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Rockets Tickets
Lin excited to join Lakers
(Thu, 24 Jul 2014 18:34:22 PDT)
Jeremy Lin said Thursday he's looking to establish himself with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he won't be trying to recreate "Linsanity" on the West Coast. The point guard whose unexpected 2012 heroics for the New York Knicks made him a global phenomenon, was traded to Los Angeles by the Houston Rockets earlier this month and was introduced by his new team on Thursday.

'Linsanity' not on Lin's agenda in new life with Lakers
(Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:04:04 PDT)
Two years ago, Jeremy Lin lit up the National Basketball Association with his explosive play for the New York Knicks but he has no desire to recreate 'Linsanity' in his new career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead, the 25-year-old point guard is looking forward to making "a fresh start" in Tinseltown without the weight of any self-imposed pressure as he tries to help restore the flagging fortunes of one of the NBA's leading franchises. "I'm really excited to be a part of this organization and I'm seeing this as a new start, a fresh start," Lin said after being formally introduced to the media at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo on Thursday. "I know what I want to accomplish as a player and what the right way to play is and as long as I do that, I can hold my head up high and be proud of myself." Lin, acquired by the Lakers earlier this month along with a future first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick in a trade with the Houston Rockets for the rights to Sergei Lishchuk, will never forget his spectacular spell with the Knicks.

James Harden takes a page out of Dwight Howard's book, dubs rest of teammates 'role players' (Ball Don't Lie)
(Thu, 24 Jul 2014 07:13:47 PDT)
The Houston Rockets, thus far, whiffed on what once seemed a promising summer , and naturally the team's two flawed All-Stars have managed to sandwich a pair of unfortunate comments around the public relations pickle that has befallen general manager Daryl Morey upon failing to land a third star in free agency. While the on-court skills of Dwight Howard and James Harden complement each other well — a defensive stalwart with finite offensive weapons and an offensive virtuoso with limited defensive skills — neither has proven too complimentary of any Houston teammate not named Howard or Harden. In an interview with The Philippine Star , Harden is the latest to make news with an unfortunate statement. “Dwight (Howard) and I are the cornerstones of the Rockets,” said Harden. “The rest of the guys are role players or pieces that complete our team. We’ve lost some pieces and added some pieces. I think we’ll be fine next season.” Certainly since the departure of Chandler Parsons to the Mavericks and to some degree following the trades of Omer Asik to the Pelicans and Jeremy Lin to the Lakers, that statement may very well be true (however much Trevor Ariza may disagree), but Harden would be wise to keep those feelings to himself. Has he learned nothing from Howard, who's made a history of bashing his teammates publicly? Just last week, the eight-time All-Star said of Parsons' absence, " It won't affect us at all " — a ridiculous statement to make about a still improving 25-year-old wing who commanded eight figures in free agency. While Harden has generally let actions explain his faith in fellow teammates,  succumbing to Hero Ball  and even ignoring Lin at times last season , Howard has been more outspoken. Upon leaving the Magic for Los Angeles, he later said of his Magic mates, " My team in Orlando was a team full of people that nobody wanted. " That slip of the tongue came around the same time he critized his new "friends"  on the Lakers. As a result, former teammates like Jameer Nelson, who just joined the Mavericks  and may have been a nice fit in Houston, haven't taken too kindly to Howard's approach in the past. And he wonders why Lakers legends Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson never accepted him in L.A. However Harden and Howard feel about the current cast of Rockets characters privately, they'd be better off bolstering the value of those  "role players" publicly. That might actually help Morey land that elusive third star, especially one who might be dubious of those two as contender-worthy teammates themselves.

Lakers keep F-C Hill with multiyear deal (The SportsXchange)
(Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:07:15 PDT)
The Los Angeles Lakers signed forward-center Jordan Hill to a multiyear contract on Wednesday. "Jordan has been a consistent contributor for us over the last three seasons and we are pleased to keep him in the Laker family," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "Jordan's frontcourt versatility is a benefit to our roster and his on-court work ethic is something we value on our team. We hope he'll continue to work hard and develop as an NBA player."

Rockets sign rookie Clint Capela (Yahoo Sports)
(Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:03:54 PDT)
Clint Capela will be on the Rockets' roster this season.

Philippine anger as game with NBA players is cancelled
(Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:27:52 PDT)
Organisers of a visit by NBA stars to the basketball-mad Philippines have apologised and offered refunds after an exhibition game was abruptly cancelled. Tycoon Manny Pangilinan, whose company sponsored the scheduled match Tuesday night between a visiting NBA contingent and the national team, issued a profuse apology amid growing anger at the cancellation. The NBA team, including the Houston Rockets' James Harden, the San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers and DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, were supposed to play "five on five" games with the national team, Gilas Pilipinas, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The 10-man rotation, starring LeBron James remembering everything, for better and for worse (Ball Don't Lie)
(Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:24:49 PDT)
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : ESPN.com . A fantastic read from Brian Windhorst on LeBron James' remarkable memory — the one that Shane Battier once called "quasi-photographic" and referred to as "a little like 'A Beautiful Mind'" — and the good things and bad things it can do to him over the course of a game, a series and a season. PF : RealGM . Jonathan Tjarks on a possible silver lining surrounding the dark cloud that has been the Houston Rockets' disappointing summer — more opportunities for Terrence Jones. SF : Forum Blue and Gold . Daniel Rapaport runs down how, in a little over three years, the Los Angeles Lakers went from championship contender to coachless also-ran. SG : Grantland . Zach Lowe tries to figure out what exactly the Sacramento Kings are doing. Good luck, Zach. PG : Cowbell Kingdom and Sactown Royalty . The answer, for the moment: They're winning (Summer League) championships, baby. 6th : NBA.com . The great David Aldridge's always-information-packed Morning Tip column leads off with Derek Fisher getting his arms around teaching the Triangle offense as the head coach of the New York Knicks' Las Vegas Summer League team, and the challenges he'll face as he tries to get established pros like recently re-upped star Carmelo Anthony on-board. 7th : Regressing . In which science proves that big men have benefitted more from the institution of the 3-point arc than guards have. (It's all about spacing, y'all.) 8th : PistonPowered . In which Brady Fredericksen makes the case for "Josh Smith: Super-Sub," an idea that seems to me to have a very-close-to-zero chance of ever actually happening, but is fun to think about as Stan Van Gundy looks for ways to jumpstart the moribund Detroit Pistons. 9th : Awful Announcing and The National Post . Of course Canadian athletes don't have less motivation than other athletes, Jason Whitlock. Get out of here. 10th : USA TODAY Sports . Jason Wolf goes long on Sam Hinkie, a man who takes great pains to avoid the spotlight, which has made him persona non grata to those media members and fans who want answers for the Philadelphia 76ers' determined race to the bottom of the NBA. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

