Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your creme brulee.
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald: "Paul Pierce will remain a Celtic. The club has reached agreement with its captain on a new contract, according to sources. The deal is said to be for four years, with only the first three fully guaranteed. The papers cannot be signed or officially announced until next week. Pierce opted out of the final year of his previous contract and became an unrestricted free agent at 12:01 Thursday. But he took that route with the intention of re-signing with the Celtics in a deal that would help his own future and allow the club better maneuverability. The numbers were not available, but Pierce will in the 2010-11 season make significantly less that the $21,513,521 he was scheduled to receive. That will aid the Celtics' position versus the luxury tax."
Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post: "The Should-Melo-sign? debate has consumed Denver sports talk this week, and the Nuggets did some talking of their own Thursday, even using the brow-raising 'E' word. Mark Warkentien, the team's vice president of basketball operations, said by phone that he wants Carmelo Anthony(notes) to be like a John Elway. 'Win a championship and play in one place forever,' Warkentien said. 'Bill Russell, David Robinson, you go to one place and you're the brand. There's a special category for that type of guy.' Anthony is pondering a three-year contract extension worth around $65 million. The offer is good until next July 1. If Melo doesn't sign, he will become a free agent that summer - the same time the owners and players are set to battle over a revised collective bargaining agreement, which could shake up the length and strength of player contracts. If Melo turns the team down this summer, the last resort could be trading him, a source told The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla earlier this week."
John Reid, New Orleans Times-Picayune: "In a meeting last week, New Orleans Hornets Coach Monty Williams told forward Julian Wright(notes) that it would be beneficial for all of the team's young players to play on its summer league team. Guards Darren Collison(notes) and Marcus Thornton(notes) will participate, along with draft picks Craig Brackins(notes) and Quincy Pondexter(notes), whom the Hornets acquired in a draft-night trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for their 11th overall pick, Cole Aldrich(notes), and veteran Morris Peterson(notes). Brackins and Pondexter will be added to the roster after the league approves the trade next week. However, despite Williams' preference, Wright has decided not to participate. 'You can't make any of those guys play,' Williams said Wednesday. 'So it's on him. It's something that will tell me a lot about his approach.'"
Dave McMenamin, ESPN: "The Lakers have opened discussions with free-agent swingman Mike Miller(notes), a source close to the situation said Thursday. Miller is a former NBA rookie of the year and sixth man of the year. He averaged 10.9 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 48 percent shooting on 3-pointers for Washington last season, his 10th in the league. Miller would provide a sure outside stroke the Lakers have lacked and help shore up a bench unit that could lose up to 22.5 points a game in scoring if free agent reserves Shannon Brown(notes), Jordan Farmar(notes), Josh Powell(notes), D.J. Mbenga(notes) and Adam Morrison(notes) all leave for new horizons. Miller earned $9.8 million last season and would need to take a significant paycut to join the Lakers. With seven players under contract for next season and six roster spots to fill, the Lakers have begun to look to new personnel."
Mike Wells, Indianapolis Star: "The nickname 'Born Ready' is tattooed on Lance Stephenson's(notes) right arm. He was anointed with that name by the public address announcer at Rucker Park in New York. He also starred in an online reality show of the same name. Stephenson appeared to be an eventual sure-fire lottery pick coming out of high school as New York City's all-time leading scorer, but character issues on and off the court turned off some people. The Indiana Pacers are giving Stephenson, their second-round pick, a chance. But there's a stipulation that comes with it. Stephenson has to be a model citizen because the Pacers will be watching him closely. The Pacers have spent the past few years cleaning up their public image and have no intention of letting one player set them back again. 'Whoever said I have a bad attitude really doesn't know me,' Stephenson said Thursday. 'I'm definitely a coachable player. That's not me.'"
Chris Tomasson, NBA FanHouse: "The drought has continued into free agency, with few top-line point guards available. The best available are Raymond Felton(notes), Derek Fisher(notes), Steve Blake(notes), Nate Robinson(notes), Chris Duhon(notes), Luke Ridnour(notes), Earl Watson(notes), Kyle Lowry(notes) and Jordan Farmar, with Felton and Fisher the only ones to have started 60 or more games last season. But Felton, of Charlotte, is looking for too much money and Fisher turns 36 next month and is likely to return to the Lakers. That is leaving Blake as a guy getting a lot more attention than one might expect. Sources say Blake, who averaged 7.3 points and 4.8 assists in 80 games last season with Portland and then with Clippers, is drawing the strongest interest from Orlando, New York and Toronto, with the Lakers and the Bobcats also being in the mix. With that in mind, Blake, 30, is said to be able to command a contract around the $4.93 million he made last season, something that might not be possible if it were a stronger point-guard class."
Michael Lee, Washington Post: "The Wizards likely won't sign anyone right away, but on the first day of the free agent negotiating period, they reached out to several free agents to express interest in their services. According to multiple league sources, they have already contacted the representatives for Mike Miller, Josh Howard(notes), Josh Childress(notes), Travis Outlaw(notes), Rasual Butler(notes) and Ryan Gomes(notes), hoping to address their need for a veteran wing player. As it stands, Al Thornton(notes) and to a lesser extent, Nick Young(notes), are the only small forwards on the roster. Yi Jianlian(notes) could possibly play on the wing, but is probably better suited at power forward. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis wrote on his blog that the team 'will be the tortoise' and move slowly toward building a championship team, rather than put all of their hopes in luring a free agent that isn't promised to go anywhere. 'What happens to a fan base that has been promised a bunch of new max free agents, and then it doesn't get them delivered?' Leonsis writes. 'It actually feels good to NOT be holding our collective breathe right now, doesn't it?' After getting Kirk Hinrich(notes), Yi and two draft picks, the Wizards don't have much money left to make a major free agent acquisition. And, given the money that the so-called financially strapped owners have already started doling out, they could find themselves priced out in their pursuit of some of the players on their target list."
Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: "The Rockets did, however, get one meeting in Chicago on Thursday, with coach Rick Adelman going to dinner with Miller, who played for Adelman in Sacramento. Miller, who has visited with Rockets coaches before games between the teams and every summer in Las Vegas, also met with Cleveland Cavaliers representatives. The Rockets have not made an offer. 'We've talked conceptually,' said Mark Bartlestein, Miller's agent. 'We've talked about the concept of what we want to do. (Miller's history with Adelman) definitely plays a role. He has great respect for Rick. I think (the meeting) is Rick trying to talk about vision, talk about Brad and his role there. Anything can happen fast, sure. I don't know, we'll see. Let them get through the night and then Daryl and I will talk, tomorrow.'"