The League will announce the new salary cap numbers today and at midnight, free agents can begin signing with teams so tomorrow looks to be a busy day for free agent news, but for now, here is what is going on around the league.
Paul Pierce spoke to the media from his basketball camp just around the corner from TD Banknorth Garden. He had this to say about the knee that he injured in game 1 of the Finals.
Pierce said the knee is still sore, but is getting better, and noted that he's been treating his injury "like a sprain that normally takes three-four weeks."
"I've still got some soreness in it, so hopefully it's nothing major requiring surgery," Pierce said. "I plan on getting in there this week, getting the treatmentand the MRI and making sure I take care of my body. I doubt if I need any surgery. It's getting better and better. I'm gonna get the MRI just to take the extra precaution but I don't see any surgery in my future and I just plan on getting treatment until it's all the way healed."
Pierce also said that now that he has won the championship, he wants to do it again next season. He is planning to spend most of the summer in Boston to work out and prepare for next season.
The Herald also reports that Pierce is pushing for the Celtics to do whatever it takes to sign James Posey. He also plans to speak to Posey in hopes to get him to come back to Boston. Pierce also plans to toss in some sentimentality when he speaks with Posey.
“You know, I try to tell guys winning a championship with the Boston Celtics is not like winning a championship anywhere else,” he said. “I think down the road you forget about certain championship teams, but those Boston teams never get forgotten.” “When I talk to him, I’m going to let him know that - the significance of being a Boston Celtic even after basketball. Hopefully I can convince him to come back for whatever the offer we’re giving him. I don’t really know the offer that (director of basketball operations) Danny (Ainge) and them are talking about. I know it’s less than the mid-level and I know there’s teams out there probably trying to give him the mid-level.”
The Bulls are making Ben Gordon, who is a restricted free agent available and are looking for a sign and trade from someone for him. At first the thought was that Heinrich would be on the blocks with the arrival of Derrick Rose, but now it seems that Heinrich will play in the back court along with Rose. That makes Gordon the odd man out. I wonder if they need an energy guy who will be a good locker room guy and bring energy off the bench. If so, the Celtics have just the guy for them. Brian Scalabrine would be just the guy to keep their young guys in line.
If the Sixers get their way, they could be one of the most improved players in the league. They have $11 million available to sign a free agent and with the new cap figures, it may be even more. Expect them to make a very lucrative offer to Josh Smith. The Hawks GM has said that he will match any offers, but if the Sixers offer is high enough, the owners may override that and let him go. It would be a mistake for the Hawks if they do because they have the makings of a very good young team and letting Smith go would set them back considerably. The Sixers on the other hand will land someone good with all that money. Trading Iverson was a very good move on their part.
Yahoo is reporting that the Philadelphia 76ers have traded forwards Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth and a future No. 1 pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves to free as much as $2 million in additional salary cap space for the Sixers to offer Elton Brand or Josh Smith a deal that will bring one of the two coveted free to Philadelphia. Minnesota is sending Philadelphia its $2.8 million trade exception from the 2007 deal of Mark Blount to the Miami Heat.
Cleveland has been very active in free agent talks. They have been rumored to be in talks with Corey Maggette, Monta Ellis, and James Posey who grew up in Cleveland. The Cavs owner is willing to pay the luxury tax and they are trying to prove to LeBron that they mean business by trying to bring in players to help him so that he doesn't bolt the team in 2010 when he becomes a free agent. They are also trying to re-sign Delonte West and Daniel Gibson. They are rumored to be looking into a possible deal with the Bobcats for Raymond Felton as well.
Anthony Carter, the Nuggets free agent point guard has received calls from Orlando, New York and Golden State but has said that he will likely sign a deal with the Nuggets for the veteran's minimum. The Nuggets have eight players with guaranteed contracts totaling $78 million, which is already about $8 million over the projected luxury-tax threshold and will need to find free agents willing to sign for the league minimum to fill out the rest of their roster. The Celtics aren't far behind with 9 players under contract totaling $71 million.
