Morning shootaround — July 2


VIDEO: What were the best signings from the first day of free agency?

*** FREE AGENCY COVERAGE JULY 2 ON NBA TV: Free Agent Fever: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET ***

DAY 1: Complete Free Agency Recap

Spending spree marks first day of free agency | Report: Lakers fail to impress Aldridge; Blazers hoping for Aldridge-Monroe combo | Report: Three guards on Kings’ wish list | Clippers hoping Pierce deal leads Jordan to return | West reveals why he’s leaving Indiana

NEWS OF THE MORNING

No. 1: Recapping a busy Day 1 of free agency — The chatter during yesterday’s free-agent period opened, essentially, with Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers talking about a long-term extension. By the time 1 a.m. or so rolled around today, it’s hard to keep tabs on just how many actual free agents agreed to deals. From the big names (Kevin Love, Paul Pierce, Paul Millsap) to the mid-range ones (DeMarre Carroll, Danny Green, Tristan Thompson) to smaller ones (Kyle Singler, Brandan Wright), moves were happening constantly. Our Steve Aschburner tries to make sense of what was a crazy busy day: 

“Unfinished business” was the term Kevin Love used, more or less kicking off the first day of NBA free agency Wednesday with his announcement, via The Players’ Tribune, that he would be sticking with Cleveland Cavaliers in pursuit of LeBron James-led championships.

“Irrational exuberance,” though, was the label that came to mind as the shopping and the bidding and the spending (pledges of it, anyway, when deals actually can be consummated July 9) spiraled ever higher. That phrase was former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan‘s, used to characterize the overheated stock market during the dot.com bubble of the 1990s.

From Love and Cleveland teammates Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert to San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, from young franchise cornerstones such as Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard to DeMarre Carroll becoming Toronto’s highest paid player, the frenzy to find, pitch and lock up players at heretofore staggering amounts of money was more than even some players could grasp.

With so much of the NBA’s business focused on the summer of 2016 – when the revenue from broadcast rights increases geometrically, taking the salary cap from about $69 million to an estimated $90 million – owners and general managers dug deep to cut deals at 2015 prices. Or, more accurately, at 2015’s percentage of payroll.

Look at it this way: an $11 million player by 2016-17, for example, will eat up the same amount of cap space as a $7.7 player this past season ($63 million cap). That could turn a number of Wednesday’s personal lottery payoffs into something if not reasonable by an average Joe’s or Jill’s standards, at least into something manageable.

One of the surprises of the day, then, was that so many players were willing to lock in rather than hold off or “gimmick-contract” their way to another bite at the platinum apple in a year or two. Love, perhaps thinking of his own troubling history of injuries, went “all in” with the Cavaliers, grabbing a deal that will still be in effect when James turns 35. Davis dried up the premature drooling in Chicago and probably 28 other markets by teams and fans hoping to pry him loose from New Orleans sooner than 2021.

Here was another surprise: Of the top 15 or so players who agreed to terms Wednesday, 10 or more (depending on your rankings) chose to stay put, re-signing with their current teams. Of those who will be playing elsewhere come autumn, Tyson Chandler‘s four-year, $52 million deal with Phoenix and Carroll’s four-year, $60 million package with the Raptors probably rate as the biggest moves.


VIDEO: What were the under-the-radar moves from Day 1?

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No. 2: Lakers strike out on Aldridge; Blazers target a new pal for Aldridge — The wooing of LaMarcus Aldridge will continue today with more teams (the Dallas Mavericks being one of them) trying to sway him their way. The Los Angeles Lakers had their shot yesterday and, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, failed to get his attention:

LaMarcus Aldridge will not sign with the Lakers because he was unimpressed by their Tuesday night presentation, according to a person familiar with the situation.

He met with them the moment free agency began, considered them part of a “two-horse race” with the San Antonio Spurs and “wanted to be wowed” but was actually turned off by the lack of analytics on the basketball side of their pitch, the person added.

