SH Blog: Lou Williams is returning home, Steve Novak isn’t

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NBA exhibition games have started, and we’re all counting down the days until Opening Night. In the meantime, we’re running a series of 30 guest columns on why fans of almost any team in the NBA can feel positive (we haven’t done the Bobcats yet. Or the Rockets. Both are coming this week)

The latest installment covers the Pacers, and is written by Tom Lewis of Indy Cornrows.

Also, Nick Gibson has his first Euroleague column of the season, as play has already begun. His piece focuses on Fenerbahce Ulker, the Turkish team that has imported American point guard Bo McCalebb, and the team that beat the Boston Celtics last week.

Seriously, that happened.

And if you have been wondering about what’s been happening in various NBA exhibition games, our fantasy staff has been chronicling all of them. Here is what happened Friday night. You really should follow @SheridanHoopsFantasy.

And here’s all the latest news from around the NBA:

  • Lou Williams left the Sixers to sign with the Atlanta Hawks

    New Hawk Lou Williams is happy to be playing for his hometown team, writes Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The point guard says he envisioned himself one day playing for his hometown team while growing up in metro-Atlanta. After seven seasons with thePhiladelphia 76ers, who drafted him straight out of South Gwinnett High, Williams didn’t take long to make up his mind once a free agent this summer. … As the Hawks were undergoing their offseason makeover, Williams kept up with all their moves via close friend Josh Smith. The two have known each other since Williams was in the sixth grade after moving back toAtlanta fromMemphis. They competed against each other in AAU tournaments and various elite basketball camps. … ‘I was always familiar with the way things were moving because me and Josh would always communicate on a personal level as close friends,’ Williams said. ‘Seeing Joe [Johnson] leaving and seeing that there was an opportunity to fill a void with scoring. And they brought Devin [Harris], DeShawn [Stevenson] and Anthony [Morrow] in before myself. Those were guys who I was interested in playing with. Those are guys I knew would compete at a high level. I wanted to be part of the process.’ ”

