SH Blog: Neal signs with Bucks; listen to LeBron’s choices for NBA 2K14 soundtrack

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Luis_Scola_ArgentinaWe’re approaching the quiet period in the NBA offseason, but there’s still some news to be found. Today’s big topic is the Pacers making themselves even better, adding Luis Scola to be their third big. Click that link right there for Chris Sheridan’s take on what the trade means for Indiana, and, by extension, the other teams jockeying for position at the top of the East.

The other news today is Gary Neal signing with the Bucks. This might not have registered on the radar before this year’s Finals, when Neal got his name recognized, at least if you’re not like me and didn’t go to the same high school as the former Towson guard. Now he’s got a guaranteed deal for a decent chunk of change, though he might not get another chance to light it up on the national stage with Milwaukee.

Other than that, it’s a pretty slow day around the NBA, as late July tends to be. Of course, what news there is, you’ll find right here, so let’s get to it.

  • Here’s some reactions to today’s trade that sent Luis Scola to the Pacers, via NBA.com: ” “I’m very, very excited to play for the Pacers,” said Scola. “They are one of the top three teams in the NBA with a good shot to win a championship. I think it’s a great team and this is a great opportunity. I can’t wait.” “Luis will be a very important asset to our team and to our bench,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. “He has NBA experience, international experience and is the type of player that will fit in nicely on our roster. I want to thank Gerald and Miles for their contributions. They had tough years last season, but worked hard, never complained and contributed to the great chemistry our team had. I think Gerald and Miles will be solid additions in Phoenix and we wish them well.” “
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  • chris paulJeff Goodman of ESPN.com got some interesting quotes from Chris Paul about his role on Team USA and with the Clippers: “Chris Paul has changed his mind and is leaning toward playing in the 2016 Olympics. The Los Angeles Clippers point guard, who was on the 2008 and 2012 gold medal teams, said he was leaning heavily toward bypassing the 2016 Games — until Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski announced he was returning to coach the team.”If it had been another coach than Coach K, I was prepared to be done,” Paul told ESPN.com. … Paul admitted there were times when he and (Blake) Griffin weren’t on the same page last season, but said the trip gave the pair an opportunity to bond. “We talked about everything,” Paul said. “We talked more than we ever have. As we get more familiar with one another, we get more comfortable. Last year we had our moments, but we’re both very competitive and just want to win.” Paul was believed to be the driving force behind the Clippers dealing a first-round draft pick to land former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers. The Clippers also made moves to acquire shooting guard J.J. Redick and forward Jared Dudley, and Paul was excited about the addition of first-round draft pick Reggie Bullock — who came through his AAU program.”
  • 2K Sports’ new NBA game drops in October, but the soundtrack is released right now, and it’s handpicked by LeBron James himself. LeBron’s choices range from Coldplay and Phil Collins to Big Krit and Kendrick Lamar, plus a double dose of the omnipresent Black Keys. Sean Sweeney of Dime Magazine has the full list: “2K Sports officially released the NBA 2K14 soundtrack earlier today. It was personally selected by the game’s cover athlete, LeBron James, and features an eclectic 20-track mix of hip-hop, rock, and classic pop. For fans who want to listen to the soundtrack before the release date (Oct. 1), they can stream it from the the NBA 2K14 Spotify page. “2K is letting me take control of some important elements in NBA 2K14, including this year’s soundtrack,” said James in a release. “I love that I’m the first NBA 2K cover athlete to choose the soundtrack.” “
  • MozgovThe Nuggets today announced that they will re-sign Timofey Mozgov, according to the team’s website: “The Denver Nuggets have re-signed center Timofey Mozgov to a multiyear contract, general manager and executive vice president of basketball operation Tim Connelly announced today. Mozgov, 7-1, 250, averaged 2.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 8.9 minutes while shooting .506 from the field in 41 games for the Nuggets last season. In 130 career games (50 starts) with Denver and the New York Knicks, he has averaged 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12.1 minutes. “Like all players, Timo just needs an opportunity to play,” Connelly said. “He’s got a great attitude and mindset toward improving his game, and we’re confident that he will help us on the interior in the seasons to come.” “

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Dan Malone is about to begin his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent this summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.