Aldridge, who turns 30 in two weeks, engaged with the Lakers’ presentation team, asking numerous questions throughout the two-hour meeting, but was noncommittal about a future with them when it ended. The Lakers would have given him a maximum four-year, $80-million contract

The Lakers logged a long day Wednesday, meeting with former Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe at noon in Washington and traveling back to Los Angeles for a sit-down in the evening with Clippers free-agent center DeAndre Jordan.

In the Lakers’ pitch to Aldridge, Kobe Bryant spoke for a few minutes, saying he envisioned Aldridge working with him the same way Pau Gasol did, a message that apparently didn’t resonate even though Bryant recruited Aldridge with phone calls and texts in the weeks leading up to the meeting.

Bryant, for his part, wasn’t contentious or abrasive like he was two years ago when he sat across the table from Dwight Howard and tried to administer his version of tough love in a free-agent meeting that went sour. Bryant did not take part in the pitch to Jordan, nor did some executives present for the Aldridge presentation.

Aldridge also sat down with Houston, San Antonio and Phoenix, and was notably impressed by the analytics part of the Rockets’ plans.

He was impressed by the Spurs’ plan, which outlined how the franchise would be built around him and 24-year-old Kawhi Leonard, driven forward by the need for another championship to send off Tim Duncan with a sixth ring.

And yet the Spurs had a touch of old school in them, clearly trickling down from no-nonsense Coach Gregg Popovich, who seemed perfectly fine with not getting the first meeting with Aldridge.

The Lakers were with him until about 11 p.m. Tuesday, the Spurs taking their turn Wednesday morning in Los Angeles.

Aldridge’s representation, the Wasserman Group, tweeted shortly after this news broke yesterday that he hadn’t written off any teams …

While the Lakers may be out of the Aldridge chase, the Trail Blazers of course want him back and have plans to try and woo Greg Monroe to Portland as well. Jason Quick of The Oregonian has more:

The Trail Blazers’ top offseason plan became more clear on the second day of free agency: Sign big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Monroe to maximum contracts.

Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, headed a Blazers contingent that met with agent David Falk in Washington, D.C., early Wednesday to pitch the idea of Monroe playing next to Aldridge.

He was the 7th overall pick by Detroit in the 2010 draft and was coveted by Olshey, then the Clippers general manager. Olshey had the next pick and selected Al-Farouq Aminu, but he has never wavered in his affinity for the former Georgetown center.

Olshey also has an established relationship with Falk, having worked for the super agent early in his career.

The Blazers have around $33 million in cap space and have the resources to sign both Aldridge and Monroe to maximum contracts. A player with 0-6 years NBA service can earn $15.8 million in the first year of his contract (Monroe), while a player with 7-9 years service can earn $18.9 million in the first year (Aldridge).

Aldridge, meanwhile, is in the midst of a whirlwind tour of meeting with teams. He has met with the Lakers, San Antonio, Houston and Phoenix and is also scheduled to meet with Toronto, New York and Dallas. Reports say Aldridge has ruled out the Lakers.


VIDEO: How did Kobe Bryant affect LaMarcus Aldridge’s reception of Lakers’ pitch?

 

No. 3: Report: Three guards on Kings’ wish list — Late last night, the Sacramento Kings dealt a trio of players — Jason Thompson, Nik Stauskas and Carl Landry — to the Philadelphia 76ers in what was basically a salary dump. The Kings already had some cap room, but made the move to give them a chance to chase Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis and Wesley Matthews, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Sacramento Kings cleared about $16 million in salary-cap space on Wednesday night, unloading two significant contracts onto the Philadelphia 76ers, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Kings will send the Sixers a protected future first-round draft pick as part of the deal, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Landry and Thompson each have two years and $13 million-plus left on their contracts.

The Kings had about $9 million of cap space before the trade, now giving them a total of about $25 million.

Sacramento wants to pursue several free agents with the space, including point guards Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis and shooting guard Wesley Matthews, sources said. The Indiana Pacers were meeting with Ellis on Wednesday in Indiana and working to reach a deal with him, league sources told Yahoo.

The Kings also want to try to re-sign their own free agent, Derrick Williams, sources said.

