Heat Look to Reignite Livingston's Career
The Heat are hoping that one of the answers to revamping their roster is helping a former phenom rebuild his once promising career.
Miami took another step in retooling its lineup on Friday, signing free agent guard Shaun Livingston.
Livingston, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, was once considered one of the brightest prospects in the NBA, even drawing comparisons to Magic Johnson.
But his shot at ever fulfilling those high expectations with the Clippers was cut short after a devastating knee injury suffered on February 26, 2007 sidelined him for nearly 19 months. It also derailed a breakthrough season for the 6-foot-7 point guard, who led the Clippers in seven offensive categories in 2006-07.
Although it remains to be seen if he’ll ever fully return to form, Heat president Pat Riley believes he can make a strong contribution to his squad.
“Shaun Livingston was one of the best young players to come into the draft in a long, long time,” he said in a statement released by the team. “We feel very fortunate to be able to sign him and help us rebuild our program.”
If Livingston can find his way into the rotation, he’ll certainly have weapons to distribute the ball to. Along with All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion, the Heat also feature rookie sensation Michael Beasley, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Gordon Agrees to Qualifying Offer With Bulls
It may be uncertain where exactly he fits in Chicago, but Ben Gordon is relieved to be a Bull right now.
After months of back-and-forth negotiating and rumors, ranging from the possibility of a sign-and-trade or even playing overseas, Gordon accepted Chicago’s one-year qualifying offer on Wednesday. The Bulls’ leading scorer the last three seasons, Gordon will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2008-09 campaign.
When the Bulls selected highly touted rookie Derrick Rose first overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, it seemed unlikely Gordon would remain with the team. The franchise already had a few backcourt studs under contract, including Kirk Hinrich and Larry Hughes, and they knew they had to re-sign free agent Luol Deng over the summer.
But, with so many mysteries with the team after last year’s disappointing season, it was probably a wise decision for both the Bulls and Gordon to come to terms.
Gordon, who averaged 18.6 points in 2007-08, will likely compete with Hughes and Hinrich for the starting two guard position.
Jason Williams Hangs Up His Sneakers
That was a quick stop for Jason Williams. After signing with the Los Angeles Clippers on August 7, the 6-foot 1, 180-pound point guard on Friday announced his retirement from the NBA.
Williams, known as White Chocolate for his flashy playing style, did not appear in a game for Los Angeles; he was signed in the off-season and was gone even before the preseason could commence.
Williams played for 10 years in the NBA. He played his first three years with the Sacramento Kings (1998-2001), which took him with the seventh pick in the 1998 draft. He was then traded to the Memphis Grizzlies where he played from 2001 to 2005. The Miami Heat acquired him in 2005 where he spent the next and the final three years of his career.
Williams was the starting point guard for the 2006 Miami Heat team that won the NBA Championship over the Dallas Mavericks in six games. He started all 23 playoff games and averaged 9.3 points and 3.9 assists in helping Miami win its first title.
The University of Flordia alum had career averages of 11.4 points, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.4 rebounds. He shot 39.6 percent from the floor, 32.5 percent from three-point range and 81.6 percent from the foul line in 679 total games.
Williams was named to the 1998-99 NBA All-Rookie Team after he posted 12.8 ppg and 6.0 apg for the season.
Perhaps Jason Williams' now-you-see-him-now-you-don't quickie non-stint with the Clippers was a reminder that he was once a lightning bug who used his quickness to blow past his defender, pull up for a jumper or dish out a spectacular assist.
Houston Matches Offer to Landry
No problem Houston: Carl Landry is staying put after all.
The Rockets decided to match the Bobcats' offer on Thursday to keep the athletic forward in Red and White. The contract is reportedly a three-year deal worth $9 million.
Landry was solid in the second half of last season, averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 42 contests. He was an All-Rookie Second Team selection. He appeared in six playoff games and averaged 5.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes.
On Tuesday, GM Daryl Morey said he hoped that Landry would take what the Rockets considered a "fair offer." As it turned out, Charlotte set the price.
"We’re really excited to have him back," Morey said on Houston's Web Site. "We wanted to sign him long-term out of the draft last year; because we didn’t have mid-level we weren’t able to get that done. So now we’re excited to get that done and we’re going to have a great set of players in for training camp."
In other news...
Bobcats Sign Landry to Offer Sheet
Carl Landry made great strides the second half of his first NBA season and his play did not go unnoticed.
The Bobcats liked what they saw enough to sign Landry to an offer sheet on Wednesday. The Rockets now have seven days to decide if they want to match.
“Landry is an emerging NBA talent, as evidenced by his play over the final 42 regular-season games and into the Rockets first-round playoff appearance,” GM Rod Higgins said in a team-released statement. “His ability to play both the power forward and center position will complement our post play.”
Landry averaged 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 42 contests. He was an All-Rookie Second Team selection. He appeared in six playoff games and averaged 5.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes.
On Tuesday, Rockets GM Daryl Morey said on the team’s Web site: “We have a fair offer out there and we're hoping (Landry) takes it.”
Morey also said the team is close to signing rookie Joey Dorsey.
In other news...
Abdur-Rahim Retires After 12 Seasons
Monday, Shareef Abdur-Rahim announced his retirement, putting an end to his excellent 12-year NBA career. He cited a reoccuring knee injury which had hampered him for the past year and a half, and he explained that a return to his usual capacity as a player seemed unlikely.
"My right knee has become arthritic over the years and is to the point where it won’t allow me do the things and play at the level in which I’m accustomed to playing," Abdur-Rahim said. "As tough as it is to come to grips with, it’s the reality."
Abdur-Rahim played for four teams during his 12 years in the NBA. In 1996, he started his career with the Vancouver Grizzlies, where he was drafted third overall behind only Allen Iverson and Marcus Camby. He spent five seasons with the fledgling franchise, scoring 18.7 points per game his rookie year, then going on to average 20-plus points for six of the next seven years (the exception coming in '02-'03, when his average fell to a mere 19.9 points). He later played three and a half seasons with the Hawks, one and a half with the Blazers, and his final three with the Kings.
In 2000, Abdur-Rahim won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. Olympic team. Two years later, in 2002 as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, he was named to his first and only All-Star Team. The next season, on December 28, 2002, Abdur-Rahim, at age 26, scored 21 points in a regular season game against the Wizards to become the sixth-youngest player to reach 10,000 for his career. He finished with just over 15,000.
As is said about many athletes, though -- and regardless of whether it's said about too many athletes, or not enough of them, it certainly pertains to this one -- Abdur-Rahim is perhaps best understood as the charitable man he was off the court, and the uncommonly humble man he was on it. Though recognition is beside the point, in 2004 The Sporting News named him the NBA's Number 1 Good Guy for the work that his youth development organization, the Future Foundation, did in funding Atlanta's Reef House, an extension of his foundation which assists at-risk and underprivileged youth. Abdur-Rahim, a Marietta, Georgia native, understood that with the platform of playing basketball professionally came an opportunity to serve his community.
Following the September 11th attacks, he was named NBA’s Community Assist Award Winner after he created "Rebound America" and donated $100 for each rebound he would pull down that season. His personal donation ultimately amounted to $69,600, but by enlisting the help of four fellow NBA players, the relief fund for the victims' families reached $212,275 in all.
Abdur-Rahim was once famously quoted as saying that he tried to keep the following in mind: "Remember how you came on all your accomplishments and stay humble." On Monday, in his retirement announcement, he concluded predictably, "Regarding my career, I’ve been really blessed and fortunate." Of course, those who know him feel the same way.
Delonte Re-Signs With Cavs
It's not about money for Delonte West.
It's about being appreciated and the love of basketball for the former Celtics and Sonics guard, who once said he would play the game with a sock if he had to.
So when West signed a multi-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, the fifth-year pro couldn't have been happier as he secured an NBA home for the first time in his career.
“This is the first time since I was offered a scholarship at St. Joes that I feel like I am valued as a person and a player," West said. "Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers have shown me that they value me as a person and a player and that was the most important thing to me.
"In that sense, this was not about a specific dollar amount. You can’t really put a dollar value on a person, their skills you can, but not their heart and what kind of person they are. My family is blessed and I feel a great relief to be able to concentrate on basketball now.”
Cleveland acquired West from the Seattle SuperSonics on Feb. 21 as part of a three-team, 11-player trade. He started all 26 games he played for the Cavaliers and proved his worth by racking up 10.3 points, 4.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 31.0 minutes per game.