Suns 'hope and expect' Bledsoe will be back (The SportsXchange)
(Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:41:43 PDT)
Too many guards is better than not enough, and the Phoenix Suns believe restricted free agent will be part of their expansive collection next season. The Suns offered Bledsoe a four-year, $48 million contract, but he is holding out for something closer to the $80 million maximum-level payday. "We'll continue to work as hard as we can within that restricted free-agency system established by the collective bargaining agreement," Suns president Lon Babby told the Arizona Republic. "We continue to hope and expect that he will remain in a Suns uniform."

McCallum scores 29, Kings win summer league title (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:39:01 PDT)
Ray McCallum had a few big moments toward the end of last season for the Sacramento Kings. McCallum scored 29 points and helped key a big Sacramento rally in the final minutes, as the Kings topped the Houston Rockets 77-68 Monday night to win the NBA Summer League championship game. ''It means a lot,'' said McCallum, as he held the tournament MVP trophy. ''I've been trying to put in a lot of hard work this summer.'' The Kings went 6-1 at Las Vegas, and McCallum more than saved his best for last.

How do veterans approach the Las Vegas Summer League experience? (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:18:46 PDT)
On Monday night, the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets closed out the NBA's summer schedule with the title game of the Las Vegas Summer League. Naturally, though, a league championship is not the primary draw of the NBA's various summer leagues. Instead, it's getting a look at freshly drafted rookies like Cleveland Cavaliers wing Andrew Wiggins and improving youngsters like Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. In the absence of especially meaningful games, it can be exciting to witness the future of the league. Yet the Vegas Summer League is not populated only by this minority of notable prospects. The vast majority of participants don't have contracts or a solidified future in the league. For them, these games are an opportunity to show their skills in front of an audience of NBA executives and teams around the globe. The goal is not so much to start their careers as to extend them. To get insight into the experience of these players, James Herbert of Eye on Basketball spoke to several veterans in Vegas : Part of the job is teaching. [Shannon] Brown has three years on the second-oldest member of the New York Knicks summer league team, and he's a full seven years older than a few of them. The coach, Derek Fisher, was Brown's teammate when he won those titles. He admitted it was a bit weird to be playing for him. "I respect him as a coach, as a person, as a player," Brown said. "I just try to put all that aside and try to hear what he's saying, what he wants us to do and accomplish on the basketball court, and go out there and try to help the young players." [...] Due to the presence of 19-year-olds Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo -- who are also expected to be the Bucks' starting frontcourt in the regular season -- the 25-year-old [Chris] Wright came off the bench. He described his role as a big brother, someone who can demonstrate what it means to be professional. "[I'm] trying to show them the ropes," he said. "There's a lot about basketball but then again there's a lot that goes on off the court that people don't get to see, and [I'm] just trying to be a professional at all times, especially when you know it's people watching all the time. Just trying to show guys that haven't really been in this situation before that you can have talent, but you also got to have the character to go along with it." To hear it from Brown, Wright, and big man Quincy Acy (also quoted in Hibbert's article), the idea is that they can prove their worth not just from what they do on the court, but as serving as veteran presences among players who need to learn the NBA game. Brown, for instance, has helped younger players understand Fisher's triangle-influenced offense. These veterans might not have the gravitas of a future Hall of Famer like Kevin Garnett, but they have seen enough in the league to impart some wisdom. Whether that experience proves enough to help them grab roster spots this fall remains to be seen. Regardless of their fate, it does seem that summer league can help these players transition into new periods of their careers. In an NBA-related atmosphere, vets like Brown get to serve as elder statesmen and nurture the talents of up-and-coming players. They're acting as a team's veteran presence, even if just for a week or two. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric

NBA Offenses by the Numbers (Rotoworld)
(Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:41:00 PDT)
Ryan Knaus digs deep into each NBA team's offensive repertoire, including play types, in the latest edition of The Numbers Game.

