The Fundamentals

» June 28, 2009 3:58 PM | By Brandon Hoffman

Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune:  “All the Jazz know for certain on this final weekend before free agency is that they will have between $46 million and $74 million in salaries committed for next season and between eight and 11 players under contract when the market opens at 10 p.m. Tuesday. Beyond that, all that exists are scenarios and contingencies. The team still was waiting for word Saturday from Carlos Boozer ($12.7 million), Mehmet Okur ($9 million) and Kyle Korver ($5.2 million) about opting out of their contracts to become free agents. All three face a Tuesday deadline to make their decisions. With Paul Millsap also set to become a restricted free agent, the Jazz’s most critical decisions of the offseason are upon them, during a summer in which NBA teams are anything but inclined to spend given the national recession.  The Jazz’s preference would be to bring back all four players despite last season’s eighth-place finish in the Western Conference and first-round playoff exit, with O’Connor saying, ‘We’d like to still see what we could do healthy.’ Whether that is realistic is another story.”

Alan Hahn of Newsday:  “The Knicks can entertain sign-and-trade discussions involving both Lee and Robinson on July 9, after the seven-day moratorium. There is expected to be a strong market for Lee, who led the NBA with 62 double-doubles, and there are teams with cap space that have an interest. The Pistons could attempt to sign him to an offer sheet if they do not go after Carlos Boozer and the Trail Blazers are also said to be in hot pursuit, but more likely in a sign-and-trade scenario. For the Knicks to keep him, Lee and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, would likely have to agree to a back-loaded deal to protect the cap space in 2010. Walsh would also have to first find a way to move either Eddy Curry ($11.2 million against the cap in 2010-11) or Jared Jeffries ($6.8 million) off the roster to offset Lee’s contract, which could command up to $8 million per year or more. Consider the range of these comparables: Troy Murphy ($11 million), Andris Biedrins ($9 million) and Udonis Haslem ($7.1 million). Paul Millsap, a restricted free agent with the Jazz, is said to be waiting for Lee to set the market for himself.”

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:  “At 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning, the NBA free-agency period begins. And although no signings can take place before July 8 when the league will release the salary-cap number for next season, the Pistons can start negotiating with free agents and their agents. They can also negotiate with other franchises about trade possibilities during this time. … Armed with an estimated $18 million to $20 million in cap room, Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars has said repeatedly that he will use that flexibility this summer and not next when the much-ballyhooed free-agent class of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and other big names are expected to hit the open market. ‘We hope to get at least two players out of this free agency,’ Dumars said last week before Thursday’s NBA draft. ‘We’ve targeted that all along to try to get two good players; add two players to this team and plus add a good player at 15.’”

Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer:  “It is expected some veterans will perhaps look for contracts that allow them to become free agents again next summer when there is more money available. Also, there is a belief that role players will see much smaller offers than in years past and will weigh other factors in making their decision, such as weather and how competitive the teams are. Which is where the Cavaliers come in. They do not have cap space but do have their salary-cap exceptions: the mid-level of around $5.6 million and the bi-annual of $2 million. What puts them at an advantage is they actually expect to use the exceptions while many teams don’t because owner Dan Gilbert is willing to pay the luxury tax and create the best environment to re-sign James next summer. In addition, the Cavs have never used their full mid-level or any of their bi-annual exceptions since Danny Ferry became the team’s general manager in 2005. Nor in that time has Ferry been active in looking at other teams’ free agents. So expect the Cavs to be significant players in the first few weeks of free agency, even if it isn’t for the top names on the market.”

Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:  “Hansbrough works hard. Maybe you’ve heard. His game days began with an early morning visit to Whole Foods to load up on organic meals. There was also the protein shake. Hansbrough had a Reggie Miller-like pregame shooting routine. Five hundred shots, from various positions on the court. Mid-range jumpers. Three-pointers. Turnaround jumpers. Various low-post moves. Five straight makes in some spots, eight in others. Miss, start over. He usually followed 20 points, 10 rebounds and a victory with an assortment of stretching exercises and an ice bath to help quicken his body’s recovery time before calling it a night. ‘I’ve had a routine I’ve done for four years,’ Hansbrough said. ‘I’m kind of superstitious.’ Just not Psycho. Not anymore.”

Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times:  “He watched his parents juggle the highs and lows of adapting to life as a millionaire in the spotlight. ‘I’d say its innate just watching my dad,’ Curry said. ‘I’ve seen media exposure, following him, shadowing him. You see the cameras coming and how he handles it.’ He also had parents who gave him a sturdy foundation. His mother, Sonya, always told Curry and his siblings that their father’s money belonged to their father: Meaning they had to start their own career one day. They constantly heard words such as ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability.’ Getting a ‘B’ wasn’t celebrated when an ‘A’ was possible. They didn’t have to get summer jobs, but they had to do something. Usually, it was sports, but they had chores as well. The Currys, who hail from Charlotte, N.C., are the typical Southern family — massive and down-to-earth. Curry has no shortage of aunties and uncles, cousins and family friends to keep him grounded.”

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:  “Monja Willis nicknamed her baby boy ‘Lucky.’ Lucky because, after two miscarriages before giving birth to her youngest child, she considered James Harden Jr. fortunate to even see the light of day. Nineteen years later, Willis proudly watched her son put on an NBA uniform for the first time after being introduced as the Thunder’s newest shooting guard Saturday. ‘I’m just happy for him,’ said Willis, with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. ‘He’s just blessed to be here.’ Of course, here is where Harden always thought he’d be. But getting here was never a certainty. He’d have to overcome asthma and attitude problems, neglect from college coaches and James Harden Sr. ‘But hard work and dedication, a lot of time in the gym, a lot of prayers and a lot of motivation kept me in the gym,’ Harden said. ‘And I’m here now.’”

Scott Cacciola of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:  “Hasheem Thabeet did what he could to help his family. His father, an architect, had died of complications from diabetes, so Thabeet, at age 17 and all of 7 feet, found work as a bouncer outside a nightclub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He was an intimidating presence at the door, blocking ill-advised attempts to get inside — a skill set that, as it turned out, would prove invaluable in the not-so-distant future. But he also harbored a secret. ‘When a fight started,’ Thabeet said, ‘you wouldn’t see me.’ If he had the habit of fleeing trouble then, there have been countless indications that Thabeet, in the five years since, has learned to cope with challenges, with long odds, with difficult situations. A self-made shot-blocking savant and the No. 2 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, Thabeet took the long road to Memphis, where the Grizzlies hope his 7-3 frame can handle the load as the team’s defensive anchor.”

Marc Berman of the New York Post:  “A representative for Ricky Rubio’s agency in Spain told The Post yesterday the 18-year-old flamboyant point-guard phenom is receiving offers this weekend to play for a club in Turkey and Real Madrid, which would decrease the likelihood of him playing in the NBA next season. Meanwhile, Knicks team president Donnie Walsh spoke to Timberwolves general manager David Kahn yesterday. According to a source, Kahn’s being patient and is not interested in talking trade yet and is “trying to keep him.” Tim Shea, the former Knicks European scout who is a consultant for Rubio’s agency, Winners Factory, said he expects a formal offer from a Turkish club tomorrow. The offer would be about $1 million, with another $2 million going toward a $6 million buyout for his Spanish team, DKV Joventut. Real Madrid also is in talks with Joventut, according to Shea. An NBA team is allowed to pay just $500,000, with the rest coming out of Rubio’s future earnings.”

Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe:  “Stephon Marbury plans to stick with the NBA Players Association as his representation when free agency begins next month rather than hire an agent. Last season, NBAPA deputy counsel Hal Biagas worked out a buyout with the Knicks on the final year of Marbury’s contract, worth $20.8 million, that cost him $1.5 million-$2 million. He signed with the Celtics shortly thereafter for $1.3 million for the remainder of the season and did not have to pay the NBAPA commission. Because things went well with Biagas, Marbury is expected to stick with him. Biagas said he had no problems with helping him again. ‘The best thing about the NBAPA is that they work for you for free,’’ said Marbury via e-mail. ‘When you have a team that negotiates the Collective Bargaining Agreement for all the players representing you, there is strength in numbers.’”

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News:  “Jefferson’s athleticism and driving ability fill what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called the team’s most pressing need after his team’s first-round playoff elimination in April — more firepower. ‘What I mean by firepower is just basic talent that’s athletic enough to compete for a championship,’ Popovich said. ‘That firepower can mean scoring, as far as getting to the rim, getting to the free-throw line, shooting. Richard shot 39-and-a-smidge (percent) from three, which is fantastic, and he can get to the free-throw line, which we had trouble doing, because Manu, Tim and Tony are the ones that get to the free-throw line the most. Timmy is shooting more jump shots these days and not getting there as often. So having another body who really gets to the line is important.’ Popovich said he would ask Jefferson to focus ‘kind of backwards,’ to return to a status as one of the league’s better perimeter defenders.”

Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times:  “Kobe Bryant is back on top in his rivalry with LeBron James, the NBA’s best since Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. One more Lakers title would make this the Age of Kobe. Bryant was so spent by the postseason, he ducked questions about the future, joking the only thing ahead was ‘vacation.’ However, while ducking questions about a contract extension, he said the real goal is making sure ‘all the pieces come back for next season, so we can make another run. . . . You don’t see a team that’s this young and so talented that’s already won a championship.’ Not that you should hold your breath waiting for him to sign an extension. Bryant isn’t going anywhere, but he lives for leverage. If he’s a free agent next summer when Phil Jackson could well retire, Kobe would effectively select Phil’s successor, presumably Mike Krzyzewski, his coach in his Olympic idyll, or former teammate Byron Scott.”

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:  “A group headed by former Rockets president and chief executive officer George Postolos has entered into negotiations to purchase the Charlotte Bobcats, a person with knowledge of the talks said Saturday. Postolos, who shepherded the Rockets through the arena referendum and move to the Toyota Center and helped the value of the franchise grow from $166 million to $422 million during his tenure, left the team in May 2006 after 7½ years to form The Postolos Group, a company that helps with the acquisition of sports franchises. Postolos, 45, declined to comment Saturday, but in 2006 he said he hoped to be part of an investment group purchasing a team. ‘I could be part of a group that owns a team,’ he said. ‘That could be attractive. That has always been a goal of mine. It’s not an easy thing to make happen.’ NBA commissioner David Stern said at the time he thought ‘without a doubt’ that Postolos eventually would own an NBA team.”

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:  “Sometime early Thursday afternoon, the camp’s star counselor went bonkers. Berserk. Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. At the time, he was on the floor and personally instructing some high school kids on the finer points of the pick-and-roll. Then, after taking a brief phone call, he raised his hands over his head and screamed like a sudden lottery winner. He weaved through the throng of curious, stunned campers and sprinted out the door of the gym on Sand Lake Road and into the parking lot. Vince Carter had just found out he had been traded to the Magic. An eight-time all-star whose legendary dunks had created a crazed state among fans and coined its own catch-phrase was experiencing the surreal himself. ‘Vinsanity’ indeed.”

Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald:  “Recent history has shown there are two ways to reach the NBA Finals – be lucky enough to draft a superstar (Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki) or execute a big-splash trade that brings in a player ho can put a team over the top (Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, a younger Shaquille O’Neal, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd with the Nets). Notice that the Lakers and Heat struck in both categories. The Bulls got lucky by winning the Derrick Rose lottery. Now they need a big-splash trade, not a roster tweak. By adding to their pile of assets and expiring contracts, the Bulls are hoping to be in position to get Toronto’s Chris Bosh at the trade deadline or next summer. There may be other targets, such as Carlos Boozer or Amare Stoudemire. That raises another question: If the Suns have discussed moving Stoudemire to Golden State or Houston, why aren’t the Bulls getting involved?”

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

One Response to “The Fundamentals”

  1. Spencer Says:

    I really enjoy your blog. Great content! Keep it coming!

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