The NY Post reports that Stephon Marbury had a new tattoo inscribed on his left temple. The "3" logo found on his Starbury sneaker and apparel line is now a permanent part of his bald head. His future with the Knicks is still up in air. Marbury desperately wants to stay with the Knicks and has done everything he can to ingratiate himself with his new coach including showing up at the Vegas summer league and joining the team for practice. If waived, Marbury has told confidants that the Celtics are on his radar because of his ties with Kevin Garnett and Boston's need of point-guard depth. Paul Pierce was quoted recently saying that the Knicks should cut Marbury so he could go to a veteran team where he would fit much better. Like the Celtics maybe?
Ron Artest has decided to change his name. The SacBee has this to report:
The latest from the Ron-Ron show: he's decided to change his name. OK, so technically he wants to go by his middle name of William. The thinking? Since Ron Artest is back to getting so much negative media coverage, maybe going by Bill - as he requested to be called - could give him a fresh start.
Ok, so the NBA won't have Ron Artest to kick around any more. But, I don't expect Bill Artest to behave any better than Ron did.
The Nets have signed 32 year old Eduardo Najera to a 4 year, $12 million contract. His contract is front loaded so that in 2010 when the Nets want to have the room to go after LeBron it will be down to 2.6 million. The NY Post has a funny tidbit on the Nets and Najera:
Quick aside on Najera: in annual anonymous poll conducted throughout league, Nets voted him among the league's dirtiest players (one guy, no longer with team, voted for Najera EVERY year). Bruce Bowen, Danny Fortson were other annual staples.
Several of the Celtics will be in Boston on Monday for the preview of the new DVD on their championship season. Rondo, Pierce, Perk, Powe, House and Posey will all be promoting it individually around town on Monday and Tuesday also. You can click here for a schedule of where they will be. The majority of the Celtics will be back in LA this week for the taping of the ESPYs. KG, Doc and the Celtics team are all up for awards. The only Celtics not expected to be there are Tony Allen and Scot Pollard. Life is busy for the World Champions.
The Clippers search for a replacement for the recently departed Elton Brand continues. ESPN reports that the most likely scenario is signing one of the top restricted free agents to an offer sheet. According to NBA front-office sources, the Clippers have expanded their list of restricted candidates beyond Josh Smith and Emeka Okafor who they targeted at first to Chicago's Luol Deng and Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala. This could drag out because with every offer they make, they will have to wait up to 7 days for the team to match it before moving on to the next. They could get lucky and nab the first one they go after. It is thought that the Hawks won't match an offer for Smith if it is large enough.
ESPN reports that there is little chance of the Lakers matching the offer sheet that Ronny Turiaf received from Golden State. Word is that they will pursue the trade with the Kings that could bring Kenny Thomas and Bill Artest (see above) to the Lakers in return for LaMar Odom. From ESPN:
The Lakers' interest, by all accounts, remains hot after their toughness and defense were repeatedly punked in a six-game NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics. Word is L.A. believes that any fears about Artest's reliability can be assuaged by the fact that Phil Jackson would be coaching him and that Kobe Bryant would be his teammate. Kobe and Ron-Ron share a mutual respect that suggests no threat to the Lakers' pecking order. Insists one source close to the process: "[Lakers owner] Jerry Buss actually likes Ron Artest's game and his personality."
With several other free agents already off the market, James Posey is the most coveted right now. It seems that the major suitors are Boston and New Orleans as reports are that the Cavs are out of the running, even though Posey is a Cleveland native. Washington is also in the mix, but they would have to shed some salary to make an offer. It seems that the first team to offer him that 4th year at the mid level will win the race.
The Miami Heat have said that they would like to keep Shawn Marion but so far, their offers haven't come close to what Marion is looking for. In the meantime, he is garnering a lot of interest from other teams including the Clippers and Warriors.
It seems like only yesterday when a young Gerald Green fresh out of high school did this on the Celtics' Summer League team:
I remember being in the CelticsBlog chat room during the draft and everyone was so excited when Green was still there at 18. Most had expected him to go in the lottery, but his agent had kept him from working out against other players and many felt that was why he slipped to number 18. Whatever the reason, Celtics fans were thrilled to get him. But then, all that potential never translated to NBA play. He showed flashes, but never any consistency and couldn't seem to put it all together. But we did get bright spots like this dunk against the Raptors. I still remember all the Raptor fans talking about them getting even with Gerald for hot dogging at the end of a Celtics win.