The 10-man rotation, starring Jan Vesely, too beautiful for the NBA, to whom we bid a fond adieu (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:16:26 PDT)
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Truth About It . Kyle Weidie tries to get his arms around the apparently concluded (for now, at least) NBA career of Jan Vesely, whom the Washington Wizards selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft — ahead of Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Kenneth Faried, Nikola Mirotic, Reggie Jackson, Jimmy Butler, Chandler Parsons and Isaiah Thomas, among others — and who "sure did mean well," but "was not an NBA man," as it turned out. PF : The Triangle and Eye on Basketball . Danny Chau and James Herbert preach the gospel of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who seems capable of being basically anything. SF : Posting and Toasting . Phil Jackson has said that he thinks the New York Knicks' roster is a little heavy at the shooting guard spot, which could lead the team to trade one of its wings for another frontcourt body. Joe Flynn thinks this would represent a failure to learn from the lessons of Mike Woodson's final year-plus in Manhattan, and he makes a pretty compelling case for it. SG : Valley of the Suns . Heading into this summer, the odds seemed good that Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe would receive a really rich, and perhaps even max-level, restricted free-agent offer sheet from some team looking for a backcourt upgrade this summer. Instead, three weeks into July, there's precious little chatter surrounding the Kentucky product. What gives? What do we know? Kevin Zimmerman brings us up to speed. PG : The Hook . Friend of the program Tom Ziller on how Basketball Internet people on both sides of the aisle talk about Daryl Morey, what they're saying and not saying about the Houston Rockets' general manager, and the issues with it all: "The problem with Daryl Morey isn't that he's a bad GM -- he's objectively not . The problem is that he's been mythologized before he's done anything worth heralding." 6th : Denver Stiffs . Jeffrey Morton considers whether Morey's position at or near the forefront of the movement to treat players as "assets" rather than people might have contributed to the Rockets' swing-and-a-miss summer: "How long before your reputation as that kind of organization, catches up to you? Can dehumanization lower your ceiling as a team?" 7th : SecretRival . Speaking of Morey's particular flavor of general managing, Mark Porcaro takes a quick look at how former Morey lieutenant-turned-Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie has gone about rebooting a middling Sixers roster by burning it down and (slowly) rebuilding it. 8th : Welcome to Loud City . A sharp piece from Kevin Yeung on what the Oklahoma City Thunder trying, and failing, to land Pau Gasol might mean in the overall context of their roster-building strategy, and the possibility that GM Sam Presti might feel a need to swing for the fences with the Thunder "nearing a significant and potentially pivotal point in their current era." 9th : The Oklahoman and Upside and Motor . Darnell Mayberry reports on the chances that the Thunder might look to make 2014 first-round pick Josh Huestis the first U.S./D-League "draft-and-stash" player, and Seth Partnow thinks that's a pretty abhorrent idea that the NBA should prevent from coming to fruition. 10th : SLC Dunk . Intrepid Utah Jazz blogger Amar and equally intrepid San Antonio Spurs blogger Jolly Roger Wilco discuss the links between the two franchises, from the front office (Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was an assistant GM in San Antonio for a handful of seasons) to the coaching staff (new Jazz head coach Quin Snyder spent three years coaching the Spurs' D-League affiliate) and, Jazz fans hope, eventually to roster-building strategy, on-court tactics and overall results. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

