Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: Brian Shaw has two things going for him that George Karl does not. After being hired as coach of the Nuggets, Shaw has Karl's old job on the team's bench. What else? Well, would it be relevant to mention Shaw owns five — count 'em, five — NBA championship rings. "I feel like I've waited and paid my dues," Shaw told The Denver Post on Monday, after he beat out former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins to fill a vacancy created by the controversial firing of Karl. Shaw won three rings as a player and two as an assistant coach. He wrapped himself in all that glory as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. So maybe the most impressive lines on Shaw's résumé are more a credit to Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, the NBA legends Shaw backed up as a player and coach. Nevertheless, on the first day of training camp, Shaw should gather his Denver players for a little show-and-tell. Show the Nuggets his five rings. Tell them he knows what it takes to win it all.
Al Iannazzone of Newsday: J.R. Smith will not pick up his $2.9-million option for the 2013-14 season, a person close to the valuable reserve said. But it doesn't mean Smith won't be back with the Knicks. The deadline for Smith to inform the Knicks whether he will opt in is Tuesday. The Knicks weren't expecting Smith to opt in after putting up career highs of 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds and winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award this past season. Smith struggled in the playoffs, but the Knicks' plan is to try to keep him. Smith is close with coach Mike Woodson. The two recently golfed together, according to multiple sources. The Knicks can re-sign Smith using the "Early" Bird Exception. The most they could give him is the average NBA salary, starting at roughly $5 million for at least two years.
Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: Jason Terry became a Celtic last summer with visions of deep playoff runs, and a chance to play for one of the game’s motivational greats in coach Doc Rivers. Now thatRivers is expected to join the Clippers, though, could the party already be over? Terry has to wonder, now that the very different sound of rebuilding is starting to fill the halls on Causeway Street. “I’m very surprised,” the 35-year-old guard said yesterday. “The reason I came to Boston was the opportunity to win another championship and to play for Doc Rivers. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were there. I wanted to be part of Celtics lore and tradition.” And now? Good question, says Terry. “Does that change things? I have to find out,” he said. Terry has a lot to wait for, including a decision from president of basketball operations Danny Ainge on whether to keep Garnett or Pierce — or both — for another season. “There’s a lot of summer left for us to adjust this roster to things,” said Terry. “Obviously you have the draft this week. Rajon Rondo is hurt, and he’s coming back from that. There’s just so much uncertainty that everyone is facing. But Terry said he’s not going to ask for a way out. If rebuilding becomes the theme, and he isn’t traded, there’s a secondary purpose to his being here that started with last season’s chance to play for Rivers.
Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: The messy saga surrounding Ben McLemore and his representation will not prevent the Cavaliers from taking him with the first pick in Thursday’s draft, a league source said. It’s about the only flaw on McLemore, who enters this draft as the best wing available. McLemore headlines a group that includes Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, but the Cavs are impressed with the Kansas redshirt freshman who averaged 15.9 points last season and shot 42 percent on 3-pointers. Sources around the league have cautioned not to completely dismiss the problems involving McLemore, his former AAU coach Darius Cobb and Rodney Blackstock. Cobb met with NCAA investigators recently after telling USA Today he received thousands of dollars from Blackstock, who has been advising McLemore throughout this draft process. USA Today reported that Blackstock is now a certified agent.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: Bulls forward Luol Deng could be used as a trading chip this offseason, but moving him to the Washington Wizards for the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft and Emeka Okafor’s expiring contract was categorized by a source as ‘‘entertaining talk that happens this time of year.’’ In other words, this trade isn’t happening. Deng, a free agent after the 2013-14 season, will make $14.3 million in what could be his last season with the Bulls, and after making back-to-back All-Star appearances, his stock never has been higher. There has been speculation that the Bulls would look to move Deng to get out of the luxury-tax area and to start adding new talent. … If the Bulls plan to move him, they had better sell Thibodeau on the idea. Thibodeau doesn’t play favorites, but it’s obvious that Deng is his type of player.
John Canzano of The Oregonian: Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey remained committed to his unofficial vow of silence on Monday. The NBA Draft is Thursday, and Olshey and coach Terry Stotts haven't publicly commented since May 30, the first day of pre-draft workouts. But we're getting a better idea of what the organization thinks of itself with every day. If I'm reading them right, I don't agree with what they see. A league source said on Monday that the Blazers, who hold the No. 10 pick in the first round, have interest in two restricted free-agent centers: San Antonio's Tiago Splitter and Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic. This comes after a trade-proposal report that would have the Blazers trading their lottery pick to Phoenix for center Marcin Gortat. What the Blazers are trying to tell us is this: We don't think we need a star. We need depth. And even as I think Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum are good NBA players, what the Blazers need is to add a star that would push one of those starters to the second unit. Do that, and you aren't just a bubble team happy to dream about the playoffs, but an organization seizing its destiny.
Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: While most of the speculation regarding the Mavericks moving off the 13th pick in Thursday’s draft is folly, there’s no debating the fact that they are getting bombarded with options. A couple of scenarios bear watching, purely from the standpoint that you often try to make deals with people who you have made deals with before. In this case, it’s Cleveland, with whom the Mavericks swapped draft picks and Kalenna Azuibuike last year at this time. The Cavaliers have two of the first three picks in the second round. The Mavericks might be very interested in acquiring the 31st and 33rd overall picks in exchange for the 13th pick — if the Cavaliers sweetened the pot a little with another pick down the road. Another possibility could be Oklahoma City, which has the 29th pick in the first round and the second pick (31st overall) in the second round. The Mavericks then could shop that 29th pick for perhaps Cleveland’s two picks in the second round. Portland also has two second round picks (39 and 40). … The point is that the Mavericks are going to be the default setting (again) for plenty of rumors in the next three days before the draft. There won’t necessarily be any kernels of truth involved. But it’ll be entertaining.
Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman: The long-rumored pairing between Kevin Durant and Jay-Z is officially official. Durant posted the below photo to his Instagram on Monday afternoon, showing him and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter (so that’s his name) inking the paperwork. Here’s the quotes that accompanied the photo: “Grateful for this opportunity with Roc Nation Sports. It’s go time.” –Durant “He has a 90.5 free-throw shooting rate, the youngest player in NBA history to join the 50-40-90 club, a giving individual and a legend in the making. What more can I say?” -Jay-Z.
Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: For the Hawks, is there a free-agency fallback beyond Paul/Howard? I submit that there is. Sign Al Jefferson, most recently of Utah. Extend Jeff Teague for another season. You’ve now got a quintet of Jefferson at center, Al Horford at power forward, Lou Williams and John Jenkins at shooting guard and Teague at point guard. That’s a competitive core. Yes, they’ll need more players to be more than just competitive, but now we turn to the key issue: The man considered the third-best free agent of ’13 has been a Hawk since 2004. If Nos. 1 and 2 (Paul and Howard) are off the board, do the Hawks make a big push to keep Josh Smith? We'll parse that difficult issue in tomorrow's print column.
John Reid of The Times-Picayune: During the New Orleans Pelicans’ season-ending news conference in April, general manager Dell Demps didn’t rule out the possibility the franchise could trade shooting guard Eric Gordon. If the Pelicans are convinced Gordon doesn’t fit in their future plans then the shooting guard spot is definitely a position of need for Thursday's NBA draft or next month's free agency. It was interesting to find out Pelicans general manager Dell Demps traveled to Washington this past Friday to get a thorough evaluation of Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who could be available when the Pelicans select at No. 6 in the draft. … Demps and Pelicans coach Monty Williams have both declined to say who they may select in the draft. They also won’t say for sure if Gordon is definitely in the franchise's plans for the duration of his contract. Gordon’s health issues are still a concern, especially because of his contract where he is set to make $44.5 million over the next three years. Gordon missed the first 29 games last season because of a bone bruise and patella disorder in his right knee.
Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: With the clock ticking toward Thursday’s NBA draft, Wolves new President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders sounded like a guy ready to keep the night’s ninth pick — perhaps to select Georgia shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — rather than give what few assets he has to trade in an attempt to move up for a chance at Indiana’s Victor Oladipo or Kansas’ Ben McLemore. “We’re not going to deplete our whole talent pool,” Saunders said. “There are good players in this draft, but right now, there are not impact players, no one you look at who within two years will be an All-Star, like Kyrie Irving was. There are good players, probably pretty good players, but are they going to be that All-Star or future Hall of Famer? In order to dilute your talent pool, you’ve got to get an impact-type player.” Saunders remains adamant that he will not give away former No. 2 pick Derrick Williams for the right to move up in the draft, even though there continues to be plenty of talk around the league that the Wolves are shopping him. “If you had Derrick in this draft, he’d be a top-three pick right now,” Saunders said.
Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: The Bucks were impressed with San Diego State shooting guard Jamaal Franklin, even though he only performed individual drills. Franklin intends to work out for the Atlanta Hawks for the second time today. The Hawks have the 17th and 18th picks. … Former Bucks power forward Scott Williams is being considered as the Bucks new “big man” coach. … Conspicuous by his absence at the Bucks’ workout Monday: assistant general manager Jeff Weltman, who is expected to take a similar job with Toronto any day now. … One scout told me McCollum is a “Mo Williams type.” … Besides Dallas, another team drafting ahead of the Bucks that is apparently receptive to trading its pick is Philadelphia, which has the 11th overall choice.
Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Channing Frye, who learned of a virus enlarging his heart after a September screening, missed all of the Suns’ 2012-13 season to see how his heart would respond to months of no activity beyond golf, yoga, walking and set-shooting. As the Suns approach Thursday’s draft and the start of free agency Monday, they also are factoring in Frye’s future as he nears final word from elite cardiologists who examined him for three days at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. “We’re both trying to be safe,” Frye said from his Portland, Ore., home. “I’ve seen the best and it’s up to us to decide the best for my future. I’m extremely hopeful and optimistic that everything gets worked out and I get to play next year for the Suns.” Frye said he spent a great deal of time gathering various medical opinions but wishes he had sought top advice at Cleveland Clinic or Johns Hopkins earlier. … Frye, 30, would be the Suns’ third-highest-paid player next season at $6.4 million and he has a $6.8 million player option for the 2014-15 season. Insurance covered Frye’s $6 million salary for last season because he missed the season because of the heart issue. If he was unable to play again, the Suns would receive salary-cap relief for his contract this year. “I’m excited for the Suns regardless of what happens and for Ryan to put his ideas on the court,” Frye said. “I feel a part of it and he said he has a part for me.”