However, reaching a deal to remain a Cavalier took over two months after he became a restricted free agent in July. Rumors had surfaced throughout the summer that West, who was the only unsigned Cavalier from last season's team, would hold out of training camp if the two sides couldn't reach an agreement.
Terms of the deal were not released, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that it was for three years. Cleveland, which also traded for Mo Williams and re-signed Daniel Gibson this summer, will enter the 2008-09 season with one of its deepest backcourts in years.
“Contending teams need areas of strength and need depth," Cavs general manager Danny Ferry said. "Having Delonte, Mo (Williams) and Daniel (Gibson) certainly creates an advantageous situation for us.”
Reports: Randolph for Darko and Marko
It appears the Knicks are looking to add more international flavor as the rebuilding process continues in New York.
Several media outlets are reporting that the Knicks have proposed a trade with the Grizzlies that would send Zach Randolph to Memphis in exchange for Darko Milicic and Marko Jaric.
The deal works financially and would help with New York's salary cap, but Knicks President Donnie Walsh is in no rush to make a move and would not confirm the reports.
"There is no deal," Walsh told the NY Daily News. "We've spoken to Memphis but there is nothing happening so far."
The additions of Milicic and Jaric, both natives of Serbia, would continue to give the Knicks a new look under Walsh, who replaced Isiah Thomas last April. New York, which did not have any international players on its roster last season, selected Italian forward Danilo Gallinari with the sixth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft weeks after naming former Italian basketball star Mike D'Antoni head coach.
According to Newsday, Randolph, who was brought to New York in a Draft-day deal in 2007, is anticipating a trade before training camp and believes that Memphis will be his destination.
Meanwhile, former Knicks All-Star Allan Houston is planning a second comeback attempt with New York, according to Newsday. The 37-year-old shooting guard, who retired on Oct. 17, 2005 after battling knee problems for several seasons, lasted only a week with the Knicks in last season's training camp.
Iranian Center Joins Grizzlies
In need of a rebounder and shot blocker, the Memphis Grizzlies turned to Iran for help.
Just over a week after receiving U.S. government approval to sign an Iranian player, the Grizzlies inked center Hamed Haddadi on Thursday.
Memphis would not release the terms of the deal, but the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that the contract is worth the equivalent to that of a mid first-round pick.
The 7-foot-2, 254-pound Haddadi led all Olympians in Beijing in rebounding (11.2) and blocks (2.6) while averaging 16.6 points in five games for Iran, which did not advance to the medal round. Haddadi, who was not selected in the 2004 NBA Draft, drew the interest of several NBA teams when the Iranian team competed against NBA teams this summer in Utah.
“[Haddadi] is a young center who was very productive as a rebounder, shot blocker and scorer at the Rocky Mountain Revue Summer League in Salt Lake City, Utah, the 2008 Olympics and the FIBA Diamond Ball Tournament in Nanjing, China prior to the Olympics," Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace said. "Our coaching staff is eager to begin working with Hamed.”
The 23-year-old Haddadi, who spent the 2007-08 season playing for Saba Battery BC in the Iranian Super League, could become the first Iranian to play in the NBA.
Haddadi was not the only international player signed by an NBA team this week. On Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers signed China's Sun Yue to a multi-year contract.
The 6-9 guard, known as the "Chinese Magic Johnson", was originally selected by the Lakers in the second round (40th overall) of 2007 Draft.
Nuggets Bring Back J.R. Smith
The Denver Nuggets will have instant offense for years to come.
Already with two of the top four scorers in the NBA on their roster, the Nuggets re-signed sharpshooter J.R. Smith to a multiyear contract on Friday.
“We’re extremely delighted to have J.R. back,” said Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien. “His blend of off-the-charts athleticism and long-range shooting ability is rare, especially for someone his age. We believe his best basketball is still to come.”
The 22-year-old Smith, who averaged 12.3 points last regular season and 18.3 last postseason, has provided the Nuggets with much-needed three-point shooting during his two years with the team. He shot just over 40 percent from long range last season, the best percentage in team history for players with at least 100 3-pointers.
Smith, who was acquired from Chicago in 2006 in exchange for Howard Eisley and two second-round draft picks, had his best game with the Nuggets on Feb. 22 when he exploded for a career-high 43 points off the bench.
Along with Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, Smith will continue to help the Nuggets be one of the top scoring teams in the NBA. Denver ranked second in the league with 110.7 points per game last season.
Iguodala Returns to Philadelphia
Are the 76ers ready to overpower the Celtics as the best team in the Atlantic Division? Is Philadelphia prepared to make a serious run at the NBA championship?
Well, the additions of Elton Brand, Kareem Rush and Royal Ivey earlier this summer helped make the Sixers a franchise on the rise. The re-signing of Andre Iguodala, meanwhile, on Monday potentially helped them become the team to fear in the Eastern Conference.
An entertaining revelation last season, the 76ers will certainly be one of the most athletic teams in the league. Despite the recent injury news to Jason Smith, who tore his ACL in his left knee and may miss the entire 2008-09 season, the Sixers will have all the weapons to advance far in the playoffs.
Sure, the Celtics will return as the premier favorite in the East and the Magic, behind a more experienced Dwight Howard, will be expected to ascend to the next level.
Philly, nonetheless, should not be underestimated. In fact, it’s not preposterous to consider the 76ers, who also re-signed Lou Williams, one of the several teams in the NBA who have a legitimate chance of winning a title this upcoming season.
Rockets Cleared for Takeoff with Artest
Ron Artest is officially a member of the Houston Rockets, who now are unoffically members of the Western Conference's elite.
As expected, the Rockets and Sacramento Kings officially completed their trade of Artest on Thursday. Houston also acquired rookies Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing Jr. and sent veteran Bobby Jackson, promising rookie Donte Greene and a future first-round pick to Sacramento.
The deal originally was agreed upon late last month but could not become official until Aug. 14 - one month after Greene had signed with the Rockets.
Artest is reunited with former Kings coach Rick Adelman, for whom he played a half-season in the 2005-06 campaign. More important, Artest joins a Rockets squad that already boasts superstars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, giving Houston the three-headed monster it needs to seriously challenge in the West.
It remains to be seen where the Rockets play Artest. He could be used at power forward alongside Yao and Shane Battier or more likely at small forward alongside Yao and Luis Scola, with the team-oriented Battier coming off the bench.
The Rockets won 55 games last season, including 22 in a row. They lost to Utah in the first round of the playoffs, but things might have been different if point guard Rafer Alston hadn't missed the first two games with a hamstring injury. If the mercurial Artest is on his best behavior and the roster can stay healthy, the Rockets have to be taken seriously as challengers in the West.
Jackson makes his second stop in Sacramento and Greene was phenomenal in the Las Vegas Summer League, racking up an eye-popping 40-point game.
There were a handful of other moves, none of which had to wait until Aug. 14:
The champs reportedly signed first-round pick J.R. Giddens.
The West champs signed free agent forward Josh Powell.
The extremely active Bucks signed Francisco Elson, which means they may be the first team in NBA history to have two players from Holland.
The Suns signed ponytailed former 76er Louis Amundson, whom we are betting becomes Shaq's new best buddy.
Cavaliers Add Some 'O' With Mo
From 2003-05, Danny Ferry and Sam Presti both worked in basketball operations for the San Antonio Spurs. Now running their own franchises - Ferry in Cleveland and Presti in Oklahoma City - they have established themselves as highly willing trading partners.
At the trading deadline, Ferry was among the brokers in a massive three-team trade that landed Ben Wallace and Joe Smith from Chicago and Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West from Presti and Seattle. Six months later, the two have collaborated again on another unconventional swap.
Cleveland, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee have agreed on a three-team deal. Here are the particulars:
The Cavaliers get Bucks guard Mo Williams and give up Smith and Damon Jones.
Oklahoma City gets Smith and Bucks swingman Desmond Mason and surrenders Luke Ridnour and Adrian Griffin.
The Bucks get Ridnour, Jones and Griffin.
We refuse to call this a "blockbuster" because Williams is the best player in the trade. However, he can create his own shot and gives Cleveland more than another spot-up shooter alongside LeBron James.
