No terms were disclosed. Pietrus spent last season with the Boston Celtics but was not re-signed. During the offseason, he was looking for either a multi-year deal or a one-year contract at more than the veteran’s minimum. The France native also contemplated playing in Europe.
- Mikhail Prokhorov is guaranteeing that the Nets will make the playoffs, writes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. That’s not going out too far on a limb, but he is standing by his prediction that the Nets will win a championship by the end of the 2015 season: ” ‘For me, there’s only one place: number one,’ Prokhorov said Friday inside his team’s brand-new home, Barclays Center, in Brooklyn. ‘And I do my best to reach the championship. We’re moving on … slowly, slowly, step by step. It’s easy to make a strong team, but it’s very difficult to make a championship team. So we’re on the right way. And still, I’m expecting our championship within three years.’ ”
- In other Prokhorov news, the Russian billionaire wants to add Russian players to the Nets, according to RT.com: “Russian basketballers will soon be defending the colors of the Brooklyn Nets, owner Mikhail Prokhorov said after the opening ceremony of his team’s new arena – the Barclays Center. ‘I’m thinking about recruiting Russian players to our lineup in the nearest future,’ Prokhorov told ITAR-TASS news agency. ‘I really want this to happen.’ ”
- In all the excitement over Dwight Howard going to the Lakers, it could be easy to overlook the other major acquisition Mitch Kupchak’s team made, future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash. But Pau Gasol isn’t doing that. Rather, as he tells Marca.com, he’s excited to be teaming with Nash, as the two are longtime friends. Gasol’s quote roughly translates as: “For me, it was a great joy, the signing of Nash. He’s the most unselfish player in the NBA. I’m excited to play with Steve and all that brings. He is the most generous player in the NBA.”
- How will former Celtic Ray Allen get along with his new Miami teammates after switching sides in the rivalry that has grown more and more bitter? Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel talked to Udonis Haslem to find out: “To say Heat-Celtics has grown contentious over the years would be an understatement. And more often than not, Heat forward Udonis Haslem found himself in the middle of the turmoil. So it was with a bit of trepidation that he approached Ray Allen during a recent workout at AmericanAirlines Arena. “I’ve had a chance to talk to Ray,” he said of the former Celtics shooting star and prime Heat offseason free-agent acquisition, “and kind of explain to him my situation. I told him, ‘I’m not the guy that you see when we play the Celtics. That’s just how the games end up turning out.’ So we’ve talked and we’re all ready to go.” “
- This is a fascinating piece about the use of advanced statistical analysis in basketball, written by Eric Koreen of the National Post. Here’s a quick excerpt from the introduction: “Nothing works independently in basketball. The ball, optimally, is in near-constant motion on offence, meaning the defence responds accordingly. A player cannot truly be assessed without considering how he relates to his teammates, to his coach, to his circumstances. Apart from the free-throw line, there is no situation in basketball as simple as batter versus pitcher from which to establish singular value. Yet, advanced statistical analytics have taken off in basketball, with more influence than in any sport other than baseball. Given the above, however, how much should they dictate the decisions that teams make? ‘In any discipline, if you can get it down to something unbiased at a decision point, I think that’s fundamentally correct. When a general manager makes a decision about a player, you do want that to rest to a certain extent on analytics,’ says 37-year-old Alex Rucker, whose KBAR Consulting is under contract as the Toronto Raptors’ advanced statistics experts.”
- Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune updates Raja Bell’s status with the Jazz via a series of tweets: “A contract buyout before training camp continues to be the most likely option for Bell. But terms must be agreed upon, and everything from a trade before the regular season to Bell sitting on Utah’s bench all year are realistic possibilities. The Jazz have been open to trading Bell for a long time. Both sides want to move on. But the fact Utah hasn’t resolved anything with less than a week before camp begins has created a surreal situation. It’s almost unthinkable Bell could be in uniform for the Jazz this season. But it’s actually become a remote possibility since the Jazz have yet to officially address his status with the team.”
