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NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Irving Commits to Cavs

Kyrie Irving denies a report that he wants to leave Cleveland as expected… Lakers want, but can’t get, Eric Bledsoe without help from the Suns… Pressure is on the Thunder to win now, or risk losing Durant.

Yannis Koutroupis

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Check out our breakdown of 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.

Kyrie Irving Verbally Commits to Cleveland

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported earlier Thursday in his weekly chat that Irving has privately told people he wants out of Cleveland.

“There’s been so much so-called reports coming out that I don’t want to be here. That’s what you guys get paid to do, but that’s just so much negative attention,” Irving said following the Cavs’ 117-86 loss to the Knicks. “I know we’re struggling, but it’s not about me. It’s about our team. It’s about us fighting every day for each other and me fighting for my teammates.

“Yes, I’m in Cleveland. I enjoy myself. I enjoy going out and competing at the highest level for the Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about me and it’s not about this controversy, ‘Do I privately want out when my contract is up?’ I’m still in my rookie contract and I’m happy to be here. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be here for a long time. I’m not saying anything to tell the future, but I’m pretty sure the relationship I have with Dan Gilbert and management extends off the court. I enjoy being here.”

Via Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com

Ford is one of the best in the business and as credible as they come. However, he had to know that his comments, which were in response to a question during his annual chat, were going to get denied like this by Irving immediately.

Irving can come out and say that he is happy in Cleveland every day for the next year, but until his name is on a contract extension, rumors, report and speculation saying otherwise will continue to surround him. That’s the nature of the business when you’re a star in a small market without a long-term contract in place; it also doesn’t help matters that the Cavaliers are struggling mightily.

The only certain thing that can be reported without a refute soon to follow is that Irving’s future with the Cavaliers has yet to be decided. He’s under contract through next season and they have the ability to issue a qualifying offer after that and make him a restricted free agent. They’ll also have his Bird rights, giving them the ability to not only match any offer he receives, but also offer him more than anyone else can. If Irving is really set on leaving Cleveland, he’s going to have to leave money on the table and get them to oblige.

There’s far too much to still play out before we know exactly how this is going to end. Right now nothing can be ruled out, one way or the other. If Irving rejects a contract extension in July with the intent to explore free agency that could force the Cavaliers’ hand, but only if they’re willing to trade him with little leverage to bargain with.

Lakers Like Bledsoe

The Los Angeles Lakers might pursue Eric Bledsoe in restricted free agency this offseason. The Lakers would presumably have to overpay for the Phoenix Suns not to match.

Via Chris Broussard of ESPN

The Lakers are going to be one of the bigger players in free agency this summer and while Bledsoe very well could be someone they want to acquire, his restricted status almost makes him harder to obtain than LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement limits what they can offer, and based on the way that Bledsoe has performed as a starter, they’re not going to be able to make an offer that the Suns would view as “overpaying”. They’re a young team with tons of cap space and financial flexibility. There’s nothing prohibiting them from giving Bledsoe the max contract that he has proven to be worthy of.

Sure, their second best player Goran Dragic happens to play the same position as him and has a bargain of a contract, but Bledsoe is a guy worth building around and making the face of your franchise. The two have proven that they can play together, and Dragic’s stock is hotter than ever right now. He could easily be packaged up with one of the multiple first round picks for a favorable deal, should Suns general manager Ryan McDonough see fit.

It’s as simple as this: the only way Bledsoe is going anywhere is if the Suns let him. While things can always change, there’s just no reason why they would right now.

Nets Want Durant, but who Doesn’t?

On Friday , the Nets will chase Kevin Durant around the Barclays Center court, hoping to contain the NBA’s most dynamic scorer. And some two years from now, they likely will be joining the crucial chase for his signature on a contract.

The impending Durant free agency bonanza should start picking up steam next season and will undoubtedly engulf the NBA in the summer of 2016. And make no mistake: the Nets are targeting Durant, the 25-year-old offensive juggernaut, even if it’s too early to predict their odds.

The Nets could be committed to no salary when Durant becomes a free agent, depending on whether Deron Williams picks up his one-year option for the 2016-17 season. Everybody else is off the books.

Via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News

Of the three rumors in today’s report, this of course is the most interesting because Durant’s free agency in 2016 could be even bigger than LeBron James’ in 2010. Unfortunately, as Bondy pointed out, it’s too early to start talking about odds or favorites.

Here’s what we do know: Big market teams will let no stone go unturned in their pursuit of Durant. There’s too much time between now and his free agency to tell who is all going to be going after his services, but there isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t do everything they could to make a run at the most ideal franchise player to come around since Tim Duncan.

The pressure is on the Thunder to win in the next three years. If their management and ownership doesn’t have the mindset that they are going to lose Durant if they don’t win a championship before then, they’re setting themselves up to watch him play for someone else the rest of his career. Durant deserves to play for a team willing to spend whatever it takes to win a championship, even if it means going into the luxury tax to get the players they need – something the Thunder are not willing to do. If he doesn’t get a ring in Oklahoma City before becoming a free agent, he has every reason to question whether he ever will there. And, the slight possibility of signing him will be enough for most teams to try and move mountains to get him.

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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