Presti gets a couple of seasoned veterans to hold the hands of young studs Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook. And it is a homecoming of sorts for Mason, who began his career with the erstwhile Seattle franchise and played collegiately at Oklahoma State.
Bucks GM John Hammond has spent the offseason adding Richard Jefferson and Joe Alexander, two forwards expected to play prominent roles in the offense. By moving Williams and adding Ridnour to share the point with fellow pass-first guard Ramon Sessions, he creates more shot opportunities for his new frontcourt.
Hawks Match Offer Sheet to Retain Josh Smith
The Josh Smith waiting game is over. On Friday night, the Atlanta Hawks announced that the team has officially matched the offer sheet signed by Smith with the Memphis Grizzlies earlier in the day.
By matching the Grizzlies' offer, the Hawks will retain the services of the high-flying 22-year old Smith.
“We are happy to announce that we will match their offer sheet," Hawks general manager Rick Sund said. "Ownership, management and the team are happy to have Josh return as a member of the Hawks. We look forward to training camp in October and we will continue to look at additional opportunities to improve our roster.”
The Hawks have maintained that they would match any offer for the athletic Smith, who drew interest from the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers earlier in the free-agent season.
Smith, whom the Hawks drafted with the 17th pick overall in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft, averaged a career-high 17.2 points and 8.2 rebounds last season, helping the Hawks make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. In the first round of the playoffs, Smith proved to be a major matchup problem for the eventual champion Boston Celtics.
Clippers Sign Jason Williams
The reshaping of the Los Angeles Clippers never seems to stop.
On Thursday, Vice President of Basketball Operations Elgin Baylor announced that the Clippers have signed free agent guard Jason Williams.
A veteran of 10 NBA seasons, Williams joins the Clippers after playing the last three years for Miami, where he helped the Heat win the 2006 NBA Championship. Williams, 32, has played in 679 career regular season games and averaged 11.4 points, 6.3 assists and 2.4 rebounds for a total of three teams. The six-foot-one, 180 pound point guard has also started and played in 53 career playoff contests, averaging 9.8 points, 3.7 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 0.9 steals.
Williams is expected to either play the point alongside newly signed Baron Davis or serve as Davis' primary backup at the point.
Williams joins a Clippers team that already has nine new faces in its lineup. Davis is now the face of the team, after long-time stalwarts Elton Brand and Corey Maggette decided to sign elsewhere.
Aside from Davis, the other new players on the roster so far are: rookies Eric Gordon (No. 7), DeAndre Jordan (No. 35) and Mike Taylor (No. 55); free agents Ricky Davis (Miami) and Brian Skinner (Phoenix); and trade acquisitions Marcus Camby (from Denver), Jason Hart (Utah) and Steve Novak (Houston).
Playing with the Heat last season, Williams averaged 8.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 28.1 minutes while appearing in 67 games. The West Virginia native finished eighth in the league with a 3.37 assists per turnover ratio and 12th with a 0.91 steals per turnover ratio.
Heat Add Swingman Diawara
With last year's "season from hell" behind them, the Miami Heat continue to fill up their roster with young players who could complement Dwyane Wade.
On Thursday, the Heat announced that they have signed free agent guard/forward Yakhouba Diawara, who played for the Denver Nuggets the past two seasons.
Heat President Pat Riley has every reason to be optimistic that the coming season would be a totally different one from last year, when the Heat finished with a dismal 15-67 win-loss record. To start with, Wade, who sat out most of the season because of a shoulder injury, appears to be back in form, and raring to prove that he can lead the team back to its status as one of the elite teams in the league.
The Heat also helped themselves immensely in this year's rookie grab bag. They picked Michael Beasley second overall, and added Mario Chalmers, who hit the game-tying shot in regulation that allowed Kansas to win the this year's NCAA Championship in overtime.
Miami also signed free agents Bobby Jones (Knicks) and James Jones (Portland), to help fill the void created by the departure of Ricky Davis, who signed with the Clippers.
The big question mark for the team, however, is the future of All-Star forward Shawn Marion, who is in the last year of his six-year contract. The Heat have to decide whether to re-sign Marion, trade him or allow him to walk away and sign with another team.
The Heat hope that Diawara, who hails from Paris, France, could become the defensive stopper the team has lacked in recent seasons.
Diawara played in 54 games (14 starts)during the 2007-08 season, averaging 2.8 points and 1.1 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game, while shooting 41.0 percent from the field.
In his first season in the NBA, he played in 64 games (19 starts) and averaged 4.4 points and 1.7 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per game.
He was a member of the Heat’s 2005 Summer League squad, playing in two games and averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 57.1 percent from the field.
He played for two seasons at Pepperdine (2003-05), averaging 15.5 points and 6.0 rebounds over his two years. He was also named First Team All-West Coast Conference as a junior. He spent his first two collegiate seasons at Southern Idaho Junior College.
Sixers Bring Back Louis Williams
The Philadelphia 76ers made a hard charge to secure a playoff spot with last year's young nucleus. After making the off-season's biggest splash, wooing power forward Elton Brand from the West Coast, the Sixers are now able to address that nucleus.
Philadelphia announced on Monday that they re-signed restricted free agent Louis Williams.
The 6-foot 2-inch guard provided the Sixers has steadily improved each season, averaging 7.2 points, 2.2 assists and 1.5 rebounds for his career.
He made his biggest improvement in 2007-2008 from three-point range, knocking down a team-high 35.9 percent from behind the arc on his way to career highs with 11.5 points, 3.2 assists and 2.0 rebounds a game.
Williams put in his best minutes late in the game, averaging 42.3 percent of his points in the fourth quarter which gave him the second-highest fourth-quarter point total in Philly.
With the additions of Royal Ivey and Kareem Rush this week also adding depth to Philadelphia's bench, the Sixers can now focus on locking up fellow restricted free agent Andre Iguodala.
Pistons Add Former No. 1 Pick
Detroit General Manager Joe Dumars said that the Pistons will have a new look next season. And while his roster hasn't changed much over the offseason, Dumars did manage to bring a former No. 1 overall pick to Detroit.
The Pistons announced Monday that they have signed center Kwame Brown to a reported two-year deal. Brown, who is joining his fourth NBA team, will have the right to opt out after the first year to become a free agent.
“We are pleased to add Kwame Brown to our roster,” said Dumars. “Kwame is a player that gives us depth at the center position and we feel that he will have the opportunity to grow within our system.”
Brown hasn't lived up to the potential that made him the top pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, but not much will be expected from the 26-year-old as he comes off the most disappointing season of his career. He will, however, be expected to play a key reserve role behind aging starters Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace -- if they are still around.
Dumars fired head coach Flip Saunders less than a week after the Pistons came up short in the Eastern Conference Finals for the third straight year and publicly put his entire team on the trading block. However, the expected busy offseason has been uneventful to say the least.
Detroit inked Will Bynum, who played in Israel last season, and is expected to re-sign Walter Herrmann. That's about it.
Arroyo Signs With Maccabi Tel Aviv
The trend of NBA free agents finding new homes overseas with the ESPN report that point guard Carlos Arroyo - most recently of the Orlando Magic - has signed with Euroleague perennial power Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel.
As of late Sunday night, the Magic had made no official announcement. However, it appears Maccabi has.
Arroyo is no stranger to the international game, having piloted the Puerto Rican national team for most of this decade. His 25-point tour de force against the United States in the 2004 opener at Athens gave "Los Boricuas" the first Olympic win by any country over an American squad with NBA players.
With Maccabi, he will assume the position once held by former NBA combo guard Sarunas Jasikevicius, who led Maccabi to consecutive Euroleague titles in 2004 and 2005. You may recall that Maccabi also stunned the Toronto Raptors on their home floor in a preseason game in 2006.
Arroyo is the eighth prominent NBA player to sign overseas this summer, with Josh Childress the only American among them.
Some Restrictions May Apply
The recent signings of Emeka Okafor, Luol Deng, Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis - all with their previous teams - have thinned out the restricted free agent market.
The market works similarly to how NBA first-round picks used to sign before the rookie salary scale. (You remember that, don't you?) As more players sign, slotting becomes easier for both sides in the negotiation process.
So the dominos are starting to tumble. Still available is young stud Carl Landry and offensive ignitors Ben Gordon and J.R. Smith.
However, the best of the bunch remain the superbly athletic Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith. Most would acknowledge that both players have All-Star appearances in their future. The question is which one has a news conference in their more immediate future?
