Posts Tagged ‘Adrian Wojnarowski’

Metta World Peace rejoins the Lakers

VIDEO: Metta World Peace and the Lakers are set to do it again in Kobe Bryant’s final season under contract

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Go ahead, call it a comeback for Metta World Peace with the Los Angeles Lakers. After weeks of will-he-or-won’t-they speculation about him making a return to the NBA (and the Lakers), the organization is ready to make it official by signing World Peace to a one-year deal on Thursday.

On a team with plenty of fresh faces and looking forward to the return of Kobe Bryant for what could be his final season under contract with the Lakers, the return of World Peace will add another heavy dose of spice to what should be an extremely interesting training camp.

Prized rookie D’Angelo Russell has already produced plenty of headlines of his own, based strictly on his activity since Draft night and through Summer League. And veteran center Roy Hibbert trying to find his way back to an elite level in a Lakers uniform is a journey worthy of its own reality show. The news of his signing comes after Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak suggested that it was only a “possibility” and that “nothing was imminent.”

But the Lakers must have seen something they liked from the 35-year old World Peace, who has reportedly been working out with Lakers players all summer. A 15-year veteran who has had stops with six different NBA teams, World Peace was out of the league last year, playing overseas in China and Italy.

By returning to the Lakers on this one-year deal, World Peace has a chance to ride out his career alongside Bryant. The pairing has worked before, with World Peace helping save the day in Game 7 of The Finals in 2010.

Critics will point out, and rightfully so, that was a lifetime ago in NBA years. And there are obviously some other crucial pieces (Phil Jackson, Pau Gasol, etc.) from that championship puzzle missing. The Lakers, however, are trying to scratch and claw their way back into the playoff mix in the Western Conference by any means necessary it seems.

If they believe a seasoned veteran like World Peace has enough left in him to aid that cause, then they are right to add him to their already intriguing 2015-16 mix.

Report: NBA, refs union reach tentative agreement on new deal

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The NBA and the union representing the game’s officials have reached a tentative agreement on a new, seven-year deal that will run through the 2021-22 season, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

A vote on final ratification of the deal is expected to come Thursday in Chicago, where the union’s members are scheduled to gather. More from Yahoo! Sports:

The NBA and the NBRA opened talks with a year left on the existing collective bargaining agreement, and will replace the final season of the current five-year agreement with terms on a new deal, sources told Yahoo Sports. The referees’ new deal will include substantial raises for referees and the staffing of the league’s replay center in Secaucus, N.J., with refs, sources said.

The NBA will be generating significantly more revenue with a new $24 billion television contract beginning in 2016.


Boris Diaw won’t miss chance to repeat

By Jeff Caplan,

Boris Diaw earned his three-year deal with his stellar showing in the 2014 playoffs.

The multifaceted Boris Diaw earned his three-year deal with his stellar showing in the 2014 playoffs.

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — The Most Versatile Man in the world doesn’t want to miss out on one of the rare opportunities in the world: The repeat.

That’s right, Boris Diaw will re-sign with the newly minted champion San Antonio Spurs. Diaw, the 6-foot-8 power forward, small forward, point forward, shooting guard, whatever, announced via Twitter on Sunday evening that he’ll be hanging around for a few more years.

That’s music to the ears of Spurs fans who fretted that Diaw might seek (and find) a larger payday elsewhere after his magnificent, all-around performances in the NBA Finals. Instead, Diaw will remain with the team that in many ways resurrected his career when it plucked him off the Charlotte Bobcats’ trash heap in March 2012.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Diaw and the Spurs reached an agreement on a three-year deal worth $22.5 million.

The Spurs have managed to reach agreements with two critical players off a bench that made San Antonio arguably the deepest team in the league. Last week the Spurs came to terms with backup point guard Patty Mills, who will miss a chunk of next season because of surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. They get both players on reasonable deals, securing the services of both for the next three seasons at around a combined $11 million per year.

Contracts cannot be officially signed until the league’s moratorium comes to a close on July 10.

