Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Every weekday morning, Ball Don't Lie serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your maple syrup. (Happy Canada Day!)

Jonathan Feigen, The Houston Chronicle: "While their cornerstone center considered treatment options, the Rockets began the free-agent shopping season at the front door of a player they hope will fill in for him. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey began his recruiting efforts to sign Magic backup center Marcin Gortat(notes) at [12:01 p.m. EST] Tuesday, the first minute teams could begin speaking to free agents. Though free agent guard Ron Artest(notes) has indicated that his decision will not be impacted by the uncertainty surrounding Yao Ming(notes), and the team held out hope that Yao would return next season, the Rockets wasted no time starting the chase for a backup big man to fill the middle while Yao is out, and beyond. 'I don’t do speculation stuff, but from a basketball point of view, I’ve read there appears to be an unfortunate problem with Yao’s health. And if Yao cannot play, that creates a particular need for Marcin,' Guy Zucker, Gortat’s agent, said adding he had not yet spoken with the Rockets. 'He is the type of character that would fit very well there because they have done a great job choosing … hard-working, team-oriented players.'"

Frank Isola, New York Daily News: "A team source claims the Knicks will offer Lee a four-year deal worth $32 million, which is below his asking price of $10 million per season. The Knicks have the right to match any offer given to Lee, as well as Robinson, but the club wants to remain fiscally responsible as it pertains to the summer of 2010. 'There's no question he'd love to stay in New York,' Lee's agent, Mark Bartelstein said yesterday. 'But you are only a free agent so many times in our career, especially in the prime of your career.' Portland is expected to make a strong push for Lee, who averaged career bests in scoring (16 points) and rebounds (11.7). Detroit and Oklahoma City also have the cap room to make Lee a substantial offer. It is no coincidence that the Knicks drafted a power forward (Jordan Hill(notes)) and a guard (Toney Douglas(notes)) as insurance in case they lose Lee and Robinson. Of the two, the Knicks seem more committed to keeping Lee."

Paul Coro, The Arizona Republic: "There are plenty of ways to contact Grant Hill(notes). He has a landline, a cellphone and video calling. But as he did June 18 with Steve Nash(notes), Suns General Manager Steve Kerr is choosing to have a face-to-face talk at Hill's Orlando home on Wednesday. If words do not suffice, Hill will have the feel of a handshake and the look on Kerr's face to know he is the Suns' free-agency priority. 'Grant is our biggest priority and that's why I'll be in Orlando,' Kerr said. 'He's an important part of our team and we'll make sure he knows that.'"

Jeff Eisenberg, The Press-Enterprise: "If either Trevor Ariza(notes) or Lamar Odom(notes) prove to be too expensive for the Lakers, one backup option could be Houston forward Ron Artest, a player Mitch Kupchak has targeted in the past. Agent David Bauman said Tuesday afternoon that the Lakers, Cleveland Cavs and Orlando Magic were three teams he expected to join Houston in pursuit of Artest. 'Ron's tight with Kobe,' Bauman said. 'From a basketball perspective, the Lakers make perfect sense. Ron is a winner. His best fit is when he's on a winning team. He shoots the three, posts up smaller guys, and defensively he's a beast. Certainly those are skills a contending team would find attractive.'"

John Reid, The Times-Picayune: "New Orleans is seeking a backup power forward to keep starter David West(notes) from having to play the extensive minutes he averaged last season, a team-high 39.2 per game. 'We're going to get involved with everything and make contacts and start the process and see what the market is going to create, and let players know of our interests and find out what they are looking for,' Bower said. Tony Dutt, the agent for former LSU and Hornets power forward Brandon Bass(notes), said he and Bass have New Orleans on their list, along with several other teams, including the New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks, his current team. Bass, a Baton Rouge native and a 2005 second-round pick by the Hornets who played two seasons with the team before signing a free-agent deal with the Mavs in 2007, has emerged as an effective rebounder and mid-range scorer. As a backup last season, Bass averaged 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds after averaging 8.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in 2007-08."