Evening News: Kings start negotiations with Cousins; Nets ink Anderson; Nuggets re-sign Mozgov

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Hello and welcome to the Evening News.

As the offseason continues, we’ll keep you updated every evening.

What’s happening today?

SH Blog: Dwight Fallout: Rockets Won’t Trade Asik; Hickson to Nuggets; Delfino to Bucks

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United_States_Fallout_Shelter_Sign.svgThe Dwight Howard signing is behind us. The fallout is happening now — in Houston, in Los Angeles, and around the rest of the NBA.

First and foremost, Omer Asik has asked for a trade out of Houston, but the Rockets are refusing his request. They believe Asik could be a valuable asset to play alongside Howard.

Mighty Moke’s Top 50 Free Agents – July 7 Update

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JJ HicksonThe wheels continue to turn in the world of NBA free agency. In case you missed it, Zaza Pachulia has decided to take his talents to Milwaukee and leaves the Atlanta Hawks after ending last season as its longest tenured player.

We have been waiting on watching to see where some of our second tier free agents would end up, and the Dwight dominoes continue to fall.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, J.J. Hickson has agreed in principle to sign a three-year deal worth $15 million with the Denver Nuggets. After losing Andre Iguodala, the Nuggets were reported to have interest in Monta Ellis, but their cap money is quickly drying up after bringing Hickson in to the fold.

After seeing Tiago Splitter ink a four-year, $36 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs, it would have made sense for Hickson to receive a similar offer. Apparently not. It is not known whether Hickson signed the best offer he received on the open market or if he opted to take less to join a team that just came off of a 57-win season.

But either way, a $15 million payday, for him, seems a bit surprising.

As for Monta Ellis, the wait continues, just like it does for Nikola Pekovic. According to HoopsWorld’s Alex Kennedy, Ellis is engaged with the Atlanta Hawks on a deal that would pay him $10 million per year, though the negotiations are still in the infancy stages.

And while we’re on the topic of center, we should also point out that the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to replace Dwight Howard with a former Clippers big man, Chris Kaman. Kaman spent eight years as a member of the Clippers before being dealt to the New Orleans Hornets along with some other pieces, including Eric Gordon, that landed Chris Paul with the Clips.

Kaman and the Lakers are reportedly working on a deal, and a union here would make some sense. What Kaman signs for, especially in light of Hickson’s $5 million per-year salary, will be interesting.

Andrew Bynum and Samuel Dalembert are still available, as well, but do not expect that to last much longer.

(Timofey Mozgov has reportedly received a four-year offer from Locomotiv Cuban of the Russian league).

As for Pekovic, Atlanta could make a backloaded offer to him, even though he is not a restricted free agent. They could, in theory, structure a deal similar to the one Houston made to Omer Asik a year ago. That would put the Wolves into tax territory by the time Ricky Rubio is making max money playing alongside Minnesota’s other max player, Kevin Love (presuming Love does not leave). Or they could make a big push for Monta Ellis, who is unrestricted and also is drawing interest from the Nuggets and the Atlanta Hawks.

Apparently, guys like Ellis are a dime a dozen, though, evidenced by his being the only one of our nine shooting guards ranked in the Top 25 to still be on the market. (We count both Tyreke Evans and Andre Iguodala as shooting guards, in case you’re wondering).

Beasts like Pekovic are rare birds, or so we think.

 

Nikola PekovicWhen you consider that San Antonio have set the market somewhat by giving Tiago Splitter $9 million per year for four years, and then consider that Pekovic is about 10 times better than Splitter, you begin to start bracing yourself for the possibilities.

Here is what renowned capologist Larry Coon has said:

“Five years, $57.5 million. Pek’s situation has all the earmarks of a nice payday. He finished the season well, he’s a big man and he’s a restricted free agent. If some team wants to pry him away from Minnesota, they’re going to have to make him an offer the Timberwollves would be reluctant to match. But I don’t see Minnesota letting him go that easily. After he flirts with other teams a little, I see them taking advantage of their Bird rights and locking him in for five years with bigger raises, but maybe conceding a little on the starting salary.”