Diaw provides Gregg Popovich‘s team tremendous versatility and it was on full display during the Western Conference finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder and then in the NBA Finals in the Spurs’ five-game triumph over the Miami Heat.

Diaw scored 26 points in 36 minutes of the series-clinching Game 6 of the West finals when point guard Tony Parker was lost for the second half with an ankle injury. Popovich inserted Diaw into the starting lineup starting with Game 3 of the Finals after Miami’s smaller lineups took Game 2 in San Antonio.

Diaw, 32, replaced the bigger, less mobile Tiago Splitter, and put together three memorable performances in Games 3, 4 and 5 — all Spurs blowout wins — averaging 7.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 6.0 apg.

According to Wojnarowski, the third year of Diaw’s deal is not fully guaranteed. Diaw will be guaranteed $18.5 million over the first two years of the deal.

While the Spurs are keeping their own, they will continue to pursue free-agent center Pau Gasol. San Antonio is limited to offering its full mid-level exception of $5.3 million.

Otherwise, the champs will look very much the same when they open training camp in October. Before the start of free agency, Tim Duncan opted into the final year of his contract, and Manu Ginobili put off retirement for at least another year.

Still in the crosshairs of this club that has won four championships with the Big Three going back to 2003 is celebrating in back-to-back seasons.

Diaw apparently didn’t want to miss out on such an opportunity.

Kobe: Injury, Rehab ‘Relit Fire in Me’

VIDEO: Kobe talks extension about the process that led to his extension

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — For a player whose Hall of Fame career has been defined by personal defiance, it shouldn’t shock any of us to hear Kobe Bryant talk about what motivates him now.

That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the Los Angeles Lakers’ star at his most defiant, in the wake of the backlash from him signing a two-year, $48.5 million extension Tuesday. That signing that brought out all sorts of non-believers and folks who don’t think he can come back completely from the Achilles tendon surgery cut short his 2012-13 season.

Defiant Kobe is far more entertaining than any other incarnation of the man who has been, in my opinion, the most polarizing NBA superstar of his generation and one of the most polarizing superstars ever.

It’s music to my ears to hear Kobe laugh off his haters and remind us all that no matter how bleak the outlook, he has the utmost confidence in himself and his ability. Even at this late stage of his career, he refuses to conform to conventional wisdom, the first step in trying to do the unthinkable and become exactly what he set out be many years ago: one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

So when he explains, to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, what keeps him going now, nearly two decades in and coming off of perhaps the most challenging obstacle in a career filled with them, it’s hard to be anything but intrigued by what makes the man tick:

“The Achilles, the rehab, it relit a fire in me, that’s for sure,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports. “I had been going so long, so long, putting in work – 17 years – and never taking a break, never taking time off. That’s a long time to push your body, especially the way I pushed mine.

“Every time I had to find that drive, I would eventually find it … somewhere. But it took a toll. Every summer, I’d finally find that push that would get me there. But it was getting harder to do.”

This is less about Kobe adoration — his legion of fans already have well under control — and more about the appreciation I have for a guy who continually finds new ways to motivate himself.

With all of his career accolades, Bryant could have easily walked away one title short of catching Michael Jordan. He could have said enough is enough, that his body had endured more than enough punishment. He’s already among the top four scorers in the history of the game. He has the titles and the individual and team achievements that would make some of the league’s greats jealous.

But that’s not enough for Kobe. It just doesn’t quite do it for him, which speaks to a level of competitiveness and (and, some might argue, borderline-crazy) focus that elevates him into a realm that only a few players with the talent, desire, work ethic and good fortune have ever possessed.

The Lakers — from Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss to GM Mitch Kupchak to the millions of fans in and around the Southland and around the world — recognize that laser focus. They’ve witnessed it for years. They understand that the $48.5 million Kobe will earn in his extension is a relatively reasonable price tag for qualities that are priceless in most any other walk of life.

Kobe is a revenue-generator the likes of which few franchises, cities and their fan bases have ever experienced. (Lakers fans from the Showtime era, Boston Celtics fans from the Larry Bird era and Bulls fans from the Jordan era certainly know what I’m talking about.)