The Raptors were so upset about that dunk and to make matters worse, about a week later they played the Raptors again on the road and Gerald finished the game out this way:
I still feel that he has a chance to be something special. All that athleticism would make him a formidable player if he could just learn to play defense and get his head on right when he is playing. I liked Gerald and hope he does well. Now he is with Dallas and playing for their summer league team. He started out there as he did with the Celtics: with the play of the day. He started this one with defense and a steal to set up the dunk. Maybe that is a good sign for him. Although, the box score shows that he still struggles with the game even while making the occasional highlight dunk. He had 12 points on 4-11 shooting with 1 rebound, 1 steal and 6 fouls. Even through he is not a Celtic, I still root for him because he started as a Celtic. When he won the slam dunk contest, Celtics fans desperately needed something to cheer for and He gave us that with the dunk championship. I am pulling for him. I hope he does well. Here is Gerald's play of the day from the Summer League on 7/11:
The Herald reports that the MRI on Paul Pierce's knee shows no serious damage that would require surgery or hinder him into next season. Danny Ainge described the injury as a sprained MCL and a bone bruise. There were many Laker fans at the time who doubted he was injured at all, but Celtics fans know Pierce's high tolerance for pain and appreciate his play on a knee that may have kept most players on the bench. It is good news that the knee is fine and there will be no lasting effects from playing on it.
The Wolves signed first round pick, Kevin Love, to a 2 year contract with a team option for a third and fourth year. He will play on the team's Summer League team in Vegas. Craig Smith won't be playing as he is a restricted free agent and has not signed a new contract.
The NY Post reports that the Nets have signed Jarvis Hayes to a two-year deal (the first year guaranteed) for $3.9 million and Eduardo Najera for four years and about $12 million. The addition of the two forwards give the Nets 15 players and pretty much eliminates the possibility of Bostjan Nachbar returning. Nenad Krstic is likely going to be a piece in a sign and trade.
The LA Daily News reports that the Lakers have shows interest in the Raptors' free agent Jorge Garbajosa. Garbajosa could serve as a backup to fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol, who will shift from center to power forward next season with the return of center Andrew Bynum. Gasol is very familiar with Garbajosa as they both played on Spain’s national team that won the silver medal at the 2007 European championships.
Newsday reports that the Cavs are shopping Wally Szczerbiak. The Nets reportedly declined a trade that would have sent Vince Carter and his hefty contract to Cleveland for Wally and his expiring contract.
There is a report on SI.com that the Knicks have rejected a proposal from the Clippers to trade power forward Zach Randolph for cap relief according to league sources. The Knicks feel that Randolph is going to play well in their new coach's system and could bring them a lot more than just cap relief next season. Newsday adds that the Knicks want the Clippers to include Eric Gordon, the 7th pick in the draft, in any deal that would send Randolph to the Clippers.
MetroNews.ca reported that the Pistons are making a big push for Houston's Tracy McGrady. But, a Detroit News article denies that they are anywhere close to a deal for the Rockets' star saying that the Rockets are just one of several teams they have talked to about a trade. It is quite possible that the Pistons' long time starting unit may not return intact next season as the Pistons actively pursue trade possibilities rather than seek out free agents.
The Celtics have signed Golden State Warriors free agent Patrick O'Bryant to a contract. There were various reports on the contract, but it seems that it is a 2 year contract at the league minimum with the second year a team option. It may also be a contract that is guaranteed only if he is on the roster after a certain date. He has considerable potential although he hasn't shown much progress in his two seasons with Golden State.
O'Bryant is legitimately 7 feet tall. While O'Bryant doesn't appear particularly athletic at first glance, he is quite athletic for his size. He has a 7’5 wingspan and a 9’4 standing reach which is freakish even by NBA standards. But there are plenty of questions about him.
In spite of being picked 9th in the 2006 draft, he has't shown much progress. His coach, Don Nelson, had this to say about him:
"I told him if he goes down to the D-League and isn't a dominant player, there should be red flags all over the place, and he should be the first to notice. He's not only not dominating, he's not playing very well. He's a long-term project. I really liked him the first week of training camp, but I assumed there would be great progress. He hasn't gotten better one bit."
In his 2 seasons with the Warriors, he played in 40 games and averages 1.7 points, 1.3 rebounds and .4 blocks per game. He also spent some time in the D-League in both seasons. In '06-07 he played in 25 games for the Bakersfield Jam and averaged 12.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks in 29.5 minutes per game. In the '07-08 season, he played in 8 games for the Jam and averaged 16.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in 36 minutes per game. Those are encouraging statistics. Could it be that he just didn't fit in Don Nelson's system?
