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NBA AM: Where Will Bought Out Players Land?

Where will bought out players like Caron Butler, Jimmer Fredette, Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison land? … Knicks’ frustrating season continues

Alex Kennedy



Shortly after the 2014 NBA trade deadline passed, front offices started to shift their attention to buyouts. Some teams had a player on their roster that they needed to negotiate a buyout with, while other teams were just waiting to see which players would become available so they could bolster their roster.

This year, a number of notable players were bought out, giving fans some free agency fun in February. In fact, one could make the case that the buyouts have been more fun than the trades, considering most of the deals made prior to the deadline last week were minor.

So where will these bought out players end up? Several have already found new homes such as Glen Davis with the Los Angeles Clippers, Beno Udrih with the Memphis Grizzlies and Earl Clark with the New York Knicks. However, there are still a number of players out there who haven’t officially signed a new contract yet. Here’s the latest on each situation:

Danny Granger – According to multiple reports, Granger has decided to join the Los Angeles Clippers and now it’s just a matter of him signing the contract to make it official. From the start, the Clippers were the frontrunner to acquire Granger’s services because he wanted to go to a contender that could give him significant playing time. The former All-Star will definitely have a role on the Clippers, a team that was already deep before winning the buyout season by landing Davis and Granger. The 30-year-old small forward also liked the idea of playing in Los Angeles (where he lives and trains during the offseason). Now, the big question is how much does Granger have left in the tank? Prior to being traded by the Indiana Pacers, he was averaging 8.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists while shooting just 35.9 percent from the field and 33 percent from three-point range. Granger will likely ink his contract with the Clippers today. He chose L.A. over the San Antonio Spurs, Miami HEAT, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks among others.

Jimmer Fredette – It sounds like Fredette will sign with the Chicago Bulls. While nothing has been finalized yet, multiple credible reports have surfaced saying that the two sides are working on a deal and expect something to get done given the serious mutual interest. Fredette can’t officially put pen to paper until Saturday at 5 p.m. ET, since he has yet to clear waivers. Other teams that have expressed interest in the former BYU star include the Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies. Joining the Bulls would be good for Fredette, since he would get the chance to play for one of the best head coaches in the league in Tom Thibodeau, who may be able to help Fredette salvage his career. His extended range should help the Bulls since the team is ranked 27th in the NBA in three-point percentage (34.1 percent) this season. Fredette was knocking down 49.3 percent of his threes this season and averaging 5.9 points prior to being bought out by the Sacramento Kings.

Caron Butler – Over the summer, Butler was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Racine native seemed thrilled to be back home. He talked about finishing his career with the Bucks and even got teary eyed at his introductory press conference. Now, six months later, Butler is no longer a member of the Bucks after the two sides came to an agreement on a buyout yesterday. It was clear that Milwaukee wasn’t going anywhere, considering they own the league’s worst record at 11-46, and Butler wants to play for a contender at this point in his career. Now, after weighing his options, the 33-year-old has decided to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.  The Miami HEAT seemed to be the frontrunner for Butler, since he spent the first two years of his career there and remains close with Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, but it clearly didn’t work out since Butler is on the verge of a deal with the Thunder.

Ben Gordon – There’s no guarantee that Gordon will be bought out by the Charlotte Bobcats. The two sides continue to discuss a potential buyout, but nothing is imminent at this point. Gordon is making $13,200,000 this season with Charlotte, and would likely have to leave some of that money on the table in order to get his release. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that Gordon’s camp was receiving interest from a number of teams including the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets, but that those teams wanted to bring him in for the remainder of this season and then have a team option for a second year as well. Shelburne added that Gordon will “resist any new deal that impacts his looming free agency in July.” The Bobcats tried to trade Gordon prior to last week’s deadline, but they couldn’t find a taker. Now, it remains to be seen if the two sides can come to terms on a buyout. In order for Gordon to be playoff eligible with his next team, he must be bought out by March 1.

Metta World Peace – This has been a rough year for World Peace, who was bought out by the New York Knicks last week. In 29 games with the Knicks, World Peace averaged just 4.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, .6 assists and .8 steals in 13.4 minutes (all of which are career-lows). Because World Peace struggled so much during his stint with the Knicks, there hasn’t been a ton of interest in him right away. He has cleared waivers and is now an unrestricted free agent, but teams aren’t lining up to sign him. World Peace would like to join the Miami HEAT, Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs. However, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News says that the Spurs aren’t interested, so that removes one team from World Peace’s wish list. It remains to be seen if Miami or OKC have any interest. World Peace’s brother, Daniel Artest, recently tweeted that Metta was in Los Angeles, but did not provide a reason for the trip. The Los Angeles Clippers may have had some interest in World Peace last week, but they’re likely out of the mix now that they‘re signing Granger. World Peace may have to sign a 10-day contract to prove that he can still produce in order to find a new home, just like Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen among others had to do in recent years.