Just a season ago, Jeremy Lin was sleeping on a couch because he couldn’t afford to rent a place of his own due to the uncertainty of his status as an NBA player. Although he still doesn’t mind crashing on couches from time to time, the cloud that surrounded his status as a fringe player is long gone. Lin stopped short of calling himself a franchise player on Tuesday, but it’s clear that he considers himself one of the leaders of the Houston Rockets. See what he had to say, along with Grant Hill’s thoughts on Steve Nash’s switch to the Lakers and more below:
- Jeremy Lin isn’t quite ready to call himself a franchise player yet, but he is ready to lead by example, from The Associated Press: “I don’t know if I’m the face of the franchise just yet,” Lin said. “I think we’re a young team and we’re all going to buy in. The thing about us is it’s not going to be any one person that’s going to carry us to where we want to go, it’s going to be everybody. I think it’s so early on, I’m just trying to get to know the guys.”… ”Every once a while, I’ll take a look back and just be like, `I can’t believe this is happening,” Lin said. “I had one of those moments this morning, in the training room, with the big Houston Rockets logo. It was just like, I was just appreciating the fact that I get to wake up and play basketball for a living. And even the whole NBA thing, yes Houston, (but) just (to) be able to play basketball for your job, like those are things I remind myself of every day.”… ”I feel good, I feel healthy,” he said. “I feel lighter. I’m excited.”… ”Last year, I actually had a real season under my belt, where I got to play and see what works and doesn’t work,” he said. “Definitely, you want to lead by example, more so this year than last year, or the year before, coming in as a non-guaranteed guy. Now, there’s more stability, so I need to be more of a vocal leader and hopefully lead through work ethic and example.”
- Lin actually dropped 10 pounds from last season, according to Jonathan Feigen of Houston Chronicle:
Grant Hill discussed the departure of himself and Steve Nash from the Suns, from Paul Coro of Arizona Republic: “Hill on he and Nash winding up in Los Angeles: “I don’t think anybody thought that either one of us would be out here in L.A.” Hill on how this summer differed from two re-signings with Phoenix:“The previous times that I went through the whole free agent period, there was still a feeling that we could be good or there was that sort of sentiment that we’d try to keep that core together, if you will, and go for it. Now, I guess that team and sort of era has run its course.” Hill on how the Clippers came from off his radar: “It’s interesting. I had dinner with Chauncey when I was in town in Vegas covering the Olympic team and we didn’t even talk about the Clippers. It didn’t even come up. We hung out and talked about other things. And then I met with Vinny really almost as a favor, just because I had known him, played against him and he had worked for the Suns my first year. I just really liked what he was saying. They really weren’t the team that I was looking at.”… Hill on new teammates Chris Paul and Blake Griffin: “It kind of reminds you of a younger, maybe more athletic version of Steve and Amare (in) styles of play.” Hill on Nash going to the Lakers: “That’s like transferring from Duke and going to Carolina.”
- Jalen Rose discussed the number one unwritten-rule of basketball: do not put your foot underneath a player who is landing from a jumpshot. That’s exactly what he did against Kobe Bryant back in the day. Here is the video of Rose explaining what happened:
- Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy may have been unfriendly on a professional level, but never had issues on a personal level and still keep in touch with each other, according to Mike Bianchi of Orlando Sentinel: “”Dwight has pledged his support,” Van Gundy said Monday during an interview on our Open Mike radio show on 740 The Game. “He’s a resident of Seminole County, and he’s keeping his house here. I think his history will show that he’s had great concern for kids in the Central Florida community. With him still living here, we asked him to help and he didn’t hesitate.” Surprisingly to some, both Stan and Dwight say they are on good terms and have been communicating regularly over the last several weeks. Van Gundy even texted Howard and wished him good luck after he was traded to L.A. ”We are on good terms and always were,” Van Gundy says. “Whatever our disagreements happened to be, they were on the professional level — they were about basketball and our jobs. Personally, we never had a problem. We liked each other. I have great admiration for the things Dwight did in the community and for the way he involved himself with kids. I really do want the best for him, and I think that’s mutual.”
- Marquis Daniels, Rasual Butler and Rodney Carney hope to join the Milwaukee Bucks, according to Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: “Marquis Daniels, who played a reserve role with the Boston Celtics last season, was among a group of players working out at the Bucks training facility in St. Francis on Monday. The 31-year-old Daniels played in 138 regular-season games for the Celtics over the past three seasons. The 6-foot-6 guard-forward has averaged 8.2 points in a nine-year NBA career with Dallas, Indiana and Boston. Other unsigned players working out Monday at the Cousins Center included forward Rasual Butler and swingman Rodney Carney. The 33-year-old Butler played last season with the Toronto Raptors, appearing in 34 games and starting 14 while averaging 3.2 points and 1.9 rebounds.”