It seemed when he worked out for the Celtics that he wasn't all that impressive. Here is what the Globe had to say about his workout:
The 7-foot center showed decent range and solid footwork taking feeds in the post. But when he hit the low post against Wisconsin's Brian Butch and Detroit Mercy's Ryvon Covile, who had each been practicing since 9 in the morning, O'Bryant was tugging at his shorts not even 15 minutes into the drill, struggling to muster enough strength to defend either. Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss pointed out that O'Bryant arrived in Boston at 1 a.m., although he tired quickly against players who had been on the court all morning. O'Bryant took the court at approximately 11 a.m.
Maybe if he spends the rest of the summer working with the Celtics strength and conditioning coaches and with Clifford Ray, the Celtics may have something. There is a lot of potential there in the right system and with the right coaching and conditioning. This is the kind of low risk, high reward signing that could pay off big time and make Danny look like a genius this time next year, or he could go the way of some of the other off season players who are cut after training camp. Either way, not a bad signing.
Amazingly enough, in his 5.5 minutes per game, he showed enough to make a highlight reel for him.
The Celtics have signed Warriors free agent center Patrick O'Bryant to a two-year deal, according to NBA sources. The 7-foot-0, 260-pounder was the ninth overall pick out of Bradley in the 2006 NBA Draft by Golden State, but played sparingly in two seasons. The Celtics worked out O'Bryant, who is expected to backup center Kendrick Perkins, a week ago at their training facilty in Waltham.
So far in his career, O'Bryant has been an underachiever. I was really hoping to sign Chris Anderson and it would seem that with this signing, he is no longer in the mix.
There were conflicting reports about James Posey coming out on Thursday. Ric Bucher said that Posey was not returning to Boston. Then, on Hoopsworld, Bill Ingram said that James Posey is expected to announce that he'll re-sign with the Boston Celtics in the next 24 hours. Finally, in the Globe, Marc Spears reports that there is nothing new in regards to Posey's free agency situation. Who to believe? I like Ingram's take on it personally. There is an an article in the News Herald telling us that the Cavs are balking at offering more than 3 years on a contract. The Cavs regretted giving four-year deals to Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones and don't want to make the same mistake, but would have to go to 4 years to have a chance at landing Posey, a hometown favorite there. It was reported that the Celtics upped their offer to 4 years, but that was not confirmed by Danny Ainge.
There were a few signings that just made things official. The Cavs signed their first round draft pick, JJ Hickson who was the 19th pick in the draft. Baron Davis officially signed the contract with the Clippers. Newsday reported that the Knicks were Baron's first choice after he opted out of his contract. He checked with them to see there was interest before signing with the Clippers. There may have been interest, but with almost 94 million in payroll, even before adding Duhon, they definitely didn't have the cap space to give him. The Clippers renounced their rights to free agents Dan Dickau, Shaun Livingston, Boniface Ndong, Smush Parker and James Singleton. I wouldn't mind taking a chance on Shaun Livingston. We have taken a chance on several other players with bad knees. He would be worth a look anyway to see what he has after the injury. The Wizards signed Dee Brown to an offer sheet and the Jazz have 7 days to match it although several sources say that they won't match it.
The NBA will start next season without a few players. Darius Miles will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season, and he isn't even on a team right now. That takes talent. The NBA announced today that JamesOn Curry of the Chicago Bulls has been suspended for one game for pleading guilty to resisting or obstructing an officer and public urination. He will miss the first game of the '08-'09 season. The NBA also announced today that Brad Miller of the Sacramento Kings has been suspended for the first five games of the '08-09 season for violating the terms of the NBA Anti-Drug Program.
The Wolves completed their trade with the Sixers and in a report in the Herald (via the Star Tribune), McHale compares Rodney Carney's talents to free agent Kirk Snyder. the article then says that there are reports that Snyder will wind up signing with Boston. This may be a contingency plan if Posey goes elsewhere or it may be just idle rumor.
Brent Barry was traded by the Spurs last season only to be cut right away and go back to the Spurs while teams like the Celtics and Suns waited on his decision. He has now moved on from the Spurs and has signed a 2 year deal with the Rockets. He is the third member of his family to play for the Rockets. Brent's father, Rick, spent two seasons with the Rockets (1978-80) and his older brother, Jon, who is now an NBA broadcaster, played for the team from 2004-06. The NY Daily News reports that Paul Pierce is playing GM by advising the Knicks to dump Stephon Marbury in their rebuilding plans.
"He makes the biggest contract and he's one of the oldest players on the team," Pierce said yesterday while signing collectibles at Steiner Sports offices in New Rochelle. "That doesn't really fit into a rebuilding plan, just to be honest.
"I'd try to trade him or buy him out at this point," added Pierce, who still believes Marbury can be a starting point guard in the NBA. "I just think he needs a fresh start somewhere else. Marbury needs to be on a veteran team where he fits into what they're trying to do a little bit more."