In an ironic twist, Iguodala and Smith had an outside chance of being teammates when free agency began. The Philadelphia 76ers began their offseason by wooing Smith and were putting together an offer until GM Ed stefanski did some creative maneuvering to land Elton Brand instead.
Smith's bargaining position improved when fellow Hawk RFA Josh Childress flew the
coop for Greece. Having made the playoffs for the first time in nine years, Atlanta needs Smith in order to compete for another postseason berth in the improving Eastern Conference. However, getting Smith's name on the dotted line seems a long ways away.
Although there is nothing in the works with Iguodala, Stefanski has maintained throughout the summer that he intends to re-sign both Iguodala and fellow RFA Lou Williams. Now that the latter is reportedly done, expect the focus to shift to 'Dre.
There were a couple of reported minor re-signings Friday, both involving international players. The Detroit Pistons brought back Argentine Walter Herrmann and the Orlando Magic renewed with Adonal Foyle.
Bobcats Re-Sign Okafor
It took two offseasons of negotiations, but the Charlotte Bobcats have finally locked down their franchise player.
Emeka Okafor, one of the top restricted free agents entering the offseason, re-signed with the Bobcats on Thursday. According to ESPN.com, the deal is for six years and will make Okafor the highest-paid player in the franchise's four-year history.
"It was very important for us to get a deal done," General Manager Rod Higgins said. "He creates a sense of security around the basket for us. He's a guy that I think his skills are still developing in a lot of ways. Having Larry [Brown] as our head coach now, Emeka will benefit having a great coach to teach him."
Okafor, the former second overall pick and 2004-05 NBA Rookie of the Year, reportedly turned down a multi-year contract extension last summer to become a restricted free agent this year. With a limited number of teams willing to spend big money on free agents this offseason, it was expected that Okafor would remain in Charlotte.
“This is a great opportunity for me to continue my NBA career with the franchise that selected me back in 2004,” Okafor said. “The Bobcats and the entire Charlotte community embraced me from day one, and it’s exciting to enter this season with a Hall of Fame coach and teammates who are committed to winning.”
Okafor averaged 13.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while playing in all 82 games last season. He is one of only four NBA players to average a double-double in each of the past four seasons, joining All-Stars Steve Nash, Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard. .
In other NBA news, the Chicago Bulls have officially re-signed Luol Deng.
No Bull: Deng Staying in Chicago
There’s a renewed sense of optimism these days in the Windy City.
The selection of Derrick Rose No. 1 in the draft, a new coach in Vinny Del Negro and now a brand new deal for Luol Deng, surely have Chicago Bulls fans pumped for next season.
The team reportedly on Wednesday finalized a six-year, $71 million deal to retain Deng’s services. ChicagoBulls.com says the official announcement will be made Thursday at 11 a.m. ET.
The 6-foot-9 forward out of Duke averaged 17 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season. Expect those numbers to increase in 2008-09. To be fair, Deng battled through injuries and a coaching change, not to mention playing with a subpar cast around him, last season.
Deng was very good in the playoffs two years ago and with his contract issues settled he can concentrate solely on basketball. Now the Bulls need to focus on inking Ben Gordon.
In other news...
- The Hawks formally announced the signing of forward/center Randolph Morris. Morris is expected to compete for the starting center job, along with Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia, though Horford, who is coming off a solid rookie campaign, will likely start at power forward.
- The Pistons signed Will Bynum, who looked pretty good during summer league action in Las Vegas.
- The Nuggets added Dahntay Jones to the fold. The five-year veteran has posted career averages of 4.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg and in 246 games with Memphis and Sacramento. He spent time with both the Kings and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League during the 2007-08 campaign.
- The Clippers waived Josh Powell.
Report: Artest Bound for Lone Star State
Ron Artest decided not to opt out of his contract before the offseason, electing instead to remain in Sacramento. Then he decided that was a mistake.
According to published reports on Tuesday, the Kings have decided it isn't Artest's decision to make anymore.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the Houston Rockets will send guard Bobby Jackson, an unidentified player and a 2009 first round pick to the Kings in exchange for their defensive stopper, once the paperwork is officially filed with the league offices.
Both teams had been quiet all off season, each making just one free agent signing prior to the trade.
In other news...
- The Philadelphia 76ers announced the signing of free agent guard Kareem Rush. In five NBA seasons, Rush has averaged just under seven points a game, but had his best season from 3-point range last year for the Indiana Pacers and could help improve the Sixers most from behind the arc.
- Restricted free agent Ryan Gomes re-signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday. Gomes averaged career highs in scoring and rebounding with the Timberwolves last season after moving to Minnesota in the offseason deal that sent Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics.
- The Atlanta Hawks officially announced the signing of guard/forward Maurice Evans on Tuesday. Evans averaged almost nine points and three rebounds in 75 games last season for the Lakers and Magic and is expected to add depth and versatility to the Hawks' frontcourt.
No Change of Address for Biedrins, Vujacic
Turns out, Andris Biedrins and Sasha Vujacic found the grass wasn’t necessarily greener.
Both officially re-signed on Monday with their respective clubs -- Biedrins with Golden State and Vujacic with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Biedrins inked a new multi-year deal, reportedly a six-year, $63 million contract extension. The sixth year will be a player option. The center was reported to be considering a move to Europe, but instead decided to remain with the Warriors.
Golden State previously locked up guard Monta Ellis, giving the Warriors two nice cornerstones to build around. Despite the loss of point guard Baron Davis, Golden State has done nicely this offseason by also signing Corey Maggette and Ronny Turiaf.
Vujacic signed a reported three-year, $15 million dollar deal to remain a Laker. The 3-point specialist was a nice lift off the bench a year ago and he should resume that role in 2008-09.
In other moves, Ryan Gomes officially re-signed with the Timberwolves, Royal Ivey inked a free-agent deal with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Raptors signed combo guard Will Solomon.
Veteran swingman Ricky Davis signed a free-agent deal with the Clippers.
In trade news, the Knicks dealt forward Renaldo Balkman to the Nuggets for guards Taurean Green, Bobby Jones and a 2010 second-round draft pick.
Balkman is a nice pickup for the Nuggets, who are in need of frontline help after shipping Marcus Camby to the Clippers.
Green and Jones might not get too comfortable as New York is expected to release both. The Knicks will save about $1.32 million in cap space next year with the deal.
Report: Biedrins to Remain in Oakland
He may not dominate at the rim like a Dwight Howard or explode in the paint like an Amare Stoudemire, but Andris Biedrins is one of the more valuable interior players in the NBA.
The Warriors evidently concur.
The four-year league veteran from Latvia has reportedly agreed to a six-year contract to remain in Golden State and rejoin Monta Ellis, who re-signed with the franchise last week.
Averaging nearly a double-double in 2007-08 (10.5 points, 9.8 rebounds), Biedrins is expected to be one of the cornerstones on this young, yet durable club.
Golden State may look different next season, but don’t dismiss it as a formidable club. It, moreover, signed Corey Maggette and Ronny Turiaf. It also saw Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph and Marco Belinelli develop with outstanding performances at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
Evans to Hawks; Vujacic Staying With Lakers
It didn’t take long for the Hawks to progress after learning about Josh Childress’ departure to Europe.
Atlanta, furthermore, found a suitable replacement by agreeing to a three-year contract with Maurice Evans, an athletic guard who split time last season with the Lakers and Magic.
Evans is similar to Childress in that he runs the floor very well and plays rock-solid defense. The former Texas standout will likely be Atlanta’s sixth man, the role Childress predominately served during the Hawks’ run to the playoffs in 2007-08. It was the team’s first postseason berth in nine years.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the reigning Western Conference champions secured one of their own valuable reserves. The Lakers agreed to re-sign Sasha Vujacic to a three-year deal after talk that he was considering a return to play professionally in Europe.
Vujacic, who averaged 8.8 points this past season, was L.A.’s most consistent bench player. ‘The Machine’ hit countless clutch 3-pointers and helped spell rest for Kobe Bryant when needed.
Warriors Retain Young Backcourt Pair
The Warriors already lost one part of their backcourt tandem this offseason, but on Thursday they made sure they wouldn’t lose another.
Golden State took a break from revamping its roster and instead locked up two key cogs for the future, re-signing Monta Ellis to a six-year deal and matching the Clippers’ offer sheet to Kelenna Azubuike.
