Posts Tagged ‘free agency’

2014 Free Agency — The Other Dominoes

From NBA.com staff reports

Now that LeBron James is headed back to Cleveland, the belief is many of the other players in the free-agency pool are going to start making deals now, too. Here’s the latest from around the Twitter-sphere and the Internet as we get closer and closer to a real flood of free-agent news…

Update, 12:02 a.m. — They can handle The Truth

And just when you thought it was quiet for the night, big news drops: The Washington Wizards may have lost Trevor Ariza, but they look to be adding Paul Pierce. Whoa.

Update, 9:55 p.m. — Doing the Deng thing

Luol Deng is still on the market, and it seems like a couple of teams are in the mix. We noted earlier that the Heat seemed like a probable landing place for Deng, but now a few other teams are starting to get in the mix as well.

Update, 9:47 p.m. — Down with the King

And as the other free agents fall into place, LeBron now can sit back and enjoy a trip to Brazil for tomorrow’s World Cup final, alongside his new (and former) teammate Anderson Varejao.

Update, 9:02 p.m. — When it rains…

Pau Gasol announcing he was going to Chicago was tough not only for Lakers fans, but also for Knicks president Phil Jackson, who was hoping to lure Gasol to NYC. Phil reacted on Twitter…

Update, 8:11 p.m. — Born Ready…for Texas?

And now we’re at the point where one turn deserves another. If Houston matches on Parsons, and Deng ends up in Miami, could the Mavericks snag Lance Stephenson from Indiana on a shorter, richer deal?

Update, 8:05 p.m. — Miami Neat

As the Heat look to fill the void LeBron James left behind in South Beach, Marc Stein reports that the top small forward still on the market, Luol Deng, looks like a strong possibility.

Update, 7:56 p.m. — Reunited?

With LeBron back in Cleveland, might as well get the whole band back together, as the Cavs are apparently making progress on a deal with one of LeBron’s favorite former teammates, Mike Miller.

Update, 7:40 p.m. — The Hornets strike

The Charlotte Hornets tried to acquire Utah small forward Gordon Hayward as a restricted free agent, but the Jazz matched and kept him Salt Lake City. For a backup plan, today the Hornets came to terms with a different Jazz player, Marvin Williams, on a two-year deal. So Marv gets to return to the Tar Heel State, where he played college ball at UNC, and will likely serve as a floor spacer, living beyond the three-point line.

Update, 6:04 p.m. — Some details on LeBron

One interesting wrinkle on LeBron’s new deal with the Cavs: He’s only signing a two-year contract, which will technically make him a free agent again in 2016. Although he doesn’t seem to be signing a short deal with an eye for hitting the open market — he’s thinking about the economics of the salary cap when the NBA’s next TV deal will kick in.

Update, 5:34 p.m. — Pau runs with the Bulls

Looks like instead of a sign-and-trade, Pau Gasol is just going to sign with the Bulls, as he just confirmed the move on Twitter.

Update, 5:32 p.m. — Ariza finds a home

The Rockets weren’t able to sign Chris Bosh, and Chandler Parsons may be on the way out, but they’ve found another swingman who fits their athletic style and can knock down threes in Trevor Ariza.

Update, 4:15 p.m. — As Gasol turns

Instead of signing as a free agent with Chicago, it looks like the Lakers may try to sign-and-trade Pau Gasol with a third team involved so that they will get something out of the deal.

Update, 2:05 p.m. — Finally, Carmelo Anthony stays home

It is now official. After nearly two weeks of free-agent tours and contemplations, Carmelo Anthony isn’t going anywhere. The Big Apple native will continue to call Madison Square Garden home.

Update, 1:54 p.m. — Suns officially acquire Isaiah Thomas

Phoenix was happy to take the diminutive, but high-scoring point guard off Sacramento’s hands and add him to an already lethal pairing of Eric Bledsoe (who remains a restricted free agent) and Goran Dragic. Isaiah will earn a reported $27 million over four years.

Update, 1:45 p.m. — Thunder get their 3-point shooter — Anthony Morrow

Desperate for perimeter punch, the Oklahoma City Thunder have come to terms with 6-foot-5 wing Anthony Morrow.

Heading into his seventh season, Morrow has yet to find an NBA home as he joins his seventh team and fourth in just the last three seasons. But he’s a long and lanky dead-eye shooter with a career 42.8-percent mark from beyond the 3-point arc. And that’s exactly the Thunder will require of him.