- Mickael Pietrus is healthy for the first time in two years and is wanted – both in the NBA and overseas, according to Chris Haynes of CSNNW: “Mickael Pietrus – one of the top NBA free agents remaining on the board – has been receiving an increased level of interest from teams as of late who are looking to add an experienced wing player to their roster. According to a source close to the situation, suddenly, three NBA teams have shown major interest in the nine-year veteran and two of the teams seem very motivated to get a deal done. According to the same source, Pietrus also has a strong overseas option on the table that contains an escape clause.The source says, “He’s considering all of his options, but he prefers to play in the NBA and he’s feeling 10 times better than last season. He’s healthy for the first time in two years.”
- The Knicks are still interested in attaining a big man. Kenyon Martin is one of them, but he may be too expensive, according to Alan Hahn of MSG Network: “Kenyon Martin is the player so many continue to link to the Knicks, but K-Mart has remained steadfast in not wanting to accept a veteran’s minimum. A few teams have Martin on their radar, including the Celtics. While K-Mart provides more toughness and size to the team, the Knicks might not want to get locked in with a volatile player. Not with other younger candidates still out there, such as Lou Amundson, who is contemplating offers overseas against opportunities in the NBA. Amundson could take a one-year in New York and, if he does well behind Amar’e Stoudemire, turn it into a better deal next summer. Another name to keep an eye on his Shawne Williams, who had success with the Knicks in 2010-11 under Mike D’Antoni but then went to the Nets for more money last summer, only to suffer an injury-depleted season.”
- Goran Dragic may be the big breakout player candidate for the upcoming season, according to Sekou Smith of NBA.com: “One player with all of the pieces in place for that breakout season is Suns point guard Goran Dragic, who has a window between the end of the Steve Nash era and rookie Kendall Marshall‘s formative years, to make the case that the flashes of greatness we’ve seen from him in the past are more than just momentary bursts of greatness. Dragic has clearly done the hard work (check the video, above … and yes, we’ll talk with him about the shorts later) necessary to become the sort of player he, and so many other who have championed his cause over the years, believe he can be. Opportunity is banging on his door something fierce. We’ll find out soon if he’s as ready as he appears to be, because if not …. there are plenty of other guys willing and waiting for their chance to pounce.”
- The Jazz are interested in bringing back Josh Howard, from The Salt Lake Tribune via Kurt Helin of NBC Sports: “There’s mutual interest between Howard and Utah. He exceeded expectations during the 2011-12 campaign, is highly respected by management and coach Tyrone Corbin, and Howard spent part of his offseason working out with former Jazz teammates in Santa Barbara, Calif.”
- How did the Portland Trailblazers do in the offseason? They did well enough to receive a grade of C from Ben Golliver of CBS Sports: “Overall grade and accomplishments: C - Where did this flurry of moves leave Portland? Pretty much where you would have expected. The problem children were all been shipped out, and the veterans who would have been wasting their time during a rebuilding season fled or were traded. The team’s new core trio — Aldridge, Batum and Matthews — is in place together through at least 2014-15 with Lillard and Leonard on track to fill out the starting lineup of the future. The bench is young and lacking in talent but also cheap and liquid. Considering all of those components, the Blazers are well positioned for a tossaway season that results in plenty of development time for everyone who needs it plus another solid lottery pick to add to the core.”
- The Ball Don’t Lie staff put together a nice list of people that should be followed on twitter.
- Iman Shumpert displayed his abilities as a poet at Village Underground. It’s an emotional piece and definitely worth a watch, via Sekou Smith.
It’s Labor Day weekend, and that means that NBA training camps are just a few short weeks away. While you wait for them to kick off, we’ve still got you covered with all the latest news from the basketball world. Check out Sunday’s Tweet of the Day from Mike Fratello, which deals with actual basketball being played in remote outposts, and definitely give a look to A.J. Mitnick’s extensive update on the qualifying for Eurobasket ’13.
If you haven’t already, you should also check out Chris Bernucca’s previews of the playoff pictures in the Western and Eastern Conferences, and Moke Hamilton’s column on which NBA teams still have exception money to work with.
Here’s the latest news from the NBA:
- Dwight Howard may be gone from Orlando, but contrary to what you might have thought from his months-long trade demands, he still loves the city –or so he says. Howard took out a full-page ad in today’s Sentinel to profess his love for Orlando. The text of the ad is as follows (click through above to see it as it appeared in the newspaper): “To play the game of basketball in the NBA is a blessing and to have had the opportunity to play before the Orlando fans for eight years was truly a privilege and an honor. Words cannot express the love that I have for Orlando. With your support we have done great things in this city from hanging banners to impacting our youth. Although my career with the Magic has come to a close, my love for the city and the people that make it beautiful will never end.”