Uh, I just hope that the veteran team where where he fits into what they are trying to do is not the Celtics. I have never seen Marbury as the ubuntu kind of guy. His entire career he has been a Starbury first kind of player. I do like his efforts to make affordable sneakers for kids, but on the court, he has struck me as a selfish player.
Speaking of Starbury's sneakers, the NY Post reports that in spite of Marbury's tenuous situation with the Knicks and his marketing partner, Steve & Barry's, filing for bankruptcy, his sneaker line will still go on. He just made a deal with Amazon.com to market the sneakers starting with the Christmas marketing season this year. The price is expected to to up from the current 14.98 price, but it doesn't say how much. You can find them now on sale at Steve and Barry's slashed to 8.98 on clearance.
With Ronny Turiaf signing an offer sheet with the Warriors, the Lakers have 7 days to either match the offer or decide to go after another free agent. They have been one of the teams interested in Posey, but as of yet, haven't offered the full MLE 5 year deal that Posey is looking for. Turiaf and Posey share the same agent who seems to be a thorn in the side of the Celtics this off season as he also represents their first round pick JR Giddens who has opted out of the minicamp because they couldn't agree on a contract. The San Francisco Chronicle believes that the Lakers will let Turiaf walk and double their efforts elsewhere (Posey perhaps?)
The Washington Times reports that Etan Thomas will scrimmage with the Wizards summer league team. Thomas missed missed all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a leaky aortic valve. Thomas received clearance to resume noncontact training in January, but his sternum didn't fully heal in time for him to resume contact drills and return to live action. Now fully cleared, he will scrimmage with the summer league squad. I wish Thomas the best of luck. Ronny Turiaf, discussed above also underwent open heart surgery and has come back to play very well afterwards.
The Toronto Sun reports that Carlos Delfino is on his way out in Toronto. The Raptors are expected to sign newcomers Roko Ukic and Nathan Jawai in the next few days, but veteran guard Carlos Delfino appears to be the odd man out. He is a restricted free agent, but the Raptors are not expected to match any offer he may receive from other clubs. The Spurs and Pistons are reportedly interested.
Philly.com is reporting that Elton Brand had made a verbal commitment to the Clippers to sign a 5 year contract before signing the contract with the Sixers. You can't fault a player for going to a better situation or more money, but, if they break a commitment in the process, it isn't right. Carlos Boozer still carries the stigma of doing the same thing to Cleveland. If it is true, Brand just became a branded man with many fans.
The Star Ledger reports that the Nets are looking at available veterans such as Denver's Marcus Camby and Chicago's Andres Nocioni via trade. They also met with free agent Eduardo Najera and are trying to sell him on a 2 year contract rather than the 3 year deal he is looking for so that they can still have the cap room to go after LeBron or another available star in 2010. Reports are that the Nets are also close to reaching an agreement with Jarvis Hayes.
There have been reports of the Celtics possibly considering Alonzo Mourning as a back up center. Word from the Sun Sentinel is that although Alonzo Mourning still hopes to return from last season's serious knee injury, the Heat center required an additional procedure recently amid his comeback bid. Three sources familiar with Mourning's rehabilitation confirmed the procedure but said the center still could be able to make it back to the court by midseason. After spending a month in a hard cast and another month in a brace, Mourning was told the injury would require at least six additional months of rehabilitation.
Get an inside look at the Los Angeles Lakers 2007-2008 NBA Champions regular season, triumphant playoff run and NBA Finals victory with this DVD from Warner Brothers®! It provides an all-access pass to exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes action and an unforgettable courtside view of the NBA Finals.
This is pretty funny. But, back in the real world, the Celtics 2008 Champions DVD will be coming out in stores on July 15. I have mine ordered already and can't wait to get it. The World Champion Celtics are all scheduled to be on hand on Monday night for a screening of the DVD before it is released on the 15th.
Let's go back a few years to when Al Jefferson struggled coming back from his ankle sprain and everyone was doubting his toughness. He said that he continued to have pain in the ankle, even though the team was saying that it was just a sprain. He played the end of the season in pain and with fans doubting his toughness. After the season, the Celtics issued the official statement that Jefferson had minor arthroscopic surgery for exploratory reasons on his right ankle simply to check it out and be sure there was nothing wrong.
Then, a couple of weeks later, Big Al said that they removed bone chips from the ankle. Now, that doesn't seem like minor arthroscopic surgery for exploratory reasons. Once the bone chips were removed, Al's play took a huge leap. The Celtics' definition of ``minor" differs slightly from those found in the dictionary. ``Minor" typically refers to something small in amount, extent, or size, lesser in seriousness or importance. For the Celtics, ``minor" apparently refers to something they don't want drawing a lot of attention or scrutiny.
