Monday, July 16, 2012

NBA Round up : Latest player moves

Source : Yahoo Sports

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns beefed up their frontline Sunday, winning the bidding for rugged forward Luis Scola.

The Suns parted ways with longtime point guard Steve Nash last month and lost out on a bid for Eric Gordon when New Orleans matched their $58 million, four-year offer to the dynamic scorer. But they got their man this time, adding the 6-foot-9 Scola a couple days after Houston used the amnesty clause to cut him loose.

''We are excited to have won the bid for Luis Scola and to add a player of his caliber to our roster,'' Lon Babby, the Suns' president of basketball operations, said in a release. ''We greatly value the production he will bring and the leadership he will provide to our younger players.''

Phoenix made room for the 32-year-old Scola by using the amnesty option to cut forward Josh Childress, who was acquired by the Suns in a sign-and-trade deal with Atlanta two years ago. He played in 34 games last season, averaging 2.9 points.

A fan favorite in Houston, Scola averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in five seasons with the Rockets. He grabbed 2,984 rebounds to rank ninth on Houston's career list.

But the Rockets waived Scola on Friday. Scola, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is due about $21 million over the next three seasons, and the amnesty provision means his remaining contract will not count against Houston's salary cap or luxury tax.

Scola will play for Argentina in the London Olympics.


NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Hornets have matched the Phoenix Suns' four-year, $58 million offer to Eric Gordon, keeping the restricted free agent guard in New Orleans.

The move to retain Gordon on Saturday was expected, as Hornets general manager Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams had indicated they hoped the 23-year-old former Indiana standout could be the center piece of a rebuilding effort that will also include first overall draft choice Anthony Davis and No. 10 pick Austin Rivers.

Whether the decision will be palatable to fans remains to be seen. Last week, in the days before signing the Suns' offer sheet, Gordon said he hoped to play for Phoenix, but that did not deter New Orleans from retaining his rights.

''Eric is a phenomenal player that we are thrilled to have in our organization,'' Demps said.

Gordon, meanwhile, sounded more conciliatory in a statement released by the Hornets.

''There is always a business element to the NBA when dealing with contracts, but I never lost my appreciation for New Orleans,'' Gordon said. ''I look forward to giving my very best on the court this season to make our team successful.''

Gordon was limited to nine games last season because of a bruised right knee that required minor surgery. However, he averaged a team-high 20.6 points, and New Orleans was 6-3 when he played.

The Hornets acquired Gordon shortly before last season in a multiplayer trade that sent All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers.

In four seasons in the NBA, Gordon has never averaged fewer than the 16.1 points per game he scored as a rookie.

In this third season, injuries limited him to 56 games with the Clippers, but he averaged 22.3 points.

He was invited to try out for the 2012 US Olympic team and narrowly missed the cut, with Oklahoma City's James Harden edging him out for one of the final spots.

Demps and Williams never wavered in saying Gordon was New Orleans' best player and a key part of the club's long-term future.

Still, Gordon's first season in New Orleans left many fans wondering if he really wanted to be in the Big Easy. After scoring the winning basket in the Hornets' season opener in - of all places - Phoenix, he sat out for about two weeks while trying to recover from his bruised knee. He attempted to come back in a loss to Philadelphia on Jan. 4, but the knee was still bothering him.

He then went through a prolonged and seemingly fruitless six-week rehabilitation period that sparked debate among fans over whether the high-scoring guard was refusing to play. Those debates heated up further when Gordon rejected the Hornets' four-year contract extension offer at a late-January deadline for teams to complete extensions with players who were due to become restricted free agents after the season.

In mid-February, Gordon and the Hornets finally opted for surgery, and Gordon returned triumphantly on April 4, scoring 15 points in an upset victory over playoff-bound Denver.

New Orleans, which won only 21 games all season, won eight of its last 13 thanks in large part to Gordon's return.

Gordon was a regular at the Hornets' training center leading up to the draft, indicating he had confidence in the club's direction under new owner Tom Benson, who also owns the NFL's New Orleans Saints.

But when free agency began this month, Gordon went on a tour of teams interested in his services and got an offer from Pheonix that represented the maximum a team could pay for another team's restricted free agent.

