Posts Tagged ‘Josh Howard’

The Best Of The Rest

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — The Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City a little over three years ago, so Jamal Crawford can’t play for his hometown team. But he can come close.

That’s what Crawford will do when he signs with the Portland Trail Blazers for $10 million over two years. Crawford reportedly chose Portland over Sacramento and New York, who could only offer him their $2.5 million exception.

Crawford replaces Brandon Roy, who is being waived via the amnesty clause. And he should give a boost to an offense that has regressed each of the last two years. The Blazers had the second-best offense in the league in 2008-09, but ranked seventh in ’09-10 and 11th last season.

Also today, Richard Hamilton signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Bulls.

The free agency dominoes continue to fall, but there are still some guys available who can help a team. Here’s the best of the bunch…

Arron Afflalo (restricted): When the Nuggets agreed to terms with Nene on Tuesday night, GM Masai Ujiri told our David Aldridge that progress was being made on a deal with Afflalo. But all has been quiet on the Afflalo front since then.

Samuel Dalembert: There hasn’t been much chatter about Dalembert in the last few days. He reportedly had interest from Houston and Sacramento. Right now, the Rockets’ best center is Hasheem Thabeet.

Josh Howard: Howard met with the Jazz on Tuesday and has had several teams, including the Spurs, interested. He tore his ACL in February of 2010 and has played just 53 games over the last two seasons.

Kris Humphries: Humphries could be back in a Nets uniform on a one-year deal by the weekend. They need a power forward desperately, but because they’re looking to preserve their $22 million of cap space for next summer, they’re looking to hand out one-year deals.

Andrei Kirilenko: Reports have the Nets and Kings interested. Even with Humphries’ cap hold, New Jersey has over $12 million of cap space after waiving Travis Outlaw via the amnesty clause today. So they could give Kirilenko a pretty lucrative one-year deal.

Rodney Stuckey (restricted): ESPN reported Wednesday that Stuckey and the Pistons were at an impasse, and that he might just accept his $3.9 million qualifying offer. That would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Nick Young (restricted): Michael Lee of The Washington Post updates us on Young, whose best option may be to accept the qualifying offer from the Wizards.

Getting ready for the season was tough enough with just 17 days of training camp before games start on Christmas. But for these guys, it’s going to be even harder to get integrated on the fly with whatever teams they eventually sign with.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Report: Spurs Will Amnesty Jefferson

– For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We have the first reported victim (?) of the amnesty clause of the new collective bargaining agreement.

The Spurs have decided to use it on swingman Richard Jefferson and the three years and $30 million remaining on his contract, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.  This means teams with cap space will have a chance to bid on Jefferson before he would become a free agent.

This also means the Spurs will need a starting small forward and will have to enter the free agent market to find one. Rookie Kawhi Leonard will surely have an opportunity to compete for the job. But if the Spurs have their designs on a championship, they’ll need a veteran (like Caron Butler or Josh Howard) to man the position in this abbreviated season.

The move to amnesty Jefferson will put the Spurs under the luxury tax threshold and allow them to use the entire mid-level exception to attract Jefferson’s replacement.

Speaking of Butler, Caron will still take his visit to New Jersey this evening, despite being very impressed by the San Antonio Spurs during his visit there Monday and Tuesday, and despite the Spurs now being able to offer Butler a full mid-level.

Butler is planning to make a decision in the next day about where he wants to play, according to a source, with the Spurs and Bulls at the top of his list. He visited Chicago on Monday, meeting with team president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman. Butler has committed to playing two guard if he signs with the Bulls, which would allow Chicago to keep Luol Deng at small forward. Butler would remain a small forward with the Spurs, Nets or Clippers, the other teams he has visited or is visiting. But Butler also hit it off with Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich.

