Monta Ellis to enter free agency

Mavs guard Monta Ellis to enter free agency

Monta Ellis is an excellent scorer but it remains to be seen if he can help raise a team to a higher level of winning basketball. Here’s ESPN.com with an update on the Dallas Mavericks backcourt:

Monta Ellis to enter free agency

Shooting guard Monta Ellis has decided to opt out of the final season of his contract with the Dallas Mavericks, agent Jeff Fried said.

“This decision was made because it’s in the best interest of Monta,” Fried said. “It was more about him taking his future into his own hands.”

The Mavericks do not intend to attempt to re-sign Ellis despite the fact he averaged 18.9 points last season to become the first player other than Dirk Nowitzki to lead them in scoring since 1999-2000…

Ellis, 29, had a Wednesday deadline to determine whether he wanted to make $8.7 million in the final season of a three-year, $25 million offer or test the free-agent market. If Ellis had opted in, the Mavs would have attempted to trade him for a first-round pick to clear cap space, sources told ESPN.com.

Arron Afflalo becomes free agent

Here’s the Oregonian with a Portland Trail Blazers update:

Arron Afflalo becomes free agent

Arron Afflalo is officially a free agent.

The Trail Blazers’ shooting guard had until the end of the day Monday to exercise a $7.75 million player option for the 2015-16 season and remain in Portland one more year. But he did not opt in and is now an unrestricted free agent.

The move, which was expected, leaves the Blazers with two shooting guards on their roster — CJ McCollum and Allen Crabbe — who have started a combined 12 regular season games in their careers.

In addition to Afflalo, starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews is also an unrestricted free agent.

Charlotte will host NBA All-Star 2017

The NBA announced today that Charlotte has been selected to host NBA All-Star 2017. The 66th annual game will take place at Time Warner Cable Arena, home of the Hornets, on Sunday, Feb. 19. The 2017 game will mark the second NBA All-Star celebration in Charlotte, which hosted the event in 1991.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made the announcement this morning during a press conference at Time Warner Cable Arena, where he was joined by Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, Mecklenburg County Commission Chairman Trevor Fuller, Hornets President & COO Fred Whitfield, and Hornets Chairman Michael Jordan, who was the leading scorer of the 1991 NBA All-Star Game at the Charlotte Coliseum.

“As a thriving city with a proud basketball tradition and a deep passion for the game, the city of Charlotte is a terrific All-Star destination,” said Silver. “We thank Michael Jordan, the Hornets organization and the Charlotte community for their support and congratulate them on bringing our All-Star festivities back to North Carolina.”

“It is an honor to bring NBA All-Star back to Charlotte,” Jordan said. “I remember the excitement of playing in the 1991 All-Star Game, the first one held in my home state, and I take pride in being able to host NBA All-Star 2017 as the owner of the Hornets. This is a great moment for our fans, our city, and our franchise. We are excited to welcome the world to Charlotte and Time Warner Cable Arena in 2017.”

Raymond Felton exercises player option, will remain with Mavs

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that guard Raymond Felton has exercised his player option for the 2015-16 season.

Felton (6-1, 205) played in 29 games (three starts) with the Mavericks last season and averaged 3.7 points and 1.4 assists in 9.7 minutes.

Drafted by Charlotte in the first round (fifth overall pick) of the 2005 NBA Draft, Felton holds career averages of 12.7 points, 6.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 33.3 minutes in 696 career games (615 starts) with Charlotte, New York, Denver, Portland and Dallas.

These are the players invited to the 2015 NBA draft “Green Room.” The NBA invites players to attend the event that are expected to be selected fairly high up in the draft. There are always exceptions, surprises and disappointments, no matter which means are or are not listed.

· Devin Booker (Kentucky)
· Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)
· Sam Dekker (Wisconsin)
· Jerian Grant (Notre Dame)
· Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona)
· Stanley Johnson (Arizona)
· Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)
· Kevon Looney (UCLA)
· Trey Lyles (Kentucky)
· Emmanuel Mudiay (Democratic Republic of Congo)
· Jahlil Okafor (Duke)
· Kelly Oubre, Jr. (Kansas)
· Cameron Payne (Murray State)
· Bobby Portis (Arkansas)
· Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia)
· D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State)
· Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky)
· Myles Turner (Texas)
· Justise Winslow (Duke)

MSG TV presents 4-episode Knicks Now show, about the Knicks offseason

MSG Networks announced today the premiere of “Knicks Now” presented by Dodge, a four week series that will capture the excitement of the Knicks offseason from their first round pick in the NBA draft through the free agent signing period and the start of Summer League. “Knicks Now” will air on MSG Networks at 8:00 p.m. on four consecutive Wednesdays – June 24, July 1, July 8 and July 15 and will be hosted by Al Trautwig with Alan Hahn and Wally Szczerbiak. The June 24 premiere episode of “Knicks Now” will be telecast on MSG+, with the three subsequent episodes premiering on MSG.