  • Like Williams, Steve Novak had the opportunity to play in his hometown, but he chose to stay with the Knicks. Here’s what he said to Marc Berman of the New York Post: “Novak, out of Brown Deer, Wis., and Marquette, could have wound up with his hometown Bucks. … ‘We talked,’’ Novak said. ‘We talked several times when I’ve been a free agent. I never know for sure at what level. But no, I wanted to be back . If I could choose Milwaukee or New York, hands down, New York. It’s the truth.’’’
  • Former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell had some pretty harsh words for Jalen Rose, who said to Grantland that Vince Carter bodyslammed Mitchell to the locker room floor when Carter played in Toronto. Mitchell said to Kevin Nielsen of Sportsnet.ca: ” ‘Consider the source. You know what blows my mind? And I don’t attack people because I try to take the high road, but consider where it’s coming from,’ Mitchell pointed out. ‘Where in this person’s history are the things that he said true? You are talking about a person who played at a university whose record has been expunged. And for what? Lying and cheating. Right? You spent your entire career in the NBA making a lot of money, but you never quite lived up to your potential as a player,’ Mitchell said of Rose. ‘Now you’re on TV and you get to say these things. First of all, we need to stop believing that everybody on TV is credible and (that) everybody you hear in the media is credible.’ “
  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has a piece on Chris Bosh moving to center that is a really great read: “Bosh said the move is “over analyzed” because the evolution at center. ‘The game was different back then,’ he said. ‘The game changes every now and then. At that point, it was all about girth. You have to be big, Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley and Patrick Ewing and Vlade Divac. It’s different now. The game is a lot faster. If you’re big, we’re going to run right by you.’ “
  • Brian Kamenetzky of ESPNLosAngeles.com has an excellent Q&A session with Chris Douglas-Roberts, who recently joined the Lakers as a camp signing. The former Memphis star spent all of last season playing in Italy after signing there during the lockout, and talked about that experience with Kamenetzky: “It was actually great for me, because during the lockout — I’m was a fairly young player, I (had just finished) my third year — so it was about basketball for me. It wasn’t about money, I just wanted to play basketball. But I went over there, and made that commitment to stay. It definitely made me a better basketball player, and it made me a better person. It made me more appreciative, because some days I didn’t have heat. The living conditions were terrible. I had to heat up water to give my daughter a bath, some days. If you had the microwave on and the washer on, the electricity may go out in the whole house. It was very small. The shower at the gym that we practiced at, it was filthy. There was mold everywhere. You couldn’t put your feet on the ground, barefoot. Guys were getting staph infections. It was basically back to when I was growing up in Detroit. But when I look at it, it just made me a better person and a player.”
  • Here’s Ramon Sessions on why he chose to leave the Lakers, courtesy of Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports: ‘It was one of those situations I looked at like, ‘If I do come back what if they trade me?’ ‘ Sessions said. ‘There were talks about getting Deron. They always wanted the bigger-named guy. What if I get traded to a team and it’s my contract year? It was one of those things that I can’t say if I opted in, [Nash] wouldn’t have come. They still might have tried to get him. You just never know.’ “
  • Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic has some news regarding new Sun Michael Beasley: “For eight years, it has been a training camp and preseason ritual for a Suns newcomer to have the pleasure of being yelled at by coaches to shoot more. Of all people, new Suns forward Michael Beasley is this year’s target despite being a player who has averaged 13.4 shots per game despite only playing 27.9 minutes per game. The staff’s emphasis has been for all sorts of perimeter shots but Beasley admittedly has never been big on his 3-point shot, despite having an efficient 37.6 percent clip from that range last season. He was not so hesitant with it Friday night, missing a 3 to open the game but making his next two tries in a half of eight Suns 3s by seven players. ‘Every day gets easier,’ Beasley said. ‘They’re telling me to shoot, shoot, shoot. I pass up far more shots than I should. Coach (Alvin Gentry) really encourages me to shoot. Everybody does, even the team. The more I get comfortable, the more old habits will leave. This is the first time I’ve really been encouraged to shoot even more than I already do, and we all know that I shoot a lot. My last two teams, I’ve been asked to try to be a passer/playmaker.’ ”
  • And finally, here’s an AP story on Kevin Garnett nicknaming all the Celtics’ rookies: “Jared Sullinger is “Sully.” Dionte Christmas is “Temple,” because that’s where he went to college. And Kevin Garnett calls Fab Melo is “Melo” because “I don’t like really calling a man ‘Fab.’” … Garnett went out of his way on Friday to make it clear that he’s doing it to be affectionate and not because, like many veterans throughout basketball and other sports, he can’t be troubled to learn their real names. … Sullinger and Melo were first-round draft picks, with Kris Joseph coming in the second round. (Garnett calls Joseph “Shawn,” Christmas said, “because he reminds him of someone named Shawn.”) “

Hamilton: Biggest Losers Among NBA Players This Summer

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Commissioner David Stern wanted to level the economic playing field and curb overspending by the NBA’s bigger markets with the new CBA. Some very useful players got squeezed this summer, while some not so deserving players cashed in major checks.

Some guys such as O.J. Mayo and D.J. Augustin did it to themselves. Others such as Devin Harris and Mickael Pietrus were victims of their own circumstances.

But at the end of the day, a win is a win, and a loss is a loss.

On Thursday, we will take a look at the winners. But for now, have a gander at some of the players who have experienced their own personal “epic fail” this summer.

O.J. Mayo (SG, Dallas Mavericks)mavs small logo

Since being relegated to the bench by Lionel Hollins, Mayo’s numbers have been down across the board. The Grizzlies have an ever-expanding payroll, and it made sense for them to decline Mayo’s $7.39 million qualifying offer that would have made him a restricted free-agent.

Mayo received interest from a number of teams willing to pay something closer to the $5 million midlevel exception but sought a higher payday. The Suns were his most serious suitor, but after losing out on Eric Gordon, Phoenix decided to hold onto its money to make a play for James Harden next summer and ultimately were unwilling to meet Mayo’s asking price of a multiyear deal starting at about $8 million.

Mayo entered free agency looking for a starting job, a multiyear deal, and big money. He got two out of three as Dallas gave him a two-year deal worth a little more than $8 million. Though he holds a player option for the second season and is projected as the starter, Mayo will be competing for minutes in a very crowded backcourt with Vince Carter, Roddy Beaubois, Dahntay Jones and Delonte West.

Kenyon Martin (PF, Free Agent)

Martin joined the Clippers in February 2012 after reaching a buyout agreement with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. He signed for $2.5 million and had hopes of remaining in Los Angeles. The Clippers could sign Martin for slightly less than $3 million by using a “non-Bird” exception.