Larry Bird calls Lance Stephenson's exit 'disappointing,' but it's a disappointment of the Pacers' making (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:49:40 PDT)
Lance Stephenson's decision to turn down a five-year, $44 million contract offer from the Indiana Pacers to accept a three-year, $27.4 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets left plenty of people scratching their heads ... including, it seems, Larry Bird. The Pacers' team president, a longtime Stephenson booster , picked the Brooklyn-born guard in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft. He took a very hands-on role in helping Stephenson evolve from lightly regarded end-of-the-bench player into linchpin starter on a team that made consecutive Eastern Conference finals appearances, and Stephenson's vocal about his appreciation. He led off his farewell-to-Indy tweet by thanking Bird, said after signing in Charlotte that he's "definitely going to miss Larry Bird," and issued a statement through his agent, Alberto Ebanks, that said he was "especially grateful to his teammates, Frank Vogel, Herb Simon, the Pacers management and, most of all, Larry Bird" for all they'd done to help him. "Lance will miss the city, the team and the mentor who helped transform him into the dynamic player he has become," the statement read . Stephenson's "undying love for Larry Bird and for his [Pacers] teammates" made it  "a tough decision," but in the end, he chose to leave Indianapolis for Charlotte. For fewer years. And for less guaranteed money. As Bird told Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star in a let's-get-the-team's-side-of-the-story-out-there bit of home cooking, he doesn't get it: "I really feel bad about losing him," Bird said. "I hope it doesn't interfere with our relationship. But I did what I could possibly do to keep him here. Even if he didn't have any other offers, I was committed to giving him that $44 million because I believe in the kid. If you look at our roster, we have five or six guys in the last year of their deals, plus David (West) and Roy (Hibbert) can opt out, so don't you think I wanted to keep Lance and Paul (George) locked into long-term deals?" [...] Bird could stomach this if Stephenson had left for much greener pastures, a lot more cash. But the argument can be made that he left for a worse deal. "It's just disappointing," Bird said. "When I'd go to practices, when he was on, he was by far our best player. And he worked. If you work as hard as he does, you're going to get better. I'm going to miss the kid, no question. And he's growing up. That stuff he pulled in the playoffs, that was out of the blue. But I knew how good Lance was and the value he brought to our team." I have no doubt that Bird knew how good and how valuable Stephenson was, and that he probably knew it earlier and understood it more completely than just about anyone else. The problem, though, is that it seems the Pacers' other front-office decision-makers — namely Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard — didn't grasp it early enough to set hard lines in previous negotiations that would leave enough financial wiggle room on the books to pay Stephenson what he'd be worth in the early stages of a new contract. (The "$7 million trap" concept floated a couple of summers ago by Tim Donahue of Pacers blog 8 Points, 9 Seconds looks awful prescient right about now.) Kravitz compares the average annual values of the deals offered by the Pacers (five years, $44 million, about $8.8 million per season) and the Hornets (three years, $27.4 million, just over $9 million per season) and upbraids Stephenson for leaving Indiana "for a couple hundred thousand dollars, a pittance by basketball standards." In telling the Pacers' side of the story, though, he doesn't tell the whole story; the details matter. As first reported by ESPN's Chris Broussard and subsequently confirmed by Kravitz's colleague at the Star, Candace D. Buckner , the Pacers opened their free-agency negotiations with Stephenson with a five-year, $44 million offer; Stephenson's representatives reportedly balked, with sources telling Broussard that "the versatile shooting guard believes he's worth much more." Broussard followed up on July 7 with some additional detail on the terms (emphasis mine): Thus far, the Pacers have been unwilling to increase their offer to Stephenson, and some league sources say they will not move from that stance. Stephenson, for his part, believes he'll be an All-Star next season and is worth well above the $7.6 million the Pacers' offer would pay him . By taking the reported Year 1 number ($7.6 million) and the reported final number ($44 million), you can do some reverse-engineering to ballpark the construction of the Pacers' initial offer to Stephenson, as Donahue did . Assuming that Stephenson's new deal would include the maximum allowable 7.5 percent raise from the Year 1 salary — per the terms, fittingly enough, of the Larry Bird Exception in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement — here's how you get to five years and $44 million: • 2014-15: $7,652,174 • 2015-16: $8,226,087 (a 7.5 percent bump from Year 1) • 2016-17: $8,800,000 (per the CBA, the raises are not compounded , so Lance doesn't get 7.5 percent of each year after Year 1) • 2017-18: $9,373,913 • 2018-19: $9,947,826 TOTAL: $44,000,000 As Donahue wrote , that would have started Stephenson off at "roughly $7.7 million next season, and [paid] a combined $15.9 million in the first two." Charlotte's deal, on the other hand, pays a flat $9 million per year and $18 million total for the first two seasons, meaning it guarantees about $2.1 million more up front ... which is a pretty significant chunk of change when you've made $3,435,000 in salary through your first four pro seasons. The Hornets' offer covering two fewer years matters, too. I'm with Kravitz (and, I'd suspect, most other folks) in thinking that it's a pretty sizable win for the Hornets that they hold a team option for the final season of Stephenson's deal, and that it's something of a head-scratcher that Lance's reps didn't get that flipped the other way to afford him the option of hitting the market unfettered after two years. Still, though, the Charlotte contract ensures that Stephenson will return to unrestricted free agency no later than the summer of 2017, when he'll be 26 years old and entering his athletic prime. The Pacers' deals — Kravitz says that Bird "had a couple of five-year options" when he met with Stephenson at the start of free agency — would have tied Stephenson up through the summer of 2019, when he'll be a couple of months shy of his 29th birthday, with (ideally, from Indy's perspective) two more years of heavy-minutes, deep-playoff-push miles on his legs. A younger Lance with more tread left on his tires is likely to receive a more lucrative third-contract offer than one who will hit 30 after the first year of his next deal. Beyond that, the sooner a player can re-enter free agency, the sooner he can reap the benefits of the league's forthcoming windfall. The NBA's current television deal ends after the the 2015-16 season, and Adam Silver and company are reportedly looking to double the rights fees the NBA receives from its broadcast partners in its next TV contract. Broadcast rights revenues are included in basketball-related income (BRI). As BRI increases, so does the pool of money players receive ; so, too, does the annual salary cap (which is calculated based on projected BRI ) and the amount of a maximum salary ( ditto ). In sum: The more money the league makes, the more money teams can spend on salary and the more money players can make. Those new, richer deals will likely be available in the next couple of years. This is one reason why you're seeing stars like LeBron James opt for two-year mini-max deals rather than a full four- or five-year pact; today's largest long-term possible payday will likely wind up being less lucrative than the largest possible payday available in two summers. Of course, there's something to be said for taking today's top guaranteed dollar rather than banking on bigger bucks down the line — it's unlikely that, say, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony will regret choosing to make $26.8 million and $27.9 million (respectively) in 2018-19. But whereas this likely represented the last blowout deal go-around for Bosh and Anthony, the 23-year-old Stephenson is just entering his high-earning years and is willing to bet on himself being able to boost his market value with a primary role on a perhaps-ready-for-prime-time Hornets squad on the rise. It's a gamble, to be sure, but it's one that Bird and the Pacers were unable to convince Stephenson not to take. Kravitz reports that "according to Bird, the Pacers were willing to offer a shorter-term contract that would have given Stephenson the chance to cash in should his game continue to grow." For one thing, this contradicts previous reporting that "the Pacers were unwilling to offer Stephenson a shorter deal, spanning two or three years, [and were] also unwilling to increase [their] offer." For another, as Donahue notes , any shorter deal Indiana tendered would almost certainly have paid Stephenson less than he'll make over the next two or three years in Charlotte. For a third, Stephenson reportedly had an even richer short-term offer on the table — two years and $20 million from the Dallas Mavericks, getting him to an eight-figure-per-year level that Indy didn't and Charlotte doesn't — in the event of the Houston Rockets matching the Mavs' offer sheet on restricted free agent swingman Chandler Parsons. They didn't , so Parsons went to Dallas, and Stephenson went to the Hornets. Kravitz reports that Indy was "willing, however grudgingly, to give Stephenson a player option midway through a five-year contract so that he could opt-out and test the market once the cap money increased." They can't do that. Option clauses only allow contracts to be extended for one additional year beyond their scheduled end dates, so the earliest that Bird could have let Lance opt out of a long-term deal would have been after Year 4, the summer of 2018. The version of Kravitz's story that appears on on USA TODAY's site reflects that CBA reality (" ... to give Stephenson a player option after four years of a five-year contract"), but while that framework would offer one more season of guaranteed salary, it would also still likely come up shorter than Charlotte's in the first three years and prevent Stephenson from entering free agency for an additional year. It would push Stephenson to give something up on both ends of the deal. Charlotte's doesn't. Indy could have finagled its way into enough room to match the first-year salary Charlotte offered Stephenson, but Bird and company would have had to shed nearly $6.1 million in salary to avoid topping the $76.829 million luxury-tax line , as owner Herb Simon has made it clear that he doesn't want to pay the tax. As Kravitz frames it, if the Pacers met Stephenson's price, "they would have been left with a thoroughly depleted bench and been forced to deal with the luxury tax." Forced , though, seems a bit much, and unfairly casts Lance as the heavy. It's not Stephenson's fault that the Pacers are paying George Hill $8 million next year, or Luis Scola nearly $4.9 million, or Ian Mahinmi and Chris Copeland a combined $7.135 million. Those decisions came from the Pacers' brain trust, and now they're paying for them. This isn't a matter of Indy thinking Stephenson isn't worth the money he got; Bird's comments about "the value [Stephenson] brought to our team" make that much clear. It's a matter of previous decisions rendering the Pacers unable to match Stephenson's rate without making other concessions, the Pacers being unwilling to make those concessions, and Stephenson choosing a deal that offered more money up front and more freedom down the line — plus a starring role on a team that now may well be just as competitive in the East as Indiana over the next few years — over taking a "hometown discount" on the first big-money contract of his career. It's a pretty reasonable decision once you get past that first-blush head-scratching. It's understandable that Bird finds the outcome "disappointing," but he and the rest of the Pacers front office really don't have anyone to blame but themselves. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