He toils in an environment where the folks who pay extremely large sums to watch him are the only people who can truly comprehend what it’s like to entertain the way he’s asked to. While the other non-NBA Hollywood types might be lucky to star in one or two movies a year or on a TV show that runs 10-12 episodes a season, Kobe is expected to be a star 82 nights a year.

Ultimately, it’s not about the adoring public, the haters or what either of those groups think. It’s not my money or yours. The Lakers are the ones on the hook for paying Bryant, whether he comes back as a shell of the player he was or as the “Black Mamba” we all know. They’re the ones who have to, as Rasheed Wallace infamously said, “cut the check.”

And as Woj pointed out, they didn’t flinch (publicly, at least):

The Los Angeles Lakers still believe in Kobe Bryant, and this means the world to him. Of course, the money matters, and it always will to him. He hadn’t come to Washington, D.C., to make a concession speech, only to thank the Busses for the leap of faith and declare himself closer to his return. Between a news conference and the next steps in his rehab on Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant was still raging over the response to his contract extension. This wasn’t a noble gesture to awaken his peers, but simply a visceral reaction to the way the NBA has slowly, surely eroded the superstar’s standing in the sport – and the way the players have allowed it to happen.

“Bull—-,” Kobe Bryant finally again said on his way back to the locker room. “Pure bull—-.”

Defiant Kobe at his best!

Conspiracy Theories Follow Nets

It came up again, not surprisingly, Thursday as Andrei Kirilenko was officially introduced as a member of the Nets, complete with the two-year free-agent deal that has become the stuff of international intrigue.

Talks of a conspiracy theory was an easy jump to make the instant Russian Kirilenko signed with the Nets, owned by Russian Mikhail Prokhorov, at a massive pay cut. AK-47 opted out of his 2013-14 Timberwolves contract worth $10 million for $3.1 million in Brooklyn, plus a second season at a player option. It was actually easy long before this, the way the NBA had no real chance to follow the money in the former Soviet Union. The natural connection with Kirilenko brought it to the forefront, but truthfully, there likely would have been concerns about secret deals with a non-Russian player at some point.

It was so easy that several executives – anonymously, of course – made accusations without evidence, at least evidence they would be keeping to themselves.

That’s when it became a problem. Speculation from media and fans is one thing, but being called a cheat by opponents is another. But there they were, as originally detailed by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

“Let’s see if the league has any credibility,” one owner said. “It’s not about stopping it. It’s about punishing them if they’re doing it.”

“There should be a probe,” an Eastern Conference GM added. “How obvious is it?”

How convenient to be able to accuse someone of the serious charge of circumventing the salary cap without having to show your face. Or hand over evidence.

What I would give to be in their office the day another team drops the same insinuation on them.

History has shown that assumptions are a bad idea and that owners from the United States are perfectly capable of breaking rules. But Kirilenko faced the insinuation Thursday in a conference call with reporters, saying, as detailed by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

“I can’t do anything with what people think. I’m coming from the facts,” said Kirilenko. “I can’t change it. I can’t control it…. Those type of rumors I can’t control. And I guess it comes from the history because of the Russian KGB. It makes it a little funny. What can I do?”

Josh Smith To The Pistons For $56 Million

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Josh Smith won’t be joining that free agent party in Houston after all.

The free agent forward agreed to terms on a four-year, $56 million deal with the Detroit Pistons this afternoon, a deal first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

This ends Smith’s at times tumultuous nine-year tenure with his hometown Atlanta Hawks, the team that selected him with the 17th pick in the 2004 Draft. It also ends the pursuit of the versatile forward by both the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, who were both still trying to figure out ways to present possible sign-and-trade deals to the Hawks that would land Smith.

Smith’s childhood friend and fellow free agent prize Dwight Howard picked the Rockets Friday night. It was widely known that the Rockets were trying to pair the former AAU teammates, both 27, as professionals in a dynamic frontcourt package with All-Star James Harden and point guard Jeremy Lin in the backcourt.