Update, 1:15 p.m. — Melo set to make Knicks signing official

It’s been a long wait with some anxious moments for new Knicks president Phil Jackson, but it now appears that Carmelo Anthony is ready to make his commitment to the organization official.

Update, 11:32 a.m. — Gasol to ink deal with Bulls on Saturday

It’s looking more and more like All-Star Pau Gasol will be calling Chicago his home next season. According to NBA.com’s David Aldridge, a deal with the Bulls should be completed later Saturday.

Update, 11:30 a.m. — Jazz keeping Hayward

The Jazz have matched the Hornets four-year, $63MM offer sheet to Gordon Hayward, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Hayward will sign with Utah today.

 

Update, 11:28 a.m. — Miller nearing deal with Cavs?

After securing LeBron James, are the Cavaliers close to adding one of the King’s buddies, Mike Miller? Sam Amick of USA Today tweets that the Cavs are not yet close to a deal with Miller, and have only had cursory conversations at this point.

Aldridge: Clock ticking for Rockets to match offer sheet on Parsons

 

parsons

Chandler Parsons averaged 16.6 points and 5.5 boards last season for Houston. (NBAE via Getty Images)

The clock finally began ticking toward resolution on a great number of NBA fronts Thursday, when the Houston Rockets officially received a three-year, $45 million offer sheet from the Dallas Mavericks for restricted free agent Chandler Parsons. The Rockets now have three days to decide whether to match the offer sheet and keep Parsons, or decline to match and allow Parsons to go to the Mavericks.

The Parsons sheet, which includes a 15 percent trade kicker (meaning if either Houston or Dallas trades him during the life of the contract, he’s due an additional 15 percent of his remaining salary) and a player option after the second year, was signed early Thursday morning.

Houston’s now facing a dilemma. The Rockets have moved to create enough cap room to make a maximum contract offer to Miami unrestricted free agent Chris Bosh, with trades that would send Omer Asik to New Orleans and Jeremy Lin to Philadelphia for future Draft picks. Those trades can now be carried out with the expiration Thursday of the July Moratorium on all contract signings and trades.

Once those deals are finalized, Houston can offer Bosh a max deal for four years and almost $90 million.

The problem for the Rockets is that if Bosh doesn’t agree to sign with Houston in the next three days, the only way Houston can match the Mavericks’ offer sheet for Parsons is to use the cap room it is saving for Bosh. If Bosh does agree to sign with the Rockets, Houston can exceed the cap in order to match the offer sheet and keep Parsons. But that is the sequence that must take place.

Houston had indicated it would match any sheet for Parsons, and the Rockets may well match this one. But it may cost them a chance at Bosh, which Houston views as the perfect power forward to play alongside Dwight Howard and James Harden.

And the Rockets, of course, are further hampered because Bosh has expressed a preference to continue playing with LeBron James. But Bosh may not know where James is going to play next season in the next 72 hours, as James decides whether to return to Miami or go home and play with the Cavaliers, the team that drafted him first overall in 2003 and that is near his Akron hometown.

The Rockets tried to work out sign-and-trade scenarios with the Mavericks for Parsons before they officially received the offer sheet. But once Houston was given the paperwork, under league rules, it could no longer entertain sign and trade possibilities. The Rockets can now only match or not match.

If the Rockets do match, they won’t be able to trade Parsons for one year without his consent, and they can’t trade him to the Mavericks at all. Nor can his contract be reworked in any way.

The option year is especially vexing to the Rockets and owner Les Alexander, according to a source. They couldn’t trade Parsons without his okay during the first year as stated above. That would leave them only one season with him before he could potentially become an unrestricted free agent — the same summer that Howard could opt out and be unrestricted. Howard and Parsons share the same agent, Dan Fegan.

This scenario unfolded after the Rockets declined their 2014-15 team option on Parsons, making him a restricted free agent. If the Rockets had picked up that one-year option, Parsons would have become an unrestricted free agent in 2015, able to sign anywhere. The reasoning behind that decision was that even though Parsons could get offer sheets in 2014, the Rockets planned to match anything. And it gave the team time to try and sign Parsons to a long-term deal before he hit unrestricted free agency.

Report: Duncan exercises option, will return to Spurs for 2014-15 season


VIDEO: Tim Duncan’s standard of excellence stands the test of time

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Tim Duncan will be around to chase back-to-back titles and a sixth championship with the San Antonio Spurs next season.