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No. 4: Clippers hoping Pierce deal helps keep Jordan around — The Los Angeles Clippers came to a reported agreement with L.A. native Paul Pierce on a three-year deal last night. Aside from Pierce reuniting with his old coach from the Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, and this being a homecoming for Pierce, the Clippers think this move may help unrestricted free agent DeAndre Jordan stick around. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times has more:

The Clippers secured a giant lure in their pursuit of DeAndre Jordan on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with Paul Pierce on a three-year, $10.5-million contract that will reunite the veteran small forward with Coach Doc Rivers while presumably allowing Pierce to finish his career near his Inglewood home.

The Clippers will sign Pierce with their so-called mini-midlevel exception, their primary financial tool in free agency, and are expected to slot the former Inglewood High star into the starting small forward spot vacated by Matt Barnes when he was traded last month.

The deal represents a massive triumph for Rivers, who has been widely maligned in his role as the Clippers’ president of basketball operations. Rivers tried to persuade Pierce to join the Clippers last summer before committing the team’s midlevel exception to Spencer Hawes, a disappointment who was traded to the Charlotte Hornets last month.

Pierce’s presence could help the Clippers make a compelling presentation to Jordan after the NBA’s leading rebounder was wowed by the Dallas Mavericks in a 2 1/2-hour pitch meeting Wednesday. A person close to Jordan said the Mavericks “set the bar high” during a gathering attended by team owner Mark Cuban, President Donnie Nelson, Coach Rick Carlisle and players Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons.

The Lakers met with Jordan on Wednesday night, making what a source close to the player described as a “somewhat underwhelming” pitch, and the New York Knicks were scheduled to make a presentation Thursday before the Clippers. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are not expected to attend the Clippers’ pitch meeting, having spoken privately to Jordan about their desire for him to return to the only NBA team he has known in his seven professional seasons.

The Clippers lost one potential replacement for Jordan on Wednesday when Tyson Chandler reportedly agreed to sign a four-year, $50-million-plus contract with the Phoenix Suns.

The Clippers were expected to engage the Mavericks in a sign-and-trade swap of centers involving Chandler had Jordan decided to sign with the Mavericks.

As well, the Clippers may be interested in another ex-Rivers player …


VIDEO: Do the Clippers have a legit shot at re-signing DeAndre Jordan?

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No. 5: West reveals why he’s leaving Pacers — Power forward David West joined the Indiana Pacers as a free agent in 2011 and was key to the team going from playoff team to Eastern Conference title contender from 2012-14. His rebounding, toughness, perimeter jump shot and invaluable leadership helped a young Indiana team learn what it takes to succeed in the NBA. In an interview with Bob Kravitz of WTHR Sports in Indianapolis, West reveals why he will not be returning to the Pacers for 2015-16, citing his displeasure with how Pacers president Larry Bird publicly talked about center Roy Hibbert as a major sticking point:

“At this point in my career, I just want to win,” West told WTHR.com in an exclusive interview Wednesday night. “I’m just not sure the Pacers are in title contention right now. I’m going into my 13th season. I’ll be 35 soon. When I got to Indiana, there was hope of getting there and we played at a really high level for a couple of years. But I just don’t know if the team is in the position to win right now and I didn’t know if I’d have that opportunity to win a title if I’d stayed with the Pacers.”

“At this point in my career, it’s all about winning, and again, I don’t want to be in a position where we’re just fighting to make the playoffs, I want to be in a spot where we can legitimately taste the finals,” West said.

Then there was this: You remember the post-season postmortem when Larry Bird all but begged Roy Hibbert to opt out of the final year of his contract? West was watching. West was listening. And West was seething. He thought it was a low-class move by the organization to, in his words, “throw Roy under the bus.”

“That’s one thing where I wish they would have handled better was the situation with Roy,” West said. “I’ll be honest with you, that bothered me a little bit, and I told Roy that. I’m the type of guy who feels like we’re all in this fight together and I’m not designed in that way to put it all on one guy. That did rub me the wrong way. That threw me off. I started reading some of that stuff, I started thinking, ‘Whoaa.’ I just didn’t feel good about that. I told Roy that it bothered me, that he’s still my teammate.