Ultimately, the opportunity to play for an organization, general manager (Joe Dumars) and coach (Mo Cheeks) who believe that Smith can be a game changer in a promising frontcourt group that includes Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond won Smith over, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The Pistons were the first team to meet with Smith when free agency began at 12:01 a.m. on July 1. He’ll play both forward spots for the Pistons and brings career averages of 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.3 steals.

Smith inspired a love-hate relationship with the hometown fans, they loved him when he was at his best and extremely tough on him when his shot selection wavered or he had dust-ups with his coaches. The Hawks replaced Smith Friday night by adding former Utah power forward Paul Millsap on a two-year, $19 million deal.

Howard Picks Houston!


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Dwight Howard will chase his championships in Houston, not Los Angeles, Dallas or anywhere else the prized free-agent center was rumored to be headed in recent weeks.

The word came down Friday evening, first reported by Sam Amick of USA Today Sports. Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports Sports that his client was in still finalizing his decision and “He hopes to finalize his decision tonight or tomorrow morning.”

But two sources familiar with the situation confirmed to that Houston is indeed Howard’s choice. This ends a nearly two-year drama for Howard, who would sign a four-year, $89 million deal with the Rockets on July 10. Howard could have signed a five-year, $118 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, the only team that could offer him that fifth year and extra $30 million.

Late Friday night, after a face-to-face meeting with Howard, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak confirmed it for anyone thinking there was a chance Howard would change his mind:

The Rockets made the first presentation to Howard, just minutes after free agency began at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1. The Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and the incumbent Lakers followed up that presentation over the course of the next two days.

Howard’s lone season with the Lakers got off to a tumultuous start, head coach Mike Brown was fired five games into the season and replaced by Mike D’Antoni, who never seemed to find common ground with Howard. A summer that began with so much promise, the acquisitions of both Howard and two-time MVP Steve Nash to go along with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, bottomed out into a seventh-seed in the Western Conference playoff chase and first-round elimination at the hands of the eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs.

Howard was coming off of back surgery and didn’t appear to get back into regular form until late in the season, but long after the Lakers’ championship dreams had faded. Bryant’s season-ending Achilles injury just before the playoffs began was the final dagger.

The Rockets won the recruiting battle for Howard and now they have to finish their summer work, the next piece of business being their pursuit and acquisition of Howard’s long-time friend and fellow Atlanta native Josh Smith, who is mulling over his free-agent options right now as well.

Smith, who conducted his own round of in-face meetings with teams in Los Angeles earlier this week as well, is believed to be favoring the Detroit Pistons, whose plans for the combo forward were laid out before he and his representatives met with the Rockets. But the Hawks have interest in Houston center Omer Asik, who one source told would be the linchpin to any potential sign-and-trade deal between the two teams.

With Howard, a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the league’s reigning rebounding champ, and potentially Smith alongside All-Star shooting James Harden, versatile swingman Chandler Parsons and point guard Jeremy Lin, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey will have assembled a core group capable of challenging the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors for supremacy in the Western Conference in 2013-14 and beyond.

“That’s a team that competes for championships, if not right away, certainly in the next two or three years,” said an Eastern Conference executive after hearing of Howard’s choice. “It didn’t work out with the Lakers and that group they had. But he’ll have a coach that will do wonders for him in Kevin McHale and group around him that will make things extremely difficult on anyone that focuses on Dwight in the paint. They’re going to give people fits.”

Report: Iguodala Agrees To $48 Million Deal With Warriors

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Free agent swingman Andre Iguodala‘s is moving to Northern California after all. Days after having a $56 million offer from the Sacramento Kings snatched off the table, Iguodala has agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal with the Golden State Warriors, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

This wraps up a wild week for Iguodala, who was considering his options with several different teams during the first week of free agency. In Iguodala, the Warriors get a versatile and veteran performer capable of playing multiple positions and defending at the highest level. Iguodala was a stalwart on a Denver Nuggets team that lost to the Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference playoff this season.

He was targeted by the Kings, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, Nuggets and Warriors, among others. The Warriors grabbing him forces all of those other teams to move on in their pursuit of other free agent swingmen on the market.

