Tag Archives: NBA Free Agency

A Free Agency Wish List For the Orlando Magic

Photo Credit: Kavis Peak 2016

The Orlando Magic’s pressing needs on draft night were shooting, scoring and perimeter defensive. The first two weren’t addressed. Hopefully those needs will be addressed in free agency.

The past regime was reckless with their spending on free agents. They always swung for the fences and missed terribly. Look no further than last summer’s signings of D.J. Augustine, Jeff Green and Bismack Biyombo.

There are no big fishes to chase this season. That is probably a good thing since the Magic has only $14.6 million in cap space.

However, there are several lower tier players that compliment a young core of Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and Nik Vucevic.

Due to financial reasons, nabbing only one of these free agents is highly possible. Unless they can unload Biyombo’s massive anchor of a contract, then maybe two is possible.

TIM HARDAWAY, JR – (25 years old) 6’6″ 205lbs – RESTRICTED

Hardaway Junior is restricted so the Atlanta Hawks could match any offer he receives. THJ is a shooter with length to become a defensive standout. 2016-2017 was a breakout season for the 4-year pro. He averaged 14.5 points per game on 54% shooting on 2’s and 36% on 3’s. Most importantly he competes, on both ends, something that can’t be said about several guys currently on the Magic roster.

OTTO PORTER, JR  – (24 years old) 6’8″ 198lbs – RESTRICTED

Potter Junior was the Washington Wizards defensive stopper in 2016-2017. That’s the number one reason the Magic should be attracted to him. The second reason is because he finished fourth in the Association in 3-point percentage at 43.4%. Porter also shoots 58% on 2’s. He averaged 13.4 points per game, on ten shot attempts per game, for a team where he was the fourth option. If Orlando signs him, he adds much-needed shooting and allows the team to be an aggressive perimeter defensive team. He can play three positions in today’s small ball NBA.

JONATHAN SIMMONS – (27 years old) 6’6″ 195lbs – RESTRICTED

Any player from the Spurs system is all right in my book. Simmons is a defensive ace, with elite athleticism. He showed his offensive improvement throughout the 2016-17 season. That continued in the playoffs in the absence of MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard due to ankle injuries. His shot still needs improvement, but even at 27, Simmons has shown he still has room to grow. Adding him alongside Terrance Ross, Aaron Gordon and number six overall pick Jonathan Isaac, this could be one of the most athletic teams in the NBA. They should thrive in an up tempo style of play.

SHABAZZ MUHAMMED – (24 years old) 6’6″ 223lbs – RESTRICTED

Minnesota may no longer be an option for him since they have acquired Jimmy Butler. Muhammed will turn 25 years old during the season. He’s a bigger guard that looks to slash and attack the basket, but he also has shooting touch. Last season he shot 53% on 2’s and 34% on 3’s, on seven shot attempts per game. He could carve out a niche for himself as the sixth man in central Florida.

BEN MCLEMORE – (24 years old) 6’5″ 195lbs – UNRESTRICTED

“Experts” say he underachieved in Sacramento, but how much of that is on him when he played for the most dysfunctional franchise in the Association? There’s a reason they’ve been in the lottery over the past decade. Also look at how they fumbled the Boogie Cousins situation and their coaches.

McLemore has huge potential. He shot 38% for 3’s and 46% from 2’s on seven shot attempts, while playing only nineteen minutes per game in 2016-2017.

If you haven’t noticed a trend in my wish list, it’s young, long, athletic guards that can play two positions.

Free Agency tips off at 12:01 Saturday, July 1st. General Manager John Hammond and his staff should be on the phone with the agents of the guys I’ve listed. Adding one of these guys to what is already in the cupboard could propel the Magic to a place they haven’t been in five seasons.

If Blake Griffin Leaves LA, Blame CP3

Blake Griffin and Chris Paul haven’t always gotten along. Photo Credit: NBA.com

If Blake Griffin leaves the LA Clippers and Chris Paul stays, it’s an indictment on CP3.

The Clippers can offer him the most money. He’s already playing in the second largest market in the U.S. The team has also won .600 percent of their games the last six seasons. So what other reason does he have to leave?

Let me put this in relationship terms. For example, when a man or woman ends a relationship or gets dumped, their friends will say “they weren’t good enough for you.” When the next relationship ends they may say “that’s okay, it wasn’t the right time for you.” After another breakup you might hear, “don’t give up, your perfect match is closer now than ever.”