Antawn Jamison – Jamison was bought out last week by the Atlanta Hawks, after being dealt to the team just before the trade deadline. Now, the 37-year-old is reportedly receiving interest from the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. If the Bulls ink Fredette, as mentioned above, it’s unlikely that they’ll continue to pursue Jamison since they only have room under the luxury tax to add one prorated minimum deal. The Spurs remain a possibility for Jamison though. One reason why San Antonio let Shannon Brown walk rather than extending another 10-day contract is because they wanted to be able to add a veteran who was bought out. Jamison’s production has obviously dropped off in recent years. He only played in 22 games with the Los Angeles Clippers this season, averaging 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11.3 minutes. But he’s a 16-year veteran who does have a lot to offer a franchise, so he should be able to find a team that’s willing to sign him.

Knicks’ Frustrating Season Continues

Last night, Carmelo Anthony summed up the New York Knicks’ 2013-14 season with eight words.

“Anything that can go wrong,” he said, “is going wrong.”

The Knicks were blown out by the Miami HEAT, 108-82, and it seemed like the team wasn’t even trying at times. At one point, LeBron James ran coast-to-coast and dunked the ball, without a single Knick stepping into his way. Even James seemed shocked by how easy it was to get to the basket.

“We just didn’t respond,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said, according to The New York Times. “It was like we stopped playing.”

“We’re not playing like a team that’s fighting to make the playoffs,” J.R. Smith said, adding that the losing is “numbing” and “not good for anyone.”

“We gave up way too many points in the paint,” Tyson Chandler said. “I don’t have an answer for it. I pride myself on that end. It’s tough to watch, to be honest.”

The Knicks are now 21-37, which is tied for the seventh-worst record in the NBA. However, because the Eastern Conference has been terrible this season, they’re only five games out of eighth seed.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.




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Monte Morris: Waiting for his Chance

Nuggets two-way guard Monte Morris talks to Basketball Insiders about his time with Denver.

David Yapkowitz



Monte Morris has only seen action in three NBA games with the Denver Nuggets this year. While most players who receive little playing time spend most of their time at the end of the bench cheering their teammates on, Morris’ situation is a bit different. He’s spent the majority of his rookie year in the G-League.

The NBA’s minor league has grown tremendously since it’s inception in 2001. All but four NBA teams have a G-League affiliate now. There are plans for the New Orleans Pelicans to have their own team by next season, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has spoken about having a team in Mexico.

As part of the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, they expanded the partnership between NBA teams and their G-League affiliates even more by adding two-way contracts. Essentially creating a 16th and 17th roster spot, two-way players are allowed to split time between an NBA team and the G-League.

For Morris, two-way contracts are an added opportunity for players to make an NBA roster.

“It’s a good chance for guys to make a roster, especially second-round picks to get a chance,” Morris told Basketball Insiders. “With two-way contracts, I feel like they’re going to get a lot better as far as rules and things like that go. This is the first year so they’re testing it out, but it’s a good opportunity. It’s a blessing at the end of the day.”

Morris was drafted by the Nuggets with the 51st overall pick in last summer’s draft. Second round picks are not afforded the guaranteed contract stability that comes with being a first-round pick. He was tabbed for a two-way contract almost immediately after he was drafted.

He had a stellar four years of college at Iowa State, where he was one of the top point guards in the nation as a senior. He also had a strong showing in Las Vegas with the Nuggets’ summer league team.

The Nuggets were a little crowded in the backcourt to begin the season with Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay ahead of Morris in the rotation. When Mudiay was injured and out of the rotation, Mike Malone opted to go with Will Barton as the backup point guard. The Nuggets’ trade deadline acquisition of Devin Harris pushed Morris farther back on the depth chart.

“The toughest thing is just staying mentally tough, staying true to yourself, and developing your own craft,” Morris told Basketball Insiders. “Just not losing that self-confidence cause you might not play when you go up. When you come down here [G-League], take advantage of it, have fun, and keep getting better.”

Morris has definitely done his part to stand out in the G-League. The Nuggets are without a sole affiliate, so they’ve used the Houston Rockets G-League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, to get Morris additional experience. In 36 games with the Valley Vipers, he’s put up 18.2 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting from the field, 35.6 percent from the three-point line, 4.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.8 steals.

