. The next move? Making a push for a future All-Star weekend, writes Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:
The Charlotte Hornets plan to formally submit a bid Tuesday to host either the 2017 or 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend, a source close to the process said Monday.
The team and the Charlotte Sports Foundation have called a news conference for Tuesday morning. It’s expected that’s when a formal announcement of the Hornets’ pursuit will be made.
The All-Star Weekend was in Charlotte once before, in 1991, when the original Hornets played here.
While it’s been no secret the Hornets are interested in hosting the annual mid-February event at Time Warner Cable Arena, there are potential complications. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during a March visit to Charlotte that an All-Star bid would be contingent on the city agreeing to various upgrades to the arena.
“It’s part of the understanding here that the building remain state of the art,” Silver said in March. “Nothing dramatic is needed. But certainly an upgrade to the scoreboard, some things with the suites and the lighting.”
Under lease terms between the city and the Hornets, who manage the nine-year-old publicly-funded arena, the parties will intermittently review keeping the facility up to date. The team and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority compiled a list of potential improvements that would cost nearly $42 million.
While emphasizing those upgrades would be a key factor in Charlotte’s pursuit of an All-Star Weekend, Silver was otherwise encouraging on Charlotte’s chances in March.
The NBA awarded the 2015 All-Star Weekend to New York and the 2016 event to Toronto. A decision on 2017 and ’18 is expected sometime this coming winter or spring.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Mavs boss Mark Cuban opens up a little bit about the team’s busy offseason … Former NBA journeyman Josh Childress is close to signing with a team in Australia … Wizards reserve big man Al Harrington is going to be playing in China next season … Through all the trade noise of late, rookie Andrew Wiggins tunes out the chatter through music and his family …