With the departure of Baron Davis to the Clippers, the electric Ellis is now the heir apparent point guard in Don Nelson’s high-octane system. The 22-year-old guard put up career highs in points (20.2) and rebounds (5.0) last season, while playing in 81 games for Warriors.
And in order to prevent any further intrastate migration, Golden State made sure the 24-year-old Azubuike – who also enjoyed career bests in points (8.1) and rebounds (4.0) –stayed put.
With Ellis and Azubuike in the fold, the Warriors can now turn their attention to free agent center Andris Biedrins, who is reportedly drawing attention from a number of European teams.
Birdman Returns to the Mile-High City
The "Birdman" is flying back to the city that gave him his first opportunity in the NBA.
Chris Andersen signed a contract Thursday with the Denver Nuggets, the team he started his career with as the first ever NBA D-League call up in 2001. According to several Denver-area newspapers, the deal is for one year.
Andersen, known as the Birdman for his above-the-rim game, spent his previous three seasons with the New Orleans Hornets after playing his first three in Denver. He has career averages of 5.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
Andersen has been a fan favorite in each city he's played in - Denver, New Orleans and Oklahoma City - for his crazy dunks and high intensity on both ends of the floor. But he is best known to basketball fans for showcasing his leaping abilities in the 2004 and 2005 NBA Slam Dunk Contests.
Andersen fills Denver's need for a big man and an energy guy after the Nuggets decided to trade center Marcus Camby to the Clippers and watched free agent forward Eduardo Najera bounce for New Jersey.
Unless more moves are made, the Nuggets will enter training camp with Andersen, Nene, Kenyon Martin and Steven Hunter as their only frontcourt players.
Plenty of Comings and Goings
Should they stay or should they go? Well, most decided to remain with their current teams, while Josh Childress
opted to leave the country all together.
Childress was among the notable transactions on Wednesday, as he left the Atlanta Hawks for Greece. The restricted free agent reportedly signed a lucrative deal to play for the Greek team Olympiakos.
Childress is the most notable name this offseason to leave for the European League. You can’t help but feel for the Hawks, losing one of their top players and getting nothing in return.
Meanwhile, the World Champions retained the services of guards Tony Allen and Eddie House, who re-signed with the Celtics. Both were key reserves last season. Terms of their deals were not disclosed.
Former Celtic James Posey on Wednesday finalized his deal with the Hornets. The nine-year pro signs with his fifth team. He won championships with Miami in 2006 and Boston in 2008.
The Spurs added forward Anthony Tolliver to the fold. The 6-8, 240-pound Tolliver played on the Spurs' summer league teams in Las Vegas and at the Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City.
Sebastian Telfair re-signed with the Timberwolves, who inked the guard to a new three-year deal. The Wolves were impressed with Telfair’s play last season before he was sidelined with an ankle injury.
Elsewhere, the Jazz acquired point Brevin Knight via a trade with the Clippers who in return received guard Jason Hart.
Nets, Warriors Make Trade
The Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets share much in common. They, more than any other two franchises this summer, are each seeking to revamp and revitalize their rosters for the start of next season.
So, it was only appropriate for the two clubs on Tuesday to make a deal with one another. The Nets, in fact, sent point guard Marcus Williams to the Warriors for a future conditional first round draft pick.
The trade makes sense for both teams.
Golden State, on one hand, needed a floor leader to help in the absence of Baron Davis, who signed as a free agent with the L.A. Clippers earlier this month. Williams, who averaged 5.9 points and 2.6 assists playing behind Jason Kidd and Devin Harris in 2007-08, showed in Jersey that he can make high-quality decisions. Assuming the Warriors re-sign Monta Ellis, who remains a restricted free agent, Williams will add more depth and diverse skills in the backcourt.
New Jersey, on the other hand, gives Harris, the marquee player it received in the Kidd deal back in February, full control of the team’s offense. Harris, moreover, demonstrated in his limited time with the Nets this past season that he can guide the franchise in the right direction.
Although both teams aren’t expected to contend for an NBA championship next season, the Nets and Warriors are constructing young, yet talented, squads for the future.
Nets, Suns, Celtics Make Moves
There have been a number of deals reported over the past few days, but nothing is official until we receive the press release. So with that being said, we're still waiting for emails from the Nets, Suns and Celtics.
Nets to Trade for Dooling
According to several reports, the Nets are close to finalizing a trade with the Magic for free agent Keyon Dooling. New Jersey is set to obtain the veteran point guard in exchange for cash considerations and the $3.3 million trade exception it acquired in the Jason Kidd deal.
The move likely means the Nets are ready to part ways with backup point guard Marcus Williams, who has been rumored to be packaged for a veteran. Meanwhile, ESPN.com reports that free agent forward Bostjan Nachbar, one of my favorite dunkers, is leaving New Jersey for a big contract in Russia.
Suns Set to Sign Matt Barnes
Matt Barnes could bring flashbacks of Shawn Marion to Phoenix after reaching a reported one-year deal with the Suns. The athletic forward averaged 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds last season with the Warriors.
Celtics Reach Agreements With Top Reserves
After watching James Posey leave Beantown for New Orleans, the Celtics wasted no time locking up reserves Eddie House and Tony Allen. Several news outlets report that both players have agreed to two-year deals.
Warriors Add More Depth to Interior
He is recognized as one of the most spirited players in the NBA. He is relentless and never surrenders to any opponent. Ronny Turiaf
is a warrior – literally and figuratively.
The Golden State Warriors officially announced the acquisition of Turiaf after the L.A. Lakers declined to match their four-year contract offer from a week ago.
Turiaf, who is coming off the best season of his career averaging 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Western Conference champion Lakers in 2007-08, adds much-needed size and energy to Golden State’s bench.
With skillful, yet young players, like Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph still developing, the Frenchman will likely see extended minutes.
After losing Baron Davis, Patrick O'Bryant and Mickael Pietrus to free agency, the Warriors have made out quite well thus far this offseason. They, in fact, signed Corey Maggette, added Turiaf and are expected to re-sign restricted free agents Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. The Clippers signed Kelenna Azubuike to an offer sheet, but the Warriors can match if they want to.
Clippers Offer Contract to Former D-League Star
The Clippers continued reshaping their roster by signing restricted free agent Kelenna Azubuike
of the Warriors to an offer sheet
on Thursday. Under the rules of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, Golden State has seven days to match the offer.
After acquiring Marcus Camby in a trade with Denver in response to losing Elton Brand to free agency, the Clippers had enough cap space available to offer the 6-foot-5 swingman a reported three-year deal.
If the Warriors decide not to match, Azubuike will reunite with Baron Davis - who signed with L.A. last week - and provide the Clippers with much-needed offense after Corey Maggette bolted for Golden State.
Azubuike spent the last two seasons in Golden State after being called up from the Forth Worth Flyers of the D-League in January 2007. He averaged 8.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 122 games with the Warriors.
Sources: Hornets Add Experienced Vet
Several news outlets are reporting that the Hornets, who finished as the second seed in the West last season, are set to sign two-time NBA champion James Posey
to a multi-year contract.
Posey, an unrestricted free agent, decided to leave Boston despite helping the Celtics to a championship last season. The Boston Herald reported Wednesday that Posey and the Celtics were one year apart on contract negotiations.
Posey is the perfect addition for a franchise contending for a championship. He can shoot the trey, play solid defense and crash the boards, but the main thing he brings to New Orleans is experience. Despite averaging just 9.2 points in his career, the nine-year swingman has won more championships than the entire Hornets roster combined. The only other Hornet with a ring is Melvin Ely, who was a member of the 2006-07 champion Spurs but didn't play in the Finals.
Posey will likely start at shooting guard alongside Chris Paul, David West, Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler.
Clippers Land Camby From Nuggets
He may not have Elton Brand
’s first-rate low-post footwork or silky turnaround jumper, but Marcus Camby
’s supreme defense and shot blocking will certainly bring smiles to Los Angeles.
To help fill the void of Brand, who signed with the Philadelphia 76ers last week, the Clippers acquired Camby from the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. In return, Denver will have the option to exchange second round picks with the Clippers in 2010.
The 12-year veteran, who has led the league in blocks the past three seasons, averaged 9.1 points, 13.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocks in 2007-08.
L.A. also inked draft picks DeAndre Jordan and Mike Taylor on Tuesday as it continues to revamp its roster.