Gordon then said he hoped to play for the Suns because they made more of an effort to sign him than the Hornets had. Gordon said the Hornets' decision to draft Rivers, who had played Gordon's position of shooting guard in college, indicated that New Orleans was moving in a different direction. Gordon added that the Hornets also had failed to address the need for more front-court players.

Since Gordon's comments, however, the Hornets have acquired 6-foot-10 forward Ryan Anderson, and have traded away former starting point guard Jarrett Jack in a deal that cleared about $5 million under the salary cap to help New Orleans seek another big man in free agency.

The Hornets also have begun training Rivers to play point guard, starting in the Las Vegas summer league that opened this weekend.

Those moves appeared to be aimed at helping Gordon thrive in New Orleans. Time will tell if he truly is interested in doing so.

Raymond Felton is returning to New York, calling into question whether the Knicks plan to re-sign fellow point guard Jeremy Lin.

Felton's agent confirmed a Yahoo Sports report Saturday that Felton would be signed and traded by Portland to New York.

Lin has signed an offer sheet with the Houston Rockets, and the Knicks have repeatedly said they would match any offer for their breakout star. But with the third year of the contract worth about $15 million, they can certainly pass now after signing Jason Kidd and getting Felton back.

Felton played well in half a season in New York, averaging 17.1 points before the Knicks sent him to Denver as part of the package for Carmelo Anthony in February 2011. He struggled this season with the Trail Blazers, scoring 11.4 points per game on 40.7 percent shooting and briefly losing his starting job.

Still, he was considered an option as a veteran backup to Lin if the Knicks didn't get Steve Nash or Kidd. They signed Kidd, and still pursued Felton.

Now the question is where will Lin play next season.

Coach Mike Woodson said Wednesday that Lin would not only be back but would enter next season as the Knicks' starting point guard. He then signed his offer sheet worth about $25 million for three years Friday and the Knicks have until 11:59 p.m. EDT Tuesday to match the offer, according to a person with knowledge of the process. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been announced.

The Knicks already lost one guard Saturday when they elected not to match the offer Landry Fields signed with Toronto, worth around $20 million over three years. The second-round pick from Stanford had been a starter during his two seasons with New York.

''I want to thank ALL the Knick fans out there for their support over the past two years!'' he wrote on Twitter. ''Much love and respect, you will be missed.''

It would be more surprising if the Knicks passed on matching Lin's offer. The undrafted guard from Harvard emerged as the starter in February and averaged 17.9 points in 27 games before needing surgery to repair torn knee cartilage. The league's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese decent became one of the team's most popular players and helped the Knicks draw huge TV ratings locally and in Asia. His merchandise sold heavily, making it unlikely the Knicks would want him to leave.

But with Kidd and Felton, they have two veterans who would be respected by the Knicks' frontcourt trio of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire and Felton had good chemistry in the pick-and-roll offense and neither has been as good since without the other.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Brooklyn Nets and free-agent guard C.J. Watson have agreed to a contract.

Nets general manager Billy King announced the deal on Saturday night.

Watson appeared in 49 games for Chicago last season, making 25 starts. He averaged 9.7 points and a career-high 4.1 assists in 23.7 minutes. As a starter, Watson posted averages of 11.3 points and 4.6 assists in 29.2 minutes per game.

The 6-foot-2 Watson started five of the Bulls' six playoff games last season and averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 assists in 27.3 minutes.

King says, ''C.J. has the ability to be productive in a variety of roles, and he will add quality and versatility to our backcourt rotation.''

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The Charlotte Bobcats have been awarded center Brendan Haywood off waivers from Dallas.

Haywood, who grew up in Greensboro and played collegiately at North Carolina - the same alma mater as owner Michael Jordan - was cut loose by the Mavericks using the amnesty clause.

An 11-year NBA veteran, the 7-foot Haywood helps fills a void at center.

Haywood has played in 733 career games for the Wizards and Mavericks with 531 starts, averaging 7.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 23.7 minutes. His career field-goal percentage of .534 ranks seventh among active players and 28th in NBA history.

Haywood was a member of Dallas' 2011 NBA championship team, and has appeared in 53 career playoff games.

Charlotte announced the move on Saturday.

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