Tag:Pistons
Posted on: June 29, 2009 11:52 pm
 

Boozer's decision

A few months ago, Jazz forward Carlos Boozer was so convinced he would opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent that he proclaimed, "I'm opting out, no matter what. I'm going to get a raise regardless."

Things change.

Less than 18 hours before Tuesday's deadline for players with early termination clauses or player options to notify teams of their intentions, there has been no word from Boozer's camp on whether he will choose to hit the unrestricted free-agent market at midnight Wednesday. One sticking point could be the part about Boozer believing he would "get a raise regardless." Due to make $12.7 million next season in the final year of his deal, Boozer may be stuck in the wrong free-agent class.

He's a 2010 free agent trapped in a 2009 free agent's body.

Only a handful of teams have enough cap space to sign a max player, the Pistons being chief among them. According to sources, the Pistons are expected to reach out to Boozer, Hedo Turkoglu, and Ben Gordon when the negotiating period begins. Oklahoma City and Memphis also are flush with cap room, but neither team is expected to make a big splash this summer. So does Boozer want to walk away from $12.7 million based on one team making it worth his while?

An Eastern Conference executive said Monday night it's feasible that Boozer backtracks on his opt-out guarantee, picks up his player option for next season, and makes another run at free agency in 2010, when numerous teams will have money to spend.

"That wouldn't be the least bit surprising," the executive said.

Boozer's agent, Rob Pelinka, did not return a call seeking comment Monday. Pelinka has another, more famous client in the same position as Boozer: the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, who is widely expected to terminate his contract with the intention of re-upping with L.A. But Bryant's situation is more complicated -- isn't it always? -- because he can make the Lakers sweat while they try to re-sign free agents Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom and while Phil Jackson decides whether to return for the final year of his contract.
 

Posted on: June 29, 2009 6:18 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2009 11:32 pm
 

Villanueva: Cavs' missing piece? (UPDATE)

With the stunning news that the Milwaukee Bucks decided Monday not to make a qualifying offer to Charlie Villanueva came confirmation of what we already knew: This is going to be a strange free-agent signing period in the NBA, one in which conventional wisdom need not apply.

By dumping Richard Jefferson on the Spurs, the Bucks seemed to be clearing cap space to keep restricted free agents Ramon Sessions and Villanueva. But Sessions got a qualifying offer and Villanueva didn't, making him an unrestricted free agent at midnight Wednesday.

In a league that is increasingly becoming about the haves and have-nots, one team's problem is another team's savior. Fresh off their pre-draft acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal, the Cavs are looking for a versatile big man to complement the Big Cuyahoga while at the same time not clogging the floor for LeBron James. Enter Villanueva, who would appear to be an ideal piece for GM Danny Ferry's plan of making a serious championship run this season.

When the Cavs acquired Shaq, Villanueva wrote the following on his Twitter account: "Very interesting, Shaq to Cleveland, nice, all Cleveland [needs] is a PF now."

Also in that mix is Pistons unrestricted Rasheed Wallace, who could be an attractive option for Cleveland and Orlando, among others.

The problem is, the best the Cavs could offer Villanueva is the mid-level exception of about $5.5 million. Short of that, a sign-and-trade would work, but the Cavs divested themselves of their two most tradable assets -- Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic -- in the Shaq trade. The Villanueva decision also has a direct impact on the Pistons, who are among the teams with the most money to spend on free agents. Joe Dumars is believed to be targeting Carlos Boozer and/or Hedo Turkoglu. But the availability of Villanueva makes his decision a lot more interesting.

UPDATE: The Bucks' thinking behind not extending a qualifying offer to Villanueva was discussed internally at least two dozen times, a person with knowledge of the situation said. The person, who is familiar with the team's strategy, said matching Villanueva's offers as a restricted free agent -- or possibly keeping him on the one-year tender for about $4.7 million -- would've rolled back the flexibility general manager John Hammond had just achieved by trading Jefferson, who was due $29.2 million over the next two seasons.

Whereas most observers -- including rival team executives -- believed the Jefferson trade opened the door for Milwaukee to re-sign both Villanueva and Sessions, there's a chance the team won't keep either one. The organization is determined to get out of the rut caused by overpaying the likes of Bobby Simmons, Charlie Bell, and Dan Gadzuric in similar situations in the past. If the offers received by Sessions on the restricted market are fair, Milwaukee will match. If not, the team is planning to hold the line on not overpaying.

