Thursday, July 12, 2012

NBA : Nets to Howard ends, more signings and movements

Source : Yahoo Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have signed center Brook Lopez on a four-year, $61 million contract extension, effectively ending their pursuit of Orlando Magic All-Star Dwight Howard for the summer.
Once Lopez – the centerpiece of a package the Nets offered the Magic – signed his contract Wednesday it assured that he can't be traded until Jan. 15 under NBA rules.

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan indicated earlier Wednesday that the franchise was unlikely to strike a deal with Brooklyn – the only team with which Howard has said he'd sign a long-term extension. "As currently constructed," Hennigan said of talks with the Nets, "there's not a whole lot there."

Orlando has engaged Houston in trade talks and is still holding dialogue with the Los Angeles Lakers, but Hennigan didn't sound to be in a rush to make a deal. After a three-team deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers fell apart this week for Howard, the Nets unsuccessfully scrambled to find a way to do a trade directly with Orlando, or perhaps even recruit additional teams at this late stage in the Lopez talks, sources said.

Hennigan said he spoke with Howard on Wednesday and didn't rule out the chance Howard could still be on the Magic's roster when training camp begins.

Nets president Billy King made an improved offer on Wednesday morning to spare the Nets the turmoil of Lopez signing an offer sheet with the Charlotte Bobcats, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. King made the first four years and $61 million of the extension fully guaranteed – no partial guarantees to account for Lopez’s foot problems. The Bobcats couldn't offer Lopez more guaranteed money than the Nets are giving him.

King was meeting with Lopez's agent, Arn Tellem, on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Brooklyn had tried to find potential three-team deals where another team would take Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade to assist in getting Howard. Portland was one destination that the Nets explored on Wednesday, but there wasn't much traction there, sources said.


MIAMI (AP) -- Ray Allen's role in Miami is yet to be totally determined. And that clearly doesn't bother the NBA's leading 3-point shooter.

Allen and Rashard Lewis signed their free-agent contracts with the Heat on Wednesday, giving the NBA champions a pair of veterans who bring tons of experience and versatility to a lineup already featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

And both wasted no time saying they want to adapt to the Heat way.

''Whatever's going to be best for me in this situation is going to figure itself out,'' Allen said, flanked by Heat President Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra for his introductory news conference. ''This team won a championship without me. I'm not going to come in and expect for coach to cater to who I am and what I do. I've got to make that work on the floor with my new teammates.''

Allen agreed to join the Heat on Friday, deciding to leave Boston after five wildly successful seasons and the 2008 NBA championship. Lewis agreed to terms with Miami on Tuesday.

Allen will make just over $3 million this season. Lewis will earn about $1.35 million from the Heat, plus another $13.7 million after getting a buyout from the New Orleans Hornets earlier this offseason.

''I'm at a point in my career where I've been on the All-Star team, played for 13, 14 years and I've made a pretty good amount of money over my career,'' Lewis said. ''Everybody sets goals over their career and my next goal is obviously to try to win a championship. The ball can't bounce forever. I'm sure you all see the gray hair on my head.''

For Lewis, coming to Miami is a new beginning. For Allen, coming to Miami wraps up a month of unexpected twists and turns.

The Celtics' season ended in Miami a little over a month ago, with a loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Allen was unusually emotional after that defeat, then insisted that even after an injury-marred season - he's recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle - he has basketball left in his legs.

Boston tried to keep him, offering him twice as much as he'll make per year in Miami. Nonetheless, Allen found himself drawn to the Heat.

''You come into the summer, and you don't know what potentially can happen,'' Allen said. ''And you take the process a step at a time, try to figure out what's best for you and your family. And here I sit.''

Allen said that Celtics coach Doc Rivers and general manager Danny Ainge were disappointed by his decision. Allen said he reached out to Kevin Garnett - he was particularly close with Garnett and Paul Pierce in Boston - when he began leaning toward Miami, telling Garnett in a text message that the move was likely.

Garnett's responded by saying that he was sure Ainge would do whatever it took to keep Allen in Boston.

Days later, Allen was signing in Miami. And on Wednesday, Allen downplayed the notion that the move came in part because of a perceived rift with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.

''I can't say that it factored in my decision,'' Allen said. ''As teammates, we were brothers. ... There's differences. We all have differences. Paul eats corn flakes. I might not like corn flakes. That's just part of kind of who we are as individuals.''