Duncan exercised his $10.3 million option for the 2014-15 season Monday afternoon, per multiple reports, guaranteeing the Spurs’ core will come back together for at least one more ride. Yahoo! Sports was the first to report the news.

Duncan, 38, had until Monday to make up his mind. He gave no indication during the Spurs’ Finals run that he would do anything but return for another season. He joins Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the other two members of the Spurs’ superstar core, as all three will head into the final year of their current contracts.

As good as he was during the regular season (15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds in managed minutes), Duncan was just as good if not slightly better in 23 postseason games, when he averaged 16.3 points and 9.2 rebounds.

 

Report: Knicks’ Anthony will opt-out, become free agent July 1


VIDEO: Anthony to Opt Out

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — So much for Carmelo Anthony‘s decision.

The New York Knicks’ superstar will indeed opt-out of the final year of his deal and become a free agent July 1, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Anthony’s decision to test the free agent waters could be the trigger to a wild summer that sees several other stars dive into the free agent mix, including Miami Heat stars LeBron James, Chris Bosh and even Dwyane Wade.

Anthony has apparently bypassed the splashy news conference for a much more subtle approach to his announcement, according to Chris Herring‘s report in the Journal:

Anthony submitted a formal letter this weekend, stating he intends to exercise the early-termination clause in his deal, forgoing the one year and $23.5 million left on his contract, according to the person. In doing so, the 30-year-old star forward becomes the biggest name to join this summer’s free-agent market — for now, at least.

This doesn’t mean Anthony won’t return to the Knicks. He could still re-sign with them, and is eligible for a deal of up to five years and $129 million if the team offers that much. But the likelihood of him remaining with the Knicks seems less likely by the day.

Anthony instantly becomes the object of desire for several teams looking for that one superstar piece to take them to the next level, including the Heat, Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks, for starters.

Rumors of Anthony joining James, Bosh and Wade in in Miami — a “pipe dream,” as Heat boss Pat Riley phrased it last week, that would require the Heat stars to opt-out of their deals and all of them to sacrifice salary to play together as a “Big 4″ — cranked up during the Heat’s Finals run.

The Chicago Bulls, however, are actually considered the favorite to land Anthony on the open market, pairing him with former MVP Derrick Rose and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah under Tom Thibodeau on a team poised to challenge the Heat and Pacers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks, with Phil Jackson leading the organization’s rebuilding effort and Derek Fisher taking over as head coach, can still offer more money than any other team. But it’s unclear whether they are either interested or prepared to offer Anthony that max deal only they can.

Anthony’s decision comes ahead of the June 29 deadline James has for his decision to either opt-in with the Heat or opt-out and join his good friend and teammate on the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team in this summer’s free agent extravaganza.

With Anthony already in the mix, the addition of James in the free agent pool would turn this summer upside down ahead of the summer of 2015, when a bevy of superstars (James and Anthony included) were expected to flood the market. The free agent class of 2015 could evaporate if the aforementioned stars opt-out this summer and Minnesota Timberwolves’ All-Star Kevin Love is traded before next summer arrives.

Anthony’s reported decision isn’t a stunner. He talked during the preseason about wanting to test free agency this summer and held true to his word. The Knicks’ dismal season and the hiring of Jackson and later Fisher had no effect on his choice. The desire to be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career clearly presented itself as a more enticing option than dealing with whatever patchwork plan Jackson had in mind.

Now the real fun begins, as the clock ticks not only on the decision of James but also all of the potential trades that could go down between now and Draft night Thursday in New York.

We don’t have to wait until the start of free agency July 1 for the drama to get stirred up. It’ll happen well in advance of the start of free agency now that Anthony’s decision has been made.

Looking At The Top Free Agents of 2014

By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com

The 2013 free-agency period is nearly complete, which means we’re now less than a year away from 2014’s open market, and I guess that means it’s time to get excited. Pop the bubbly and get ready for a mid-summer free-agency ranking!

(Note No. 1: The following ranking does not include the five players (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Amar’e Stoudemire) who have early termination options in their contracts. All of these players could become unrestricted free agents if they invoke the option before June 30th, 2014. None of these players have invoked the option yet, so to me they’re not upcoming free agents. Let’s move on.)

(Note No. 2: Teams with restricted free agents have until October 31 to agree to a contract extension. Many of the players on this list will be extended before the deadline and, thus, not free agents next summer. But none of these players has been extended yet, so to me they’re all still upcoming free agents. Let’s continue to move on.)

10. Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 5.8 PPG (.451 FG%), 7.7 RPG, 1.7 BPG

The former first overall pick is still battling back from a devastating arm injury suffered in 2010 and lingering ankle and back issues. But he seemed to hit his stride at points for the Warriors last season as his elite defensive play makes him a valuable commodity. He was arguably the second-best center in the league before his injury in 2010 and the former All-NBA third team selection should have plenty of suitors next summer if he stays healthy.

9. Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Four

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 13.8 PPG (.426 FG%), 6.3 RPG, 3.0 APG

This may be the last season in Chicago for the Bulls’ defensive stopper. Deng played major minutes last season (38.7 per game) but the emergence of Jimmy Butler may cause his role to be reduced. The former Duke Blue Devil has seen his shooting percentages dip over the last two seasons and those will need to improve if the 28-year-old hopes for lucrative offers next summer. But even if they don’t, he should receive significant interest for his defensive ability alone.

8. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz (restricted)

San Antonio Spurs v Utah Jazz - Game Four

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 9.4 PPG (.482 FG%), 7.1 RPG, 1.7 BPG (in 23.2 minutes per game)

Favors spent his first 2 1/2 seasons in Utah stuck behind veteran big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. But this will no longer be a problem for Favors as both players left the Jazz during free agency. Increased playing time will benefit the third overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft as he has shown incredible skill during limited minutes. It seems likely the Jazz will do whatever it takes to retain their 22-year-old franchise building block.

7. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 13.7 PPG (.466 FG%), 8.6 RPG, 4.1 APG

The four-time All-Star has been limited by injuries and a tumultuous situation in Los Angeles over the past two seasons. He has talent, and at only 32 years old, he could still play a significant role on a championship contender. His recent dip in production could be attributed to an adjusted role in the Lakers’ offense which has moved him away from areas he’s historically been successful. If these problems can be fixed by coach Mike D’Antoni, then Gasol should see increased value next summer.

6. Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons (restricted)

Detroit Pistons vs Miami Heat

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 16.0 PPG (.486 FG%), 9.6 RPG, 3.5 APG

The 23-year-old Pistons’ big man has shown a lot of promise on offense but his below-average defense stunts his contract potential. His value also may be negatively affected by his likely reduced shots next season due to the Pistons’ high-volume free-agent additions of Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. But Monroe has clearly displayed immense potential during his first three seasons in Detroit and he will receive heavy interest during the 2014 free-agency period.  

5. Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks (restricted)

Milwaukee Bucks v Minnesota Timberwolves

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 9.8 PPG (.506 FG%), 9.5 RPG, 2.8 BPG (in 27.3 minutes per game)

The Bucks are reportedly close to a contract extension with Sanders, but if that deal somehow falls through then he would be one of the best free agents available. Last season was a breakout year for the 24-year-old center out of VCU and he showed elite defensive skills once he secured playing time. Sanders could become an All-Star in the next few seasons if he is able to control his fouls and temper.

4. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings (restricted)

Sacramento Kings  v Denver Nuggets

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 17.1 PPG (.465 FG%), 9.9 RPG, 2.7 APG

Most people want to believe in the potential of Cousins, but it’s hard when he expends such little effort on defense. New Kings coach Michael Malone believes he can reach the 22-year-old center. If he can, the Kings will have themselves an elite big man. The potential of Cousins makes it likely Sacramento will try to secure him with a new contract before free agency starts. However, the potential he never puts it together mentally may make it difficult for any team to offer him a max contract.

3. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 17.3 PPG (.471 FG%), 6.8 RPG, 2.5 APG

The Mavericks’ roster moves over the past three seasons make it easy to forget that Dallas won the championship in 2011. The Mavericks struggled last season as Nowitzki battled early-season injuries and the lack of talent on their roster proved to be a problem. But Nowitzki’s desire for another championship remains high and he may seek a title shot elsewhere should the Mavericks struggle again. He’d find plenty of suitors, too, because which championship contender wouldn’t want to add one of the best scorers in league history?

2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 27.3 PPG (.463 FG%), 6.0 APG, 5.6 RPG

Take a moment to imagine Bryant in any other jersey than the Lakers. Any other team. Maybe the Bulls. Or Jazz. Or Bobcats. It looks weird no matter which team you choose and it seems likely he’ll never leave the purple and gold. But if he did leave he’d cause chaos in the basketball universe and force us all to reconsider what life really means. None of this will matter, though, if he is unable to return from the Achilles tendon injury he suffered late last season.

