June 30, 2009
Every weekday morning, Ball Don't Lie serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your fresh peameal bacon.
Richard Justice, Houston Chronicle: "Chris Bosh is 25 years old. He's 6-10. He's 23 points and 10 rebounds a night. He's a great kid. He's a Texan, too. (Actually, he's from Dallas, which, sort of makes him a Texan. No one's perfect.) He's the best option for the Rockets filling that huge hole in the middle of their roster caused by the possible absence of Yao Ming(notes) for next season or longer. If you're looking for good news, this is it. No team is better positioned to withstand the loss of a Yao Ming than the Rockets. They may not have a single major contract obligation after next season when LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes), Dirk Nowitzki(notes), Bosh and other premier players are set to be free agents. Keeping that financial flexibility suddenly is Morey's first priority during a nightmarish offseason. If he can trade for a player worth a long-term investment, he'll do it. Otherwise, we'll see a small, fast, scrappy team next season."
Chris McCosky, The Detroit News: "The Pistons would love to sign Carlos Boozer(notes) should he decide today to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Jazz and become a free agent. Why wouldn't they? He's 26 and one of the elite power forwards in the game, capable of averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds. However, if Boozer opts out, he would leave $12.6 million on the table in Utah. Thus, there is a good chance Boozer, as has been widely speculated, would look to start his next contract at $14 million or $15 million. If that is the case, the Pistons most likely would walk away. The Pistons expect to have between $17 million and $19 million of available cap space (the exact number will be determined within the next week when the NBA releases new salary-cap figures). With that, president Joe Dumars has said they hope to get at least two top-tier players — one is expected to be a scoring guard, the other a starting power forward."
Darnell Mayberry, The Oklahoman: "One name that constantly crops up around here as the start of free agency nears is Paul Millsap(notes). The big man for the Utah Jazz will be a restricted free agent Wednesday, and fans have long wanted the Thunder to take a chance on the 6-foot-8 forward out of Louisiana Tech. It’s an easy connection to make. Millsap, with his rebounding and interior defense, fits the Thunder’s most pressing needs. And so there are reasons to believe the Thunder will make a run and Millsap, but there are also some that suggest OKC won’t. The question you have to ask is does Millsap fit with the Thunder both short term and long term? The answer seems to be no. With Joe Smith(notes) gone and Malik Rose(notes) and Robert Swift(notes) likely gone as well, Millsap could come in and add relief on the interior immediately as Green’s backup at power forward alongside Collison as the backup center. But how much would that backup tandem cost? Collison is already owed $13 million over the next two seasons. And in the long term, when Ibaka and White are ready to contribute, where would that leave Millsap? And where would that leave the Thunder’s financial state? It’s possible the Thunder thinks Millsap is worth the gamble, which then begs the question how good is this guy right now in the organization’s mind and how much better does the Thunder think he can be?"
Jeff Eisenberg, The Press-Enterprise: "While [Trevor] Ariza has maintained that he hopes to wear purple and gold again next season, agent David Lee(notes) said Monday that the Lakers won't receive any hometown discount from his client. Lee declined to reveal how much of a raise Ariza will seek when he becomes an unrestricted free agent Tuesday night at 9:01 p.m., but he said the young forward's upside should make him the most coveted wing player on the market. Among the teams Lee expects to pursue Ariza: Detroit, Portland and Toronto, franchises with enough cap space to more than double Ariza's $3.1 million salary of last season. Lee acknowledged he doesn't have a feel for how much the Lakers are willing to offer, but expressed hope that draft-week trades made by fellow contenders San Antonio, Cleveland and Orlando will coerce General Manager Mitch Kupchak into making a competitive bid. 'If you cut him, he bleeds purple and gold,' Lee said. 'The issue is whether the Lakers want to pay him.'"
Jeff McDonald, S.A. Express-News: "Though he has yet to officially inform the club of his decision, swingman Michael Finley(notes) is expected to exercise his contract option and remain with the Spurs for a fifth season. Finley, who is due $2.5 million from the Spurs in 2009-10, could have opted out of the final year of his deal to test the free-agent waters. In a soft market, however, he was unlikely to find a more lucrative contract than the one the Spurs already owed him. If Finley, as expected, elects to return to the Spurs, he will be asked to fill a different role than in previous seasons. Newly acquired forward Richard Jefferson(notes), snagged in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks last week, is likely to siphon a good deal of his shots and minutes."
Don Seeholzer, The Pioneer Press: "Since hiring David Kahn as president of basketball operations on May 21, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has stayed out of the media spotlight, but he's as involved as ever behind the scenes. From the Kevin McHale decision to the trade that sent veteran guards Randy Foye(notes) and Mike Miller(notes) to Washington to last week's NBA draft and the selection of Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio(notes), Kahn has hit the ground running, and Taylor said Monday that he fully approves. 'We brought him in to make changes and to re-evaluate the team,' Taylor said. 'To have a new vision, a new look at it. That's what I asked him to do, and I think he is doing that. He's not laid-back. He's been very aggressive. ... I've been very satisfied with how he's worked with the staff.' Taylor said he was pleased with the Wolves' draft preparation and how quickly Kahn and the staff adjusted when Rubio fell to them at the No. 5 selection."