But after acquiring the versatile (though volatile) Lamar Odom, the Clippers probably don’t have much use for Martin.

RELATED CONTENT: Teams who did the worst in free agency

Martin could help a team that gets good dribble penetration from the guard positions because he can still finish. He is still a fierce competitor on the defensive end and on the glass. Sadly for him, it’s beginning to looks as though he will be playing for the minimum salary. The money is simply drying up.

D.J. Augustin (PG, Indiana Pacers)pacers small logo

It’s difficult to consider Augustin a loser this summer since he did manage to find his way out of Charlotte. But even still, after showing some flashes as a starter with the Bobcats, Augustin ended up in Indianapolis on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. He will be backing up George Hill and probably won’t prove to be more valuable than a second string point guard in this league.

Had Augustin accepted Charlotte’s qualifying offer before it acquired Ramon Sessions, Augustin would have earned $4.4 million next season and would have had the opportunity to start alongside Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Bobcats don’t seem fully committed to Kemba Walker at the point, so maybe he could have put together a strong statistical season and earned a better deal next summer

Augustin is just 24 years old, so playing out the final year in Charlotte may have been the better long-term financial play. He will still be a free agent next summer but will go on the market as a backup point guard.

Devin Harris (PG, Atlanta Hawks)Hawks small logo

Though no fault of his own, Harris finds himself in the predicament that no NBA player wants. He will turn 30 before the playoffs begin next season, and his team probably won’t be battling for a spot. Harris, however, will be battling for one last contract, and he will have to do it while battling Jeff Teague and Lou Williams for minutes in the backcourt.

Although Williams will probably play a lot at shooting guard, the Hawks seem committed to Teague as their future point guard. So unless Teague is put in a potential trade for Dwight Howard, there will be limited opportunities for Harris to prove he is worth anything close to the $8.5 million he will be paid for the 2012-2013 season.

Ronnie Brewer (G-F, New York Knicks)knicks small logo

The Chicago Bulls have traditionally been adverse to paying the NBA’s luxury tax, and it showed this summer. As a result, many members of the Bulls” “bench mobb” felt the pinch. And Brewer is one of them since the Bulls declined to pick up his option. He landed in New York and will play for the Knicks in 2012-2013, but will make just $1.14 million after earning $4.7 million last season.

Brewer is fairly limited offensively due to an erratic shot but can be effective when others create driving opportunities for him. Defensively, he is versatile enough to guard slower point guards as well as both wing spots.

Brewer makes this list because, at 27 years old, he provides more value than his salary suggests.

Consider his signing a rare victory for the Knicks, who often overpay for players. So if the Knicks win, Brewer loses. He could have taken the same money to play for Miami , Boston, Oklahoma City or the LA Lakers. All four of those teams are closer to a title than the Knicks are.

Mickael Pietrus (G-F, Free Agent) 

celtics small logo

Pietrus put together a solid campaign for the Boston Celtics last season and over the course of his career has proven to be a 3-point shooter who commands respect and a defensive stalwart. Back in 2008, Pietrus signed a four-year worth in excess of $20 million, and although he played for the Celtics last season on a minimum contract, his agent has been steadfast in declaring that Pietrus is not a “minimum player.”

RELATED CONTENT: Teams who did the best in free agency

As true as that may be, Pietrus and agent Bill McCandless are amongst the losers this offseason. As of this moment, it appears that Pietrus is headed overseas to continue his career, and that’s a shame considering he gave the Celtics meaningful minutes en route to taking the eventual champion Heat to a Game 7.

C.J. Watson (PG, Brooklyn Nets)

Despite a myriad of health problems, the Bulls overachieved last season, and Watson was a major reason why. He started 25 games in place of injured superstar Derrick Rose and averaged a very respectable 11.3 points, 4.6 assists and 2.6 rebounds.

Like most of his teammates, Watson played solid defense and proved to be a player who could contribute to a winning situation. He shot the ball poorly, but with Rose expected to be sidelined until sometime after the All-Star break, it would have made sense for the Bulls to pick up his $3.2 million option and retain him.