1. Paul George, Indiana Pacers (restricted)

Indiana Pacers v Golden State Warriors

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 17.4 PPG (.419 FG%), 7.6 RPG, 4.1 APG

The 23-year-old George fully embraced his new role as the lead man in Indiana last season and soon he will be rewarded with a giant new contract. It’s hard to think of any reason the Pacers would let the future of their franchise leave and they’ll probably lock him up before the October 31 deadline. But if he hits the open market (like Bryant), then we may experience a summer crazier than the one we just finished.

***

Honorable Mentions: Paul Pierce, Brooklyn Nets; Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns; Greivis Vasquez, Sacramento Kings (restricted); Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers; Ed Davis, Memphis Grizzlies (restricted); Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City Thunder; Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors; Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz (restricted); Ray Allen, Miami Heat; Vince Carter, Dallas Mavericks; Ben Gordon, Charlotte Bobcats; Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls; Ramon Sessions, Charlotte Bobcats

Nash Has A New Team … (Video)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If any player in free agency was going to break the news on his own, we figured it would social media maven Steve Nash.

With a handful of teams aggressively pursuing the two-time MVP, it wouldn’t have come as a shock if he’d already picked his next destination. So when we saw his Tweet this morning we started scrambling the breaking news unit here at the hideout to find out of it was going to be the Raptors, Suns, Knicks, Nets or Mavericks?

Turns out, he has his own “new” team:



Not everyone in this business takes kindly to the product endorsement prank, but with all of the craziness that free agency brings, we can appreciate Nash lightening the mood just a little bit, even if it is just for a moment.

(You can get back to your regularly scheduled craziness now!)

Nash Says The Magic Words, Will Consider The Knicks In Free Agency





MIAMI – The words Knicks fans wanted to hear finally came flowing out of Steve Nash‘s mouth yesterday. The two-time MVP and soon-to-be free-agent point guard says the Knicks are on his list of teams that he’ll consider playing for this season.

He praised the Knicks during a promotional appearance in Manhattan, telling ESPNNewYork.com:

“The Knicks are a great franchise and I live in New York City (each summer), so I’d definitely consider them if they were interested.”

The Knicks’ interest should be high, considering their muddled point guard situation. Jeremy Lin is also a free agent and there is no guarantee he signs with the Knicks this summer. And Baron Davis had knee surgery and it’s not clear exactly when he will return and what shape his game will be in when he does.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson knows his team needs solid point guard play from the start of this season and who better to orchestrate for Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire (Nash’s former teammate in Phoenix) than the Nash?

There should be plenty of competition to sign Nash, 38, who has made it clear that he feels great and can see himself playing three more years:

“I want to wait and see what’s actually on the table,” he said. “I’m open and excited. I’m looking at every possibility right now. It sounds like there are a number of teams that are interested.”

Other than playing for the Heat or Magic (alongside Dwight Howard?), there isn’t a more intriguing destination for Nash than the Knicks. He has no plans to make a decision before free agency kicks off July 1.

Buckle Up For Free Agent-Palooza

– For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We apologize in advance for the conflicting reports you’re going to hear in the days and weeks ahead about basically any and every NBA player, free agent or not, being pursued by this team or that team.

Hey, it’s that time of year, just a few months later than normal.

The avalanche of rumors kicked off in earnest Tuesday afternoon, before the news broke that NBA facilities would be reopening for players Thursday and that team officials and agents could begin their free agent dance this morning, though no deals could be agreed to until Dec. 9.

If it seems like a shock to the system, it should. The lockout lasted 149 days, depriving us of the ritual of our usual free agent-palooza we swim in every summer, among other things. The fact is, we haven’t been immersed in this sort of rumor crush since the lockout began July 1. And now that the union is being reformed and both sides are on the road to polishing the details of the new collective bargaining agreement, it’s time to get your game face on and get back into the regular flow of things.