Now fast forward to this summer. Perk injured his shoulder in game 4 of the NBA finals. This is the same shoulder that he injured 3 times previously and had surgery on a couple of summers ago. He came back to play in game 6 as the Celtics clinched the championship. Nothing more was said about it other than that Perk turned down playing for the USA select team because he might require surgery.
Then, on July 2, the Celtics announced that their second round pick, Bill Walker, and Perk had both undergone arthroscopic surgery. Walker had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair a small tear in his meniscus and Perk had surgery on his left shoulder to clean it out. Both procedures were described as "minor."
There was a very good article in the Plano Star Couriertoday about Perk speaking to kids at a summer basketball camp. In it, Perk says that they stuck three screws in the back of his shoulder to give it some support. Ok, inserting 3 screws in a shoulder doesn't sound any more minor than removing bone chips. Once again, the Celtics PR machine uses "minor" to refer to something they don't want drawing a lot of attention or scrutiny.
After they removed the bone chips, Big Al didn't have ankle problems any more. Hopefully this procedure will end Perk's shoulder problems, just as removing the bone chips ended Al's ankle woes. Time will tell. But, it kind of makes you want to think twice when the Celtics describe something as "minor".
There wasn't a lot of activity on the first day that free agents could officially sign, but there were a few signings and a bit of speculation going on around the league.
ESPN reports that Andrew Bogut came to an agreement with the Bucks and will sign a five-year, $72.5 million extension later this week. Big men are at a premium and when you think about it, the Celtics got a real bargain when they signed Perk for just over $4 million a year.
Elton Brand made it official on Wednesday when he signed with the Sixers to a five-year deal worth a reported $82 million. The Warriors has offered $90 million but he felt that the Sixers were a better fit. This immediately elevates the Sixers to contender status. First, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry was revived and it looks as though this season we could see the Celtics-Sixers rivalry revived. Who could forget the classic games between the Bird led Celtics and the Dr J led Sixers.
We could see some great battles between KG and Brand or Pierce and Iguodala. Now all we need is for the Knicks to get it together. The Clippers now turn to Josh Smith and Emeka Okafor. The LA Times reports that Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy had dinner with Smith and that they have also contacted Okafor.
The Pacers and Raptors completed the trade that sent center Rasho Nesterovic, point guard TJ Ford, forward Maceo Baston and the draft rights to center Roy Hibbert to the Pacers for O'Neal and the draft rights to forward Nathan Jawai. I think this is a good trade for both teams. Also Wednesday, the Raptors officially announced the re-signing of restricted free agent guard Jose Calderon. The Atlantic Division is going to have to be reckoned with this season. They definitely aren't the Titanic division any more. The Pacers also completed another trade That sent the draft rights to guard Jarryd Bayless and Ike Diogu to Portland for Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts and the draft rights to Brandon Rush along with some cash.
After sending Pau Gasol to the Lakers in one of the most lopsided trades in league history, the Grizzlies are at least trying to reclaim some small level of respectability by signing Pau's younger brother, Marc Gasol, to a contract on Wednesday so that they can at least say they got something from the trade.
I guess the Nets were having trouble getting fans to watch so they traded for Yi hoping to draw Chinese fans to the team. According to ESPN:
"We do have a tremendous Chinese-American market in the New York and New Jersey area," Ratner said. "If we have success on the court, we can tap into that market in a huge way." The acquisition of Yi, 20, has already drawn considerable attention from the Chinese community, both in the United States and China. Wednesday's news conference to introduce the players brought the largest turnout of Chinese print and broadcast media the team has seen in recent years.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that they are still in the mix for James Posey. They also report that Posey's agent, Mark Bartlestein, said that Powey is likely to sign a multi-year deal in a day or two. Teams vying for Posey's services include the Celtics, Lakers, Hornets, Wizards, Cavsm, Spurs and Rockets. Posey has said that he would like to return to Boston and reports are that Danny has offered him a 4 year MLE contract. But, Cleveland is is home stomping grounds and he would be playing along side LeBron. He lives in Texas in the off season and that may give the Spurs or Rockets a boost. But with the Spurs signing Roger Mason Jr to a 2 year, $7.5 million contract, that will probably take them out of the running. Also, if any team is offering 5 years at the MLE, that may be enough to get him to leave Boston. We should know in a day or two.