Expect the interior trio of Camby, Chris Kaman and Jordan, furthermore, to be a very formidable front line this upcoming season.
Denver's strategy, on the other hand, is to clear salary room in hopes of landing a marquee player down the road. As a result of the trade, the Nuggets receive a $10 million trade exception, which can be used until one year from the completion of the trade.
Wizards Lock Down Arenas for Six Years
proved he's a man of his word.
After watching Antawn Jamison re-sign in late June, Arenas reached a contract agreement with the Wizards on July 3 and made it official on Sunday by signing a six-year deal for less than the league max.
Arenas, who opted out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent, said he would only return to Washington if Jamison was brought back. He had also stated that he would take a lesser amount of money if it would help the team sign other players in hopes of contending for an NBA championship.
Because Arenas didn't accept a max offer, Washington can sign another significant free agent this offseason or make a trade without going over the league's luxury tax limit. The Wizards, who signed restricted free agent Dee Brown to an offer sheet last week, have 13 players under contract.
"I think with the players we have on this roster, we can compete with anyone in the NBA," said Arenas, who is averaging 25.6 points, 5.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 302 games with the Wizards. "And I look forward to returning to the court next season on a mission to deliver a championship banner."
A knee injury sidelined Arenas for 66 games last season after he returned too early from April knee surgery and underwent a second procedure in November. Arenas made a late-season return, but shut himself down during the Wizards' first-round series against the Cavaliers.
Spurs Get Younger, Nets Get Older
Less than 24 hours after Brent Barry
left the San Antonio Spurs to become the third member of his family to join the Houston Rockets
, the Spurs filled his reserve guard slot with Roger Mason
Mason spent the last two seasons with the Washington Wizards and may have benefited more than anyone from the injury absence of Gilbert Arenas. He had career highs in virtually every category, averaging 9.1 points and 1.7 assists while shooting 44 percent overall and nearly 40 percent from the arc.
When the season starts, Mason will be 28 - or eight years younger than Barry, a strong consideration when you consider that the Spurs looked a little long in the tooth last season. His ability to spot up should fit right in with San Antonio, and at 6-5 and 212 pounds has the size to defend big shooting guards.
When it comes to finding diamonds in the rough among NBA free agents, the Spurs occasionally hit the jackpot but also have collected their fair share of coal. San Antonio will be the fourth team in six seasons for Mason, who appears to be coming into his own.
While the Spurs needed to get younger, the New Jersey Nets needed to get older and did so with the free agent signings of forwards Eduardo Najera and Jarvis Hayes.
The Nets had 10 players on their roster 25 or younger and needed an increased veteran presence. They should get that from both Najera, 32, and Hayes, 27, a pair of forwards who have been around the NBA block a time or two.
This is the fourth stop for Najera, who last season added a 3-pointer to his hard-nosed style of play. It should take about one practice for him to illustrate to New Jersey's young big men how hard you have to play in this league.
This is the third stop for Hayes, who missed 101 games in his first three seasons but just one in his last two. His lone season in Detroit was marked by career lows in minutes and points, but that should change in New Jersey.
Clippers Turn to Baron Davis
A day after Elton Brand
showed no love for L.A. by leaving for Philadelphia, the Clippers quickly inked Baron Davis
to a multi-year contract.
Davis, a two-time All-Star, was one of the top free agents on the market after averaging 21.8 points, 7.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals while playing in all 82 games for the Golden State Warriors during the 2007-08 season.
Davis fills a huge hole at the point guard position for the Clippers, who have renounced their rights to point guards Shaun Livingston, Smush Parker and Dan Dickau. Los Angeles hasn't had a consistent starting point guard since Sam Cassell started 75 games during the 2005-06 season.
The Clippers are rumored to be interested in free agent forwards Josh Smith and Emeka Okafor.
Meanwhile, Golden State, which lost free agent Mickael Pietrus to the Magic, picked up unrestricted free agent Corey Maggette. Maggette led the Clippers in scoring last season with 22.1 points per game.
Maggette will be introduced Friday afternoon, while Davis will meet the Los Angeles media during a press conference tonight 6 p.m. ET.
Brand New Name in Philly
Philadelphia jumped right into the deep end of the free agent pool as the Sixers officially announced the signing
of former All-Star forward Elton Brand
The five-year deal with Philadelphia is worth a reported $82 million.
Brand, a nine-year veteran, comes over from the Los Angeles Clippers. The 29-year-old helped the Clippers end their eight-year playoff drought in 2005-06, as he averaged a career-high 24.7 points per game, while earning All-NBA Second Team honors.
Brand, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal, are the only active players to have career averages of 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds.
Brand, who missed all but the final eight games of the 2007-08 season with an Achilles injury, makes a nice addition to a Philadelphia team that qualified for the playoffs this past season.
Brand will make a formidable Sixers frontcourt even tougher for opponents to defend. His addition makes Philly a contender in the Eastern Conference, provided it can retain the services of restricted free agent Andre Iguodala.
Brand appears hungry to play for a winner, reportedly turning down more money to play for the Warriors. Philly fans have to love that.
The Offseason Has Officially Begun
The NBA announced the salary cap for the 2008-09 season early Wednesday, ending the “moratorium period” and allowing teams to officially begin signing free agents. But while we wait for big names such as Elton Brand
and Baron Davis
to sign on with a team, it was trades that made the early headlines on the biggest free agency day of the year.
Several reported deals became official in the early afternoon, including two involving the Pacers, who have acquired seven players today. Indiana dealt Jermaine O'Neal and the rights to Nathan Jawai to Toronto in exchange for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the rights to Roy Hibbert. The Pacers also obtained Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts, the rights to Brandon Rush and cash considerations from the Blazers in exchange for Ike Diogu and the rights to Jerryd Bayless.
In a move to possibly open up cap space for a major free agent, Philadelphia moved Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth, a first-round pick and cash considerations to Minnesota for a future conditional second-round draft pick.
The Sixers will hold a press conference at 5 p.m. ET and I'm sure they'll look like a Brand new team after their announcement.
The only free agents to sign today so far are Chris Duhon, who left the Bulls for the Knicks, and James Jones, who joined the Heat after spending one season with the Blazers.
Report: Brand, Maggette to Leave L.A.
Move over Rocky, Philadelphia has a new championship contender in town.
According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Sixers reached a verbal agreement on Tuesday night with sought after free-agent forward Elton Brand.
Philadelphia created enough salary cap room to afford the two-time All-Star earlier in the day, when it sent Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth and a future first-round pick to the Timberwolves for a future second-round selection.
After reaching the postseason for the first time since 2005 this past season, the addition of Brand could place the Sixers among the top title contenders in the Eastern Conference. With a front-court of Brand, Samuel Dalembert and Thaddeus Young, the Sixers not only have a formidable defensive presence, but an explosive offensive attack to hopefully go along with restricted free-agent Andre Iguodala.
But Brand wasn’t the only former Clipper to find a new home on Tuesday. After entertaining reported offers from the Spurs and Celtics, Corey Maggette decided to remain in California and agree to terms with the Golden State Warriors.
Maggette is expected to fill some of the offensive void left by Baron Davis, who recently came to a verbal agreement with the Clippers.
Report: Magic to Land Pietrus
The Orlando Magic believe they are extremely close to becoming a perennial championship contender and, perhaps, a Finals favorite for years to come.
They possess the league’s most lethal and dominant center (Dwight Howard); they have the game’s most improved player (Hedo Turkoglu) and they own one of the most resourceful and consistent forwards in the NBA (Rashard Lewis).
It’s only fitting that Orlando continues to build around its main core with high-energy role players.
The Magic, in fact, have reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with unrestricted free agent Mickael Pietrus, a serviceable reserve for the Warriors the past five seasons.
The Frenchman, moreover, will add much-needed depth to the Magic’s backcourt. Keyon Dooling, Maurice Evans and Carlos Arroyo are all free agents and Courtney Lee, who has flourished early on in the Orlando Pro Summer League after being selected 22nd overall in the 2008 Draft, will need time to develop his skills in the NBA.
Keep an eye on Orlando this upcoming season because it may quickly assert itself as the most equipped squad in the Eastern Conference to make a Finals run.
Report: Philly Targeting Brand
When Hawks swingman Josh Smith
left Philadelphia last week without an offer
to come step into the Sixers starting lineup at the four spot, the normally demanding Philly fans didn't jump down 76ers general manager Ed Stefanski's throat immediately.
