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NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Rondo Takes Blame for Celtics’ Struggles

Rajon Rondo takes blame for his and the Celtics’ struggles… Phil Jackson under fire in NY and more!

Yannis Koutroupis

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Check out the biggest rumors of the day in our NBA Rumor Round-Up. For more rumors and news, check out Basketball Insiders’ headlines, which are constantly being updated.

Rondo takes the blame

“I’ve not been myself,” Rajon Rondo said after a 109-102 win snapped a five-game losing streak. “I haven’t been as aggressive. I haven’t been making shots. I’ve been turning the ball over. So, like I said, a lot of those losses I put on myself, and I’ve got to find a better rhythm.”

How, exactly, does Rondo plan to find that rhythm? He could start by attacking the basket, getting to the free throw line and breaking out of his 30 percent free-throw shooting funk.

“I don’t really have the answer,” added Rondo, who had eight assists against four turnovers. “If I had it, I’d probably figure it out, but I’m still confident in myself. I’m still believing in myself. So, that hasn’t shied away from my game, and I’ll continue to get better.”

Via Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com

With over two months remaining until the NBA’s trade deadline, there’s reason to start wondering whether Rajon Rondo could be on the move eventually. At the beginning of the season both parties were saying the right thing and making it sound like they wanted to stay together long-term, however, it’s still hard to see how that’s in the Celtics’ best interest. Their ceiling as a franchise is obviously a lot lower now than it was years ago when Rondo was surrounded by Hall of Famers, and with top tier free agents difficult to lure over in the open market, trading him is their best way to improve. They’re already loaded in the backcourt with young talent to replace him, it’s just a matter of accepting that it’s time to move on.

That could also be the cure to Rondo’s woes as well. As a pass first point guard, he needs to be surrounded by high-caliber weapons in order to be at his best.

This isn’t one of those instances where it has to get ugly and Rondo needs to demand a trade. Celtics president Danny Ainge simply needs to quietly gauge the market and find out which team is willing to offer the best package for Rondo. The market may be limited by Rondo’s pending free agency, but the Celtics should be able to find a deal that is worth accepting and avoiding the possibility of losing Rondo this summer for nothing in return. The fact that the state of the team is still this bad (the Celtics are 5-11) shows that it is indeed time to make a change.

Jackson: Knicks lack confidence

Phil Jackson doesn’t panic, although he didn’t seem overly thrilled when a reporter stopped him on the way to his car for a comment. Jackson, who isn’t exactly adhering to his promise of an open relationship with the press, simply stated that the Knicks look to be lacking confidence. The Knicks also announced that they were not practicing Wednesday, which seemed off under the circumstances. A more plausible scenario is that the Knicks practiced but wanted to give Fisher and Anthony a day off from the media, which is in fact against NBA rules.
But avoiding the media speaks to Jackson’s analysis of the team lacking confidence. He could have added toughness as well. And he could have mentioned that the team lacks talent, but that would be disrespectful to the current roster, not to mention a self-inflicted jab. Jackson also could have mentioned that the head coach looks a little overwhelmed but that would be a direct shot at Fisher as well as Garden chairman James Dolan, who did everything he could to push Steve Kerr, Jackson’s first choice to coach the Knicks, to Golden State.

Via Frank Isola of the New York Daily News

Ah, life in New York, where if the Knicks aren’t winning, there’s going to be some scathing articles out in the press. This is partly Jackson’s doing, as the more open he is with the media and the more explaining he does about the team’s struggles and plans to recover from them, the more positive the outlook would be. However, from an outsiders’ perspective, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot going right with the Knicks, and quick one-liners about how a lack of confidence is the primary issue isn’t explanation enough to avoid the negativity.

Jackson seems to want to stand in the background during this tough time and let the team grow on their own without having to constantly read about his takes in the media, but articles like this are the price that comes with being standoffish. Until the franchise is back on track, the finger has to be pointed somewhere, and every move will be second guessed.

Byron Scott thinks Kobe will keep playing past 2016

Part of Scott’s optimism about the Lakers’ future stems from Bryant posting a league-leading 25.8 points per game after appearing in only six contests last season with injuries to his left Achilles and left knee. Scott also believes he can convince Bryant to play beyond his contract that expires following the 2015-16 season.

“We’ll talk about that. You guys have watched him play. He has a lot left in that tank,” Scott said before the Lakers (4-13) play the Washington Wizards (11-5) at Verizon Center. “If we put something together that excites him, we’ll have a real good chance of him saying he’ll play another year and give it another shot. That’s what we plan to do.”