- Included at the bottom of this Gary Washburn piece for the Boston Globe is a note on Mickael Pietrus: “Among the free agents remaining on the market is former Celtic Mickael Pietrus, who does not want to play for the league minimum. The Bucks had expressed interest in Pietrus but he remains without a team. The Celtics still have their $1.95 million biannual exception remaining but are expected to wait until close to the regular season to use that, perhaps on a player waived by another team.”
- One of the players who turned a lot of heads at the Olympics was Russia’s Alexey Shved, who is also set to make the jump to the NBA with the Timberwolves. RIA Novosti talked to his former coach with CSKA Moscow, who gave some insight into what American fans can expect from Shved this year and in the future: “New Minnesota Timberwolves signing Alexey Shved has the skills to succeed as an NBA guard but needs to bulk up to cope with the league’s physical demands, his former CSKA Moscow coach Ettore Messina has told R-Sport in an interview. Messina, who spent last season on Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown’s staff, coached Shved when he first broke into the CSKA team, and has now returned to the 19-time Russian champion team. ‘Alexey has for sure the talent to play there. He’s probably at a good age to go there,” Messina said. ‘I think they will ask him to use his creativity on the floor. At the same time, I think they will ask him to become stronger physically because contact is a very big factor in the NBA. If he manages to, let’s say, play through the high level of contact that there is in the NBA, for sure he has the talent to be a very, very interesting player at that level.’ ”
- IAmAGM.com reports that there is a rap album in the works that will feature several well-known rappers collaborating with NBA players: “The rap album is titled, “Full Court Press Vol. 1.” NBA players that will be featured include Juwan Howard, Baron Davis, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Carlos Boozer, Glen Davis, Shawn Marion, Josh Smith and others. Rappers expected to be on tracks include Rick Ross, Trina, Snoop Dogg, Birdman, The Game, T-Pain, Bun B, Twista and Soulja Boy.”
- On a similar topic, rapper Lil B released a music video for his song “Warm Ups” off his new mixtape, Based Jam. At the end of the video, Lil B calls out Kevin Durant, saying he’s “ready for their game”. Durant responded by saying Lil B would have to come to Oklahoma City to play against him, and, hilariously, Lil B appears to be taking him up on the offer:
Pierce Watson of VladTVhas an excellent recap of this bizarre situation: “Lil B has been trying to play Kevin Durant one-on-one ever since Durant called him a wack rapper on Twitter back in May. Following the release of Lil B’s “Warm Ups” video, which calls out Durant, the Thunder star decided to respond. Durant got on Twitter and basically asked Lil B to leave him alone. One tweet simply read, “@LILBTHEBASEDGOD Yo shut up”. His next tweet read, “Yo leave me alone lol, if you wanna play me you gotta come to OKC I’m not coming to Oakland.” Hilariously, Lil B tweeted back at Durant about 20 minutes later and had no intentions of backing down saying, “So book a ticket to OKC for this Monday? @KDTrey5 I WILL BE THERE FLIGHT IN THE MORNING, AND PREP.” If this one-on-one game actually happens, it will certainly be David vs. Goliath. Kevin Durant is 6′ 9”. Lil B is 5′ 6”.”
As August ends and calendars are flipped to September, it dawns on you: NBA training camps will open in a few weeks.
Although the Summer of 2012 will ultimately be remembered for when the Los Angeles Lakers somehow managed to acquire two of the top prizes on the market, there are still quite a few free agents that could ultimately be the difference between your favorite team making a trip to the postseason or anxiously awaiting the results of the draft lottery.
My respective five best available players are Leandro Barbosa, Andray Blatche, Kenyon Martin, Lou Amundson and Mickael Pietrus. And scores of others – including Matt Barnes, Rasual Butler and Josh Childress – are worthy role players.
As we draw closer to camp, taking note of which teams still have their midlevel, room, and biannual exceptions is a worthwhile endeavor. And to a lesser extent, the same can be said of traded player exceptions. Any of these four exceptions are assets that can ultimately result in the acquisition of a player who can help.
Just ask the Los Angeles Lakers, who used a traded player exception to acquire Steve Nash.
At this point, a surprising number of teams still have available money to spend. Here’s a full account.