Wizards' Rice chosen as Summer League MVP (The SportsXchange)
(Sun, 20 Jul 2014 19:59:30 PDT)
Glen Rice Jr., a second-year Washington Wizards swingman, was a unanimous selection as the Most Valuable Player of the NBA's Summer League in Las Vegas.

Report: Bulls close to deal with Brooks (The SportsXchange)
(Sun, 20 Jul 2014 12:12:13 PDT)
The Chicago Bulls are close to a free-agent deal with point guard Aaron Brooks, according to ESPN.com.

Summer League Summary 3 (Rotoworld)
(Sun, 20 Jul 2014 09:34:00 PDT)
The 2014 summer league is winding down. Mike Gallagher sums up some of the noteworthy players.

Report; Bulls to add PG Brooks (The SportsXchange)
(Sat, 19 Jul 2014 16:10:20 PDT)
The Chicago Bulls are close to reaching a deal to bring in free-agent guard Aaron Brooks next season, according to ESPN.com.

Kobe Bryant supports the Lakers' offseason moves, which is nice of him (Ball Don't Lie)
(Fri, 18 Jul 2014 19:41:25 PDT)
The Los Angeles Lakers have not had the most impressive offseason in the NBA. After striking out with the summer's big names, general manager Mitch Kupchak settled for deals with players like Houston Rockets castoff Jeremy Lin and 25-year-old journeyman power forward Ed Davis. Meanwhile, the Lakers have brought back incumbents Nick Young and Jordan Hill on what seemed like above-market deals. Even the promising moves, like adding rookie power forward Julius Randle in the draft, seem questionable now that the team has a glut of players at several positions. It's bad enough that Thursday's news that the Lakers had claimed Chicago Bulls amnesty case Carlos Boozer was met largely with laughs and derision. In short, this squad looks likely to miss out on the postseason even if Kobe Bryant returns in full health, which is iffy in itself. When Kobe signed his massive two-year extension with the Lakers last November, he did so with the expectation that the team would compete in some form. So the franchise icon must be really mad now, right? Not so much. In an appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour to plug his upcoming Showtime documentary "Kobe Bryant's Muse," the 16-time All-Star said he's in favor of Kupchak's moves. From ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne on Twitter: Kobe: "I can sit here and tell you with 100 percent honesty that I'm happy with the effort the organization put forward this summer" — Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 18, 2014 Kobe "I think Mitch has responded quite efficiently (from missing on Melo/Pau) by picking up some of the pieces he has" — Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 18, 2014 It's easy to make fun of Kobe's comments. For one thing, the phrase "I can sit here and tell you with 100 percent honesty" sounds like cover for an opinion that makes little sense, almost like when someone says "with all due respect" before launching an offensive tirade. It also doesn't help that Kobe uses the word "efficiently" in reference to the acquisitions of high-volume shooters like Boozer and Young. Putting on a happy face doesn't change the Lakers' dim prospects for the 2014-15 season. Of course, the optimistic route is an easier path than complaining, because Kobe must take some of the blame for the Lakers' inability to convince prized free agents they're an ideal destination. When Kobe signed his new deal, which now takes up roughly 40 percent of next season's salary cap, it became clear that the Lakers would struggle to add enough players to the roster to win titles. Those chances became worse once his injury issues persisted last season, and heading into July's free agency period there was very little evidence that the Lakers were on the brink of serious success. He made contention very difficult for himself and the team when he agreed to that deal. That was his prerogative, and it's hard to argue with making close to $50 million over two years. But that choice did come with some repercussions. The question is if Kobe's positivity will persist if and when the Lakers season starts to go downhill. Kobe is one of the best players in the history of the sport, but he's never been known for his patience or magnanimity. Imagine a scenario in which Kobe plays well and the Lakers still struggle to win games. Can you see him putting criticism aside at 36 years old with such little time left to add to his legacy? - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric

Howard: Parsons' absence won't affect Rockets (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:26:21 PDT)
Dwight Howard doesn't believe the departure of Chandler Parsons will have a major impact on the Houston Rockets' title hopes next season. ''It won't affect us at all,'' Howard said Friday of Parsons signing a three-year, $45-million deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Parsons was a three-year starter that complemented Howard and guard James Harden.

