Earl Watson breaks right thumb

Seattle SuperSonics general manager Sam Presti announced today that guard Earl Watson suffered a fracture of the right thumb while preparing for the upcoming season in a basketball game in Los Angeles. The injury has a typical recovery period of three to four months. Watson is scheduled to have surgery on Thursday, July 3 in Los Angeles.

“We are confident Earl will work hard towards a healthy and timely recovery and look forward to getting him back on the court,” Presti said.

Last season, Watson averaged career highs in points (10.7), assists (6.8), rebounds (2.9) and minutes (29.1). Over his seven-year NBA career, Watson has averaged 7.4 ppg, 4.5 apg and 2.2 rpg in 529 games.

Rudy Fernandez joins Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers reached an agreement to sign Spanish guard Rudy Fernandez, it was announced today by general manager Kevin Pritchard.

“I am so excited about joining the Trail Blazers and the NBA,” said Fernandez. “The whole staff did a tremendous job making me feel like a very important team member to them and made me forget about the economic issues because of the rookie scale.

“My dream has been to play in the NBA and Portland is giving me this opportunity. I was amazed about everything that Mr. Allen, Kevin Pritchard, Coach McMillan and the rest of the guys did to show me how much they wanted me. Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, I can’t wait to play with them. We will do nice things!”

More here.

Bobcats extend qualifying offers to Emeka Okafor and Ryan Hollins

Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins announced that the team has extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents Emeka Okafor and Ryan Hollins and picked up the 2008-09 team option on the contract of Jermareo Davidson.

In accordance with the league’s collective bargaining agreement, in order for a team to retain its right of first refusal with respect to a restricted free agent, the team must tender the player a qualifying offer prior to June 30. A restricted free agent may sign an offer sheet with any team, but is subject to a right of first refusal with the team for which the player last played.

Okafor, the 2004-05 NBA Rookie of the Year, has averaged 14.3 points and 10.8 rebounds in 248 career games for the Bobcats since being selected by the team with the second overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. Last season, he averaged 13.8 points and 10.7 rebounds while shooting a career-high .535 from the field and played all 82 games for the first time in his career.

Hollins, who was selected by Charlotte with the 50th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, has averaged 2.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 87 career games, including averages of 2.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in 60 games played last season.

Davidson, the 36th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft whose rights were acquired from Golden State as part of the trade that brought Jason Richardson to Charlotte, averaged 3.2 points and 1.5 rebounds in 8.5 minutes in 38 games played last season.

The Bobcats declined to exercise the 2008-09 option on the contract of Othella Harrington. Harrington spent the past two seasons with Charlotte, averaging 2.4 points and 1.7 rebounds in 48 games played. Harrington missed 71 games during his time with the Bobcats due to two left knee surgeries.

Eddie Jones stays with Mavs

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: Dallas Mavericks veteran guard/forward Eddie Jones exercised his player option Tuesday morning and will return for a 15th NBA season and second with the Mavericks, a team official confirmed. Jones, 36, is due $2 million next season. Signed last season as a free agent to bolster the team’s 3-point shooting and defense at the shooting-guard spot, Jones struggled through injuries, most notably a bad knee and ankle. He played in just 47 games and averaged 3.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

Talking Rumors: Free agent talks begin

July 1: Free agent negotiations began today (Tuesday) and even more than usual, always assume that any good or great free agent is going to re-sign with their own team, because almost no one else has the money (under salary cap rules) to make it happen. So, Jose Calderon will go back to the Raptors, totally expected since the team is still going to trade T.J. Ford away for Jermaine O’Neal.

I think the Wizards are making a mistake giving Gilbert Arenas the max. He’s a terrific player, certainly a star, but I always felt a max contract should only go to players who instantly make a team with good role players a contender. Select top superstars deserve the max, and that’s it.

Baron Davis to the Clippers? That would be fun if it happens. I don’t know how good the combo of Baron Davis, Al Thornton, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman will be — this assuming that Corey Maggette is gone if Baron comes on board (a money thing). On paper it sounds good.

I predict the Celtics successfully wind up keeping James Posey.

If the Rockets can land Brent Barry, it’ll help a little if he’s healthy, but aside from some three-pointers and nifty passes in very limited minutes he won’t do too much. He’s 94 years old (in other words, double the age of Greg Oden).

P.J. Brown shouldn’t retire. He may, but he shouldn’t. He clearly helped the Celtics and can do it again.

Wow, Shaun Livingston and Sebastian Telfair are both now unrestricted free agents, and possibly now considering the world famous InsideHoops.com rec team as an option. Livingston showed more flashes of talent than Telfair did, but that awful injury to Livingston unfortunately changed all that. I won’t pretend to know how Livingston is playing right now, but I assume he has a long way to go in his road to recovery. And a few guys I talked to don’t think he’ll ever recover. Telfair will probably get signed by someone, but probably a short term deal for very low money.

This NBA Rumors commentary accompanies the InsideHoops NBA Rumors page. Read Inside Hoops every day, several times a day, all summer long. And talk basketball with other fans on the InsideHoops basketball message board.