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel: "Happy trails, Hedo. So long, Turk. Farewell, Hedo Turkoglu(notes) — one of the greatest and most beloved players in Orlando Magic history. Amid the ongoing 'Vinsanity' of the Magic trading for Vince Carter(notes) and the accompanying hype and hoopla of bringing in one of the NBA's most electrifying players, can we take just a few minutes today to give H-Turk the goodbye and Godspeed he deserves? I know, the free-agency period just started at midnight Tuesday and it's not yet official that Turk will sign with another team. I read the article where Magic General Manager Otis Smith hasn't completely shut the door on bringing back Turk. I even spoke with Turk's agent, Lon Babby, who also left the door cracked when he said, 'I'm not ready to talk about Hedo and the Magic in the past tense.' Come on, can we stop kidding ourselves? The chances of Turk re-signing with the Magic are about the same as Bernie Madoff getting elected banker for the Monopoly tournament during board-game night at the federal pen."

Darnell Mayberry/Mike Baldwin, The Oklahoman: "The NBA’s free agency period gets under way today, and some of the biggest names on the market have been linked to the Thunder. Oklahoma City should be at least $11 million below the salary cap when the 2009-10 figure is announced next week. With so much room, the Thunder could target some of the most talented players on the market. Oklahoma City is widely considered a likely destination for players such as Utah’s Paul Millsap(notes), Chicago’s Ben Gordon(notes) and New York’s David Lee(notes). Orlando’s Marcin Gortat and Boston’s Leon Powe(notes) also could be two less-heralded players who find their way on the Thunder’s roster this summer."

Phil Jasner, Philadelphia Daily News: "[Andre] Miller was listed on the Sixers' salary cap at $10,333,334 last year. Will he accept something similar? Will the Sixers offer something similar? More? Less? Those same observers acknowledge that Miller holds the longest streak of games played (530) among active players and that the Sixers do not have another starter-ready point guard. Stefanski has said that first-round draft choice Jrue Holiday(notes) is their point guard of the future, and his best path to immediate minutes is his willingness and ability to play defense. Supporters of new coach Eddie Jordan's Princeton offense like to point out that it can be effective with a pair of combo guards; others suggest it remains necessary to have someone experienced to direct the offense. The age factor? 'By the time we get to March, they will have played almost a whole season,' Andy Miller said. 'We don't see age being a factor. Last year, Andre was as productive [16.3 points, 6.5 assists] as he has always been, and he's one of the iron men of the league. He gets hurt less than any of the other starters." Length of term? 'We're not looking long term — 3 years,' Andy Miller said. 'Jason Kidd(notes) and Steve Nash are likely to have contracts that will take them to 38.'"

Brian Windhorst, The Plain Dealer: "Warren Buffett, a friend of LeBron James(notes) 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(notes), and another All-Star in Mo Williams(notes) 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."

Ailene Voisin, The Sacramento Bee: "Geoff Petrie hasn't completely lost his mind. It just seems that way. His edgy, new in-your-face, elbow-to-the-ribs, forearm-to-the-hip approach makes perfect sense. 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(notes), Omri Casspi(notes) and Jon Brockman(notes) — 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."

Mark Murphy, Boston Herald: "The Celtics took the first step in their attempt to retain the services of Glen Davis(notes) by tendering the forward a qualifying offer last night. But the chase is far from over. Based on his playoff performance — beyond Kendrick Perkins(notes) he was arguably the Celtics’ best player during the conference semifinals against Orlando — Big Baby is anticipating a big paycheck. According to a league source, Davis, as a restricted free agent, will carry a mid-level exception (approximately $5.8 million) price tag into the marketplace. He also qualifies as a so-called 'Early Bird' exception free agent (two years with the same team), meaning the Celtics can sign him for up to 175 percent of last season’s salary."

Frank Dell'Apa/Marc J. Spears, Boston Globe: "Eddie House decided yesterday against free agency and will remain with the Celtics next season, according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein. House, who could have exercised a player option and declared for free agency today, has one year remaining on a contract worth $2.86 million. 'Eddie is staying in the contract,' Bartelstein said. 'It was a tough decision. But, when it was all said and done, Eddie loved his time in Boston, he feels like he is on a championship contender, he really enjoys playing with his teammates and playing for Doc [Rivers], and the fans have been great to him.'"

Michael Grange, 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(notes) 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."

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