TrueHoop has an interesting article about Darius Miles and the 10 day suspension for violating the league's drug policy. It would appear that the suspension was for performance enhancing drugs and there may be some shenanigans going on with the release of the information about the suspension and the suspension itself. The Blazers have a lot to gain if Miles isn't signed by a team as if he plays in 10 games this season, they are on the hook for the remainder of his $27 million salary. Pretty interesting stuff.
The Kings re-signed Beno Udrih to a multi-year contract along with their second round picks Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing, Jr. The Heat signed their second round pick, Mario Chalmers. Teams are all signing second round picks now and the Celtics haven't even been able to sign their first round pick. But, that could have something to do with the fact that Marc Bartlestein represents Giddens, Posey, House and Pollard and the Celtics are waiting to see what happens with Posey before making any other moves.
The Mavs have re-signed Jose Juan Barea for 3 years at 1.5 million per year with 2 years guaranteed. They also re-signed DeSagana Diop. Diop is a nice young player and I wouldn't have minded seeing him in Celtics green. The Mavs were smart to get him re-signed early. The Nets have signed their second round pick, Chris Douglas-Robertsm, a player that many Celtics fans wanted their team to take with the 30th pick on draft night.
Another player the Celtics were looking at signing, Tyronn Lue, is close to signing with the Suns according to the Arizona Republic. Maybe the Suns have finally found their back up point guard. Marcus Banks clearly wasn't the answer as they had hoped when they traded the rights to Rajon Rondo to Boston. Think they'd like to take that trade back? Brent Barry is off the Sun's wish list but they are still in the market for a wing and Darius Miles and Devon Brown are possibilities. The Suns' medical staff examined forward Darius Miles on Wednesday.
The Wizards signed Utah Jazz restricted free agent point guard Dee Brown to an offer sheet for a two-year, partially guaranteed deal. Utah has one week to match the offer.
According to the SacBee, the Lakers already have contacted the Kings regarding Artest and are believed to be offering forward Lamar Odom. Sources say that the Kings may insist on forward Kenny Thomas and his $18 million of remaining salary (over two seasons) being included in that potential trade.
Today is the first day that free agents can sign contracts. Expect the dominoes to start falling as the top free agents make their choices and sign. Here's what is going on as of now.
NBA.com is reporting that Mickael Pietrus has agreed to a multi-year contract with the Magic. They felt that they had no chance at landing Maggette and went in another direction. Teams seem to be loading up on athletic wings, perhaps as a way to matchup with Boston.
Many teams are signing their first round picks including the Knicks (Gallinari), Memphis (Mayo and Arthur), Bobcats (Augustin and Ajinca), Bucks (Alexander), Kings (Thompson). Still no word on a contract with the Celtics first round pick JR Giddens.
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that Brand has informed the Sixers that he will accept a five-year deal worth an estimated $82 million and spurn what was presumed to be a slam-dunk return to the Los Angeles Clippers to hook up with Clipper-to-be Baron Davis.
This puts the Sixers at the top of the Eastern conference and with the continued exodus from the West to the East of stars, the balance of power could be tipping back toward the East.
So much for Maggette going for a ring over money. He agreed to a deal with the Warriors that will pay him $50 million over 5 years according to ESPN. So, now the dominoes start to fall. Brand to the Sixers, Maggette to the Warriors, Pietrus to the Magic. The Clippers are now way under the salary cap and reportedly ready to pursue the Hawks' Josh Smith and the Bobcats' Emeka Okafor. Both are restricted free agents and their respective teams would have the opportunity to match, but the Clippers can offer a contract that neither, particularly the Hawks with their ownership problems would be willing to match.
According to this morning's Herald, Danny has increased his offer to Posey. There are several different reports as to what the Celtics are offering. First report was $12 million over 3 years. Today's paper mentions a report that they have offered a 4th year at midlevel and also that there are reports that the Celtics aren't skimping on money but don'twan't to go the length that Posey wants. Danny still feels that they can get it done with Posey and Paul Pierce is now making a plea to Posey to stay and to Danny to do what it takes to bring him back. Hopefully they can get it done and Posey will remain a Celtic. I really don't want him going to one of our rivals. Reports are that Cavs, Hornets, and Lakers are all making offers. With Maggette off the market, the Spurs are now reportedly going after Posey as well.
Ronny Turiaf has signed a four-year, $17 million offer from the Golden State Warriors, according to two league sources. The Lakers had Turiaf and Vujacic as their priorities going into the offseason along with making a hard push for Posey. Since Turiaf is a restricted free agent, the Lakers have 7 days to match the offer or lose him to the Warriors. The Lakers currently have a payroll of $75,135,796 with just 10 players signed for the 2008-09 season. If they sign Vujacic and Turiaf, the Lakers' payroll could exceed $80 million. How this affects their desire for other free agents including Posey remains to be seen.