Because Pekovic is a restricted free agent, the Wolves will have the right to match. If the Hawks decide to use their cap space to fill out other positions (they still have the right to match any offer Jeff Teague receives), Pekovic could very well end up staying in Minnesota if he is not low-balled.

He also could accept the Wolves qualifying offer, then set himself up to be the top center available in next summer’s free agent market, when it will be a crowded field that’ll potentially include LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, and other superstars. Another Wolves player to keep an eye on is Andrei Kirilenko, who opted out of a $10 million salary for 2013-14 because he is looking for another three or four-year contract.

So that is what to watch for in the next day or two. No deals can be consummated until July 10, and one thing we have been apprised of is that it is possible for sign-and-trade deals to be worked out for players who have already agreed to terms with new teams. One way or another it, is going to be a busy week coming up.

And with that said, let’s recap the craziness we just went through Friday and Saturday.

When it became common knowledge that Dwight Howard was headed to Houston, the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors rebounded quite nicely, agreeing to terms with Paul Millsap, Jose Calderon and Andre Iguodala, respectively. Andrew Bynum appears to be close to signing with the Mavericks, as well, while Josh Smith has reportedly agreed to terms with the Detroit Pistons on a four-year deal worth $56 million. Carl Landry was swooped up by the Sacramento Kings, as well. He will sign a four-year deal worth $27 million with the club. Jarrett Jack will be heading to Cleveland to back up Kyrie Irving. He rebounded rather nicely, securing a four-year deal worth $25 million.

And the latest of the more renowned names that is off of the market is Devin Harris. On Saturday, Harris agreed to return to where it all began—Dallas. Harris will sign with the Mavericks, who selected him with the fifth overall pick of the 2004 draft. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the deal is for three years, $9 million.

Just to keep you up to date, with Smith being taken off of the market, the SH Top 5 Free Agents have all found homes, 10 of our top 15 and 18 of our top 25 are all gone.

The top five available remaining free agents, per SheridanHoops’ rankings: (1) Nikola Pekovic, (2) Monta Ellis, (3) Jeff Teague, (4) Brandon Jennings and (5) Andrew Bynum.

Corey Brewer and Mo Williams are still out there, as well, and any of those three players can have a profound impact on a playoff team looking to take a step forward in next season’s playoffs, though, obviously, the road to the NBA Finals will probably travel through Miami out East and San Antonio Oklahoma City Houston Oakland Memphis Los Angeles some city west of New Orleans.

Here’s your Sunday morning update.

LAL_Howard_Dwight1. Dwight Howard (Center, LA Lakers)

Still just 27, everyone is willing to overlook the disappointing 2012-13 campaign since D12 was playing hobbled for most of it. Fair questions persist as to whether he can lead a team to the promised land, but we know that any team would be willing to roll the dice to find out. If you called any GM and offered Howard in exchange for his starting center, all (except Orlando) would say yes. That’s why he’s still numero uno.  JULY 4 UPDATE —  The Lakers removed a Howard banner and Hakeem Olajuwon and Daryl Morey both believe that “H-Town” will become “Howard” town. JULY 5 UPDATE — Word now expected to come via Dwight’s Twitter account. If you spend your weekend checking Twitter 2,491 times, you, too, are living the life of a sportswriter. We are expecting Houston, but still awaiting an official announcement. JULY 6 UPDATE — Howard has chosen to sign with the Houston Rockets. The terms? Four years, $88 million. He left a fifth guaranteed year and $30 million in guaranteed salary on the table to defect from the Los Angeles Lakers. Howard has an opt-out after 2015-16, Yahoo reports.

Paul70X1002. Chris Paul (Point Guard, LA Clippers) 

After leading the Clippers to their best season in franchise history and first division title, Paul has gotten over the fact that Donald Sterling outed him as the reason for Vinny Del Negro’s departure. Sterling needed to bring in Doc Rivers to make peace with CP3, and acquiring the coach from Boston was a move that assured Paul is staying. JULY 2 UPDATE — Paul has agreed to re-sign with the Clippers on a five-year, $107 million max. deal. 