At a certain point, a true friend should pull that man or woman aside and say “you may be the problem.” I’m looking at the Halle Berry’s, Brad Pitt’s, Elizabeth Taylor’s and Tom Cruise’s of the world. That’s where Paul is now. Head coach Doc Rivers and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer need to pull him aside and say “It’s you.”

Paul has a reputation around the league for being difficult to play with. It was rumored that he was the reason DeAndre Jordan initially signed with the Dallas Mavericks in 2015. According to several reports in the days after the center signed with the Mavs, Jordan grew tired of Paul’s constant barking, petty gestures and freezing him out of the offense.

Current Clipper free agent JJ Redick appears to be a lock to leave this summer. He and Paul have had ugly open disputes on the court during their time in LA. In fact, their dislike goes back to their days as ACC rivals when they played for Duke and Wake Forest.

If Griffin chooses the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets or Boston Celtics, all of whom have been rumored to be interested in him, he’s stating clearly he no longer wants to play with Paul. All things considered, those teams aren’t definitively better with him than the Clippers are.

Paul is a future Hall of Famer, and at 32 years old is still a top three-point guard. He is a winner no doubt. He has proved it over the course of his 11-year career with both the New Orleans Hornets and now Clippers. The franchise has never enjoyed the level of success it has currently until he arrived. Therefore there’s no reason to leave that team unless you can’t stand the guy tabbed as the franchise player.

What. Is. Orlando. Doing?

That’s the question many NBA insiders and fans around the Nation as well as in central Florida are asking.

magic2

The Magic have quickly gone from a rebuild with young talent, to a jump start with seasoned Vets. Photo Credit: Kyle Jones

Now that the moratorium is lifted and the deals are official, I’ll tell you what they’re doing. What teams in the Midwest and the heartland of America far from the glitz and glamour of the East and West coast have to do. Build a team that is a reflection of the region, city and its residents. Orlando is a young, up and coming transplant city. Meaning many of the people who call it home didn’t grow up in the area, and have migrated here searching for new opportunity and a more laid back life, but still with plenty of variety to suit their many tastes.

That’s what I see in this newly constructed roster. Variety, or in this case versatility, and low key. No All-Stars. No reality TV Stars. No TMZ. Just a bunch of guys who want the opportunity to play ball and be successful at it.

General Manager Rob Hennigan and new head coach Frank Vogel are wise to not waste more time throwing flimsy pipe dreams into the sky hoping they’ll bring back top tier All-Stars in free agency. Nope. Almost three decades of Magic Basketball in central Florida have proven that no amount of talk about no state income tax, great tropical weather, beaches, and family atmosphere pitches are going to sway the premier athletes to come this way. Sure Tracy McGrady did, but remember he was from nearby Auburndale in Polk County down Interstate Four. Yes, perennial All-Star Grant Hill did it in his prime, yet injured when he signed. But, wasn’t his wife, Grammy Nominated Singer Tamia, just as much influential of that decision for her career too? Yes, Rashard Lewis and even Horace Grant made their way to the Magic’s Kingdom, but they came to play Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal, respectively.

The goal is for one of your core young guys to breakout and be the All-Star. Nik Vucevic is a candidate. The high-flying Aaron Gordon is a candidate. 2015 5th overall pick Mario Hezonja is a candidate. And Serge Ibaka, who will turn 27 years old during the season, is a candidate. This is how you attract key free agents, by having a guy already in place that they want to play with.

You also don’t turn things around by holding on to every single draft pick you’ve made. At some point you have to use their value to flip it for something else you value more. Like defensive shot blocking, rebounding and veterans with significant playoff experience. Otherwise you become what the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers are. Floundering in obscurity and futility.

What Hennigan has done with this roster retooling, is send a message to his young guys to step up or sit down.

Did you notice that the three key free agent signees play the same position as the guys that are perceived to be cornerstone pieces? Nik Vucevic is the best offensive player on the team, but with serious defensive flaws. So, they gave Bismack Biyombo 70 plus million dollars, just in case Vucevic doesn’t step up his defense. Aaron Gordon is the preferred starter at small forward, but they signed Jeff Green to a one-year $15 million contract, just in case Gordon doesn’t capitalize on his breakout second half of the 2015-16 season in the aftermath of his Dunk Contest fame. Elfrid Payton is the guy Scott Skiles and Hennigan reportedly didn’t see eye-to-eye on as a true NBA starting point guard—which ultimately led to the blessing in disguise of his resignation—yet Hennigan still signed 8-year pro D.J. Augustine. Of course this jump-start happened by shipping the face of the franchise (albeit a short run) in Victor Oladipo out of town for Ibaka. The young core of guys better get the message, and quick.