Free-agent roundup: Jimmer gets another shot, Mavs ink Summer League star, backup point guards ahoy (Ball Don't Lie)
(Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:33:59 PDT)
Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of the post-star-and-significant-role-player-signing-period of NBA free agency. Let's continue our consideration of the smaller deals getting worked out in the league, beginning with a trip to the Big Easy. *** • The New Orleans Pelicans added three perimeter players to fill out their wing rotation, agreeing to terms with free agents Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons, and bringing back Darius Miller. Fredette, the 25-year-old former BYU superstar and No. 10 pick in the 2011 NBA draft, will receive a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum of $981,084 , according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein . Salmons, 34, will earn $2 million on a one-year deal to join his sixth team in 13 NBA seasons, according to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com . Terms of Miller's deal were not disclosed, according to Brett Martel of The Associated Press ; as John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune notes , the Pelicans declined to extend a $1.15 million qualifying offer to the 24-year-old Miller, whom New Orleans selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, making it likely (as Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk surmised ) that Miller got a minimum deal of $915,243). While the Pelicans ranked sixth in the NBA in 3-point accuracy last season, knocking down 37.3 percent of their triples as a team, they ranked second-to-last in the league in makes and attempts per game. Whether you attribute this lack of long-distance proficiency more to head coach Monty Williams' offense, which has ranked in the bottom half of the league in long balls taken and drained in each of his four seasons on the bench, or to the horrendous plague of injuries that excised three of the Pelicans' top four 3-point shooters (Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday) from the lineup for significant stretches, the fact remains that New Orleans desperately needed floor spacing and shot-making ... and that was before their top beyond-the-arc marksman, Anthony Morrow, skipped town for a new three-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Report: Lakers retain Henry, Johnson; Marshall waived (The SportsXchange)
(Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:30:56 PDT)
The Los Angeles Lakers were busy making moves Friday, agreeing to re-sign guard/forward Xavier Henry and small forward Wesley Johnson, according to ESPN, and waiving point guard Kendall Marshall. Henry, 23, will reportedly sign a one-year deal worth just over $1 million and Johnson a one-year, $1 million contract. According to Yahoo Sports, the Lakers are interested in re-signing Marshall if he clears waivers. Henry averaged career highs with 10 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, one steal and 21.1 minutes per game over 43 contests last season.

Report: Cavs offer Wiggins, Bennett for Love (The SportsXchange)
(Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:28:15 PDT)
The Cleveland Cavaliers are offering No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins and 2013 top pick Anthony Bennett to acquire All-Star power forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, ESPN reported Friday night. The Cavaliers had been reluctant to trade Wiggins but reportedly have recently become open to it. Cleveland and Minnesota have been in trade talks since the Cavaliers signed superstar forward LeBron James a week ago.

Lin hungry for Lakers win, eager to train with Kobe
(Fri, 18 Jul 2014 00:55:55 PDT)
Jeremy Lin said Friday he hopes to earn the respect of his new Los Angeles Lakers teammates and was relishing the chance to play alongside team star Kobe Bryant. Lin, the point guard whose 2012 heroics for the New York Knicks sparked a brief "Linsanity" phenomenon, arrived in Taipei late Thursday for a promotional tour, just days after he was traded by the Houston Rockets to the Lakers. Lin was the first Chinese-American to play in the NBA, with a grandmother living in China and parents from Taiwan. "I am very excited to join the Lakers.

Wiggins, Cavs hounded by Love trade rumors (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 17 Jul 2014 22:29:45 PDT)
Andrew Wiggins came to summer league to get an early education on the NBA game, from playing against better competition to learning about what his new coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers will demand of him as a pro. The 19-year-old Canadian is also receiving a crash course in the NBA rumor mill. Since he arrived in Las Vegas and found out LeBron James was coming to Cleveland with him, Wiggins has heard his name brought up in possible trade scenarios as the Cavaliers pursue Minnesota All-Star Kevin Love. They continued on Thursday, with several outlets reporting that the Cavaliers have decided to make the No. 1 overall pick available, a prerequisite from the Timberwolves to get any deal for Love done.

Suns, Bledsoe at contract impasse (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:46:24 PDT)
Restricted free agent guard Eric Bledsoe is drawing interest from multiple teams ready to swoop in and sign the explosive two-way player as negotiations with the Phoenix Suns deteriorate. Bledsoe and the Suns are reportedly far apart in contract talks. ESPN reported Thursday that the Suns offered a four-year, $48 million contract, but Bledsoe is seeking a maximum five-year, $80 million deal. Last week, Phoenix completed a sign-and-trade with the Sacramento Kings to acquire point guard Isaiah Thomas with a three-year, $27 million deal.

Mike Miller recruiting Ray Allen to Cleveland (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:34:44 PDT)
Ray Allen continues to contemplate his future and possible retirement as his 39th birthday approaches, but recently signed Cleveland Cavaliers guard Mike Miller is trying to tempt a fellow 3-point ace with a LeBron James reunion. "We got James Jones, now we're moving Miami to northeast Ohio," Miller said. "With LeBron James, you are going to win 55 to 60 games regardless. Miller was with the Miami Heat for three seasons but played in Memphis last year after being released via the amnesty clause in 2013.