“You know, obviously Roy wants to play, he knows he’s unpopular right now, but we talked and he’s going to be a professional. He’s always been a professional. He’s had his ups and downs but he’s always been a pro and been diligent about his work. He’s working to get better. He’s going to fight. He’s not going to be one of those guys who’s going to become a locker room issue.

“But that was not the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

 

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: ICYMI, here’s our running blog from Day 1 of Free Agency that has every single deal to date … What’s this? LeBron James and Dwyane Wade vacationing together in the Bahamas? … What makes one international prospect stand out from another?Kobe Bryant takes a shot at all the free-agency reporting going on … Incumbent Clippers — plus Knicks and Kings — are interested in veteran forward Dahntay Jones … Standout guard Sergio Llull of Real Madrid has reportedly passed on joining the Houston Rockets

17 Comments

  1. OverseasNBAfan says:

    @jacob Ellis is more or less Melo of the west in a guards body.. he’s a shot chucker with almost zero on-ball defense there is good reasons why the dubs traded him!

  2. harriethehawk says:

    If headcases play in Sacramento, then they need to get JR Smith AND Beasley.

  3. sid says:

    The DCousins talks harmed the free agency time. Stupid – why trying to make a deal where plenty of big man are on the free market? Did the Management talked to all of them -Jordan, Asik, Monroe, Hibbert, Gasol, Stiemsma, Kanter, ….?
    Before you have to give away one of your talented Young guys you Need to scan the available ones.
    After you know nobody is available you can let details about talks with Cousins or Noel slip out!
    Maybe Management should really think about to retire!?

  4. RonHawk says:

    The Lakers have lost their luster. They can not land a legit superstar on their own.

  5. jacob says:

    I think Monta should return to the Warriors! Monta as the 6th man! Better yet, monta starting and Harrison Barnes at number 6.

  6. Youll youll says:

    On d west situation I’d like him to wear a cavs jersey
    game bcoz his style of play is fit with the cavs..coz they a hav a perimeter game day suit with LBJ game..I can’t wait 2 c u playing in Cavs…

  7. yhame says:

    HOW ABOUT WEST ON THE WARRIORS?
    GOOD REPLACEMENT FOR DAVID LEE AND WILL COME OUT OF THE BENCH.
    BRINGS LOW POST SCORING.

  8. Jorge says:

    How kobe say to Alridge that he is like Gasol? Please kobe is 6 years older since his last championship and with big injuries in his body. I cant believe that he still think he can dominate a whole season in the nba. If he was humble he just simply say “hey im old i can help you but this is going to be your team yo can be Shaq and i can be kobe”. He is the only reason why players dont want to play in the biggest franchise in nba history.

  9. Lovins says:

    I know the cap is going up next year but…so many of these deals are just atrocious. DeMarre Carroll for $15M/yr?? The guy averaged 12 ppg last year…

  10. KingdomMan says:

    David West would make a great back up in San Antonio…just saying is all.

  11. Paul says:

    Jim Buss should quit. There is always this “next free agency” thing, but nothing seems to happen. Dwight and Pau left, and all the big fish are not interested, something is very wrong. Don’t expect the stars to come flying in to LAL in 2016, if Buss fails to get a quality big man (Aldridge, DJ, Monroe) then he should officially retire because this is getting more and more pathetic.

  12. troutkilgore says:

    Rondo and Ellis? The Mavericks nightmare returns in Sacramento?

    • European says:

      Sacramento is known to take all the tattooed clowns with attitude problems under their wing. Since the nice guys like Webber, Stojakovic, Divac left, this place has been a joke.. Don’t be surprised to see M. Beasley there soon lol.

    • Rob Wilks says:

      As much as Rondo would love to play in sac with his good friends, I cant see a dominant coach like Karl wanting him after what happened between him and Carlisle last season. Rondo wants to run his own team, that wont happen under George Karl. I think its more likely they trade with Nuggets for Lawson. With the downsizing of the league, Lawson and Ellis could be a good 1-2 punch