UTA_Jefferson_Al (1)3.  Al Jefferson (Center, Utah Jazz)

One thing we know: A big man who has proven that he can score with his back to the basket is a very valuable commodity. Jefferson is arguably a better all-around offensive weapon than Howard. He is still relatively young at 28 and has been a consistent force in the paint for the Jazz. The bum knee that limited him to 50 games in 2008-09 is now a distant memory. A max player, for sure. JULY 2 UPDATE — Jazz offering 80 percent discount on his jersey (and Paul Millsap’s). Will meet with Bobcats Wednesday. JULY 4 UPDATE — He surprised the entire NBA by agreeing to terms with the Charlotte Bobcats on a three-year deal worth $41 million. The final year has an opt-out.

IND_West_David4. David West (Power Forward, Indiana Pacers)

A run to the conference finals could not have come at a better time for West, who had made it known (as had the Pacers) that his preference is to remain in Indianapolis, where he is perfectly cast as a third scorer and is depended on mostly for his sweet mid-range touch and tenacity in the paint.  Paul George hits the market next summer, and returning president Larry Bird says West is No. 1 priority but Pacers will not pay luxury tax under any circumstances. JULY 3 UPDATE — David West has agreed to re-sign with the Indiana Pacers on a three-year, $36 million deal. 

ATL_Smith_Josh5. Josh Smith (Power Forward, Atlanta Hawks)

J-Smoove made headlines this past season when he made it known he would be seeking a four-year max deal worth upwards of $15 million per year. It is difficult to justify paying that kind of money to a player who has not made a single All-Star team in nine years. Still, Smith is one of the most effective defensive players in the league and an explosive finisher in the paint. But which GM will risk his reputation on Smith? That’s a big question. JULY 1 UPDATE — Met with Pistons president Joe Dumars, who is unwilling to make a max offer. Then met with Rockets, who would try to add him in a sign-and-trade with Atlanta if Howard picks Houston. JULY 4 UPDATE — Smith has not been offered the max deal he was looking for, but the Houston Rockets would like to pair him with Howard if D12 signs on. Smith would like for that to happen, yet another waiting on D12. JULY 5 UPDATE — Omer Asik is being dangled to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for a sign-and-trade deal that sends Smith to the Hawks to form the worst free-throw shooting frontcourt in recent memory… IF Dwight signs with the Rockets. JULY 6 UPDATE — Now that Howard has agreed to join the Rockets, general manager Daryl Morey is expected to intensify his pursuit of Smith. JULY 6 UPDATE (2) — After hearing that Smith was potentially headed to the Houston Rockets to be paired up with childhood friend, Dwight Howard, it was first reported by Yahoo! Sports that Smith had agreed to terms with the Detroit Pistons on a four-year deal worth $56 million. That less than the max. he was looking for, but it was probably the best offer out there for him. Smith is the final member of the SH Top 5 to be signed.

MIN_Pekovic_Nikola6. Nikola Pekovic [R] (Center, Minnesota Timberwolves)

Guaranteed to be this year’s recipient of a fat, risky contract. Although significantly older than Omer Asik, Big Pek has a higher upside and more polished offensive game. When it comes to big men, general managers roll the dice quite often. We will see it with Andrew Bynum and we will see it with Pekovic. But the thinking here is that Pekovic will get more money — unless he gets hurt bowling. JULY 2 UPDATE — Quiet on this front, although the Cavs are reportedly interested. Have cap flexibility to offer backloaded contract. He is waiting on Dwight to make his Dwecision. JULY 4 UPDATE — The Timberwolves, according to the Pioneer Press, want to bring Pekovic back. There will be a bidding war over Pek, though. We guarantee it. JULY 6 UPDATE — With Howard off the market, Pekovic becomes the top center on the market, and arguably the top free agent, depending on how you rank him, head-to-head with Josh Smith. Pek’s time to get paid is coming, whether it be with the Timberwolves or another team. 