Jason Quick, The Oregonian: "Channing Frye's two-year stint with the Trail Blazers officially ended Monday when general manager Kevin Pritchard said the team has decided not to make a qualifying offer to the 26-year-old free agent power forward. The move allows Frye to become an unrestricted free agent, and prevents the Blazers from having the right to match an offer from another team. The Blazers had until midnight on Tuesday to make a $4.6 million qualifying offer to Frye, who made $3.1 million last season. 'We are going to open up some cap space,'' Pritchard said. 'But we are very thankful for what Channing did and has done. He has been terrific for us.' 'I've had a great time in Portland and I appreciate the fans for their support,' Frye wrote in an email. 'It's a business and it's time for me to be somewhere where I can contribute. I wish the team the best of luck.'"
Mike Monroe, S.A. Express-News: "Now we know why Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was trying to trade into the upper reaches of the draft on Thursday night and buying second-round picks after he couldn’t get a spot in the lottery level: The Rockets need healthy players. The surprise is none of the three second-rounders the Rockets acquired were big men. Who does Rick Adelman start at center next season now that it appears Yao Ming won’t be available? Carl Landry(notes)? Chuck Hayes(notes)? [...] Free agency begins at one minute after 11 p.m. local time today. Expect the Rockets to contact the agents for the best big men who might be lured by the full mid-level salary cap exception of just less than $6 million. One of those is Antonio McDyess(notes), the veteran Pistons center-forward whose off-season home is, ahem, Houston. Even at age 34, he is one of the NBA’s most consistent post players. He averaged 9.6 points and 9.8 rebounds last season, when he returned to the Pistons after being part of the Chauncey Billups(notes)-for-Allen Iverson deal, loyal to GM Joe Dumars to the bitter end."
Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel: "[Otis] Smith said the Magic haven't given up on trying to keep [Hedo] Turkoglu, but they will have to go deep into the punitive luxury tax to re-sign him or promising center Marcin Gortat(notes) — and other players. They have only eight players on their roster, and need to at least add five more this summer. The Magic aren't expected to be able to match offers for Gortat, a restricted free agent who made $770,000 last season as Dwight Howard's(notes) backup. Smith indicated they would be out of the running if offers 'were north of 5 [$5 million per season.]' The Houston Rockets could be a player for Gortat. Their all-star center, Yao Ming, is expected to miss this coming season because of a nagging foot injury."
Ronald Tillery, Memphis Commercial Appeal: "While insiders contend the organization remains undeterred in its efforts to consummate a trade for Los Angeles Clippers forward Zach Randolph(notes), there are several other options the Griz can now consider in hopes of bolstering their frontline. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley is determined to bring to Memphis a high-caliber power forward, making that his priority this offseason, less than two years after gift-wrapping Pau Gasol(notes) to the Los Angeles Lakers. That player must fit the criteria, though, of being young, productive and reasonably priced. Armed with significant money to spend under the salary cap, the Griz will join at least six teams — Detroit, Oklahoma City, Portland, Sacramento, Atlanta and Toronto — expected to be in position to shop. Utah's Paul Milsap and New York's David Lee are highly coveted yet restricted free agents who will have several suitors, including Memphis and Oklahoma City. Reports already have Oklahoma preparing to offer Milsap a five-year, $65 million contract — something similar to a deal Lee reportedly is seeking."
Dave Krieger, The Denver Post: "The Nuggets already have $71 million committed to 10 players, one of whom, Antonio McDyess, will play for somebody else again. If they intend to bring back free agents Chris Andersen(notes) and Dahntay Jones(notes), as they say they do, they will need most or all of their mid- level salary cap exception, which will take them close to $77 million. That doesn't include Linas Kleiza's(notes) qualifying offer or several minimum salaries to fill out the roster. So billionaire E. Stanley Kroenke is looking at a minimum luxury-tax bill in the $5 million to $6 million range without roster improvements, other than Lawson. Any further upgrade will cost twice its face value because of the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax. Kroenke keeps his own counsel, but having had such good results with cost-cutting lately, a new spending spree probably isn't the way to bet."
Chris Vivlamore, AJC: "Jamal Crawford, who will wear No. 11, has two years and $19 million remaining on his contract. He had an out clause this year but signed an agreement that he would not opt out of his contract. That's how much the 29-year-old, who has yet to play in the postseason, wanted a fresh start with the Hawks. 'First when I got traded to Golden State, coach [Don] Nelson said I was a guy that he wanted to end my career there,' Crawford said. 'Unfortunately, things didn't work out. We never got into it, there was never a beef. He just thought that Monta [Ellis] and I were very similar and they already invested six years in him. I totally understand that. There are no hard feelings. Looking forward, I'm ecstatic. They could have sent me anywhere. To come to an up-and-coming team, a team that went to the second round of the playoffs, they were fun to watch. ... I'm happy to be here and be a part of it.'"
Eddie Sefko, The Dallas Morning News: "Decked out in a slick vest and tailored trousers, Kenyon Martin(notes) spent Monday night in Dallas chatting and glad-handing with friends and fans at his inaugural reception for his charity foundation. It was a side of Martin fans almost never get to see. What most of them remember are the issues Martin — a Bryan Adams High School graduate who plays for the Denver Nuggets — had with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in the playoffs. Martin said the two have since buried the hatchet after Cuban and Martin's mother had words — and an ensuing controversy — after a playoff game at American Airlines Center. 'He reached out to me,' Martin said. 'I didn't reach out to him. But he reached out, and I'll leave it behind. It wasn't negative. Everything's fine. It's over. I'm moving forward with positive things.'"