Via Mark Medina of InsideSoCal.com

This comes on the heels of Adrian Wojnarowski, one of the few reporters in the league who has a genuinely close relationship with the Lakers star, writing that Bryant was in deed open to playing past 2016. Scott serving as a main recruiter should help the Lakers as they attempt to get Bryant to play into his upper 30s, as long as their relationship isn’t negatively impacted by the Lakers’ lack of success this year, and presumably next year as well if the front office isn’t able to make wholesale improvements.

Bryant’s current contract expires at the end of next season, after which the Lakers will have ample cap space and plan to make a run at Kevin Durant. It’s likely going to take landing a big fish like Durant to ensure Bryant that they’re going to contend in order for him to pass on retirement, something that at times he has seem set on once his current deal expires.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Cousins’ Camp Doesn’t Want Karl Hired?

DeMarcus Cousins’ camp reportedly doesn’t want the Kings to hire George Karl and more NBA rumors here.

Alex Kennedy

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Check out the biggest rumors of the day in our NBA Rumor Round-Up. For more rumors and news, check out Basketball Insiders’ headlines, which are constantly being updated.

Cousins’ Camp Doesn’t Want Karl Hired?

Karl’s personal past with a number of influential members in and around the Kings organization remains relevant as well, as he previously coached Kings advisor Chris Mullin and has history with the two agents who represent franchise centerpiece DeMarcus Cousins as well. Cousins’ day-to-day agent, Jarrin Akana, worked with Karl in Denver and was re-assigned from assistant coach to scout when Karl took over for coach Jeff Bzdelik in 2005. Dan Fegan, Cousins’ lead agent, represented Karl’s son, Coby, as a player for years before he was eventually replaced. That circle, by all accounts, has been against the notion of adding Karl.

To that end, D’Alessandro’s ability to change their minds is key here as well. While it appears D’Alessandro is endorsing Karl with or without the support of his team’s top player or his representatives, he would prefer to have agreement on that front if Ranadive ultimately approves the hiring. There is some concern within the organization, however, that hiring Karl could create substantive conflict going forward when it comes to Cousins.

via Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, reports surfaced that the Kings were seriously pursuing George Karl since they didn’t want to lose him to the Magic (who recently fired Jacque Vaughn). Even though the Magic have yet to contact Karl or his camp, the head coach’s interest in the Orlando job seemed to get Sacramento talking about a deal.

Now, however, it seems DeMarcus Cousins’ camp (and some minority owners, according to Amick) are trying to stop the Kings from hiring Karl due to past issues with the veteran head coach. It remains to be seen if Pete D’Alessandro will hire him anyway (and risk upsetting Cousins).

The Kings have dropped to 17-32 under Ty Corbin, and Cousins recently said he was more frustrated now than he’s ever been since joining the Kings.

In 2005, Karl took over the Denver Nuggets midseason and they went 32-8 after he got the job (which is the best record for a coach who has taken over a job midseason).

Karl has 25 years of head coaching experience and an NBA Finals appearance on his resume. He is 1131-756 in the regular season and 80-105 in the postseason.

Miami Hasn’t Told Johnson He’ll Be Signed

The Heat hasn’t told Tyler Johnson, who has impressed, if he will be signed for balance of the season when his second 10-day expires Monday.

via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald

Miami needs to decide if they want to sign Tyler Johnson for the remainder of the season or let him go.

Erik Spoelstra has praised the young guard and recently described him as the “model of player development,” which suggests his head coach has been impressed and would like him to stick around.

Johnson has appeared in six games for Miami, averaging 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 18.8 minutes per game.

In his most recent game, he had 18 points (on 7-10 shooting from the field) and two steals in 25 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs. He also had a 13-point, nine-rebound, two-block and two-steal performance in 27 minutes against the Boston Celtics last week.

Johnson has already signed two 10-day contracts and his next deal would be for the rest of the season.

Bucks Sign Gutierrez to Another 10-Day

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed guard Jorge Gutierrez to a second 10-day contract, General Manager John Hammond announced today.

via Milwaukee Bucks press release

Jorge Gutierrez has appeared in four games for the Bucks and averaged 4.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 14.8 minutes per game.

He made one start for Milwaukee on Feb. 2 at Toronto, and on Feb. 6 at Houston, tied his career high for scoring with 13 points in the game.

Gutierrez signed his first 10-day contract on January 28. After this second 10-day deal expires, the Bucks will have to decide if they want to keep him for the remainder of the season or let him go.

 

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NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Kevin Garnett May Be On the Move

Kevin Garnett could be traded before the deadline, the Hawks are interested in Ray Allen and more rumors.

