Posts Tagged ‘Yahoo! Sports’

Billups Agrees To 2-Year Deal With Detroit



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Brandon Knight is going to finishing school for NBA point guards without ever leaving the Detroit Pistons’ practice facility.

No one should be happier to hear the news that former Pistons star Chauncey Billups, The Finals MVP in 2004, is returning to Detroit on a two-year, $5 million deal, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

Billups, a five-time All-Star, was the ringleader of a Pistons crew that was dominant in the Eastern Conference for a five-season stretch from 2004-08. After being traded from Detroit to Denver, he helped guide his hometown Nuggets to the 2009 Western Conference finals alongside Carmelo Anthony. Last season, he helped Chris Paul and Blake Griffin lead the Los Angeles Clippers to the best season in franchise history and their first Pacific Division title.

His return to Detroit, though, represents a homecoming of a different kind. Billups made his name with the Pistons, going from a journeyman existence early in his career to one of the most well-respected players in the entire league.

Pistons boss Joe Dumars has already added Rasheed Wallace, who also starred on those teams with Billups, to the coaching staff. And Billups will not only play a vital role in the backcourt rotation, but perhaps his greatest value will be as a mentor to Knight, a talented young point guard who will learn plenty from a player like Billups.

He’s nearly a decade removed from his greatest moments with the Pistons, but he proved last season that he’s still got plenty left in his tank. He returned from a torn Achilles (suffered in February of 2012) to play in 22 games this season, averaging 8.4 points and 2.2 assists while playing 19 minutes a night.

The Pistons signed Josh Smith to a four-year, $54 million deal Wednesday, solidifying a frontcourt rotation that also includes budding young stars Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond as well as Kyle Singler, Jonas Jerebko and second-round pick Tony Mitchell.

What wasn’t clear until now is what they were going to do to fortify the backcourt rotation after veteran point guard Jose Calderon left for Dallas via free agency. Adding Billups softens that blow and gives the Pistons a significant upgrade in the leadership department.

Report: Teague Signs Bucks’ Offer Sheet





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — First it was Larry Drew, then Zaza Pachulia and perhaps now Jeff Teague, who will leave Atlanta for Milwaukee.

Drew, the former Hawks head coach, no doubt played a significant role in the Bucks adding Pachulia in free agency and certainly instigated the Bucks’ presenting Teague, a restricted free agent, with a reported four-year, $32 million offer sheet that has been signed already, a deal first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

The Hawks have three days to either match the offer or Teague will rejoin his former coach and teammate in a Bucks uniform. The Bucks have a restricted free agent point guard of their own in Brandon Jennings. The two teams had discussed possible sign-and-trade deals involving the two players, and veteran free agent guard Monta Ellis, but those talks never produced a substantive deal.

A two-year starter, Teague averaged 14.8 points and a career-high 7.2 assists this season for a Hawks team that made a sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs. While he doesn’t carry the household recognition that Jennings does, due mostly to the way Jennings entered the league (after a year of post-high school work in Italy), he’s every bit the athlete and arguably a more polished player at this stage of their respective careers.

Teague, 25, is also two years older and certainly sturdier at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, nearly 30 pounds heavier than Jennings. The fact that the Bucks and Hawks explored trade opportunities says something about the value both franchises placed on their incumbents. You can debate which one of them is the better player right now, as plenty of fans and pundits have already, but Teague is the only one with a signed offer sheet today. And the fact that it’s from the team Jennings has started for the past four seasons speaks volumes not only about that debate but also about what sort of market there is for restricted free agent point guards this summer.

While neither one of them is considered to be among the elite at one of the most crucial positions in the league, the Bucks’$8 million a year offer to Teague indicates they believe he’s more than capable of replacing Jennings and providing an upgrade at the position. His familiarity with Drew’s system also gives the Bucks an inside advantage that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

Fearless Cavs Offer Bynum 2-Year Deal


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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — From Dion Waiters to Anthony Bennett and now Andrew Bynum, Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant is fearless.

In a copycat league, he’s decided to go his own way and usually in dramatic fashion.

We’ve come to expect the unexpected from Grant in the Draft, both Waiters in 2012 and Bennett last month were surprising picks at No. 4 and No. 1 overall, respectively.