Another factor with Villanueva is that, given the economy and dearth of teams with cap space to sign free agents, the organization believes it is feasible that Villanueva won't be blown away by free-agent offers and thus would have been inclined to accept the one-year offer for $4.7 million. The Bucks didn't want to be in a position of having to rescind the non-binding qualifying offer, which would've hampered Villanueva's efforts to land a free-agent deal. Having chosen to get their financial house in order and preserve the possibility of being as much as $7 million under the cap in 2010, the Bucks' hierarchy felt it was better to be up front with Villanueva and allow him unfettered access to the free-agent market. Although a sign-and-trade technically remains an option, the Bucks aren't interested in jeopardizing their roster and cap flexibility by taking on the kind of contracts that would come back in such a deal.

___

Clearing up one piece of draft business: While one of the many executives who spoke with the Nets on draft night came away convinced that the team had selected Terrence Williams for someone else with the No. 11 pick, a person with knowledge of the situation said Monday that T-Will is most likely to stay in New Jersey. On the heels of trading Vince Carter in the hours before the draft, the Nets had conversations with numerous teams involving, among other things, the No. 11 pick. Nothing came to fruition, and while the Nets are still listening, it appears that Williams is staying put for now.


Posted on: June 23, 2009 11:13 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2009 6:24 pm
 

T-Wolves are on the clock (UPDATE)

The keys to the draft are now tucked neatly in the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

A flurry of pre-draft trade activity on Tuesday left Minnesota’s new GM, David Kahn, with four first-round picks – including the fifth and sixth – with clear designs on using at least two of them to move as high as needed to snag Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio or UConn center Hasheem Thabeet.

Or both.

The next 10 picks after the Clippers take Blake Griffin are no longer a bore. And if this works out the way Kahn envisions, neither are the Timberwolves.

To recap: Pending league approval, Minnesota has agreed to acquire Washington’s No. 5 overall pick along with Etan Thomas, Oleksiy Pecherov and Darius Songaila for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. With the fifth, sixth, 18th, and 28th picks, Minnesota is far from finished. A person familiar with the team’s plans said Minnesota is loaded for a run at Rubio, the gifted but raw 18-year-old point guard, and Thabeet, the 7-3 shot-blocker who would finally replace Kevin Garnett’s inside presence. “In a perfect world, both,” said the person with knowledge of Minnesota’s master plan.

Either way, this sends shivers through the Sacramento front office, which seemed to be hoping Rubio would be available with the No. 4 pick. Even more so, Kahn appears to have trumped his former boss with the Indiana Pacers, Knicks president Donnie Walsh, who has done a commendable job persuading some rival executives to believe that coach Mike D’Antoni wanted Rubio. But as much as Rubio’s play-making skills could energize D’Antoni’s free-wheeling, pick-and-roll offense, the player the Knicks covet is Davidson’s Stephen Curry, according to a high-level management source with knowledge of the team’s plans. But the Knicks believe they may not be able to land Curry with the eighth pick, as evidenced by their serious talks with Washington about the No. 5 selection – talks that stalled, according to a person familiar with them, when the Wizards balked at taking back Jared Jeffries and his $6.9 million player option for 2010-11.

Minnesota had to give up two proven commodities in Foye and Miller, and the deal came together like a perfect storm because of Washington’s desire to add veterans to its core of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison. The Wizards entertained numerous offers for the fifth pick, even exploring a deal with Phoenix that would’ve yielded Amare Stoudemire. They backed away from that one when the Suns asked for Butler.

In a draft in which team executives see no can’t-miss stars after Griffin, the Wizards didn’t want or need to pay a lottery pick to join a team that management believes is ready to contend now with a veteran roster and experienced coach, Flip Saunders. The trade also accomplished the Wizards’ goals of creating a roster spot and not taking back any salary beyond next season. The impact on Washington’s 2010-11 payroll is a wash.

The day began with a report that the Celtics had engaged in low-level discussions with the Pistons about a blockbuster scenario that would’ve sent Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen to Detroit for a package including Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rodney Stuckey. The talks never went anywhere, but sparked league-wide curiosity about Boston management’s level of discontent with Rondo.

The Spurs struck first in what is shaping up to be a frenzied trading period, acquiring Richard Jefferson from Milwaukee for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto. It was a clear sign that the Spurs are determined to make at least one more championship run with their core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. For Milwaukee, acquiring $11.3 million in contracts that expire after next season clears cap space to re-sign promising guard Ramon Sessions.

Oberto was, in turn, sent to Detroit for Amir Johnson as the Pistons continue obliterating their roster in preparation for the 2010 free-agent frenzy. Joe Dumars now has only three players under contract for 2010-11 – Prince, Stuckey, and Arron Affalo. UPDATE: The Pistons plan to buy out Oberto, thus trimming more payroll for next season.

So, welcome to the 2009 NBA draft, a.k.a. the new trade deadline.
Posted on: June 23, 2009 5:02 pm
 

Celtics: Rondo on the block?

Even when a reputable, tireless, connected NBA reporter comes out with a trade that was discussed -- and goes to great lengths to make it clear that it was discussed and went nowhere -- the story is met with derision.

This is why the trade deadline and the draft are my least favorite times of year. It's hard enough to separate the fact from the fiction. When facts get thrown in the paper-shredder with yesterday's mail, it becomes even more confusing.

Fact: The Pistons and Celtics discussed a trade whose primary pieces included Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen going to Detroit for Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com. Also fact: It never got to the point of being discussed by the men who ultimately would've made the decision, Danny Ainge and Joe Dumars.

Also fact: This is the way it was reported by Yahoo! Sports Tuesday -- as a dead-end proposal that went nowhere. And yet everyone comes out of the woodwork now to say what a bad idea it would've been for both teams.

No kidding. That's why it didn't go anywhere.

"Very preliminary," was how my source described it.

But this is the world in which we live. It's great and thrilling and competitive, and it's also quite stupid sometimes.

But I digress.

The fact that the names Allen and Rondo would even be discussed in a Celtics trade scenario tells you something. For one, it tells you that teams are willing to discuss trading anybody, no matter what they say. Discussing and doing are two very different things. But it also tells you that the Celtics, who meandered through the wilderness for years before scoring Allen and Kevin Garnett in two perfect-storm trade scenarios, have no desire to get lost like that ever again. And when you look at some of the numbers on their books going forward -- Garnett and Paul Pierce owed more than $40 million in 2010-11 -- you can understand why they'd at least discuss a scenario that would soften the landing.

But when I see Stuckey's name in this scenario, I'm not so sure it was the Celtics who walked away before elevating the discussion to the top executives. The Pistons traded Chauncey Billups because A) It gave them massive amounts of cap space; and B) They had Stuckey. Can't see them trading him now. 

For his part, Ainge met with the Boston area media at the Celtics' training facility in Waltham, Mass., Tuesday morning and got right to work debunking the Pistons trade talk.

"I've heard speculation we're dissatisfied with [Rondo]," Ainge said. "We're going to trade him because he was late for a playoff game? That's not true. The first criteria that any trade rumor has to pass: Is it going to help us win a championship this year?"

Ainge, who has the 58th pick in the draft, also said this, according to the Celtics' official Twitter page: "Most of the players in the first round I wouldn't trade for J.R. Giddens or Bill Walker."

Ouch. A lot of future D-League All-Stars and slam-dunk champions available, which explains why almost every team in the top 10 after the Clippers is looking to trade down.

Basically, it is why every team is willing to explore anything over the next 48 hours.

"It could be crazy," one Eastern Conference GM said of the trades that could go down Thursday night.

One way or another, it always is.



Posted on: May 24, 2009 6:17 pm
 

Melo: A.I. 'hurt' that he's not with Nuggets

DENVER -- When someone asked Carmelo Anthony on Sunday if he's still confident going into Game 4 of the Western Conference finals with a 2-1 deficit, his response reminded me of a certain All-Star who isn't here anymore.

"If we're not confident," 'Melo said, "we might as well not even dress up."

That was vintage Allen Iverson, whom I've heard say almost exactly those words hundreds of times over the last decade or so. I asked Anthony if he'd spoken with A.I. recently, given the Nuggets' meteoric rise to the conference finals without him -- and given that the point guard he was traded for has made all the difference.

"Yeah, I’ve talked to him a couple of times," Anthony said. "He just keeps saying, 'Go get it.' It kind of hurts him that he’s not here with us. That’s all he keeps saying is that he wanted to be with us. But he understands the situation."

So, too, did Kobe Bryant, who realized how significant the Iverson-for-Chauncey Billups trade was the minute he heard about it.

"When it went down, I called Carmelo and said, ‘You’re gonna like this trade,’" Bryant said. "Iverson is great. But for what this team needs, they needed a quarterback. And they have a quarterback. I knew it was going to be a problem as soon as it happened."

Bryant and Iverson came into the league together in the 1996 draft, but their careers have taken much different paths since they stole the show at the All-Star rookie game in Cleveland in '97. They were the brash new kids trying to nudge the venerable stars aside back then, and everyone wondered if Iverson with his cornrows and Kobe with his arrogance would be good or bad for the league. What a full-circle moment it would've been for Bryant and Iverson to meet again in the conference finals this year after colliding in the 2001 NBA Finals won by the Lakers. But of course, without the Iverson-for-Billups trade, the Nuggets most certainly wouldn't be here.

"That’s not what the team needed," Bryant said, when asked why things didn't work out in Denver with Iverson. "You can put together all the talent in the world. When I first came to the Lakers, we had four All-Stars. But it’s about what pieces go right with the others. And Chauncey was the piece that they needed. It just meshed extremely well."

 
 
 
 
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