The Clippers and Nets can offer more than the mid-level exception. New Jersey would likely slide Butler into the $7 million slot it is currently paying forward Travis Outlaw, a prime amnesty candidate himself. The Clippers are under the cap and could give Butler a big deal, but Los Angeles is hip-deep in the Chris Paul trade talks at the moment, along with trying to get restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan signed to a long-term deal. In addition, a source said that the Clippers prefer free agent forward Tayshaun Price over Butler.

TNT analyst David Aldridge contributed to this report

Is There Anyone Else?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We don’t have Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets or New York Knicks to kick around anymore.

They did their deal. They completed the trade that’s been rumored for so long, leaving us with two days before Thursday’s trade deadline to examine the rest of the landscape and see if there is anyone else out there willing to take the plunge.

Will there be anyone else out there interested in making a deal that is a franchise-changer?

We put the question the question to Kevin McHale of TNT and NBA TV fame — who was also the Timberwolves former GM. “This could definitely force some other teams into doing something,” McHale. “There is usually a snowball effect with these sorts of things.”

The Nuggets have several players whose futures could shift between now and Thursday’s trade deadline. Al Harrington was rumored throughout the past few months as being a factor in a potential ‘Melo deal. J.R. Smith is likely playing out his final days in a Nuggets uniform. And Nene has to be dealt with as well, since his current deal expires after this season.

There are other veterans out there who have been rumored to be on the trading block — Steve Nash, Stephen Jackson, Jamal Crawford, etc. — who could see their names circulate heavily in the next 48 hours.

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Two-A-Days In Washington?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We’re sure some people are calling him crazy this morning, but all we’ve got for Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders is a salute of approval.

Saunders did what any self-respecting coach would do Monday and stormed out of his team’s morning practice and invited them back for another, unscheduled afternoon session in the hope that they would come back with a bit more urgency than they showed the first time around.

Two-a-days, baby. Who doesn’t like two-a-days?

Now the critics will point out that Saunders struggled to hold his team’s together in both Minnesota (during the later stages of his tenure there) and Detroit (where he struggled to win over a veteran cast used to Larry Brown‘s style). But what else is he supposed to do? The Wizards are 1-4 and rather than see them fall completely apart he decided to make his stand early this season.

Good for you Flip.

Even better, some of the Wizards’ veterans didn’t hesitate to back up their coach, per our main man Mike Lee of the Washington Post:

“Y’all better wake up. You’re making it harder on yourselves,” veteran Josh Howard said as players started quietly heading toward the locker room. Hilton Armstrong wasn’t willing to just let practice end in that fashion, so he called his teammates together and told them there was a reason for the extra session. He could see the frustration but said, “The coaches only want to make us better. Real talk.”

It seems a little “Real Talk” is what’s needed in Washington. This crew is already trying to dig out of the hole of last season’s tumult, trying to mesh the games and personalities of both rookie sensation John Wall and veteran star Gilbert Arenas. All Saunders is asking for is maximum effort and energy from a group that couldn’t get right last season.

If that’s too much to ask for then maybe he’s right to work them twice a day until he gets what he needs out of them.

The Wizards would be wise to listen to Howard, who has been through early season struggles before and come out on the other side. He’s coming back from knee surgery and wasn’t cleared to go full tilt until last week. But he knows of what he speaks when he tells his teammates, young and a little bit older, that now is the time to change their ways.

“I told some of the guys. ‘We getting ready to get a paycheck on the 15th.’ For right now, they getting a paycheck for nothing,” he said. “I can honestly say that. I don’t think guys are really buying into this. If anything, we need to work for this paycheck.

“I’ve been in situations where we started out 0-4, 1-5 and turned it around quick,” said Howard, who won 67 games with Dallas in 2006-07 after the Mavericks started the season 0-4. “It’s a correctable mistake and guys need to go out there and sell it out for one another.”

Five games into their season and it appears these Wizards are already at the crossroads. Saunders is trying to steer them down a different path, one that has to be better than the one they’ve been on the past couple of years.

Now it’s time to see if the Wizards are ready to travel that path.