Grant doubling down on Bynum in free agency though, with a reported two-year deal that could be worth some $24 million with incentives, pushes the envelope to the brink.

Yes, there is a team option on the second season and plenty of incentives. So Grant has covered himself in ways the Philadelphia 76ers could not when they acquired Bynum in that blockbuster Dwight Howard trade last summer from the Los Angeles Lakers. The fact that they are even entertaining the risk of adding Bynum to a roster that was ravaged by injuries last season (most notably to Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao) tells you how desperate the franchise is to rise from the ashes of The Decision and move back into playoff territory.

Grant obviously isn’t alone in his risky business this summer. Bynum has face-to-face meetings scheduled with the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks this week, following Monday’s visit to Cleveland. I don’t care if he works out for these teams or not, entertaining the idea of adding him to your team (I don’t care what the price) is an extremely dicey gamble.

Bynum has experienced more highs and lows than your average 25-year-old should-be-dominant low-post monster. He’s got two championship rings, but also has only played more than 65 games just once in his eight seasons in the league. The talent is undeniable. Players his size and with his skill-set are rare.

I’m just not sure that being on the NBA’s endangered species list warrants the sort of pursuit we are seeing. The Mavericks and Hawks are desperate for big man help as well, and they could both use a healthy Bynum in the worst way.

How much are they willing to risk to take that chance?

A colleague and good friend suggested that the risk isn’t as great as some (me) are making it out to be.

“The second year is an option, right?” he wrote. “Makes it less of a gamble if they can drop him next summer and still have space for LeBron [James].”

Yeah, that sounds great until you remember that the Cavaliers cannot continue to play the waiting game year after painful year. After all, they were supposed to win a title or two before LeBron won anything in Miami, a prediction that came crashing down in the worst way.

I’ve heard all of the arguments to the contrary …

What if Bynum’s knees hold up?

What if he reverts back to the form he showed in his final season with the Lakers, when he averaged career bests in points (18.7), rebounds (11.9) and minutes (35.2) to go along with 1.9 blocks?

What if at 25 he’s still got five or six great years left in him, in those knees?

What if? is a loaded phrase lottery teams use to justify off-the-track decisions that usually come back to bite them in the end.

That’s a phrase the Cavaliers should avoid at all costs if they are intent on becoming the playoff team that gambler of a general manager of theirs believes they could be this season.



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!



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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 NBA.com 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 NBA.com 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?



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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.

Report: Splitter Sticking With Spurs


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Tiago Splitter finished the season coming off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of The Finals against the Miami Heat.

He will start the 2013-14 season as the Spurs’ third-highest paid player when his representatives and the franchise put the finishing touches on a four-year deal worth slightly over $36 million, a deal first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

Splitter, who became a restricted free agent Monday after the Spurs extended him a $3.49 million qualifying offer, turned out to be a must-get for a Spurs team trying to keep its core intact.

But after producing his best season in the NBA during regular season, he struggled during the playoffs. He averaged just 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds during the postseason and was relegated to that reserve role against the Heat after both teams deployed small lineups.

Still, Splitter’s new deal suggests that Spurs general manager R.C. Buford and coach Gregg Popovich have not soured on the Brazilian big man. Only All-NBA picks Tony Parker ($12.5 million) and Tim Duncan ($10.4 million) will earn more than Splitter next season.

The Spurs still have free agent business to tend to this summer. Veteran swingman Manu Ginobili is an unrestricted free agent. But the Spurs, according to sources familiar with the negotiations, are in the midst of trying to find a way to re-sign Ginobili at a more reasonable price than the $14.1 million he earned during the final season of his most recent deal.

Celtics-Nets Talking Trade … Celtics Already In Full-Blown Rebuilding Mode?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — That rebuilding process Doc Rivers was trying to avoid in Boston is apparently already in effect for the Celtics, who are reportedly exploring their trade options for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce with their Atlantic Division rivals in Brooklyn.

The complex deal, first reported by Yahoo! Sports and later confirmed by both ESPN.com and The New York Times, would not be finalized until July 10, at the earliest, which is after the end of the NBA’s moratorium on signing new contracts during the free agent season. In order to get a deal done the Celtics need to wait until after July 1, when the final year and $15.3 million of Pierce’s contract becomes guaranteed and then wait until the moratorium is ends to complete the proposed deal.