Alex Kennedy

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Check out the biggest rumors of the day in our NBA Rumor Round-Up. For more rumors and news, check out Basketball Insiders’ headlines, which are constantly being updated.

Kevin Garnett On the Move?

It’s also fun to watch the Nets figure out the present and future of their big-man rotation, which includes two pieces — Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett — who will be the subject of trade talks over the next two weeks. Garnett has a no-trade clause, but he holds some appeal to playoff teams who can use a boost off the bench and/or some long-term salary relief — Golden State, Charlotte, Toronto, and others. The Nets won’t engage in any series of deals that leaves them with more long-term salary, so it will be tough to find the right combination of trades that makes dealing Garnett’s expiring contract palatable. But the cranky one can still knock down a midrange jumper and play solid defense.

via Zach Lowe of Grantland

Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson have been mentioned quite a bit in trade rumors, but Kevin Garnett’s name hasn’t come up as much.

But it makes sense that teams are expressing interest in the veteran big man, as he could bolster a frontcourt and provide championship experience. Brooklyn is just 21-28 and barely staying in the playoff picture in the weak Eastern Conference.

As Zach Lowe writes, Garnett’s no-trade clause and contract could make things a bit difficult. Garnett is under contract for $12,000,000, and the Nets don’t want to take back any long-term deals in exchange for KG.

Still, it’s interesting that he’s coming up in trade talks. He could certainly help a team like the Warriors, Hornets and Raptors, among others.

This season, Garnett is averaging 6.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and a steal in 20.7 minutes per game for the Nets. He is 38 years old and he’s in his 20th NBA season. If Garnett isn’t traded, a buyout could also be a possibility.

Hawks Pursuing Ray Allen

It’s no surprise to hear that the Hawks are interested in Ray Allen. Just about every contending team has reached out to Allen at some point, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and many others also being linked to the veteran shooter as well.

With all of that said, it remains to be seen if Allen will even play this year. He has been working out in Miami, but that doesn’t mean he’s making a comeback. Allen is a fitness freak who will be working out every day for the rest of his life – NBA career or not.

He isn’t sure if he wants to play this season and is enjoying time with his family (and golfing). Some people around the league have assumed he’s just waiting for the right time to sign and will definitely play, but sources close to Allen insist that he really hasn’t made a decision one way or the other.

Allen averaged 9.6 points per game last year on the Miami HEAT and hit perhaps the biggest shot of his career the year before, which helped Miami go on to win the championship over the San Antonio Spurs. Atlanta is already a very talented team with a balanced attack, and thinking of them with Allen (who would fit in perfectly) also providing shooting off of the bench is scary.

Mavericks Would Be Favorites to Land Stoudemire

The Dallas Mavericks would be considered front-runners to sign Amar’e Stoudemire if the 13-year veteran opts to pursue a contract buyout from the New York Knicks, according to league sources.

Stoudemire made it clear in his public comments that he’s not yet sure if he wants to seek a buyout from the Knicks to join a contender for the stretch run, but sources told ESPN.com that Dallas has quickly emerged as a prime landing spot if he becomes a free agent.

via Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein of ESPN

Dallas makes sense as a landing spot for Amar’e Stoudemire, as they’re a very talented team and he could play a significant role there since their frontcourt needs depth.

The article also mentions that the Mavericks still plan to sign Jermaine O’Neal, who recently had Orthokine treatment and is trying to get in playing shape.

Dallas is “prepared to make the needed roster room to accommodate both O’Neal and Stoudemire,” which would be huge for the franchise. If they were to add both players, frontcourt depth would go from a weakness to a strength for the Mavericks.

As we covered in this space yesterday, Stoudemire isn’t sure if he’s going to ask for a buyout, but it’s something he’s going to think about over All-Star weekend.

Stoudemire is making $23,410,988 this season and may be willing to leave some of that money on the table in order to become an unrestricted free agent. New York is just 10-39, which is the worst record in the Eastern Conference. This year, Stoudemire has averaged 12.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in 24.5 minutes.

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NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Stoudemire May Ask Knicks for Buyout

Amar’e Stoudemire may ask Knicks for buyout, George Karl would be interested in coaching Magic and more rumors.

Alex Kennedy

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Check out the biggest rumors of the day in our NBA Rumor Round-Up. For more rumors and news, check out Basketball Insiders’ headlines, which are constantly being updated.

Stoudemire May Ask Knicks for Buyout

Amar’e Stoudemire plans to use the All-Star break to decide whether to ask the New York Knicks for a contract buyout that could free him to potentially sign with a playoff contender.