Miami has offered 3 point specialist James Jones a five-year offer starting at $4 million for next season. The final 3 years are conditional to protect the Heat going into the 2010 free agency period when many of the top players will be free agents, including the Heat's own Dwyane Wade.
As of Tuesday, the Pistons had made contact with six players: the Clippers' Corey Maggette, Warriors' Mickael Pietrus, Jazz's C.J. Miles, Trailblazers' James Jones, Celtics' James Posey and Raptors' Carlos Delfino although none are considered as good bets to sign with the Pistons. The Pistons are looking more to make a trade than to sign a free agent. They are interested in both Carmelo Anthony and Tracy McGrady among others and may break up their long time starting lineup to get a trade done. Reportedly, both Prince and Billups are on the block as they look for a trade.
ESPN is reporting that the league has set the salary cap at $58.68 million. The luxury tax threshold will be $71.15 million, and the value of the mid-level exception is set at $5.585 million.
The Celtics payroll is at $71 million right now with just 9 players under contract. Every player they sign now will cost them double because of the luxury tax. With Brand, Maggette and Pietrus agreeing to terms with teams, that leaves James Posey alone at the top of the desired free agent list. The Celtics need to increase their offer to him or he will likely go to one of their competitors and that may come back to haunt them in the playoffs.
With free agents able to sign contracts as of midnight tonight, things are starting to fall into place as some key free agents make their decisions.
ESPN is reporting that the Sixers have apparently won the sweepstakes for Elton Brand as he has agreed to accept a five-year deal worth an estimated $82 million to leave the Clippers for the East coast. This moves the Sixers to the top tier of contenders in the East.
With Brand deciding on Philly, the Warriors, who were also in the running for Brand, moved their attention to Corey Maggette and it is reported that Maggette has agreed to an offer from the Golden State Warriors, one of the few teams in the league who could offer him more then the MLE.
The Celtics had been pursuing Maggette along with the Pistons, Magic, Cavs, Spurs and others. With Maggette out of the picture, the Magic agreed to terms with the Warriors' Mickael Pietrus. This leaves James Posey as one of the top free agents yet to decide. The Celtics need to up their offer, or risk losing him and end up on the outside looking in with nothing to show.
There's no denying that one day Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen will no longer be Celtics. They will either retire or play for a different team. We can enjoy the success that these players have brought to Boston, but like the Cousy-Russell-Havlicek era of the 60's ~ 70's, and the Bird-McHale-Parish era of the 80's, this era of Celtics glory will pass too.
But if Ainge desires to bypass the years of gloom that follows the glorious heydays, he needs to bring in good players who will carry the torch left by the Big 3. Celtics fans are all too familiar with the pain and heartache of following disastrous Celtics teams--and no one in their right mind wants to endure more of that. Thus, Ainge needs to hit homeruns with the drafts/trades/free agencies and get us the type of players who will keep the winning tradition here in Boston alive.
Getting Garnett and Ray Allen cost us most of our future. But Ainge was able to hold onto some young talent who should be solid contributors for many years to come. Namely Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins. Both are starters for this championship team and both held their own against top competition--despite being 24 and 22 years old, respectively. Perkins is turning into a fine defensive player, while Rajon has the potential to be a top 7 PG in this league (once guys like Kidd, Nash, and Miller retire). Rondo will be more aggressive with his own offense in the future, and this will take his PG play to a higher level.
Outside of these two, Ainge has brought in other young players who will have the opportunity to make their impact felt--possibly as starters, but most likely as role players off the bench. Leon Powe shows the potential to be a fine low post scorer and steady rebounder as a reserve, and Big Baby has the body and power to battle other team's Hulks. Tony has starter potential, and his two-way game is a valuable asset. But like many other youngsters in the league before him, he may never reach the level of consistency to be a proficient player. And his time may run out after this season (last year of his contract). Its all or nothing for Tony this year.
Gabe Pruitt has a solid all around game as a backcourt player (either the 1 or 2). He has a combo guard;s game, and this will allow him to find a niche off the bench. His shooting is ahead of his PG skills, and Ainge and Rivers are hoping he develops this part of his game. In time, Pruitt has a good shot at being a regular in the rotation, albeit a solid, but unspectacular player.
Ainge did well to bring in 2 other wing players with solid basketball talent and amazing physical attributes. Bill Walker and JR Giddens are 2 young guys who will be groomed to be the heir apparent at SG in 3-4 years. Walker has a better shot based on talent and abilities, while Giddens is a wildcard because of his defensive abilities and internal motor.