In it’s current form, the deal would involve the Celtics trading Garnett, Pierce (and possibly Jason Terry) to the Nets for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humprhies and his expiring contract and multiple first-round Draft picks.

Of course, the entire deal would be contingent on Garnett waiving his no-trade clause and agreeing to join Pierce on a Brooklyn team coached by Jason Kidd and already boasting stars Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson.

This is a twisted end to Garnett’s six-year run in Boston. Pierce has spent his entire career with the Celtics. But Celtics boss Danny Ainge made it clear Tuesday, when he discussed Rivers and his departure for the Los Angeles Clippers, that no concrete decisions had been made about the futures of the remaining members of Boston’s famed “Big 3″ that helped them to the 2008 NBA title.

Ray Allen was the first to leave, bolting for Miami and another title in free agency last summer. Rivers opted for a chance to take the Clippers to the same plateau he reached with the Celtics in the final six of his nine seasons with the team. Ainge is clearly trying to make the next move by engaging in these talks, and what sources indicate are many more, in regards to the remaining members of his core.

Not even Rajon Rondo, the Celtics’ injured All-Star point guard, is off-limits, according to a league executive who informed NBA.com that Rondo is waiting to see who Ainge replaces Rivers with and what happens this summer before deciding if he wants to be a part of the rebuild that the other members of the core are clearly trying to avoid.

Ainge, one of the league’s true, front-office risk takers is willing to push the envelope to see what he can salvage for the aging stars who helped lead the Celtics back to prominence. Rivers netted them a first-round Draft pick in 2015. Moving Pierce and Garnett will potentially a couple more and Ainge would have a stockpile of assets to work with in two seasons in the Draft and free agency.

For the Nets the future would be now if this deal were to get done. For the Celtics, the necessary assets to rebuild for the future would be the key.

Report: Rivers To Clippers Done Deal?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Doc Rivers coaching the Los Angeles Clippers is apparently back on and, this time, it’s all but a done deal.

The Clippers have reached an agreement in principle with Rivers to become their coach in exchange for a future first-round Draft pick, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, salvaging a week’s worth of talks by reviving and then reaching the deal by Sunday afternoon:

The Los Angeles Clippers have reached an agreement in principle to send an unprotected 2015 first-round draft pick to the Boston Celtics for the rights to hire coach Doc Rivers, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Rivers has agreed to a three-year, $21 million deal with the Clippers, league sources said.

Talks started again on Sunday when the Clippers offered the Celtics the first-round pick to free Rivers from his contract with Boston, sources said.

The NBA still needs to grant approval to the deal, but the teams have been led to believe that won’t be a problem, sources said.

The Clippers and Rivers believe Rivers’ arrival will solidify star free agent Chris Paul‘s commitment to sign a five-year contract extension in July, sources said.

Rivers told the Clippers that he was no longer interested in the position on Friday, but pressure from Paul stayed strong on Clippers management over the weekend and Los Angeles reconsidered its unwillingness to give Boston a first-round pick, sources said.

The key language to pay attention to here is that the “league has to approve the deal,” something that didn’t seem possible when Rivers was linked to the trade between the Clippers and Celtics that would have also included Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan, Celtics All-Star Kevin Garnett and future draft picks.

Concerns about Clippers owner Donald Sterling‘s willingness to pay top dollar for a coach will be silenced with this deal, as Rivers will receive the exact same compensation from the Clippers he was due from the Celtics.

This move also signifies the change in direction that has been rumored for the Celtics, who could be in the process of turning the page completely on their “Big 3″ era. Celtics boss Danny Ainge is preparing for a franchise rebuild that not only does not include Rivers or Garnett, but also veteran All-Star forward Paul Pierce, whose entire career has been spent in Boston.

If that is the case, this is a loud start to what could be a wild summer for all involved. The Clippers have plans of their own, designs on being a championship-caliber team for the 2013-14 season in what should be a wide-open Western Conference race.

Rivers, Paul and All-Star forward Blake Griffin are excellent pieces to start with. But the Clippers have their sights set on even more splashy moves. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how much of what they are planning actually gets done.