In the first episode, Szczerbiak, who covered college basketball this year, will give firsthand insight on the draft and, along with Trautwig and Hahn, will preview the top Knicks draft prospects. The July 1 and July 8 episodes will focus on the free agency and what the future Knicks team might look like. The series finale, premiering during Knicks Summer League, will discuss the new Knicks roster and the impact the new players will have on the team this season.

Official announcement from the Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks announced today that Danny Ferry has stepped down as General Manager of the team. The move follows an indefinite leave of absence Ferry began in August, at the request of the team. The leave was triggered by the unauthorized release of an audio recording containing a brief portion of a lengthy conference call with team ownership and others during which Ferry repeated and paraphrased language from a third-party scouting report that contained a culturally insensitive characterization of a player.

Prior to today’s announcement, the Hawks organization retained a highly respected law firm, Alston & Bird LLP, and specifically a team led by senior partner Bernard Taylor, to investigate whether the remarks were racially motivated. Investigators conducted 19 witness interviews, including interviews of Ferry and several Hawks owners, and reviewed the contents of more than 24,000 emails, including every available work email sent or received by Ferry in his capacity as General Manager. The investigation by Alston & Bird made clear that the offensive language was not Ferry’s and none of Ferry’s remarks or behavior during the call were motivated by racial or ethnic animus, or by a person’s country of origin. To the contrary, Ferry shared his own opinion of Luol, recommended him both personally and professionally and ultimately tried to sign him to the team. The investigation revealed no other negative information on Ferry.

“This season has proved two things,” said Steve Koonin, CEO of the Hawks. “First, Danny Ferry is a tremendous GM. Danny was the principal architect of the Hawks’ success in Atlanta. From the hiring of Coach Bud to reinventing the roster, Danny’s vision has put us in the tremendous place we are today. Danny acted with integrity and professionalism as he guided the organization through important changes over the last few years. Second, Danny Ferry is not a racist. Danny showed great leadership in stepping aside in the fall so the season could proceed with as few distractions as possible. He has always put the team first despite the great personal difficulties he endured. Now that the team has identified new ownership, the resolution of Danny’s contract with existing ownership is appropriate. We wish Danny and his family only the best moving forward.”

“While the past year has been incredibly difficult and humbling, it is critical for me to clear my name and for people to realize that I have always built a culture of respect, diversity, and honesty,” said Ferry. “Now that the key facts have been made known, I am making the difficult decision to step away from this team and this special group of players. I have seen how gracious and forgiving people can be – especially Luol, who had every right to be hurt and angry after being brought into this situation. I thank him for his forgiveness and support. I also greatly appreciate that our players and coaches have been supportive, along with so many friends, old and new. As the Hawks move to a new chapter, I will continue to support the players and wish them the continued success that they and the fans of Atlanta deserve.”

On the court, Ferry led the building of a winning lineup. During his tenure, the team roster was reshaped as he engineered trades of several veterans; re-established valuable flexibility with the salary cap and draft picks; and simultaneously scouted and signed many of the standout players on the team today. He also hired Mike Budenholzer into his first head coaching position. The team achieved the best record in the Eastern Conference this year, and Coach Budenholzer was named NBA Coach of the Year.

“Building a successful team takes more than attracting a few stars,” Budenholzer said. “It is about finding the right combination of talent and teamwork to become an unbeatable combination. Danny’s vision and decision-making shaped the team that fans celebrate on the court today.”

The 2017 NBA All-Star game will reportedly take place in Charlotte

Here’s the Charlotte Observer reporting:

Charlotte has won a bid to host the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend, the Observer has learned.

A formal announcement is expected on Tuesday, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in attendance at a news conference. Charlotte officials and the Hornets’ organization formally made a bid for the event last summer…

The city agreed last fall to pay for $33.5 million of what will be $40 million in improvements to the arena. The NBA saw those improvements as key to any All-Star bid.

Video: Stephen Curry step-back jumpers in NBA Finals

The Warriors beat the Cavaliers in six games to win the 2015 NBA championship. Watch these video highlights of Stephen Curry shooting step-back jumpshots in the Finals:

Heat hope to keep Goran Dragic

Heat hope to keep Goran Dragic

A key free agency reminder: Just because a player chooses to opt out of his contract and test free agency does not mean that player will necessarily leave that team. Sometimes, the player really is testing free agency with intent to leave. But quite possibly, the player simply wants his current contract to end and he may very willing to simply re-sign with that same team. Every situation is different. With that said, here’s ESPN.com reporting on the Heat:

Heat hope to keep Goran Dragic

The Miami Heat already know Goran Dragic is bypassing his player option for next season to become a free agent July 1, but league sources say they plan to be highly aggressive in trying to secure a commitment from their new point guard early in free agency.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Heat are planning to offer Dragic a five-year deal in excess of $80 million to keep him in Miami after acquiring the 2014 All-NBA third-team selection from Phoenix on trade deadline day in February.