Of course, with a condensed free agency period/training camp all rolled into one, things are going to be a little wilder and crazier than usual. So again, be prepared to hear any and everything and just remember that until at least Dec. 9, it’s all talk …

***

PACERS CHASING RONDO?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports As Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge aggressively pursues possible deals for Rajon Rondo, the Indiana Pacers have emerged as an intriguing suitor for the point guard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. For the past few days, Pacers officials – and third-party surrogates – have been making calls and gathering information and insight into Rondo’s reputation as a teammate and leader, sources said. The Pacers and Celtics have discussed the preliminary framework of a deal, but two sources said Indiana would need a third team to provide Boston with the talent it wants to do a deal. The Celtics are likely trying to gather the necessary pieces to make a bid for Ainge’s ultimate target: New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, sources said. It was unclear if the Pacers had begun to reach out to broaden discussions, but there was an expectation they would do so. The Celtics have been gauging Rondo’s trade value for more than a year, and have held discussions with teams about him across the past few trade deadlines and NBA drafts. There have long been divides within Boston’s front office, coaching staff and locker room about Rondo. He can be moody, difficult and stubborn, and several league sources were dubious if the Pacers’ young coach, Frank Vogel, would have the stature to deal with Rondo.

***

NETS READYING OFFER FOR DWIGHT HOWARD

Marc Stein and Chad Ford of ESPN.com: The New Jersey Nets are prepared to offer a trade package featuring Brook Lopez and two future first-round picks to acquire Dwight Howard before the Orlando Magic center becomes a free agent in July 2012, according to sources close to the situation. Sources told ESPN.com this week that, to sweeten the proposal, New Jersey would likewise offer to take back the contract of Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu, who has three seasons left on his contract worth just under $35 million. Absorbing Turkoglu’s remaining salary would become financially feasible for the Nets after the expected release of swingman Travis Outlaw through the amnesty clause that will be included in the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement and by including another smaller contract or two in the deal. No trade deadline for the 2011-12 season has been set in stone yet by the league office, but many team executives believe it will fall in March. Once the league officially re-opens for business, Howard’s future in Orlando is sure to be one of the season’s dominant story lines, along with Chris Paul’s future in New Orleans and the Nets’ attempts to secure a long-term commitment from star guard Deron Williams. It’s been an open secret around the league that the Nets’ dream scenario is pairing Howard with Williams, after they followed up their failed pursuit of Carmelo Anthony last season by trading for Williams just before the February trade deadline. It remains to be seen whether Howard will regard the Nets as a prime destination on par with the New York Knicks, even after they move out of New Jersey, but sources say that Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov has long believed that teaming them up would convince both Team USA stars to commit their long-term future to the Brooklyn-bound Nets.

***

(more…)

Smith Speaks On Howard, Help

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We can speculate all we want about the Orlando Magic’s plans for keeping Dwight Howard in the fold and away from the free agent sharks in 2012.

But why speculate when Magic general manager Otis Smith is willing, at least somewhat, to talk about the Magic’s plans for Howard and his help:

Fine, Smith was less than forthcoming about his plans. But you had to know that the Magic’s gathering to introduce their newest rookies — Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins and this afternoon would turn into an inquisition about Howard.

So much has been written and said about the game’s best big man since the Magic’s season ended in that first round series against Atlanta, but so little of that has come from the mouth of the man charged with keeping it all together.

Howard, meanwhile, seems to be enjoying his summer. He and Gilbert Arenas are having quite the time these days “planking” all over Orlando.

The only thing better would be pictures of Smith and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy planking right along with them …

Jokes aside, Smith has to know that these questions about Howard and his future will persist until the day he announces his intentions or puts his signature on a new deal. And even then, if that new deal isn’t with the Magic, the questions will persist.

Good luck with all that Mr. Smith.

Big (Man) Issues To Address

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – No offense to Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely or Bismack Biyombo, the biggest of the big men drafted in the top 10 of Thursday night’s Draft, but they are not the biggest name international post players that we’ll be keeping our eyes on in the coming weeks.

Sure, without a summer league to watch them perform in that makes it a little tougher to track their immediate progress, and there’s no telling when we’ll see Valanciunas in his Raptors uniform.

But there are two other NBA bigs that will have our undivided attention as we head into an uncertain July. Nuggets center Nene and Grizzlies center Marc Gasol are the headliners in a free agent class whose star power and depth pales in comparison to the flashy class of 2010 (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson, etc.), a group still awaiting word on a new collective bargaining agreement before they can begin the process of deciding their futures.

As promising as that international crop of big men from the draft is supposed to be, and Valanciunas is considered by most the best long-term big man from the 2011 class, none of them will be as valuable as either Nene has been and could be to the Nuggets or Gasol has been and could be to the Grizzlies.

We are talking about two low-post anchors for Western Conference playoff teams, as opposed to long-range projects that no one is sure will be impact players in the league anytime soon.

(more…)