Lewis has already thought plenty about what it could mean to share the court with James, Wade, Bosh and Allen. In short, he knows defenses could be a bit confounded.

''You've got to double-team LeBron. You have to double-team Dwyane Wade. You've got to double-team Chris Bosh. And then you think they're going to leave Ray Allen open?'' Lewis said. ''They've got to leave somebody open. So I have to go shoot a million jumpers tonight and be ready to knock them down.''

A few moments later, Lewis posed with Riley and Spoelstra, holding his new No. 9 jersey in Miami colors.

''He's played in a great program already. He's been to the finals. He's a winner,'' Spoelstra said. ''We've had some great battles against him.''

Spoelstra simply raved about Allen as well.

''There's only a handful of players, really, in this league that absolutely strike fear into their opponent. And Ray is one of those players,'' Spoelstra said.

Allen and Lewis were Seattle teammates for five seasons, from 2003 through 2007 - and both figure to fit perfectly into Miami's plan to surround James, Wade and Bosh with even more shooters who can stretch defenses.

Allen's 2,718 made 3-pointers are the most in NBA history, and Lewis ranks fifth among active players with 1,690 makes from beyond the arc.

Slowed by a bone bruise in his left knee this past season, Lewis averaged 7.8 points in 28 games for Washington. For his career, he's averaged 16.1 points per game with Seattle, Orlando and Washington.

''I think it's important, year in and year out, that you continue to try to add quality talent, experience and players who want to make a commitment to winning,'' Riley said. ''And I think we found out the last couple of days how hungry Rashard is.''

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The Tim Duncan era isn't over yet.

The San Antonio Spurs announced Wednesday that they had re-signed Duncan, bringing back the 36-year-old forward for at least a 16th season. Terms were not disclosed, though Yahoo Sports cited anonymous sources in reporting it was a three-year, $36 million deal.

The first overall pick in the 1997 draft, Duncan in 15 seasons has led the Spurs to nine division titles and the playoffs every year, including four NBA championships. The Spurs are 830-352 in the regular season during his tenure, the highest winning percentage over any 15-year span in NBA history, and Duncan has two league MVP awards to go along with three NBA Finals MVP honors.

''Tim Duncan has established himself as one of the best players in NBA history,'' coach Gregg Popovich said. ''He is an unselfish superstar who loves to compete and has only one goal when he steps on the court - to do whatever it takes to help his team win. We are all thrilled that he'll spend his entire career as a San Antonio Spur.''

Duncan, a 13-time All-Star, has averaged 20.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.22 blocks per game over his career.

The Spurs have other questions headed into the offseason.

He experienced a bit of a renaissance this season after injuries and age led some observers to speculate his career was nearing an end. Duncan averaged 15.4 points and 9.0 rebounds in leading the Spurs to the Southwest Division title and a league best 50-16 record.

''I think (his health) probably had as much to do with solidifying in his mind how long he wanted to go into the future,'' general manager R.C. Buford said. ''He played well throughout this whole season and he even felt better than he ever had. I think in his mind, that was what was important. We're going to play him as long as he says he can play and then probably a couple of days longer. We're hoping he's going to extend us.''

The signing was expected, especially after Duncan told Yahoo Sports, ''I'm here and I'm a Spur for life,'' during their Western Conference playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

''You're never confident that is going to happen until it's done,'' Buford said, ''but he made it clear he wanted to be here. We laid out what our realities were and here's how we thought we could accomplish the best team we could put around him and he said, 'I want to be a part of it.'''

To that end, the Spurs also announced restricted free-agent Danny Green had re-signed with the team.

Buford said there was nothing to report about whether forward Boris Diaw re-signed or if 2009 second-round pick Nando De Colo would join the Spurs, because there are ''logistics involved'' with signing international players. De Colo and Diaw are both playing for France's Olympic Team along with Spurs point guard Tony Parker.

De Colo played the past three seasons with Valencia of the Spanish League.

With the possible exception of De Colo's addition, the Spurs are expected to return virtually their entire roster from this season.

''I was going to announce that we traded for Steve Nash, but the Lakers beat us to it,'' Buford said. ''I think we won't go into the season with the exact same team as we had a year ago. (But) we think there is a lot of opportunity for internal growth, especially this summer when we have our gym and our players and the opportunity to get our coaches with them.''

But the Spurs have other questions headed into the offseason. The Spurs lost in the playoffs to Oklahoma City, blowing a 2-0 lead. They don't have many glaring needs, with the bulk of the roster on track to return.