Watson is on record as wanting to return to the Bulls, who were mighty thrifty this offseason. Their reported master plan is to maintain cap flexibility for the summer of 2014, when they hope to have the opportunity to sign a maximum-salaried player to be Rose’s primary running mate.

Watson ended up signing with the Brooklyn Nets for two years (nice) at the minimum salary (not so nice). Watson has a player option on the second year, but it’s befuddling to consider that after being a major contributor to Chicago’s success last season, he would make less in two years in Brooklyn than in one season in Chicago.

Ramon Sessions (PG, Charlotte Bobcats) bobcats small logo

It’s difficult to argue that Sessions isn’t the biggest individual loser of the offseason. He was seemingly living the dream when Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak executed a three-team trade that acquired Sessions from Cleveland—where he was a backup point guard—to become a starter for one of the league’s most storied franchises.

But Sessions fizzled in the playoffs, then opted out of the final year of his deal in which he would have earned $4.6 million. Prior to his underwhelming playoff run, the thought was that the Lakers would retain Sessions for a reasonable sum, because they were well over the salary cap and didn’t have many better options.

But GM Mitch Kupchak struck a sign-and-trade for Steve Nash, and Sessions became remarkably expendable.

Session ended up signing a two-year, $10 million deal with the Bobcats. Yes, he got a slight raise, an extra year of guaranteed money and a likely starting spot. But instead of learning from a master in Nash and perhaps helping Kobe Bryant win a sixth championship, he will be battling Kemba Walker for minutes while playing before 7,500 fans every night.

Bravo.

THURSDAY: Players who cashed in big this summer.

Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.

SH Blog: Houston Rockets to amnesty Luis Scola, will go after Dwight Howard

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Another day passed by, which meant another day of having to deal with Dwightmare. Orlando’s new general manager Rob Hennigan apparently thought  there was a chance to convince the malcontent center to stay home. See how Howard responded, and how far the Houston Rockets are willing to go to acquire him in today’s news:

  • Rob Hennigan tried to talk Dwight Howard into changing his mind about wanting to be traded from the Magic, but Howard would have none of it, from Ric Bucher: “After several months of trying to trade Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan called the All-Star center Wednesday night to see if he’d reconsider giving Hennigan and the Magic’s new regime a chance to keep Howard in Orlando, a source close to Howard said… Hennigan, the source said, based his plea on the fact that he was new to the organization and had not been party to the issues that drove Howard to make his trade request. Team president Alex Martins, who also was on the call, the source said, made a similar plea to Howard last winter when Martins took control of basketball decisions over GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy. Howard was not willing to change his stance, the source said. ”I already heard that from the other guy on the phone,” said Howard, according to the source.”
  • The Houston Rockets will go to extreme measures for a chance to acquire Dwight Howard, according to Adrian Wojnarowski: “Houston has decided to use the amnesty provision on Luis Scola and will likely file with NBA on Friday, league sources tell Y! Sports. Scola has three years and $21 million left on his contract. The Rockets are clearing space in pursuit of a Dwight Howard deal. The Rockets will soon have the space to absorb Orlando’s Dwight Howard, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon and Epcot Center.”
  • UPDATE: Blake Griffin will have an arthroscopic surgery due to a meniscus tear, according to Broderick Turner: “Blake Griffin has been diagnosed with a meniscus tear in his left  knee and will have arthroscopic surgery probably early next week, according to NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Griffin will not be playing for the USA Olympic team in London later this month, but he will be available for Clippers training camp that starts in October. Griffin is expected to be out about eight weeks recovering from the injury and should be fine and ready to play when the season starts, the executive said. Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan–Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic will perform the surgery.”
  • Antawn Jamison may end up with a new team soon, and it could be the New Jersey Nets, according to Marc. J. Spears: “Cavs have had talks on possible sign&trade sending Antawn Jamison to Nets,sources tell Y! Lakers can only offer minimum. GS & CHA in mix too.”
  • Elton Brand was officially amnestied by the 76ers today, from John Mitchell: “The Sixers made it official today, finalizing the paperwork required to officially use the amnesty clause on forward Elton Brand. ”On behalf of the Philadelphia 76ers, I want to thank Elton for his contributions to our organization and city,” said Sixers President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn in a statement. “Decisions of this nature are never easy, particularly when it involves a player of Elton’s talent and character. He worked tirelessly for the overall good of the team every time he put on a Sixers uniform and we wish him nothing but the best.”
  • The Dallas Mavericks will strongly pursue Brand, according to ESPN Dallas: ”The Dallas Mavericks will make a “very aggressive bid” for Elton Brand in the amnesty waiver process, a source close to the situation told ESPNDallas.com’s Jeff Caplan on Wednesday. The Philadelphia 76ers have used their amnesty clause on the 6-foot-8 Brand, making him eligible for teams under the salary cap to put in bids. Whichever team places the winning bid will earn Brand’s services and will pay that amount off the $18.2 million he’s owed next season, the final year of his contract.”
  • Chris Kaman, who had our Tweet of the Night, believes he and Dirk Nowitzki will complement each other nicely, from Jeff Caplan: “The once stringy-haired Kaman who now prefers a close trim said he thinks he and Nowitzki will complement each other well. ”He’s more outside first and then inside second and I think the team has always spaced the floor and kind of stretched it a little because there’s probably been a little bit of lack of scoring inside,” Kaman said. “I’m excited to see what coach (Rick) Carlisle has to put up in there. I know in the past he’s had teams with good post players. I know he’s a good coach, I know he knows what he’s doing and I’m just excited to see what happens next with the team. It’s a different team than they’ve had the last few years just with no Jason Kidd, no Jason Terry, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.”
  • The Minnesota Timberwolves will sign Nicolas Batum to an offer sheet as promised, from Jerry Zgoda: “Two days after the NBA free-agency signing period began, the Wolves are signing Nicolas Batum to that big offer sheet today and when done, Portland will have three days to match. Wolves owner Glen Taylor said the team will submit the signed $46.5 million offer sheet to the NBA  by the end of business today, a distinction that gives the Blazers one last chance to agree to a sign-and-trade. The Wolves are willing to offer draft picks, but aren’t giving up Derrick Williams or Nikola Pekovic. Taylor said he believes the Blazers have seen the offer sheet. “You call their bluff,” he said. Once submitted, you can bet two things: The Blazers will match and they’ll take probably nearly all 72 hours to do it.”