Only Miami can offer a five-year deal this summer to Dragic.

Paul Pierce may enter free agency

Paul Pierce may enter free agency

Here’s the Washington Post blog reporting on Wizards forward Paul Pierce — and this is still unofficial but he will reportedly test the free agent market:

Paul Pierce may enter free agency

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce has decided to play next season but is expected to bypass his $5.5 million player option, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. The decision, which is due by the end of the month, would make Pierce a free agent for the second straight year.

Opting out opens the possibility of Pierce playing his 18th NBA season elsewhere but does not completely eliminate the prospect of Pierce returning to Washington. Pierce could choose to re-sign.

The most probable destination outside of the District would be to go back home to play for the Los Angeles Clippers and reunite with Doc Rivers, his coach for nine seasons with the Boston Celtics. Los Angeles has limited salary cap flexibility and will likely only be able to offer Pierce, who celebrates his 38th birthday in October, the taxpayer mid-level exception of $3.37 million for next season, but are closer to winning a championship than the Wizards even in the loaded Western Conference.

Trade speculation swirls around Ty Lawson

Trade speculation swirls around Ty Lawson

It’ll be interesting to see if the Denver Nuggets hang onto point guard Ty Lawson or find him a new home this offseason. Here’s the Denver Post reporting:

Trade speculation swirls around Ty Lawson

Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly said the organization is in a good place just four days from as important an NBA draft as the team has had in a long time.

“It’s the time of year when all of our focus should be on the draft and potential trades around the draft,” Connelly said.

The Nuggets have made some of those trade calls, and they have received others.

The biggest trade speculation continues to swirl around last season’s starting point guard, Ty Lawson. But the reality is there are no untouchable players on the roster if the deal offered is one the Nuggets feel they can’t refuse.

“The variables come when you get one phone call and the best-laid plans go out of the window,” Connelly said.

Draymond Green was big part of Warriors success this season

Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting on the 2015 NBA champion Golden State Warriors:

draymond green

The third-year power forward sprang to stardom during this championship run, thrust into a starting role at the beginning of the season when incumbent starter David Lee went down with a hamstring injury.

By the time Lee got back to work, Green had established himself as the team’s emotional heart, providing hustle and spark when the team needed it. But his contract is up, which is bad news for Golden State. The good news is that he’s a restricted free agent, which in NBA parlance means the Warriors have the ability to match any offer for Green’s services.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers sat down with The Chronicle during the NBA Finals to discuss the team’s future, including Green’s. He wasn’t able to come right out and say the team wants to re-sign the young man from Saginaw, Mich. Because of legal concerns, the league has begun discouraging that sort of thing. But after Green put up a triple-double in the deciding Game 6 victory over Cleveland, the writing is on the wall, if not on the contract just yet.

“Our hope is to keep the core together,” said Myers. “That is within our control.”

Warriors aim to keep Draymond Green

Warriors aim to keep Draymond Green

Versatile Warriors forward Draymond Green was a big part of the team’s success this season, which ended in celebration as winners of the NBA championship. Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting on the future between Green, who reportedly made just $915,000 this season, and the squad:

Warriors aim to keep Draymond Green

No need to beg or plead, no need to lay down and block Draymond Green’s path to Detroit or any other city with an NBA team.

The Warriors have this covered. They’re not letting Draymond walk, no matter what it costs to retain the heartiest partier among the Warriors during the team’s championship parade and celebration Friday at Lake Merritt.

General manager Bob Myers rather vowed as much while addressing over 500,000 fans at the rally.

“We’ll bring him back,” Myers said from the podium. “If you’re worried, don’t worry.”

That comment is in line with Myers’ recent responses to all things Draymond. Management knows. Ownership knows. The men in the locker room know how much Green means to newly created fabric of this team.

Uncertain future for Monta Ellis in Dallas

Uncertain future for Monta Ellis in Dallas

Here’s the Dallas Morning News with some insight on the Mavericks, who face many difficult decisions, many of which hinge on what Monta Ellis decides to do:

Uncertain future for Monta Ellis in Dallas

Monta Ellis has a decision to make. Most people think they know what he’s going to do, but until he makes it official, the Mavericks are forced to have two plans of attack ready to implement.

It boils down to whether Ellis opts out of the final season of his contract.

If Ellis does, he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team in the league, presumably whoever is the highest bidder.

That likely would not be the Mavericks.