“It’s not an easy decision to make,” Stoudemire told Yahoo Sports. “Over time, we will see how things pan out. You give yourself a break during the All-Star break. You think about it with your family. …That will give me a good solid week on how to weigh out the rest of the season.”

“All possibilities at this point are still open,” Stoudemire said of a possible buyout. “The door is still open for that. But at the same time, I am with the Knicks now. I got to stay optimistic about things and what we are doing here. I can’t really focus on the future because it’s not here.

“We still have a couple weeks left before it’s all said and done. It’s a decision I have to make with my family to figure out the best scenario for the near future.”

via Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports

Amar’e Stoudemire isn’t sure if he’ll ask the Knicks for a buyout, but according to this interview it’s definitely something he’ll consider and discuss with his inner circle during the All-Star break.

Stoudemire is making $23,410,988 this season and may be willing to leave some of that money on the table in order to become an unrestricted free agent and then join a contending team. New York is just 10-39, which is the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

Our own Steve Kyler discussed this possibility last week in a video about potential buyouts, calling Stoudemire “a prime candidate” to be bought out.

If Stoudemire does become available, expect plenty of teams to express interest in the veteran big man. He may not be the star player he was earlier in his career, but he’s still a talented big man who can bolster a team’s frontcourt.

The L.A. Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers are mentioned by Spears as teams that may pursue Stoudemire if he becomes available, since they have been interested in adding a big man.

This season, Stoudemire has averaged 12.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in 24.5 minutes. Spears adds that the Knicks’ top priority seems to be buying out Andrea Bargnani, who is making $11,500,000 this year.

Karl Would Be Interested in Magic Job

One name to watch is George Karl. Sources didn’t mention him as a target for the Magic initially, but I’m told that Karl would have interest in coaching Orlando and possibly joining the team midseason.

Karl had previously said he’d prefer a job out West, but sources say he would be interested in the Magic since they’re an attractive team with their youth and talent.

via Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders

Scott Skiles and Mark Jackson are the two head coaches who keep coming up when discussing the Orlando Magic’s targets, but George Karl may emerge as a possibility as well.

As I wrote yesterday, sources say Karl would be open to coaching the Magic – possibly even taking over midseason. Remember, back in 2005 he took over the Denver Nuggets midseason and they went 32-8 after he got the job (which is the best record for a coach who has taken over in the middle of a campaign).

Sources say that the Magic want a proven head coach, and Karl has 25 years of coaching experience and an NBA Finals appearance on his resume. He is 1131-756 in the regular season and 80-105 in the postseason.

The Magic are currently 15-37, which is the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference, but they have plenty of young players with a lot of potential such as Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Maurice Harkless and Kyle O’Quinn among others.

Last night, Karl had some fun with Magic fans on Twitter:

Anthony Ready to Recruit During All-Star Weekend

“Everybody will be in their own kind of zone on All-Star weekend. The real effect that they will feel will be during the game here at the Garden, kind of seeing what the Garden has to offer, not just for New York Knicks but for everything,” Anthony said. “And that is a big moment — that Sunday in the All-Star Game.

“The Garden will be lit up, it will be bright, there will be a lot of people in there, it will be loud and it will be exciting. So for other players to see that, I am pretty sure that will be impressive,” Anthony said.

Anthony mentioned no names. So we will: Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Memphis’ Marc Gasol and Atlanta’s Paul Millsap are the most prominent 2015 free agents who will play in the All-Star Game.

“For the most part, guys pretty much know New York. Especially veteran guys who have been in the league for a long time,” Anthony said. “People come here in the summertime, in the offseason, they spend time here. When they come to play, they spend time being out and about and just experiencing different things. I am pretty sure people already know New York. It is just a matter of kind of knowing and learning the Knicks organization at that point.”

via Fred Kerber of the New York Post

As the article mentions, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol and Paul Millsap will be among the All-Stars that Carmelo Anthony can try to recruit while hosting the league’s elite during All-Star Weekend in New York.

This summer, the Knicks are expected to be huge players in free agency, as they currently have just $32,717,391 in guaranteed commitments for next season (and could lower that number even more by making moves before the trade deadline).

They will have a ton of money to throw around at the available stars, and they’re hoping that Anthony and Phil Jackson will be able to lure players to Madison Square Garden.

This kind of recruiting often happens at All-Star Weekend, so it’s no surprise Anthony will be trying to sell the city to players. In the past, he has been on the opposite end of the recruiting pitch and said, “Now it’s my turn to extend the favor.”

The Knicks are just 10-39 right now, but it’s likely that New York’s roster will look very different next season after free-agent additions and the selection of a top prospect from the 2015 NBA Draft.

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