  • Minnesota parted ways with “Mana from heaven”, and is expected to buyout a couple of other contracts. More from Zgoda: “To make salary-cap room, the Wolves did waive Darko Milicic, ending the Manna from Heaven era by agreeing to pay him $7 million of the remaining $10 million-plus left for the last two years on the contract he signed in July 2010. Expect buyouts on Martell Webster and Brad Miller for the remaining year on each contract to come as well.”
  • The New York Knicks formally introduced veterans Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby on Thursday, from Ian Begley: “Kidd, an 18-year veteran, said he’s “excited” to serve as a mentor to the 23-year-old Lin. Kidd was introduced on Thursday at the Knicks’ practice facility along with veteran center Marcus Camby… Grunwald praised both Kidd and Camby, saying the veteran duo brings “experience” and “wisdom” to the Knicks, who lost in five games to the Heat in the first round of last year’s playoffs. ”Marcus is a great leader and is still a great shot blocker, and Jason is still a great point guard,” Grunwald said. “… We’re trying to put together a team that can compete and I think these two guys are going to be a big part of it.”
  • We may finally see the return of Greg Oden in the NBA, according to Chris Tomasson: “Injury-riddled Greg Oden could be returning to the NBA this season. That’s the word from Oden’s agent, Mike Conley, who got a call earlier this week from Oden. He said his client has changed his tune from wanting to take this season off. “(Oden) called me, and he was kind of excited,’’ Conley said Thursday in a phone interview with FOX Sports Florida. “I think he’s motivated …. He wants to play. He had said he wanted to take this season off, but he’s backed off from that …. He’s open to playing this season. I think he will play this season.’’
  • Mike Woodson reiterated what he stated throughout last season: Jeremy Lin is his starting point guard, from Marc Berman: “I won’t do that,’’ Woodson said of benching Lin. “You can’t lose your starting job based on injuries. Jeremy was our starter before he got hurt. Unfortunately he went down with an injury. He’s not going to be punished for that. He’s got work to do this summer. But when he comes back to veterans camp, he’ll have the first nod. He’ll be our starter and Jason will back him up in terms of helping developing this young man into a great point guard.”
  • Stephen Curry’s ankle is nearly healed, according to Marcus Thompson: “Warriors point guard Stephen Curry said his surgically repaired right ankle is at “about 85 to 90 percent.” He said he is expecting to be 100 percent by training camp. Curry had arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle on April 25, performed by Dr. Richard Ferkel inSouthern California. The surgery revealed Curry’s ankle, which caused him to miss 40 games last season, had no structural damage. Dr. Ferkel cleaned out scar tissue and a few bone spurs.”
  • Chris Forsberg wisely explains why Celtics fans should get over losing Ray Allen to the Heat: “Listen, divorce is never easy. The Celtics are Mom, Allen is Dad, and fans are the confused kids stuck in the middle of it all. We’re angry that Dad could just up and leave like that. Now he’s dating some (admittedly attractive) floozy who’s half his age and there are pictures of them all over Facebook canoodling in South Florida. But relationships are hard and most don’t last forever, particularly not in sports. Allen and the Celtics had run their course. The sparks weren’t there anymore like they were when the two sides first fell in love in the summer of 2007. Five years later, they would have stayed together only because it was convenient. Allen made a bold decision, but both sides will be happier in the long run, even if that’s hard for some to see at the moment.”
  • Kobe Bryant, who got some heat from Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan for his comments about the Dream Team, chimed in on Andrew Bynum and DeMarcus Cousins. Kurt Helin has the story: ““Yea, yea. He’s got kind of this f— it attitude, you know what I mean,” Kobe said (and yes, we do). “Which is great, it’s one of the things that makes him a great player. It won’t bother him at all…. Andrew is a big boy, he can handle it better than most.” What about USA Select Team big man Cousins, who has raised some eyebrows — not always in a good way — with his play? “All he has to do is continue to work, continue to keep his level head. That’s all he has to do. That’s all he has to do,” Kobe repeated for emphasis. “If he can do that and can let his basketball talent speak for itself, he’ll be fine. He gets in trouble when he starts letting his emotions get the best of him, now people start talking about that as opposed to his game.”

Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan laughs at Kobe Bryant’s comment 

LeBron James and Jeremy Lin big winners at ESPY Awards


SH Blog: Dwight to Nets becoming more realistic

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From the “things that are not breaking news” department, Dwight Howard still wants out of Orlando. We’ve got news on his potential landing spots, plus all the latest news from everywhere in the NBA.

Be sure to also check out Jan Hubbard’s column on the USA Olympic basketball squad, Chris Sheridan’s report on the two Olympic qualifying games today, and as always, keep an eye on our team-by-team index of offseason moves.

Here’s what’s going on around the NBA:

  • Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that the Dwight Howard to the Nets talks are heating up. The talks had previously stalled because the Magic had no interest in taking on forward Kris Humphries, but as Berger tweets, “Nets “making progress” on finding a third team to take Kris Humphries in a scenario that would send Dwight Howard to Brooklyn, source says.”  The team involved is strongly rumored to be Cleveland.  Berger also writes, in a full piece, that “In the most likely Nets-Magic trade scenario, one of the first-round picks would come from a third team. The Nets have their own first-round picks to offer in alternate years under league rules, but if they added Howard to Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, those picks almost certainly would be in the bottom third of the draft for the foreseeable future.”  Any deal for Howard would likely include Nets center Brook Lopez in addition to draft picks.
  • Some more Dwight talk, this time regarding the Lakers, from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports via Twitter: “[Andrew] Bynum has shown no inclination to agree to an immediate extension if sent to Orlando as part of a Dwight Howard package, sources tell Y!,” “If Magic and Lakers want to do a deal, each may need to call the bluff on Howard and Bynum stated unwillingness to accept extensions,” “The Lakers are far more confident Howard would have reasons to re-sign with them, than Magic have that Bynum would in a rebuild in Orlando.”
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Sources with knowledge of the talks told ESPN.com on Sunday that the Hornets and Orlando Magic reached agreement on a sign-and-trade deal that will send Magic forward Ryan Anderson to New Orleans to play alongside prized rookie Anthony Davis. The Magic will receive young Hornets center Gustavo Ayon in the deal. The Hornets were in talks to sign Anderson, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet, but sources say that trade talks with the Magic have progressed quickly once Orlando officials decided they would not want to match an offer to Anderson. NBA.com is reporting that Anderson will sign a four-year deal worth between $34-36 million.” Quite a bit of money for a Most Improved Player who didn’t improve all that much — if at all.
  • Also from Stein, the Celtics are interested in Courtney Lee: “The Boston Celtics have emerged as a serious suitor for Courtney Lee after coach Doc Rivers met with the free-agent guard Saturday night, according to sources familiar with Boston’s thinking. Sources told ESPN.com that the Celtics, in the wake of losing sharpshooter Ray Allen to the Miami Heat, have ratcheted up their pursuit of Lee as a possible replacement.”  Stein adds that while Boston doesn’t really have the cap space to add Lee, the Rockets are willing to engage in sign-and-trade talks.
  • Here’s a report on former NBA All-Star Andrei Kirilenko from EuroHoops.net: “Kirilenko, the marquee superstar of last season’s Euroleague, according to sources from Moscow has already decided to stay at least one more year at CSKA. Kirilenko can use the NBA opt out clause in his three-year contract until the 12th of July, but he seems to have already made up his mind. He wants to stay at Moscow and win the Euroleague title – he missed it by just one point in the thrilling final against Olympiacos – he likes the competition spirit in the old continent, where every game is a must win situation for him, and of course he enjoyed his stay with his family in his home country.”
  • Add the Clippers to teams interested in Rockets free agent C Marcus Camby, a source said. Nets to set up meeting. NY & MIA still interested.
    @SpearsNBAYahoo
    Marc J. Spears
  • Another reaction to Ray Allen joining the Heat, this time from Doc Rivers, courtesy of Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe: “I’m just disappointed, he should have stayed,” Rivers said before the Celtics’ summer league entry began practice at Rollins College. “We recruited him just as hard [as Miami]. We talked [after he agreed to a three-year contract with the Heat]. It was a good talk. When a guy makes his mind up, I am not going to try to change it. I respect him for all he did for us, but I thought he should have stayed with us.”
  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that Kirk Hinrich will be returning to the Bulls: “Hinrich, who spent his first seven seasons with the Bulls, is expected to sign a two-year deal worth just over $6 million, one source said, though details were still being finalized.”
  • Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype via Sulia: “Free agent forward Ersan Ilyasova is close to an agreement on a five-year, $45 million contract to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks, agent Tolga Tugsavul tells HoopsHype. The deal is almost finalized and will likely be signed this coming week, Tugsavul said.”
  • Source: Mavs, Sessions likely to resume talks Monday. Sessions could be flexible in years if he likes deal. Wants to start...Link coming.
    @ESPN_Caplan
    Jeff Caplan
  • From the Celtics Insider blog at the Boston Herald: “Celtics guard Avery Bradley will undergo surgery on his right shoulder on Tuesday at New England Baptist Hospital, according to assistant general manager Austin Ainge, and will miss the team’s training camp as a result. The surgery, designed to tighten up the ligaments in the shoulder, will be performed by Celtics team physician Brian McKeon. Ainge acknowledged that the additional surgery — Bradley also had left shoulder surgery in May — will not only force the blossoming shooting guard to miss the team’s camp, but will likely keep him sidelined for the first part of the season.”
  • Some context on Chris Paul turning down a three-year, $60 million extension with the Clippers, from Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com: “Yes, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul passed on a chance to sign a three-year, $60 million extension with the club this summer. But no, you shouldn’t read too much into that. Paul passed, he said, because he can sign a five-year, $108 million extension next summer. He hasn’t decided whether to do so, but don’t read into that, either. I’ll wait until next summer to decide everything,’ Paul told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Saturday after officially being named to the United States Olympic team. ‘It’s funny, ESPN doesn’t put at the bottom of the ticker, like why you don’t do the three-year. But I opted in for this year or I would’ve had the opportunity to do that again this summer.’ Paul was referring to a decision he made to amend a provision in his previous contract that would’ve given him the opportunity to opt-out after this season.”

For previous blog entries, click here.

Dan Malone just completed his sophomore year at University of Kings College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is spending the summer in Baltimore, where he covers the Single-A minor-league baseball team the Aberdeen IronBirds for OriolesHangout.com.  He will be blogging on weekends for SheridanHoops this summer.

SH Blog: Howard (again) wants out of Orlando; plus first day of free agency

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And we’re off!  Free agency officially began at 12:01 EDT this morning, and while teams can’t officially sign players until the 11th, it’s still an incredibly exciting time to be a basketball fan.  Here is a roundup of the latest news from around the NBA.