Parker has apparently healed from a bizarre eye injury in time to play for France in the Summer Olympics. He got a shard of glass in his eye, damaging his cornea, during a New York City night club fight involving Chris Brown and members of hip-hop star Drake's entourage.

The 30-year-old Parker has two years remaining on a $50 million contract. He is coming off averaging 18.3 points and a career-high 7.7 assists.

Manu Ginobili is also in London this summer playing for his native Argentina, a moonlighting stint that always makes the Spurs anxious because of the 34-year-old playmaker's propensity for injury.

The Indiana Pacers went into the offseason wanting to keep their starting lineup from last season together.

In order to do that, though, the Pacers had to re-sign guard George Hill and center Roy Hibbert.

Hill? Check.

Hibbert? Also a check.

The Pacers came to terms with Hill just days after the free agency period began. Hill agreed to a five-year, $40 million deal to return to his hometown team.

"I think it's a blessing," Hill said. "I think it's big for the city of Indianapolis. They're not only getting a good player, they're also getting a good guy in the community. We want to keep things moving on this Pacers journey to try to get better each year."

Hill became the starting point guard late last season when Darren Collison went down with an injury. The Pacers won seven straight games with Hill as the starter, and he averaged 15.4 points and 5.4 assists during that stretch.

Keeping Hibbert wasn't as easy for the Pacers.

Portland offered the big man a four-year, $58 million deal hours into the free agency period on July 1.

After thinking about it for more than the week, the Pacers told Hibbert not to worry about signing the offer sheet, that they would give him the exact same contract.

Now the Pacers likely will return all five starters -- Hill, Hibbert, David West, Danny Granger and Paul George -- from a team that finished with the fifth-best record in the NBA last season.

"To keep things rolling, you need to get everybody back so it's the way it was before," Hill said.

The Dallas Mavericks struck out on free agent priority Deron Williams, a loss that set back the franchise's hopes of contending for another title in the twilight years of Dirk Nowitzki's career.

Then Dallas opted not to match a contract offer the Boston Celtics made to Jason Terry, and days later, Jason Kidd stunned the franchise by passing on the Mavericks' offer to instead join the New York Knicks. Suddenly the NBA champions from just 13 months ago were a shell of their title team.

It took 11 days into the free agency period for Dallas to make a move and begin to recover from the shock of its failed Plan A. Contingency plans started to unfold with the signing of center Chris Kaman to a one-year, $8 million deal. The acquisition appears to have club focused on using the amnesty clause on Brendan Haywood, who is due $8.3 million this season and $27.2 million over the next three.

Needing a starting point guard, the Mavs pulled off a curious sign-and-trade with the Pacers. Dallas sent backup center Ian Mahinmi to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for 24-year-old point guard Darren Collision and defensive-minded wing Dahntay Jones. Collison and Jones both have one year left on their contracts.

The Mavs are also expected to make a strong bid for 76ers amnestied forward Elton Brand, giving Dallas a potential front line of Nowitzki, Kaman and Brand.

It's a start for a franchise that was knocked to the mat in the opening week of free agency and is trying to get back up and into contention in a tough Western Conference.

The Chicago Bulls knew they wouldn't be able to make a big splash in free agency this summer, so they brought back an old favorite.

The first player to agree to terms in July was veteran guard Kirk Hinrich, who spent seven seasons with the Bulls from 2003-10. He was traded to the Washington Wizards in what amounted to a salary dump so the Bulls would have enough money to pursue LeBron James and a second major free agent in the summer of 2010.

The Wizards traded Hinrich to the Atlanta Hawks midway through the 2010-11 season, and the bad luck began. A hamstring injury during the playoffs knocked him out of a second-round series against the Bulls. Then he had surgery that summer to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

So while Hinrich's stats from last season (6.6 points, .414 field-goal percentage) seem disappointing, he also missed 18 games while recovering from major surgery. After a full offseason, the hope is he'll play more like his old self.

The Bulls could offer free agents no more than the taxpayer mid-level exception of $3 million. Hinrich's deal is believed to be worth $6 million over two years. Now all they can do is sign as many players as they want for the league's minimum salary.

Hinrich was appealing to the Bulls because he can play both guard positions and is a strong defender. He's still the franchise's all-time leader in 3-point baskets. Hinrich kept his residence in the Chicago suburbs, so he'll be able to live in his house year-round.

Filling out the roster will be a challenge. Several teams still had cap room to spend as of July 11, when signings could become official.

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