NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Dragic Will Explore Free Agency Options

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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.

Dragic Will Explore Free Agency Options

Suns guard Goran Dragic left open the possibility of going to any team in free agency when talking before Saturday’s game and stuck to the idea after the game when asked again about being an unrestricted free agent in July.

“It’s still early to talk about that,” Dragic said. “Right now, I want to be 100 percent focused on the team and try to help the team and players. In the offseason, I’m going to probably sit down with my family first and with my agent and try to explore all the options. From there, I’ll try to choose the one best for me.”

via Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic

As I wrote yesterday in this space, if the Suns aren’t positive that they’ll be able to re-sign Goran Dragic on a long-term deal this summer, it’s possible that they’ll look to trade him before the Feb. 19 deadline so that they could get something in return for him rather than losing him for nothing over the offseason.

While the Suns would love to keep Dragic, quotes like this have to worry Phoenix a little bit since he is making it clear that he’s going to explore his options and enter free agency with an open mind. Teams like the New York Knicks, L.A. Lakers and Houston Rockets among others would love to have Dragic.

If the Suns do decide to put Dragic on the market, there will be a ton of teams interested in the veteran point guard. Executives have reportedly already started calling the Suns in an attempt to pry Dragic away, and those calls will continue up until the deadline (especially if Phoenix is struggling and outside of the Western Conference playoff picture).

Phoenix is currently 15-14, which puts them in ninth place in the West. Dragic will opt out of the final year of his contract (worth $7.5 million) to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Kings Want Karl, Not Jackson

Now sources tell PBT that though the team is still very interested in hiring Karl, they are hesitant to pay an expected asking price in the range of $5 million per year or more.

In the meantime they have allowed themselves to be connected to former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, staging a not-so-secret meeting at Sleep Train Arena following Thursday’s nationally televised game that Jackson called for ESPN.

Sources tell PBT that Jackson has “no chance” of being the Kings’ next coach, adding that the meeting was both personal in nature and mutually beneficial for all parties – sending Karl a message at the negotiating table and for Jackson, keeping his name in the news as a future head coaching candidate.

via Aaron Bruski of Pro Basketball Talk

This article seems to line up with reports that George Karl is the frontrunner to land the Kings’ head coaching job after this season and that Mark Jackson isn’t really in the mix.

Shortly after Jackson met with Chris Mullin, Pete D’Alessandro and DeMarcus Cousins recently, everyone involved downplayed the meeting and said it was just friends getting together to catch up.

Bruski raises an interesting point, saying that the meeting was also made public to give the Kings some more leverage in talks with Karl so that they wouldn’t have to pay him the $5 million per year he wants.

It seems like Karl is a perfect fit for how the Kings’ front office wants the team to play, even if he may be a bit more expensive than other coaches who are available.

In his 25 seasons as an NBA head coach, Karl had a 1131-756 record in the regular season and 80-105 record in the postseason. He made the playoffs in 22 of 25 seasons.

Stevens Isn’t Thinking of Leaving Celtics

Before the question had even been formulated, Brad Stevens was shaking his head. No, no, no. He’s not looking to go back to college. This is where he wants to be, coaching the Boston Celtics even as they go through a transformative time in their history and even as Indiana University message boards light up at the thought of bringing a favored son back to the Hoosier state.

“I’ve committed to being here,” Stevens told me before Thursday’s practice at the team’s facility. “I’ve already left a situation once and that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to choose to do. This is something that as long as they want me to be here, this is what I want to be doing and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I know it’s all specific to the rumor mills and the discussion of one spot. I think they’ve got a good coach who’s done a helluva job. He doesn’t deserve that speculation.

“I’m the head coach of the Boston Celtics,” Stevens continued. “This is the job. This is where I am. This is what I want to do really well and I’m committed to being as good as I can every single day for the Celtics.”

via Paul Flannery of SB Nation

It doesn’t sound like Brad Stevens will be leaving the Celtics anytime soon. Even though Boston is rebuilding and Stevens could land any college job he wanted, he has made it clear that he’s committed to the Celtics and doesn’t have one foot out the door.

The 38-year-old head coach has done well in Boston, even if the team hasn’t won many games during his stint coaching. His players rave about him and he has earned the respect of elite coaches around the NBA, including Gregg Popovich.

“He was a hell of a coach before he got here and he’ll be an even better coach as time goes on,” Popovich told Flannery. “He’s a special guy, that’s why Danny Ainge went and got him.”

Last year, Stevens led the Celtics to a 25-57 record and right now, Boston sits at 10-15 (ninth place in the Eastern Conference). He is viewed as one of the best young coaches in the league and the decision to hire him was clearly about landing an excellent up-and-coming coach who could thrive in the future.