If Ellis doesn’t opt out, he will play the final year of his contract with the Mavericks, making about $9 million in the 2015-16 season.

The smart money is on Ellis opting out of his contract.

Hawks face uncertainty as NBA draft approaches

Here’s the Atlanta Journal Constitution painting a picture of the Atlanta Hawks’ situation as both the NBA Draft and free agency approach:

The Hawks will enter the NBA draft not knowing if they will have two, one or zero gaping holes on their roster.

It’s not an enviable position.

The draft is Thursday, and six days later comes the start of free agency. Two-fifths of the Hawks’ starting lineup — DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap — will hit the open market and are free to sign with any team. Both could be gone. One or the other could depart. Both could return.

Drafting for need is illogical. The prevailing alternative would be to draft the best available player. Not necessarily.

“We do our best to separate the draft from free agency,” assistant general manager Wes Wilcox said. “Certainly, they are connected. Our focus in every draft is to identify the best player who fits us. There is the long-standing debate over drafting the best player versus drafting for a position of need. It’s certainly something we all juggle. We’ve become comfortable with being guided by what we call our draft objective, which remains the same every year, we want to draft a guy who fits without our culture, fits (coach Mike Budenholzer) and his system and can add to and become a piece of our core.”

When LeBron gave Kyrie a good talking-to

When LeBron gave Kyrie Irving a good talking-to

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Warriors in the 2015 NBA Finals, but they still had an amazing season and can expect to compete for the 2016 championship. Here’s the Northeast Ohio Media Group reporting on a key development that took place during the regular season:

On Nov. 5, Irving led the team with 34 points in a loss to Utah. But in 45 minutes he failed to register an assist.

The night before in a loss to Portland, there were reports James and Irving had a dispute in the locker room, prompting Irving to dash without addressing the media. Irving missed 14 of his 17 shots that night. That’s when James said the team was developing “bad habits.”

As the team’s point guard, for Irving to not have a single assist was inexcusable, and James couldn’t stay quiet any longer.

“He came up to me and was like, ‘One, you can never have another game with no assists,’ ” Irving said, describing James’ words. “‘You can damn near have just one, two, three, but you can’t have zero.’ “

Warriors celebrate championship at parade

Warriors celebrate championship at parade

Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting on the Golden State Warriors championship parade, which took place Friday afternoon in Oakland:

The streets of Oakland were awash in yellow and blue as hundreds of thousands of fans watched and cheered the Golden State Warriors victory parade, which has been 40 years in the making.

In a rare moment of glory, Oakland - a city that usually makes news for crime, corruption, protests and violence- shined in the national spotlight.

On Friday, blue-and-gold-clad fans flooded downtown to see the NBA championship players, MC Hammer, six floats and, of course, the championship trophy, won after the team bested LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers.

People started lining up as early as 3 a.m., and city officials estimated at least 500,000 fans packed the streets when the parade started about 10 a.m.

Kamala Moore arrived at the parade route at 4:15 a.m. “It’s history in the making,” she said.

“Oh my gosh, I really want to see Riley (Curry),” she said, referring to the 2-year-old daughter of Stephen Curry, her favorite player.

Steve Blake exercises Blazers contract option

Portland Trail Blazers guard Steve Blake has exercised his player option for the 2015-16 season, it was announced today by President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey.

Blake (6-3, 172) appeared in 81 games for the Trail Blazers last season. In 350 games (232 starts) over five seasons with Portland, Blake holds averages of 7.8 points (41.4% FG, 39.8% 3-PT, 78.2% FT), 2.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists.

For his career, Blake has averages of 6.7 points (40.1% FG, 38.5% 3-PT, 77.8% FT), 2.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists over 12 seasons with Washington, Portland, Milwaukee, Denver, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers and Golden State.

Blake, 34, played four years at the University of Maryland, where he won an NCAA Championship in 2002, and was selected by the Washington Wizards with the ninth pick in the second round (38th overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft.

Taj Gibson had ankle surgery Tuesday

Recovery time for Taj Gibson is around four months

Taj Gibson had ankle surgery Tuesday

Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson underwent an arthroscopy and repair of his left ankle on Tuesday, June 16. The surgery was performed by foot specialist Dr. David Porter in Indianapolis. Gibson’s surgery went as expected and he has begun the rehabilitation process. His estimated time to return to full basketball activity is approximately four months.

The 29-year old Gibson recently completed his sixth season in the NBA, where he appeared in 62 games (17 starts) and posted 10.3 ppg on .502 shooting, 6.4 rpg, 1.21 bpg and 1.1 apg in 27.3 mpg. He also played in all 12 of Chicago’s playoff games (two starts) and averaged 7.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.0 apg and 1.00 bpg in 23.0 mpg.

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