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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

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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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Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team

Basketball Insiders

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Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.

“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”

Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN

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NBA PM: Patrick Beverley Set the Tone for Clippers in Season Opener

Patrick Beverley set the tone for the L.A. Clippers with his aggressive defense in their season opener.

Jesse Blancarte

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“The LA Clippers are going to the Western Conference Finals. Guaranteed.”

That bold statement was made by Charles Barkley during TNT’s coverage of last night’s matchup between the Lakers and Clippers.

While Barkley may have had his hot take canon primed and in mid-season form, that should not overshadow the fact that the Los Angeles Clippers put together a strong showing in their first regular season game since the departure of Chris Paul.

Blake Griffin logged 29 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and knocked down three of his six three-point attempts. Griffin was aggressive and showed no hesitation on his jumper, which seemed to open up lanes for him to drive to the basket (where he is most effective). DeAndre Jordan was fantastic as well, contributing 14 points, 24 rebounds, one assist and one steal.

While the Clippers lost some significant contributors from last season, including J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jamal Crawford, the team had some returning and new players show that they are capable of filling the void.

Milos Teodosic was just 2-9 from the field, but knocked down two three-pointers and looked comfortable and effective running the team’s offense. Danilo Gallinarni shot just 3-13 from the field but looked healthy and spry, displaying the kind of mobility that is necessary to play the small forward position. His ability to act as a secondary playmaker wasn’t on full display, but there were moments where it was apparent that he could be a big help in generating open looks for his teammates. Lou Williams also looked good in his Clippers debut, scoring in a variety of ways off the bench and contributing six assists as well. Wesley Johnson continues to look confident and aggressive, a continuation from his preseason performances, and is starting to knock down the open shots his teammates are creating for him (which has been a problem for him in the past).

While the Clippers looked solid in their opening act without Paul, it should be noted that the Lakers are a young team overall and their defense has been a major problem for the last few seasons. While the Lakers have added some promising young talent over the offseason, like most young teams, they are going to struggle to slow down veteran teams with potent offenses. It would be a mistake to think the Clippers can replicate this sort of offensive performance every night, especially against the better defensive teams in the league. However, perhaps the most promising part of the Clippers’ season debut was the fact that they seemed to feed off of and embrace the gritty demeanor and style of play that Patrick Beverley brings to the court each and every night.

Last night’s game was the NBA debut for rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who many predict will develop into a star player. Unfortunately for Ball, his opening night matchup came against Beverley, who earned a spot on the 2017 All-Defensive First Team. Beverley repeatedly guarded Ball past half court, pushed him around and did everything he could to throw him off of his game. He held Ball to three points, nine rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes of action.

Beverley, like every NBA player, has heard the hype and noise surrounding Ball and his future in the league (most of it from his outspoken father, LaVar).

“I just had to set the tone,” Beverley said. “I told him after the game that due to all the riffraff his dad brings, that he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him. I let him know that after the game. What a better way to start than spending 94 feet guarding him tonight — welcome the young guy to the NBA.”

Beverley is one of the more aggressive defenders in the NBA and is known for trying to get under the skin of his opponents, so Lonzo may not face this level of intensity in every game. But based on Beverley’s comments, it’s clear that he expects other players around the league to defend Lonzo aggressively as well.

Snoop Dogg, the rapper and passionate Lakers fan, summed up the issue for Ball arguably better than anyone else has so far.

“His father put him in the lion’s den with pork chop drawers on,” said Snoop.

For his part, Lonzo complimented Beverley on his aggressive defense.

“[Beverley] plays hard. He knows his job. He does it very well,” said Ball. “He gets under people’s skin and plays defense and does what he can to help his team win.”

Beverley set the tone for the Clippers, who looked crisp and confident throughout the game. Griffin’s three-point shot looks like it could finally be a reliable part of his offensive arsenal. Jordan was very active on the glass, pulling down 24 rebounds (possibly inspired in part by his commitment to donate $100 per rebound this season to help the effort to rebuild his hometown of Houston after the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey). The rest of the supporting cast played with the sort of cohesion and confidence that takes at least a few weeks into the season to develop. Again, the Clippers’ performance could have stemmed primarily from the Lakers’ shaky defense, but it was encouraging to see the team play with such force and confidence in the absence of Paul.

The Western Conference is extremely talented and deep, so it’s unlikely that the Clippers will make it to the Western Conference Finals as Barkley predicted. However, challenging for a spot in the playoffs and perhaps even doing some damage once there seems to be in the realm of possibility. This is especially the case considering how much of an impact Beverley had Thursday night, both defensively and in setting the tone for the rest of his new teammates.

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Morris Bringing Leadership To Celtics

Marcus Morris chats with Basketball Insiders for a one-on-one exclusive.

Spencer Davies

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Returning just one starter from last year’s top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics underwent wholesale changes this past offseason.

Gordon Hayward signed a super max contract. Danny Ainge pried Kyrie Irving away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a blockbuster deal. Jayson Tatum was selected with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft.

In early July, though, there was an under-the-radar trade executed that hasn’t been mentioned much. Surprisingly, Celtics guard Avery Bradley was sent to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris, a heady wing with size and versatility to add to a revamped core of players.

Bradley was a mainstay with the franchise for seven years and played a vital role as a part of Brad Stevens’ system, but Boston decided to move in a different direction. As for the man they got in return, he’s thrilled to be there.

“It makes me feel good,” Morris told Basketball Insiders of Ainge dealing one of his best former players for him. “It makes you feel wanted.