Veteran Pierce joins Wizards (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:10:23 PDT)
Paul Pierce is officially headed to his third team in three years, signing a contract Thursday with the Washington Wizards. The Wizards did not disclose details of the deal, but The Washington Post reported it is for two years and a full mid-level exception of $10.8 million. "We are very happy to welcome Paul to our organization and add his championship experience and history of clutch play to our team," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. Pierce said earlier that he left the Brooklyn Nets after one season for Washington because he believed the Wizards have opportunity to contend for a championship.

In an autobiography update, Phil Jackson talks up flirtations with Seattle, and recruiting Dwight Howard (Ball Don't Lie)
(Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:33:35 PDT)
Between his final game coaching the Los Angeles Lakers in May 2011 and his official hiring as president of the New York Knicks in March , Phil Jackson worked through quite the tumultuous 34-month stretch. He became engaged , he watched his family grow, he underwent a series of significant surgeries, he nearly became coach of the Lakers for a third time, he flirted with front office gigs, he discovered that he was great at Twitter , and he wrote a book . During that stretch, the mutual interest between Jackson and potential NBA owner Chris Hansen was an open secret. Hansen took great pains and offered huge gobs of cash in an attempt to buy the Sacramento Kings during the 2012-13 season (moving them to Seattle along the way), and he pitched a role to Jackson that seemed to fit for his post-coaching career – that of a, in Jackson’s words, “keeper of the flame.” We quote Phil here, because on Thursday he followed up on his most recent book with an addendum published in the New York Daily News . In one of several anecdotes, Jackson discusses his proposed partnership with Hansen : The prospect that captured my imagination didn’t involve any coaching. In December 2011 my son Charley introduced me to Chris Hansen, a successful hedge fund manager who had put together a group of investors who were trying to bring an NBA team back to Seattle. Hansen’s plan was to buy a majority share of the struggling Sacramento Kings franchise, then persuade the NBA to let him move it to the former home of the Sonics. What I liked about Chris was his innovative thinking about sports and community. He wanted me to help him create a new kind of sports culture, focusing on the team itself rather than individual superstars. His goal was to make the fans feel as if they, too, were part of the family. One of Chris’s ideas, inspired by the Seattle Sounders soccer team, was to hold large pep rallies before each game to get the fans juiced up as they made their way to the arena. Another idea was to create a low-priced standing room section behind the baskets, complete with beat boards to rev up the noise level. Chris even wanted to remove the players’ names from their jerseys to shift attention away from individual players. I told him the marketing department of the NBA might have a problem with that one. What’s interesting to note is that Jackson claims his role with a Seattle franchise would not have him working as “the hands-on general manager,” as he kept the flame for a franchise that doesn’t actually exist. This begs the question as to how similarly aligned that potential role is with his current gig as Knicks president, and if technical Knicks GM Steve Mills is the one working over cap figures and negotiating with players. One thing fans of the Sacramento Kings will especially notice is how dispassionate Jackson is when discussing the potential uprooting of a team that has been working out of the California capital since the mid-1980s, and how matter of fact (or borderline dismissive) Jackson is in discussing both the “$258 million public subsidy” that Sacramento residents will have to foot in order for the Kings to have a new arena, how the NBA’s Board of Governors voted to block any move from Sacramento, and how the entrance of current Kings owner Vivek Ranadive “put an end to the dream” for Jackson and Hansen. It’s a tricky situation, one the NBA stuck itself with when former commissioner David Stern decided to back off as former Seattle SuperSonics owner Howard Schultz sold his team to a pair of Oklahoma City-bred men with clear (and proven) designs on moving the team to OKC. Current Oklahoma City Thunder owners lied to the SuperSonic fan base and eventually hauled off to Oklahoma, and Stern declined to intervene, only tossing off snooty replies to a local Seattle government that he did not get along with. Stern and the owners went the complete opposite route when dealing with the Kings’ sale and potential move, which has to frustrate Seattle fans to no end. The problem here is that the NBA has an even 30 teams, no current need to expand in spite of the game’s remarkable growth over the last quarter century, and there isn’t a single franchise that seems like an appropriate candidate to move to Seattle. Presuming the NBA, as it watches small market teams being sold for half a billion dollars, votes to allow such a thing. Jackson went on to discuss well-worn topics, such as his engagement, and the Lakers’ front office impatience in jumping ahead of Phil’s decision to coach again , and he also mentioned his role in working to convince Dwight Howard to re-sign with the Lakers in the summer of 2013. The former Lakers coach was working as a consultant to the Detroit Pistons at the time, and in his book addendum Jackson claims that Howard asked Laker GM Mitch Kupchak if he could guarantee that Jackson would return as Lakers coach in 2013-14, should Howard re-sign as a free agent. Kupchak “quickly disabused him of that notion,” according to Jackson, though Phil did reach out to Howard with a series of phone messages that Howard, according to Jackson’s newest revelations in the Daily News , never responded to. The former Lakers coach then details Los Angeles’ re-recruitment process : The Lakers invited Kobe and Steve to the final pitch meeting to help persuade Dwight to come on board. It sounded like a good idea. Steve sent out an amusing tweet before the meeting: “Dwight Howard we’re coming for you. You’re going to love the statue we build for you outside Staples in 20yrs!” And Kobe made a moving speech during the pitch, promising to teach Dwight the secret of winning championships that he’d learned from the best in the game. If the meeting had ended there, it might have worked. But after the presentation, Dwight asked Kobe what he was planning to do after he recovered from his Achilles injury. Was this going to be his last year? “No,” replied Kobe. “I’m planning to be around for three or four more years.” At that point, according to others in the room, Dwight’s eyes went blank and he drifted away. In his mind, the game was over. A few days later he announced that he was signing with the Rockets. Jeannie Buss, the Lakers’ president of business operations , swears that the presence of the late Laker owner Dr. Jerry Buss could have swayed Howard to stay in Los Angeles, and though Dr. Buss’ track record was a sound one, that’s hard to get behind. Dwight Howard wanted nothing to do with Kobe Bryant’s looming presence, so much so that he left one of the world’s greatest cities and franchises to take less money to join the Rockets. (That’s not a slight sent toward Houston or the Rockets, just a reminder that it’s hard to turn down so many millions of dollars, even Howard’s finances balance out after his next contract.) Phil Jackson recently re-signed Carmelo Anthony, he runs a team populated by J.R. Smith and Andrea Bargnani, and he works for James Dolan. We can’t wait for the next book. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops

Free-agent roundup: LeBron's shooting buddies head to Cleveland, Wizards add frontcourt depth and more (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:47:46 PDT)
While we're still seeing some larger contracts, like the ones agreed to by Dwyane Wade and Lance Stephenson , the smaller-scale deals continue to trickle in. Let's run through some of them, starting where everything seems to be starting in the NBA right about now — Cleveland, Ohio. *** • LeBron James is bringing a pair of his sharpshooting buddies with him to the Cleveland Cavaliers, as free-agent wings Mike Miller and James Jones both agreed to terms to once again let it fly alongside the King. Miller turned down more lucrative offers from the likes of the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard , to accept what will be a two-year, $5.5 million deal with a player option for Year 2, according to Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowki . Miller will make $2.7 million in 2014-15, with the option year carrying a slight pay raise up to $2.8 million, according to Tom Withers of The Associated Press . Jones, on the other hand, took a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum of $1,448,490 , according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal . In one sense, the moves are about adding floor-spacing 3-point shooting to a Cavaliers team that ranked 23rd among 30 NBA teams in points scored per possession last year, and 18th or worse in 3-point makes per game, attempts per game and accuracy, as well as the share of points they generated from beyond the arc. In another sense, the moves are about making LeBron happy by importing guys he likes. These two things are not unconnected. After having to act as a 1-4 flat one-man army in Cleveland before learning how much more wonderful life could be in an offense where other stuff was going on, James understands better than perhaps any other player just how valuable spacing and the threat of shooting can be for an offense. He loves to play with dudes that opponents have to guard 20-plus feet away from the basket, because it creates all kind of room for drives and post-ups inside; he loves playing with dudes who can drill the open shots they get, because he really enjoys dropping dimes; he loves forcing defenses to have to decide whether to commit extra resources to stopping him from getting to the interior or whether to stay at home and prevent getting relentlessly sniped from the short corners and the weak side on ball swings. Miller and Jones are two such dudes. Miller has shot 40.9 percent from deep over the course of his 14-year professional career, and after being amnestied by the Heat last summer — a luxury-tax-bill-reducing move that reportedly "disappointed" LeBron — he caught on with the Memphis Grizzlies on a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum. Against all odds, the famously forever-wounded Miller stayed healthy in his return trip to Tennessee, acting as the only Grizzly to appear in all 82 games — the first time he's done that since his 2000-01 Rookie of the Year turn with the Orlando Magic — and finishing second in the league in 3-point accuracy (45.9 percent) behind Atlanta Hawks marksman Kyle Korver (47.2 percent) for a Memphis squad that extended the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games in the first round of the postseason. The 6-foot-8 Jones, a 40.3 percent 3-point shooter in his 11-year career, was largely excised from Erik Spoelstra's rotation for the bulk of the Big Three era, as the plethora of superior wing options led to Jones logging just 1,123 minutes over the past three regular seasons and only sharply limited minutes during the Heat's back-to-back title runs. He found himself back in vogue during Miami's first-round playoff matchup with the Charlotte Bobcats, though, getting 16 minutes a night and shooting 43.8 percent from 3-point land in the four-game sweep. After Spoelstra returned him to the shelf to start Round 2 against the Brooklyn Nets, LeBron made a public call for more Jones, as detailed by ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst : “We have to find some minutes for him, I don’t see why he shouldn’t play,” James said. “He’s huge for our team when he’s in the lineup.” Jones is 10-of-20 on 3-pointers in the playoffs and he and James complement each other well on the floor. Because Jones is an elite spot-up shooter, James likes to play on the same side of the floor and force defenses to choose between the two. When playing together in the playoffs, Jones and James have combined to shoot 56 percent from the field. [...] “The space James provides and his ability to shoot the ball is great for us,” James said. “You can’t do both when he’s out on the floor. You can’t help on my drives and contest 3-pointers on him. They have to keep an eye on him.” Jones got only spot minutes over the remainder of the Heat's playoff run, but the vote of confidence spoke volumes; as the wheels began to turn on James' return to Cleveland, reports began to circulate that the Cavs were targeting Jones , too. Miller's a more significant potential game-changer than Jones is, by virtue of his superior passing ability, rebounding acumen and defensive versatility; if he can pull the upset of staying upright for another 82 games, he'll give new Cavaliers head coach David Blatt a slew of small-ball lineup options. Whatever he and Jones are able to provide, though, the signal sent here is unmistakable: we're thrilled to have you back, LeBron, and since we only know for sure we've got you for the next year or two , we're going to try to surround you with shooters you like, with whom you've won championships and who make you happy, to try to play the way you like and win as much as we can, as fast as we can. Seems like a pretty solid strategy to me. *** • The Washington Wizards built out their frontcourt depth, bringing back Drew Gooden and agreeing to sign-and-trade deals to land veteran power forwards Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair.

Mavericks add veteran PF Rashard Lewis (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 15 Jul 2014 20:51:26 PDT)
DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks have added veteran power forward Rashard Lewis.

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