Thursday, July 26, 2012
First Cup: Thursday
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Disgruntled superstar Dwight Howard told Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan and assistant general manager Scott Perry during a face-to-face meeting in southern California on Wednesday that he still wants to be traded and that he will not sign another contract with the team, a source familiar with the discussion told the Orlando Sentinel. Hennigan and Perry did not explicitly try to convince Howard to drop his trade request, the source said. Instead, the Magic officials said they wanted to build a relationship with Howard since they are new to the Magic organization. Howard responded by saying he has no interest in building a relationship with them because he does not want to begin the season in Orlando. ... Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, and Howard's manager, Kevin Samples, also attended Wednesday's meeting, which ended with handshakes.
- Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: As free agency progresses, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak finds himself sleeping fewer hours. And that routine is unlikely to change. Even after acquiring an elite point guard (Steve Nash) and two forwards (Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill), Kupchak hardly sounded as if the Lakers are entering the 2012-13 season with their final roster. The most critical question involves their center Andrew Bynum. Kupchak said he talked with Bynum's representive, David Lee, on Wednesday about a long-term contract extension, a meeting he described as "positive and productive." But is such a Bynum signing imminent? "The next day or two? The next week or two?" Kupchak asked. "No I don't think so. Hopefully it progresses."
- Reid Laymance of the Houston Chronicle: A day after Rockets general manager Daryl Morey spoke of the encouraging “early returns” of his rookies, he began locking them up with contracts. The Rockets signed forwards Royce White and Terrence Jones to their rookie contracts on Wednesday, said a person with knowledge of the process. Jeremy Lamb, the team’s top pick in last month’s draft, is in the process of signing his deal, another person involved in the agreements said. As the 16th pick of the draft, White gets a rookie contract worth $2.8 million in the first two guaranteed seasons, with the team holding options for a third and fourth season. Jones, the 18th player taken in the draft, is signed for $2.5 million in the first two seasons. Donatas Motiejunas, a first-round pick in the 2011 draft, signed July 3. Players signed to the rookie contracts cannot be officially traded for 30 days, though agreements on offseason deals are often made with the trades completed when players become eligible to be included in the deal.
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Robin Lopez remained a restricted free agent and Hakim Warrick remained with the Suns on Wednesday night as significant issues remain in the way of a three-team trade agreement. Phoenix, New Orleans and Minnesota agreed to the structure of a three-way deal that would send Lopez and Warrick from the Suns to the Hornets and third-year swingman Wesley Johnson, a lottery-protected first-round pick and Brad Miller's contract to the Suns. The Suns would waive Miller, who has a buyout of about $800,000 and announced he would retire after last season. Phoenix would get the first-round pick that Memphis owes to Minnesota via Houston. That Grizzlies pick already has top-14 protection for the next four years before it would turn into a second-round pick and cash in 2017. The largest remaining issue is making the trade oblige with rules to get league approval. If the league rejects the trade parameters, Warrick would remain with the Suns and Lopez likely would remain with the Suns for his $4 million qualifying offer. In that case, Lopez would become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Jeremy Pargo spent his final days in a Grizzlies uniform earlier this month with a belief that he was the odd man out of the point guard rotation. Coach Lionel Hollins candidly told reporters Wednesday afternoon that Pargo did nothing during summer league to show he earned a spot on the roster. By Wednesday night, Pargo’s status became official. His Grizzlies career ended. Memphis traded Pargo, a 2014 second round draft pick and cash considerations to the Cleveland Cavaliers for swingman D.J. Kennedy. ... The Griz will likely carry 13 players on the roster, meaning Kennedy or a center is expected to be the final piece to the team.
- Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune: When Alexey Shved was a boy, just starting to play basketball, his father was his coach. Victor Shved used to bring home VHS tapes of NBA games that Alexey would watch. That's when the dream started. Wednesday brought that dream a little closer to reality as the Timberwolves signed Shved, a 23-year-old guard, to a three-year, $10 million deal to play in the NBA this fall. ... David Kahn, president of basketball operations for the Wolves, said that he envisioned Shved playing both guard positions and that he could play some small forward. One thing is certain: Shved will not enter his rookie NBA season with great expectations. "Alexey is very thin," Kahn said. "Because of his length and height, it doesn't seem to affect him very much on the offensive end. I think on the defensive end is where he'll be challenged, especially at the start. There will be a transition period."
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: There will be a lot of talk about the Pacers re-signing Roy Hibbert and George Hill to keep the starting five together when they take the court for the first day of training camp in late September. Those were key moves, but the Pacers’ best offseason move came on Wednesday. Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard didn’t go out and make a another move to strengthen their bench. It was simply a phone call between two people who closely worked together last season. Brian Shaw was on one end of the phone and Frank Vogel was on the other end. Shaw informed Vogel that he was pulling out of the Portland coaching search and that he would be returning to the Pacers where he’ll be the team’s associate head coach for at least one more season.
- Jason Quick of The Oregonian: The Trail Blazers' coaching search has been narrowed to finalists Terry Stotts, Elston Turner, Steve Clifford and Kaleb Canales, The Oregonian has learned, with a second round of interviews taking place with general manager Neil Olshey in Portland next week. They are not the biggest names in NBA coaching circles, but those who know the finalists say the candidates might be just an opportunity from making a name for themselves. After all, one of the finalists (Stotts) recently won an NBA championship. Another (Clifford) is compared to former NBA coach of the year Tom Thibodeau. Meanwhile, one (Turner) could translate the intricacies of Steve Nash's screen-and-roll to rookie point guard Damian Lillard, and another (Canales) already has the support and experience in dealing with the Blazers' key players.
- Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Danny Ferry has a vision for the Hawks next season, and Josh Smith is a part of that. They’ll run more. They’ll have to, given the lack of size. They’re a guard-heavy team, with moves that brought in Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Louis Williams, Kyle Korver and rookie John Jenkins. “The ball will be in Devin Harris’ hands a lot and Jeff Teague’s hands a lot. We’ll have space for them to attack the rim. We’ll play through Josh a little more. We’ll use Josh and Al to pick-and-roll or post up. We’ll be fun to watch.” I know. It’s July. Every plan is perfect. Nobody has lost a game yet. But isn’t it nice to see a general manager with a vision, one who is willing to make the bold move, not the easy one? ... It remains to be seen how good the Hawks will be next season. But it appears Smith isn’t going anywhere. That would be another offseason surprise.
- John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune: Be a pro. That’s all Eric Gordon has to do in order to cleanse New Orleans’ pallet, after he shoveled ash into the mouths of Hornets fans around two weeks ago. Play hard, produce, stay healthy, fulfill community obligations and say the right things most of the time, and forgiveness will be granted sooner rather than later for the Hornets shooting guard. And, yes, it can be that easy for Gordon, who said his heart was in Phoenix and he wouldn’t be happy playing in New Orleans after Phoenix presented him with a four-year, $58 million contract offer. Now he hopes there are no hard feelings after New Orleans did exactly what it vowed to do all along — matched the offer Gordon received as a restricted free agent, after calling him the best player on the team and stressing he is the foundation of the team. “I think, from an organizational standpoint, we’re expecting big things from him,” General Manager Dell Demps said. ... Play hard, average 20-plus points per game, lead the Hornets in deed (if not word) and help the team win, and the emotion over the words Gordon said about joining Phoenix will fade. In other words, all he needs to do — all he truly owes — is to be a pro. After that, everything else will fall into place.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: The Mavericks will have a full roster of 15 players with guaranteed contracts after reaching agreement with Delonte West on a deal Tuesday evening, a source said. The 6-3 guard has been waiting patiently since becoming a free agent on July 1. He’d stressed all along that he was hoping to stay with the Mavericks. Terms of the agreement weren’t known. West was hoping for a multiyear deal, but the Mavericks have been trying to limit all deals to one guaranteed year. Either way, West likely will earn significantly more than the veteran minimum salary ($1.1 million) he earned last season. The Mavericks had $2.5 million in cap space available to re-sign West, although it was unknown if they used all or part of that space.
- Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune: The newest member of the Jazz, Randy Foye, arrived in Utah on Wednesday night and was greeted at the airport by four TV stations and reporters from two newspapers. He seemed startled by the media’s interest in him. Smiling, Foye said, "When I got drafted, it wasn’t even like this." Foye better get used to it. Jazz players are celebrities in Utah — one of the NBA’s smallest markets where fans embrace those who embrace them. And Foye? After talking to teams like New York, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Atlanta throughout his free agency, he picked Utah. "… It’s not about where you live," Foye said. "It’s all about basketball, and the team that has the best opportunity out of the teams I was looking at was the Utah Jazz."
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: It's ridiculous to start comparing the careers of rookie big men Andre Drummond and John Henson at this early juncture. But with the Pistons selecting Drummond with the ninth pick after the UConn center's stock dropped and with the Milwaukee Bucks pouncing on Henson with the 14th pick, critics of the Drummond pick probably will gauge his progress with Henson's -- especially when considering the Pistons likely would have picked Henson if Drummond wasn't available. While Drummond flashed potential during the Orlando summer league, Henson was one of the better players at the Las Vegas summer league. ... In four games, Henson averaged 18.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for the Bucks. Henson should be more advanced -- he is 21 and Drummond will turn 19 in August. But that won't stop the second-guessing.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: When Cartier Martin weighed his options in free agency, the Wizards were the only team that really made sense. After all, they were the only NBA team he has represented the past two seasons, and he has been around Washington for parts of the past three. Odd as it might sound, with Andray Blatche gone, Martin is the only player on the roster who played in Washington before John Wall arrived as the No. 1 overall pick in 2010. “I feel like Washington was the best situation for me at this time,” Martin said while in Las Vegas. “Being able to come back in with the staff, gives me a little bit of comfort, being familiar and understanding what they want and I feel that will give me more confidence as a player to showcase my full potential. I’m thankful for the opportunity to come back.”
- Geoff Calkins of The Commercial-Appeal: Beyond Sport — an organization dedicated to the idea that sports can be used to accomplish great things beyond the courts, the pools and the playing fields — named the Grizzlies the Sport Team of the Year at the conclusion of their 2012 program in London Wednesday afternoon. "It's an incredible honor," said Jenny Koltnow, executive director of Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation, who was here to accept the award. "It's a recognition of all the people in Memphis who have worked so hard to have an impact in the community." The Grizzlies beat out four other finalists: The Boston Celtics, the Queens Park Rangers FC (England), Tottenham Hotspur (England) and the North Queensland Rubies (Australia).