Why? Because Elton Brand was still on the table.
Sure, Smith is young, runs the floor extremely well and can jump out the building, but that description already applies to Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala, two cogs already in place at the Wachovia Center (assuming Iggy inks a new deal).
Smith gets a lot of boards and blocks at the power forward position, but the knock on him is that he can't score in the post and is better as a help-side defender than he is at getting one-on-one stops.
Brand offers everything Smith doesn't: Nine years of experience vs. four for Smith; matriculation at Duke with Coach K vs. the prep to pros route that Smith took; a robust 254-pound frame to pound it inside with vs. Smith's lanky, 235-pound body; a mature veteran vs. a 22-year old still learning the ropes.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that the Sixers are "actively involved" in the Brand sweepstakes and plan on trading Rodney Carney and Calvin Booth to clear up cap space to be able to sign the two-time All-Star.
Meanwhile, the Warriors wait, the Sixers are hedging their bets by looking into Nenad Krstic and Andris Biedrins and The Recliner GM is left wondering, Does Elton care about winning?
Report: Duhon to Join Knicks
It remains uncertain whether Stephon Marbury
will be an active member of the New York Knicks next season. We know he is entering the final year of his contract, but his health remains a concern for the franchise.
As a result, the Knicks reportedly verbally agreed to a two-year deal with Chris Duhon, a four-year pro who served as a primary backup for the Bulls.
Duhon, celebrated for his role at Duke during its triumphant run earlier this decade, will likely start alongside Jamal Crawford in New York’s backcourt. He averaged 5.8 points and 4.0 assists this past season.
Although he may not be the prolific point guard Knicks fans were hoping for, Duhon has proven to be a very reliable and consistent player during his time in Chicago.
Report: Arenas, Wizards Reach Deal
The Wizards organization believes their time to contend for an NBA championship is now and Gilbert Arenas
apparently thinks no differently.
The three-time All-Star, in fact, is reportedly willing to accept a contract offer that is less than the maximum. Arenas, moreover, does not want to jeopardize the franchise’s future.
As a result, Agent Zero will sign a six-year deal worth about $111 million, considerably less than the proposed $127 million he was initially offered.
Repeated knee problems have limited Arenas’ potential over the last two seasons, but he feels strongly his health will be 100 percent by the start of training camp.
Remember, when Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison were each completely healthy during the 2006-07 season, the Wizards had the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Report: Calderon, Udrih Staying Put
It’s a global market and two of the best international point guards are here to stay for a while.
The Raptors will reportedly retain Jose Calderon, while the Kings will allegedly hang on to Beno Udrih. Contracts, of course, can not be signed until July 9.
Calderon, who averaged 11.2 points and 8.3 assists this past season for Toronto, flourished as the team’s chief starting point guard when T.J. Ford was out with a neck injury.
If the proposed deal that would send six-time All-Star Jermaine O’Neal to the Raptors gets completed, Toronto will be a very formidable club in the Eastern Conference.
Udrih, meanwhile, thrived as Sacramento’s starting point guard when Mike Bibby was traded to Atlanta in a blockbuster midseason deal. The Slovenian averaged 12.8 points and 4.3 assists in 2007-08.
Report: Davis, Clippers Agree to Deal
“BINGO FOR BARON!”
“OH ME, OH MY!”
You may start hearing these Lawler-isms in your sleep over the next several days as Baron Davis, an unrestricted free agent after opting out of the final year of his contract with the Warriors, verbally agreed to a five-year deal with the Clippers on Tuesday, according to ESPN.
Davis, a two-time All-Star who averaged 21.8 points and 7.6 assists this past season with Golden State, may potentially join a star-studded lineup in his hometown of Los Angeles if the Clippers manage to re-sign their current free agents.
On Monday, both Elton Brand and Corey Maggette selected to exit out of their existing contracts and become unrestricted free agents. Brand immediately stated he would like to remain with the club, however.
After missing the postseason the last two years, the Clippers could quickly join some of the other elite teams in the Western Conference as championship contenders.
Report: Davis, Brand, Maggette Opt Out
The offseason just got more interesting.
Golden State’s Baron Davis and the Clippers’ Elton Brand and Corey Maggette all decided to test open waters after deciding to opt out of their respective contracts Monday night.
After averaging 21.8 points per game for the Warriors last season – the second highest total of his career – Davis elected to become a free agent, turning down the final year of a six-year deal.
Brand, who was instrumental in Los Angeles’ postseason run during its 2005-06 campaign, missed the majority of last season with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. However, the two-time All-Star forward returned for the final eight games of the season and managed to notch 17.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Maggette picked up the slack in Brand’s absence and enjoyed one of the best seasons of his nine-year career. His totals of 22.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest well exceeded his career averages of 16.1 and 5.1.
But after opting out of their deals, there is a fair chance that both stars could have played their final games with Los Angeles.
While Davis, Brand and Maggette are now free to negotiate with other organizations, they could all still return to their respective franchises as free agents or work out a sign-and-trade in order to find a new destination.
The Clippers have already publicly stated that they will actively pursue re-signing both Maggette and Brand.
Wizards Sign Jamison to Extension
said all along he was happy in the nation’s capital and it appears that hasn’t changed.
The Wizards wasted little time assuring the return of the 2008 All-Star forward, who signed a four-year contract extension on Monday with the franchise he has played for since 2004.
Jamison, who would have become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday had he not agreed to the new deal, has been one of the more durable competitors for the Wizards the last two years.
He helped lead Washington to its fourth consecutive playoff berth this past season while averaging 21.4 points and 10.2 rebounds in 79 regular season games.
The Wizards will now turn their attention to their other megastar, Gilbert Arenas. Agent Zero, who missed 69 games this past season due to a knee injury, said earlier in the year that he would prefer to remain in D.C. if the team re-signed Jamison.
So far, so good for the Wizards.
are over and the Draft
is done. We can now close the book on the 2007-08 NBA season.
And while a few teams made picks and/or trades that could have an immediate impact on their team on Thursday, more significant work can start to get done in the next 24 hours.
Starting at midnight tonight, teams can begin negotiating with free agents, but deals can't be signed until July 9, when the moratorium period concludes. Still, expect news of agreements being made as early as Tuesday morning.
Check the right side of this page for the full list of free agents and options for each team. Then stay tuned to the Court Reporters for all of the latest news, rumors, speculation and witty banter.
Deadline Ends With 11-Player Blockbuster
Just when it appeared the 3 p.m. ET deadline was going to pass quietly, the Cavaliers, Bulls and Sonics agreed on an 11-player deal in the 11th hour.
Could there have been a better way to wrap up this busy trading season? Here's the breakdown:
The Cavaliers, who recently saw desired point guards Jason Kidd and Mike Bibby go elsewhere, acquired Chicago center Ben Wallace, Chicago forward Joe Smith , Seattle forward Wally Szczerbiak, Seattle point guard Delonte West and a 2009 second-round pick from the Bulls.
The Bulls, looking to shake up their roster after a very disappointing first half of the season, received Cavaliers forwards Drew Gooden and Cedric Simmons and Cavaliers guards Larry Hughes and Shannon Brown.
The Sonics, focusing on acquiring expiring contracts, obtained Cleveland forwards Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall along with Chicago forward Adrian Griffin.
Take a look at other last minute trades:
The Rockets acquired high-flyer Gerald Green, a Texas native, from the Timberwolves for Kirk Snyder, a 2010 second-round pick and cash considerations.
Detroit traded Primoz Brezec and cash to Toronto for Juan Dixon, who was also dealt at last season's deadline.
Denver sent Von Wafer to Portland for Taurean Green.
Where were the Nuggets today?
Each of the top nine contenders in the Western Conference except Denver - which was linked to names such as Sacramento's Ron Artest and Memphis' Mike Miller, among others - have made significant roster changes during the season. Check out a breakdown of moves made by West contenders:
New Orleans - Bonzi Wells and Mike James
Phoenix - Shaquille O'Neal
L.A. Lakers - Pau Gasol and Trevor Ariza
San Antonio - Damon Stoudamire and Kurt Thomas
Dallas - Jason Kidd
Utah - Kyle Korver
Houston - Bobby Jackson, Gerald Green
Golden State - Chris Webber
Rockets, Hornets and Grizzlies Complete Three-Way Trade
Southwest Division rivals pulled the trigger on a three-way deal just an hour before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
New Orleans acquired guard/forward Bonzi Wells, guard Mike James and cash considerations from Houston in exchange for guard Bobby Jackson, rookie guard Adam Haluska, forward Marcus Vinicius and a 2008 second round pick. As part of the three-team deal, Memphis will receive Vinicius, the rights to Malick Badiane and cash considerations in exchange for the rights to Sergei Lishouk.