Another young player Ainge is giving a shot to is Semih Erden. He's a 7 foot Turkish player who has length and mobility like Pau Gasol. Intriguing prospect who will come over to the NBA next year. Not much is known about him, but based on projectibility and natural physical gifts, he's a guy to keep an eye on. Ainge feels Erden is a first round talent in next year's draft.
Our young talent pool was not totally depleted by the trades that brought Garnett and Allen here. On the contrary, we still have a good handful of players who can provide supporting roles. To put it on paper, we have at least 2 starters in place (Perk and Rajon), one guy who could start in the very near future (Tony Allen), 2 young big men who have good roles off the bench (Powe and Baby), a future backcourt player who can fill in at the 1 and 2 (Pruitt), and 3 players whose potential ranges from bench warmers all the way to the starting lineup (Walker, Giddens, Erden).
What Ainge has to do now is get lucky with the draft and land a big time talent--like he did in '04 when Al Jefferson was our pick at 15. Big Al had many doubters, but has quieted them by cementing himself as one of the league's top young PF's. Many people did not think they'd see the day Jefferson would become a 20 and 10 guy--but Ainge proved his eye for talent when for the second year in a row, Jefferson did better than 20 and 10.
It isn't likely that Ainge can find a big time talent with late round draft picks, so he'll need to either find a way to get into the middle of the round or higher, or else trade for a big time talent.
To get a mid round draft pick, or higher, Ainge will most likely have to get it via a trade of one of our star players. This is a big possibility, as Ainge is not afraid to pull the trigger on an unpopular trade. Future franchise players are coming. BJ Mullens and Brandon Jennings could make a big splash in the NCAA's, and guys like Blake Griffin and Tyler Hansborough could solidify any team's starting rotation. Moving an aging star player for an incoming player with star potential sounds very much Ainge-like.
Or Ainge can attempt to pry a big time player through free agency--and one of the biggest years of free agency in history is approaching in a couple of years. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh head the draft of '03 (among other big named players) who will be eligible for free agency, and its debatable if these 3 will stay with their current teams. Its speculated that LeBron might be landing with the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets (headed by Jay-Z). Dwayne Wade may want to bolt Miami since the Heat are years away from competing. Toronto is a small market, and it may be time for Chris Bosh to spread his fame in a bigger market.
I can't pinpoint which player Ainge may have his cross hairs pointed at, but I'm sure he's looking to take a shot at, at least, one big time player who will reach free agency in a couple of years.
Ainge has made his mark as a genius general manager (technically he's the Head of Basketball Operations) in just his 5th year at the helm, but he's not going to end his legacy here. He's going to continue working his magic to bring more titles to Boston. Ainge has proven to be a guy who sticks to his "vision" and keeps one eye looking over the horizon. His moves may shock some and leave others disgusted and confused. Ainge may have had more haters in his early tenure as a GM than he ever had as a player for the Celtics, the Kings, and the Blazers. But don't second guess his moves until he's had a chance to mold the team according to his vision. The process may not be pretty, but the end product has been sweet, to say the least.
One of the favorite catch phrases among bloggers the past few years, when referring to Ainge's moves, was "expect the unexpected". I'm thinking the new phrase should be, "expect changes". Its likely that Ainge won't sit still, even after winning the championship.
Like last time, just buckle in and go along for the ride. Danny will make it worth your while.
We are hearing talks of Maggette being lured here. This could mean the end of Ray Allen's short stay in Green, or it could mean Posey is not coming back. Either way, Ainge is not going to stay put and let things pass him by. He's being proactive with his options. Yes he'd like to keep Posey around for another run at the title, but not at the price and the duration Posey is asking for. Losing Posey is big, and I'd hate to see Posey on the enemy's side. But that's the type of unpopular move Ainge is willing to make to keep his vision intact. Not only is he trying to bring in young talent and star players to Boston, but he's also trying his best to keep us out of the red financially.
As for future moves, I'm in favor of making an attempt at Josh Smith. He's the type of two-way player who causes havoc with his length, athleticism, and skills. He and Rudy Gay are at the top of my wish list of young SF's to go after. Rudy Gay may not be available, but word is that Josh Smith is being sought after by a number of teams. If he's available, now is the time to make a splash for the future.
Yi Jianlian is a guy Ainge likes, and I'm not sure he'll be in New Jersey's (Brooklyn's) long term plans. He's another SF who could cause havoc with his miss matching abilities.
Overall, there are a lot of young star level players who may become available at any given time, and Ainge is going to keep his eyes open for a big catch. He knows that time is limited with the group of players he has now, and is most likely already gearing for the future.
One thing with Ainge is you know his teams will never be old and stagnant. They may be young and inexperienced, but always with a bright future in sight.
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.