Archive for December 4th, 2011

Kevin Love

Kevin Love has used the extra offseason time created by the lockout to reshape his body, a grueling regimen that will have him reporting to training camp 25 pounds lighter than he was last season.

Entering the final year of his rookie contract, his bank account is poised to get a lot heavier.

Love worked out at the Minnesota Timberwolves facility on Sunday for the first time since NBA owners and players reached a tentative labor agreement, and he said he was encouraged by the changes the Wolves have made as he prepares to enter into talks on a contract extension.

“I love Minneapolis, I love the Twin Cities,” Love said when asked if he hoped to sign a deal that would keep him here for the long term. “Really this is all I know. It’s the first NBA city I fell in love with. This is all I know. Maybe we’ll keep it that way, maybe we won’t.”

– Reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press 

Vince Carter

Vince Carter isn’t a free agent yet, but sources close to the situation say the eight-time All-Star will be thrust onto the open market shortly after the end of the lockout.

Based on an amendment in his contract obtained by ESPN.com, Carter must be waived by the Phoenix Suns within 72 hours of the official start of free agency or his $18 million salary for the 2011-12 season becomes fully guaranteed.

The Suns, sources said, have already decided to waive Carter within that window.

The Suns and Carter amended the contract in June to delay the guaranteed-salary date in Carter’s final contract year until after the lockout ended.

– Reported by Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN.com

Read NBA fan opinion or share your views in this basketball forum topic.

Thaddeus Young

The Sixers are over the cap with a current payroll of about $68 million. That figure includes what the league terms “holds” on the salaries of their two restricted free agents, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes, who were given qualifying offers that will increase their salaries by about 200 percent.

If Young and Hawes receive offers from other teams, the Sixers can decline to match them. But that would only put their total payroll down to $56 million, only $2 million under the $58 million cap figure and they wouldn’t be able to sign a marquee free agent with that.

The money they may commit to Young and Hawes, however, will put them dangerously close to the luxury-tax limit of $70 million. The Sixers can add a player under what the agreement calls a “midlevel exception,” at a salary of $5 million. But that $5 million would put them into the luxury-tax bracket, and my sources, who are familiar with Sixers ownership’s thinking, tell me that new Sixers owner Joshua Harris (and his cast of thousands) doesn’t want to pay tax.

– Reported by Mike Missanelli of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Richard Hamilton

By now you know the Pistons are going to pass on using the new collective bargaining agreement’s amnesty clause that allows teams to waive a cap-killing player.

I definitely understand some of the local reaction that the Pistons should have moved with haste to jettison Rip Hamilton (roughly $20 million over two years), Ben Gordon (around $35 million over three) or Charlie Villanueva ($22 million over three).

But the Pistons have the life of the new CBA to invoke the clause on a current contract, so it can be used in the next off-season if things don’t get better with those three players. The Pistons are confident in new coach Lawrence Frank, so it’s understandable to wait.

Retaining them also allows the Pistons to still entertain trade offers for them. But some insist that using the clause would allow the Pistons to free up money to go after a much-needed big man in this year’s free-agent class — such as the Nuggets’ Nene, the Mavs’ Tyson Chandler or Grizzlies restricted free agent Marc Gasol.

– Reported by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

Boston Celtics trapped by salary cap

Jeff Green

The Celtics will be a luxury tax-paying team and therefore will have only the mini mid-level exception ($3 million) with which to attract anything more than a minimum-contract player. The Celtics are already over the salary cap with the team on the hook for $64.9 million for seven players (that’s including a $5.7 million qualifying offer to Jeff Green, and that price tag should only rise). Boston will be able to sign its rookies and use Bird Rights to potentially pay to retain the likes of Green and Glen Davis.

After that? It’s minimum contracts or bust.

Samuel Dalembert? Greg Oden? Tyson Chandler? Kwame Brown?

No. No. Heck no. Now you’re talking! (And even Brown might get overpaid by another team).

That’s not to say the Celtics can’t get creative with the goal of bringing in another big contract. The team could work a sign-and-trade with Davis. Trouble there is that he’s an unrestricted free agent and a team with deep pockets can sign him without the need to involve Boston (though it could be financially beneficial to Davis to go that route).

– Reported by Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston

Miami Heat hope to land Shane Battier

Shane Battier

Once NBA teams can speak with free agents beginning Monday, Miami Heat president Pat Riley has his franchise in strong position to sell Shane Battier on signing to play with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Battier has been a primary target in free agency for the Heat, and sources say the pitch of Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra and key Heat players could ultimately confirm Battier’s strong feelings about chasing a championship in Miami.

Riley and Spoelstra see Battier as a strong defender with an ability to hit the open shots that’ll come his way playing with James, Wade and Chris Bosh. Battier has been a proven playoff performer, and possesses the professionalism and maturity to navigate within the harsh glare of the Heat’s existence.

Battier, 33, is still studying the marketplace, and how his personal scenario could change as different teams use the amnesty clause to create salary-cap space. Nevertheless, Miami currently stands as the most compelling option for him.

– Reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports

Read NBA fan opinion or share your views in this basketball forum topic.

Basketball blog