  • Dwight Howard is, as he has been for the last several months, a hot topic on the trade market.  Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Lakers, Nets, and Rockets are interested in Orlando’s All-Star center.  “While the Lakers have yet to make a direct offer, there’s no scenario where Orlando would move Howard to the Lakers without getting back Andrew Bynum, L.A.’s 24-year-old All-Star center. Pau Gasol wouldn’t fit the Magic’s desires to rebuild with young players and draft picks,” Wojnarowski writes.  With the Nets re-signing Gerald Wallace, their chances to land Howard could be slimming. Ken Berger of CBS Sports has a lengthy (and strongly worded) piece on Howard’s desire to be traded to the Nets, and whether or not the Nets are actually particularly interested. The Magic long ago decided a divorce was necessary — news that was first reported here.
  • The Nets, in addition to Howard, are looking at numerous options to bring in talent with the ultimate goal of convincing free agent Deron Williams to remain with the team.  The big name being rumored is Hawks guard Joe Johnson.  Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted earlier that the Nets and Hawks were looking into a trade, and now Marc Stein and Chad Ford of ESPN.com have fleshed out those discussions somewhat.  The current proposal, according to Stein and Ford, “would call for the Nets to send the expiring contracts of Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow and Jordan Williams to the Hawks in exchange for Johnson.”The main holdup is believed to be the Nets’ concerns with regards to their future financial flexibility should they take on Johnson’s contract, the richest in the NBA with four years and $90 million remaining. For a rundown of which teams have cap space, and how much, check out Moke Hamilton’s immensely informative column.
  • An update to yesterday’s note about Blake Griffin and Chris Paul from Broderick Turner of the LA Times: Griffin agreed to a five-year, $95 million extension, Paul will not agree to one worth $60 million over three years.
  • Future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash has drawn interest from several teams already.  The Raptors want to bring him home to Canada, and according to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, they want him for longer than just his playing career: “Toronto #Raptors not just making a FA pitch for Steve Nash. They’re pitching him on post-retirement opportunities, too,” Deveney tweeted this morning, and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein tweeted that the Raptors had Wayne Gretzky set to call in while they were meeting with Nash.  The rumor mill is currently buzzing with speculation about the offer the Raptors made, best summed up with this tweet from the National Post’s Bruce Arthur: Initial reports all said 3 years, $36 million, but some are saying that’s too high.  Nash is also set to meet with the Knicks and Nets and has expressed some interest in returning to Dallas, where he played from 1998 to 2004.  If the Knicks land Nash, it will likely be through a sign and trade with Phoenix, as the Knicks have limited cap room.
  • If the Knicks can’t get Nash to reunite with Amar’e Stoudemire, they should be taking a close look at Portland point guard Raymond Felton, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.  “After a down season with Portland, Felton’s market value has fallen, possibly into the Knicks’ range. Former Knicks president Donnie Walsh never wanted to trade Felton, but was under great pressure from owner James Dolan to make the Carmelo Anthony deal happen late last February,” writes Berman.
  • The Blazers have an agreement with RFA Roy Hibbert, believed to be for four years and $58 million.  Joe Freeman of the Oregonian reports that Blazers GM Neil Olshey says the team is “engaged in negotiations” with Hibbert and intends to “enter into an offer sheet once the moratorium period ends.”  Translated, that means they’ve agreed to a contract but can’t announce anything until the 11th. Indiana will have the right to match.
  • The Lakers are looking for a point guard, and the first thing they did once free agency opened was call Ramon Sessions’ agent, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.  The Lakers acquired Sessions from the Cavaliers in midseason.  McMenamin reports that while no numbers were exchanged, the talks were “cordial”.
  • The Timberwolves will not be bringing back Michael Beasley next season, according to Ray Richardson of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.  Minnesota did not extend a qualifying offer to the former #2 overall pick, and according to Richardson, “a league source said Beasley’s exit is permanent.”

For previous blog entries, click here.

Dan Malone just completed his sophomore year at University of Kings College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is spending the summer in Baltimore, where he covers the Single-A minor-league baseball team the Aberdeen IronBirds for OriolesHangout.com.  He will be blogging for SheridanHoops this summer.