But on another note. What if, the Magic got Victor Oladipo to come back as a free agent when he’s available? Looks sort of promising now that the Oklahoma City Thunder won’t be what we thought they would be when he was traded there on draft night. It’s just a thought, but if the Magic get into the playoffs quickly, like say this coming season, why wouldn’t a talent like Oladipo want to come back and join the uprising? Hmmm.

Why All The NBA Salary Hate?

  
I got to get this off my chest. Why are there so many people hating on the massive amounts of money being dumped on NBA players in this 2016 offseason, especially those who aren’t top tier all-stars or all-NBA performers?

I’m also extra curious as to why majority of the hate and shade is coming from NFL players and media members.  

Let me address the latter first because my venom towards them is very little.   

The NFL media (Ed Werder of ESPN and Jeff Diamond from The Sporting News, specifically) have taken to twitter and their columns to basically insult the NBA owners and players who received the payday. They, and others, act as though the nearly 3 billion dollars worth of contracts that were signed in this free agency period is coming from their own pockets or are going to cause pay-cuts or freezes in their profession. Here’s the deal media folks, on average, most of you are doing twice better than the average American. You go to sporting events and practices as your job. It’s a paid expense, which means you get in for free; you don’t pay the outrageous ticket, concession and parking prices. All those things are provided for you due to you having a credential. You even get a better choice of food to eat at the arena and stadiums, so not only do you pay the ridiculous price for popcorn and a hot dog, you get damn near a five star spread in the media rooms in the bowels of the venue.   

You get to stand in front of cameras to recap the game or have your opinion of the game plastered on newspapers and online to entertain millions of fans. You are very well compensated for your work. Not to the extent of the players you cover, but still keeping you out of poverty and avoiding the financial strains the overwhelming number of Americans in the everyday struggle encounter. We all can look at CNN salary calculators and see what someone in your position earns, or gets. I’m speaking first hand as I’ve worked in the media for nearly 13 years. You are fine.   

For the NFL players who joke they picked the wrong sport, or are flabbergasted that a guy who is your comp in terms of years of service, plus their productivity in the NBA is making four or five times as much as you, here’s a reality check; you picked the right sport, because there isn’t much use for a 5’8” to 5’10” wanna be shooting guard in the Association. I’m looking at you Emmanuel Sanders. And for many of those who play tight end, you already came up short at being the next Charles Barkley as a 6’4″ 250 power forward, that’s why you’re listed at tight end yet is flanked out as a wide receiver. Do the names Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Antonio Gates, and Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez ring a bell? 

I didn’t hear this much gripping about low level baseball players getting one year, 10 to15 million dollar deals for batting .156 with less than double digit homeruns, or David Price getting the richest deal for a pitcher the offseason after he had a terrible season by his standards. 

Also it’s simple math. There are 15 players on an NBA roster versus 53 players, plus practice players on a NFL roster. It doesn’t add up to big individual paydays, unless you want to be on a team by yourself. 

Another thing to remember, while the NFL is the most popular league in the U.S., one can make the argument that the NBA is more popular globally. The game of basketball is widely successful in Asia and Europe (thanks to the 1992 Dream Team), which also contributes to the influx of dollars coming into the NBA. That’s something Commissioner Roger Goodell and his minions at the NFL offices have figured out, which is why they’re force feeding us two regular season games in London every year. 

You do realize getting upset about second and third-tier NBA players getting raises is like being mad that the Government agreed to increase minimum wage by say 2-3 dollars? Think about that for a second. Just to gain some perspective, that be like me getting mad that the person taking my order, cooking and serving me my food for getting a raise. I want them to get paid!

Lastly NFL players, if you were smarter, maybe hold out longer during your lockout negotiations. You and the NBA went through it in the same year, 2011. They were willing to miss some of the season to get what they want. You were in a rush to get back on the field, and were more focused on taking disciplinary power away from Commissioner Roger Goodell. Maybe next time instead of focusing on him and the 10 to 12 knuckleheads his power will really affect, you’ll fight more for guaranteed contracts. 

One more thing, I’m not a big fan of the media announcing how much money an athlete or an entertainers is earning. I feel it only leads to contempt and jealousy, making these multimillionaires targets. Nobody announces around the office how much a newly hired Professor, News Producer, Public Relations Specialist or Police Officer will be earning. But, this is probably an issue for a whole different post.