Non-Taxpayer Midlevel Exception ($5 million)
This offseason was the first full one in which there were two midlevel exceptions. Entering this offseason, if a team had less than about $70 million in guaranteed salaries committed for 2012-2013, it was granted a $5 million midlevel exception. As usual, the exception can be used to sign one player or it can be split among multiple players. As of today, the only team in the league that has the entire $5 million exception available is the Washington Wizards. Each of the other teams that entered this offseason with the $5 million exception have used a portion of it.
The Milwaukee Bucks ($4.35M), Orlando Magic ($4.21M), Denver Nuggets ($3.33M), and Oklahoma City Thunder ($3.33M) have more than half of the exception remaining. The Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz each have approximately $2.5 million remaining, while the Memphis Grizzlies have $2 million.
Clearly, the Wizards, Bucks and Magic – and to a lesser extent, the Nuggets and Thunder – have the best chance of landing one of the best remaining players. Of those teams, the Thunder are the only one who can offer a shot at competing for a title. However, after recently signing Serge Ibaka to a rich extension, the prevailing thought seems to be that the Thunder will try to curb their spending. That seems especially probable considering that last season’s Sixth Man Award winner, James Harden, is entering the final year of his rookie-scale deal.
Taxpayer Midlevel Exception ($3.09 million)
Teams that entered the offseason with about $70 million or more committed in guaranteed salaries for 2012-2013 were allowed a smaller version of the midlevel exception. The Miami Heat used their taxpayer exception to sign Ray Allen, while the Los Angeles Lakers used approximately half of their exception to sign Jodie Meeks. As of now, the Lakers ($1.4 million) are the only team that has a portion of its taxpayer midlevel exception remaining.
However, after their busy offseason, the Lakers’ 2012-2013 payroll now sits at $100.7 million. This season, its projected starting lineup will earn a whopping $82.5 million. Maybe (just maybe), they’re finally finished spending.
Room Exception ($2.575 million)
The new “room” exception is a salary exception that allows a team to spend all of its room under the salary cap, and then, once at the cap, exceed it using the room exception. In other words, a team that entered the offseason with $8 million under the cap could sign a free-agent for $8 million, and then have the ability to spend an additional $2.575 million using this exception.
Ten teams still have the full exception available. They are the Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings.
Of the teams listed here, it’s probably safe to assume that the Indiana Pacers would be the most desirable destination, perhaps with the Philadelphia 76ers a close second.
Still, it’s worth noting that there’s nothing to say that teams have to spend this money, and we should expect to see some frugality with the new luxury tax era on the horizon.
Biannual Exception ($1.957 million)
The biannual exception is a familiar friend, though the rules that govern it were changed since the enactment of the 2011 CBA. It was only made available to teams who entered this offseason with less than about $72 million in guaranteed salaries committed for 2012-2013. It also is not available to any team that uses the room exception.
At slightly less than $2 million, the biannual exception doesn’t seem like much money when compared to the midlevel and room exceptions. But the minimum salary for a 10-year veteran is $1.35M, so that means that a veteran being paid with the biannual exception (as opposed to the minimum salary) stands to be paid 45 percent higher. That could make a difference with a veteran free-agent such as Chris Andersen, Rasual Butler or Derek Fisher.
Currently, 11 teams can use the biannual exception if they choose. They are the Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards.
Traded Player Exceptions
A traded player exception (TPE) is a bit different than the other salary exceptions. The other exceptions can be used to sign free agents, but a TPE may only be used to acquire a player via trade. Despite this limitation, a TPE is a very valuable asset because it allows additional flexibility in deal-making. Under normal circumstances, if two teams are over the cap and wish to execute a trade, the salaries being sent and received must within a certain range in order for the trade to be allowable under the league’s CBA. By using the TPE, teams – under certain circumstances – may execute trades that otherwise could not have occurred.
A traded player exception is most commonly created when a team on one end of a deal trades a player to team that is under the salary cap. The Orlando Magic ($17.816M) currently own the biggest trade exception in league history after consummating their deal for Dwight Howard.
The Denver Nuggets ($13M, via Nene), Chicago Bulls ($5M, via Kyle Korver), and the Golden State Warriors ($3.3M via Ekpe Udoh) also have noteworthy trade exceptions.
Ultimately, this type of exception allows the team to execute a trade in which it accepts salary in return without trading any away. As always, there are rules and caveats (and expiration dates) that govern the exception. Nonetheless, the major point remains: a TPE is an asset that can help facilitate player movement and help a team build itself into a contender.
The 2012-2013 season is right around the corner. But until it actually begins, rest assured that some of these teams will spend some of their available money if they feel it will improve their chances of competing.
Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.