He believes that if called upon, he can be a major contributor for the Nuggets. There are certain aspects he can bring to the team and he thinks it’s possible for him to play with Murray in the backcourt together.

“I think I can bring energy off the bench. I feel like me and Jamal Murray, the way the game is going you can play small ball. I feel like I can bring pace to the game and play defensively,” Morris told Basketball Insiders. “I like getting after it when I’m up there with those guys on defense and getting guys open shots. I know we got a lot of scorers, my goal would be getting everybody their shots.”

Morris has been able to show he can produce at the NBA level, even if it’s a small sample size. On Feb. 9, only the second game he’s played in with Denver, he scored ten points on 4-5 shooting from the field, dished out six assists, and nabbed three steals against the Rockets.

Players on two-way contracts are allowed a maximum of 45 days with the NBA team. Those days are not solely game days; they include practices and travel days as well. Once those 45 days are up, NBA teams have the option of converting a two-way contract to a standard NBA deal provided they have roster space.

If a player uses up the 45 days and does not have their contract converted, they go back to the G-League. They can rejoin their NBA team once the G-League season ends but are not able to play in the playoffs.

For now, Morris is just biding his time, waiting for his opportunity. He’s staying ready for when the Nuggets might need him. In the meantime, he’ll continue to take advantage of what the G-League has to offer.

“It’s definitely a good starting point. It’s just all about how guys attack it on and off the court,” Morris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s just being a pro and not losing confidence in your ability when you go up and don’t play. You just got to be ready, you’re really one injury away, one call away to step on and have to play.”

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Middleton, Bucks Aiming To ‘Lock In’ As Season Comes To Close

Spencer Davies catches up with Milwaukee Bucks swingman Khris Middleton in a Basketball Insiders exclusive.

Spencer Davies



Basketball Insiders had the chance to chat with Khris Middleton about the direction of the Milwaukee Bucks as the season comes to a close.

You guys won three out of four before you came into Cleveland. What was working during that stretch?

Just being us. Doing it with our defense, playing fast-paced offense. Just trying to keep teams off the three-point line. We haven’t done that. We didn’t do that [Monday] or two games ago, but it’s something we’ve just gotta get back to.

With the offense—it seems like it’s inconsistent. What do you think that’s got to do with mostly?

Just trying to do it by ourselves sometimes. Standing, keeping the ball on one side of the floor. We’re a better team when we play in a fast pace. And then also in the half court, when we move the ball from side-to-side it just opens the paint for everybody and there’s a lot more space.

For you, on both ends you’ve been ultra-aggressive here in the last couple weeks or so, does that have to do with you feeling better or is it just a mindset?

I’ve been healthy all year. Right now, it’s the end of the season. Gotta make a push. Everybody’s gotta lock in. Have to be confident, have to be aggressive. Have to do my job and that’s to shoot the ball well and to defend.

Have you changed anything with your jumper? Looking at the past couple months back-to-back, your perimeter shooting was below 32 percent. In March it’s above 45 percent.

I feel like I got a lot of great looks earlier this year. They just weren’t falling. Right now, they’re falling for me, so I have the same mindset that I had when I was missing and that’s to keep on shooting. At some point, they’re gonna go down for me.

Is knowing that every game at this point means more an extra motivator for you guys?

Definitely. We’re basically in the playoffs right now. We’re in a playoff series right now where we have to win games, we have to close out games, in order to get the seeding and to stay in the playoffs. Each game and each possession means something to us right now.

Is it disappointing to be in the position the team is in right now, or are you looking at it as, ‘If we get there, we’re going to be alright’?

I mean, we wish we were in a better position. But where we’re at right now, we’re fine with it. We want to make that last push to get higher in the seeding.

Lots of changes have gone on here. Eric Bledsoe came in two weeks into the season. You had the coaching change and lineup changes. Jabari Parker’s been getting situated before the postseason. How difficult does that make it for you guys to build consistency?

Yeah, it was tough at first. But I think early on we had to adjust on the fly. We didn’t have too many practices. There was a stretch where we were able to get in the film room, get on the court, and practice with each other more.

Now it’s just at a point where we’re adding a lot of new guys off the bench where we have to do the same things—learn on the fly, watch film. We’re not on the court as much now, but we just have to do a great job of buying in to our system, try to get to know each other.

Does this team feel like it has unfinished business based on what happened last year?