Iguodala-Denver7. Andre Iguodala (Small Forward, Denver Nuggets)

Interesting question: Who is worth more to you? Iggy? Or Monta Ellis? If you answer Ellis, it probably means you overvalue a volume scorer who cannot elevate his teammates. If you answer Iggy, though, it means that you properly recognize and appreciate his ability to affect every single facet of any game he plays, even if he is not shooting or scoring particularly well. A great defender — and GMs value that nowadays more than they used to. JULY 3 UPDATE — Kings offered a four-year, $52 million deal, but pulled it after not being given an immediate “Yes.” JULY 5 UPDATE — Nuggets offered more money, but Iggy chose to sign with the Warriors, who were positively Dolanesque in their willingness to pay a very steep price.

ELLIS_MONTA-bucks8. Monta Ellis (Shooting Guard, Milwaukee Bucks)

The secret is out: Ellis is a volume scorer who is probably best served as a sixth man who’s only responsibility is to light it up off the bench. Only problem? He turned down a two-year, $24 million extension from the Bucks that we think was more than fair. If Ellis is looking for more on the open market, it shows that he has a false sense of his value. A very talented player, he should draw interest from a team that has cap space and a dearth of options as to whom to spend it on. JULY 1 UPDATE — Knicks are interested, but can only offer $3.2 million. Nobody takes a $9 million haircut. JULY 4 UPDATE — With J.R. Smith, Tony Allen, Tyreke Evans and Kyle Korver all off the market, Ellis and O.J. Mayo are the top shooting guards out there. We peg Ellis’ fair market value at four years, $36-$40 million. JULY 6 UPDATE — Ellis is all but guaranteed to find a new home, as the Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to terms with O.J. Mayo. That’s the bad news for Ellis. The good news? He is arguably the best scorer still available on the market, and there are teams with cap space that still need a scorer. JULY 7 UPDATE — Latest rumors says Hawks and Nuggets both interested, but Denver would need to trade Andre Miller first.

SAC_Evans_Tyreke9. Tyreke Evans [R] (Point Guard/Small Forward, Sacramento Kings)

One of this generation’s enigmas, Evans is still searching for the touch that enabled him to become one of the few rookies in history to average 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Still just 23, NBA GMs will think a new coach and system can re-tap that potential, and potential gets you paid. The Kings will have a new coach and a new system, so they should have a “should we match?” question on their hands come July 10. JULY 2 UPDATE — Pelicans have made a four year offer for between $40-$48 million. See how Reggie Miller reacted. JULY 3 UPDATE — Though it does not hold much weight, Evans has reportedly let it be known that he wants a change of scenery and hopes to end up with the PelicansJULY 4 UPDATE — Evans will get his wish and be dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans. He will sign a four-year deal worth $44 million once the moratorium is over on July 10.

ATL_Teague_Jeff10. Jeff Teague [R] (Point Guard, Atlanta Hawks)

Perhaps the most intriguing young point guard on the market, his value has been established at about $8-$9 million thanks to the extensions doled out to Jrue Holiday and Ty Lawson. He probably stays in Atlanta, though in-demand restricted free agents sometimes get overpaid. (Ask Landry Fields.) Much depends on what GM Danny Ferry pulls off with all his cap space. For a team with only five players under contract (not counting draftees), he is somewhat expendable given that Lou Williams is one of those five. JULY 1 UPDATE — Where does Teague rank among point guards? Read this. JULY 3 UPDATE – Bucks coach Larry Drew likes him and would like Milwaukee to pursue. JULY 7 UPDATE — Word is, the Atlanta Hawks are interested in bringing Monta Ellis into the fold. That could mean Danny Ferry is ready to hand the starting job over to Atlanta native, Lou Williams. Teague is the top rated point guard in the SH Top 50 who is still a free agent, and that may continue to be the case for now.

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The 6 O’Clock News: Noel declares; Nene contemplated retirement; Mozgov to receive tender

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Hello and welcome to the 6 O’Clock News.

As the NBA regular season dies down and the playoff races heat up, we’ll keep you updated every day at 6 O’Clock. What’s happening today?

Here’s the latest news around the league: