The Fundamentals

» July 1, 2009 11:20 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald:  “The feeling is Bulls management would prefer to re-sign Gordon, keeping all of the team’s assets on hand for a potential blockbuster trade in the next 12 months that might bring a quality big man in return. When it comes to paying the luxury tax, though, the only opinion that counts belongs to chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. He has been strongly opposed to paying the tax in the past, but there are a couple of circumstances this year that would soften the blow. Since the Bulls have about $23 million in expiring contracts between Brad Miller, Tim Thomas and Jerome James, they would only have to pay the tax for one year. Also, paying the luxury tax brings a double whammy in the NBA because the tax money is distributed to the teams below the threshold. When New York and Portland used to pad their payrolls incessantly, the payoff grew to around $4 million per team. Now, teams have become much more cost-conscious – even the New York Knicks – which means next year’s tax distribution will most likely be less than $1 million per team.”

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:  “Chicago Bulls guard Ben Gordon and Milwaukee Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva flew to Detroit on Wednesday morning for a mid-day meeting with team president Joe Dumars and indications are both are moving rapidly toward deals with the Detroit Pistons, league and sources close to the two players told Yahoo! Sports. Gordon, a restricted free agent, and Villanueva, who’s unrestricted, would be significant strikes on the first full day of NBA free agency. Gordon and Villanueva have history together, and are good friends. They played for the University of Connecticut, although never together. The Pistons have nearly $20 million in salary-cap space and it’s believed that the offers to these two players would come close to expending that money. The Bulls would have a chance to match a Detroit offer to Gordon, but league sources believe Chicago has its limits on how far it’ll go to keep the guard, who scored 20 points a game last season. Gordon turned down a $54 million extension last summer.”

Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer:  “Warren Buffett, a friend of LeBron James and a rather established expert in making acquisitions, can certainly relate to the situation the Cavaliers are now in. One of the billioniare’s core philosophies and known quotes is to ‘attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.’ In listening to sources within the organization and across the league, despite being in a challenging climate for professional sports that has prompted fear with good reason, the Cavs fully intend to be greedy. It seems the team is expected to act quickly to add to their already well-heeled roster in an attempt to win their first title next season, which is famously the last on James’ contract. They are going to make their pitch and look to spend about as much as the league rules will allow them, within reason. Their product already has James and now Shaquille O’Neal, and another All-Star in Mo Williams in residence. Plus it owns some of the best facilities in which to play and train in the league, even if it isn’t located in a glamour city.”

Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune:  “Nobody beat the Jazz to Paul Millsap as free agency opened Tuesday night. Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor was on the phone with Millsap’s agent, DeAngelo Simmons, right at 10 p.m., which Simmons called a ‘class act’ gesture. It bodes well for the Jazz as they try to retain Millsap, even as their payroll went up, up and away with Carlos Boozer’s and Mehmet Okur’s decision to return this season instead of opting out to become free agents. The Jazz’s plan seems to be to bite the bullet as luxury tax payers this season – - it’s inevitable at this point – - and re-sign Millsap no matter how much that bill climbs. The Jazz seem to acknowledge they can’t lose Millsap and Boozer in subsequent seasons. Maybe it’s appropriate that the Jazz own the New York Knicks’ first-round draft pick next season, because their luxury-tax bill is going to be astounding. They have more than $73 million in salary commitments to only 11 players after Tuesday.”

John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News:  “Today would be one of those days where it would be good for the 76ers if point guard Andre Miller were a little less unusual. Miller has never revealed a lot about himself during his tenure with the Sixers, and it was always hard for fans, management and his teammates to get a read on what exactly was going through his mind. Does he like Philadelphia? Does he want to remain a Sixer? Is he happy with the progress of the program? Yes, no, maybe so. It depended on how you interpreted what Miller might have said on any particular day. And that was fine when Miller was under contract and the Sixers had final say in whether he would stay or go. That all changed at the end of the season when Miller became an unrestricted free agent with the autonomy to decide his next NBA destination.”

Tom Ziller of FanHouse:  “The Rockets have targeted Orlando center Marcin Gortat as a desirable pick-up. Whether this had been the plan all along, or whether Yao Ming’s injury has forced management’s hand(s), it doesn’t matter. It only matters that the Rockets are seriously serious about landing Gortat, who caddied for Dwight Howard this season. How serious? Right around midnight, Houston GM Daryl Morey posted a message on Facebook and Twitter imploring Rockets fans to tell Gortat how much they love him. … Four minutes before midnight ET, the Rockets also let loose a love letter to Gortat on the team’s official Web site. It is the top story on the Web site as of 1 AM ET. (Yes, four minutes before midnight. Hmmm. The odd thing is that the post, clearly timestamped 11:56 PM ET, says Morey rang Gortat’s doorbell at precisely 12:01AM ET, which indicates that Morey potentially possesses a time machine.)”

Mike Wise of the Washington Times:  “Wednesday signals the beginning of the NBA’s free agency period, and although teams are free to begin courting and negotiating with players, don’t expect the Washington Wizards to spring into action. Instead, the Wizards are expected to wait, then comb the leftovers to add the final pieces to their roster. ‘We’re going to start making calls, and we’ll monitor the situation, but the teams like Detroit, Oklahoma City, Memphis and Portland – the teams with a lot of [salary] cap room – will be doing the big spending in free agency,’ Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said Tuesday. ‘The whole situation will shake itself out, and we’ll see what presents itself and carefully go from there. I expect this to be a drawn-out process.’ The Wizards are expected to use a conservative approach because of the luxury tax and a deep roster at most positions.”

Frank Isola of the Daily News:  “It is believed that the Mavs will offer Kidd a contract starting at $8 million per over two years with an option for a third. Unless the Knicks negotiate a sign-and-trade with Kidd and Dallas, the club can offer him only its mid-level exception starting at approximately $5.8 million. Knicks president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni are hoping to convince Kidd that he can rejuvenate a doormat franchise the same way he did nearly 10 years ago in New Jersey. Kidd is intrigued by the possibility of playing and living in New York, which is both good and bad for the Knicks. He would provide leadership, assuming the 36-year-old point guard is committed to the team and not just spending the twilight years of his career enjoying Manhattan. The Knicks, however, believe the addition of Kidd would bring instant credibility and would strengthen their chances of possibly adding LeBron James or Dwyane Wade when the two superstars become free agents in 2010.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:  “Tuesday was the last possible day for Bryant to become an unrestricted free agent, but he did not terminate his contract because he wanted to ‘let Lamar [Odom] and Trevor [Ariza] have their day,’ according to a source who was not authorized to speak publicly about the decision. Indeed, the Lakers, who won the NBA title 17 days ago, made preliminary contact Tuesday night with representatives for both of the unrestricted free-agent forwards, as General Manager Mitch Kupchak tried to live up to his recent promise to ‘make quick decisions . . . and hopefully we can bring this team back intact.’ Odom was on the Lakers’ books for $14.1 million last season but will have to take a substantial pay cut. Ariza, who turned 24 Tuesday, will get a solid pay raise from the $3.1 million he made last season. No verbal agreements were struck with either player Tuesday night, though negotiations will continue throughout the week. San Antonio and Phoenix are interested in trying to sign Odom. Both teams are trying to clear salary-cap space to see if they can get a deal done with Odom, who is looking for at least a four-year deal worth an average of $10 million a year.”

Sekou Smith of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:  “Everyone knows about the Hawks’ (quasi-internal) targets – Mike Bibby, Zaza Pachulia and Flip Murray are all unrestricted free agents while Marvin Williams, Solomon Jones and Mario West are all restricted free agents, as is Josh Childress (who remains under contract with Greek power Olympiakos, though he has an opt out that he must exercise by July 15) . But there’s more going on that just that. After year’s of failing to grab the attention of the league’s best free agents on the market, the Hawks are suddenly in the mix for some of the most coveted players on the market, per several of my most well placed sources around the league. ‘The only thing missing all these years was a winning team,’ a former Western Conference executive told me Tuesday night. ‘And now that they’ve got that. So they’re going to be in the mix for guys if they want to be in the mix. Half the league lives in Atlanta [during the offseason] anyway.’”

Jason Quick of The Oregonian:  “Wednesday is the day Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard has been pinpointing for years: The opening of the 2009 NBA free agent market. With calculated trades and contract decisions, Pritchard has positioned the Blazers to have a payroll of $50 million, making them one of five teams that expect to come in under the NBA’s salary cap, which is expected to be announced July 8. Because the Blazers will be under the cap, they can lure a free agent by offering the amount they are under, which is expected to be between $7 million and $9 million. Or the Blazers could opt to make an uneven trade, meaning they can execute a deal without having to match the salaries of the players involved. Other teams that will come in under the cap are Detroit, Oklahoma City, Memphis and Toronto. Negotiations can start today, but teams cannot sign a player until July 8, after the salary cap figures are announced.”

Michael Grange of the Globe and Mail:  “The last time the Toronto Raptors made a splash in free agency, they made it fast. Team president Bryan Colangelo and assistant general manager Maurizio Gherardini picked up a phone at their Air Canada Centre offices the moment the NBA’s free agency period started. Minutes later, then-Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, at home in Atlanta, was linked in on a conference call. Together they made Jason Kapono very rich, using their quick-strike approach to lay a four-year, $24-million (all currency U.S.) contract at the journeyman’s feet. The whole deal took about 10 minutes. Times have changed. Not only is Kapono, who agreed to his deal in the wee hours of July 1, 2007, now with the Philadelphia 76ers, but the NBA’s economic landscape has shifted so much that players of his pedigree don’t get plush offers any more.”

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Too many times in recent years — from Shaq to T-Mac to Grant Hill — there has been bitterness and animosity when the Magic break up with one of their stars. Magic fans almost always end their love affairs feeling like Mia Farrow after Woody Allen dumped her to marry her daughter. It’s different with Turk, who is being cheered instead of booed on his way out of town. When Turk leaves, there will be a soft spot in Magic hearts instead of a gaping hole. Maybe this is because Magic fans know Turk doesn’t really want to leave; it’s just part of the business of sports. There’s nobody to blame. As a 30-year-old veteran, Turk wants to make as much money as he can for as long as he can. As financially astute business people, the Magic front office wants to pay a 30-year-old veteran as little as possible for as briefly as possible. Sadly, there is no room for loyalty in professional sports.”

Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee:  “Mental toughness? Physical toughness? Blue-collar workers? Granted, these are not concepts normally associated with the Kings basketball president, whose conversations are dominated by references to backdoor cuts, ball and body movement, and the fluid beauty of the game – all elements he still values. But after watching his club’s incremental descent to a 17-win season, coupled with its amazing capacity to chase fans out of the building with feeble, uninspired performances, Petrie underwent a not-so-subtle offseason change in philosophy. You can feel it. You can sense it. You can look at the three players drafted by the Kings last week – Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi and Jon Brockman – and understand his thinking. The plan is for the Kings to be competitive and entertaining and endearing enough that earplugs once again will be required at Arco Arena.”

A. Sherrod Blakely of  “All the talk about building a franchise that can consistently compete at the highest level sounds good. But that’s not going to happen until this franchise stops acting like a junior college for head coaches who get the boot after a year or two. President of basketball operations Joe Dumars’ reasoning for firing Curry was legitimate. Players began to sour on Curry near the end of last season, and Curry didn’t make the kind of strides needed to mend those relationships. The Pistons finished 39-43 and were swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Coaching has as much to do with managing egos as it does managing a player’s minutes. But there was a greater concern. There will be a lot of talk in the coming days about the strained relationships between Curry and key Pistons such as Richard Hamilton. But there was an even bigger concern that those same issues might be magnified with a revamped roster that should be bolstered via free agency, which begins today.”

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:  “Two high-placed NBA sources this afternoon said that Amare Stoudemire has little interest in joining the Warriors and indicated that the likeliest scenario at this point is for him to stay with the Suns this season. It is not clear whether Stoudemire has expressed this to the Warriors, or relayed it to them, or if it’s a change of attitude from the hectic minutes during the draft, when it was widely assumed (by me, too) that the Warriors were close to acquiring Stoudemire. It was also assumed that Stoudemire was either agreeable to the deal–and a potential max contract extension from the Warriors–or that he was at least willing to consider the notion of staying with the Warriors for the long-term as a condition to this deal. But Stoudemire can become an unrestricted free agent next summer and it’s extremely unlikely that the Warriors or any team would give up bundles of talent to acquire him only to risk losing him after one season.”

Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman:  “Much has been made in recent days of the players who the Thunder drafted last week, and with the free-agent market now open, much will be made in coming days if the Thunder make any trades or acquire any veterans. But the truth is, none of those players would have any more impact on the team next season than an improved Kevin Durant would. Barring some unexpected blockbuster trade, nothing is more important for the Thunder this summer than the team’s best player getting even better. Durant is committed to doing just that. He returned to Austin last month, and for two hours a day, he entrusts himself to the strength and conditioning coaches at Texas. They push him through weights and agility and drills of all kinds. ‘There are days where I’ve sweated through my whole outfit, my whole uniform,’ Durant said. ‘That’s the kind of days I need.’ Durant is also eating better. Eating more, too. ‘He’s eating himself out of house and home,’ his mother joked. The wiry swingman won’t be mistaken for Mr. Universe any time soon, but he looks a thicker through the shoulders and broader in the upper body.”

Jason Quick of The Oregonian:  “Aldridge flew from Dallas to Portland last week to add on to an existing tattoo of cupped hands in prayer. The finished product has intricate, web-like lines of red that extend from the top of his shoulder to the bottom of his biceps. But the message of the artwork is bold. In black cursive it reads Faith. Why Faith? This time, there is no nonchalant, food-in-the-mouth answer. Aldridge makes sure this answer is clear and understood. ‘Because I’m a man of strong faith. Strong beliefs,’ Aldridge says, holding eye contact. His faith and beliefs will be tested in the coming weeks. Along with team leader Brandon Roy, Aldridge is eligible this summer for a contract extension ranging from one to five years. Both Roy and Aldridge are expected to ask for maximum contracts, which figure to start in the ballpark of $13 million in the first year and inflate to around $18 million within four years. But while Roy’s voluminous resume will produce a resounding thud on the bargaining table, Aldridge’s worth is more difficult to define.”

Ian Thomsen of  “Here’s my motivational slogan for next season,’ said Shaquille O’Neal last Saturday by phone from his home in Orlando. ‘A ring for the King. He wants one, and I want another one. A ring for the King, baby!’ O’Neal sounded rejuvenated as he prepared for the newest role of a celebrated 17-year career. Having won three rings as a Laker with Kobe Bryant and a fourth with Dwyane Wade in Miami, Shaq is making another stop in his Forrest Gump–like run through the NBA: He is moving to Cleveland to assist the King, LeBron James, in pursuit of his first crown. ‘Everybody is going to say, Whose team is it?’ said O’Neal, two days after the Cavaliers acquired him from the Suns for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a second-round pick and $500,000. ‘It’s his team. I want you to print that in double-black-bold print: It’s his team. He’s the King, and the Cavs have hired a known hit-man bodyguard. My job is to protect him. The team is his team, he’s the s—, and I’m his backup.’”

2 Responses to “The Fundamentals”

  1. Peter Quinn Says:

    Hi. I am a long time reader. I wanted to say that I like your blog and the layout.

    Peter Quinn

  2. Around the Lot Links for Wednesday July 1 | UsTailgate Says:

    [...] The Fundamentals (Baller Blogger) [...]

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