It is unclear what this move does to the Warriors’ pursuit of Dwight Howard, the top free agent prize on the market this summer. They would have had to execute a number of sign-and-trade deals to clear the way for Howard to join a fantastic young core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and All-Star power forward David Lee.

The Houston Rockets are considered the frontrunner for Howard, but there has been no indication that he has narrowed his list from the five teams — Rockets, Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and the incumbent Los Angeles Lakers — that made formal presentations to Howard this week in Los Angeles.

If the Warriors are Howard’s choice, they will have one significant chip to play in an potential sign-and-trade scenarios in the $14 million expiring contract of center Andrew Bogut. His expiring deal withe either Thompson or Barnes thrown in to sweeten the deal would certainly appeal to a Lakers tam that need to find its way in the event that Howard departs.

Report: Kings Offer Iguodala $56 Million … Then Pull Deal Off The Table?


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — This is a bit of an odd one.

The Sacramento Kings threw a big wrinkle into the Andre Iguodala free-agent sweepstakes with a four-year, $56 million offer to the veteran swingman, an offer first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports early Wednesday morning.

Then, hours later, the Kings pulled the deal.

The Nuggets were apparently unwilling to match the Kings’ offer … but Iguodala was also reluctant to accept the offer, which led to Sacramento pulling the deal off the table.

This all means Denver is still very much alive in its hopes to re-sign the small forward who helped them to 57 wins and a franchise-best 38-3 home record, writes Wojnarowski:

After the Denver Nuggets expressed an unwillingness to match the Sacramento Kings’ $14 million-a-year proposal to free-agent forward Andre Iguodala, Iguodala’s reluctance to immediately accept the four-year, $56 million offer caused the Kings to withdraw the deal late Tuesday, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

With no major offers elsewhere, Iguodala could return to talks with the Nuggets on a five-year contract extension. Denver wants to keep Iguodala as part of its core, but has shown restraint in formulating potentially salary-cap crippling offers to re-sign him to a long-term deal, sources said.

When the Kings demanded an answer for their offer on Tuesday night, Iguodala’s desire to take more time to consider the deal signaled to Sacramento management that perhaps the free agent wasn’t eager to leave a Western Conference contender for the rebuilding project.

Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly and coach Brian Shaw presented Iguodala with a five-year contract offer and a pitch to convince him to re-sign at a meeting on Monday in Los Angeles. It is unclear if the Nuggets raised their initial offer on Tuesday night, but they clearly didn’t match the Kings’ surprisingly aggressive $14 million-per-season offer.

Iguodala was also one of the top targets of the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors and the incumbent Nuggets in the initial stages of free agency.

Sacramento’s pulling of the offer on Iguodala may well change how the Kings approach the $44 million offer sheet the New Orleans Pelicans offered former Rookie of the Year winner Tyreke Evans, too.

Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro recently left the Nuggets’ front office to become’ the Kings top executive and had been pushing hard to convince Iguodala to be a cornerstone for his franchise. Without Iguodala in the Kings plans, the organization could reconsider how it feels about matching the four-year, $44 million offer sheet that restricted free agent guard Tyreke Evans could soon sign with the New Orleans Pelicans.

After Midnight Free-Agent Madness

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Who’s waiting on Dwight Howard?

Not the Detroit Pistons, who have bypassed the Howard free agency sweepstakes for a chance to snag Josh Smith, the versatile forward who ranks as the hottest commodity on the market not named Howard in the first hour since free agency began at 12:01 a.m. ET.

Pistons boss Joe Dumars and his brain trust met with Smith and his camp shortly after midnight with the sides discussing a significant four-year deal that would see Smith join an already impressive young frontcourt group that includes Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

The Pistons would be the “surprise” team mentioned at the bottom of this report from Sunday morning and per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who highlights the Hawks’ willingness to work a sign-and-trade deal for Smith rather than re-signing him themselves.

Anything is possible now that we have crossed the threshold into what some folks like to call the NBA’s silly season.

Only in the minutes immediately after midnight do we find out that a guy like Chase Budinger, a fine player, could end up being targeted by more teams than a player the likes of Al Jefferson.

Crazy season is more like it. (more…)