The Boston Score has an interesting take on Danny inviting Darius Miles to camp. We all remember when Reggie Lewis died, the league refused to give the Celtics any cap relief from his salary. Fast forward a bit and the NBA ruled that Darius Miles had a career-ending knee injury, they wiped the $27.5 million left on his contract off the books. But, the Blazers will lose this relief if Miles plays in at least 10 games over the next 2 seasons. Could Danny be trying to get some measure of revenge from the league by way of the Blazers by trying to prove that Miles is indeed well enough to play in the NBA? Interesting conjecture. The Suns are also looking at Miles. The Celtics said that his workout was impressive but it remains to be seen whether his off court troubles are behind him. He will be suspended for the 1st 10 games of the season for violating the leagues drug policy. The Suns are also interested in signing Tyronn Lue who has been mentioned as a player that the Celtics have looked at as a back up point guard.
After reports that he was unhappy at being traded to the Bucks, Richard Jefferson broke his silence with a press conference yesterday. He said that he was unhappy because he felt betrayed by New Jersey and not because of the team that traded for him. He is excited about playing with Michael Redd and the chance to get back to the playoffs. He also said he doesn't expect New Jersey to be back in the playoffs for the next couple of years because of the moves they have made. The Record adds this little tidbit for one of the reason that Jefferson was traded (another being that they got a contract that expires in 2010 in return as they chase the LeBron sweepstakes):
Another reason, sources within the organization said, was that change was needed. They said Jefferson was jealous of Vince Carter and became so fixated on making the All-Star team that he focused more on the offensive end – he averaged a career-best 22.6 points last season - and didn't rebound or defend as hard as he did earlier in his career.
Regardless of the reasons, I think the Bucks just improved themselves considerably.
Exprss News reports that Kurt Thomas would like to return to the Spurs but has received interest from both the Lakers and the Heat. The Spurs' pursuit of Corey Maggette is on the front burner right now and after Maggette makes his choice, then the Spurs (and the other teams that are pursuing him (Pistons, Jazz, Celtics, Magic, Warriors to name a few) will be able to move on to other matters.
The Orange County Register reports that along with making a run at James Posey and trying to sign their own free agents Rony Turiaf and Sasha Vujacic, the Lakers are making a play to get Sun Yue, the 6'9" point guard they drafted last season but who opted to stay overseas. The last 6'9" point guard who played for the Lakers did pretty well and they are hoping this one will too.
Along with pursuing James Posey and Corey Maggette (isn't everyone?), MLive tells us that the Pistons are looking at a number of prospects on their Summer League team. One of the stronger free agent candidates on Detroit's summer league roster is point guard Will Bynum. Bynum signed with the Boston Celtics prior to the 2005-2006 season, but was waived shortly before the season opener. He will be remembered by Celtics fans because of the incident in Chicago that landed Tony Allen in legal trouble as they were celebrating Bynum's signing with the Celtics. If Bynum plays well this summer, he has a good chance of entering training camp as the team's No. 3 point guard behind Chauncey Billups and Rodney Stuckey. But then again, Detroit News mentions that the Warriors have been trying to unload Al Harrington (two years left worth about $20 million) and they need a point guard. The Pistons could offer Chauncey Billups, but they would want a lot more than Harrington back in return. Just a conjecture on their part, but an interesting one.
The Star Tribune reports that Ryan Gomes is going to wait until some of the dust settles on the free agent market and see what is available after players like Posey, Maggette, etc are signed before making a decision whether or not to take the Wolves' one year qualifying offer. If the Celtics lose out on Posey and Maggette, I wouldn't mind making Gomes an offer, but the Wolves can match any offer made so it would be a long shot to get him back.
Summer Leagues are in full force. It seems strange not to be watching the Celtics battle it out in Vegas at this time of the year. For so many years, the hopes of the future were pinned on what was going on with those summer league teams. It seems pretty foreign now remembering back to watching Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Leon Powe, Gerald Green and company and thinking that the future was bright, although far away. The Oklahoma City team got its start as a franchise with its summer offering wearing black mesh uniforms with white stripes along the sides and the words “Oklahoma City” across the front of the jersey and atop a simple NBA logo. It is sad in many ways that the Sonics are no more.