Definitely. Last year, we felt like we let one go. Toronto’s a great team. They’re having a hell of a season this year, but I feel like we let one go. This year’s a new year—a little add of extra motivation. We’ve been in the playoff position before, so hopefully, we learn from it when we go into it this year.

Would you welcome that rematch?

I mean, we welcome anybody man. We showed that we compete with any team out here. We can’t worry about other teams as much. We just have to be focused on us.

What has to happen for you guys to achieve your full potential?

Lock in. Just play as hard as we can, play unselfish, and do our job out there night-in, night-out.

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NBA Daily: Raptors Look To Fine-Tune The Defense

The Toronto Raptors’ defense had a letdown against the Cavaliers, but has been outstanding overall.

Buddy Grizzard



The Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors engaged in an offensive shootout on Wednesday that could be a playoff preview. The Cavs protected home court with a single-possession, 132-129 victory. Afterward, the Raptors spoke about the types of defensive adjustments the team needs to make as the postseason rapidly approaches.

“That’s how a playoff game would be,” said DeMar DeRozan, who missed a three at the buzzer that could have forced overtime. “This is a team we’ve been playing against the last two years in the postseason. Understanding how we can tighten up things defensively, how to make things tougher for them [is key].

“[It’s] little small things that go a long way, and not just with them … with every team.”

Raptors coach Dwane Casey concurred with DeRozan that fine-tuning of the defense is needed. He also pointed out that, with young contributors such as center Jakob Poeltl and power forward Pascal Siakam on the roster, defensive experience against the league’s best player, LeBron James, is something they will have to gain on the fly.

“I don’t think Jakob Poeltl played against him that much, and Siakam,” said Casey. “This is their first time seeing it. I thought Jak and Pascal did an excellent job, but there are certain situations where they’ve got to read and understand what the other team is trying to do to them.”

Poeltl was outstanding, leading the bench with 17 points and tying for the team lead in rebounds with eight. Casey praised the diversity of his contributions.

“I thought he did an excellent job of rolling, finishing, finding people,” said Casey. “I thought defensively, he did a good job of protecting the paint, going vertical. So I liked what he was giving us, especially his defense against Kevin Love.”

Basketball Insiders previously noted how the Raptors have performed vastly better as a team this season when starting point guard Kyle Lowry is out of the game. Much of that is due to Fred VanVleet’s emergence as one of the NBA’s best reserve point guards. VanVleet scored 16 points with five assists and no turnovers against Cleveland. It’s also a reflection of how good Toronto’s perimeter defense has been up and down the roster.

According to ESPN’s defensive Real Plus-Minus statistic, three of the NBA’s top 15 defensive point guards play for the Raptors. VanVleet ranks seventh while Lowry is 12th and Delon Wright is 14th. Starting small forward OG Anunoby ranks 16th at his position.

The Raptors also rank in the top five in offensive efficiency (third) and defensive efficiency (fifth). Having established an identity as a defensive team, especially on the perimeter, it’s perhaps understandable that Lowry was the one player in the visiting locker room who took the sub-standard defensive showing personally.

“It was a disgraceful display of defense by us and we’ve got to be better than that,” said Lowry. “We’ve got to be more physical. They picked us apart and made a lot of threes. We’ve got to find a way to be a better defensive team.”

Lowry continued the theme of fine-tuning as the regular season winds down.

“I think we’ve just got to make adjustments on the fly as a team,” said Lowry. “We can score with the best of them, but they outscored us tonight. We got what we wanted offensively. We’re one of the top teams in scoring in the league, but we’re also a good defensive team.”

Lowry was clearly bothered by Toronto’s defensive showing, but Casey downplayed the importance of a single regular-season game.

“We’ve got to take these games and learn from them, and again learn from the situations where we have to be disciplined,” said Casey. “It’s not a huge thing. It’s situations where we are that we’ve got to learn from and be disciplined and not maybe take this step and over-help here. Because a team like that and a passer like James will make you pay.”

While the Raptors continue to gain experience and dial in the fine defensive details, Casey was insistent that his players should not hang their heads over falling short against Cleveland.

“Hopefully our guys understand that we’re right there,” said Casey.

The Raptors host the Brooklyn Nets tonight to open a three-game home stand that includes visits from the Clippers Sunday and the Nuggets Tuesday. After that, Toronto visits the Celtics March 31 followed by a return to Cleveland April 3 and a home game against Boston the next night. With three games in a row against the other two top-three teams in the East, the schedule presents plenty of opportunities for the Raptors to add defensive polish before the playoffs begin.

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