“This is my first time since I’ve been in the NBA I’ve been on a team with a bunch of guys that [are] All-Stars. With the maturity of the team being this high and having them high expectations on us, I’m excited to get the season going and see how far we can take this.”

The Detroit Pistons likely wanted to keep him, but the organization clearly felt Bradley’s skill set was too good to pass up. For Morris, he insisted there was no indication that his old team would send him away, but he hasn’t been bashful about talking up his new home.

“Had no idea that I was gonna be a Boston Celtic, but I’m ready for the challenge, you know?” Morris said. “I’m excited. Boston, being a Celtic—it’s something that growing up you don’t really see happening, but when it happens it’s an amazing thing.

“It’s like playing for the Patriots, you know what I mean? One of the most heralded teams and most heralded franchises, and Boston is one of those.”

Entering the seventh season of his career, Morris has remained a steady part of the league. During his time in Detroit, he started nearly every game for the Pistons and found a comfort zone that he believes will carry over in Boston.

“Just continue to be consistent, continue to build on my last past couple of years,” Morris said of his personal goals. “I really felt like I carved my spot in the NBA the last two years—averaging 14 a year and helping my team get to the playoffs one of those years, so I really think I’ve carved a niche in this league.”

The success has come thanks to his versatility and the NBA’s current direction pointing towards that type of game. All of a sudden, not having a defined position makes a player more valuable, something Morris is thankful for as he continues to bring a little bit of everything to the table.

“For guys like me, it’s great,” Morris said. “Coming into the league, I had this ‘tweener’ thing on my back and now it’s like [freaking] great to be a ‘tweener’ at this time. I’m actually happy that it’s switching to my position and guys that can do multiple things are being utilized more in this league.”

Putting the ball in the basket has come fairly easy for Morris, who averaged 14.1 points per game on 42.6 percent from the field over 159 games with Detroit. He’s able to stretch the floor and provide solid spacing offensively, and he envisions doing more than that for this Celtics group.

“And leadership,” Morris said. “I’m not too much of a vocal guy, but I’m a passionate guy on the court. I think that’ll rub off on guys. I love scoring. I love shooting the ball. But that’s not the only thing I do.

“I’ve been a tough defender around this league for the last past years and I’m really looking forward to hanging my hat on that again and just doing whatever it takes for my team to get to that next level.”

Stevens is aware of the impact Morris can bring in the locker room and on the floor. When he returns from a sore knee to make his debut for Boston, that’ll show through his play.

“He’s a guy that can stretch the floor at the four,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that can guard two through four. He’s tough. He’s smart. He works the right way. We’ll be better with Marcus Morris for sure. The versatility is a very important part of what we want to be.

“Whether he is starting in a couple of weeks or whether he’s coming off the bench, at the end of the day he’s gonna be a critical, critical part of our team.”

While he’s waited to come back, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have stepped up in his absence. With Hayward likely sidelined for the rest of the season, that success will have to be sustained. Morris is a big believer in this promising duo and sees how grounded they are to make that happen.

“They’re mature guys for their age,” Morris said. “Jaylen, I think he’s 20. He’s definitely a lot more mature than I thought. Jayson, too. He’s way more mature than your average 19-year-old.

“At the end of the day, it’s just basketball. I think those guys, they’re ready for the challenge. They love the game. They always in the gym, so I think it’ll be easy for ‘em.”

Part of Morris’ role is guiding those two and the other younger pieces that Boston has as they try and establish themselves as professionals. He’s kind of a coach per se, which is somewhat fitting considering what he did this summer.

Most basketball fans are aware of “The Basketball Tournament” that takes nationwide. For those that aren’t, it’s a single-elimination competition between 64 teams in which the champion receives a $2 million prize. Morris was the head coach of Team FOE—standing for Family Over Everything.

Along with his fellow Kansas alums, including his brother Markieff and Thomas Robinson, Morris coached his team to the final game. Team FOE was in front most of the game but ultimately fell to Boeheim’s Army, a squad filled with former Syracuse Orangemen.

“I was on my way man,” Morris said of coming close. “I actually liked it. I’m a smart guy. Me and basketball stuff, I can put it together real well. I was kinda upset we lost in the fashion that we lost, but we’ll be back next year.

“I’m a smart player,” he said regarding a potential future on the sidelines. “I know the game really well. Coaching comes easy for some guys and I’m just one of those guys.”

You could hear “Coach Morris” down the line, but for now and for years to come, Marcus is focused on his first year with Boston. It’s a team that surely has the talent to be the top team in the East it’s pegged to be. Stevens is a basketball savant with great leadership.

Even without an All-Star like Hayward and a 0-2 start, the Celtics should still be a force to be reckoned with. There’s an even greater demand for them to achieve their potential, especially knowing eyes will be on them, but Morris welcomes the challenge.

“Man, it’s pressure on every team,” Morris said. “It ain’t like it’s just all on the Boston Celtics. It’s pressure on every team. What’s a game without pressure anyway?

“Pressure makes it the best thing. That’s what we need to do anyway. I enjoy the pressure. Me personally.”

Shouldering the load won’t be easy, but if it comes down to it, Morris will be swimming instead of sinking. When all is said and done, he shares the same aspirations as most players do—raising the Larry O’Brien trophy in the summer.

“I want to the win the championship,” Morris said. “You put this type of team together to get to those positions. I’m looking to be playing in June and trying to get to a championship.”

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