The trade gives the Hornets depth to their roster, while the Rockets get a veteran backup point guard and make room financially for another possible deal.
Aldridge Blogging Away the Deadline Deals
David Aldridge is live-blogging today's deadline dealings. His latest? That Cleveland deal Brian Windhorst teased earlier might be a three-teamer with Shawn Marion somehow ending up on the Cavaliers ...
Spurs Answer Back, Acquire Kurt Thomas
With the acquisition of rugged forward Kurt Thomas by the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, the wheeling and dealing in the Western Conference has come full circle.
It was the Spurs who triggered a series of moves by championship contenders when they signed free agent guard Damon Stoudamire less than a month ago. After watching Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas acquire superstars, San Antonio has countered as well.
The Spurs sent veteran guard Brent Barry, reserve big Francisco Elson and a 2009 first-round pick to the SuperSonics for Thomas, who should help Tim Duncan and Fabricio Oberto defend the low post against Phoenix's Shaquille O'NealLos Angeles' Pau Gasol in a potential playoff matchup.
GM R.C. Buford and coach Gregg Popovich found a familiar willing business partner in Sonics GM Sam Presti, who was Buford's assistant until taking the Seattle job last summer.
No word whether Memphis GM Chris Wallace believes the deal is "beyond comprehension."
Thomas should fit right in with the Spurs, given his seasoning and postseason experience. The 13-year veteran was a member of the 1999 Knicks squad that reached the Finals, losing to the Spurs.
I Kidd You Not. Nets, Mavs Reach a Deal
Nothing could keep the Mavericks and Nets from completing the NBA's fourth blockbuster trade in February.
After a week of rumors and speculation, a trade veto and bringing a player out of retirement, the Mavericks and Nets reached a deal Tuesday that sends Jason Kidd back to the city where his Hall of Fame career began.
Dallas acquired Kidd, Antoine Wright and Malik Allen from New Jersey in exchange for Devin Harris, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, DeSagana Diop, Keith Van Horn and first-round draft picks in 2008 and 2010.
It appeared a deal between the two teams was finalized last week, but Mavericks forward Devean George exercised his right to veto the trade, forcing the two teams to go back to the drawing board. Van Horn, who hasn't played since the 2006 NBA Finals, was then brought into the picture and agreed to a sign-and-trade with Dallas to help make the deal go down financially. To make room to sign Van Horn, the Mavericks waived rookie Nick Fazekas.
The 35-year-old Kidd, who began his career in Dallas in 1996, had been with the Nets since 2001. He represented the East in Sunday's All-Star Game.
"He's a once in a lifetime type of guy to play with and coach," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said of Kidd. "He's had an unbelievable impact on everyone in this organization and we wish him nothing but the best."
Kidd is expected to be in the Mavericks' lineup tomorrow night when they visit the Hornets.
The Court Reporters: The End of an Era | Misery ... and Its Benefits
Living the Fantasy: Point Guard Shuffle
Related video: Mavericks introduce Kidd | Rod Thorn talks to the media
A New Hawk Flying in Atlanta
After a storybook career in Sacramento, Mike Bibby is now flying East.
In a blockbuster trade on Saturday, the Kings sent Bibby, who spent six-plus seasons in Sac-Town and played in 51 playoff games, to the Hawks for Anthony Johnson, Tyronn Lue, Lorenzen Wright, Shelden Williams and a 2008 second round draft pick.
The deal ends much uncertainty for Bibby, who missed the first 36 games of the season while recovering from a torn ligament in his left thumb. Atlanta, which features rising sensations Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford, is battling for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Likely to be under the salary cap at season’s end, Sacramento’s next decision is whether to trade or keep Ron Artest. Published reports have suggested that the Nuggets are very interested in acquiring the veteran forward.
Center of the Universe
What a day. A mere 24 hours after head-scratching rumors ("Shaq to Phoenix for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks? Really?), the talk became the walk. At 6:30 p.m. ET, it was official. The Phoenix Suns acquired Shaquille O'Neal in exchange for Marion and Banks.
Think Suns.com isn't excited? Check out their Shaq splash page.
If you want more coverage, videos and photos, NBA.com's The Diesel Heads West page. Also, below, get a look at the BLINKS from around the Web circa Wednesday morning.
TrueHoop has a nice early roundup. J.E. Skeets follows with a look at the the blogosphere. Here's a few other reactions:
Jerry Brown alerts that the Suns have postponed their shootaround, believing the deal is imminent.
Paul Coro on the NBA: Where OMG, Shaq's a Sun Happens.
Ira Winderman writes that Pat Riley has made more money disappear than Enron.
Adrian Wojnarowski thinks the Suns will regret it.
Jack McCallum writes that this is about more than what happens on the court.
Kahn Games believes the deal made more sense for Phoenix than other teams.
Dime thinks Shaq can keep up with the run-n-gun Suns.
The often uplifting Hardwood Paroxym is not taking this well at all.
Brian Schmitz thinks Grant Hill lobbied brass in favor of the deal.
Sekou Smith sees yet another example of the rich continuing to get richer.
Doug Smith wonders if Mike D'Antoni will drink poison.
The FanHouse gets chatty.
Lang Whitaker looks back at an interview from last year with the Big Fella.
SI.com recaps other major in-season trades.
From Graceland to La-La Land
A mere one day after launching Player Movement 2008 on NBA.com, we get two GMs antsier than preschoolers on a sugar high. Was it incredible prescience or a fortunate coincidence that this page could be updated so soon with one of the bigger mid-season trades in recent memory? We tip our hats to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace.
Regardless of our astuteness or good luck, the Lakers and Grizzlies have tipped off the trade season in high style as the Lakers have acquired Pau Gasol and a 2010 second-round pick for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the draft rights to Pau's brother, Marc, and first round picks in 2008 and 2010.
With their acquisition of Gasol, the Lakers get a player who's a low-post threat and can hold down the fort in the paint until wunderkind Andrew Bynum can return to the lineup. When Bynum does return, the Lakers could have a frontline of Bynum at center, Pau at the four and Lamar Odom, who's 6-10, at the "small" forward. Yipes. Add The Best in the World at shooting guard and Derek Fisher running the point, double yipes.
Plus, Lakers coach Phil Jackson can go back to his '90s Bulls rotation, where he'd let Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc run the show late in the third and early in the fourth and bring MJ back in 'round the nine-minute mark and have The Best Ever finish off a foe. I can see Odom and Gasol playing the Pippen and Kukoc roles (or Kukoc and Pippen if you prefer) with Kobe coming in and finishing off opponents.
Good times to be a Lakers fan. The blog Forum Blue and Gold can barely contain themselves. Meanwhile, Grizzlies fan blog 3 Shade of Blue have been thinking Gasol trade scenarios for a while now. Results are mixed as to how they feel about it actually going down like it did.
In the meantime, cue your Kenny Rogers mixtape and go through the years with this Gasol photo gallery.
Finally, will this now jolt other teams in the Western Conference to action? Many trades (Jason Kidd, see below or Ron Artest to Denver) have been rumored and speculated.
Of course, that's part of the fun.
In other news... The San Antonio Spurs inked free-agent guard Damon Stoudamire on Sunday, Feb. 3. Stoudamire, now in his 13th NBA season, was waived by the Grizzlies on Jan. 28.
Preparing for the Stretch Run
With the trading deadline exactly three weeks away, speculation about where All-Star Jason Kidd will go is rampant. But while Kidd would be an upgrade at the point for almost any team in the league, a couple of teams are improving their backcourt without having to make a trade.
The Bobcats have come to terms with Earl Boykins today, while the Spurs are expected to sign recently-waived Damon Stoudamire.
On Tuesday, the Warriors brought back Chris Webber, who could suit up on Friday in Charlotte.
If you're the type who is looking forward to next year already, check out the list of free agents, as well as player and team options on the right to see who your squad could be losing (or adding) this summer.