A 2016 Magic Free Agency Wish List

 
The NBA Free Agency period, also known to some as Christmas in the summer for NBA players and fans, tips-off at 12:01 am on July 1st. The Orlando Magic will have nearly $37 million dollars in cap space to lure key free agents to central Florida to help catapult the franchise back into the playoffs.  

Thanks to the draft night trade of Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis, the 11th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka, the Magic have filled their biggest glaring need for a strong defensive power forward that can also knock down perimeter jump shots to keep the space open down low for Nik Vucevic. But, that trade along with other roster moves have created other needs that can and should be filled immediately. Here’s my wish list for Orlando. 

Shooting guard Courtney Lee. General manager Rob Hennigan has already extended a qualifying offer to starting shooting guard/small forward Evan Fournier and it’s expected he will sign it to remain in central Florida. But there’s still a need for depth at the position. Even though they just traded for Jodie Meeks from the Detroit Pistons, it’s rumored the team would like to add another shooting guard. A player of Lee’s caliber could definitely help.  

The former first round pick of the Magic in 2008, shot 45.4% from the field and 37.8% on 3-pointers last season for both the Memphis Grizzles and Charlotte Hornets. At 6’5″, the 30 year old is an above average defender and signing him would also steal him from a division rival and 2016 Playoff team. His addiction would bring another steady veteran presence in the locker room with extensive playoff experience. He was a rookie starter on the 2009 team that made the NBA Finals. Lee also still lives in Orlando in the offseason, so maybe he’d like to be around permanently. 

Reports, or rumors, also have mentioned Jamal Crawford of the L.A. Clippers and Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans as potential targets. Crawford is 36 years old and more likely to stay in L.A. or sign with a proven championship contender. Gordon is only 27 years old, with 8 years of NBA experience. While he would be a good fit, he’s likely to ask for more money than the Magic will be willing to give.

Small forward/power forward Chandler Parsons. Parsons is a local kid having played high school ball at Lake Howell and for Billy Donovan in Gainesville at the University of Florida. Parsons has had a bout with the injury bug since signing his last free agent deal with the Dallas Mavericks in 2014. The 27 year-old has made some rumblings on social media lately that things aren’t so great in “Big D.” Maybe a return home would do wonders for his health and happiness. At 6’10 he shoots 49.2% from 2-point range and 41.4% from 3. Adding his versatility to go along with Fournier, Mario Hezonja and Aaron Gordon would make Orlando one of the most, if not the most versatile team in the league.  

Plus with the news that power forward Andrew Nicholson, the Magic’s current longest tenured player, won’t be receiving a qualifying offer making him a unrestricted free agent, the Magic need to find more depth on the frontline. Signing Parsons will fill that need. 

Shooting guard/point guard Austin Rivers, if you can’t resign Brandon Jennings who was acquired in the Tobias Harris trade or get Lee. Rivers, another local kid from nearby Winter Park High School, improved by leaps and bounds as Chris Paul’s backup with the L.A. Clippers. It was a shock to many he opted out of his contract with the team where he also plays for his father Doc Rivers, but when you look at the potential money that will be thrown around this summer it shouldn’t be that shocking. Orlando should definitely throw him some. Rivers is only 23 years old, and set career marks last season in points per game (8.9), field goal percentage (43.8%) and 3-point percentage (34%) while only playing 21.8 minutes a night. Plus, more importantly, Rivers has significant playoff experience having been in the Conference Semifinals and first round of the Western Conference the last two seasons. Rivers would fit in perfectly with a group of guys under the age of 26 years and ready to blossom.

If the Magic can sign one or two of these guys, it will be Christmas in the Spring of 2017 for central Florida hoop fans, because they’ll receive the gift of playoff basketball for the first time in five years.

NBA Free Agent Frenzy 2013

When the NBA Free Agency period opened five days ago it was sure 2013 to be the summer of Dwight and CP3. Rightfully so, they are the two biggest names in this years free agent class. But this class has several unrestricted free agents who can fill a role on a team looking to make a leap from a mid playoff seed to a contender or a playoff bottom feeder to a team on the rise. I have composed a list of players no one is talking about that can do just that. My list is based on the best fit (team needs), not how it works with the cap. I’m not a capologist like ESPN’s Tom Penn, so I won’t pretend to be. I’m placing players in situations to help their careers as well as the team get over their hump. Also, some of these moves would change depending on what Dwight does.

ANDRE IGUODALA (Chicago Bulls)

Courtesy: ESPN

UPDATE (7/5/13): ESPN and Media reports Iguodala will sign 4 year $48 million deal with the Golden State Warriors.

A.I. chose to opt out of his contact after only one great year with the Denver Nuggets. Now that there’s been a coaching change – George Karl was fired after winning a franchise record 57 games and coach of the year – who knows what style of play the Nuggets will run or how new 1st time head coach Brian Shaw will use Iggy. Even though he’s an all star and gold medal Olympian, Iguodala isn’t great at anything, but he excels at many things. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to make a huge impact and he doesn’t seem to want the spotlight. So I would suggest him taking control of his future and moving to Chicago or San Antonio.

Chicago is near home for IGUODALA. He stared at Lanphier High in Springfield before moving on play for Lute Olson at the University of Arizona. Many will read this and say “but they have Loul Deng.” True, but rumor has it they’re trying to trade him and lately he hasn’t been very durable. Iguodala will bring you the same defensive intensity Deng provides, with more athleticism to get up and down with a fresh Derrick Rose and even some time with Nate Robinson when he comes in off the bench (more on him later).

Had Manu Ginobli not resigned with the San Antonio Spurs I would have listed them as a potential fit for Iguodala. He could’ve been the necessary addition to pry that championship window open for a few more years. Like I previously mentioned, he doesn’t want to be the focal point. A perfect fit in the scheme of the Spurs way. Tony Parker is the guy there and Kawai Leonard is the long-term future along with Danny Green. With Igoudala you add versatility and youth. He can could’ve off the bench for Danny Green or Kawai Leonard, or you could start a small quick lineup with him at the power forward position and start Tim Duncan at center. This gives you speed and quickness to run with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s, Miami Heat’s and anyone else who wants to play small ball.

Iguodala is a rare mix of long-term vet with still a significant amount of youth. He could be just the answer for a team whose main goal is to play and win in June.

JOSH SMITH (Houston Rockets)

Courtesy: NBA.com

UPDATE (7/9/13): Various media reports Smith agrees to 4 year $56 million deal with the Detroit Pistons.

Could you imagine the Houston Rockets rolling out a roster with James Harden and Jeremy Lin at the guards, Chandler Parsons and Josh Smith at the forwards and Dwight Howard at center? I would immediately put that starting five in the top four of the Western Conference. Someone in Atlanta would also lose sleep for letting Smith go team up with his childhood friend Dwight Howard in a city other than their hometown. The Rockets would have to trade more pieces to make room for Smith, likely Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. But as I mentioned in my piece on Howard, [https://kavispeak.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/dwights-dilemma/] they would probably shop those two to make room for a run at another key free agent in 2014 anyway, so why not do it now and create a big four. Yes, Chandler Parson would help create nightmares for opposing teams making this a devastating fantastic four. As with many of these moves I’ve mentioned it all comes down to money. Can they get Smith to take less than he believes he’s worth to make it work? Basketball wise, this makes perfect sense.

ANDREW BYNUM (Miami Heat)

Bynum led the league in hair styles and games missed, all 82.

UPDATE (7/9/13): ESPN and various media reports Bynum offered 2 year deals from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The rich could get richer. This makes sense only for one year. Bynum didn’t play a single game last year because of knee injuries. The Heat’s weakness is a key inside presences. They were exposed during the playoffs and especially the Finals even though they won. THEY WILL NOT GET AWAY WITH IT AGAIN! Word is Bynum doesn’t want to even workout for possible suitors, so getting the big max deal he hoped for will be difficult. However, if he can go to South Beach for a season to prove he’s healthy on another title contending team, who knows what kind of money he will get in 2014-2015. With degenerate knees, it’s hard to imagine him getting the money he wants. At least in this scenario he could help win another championship to go with the two he got in Los Angeles. As far as the Heat, there is rumor they could sign Greg Oden – another big with knee issues – for the veterans’ minimum that would cost far less than Bynum.

JARRETT JACK (Indiana Pacers or stay with Golden State)

Courtesy: NBA.com

UPDATE (7/9/13): Various media reports Jack agrees to 4 year $25 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Jack made himself a lot of money during the 2013 NBA playoffs with his play in helping the underdog Warriors get out of the first round – no one expected them to beat the Denver Nuggets, especially after David Lee went down with a torn hip flexor – and then take the Spurs to a grueling 6 game series in the conference semi-finals. He made and took several big shots in key moments in both series and set up “The Splash Brothers” Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. The problem with Jack isn’t on the court, but off. No he’s not a troublemaker, but rumor has it he’s looking for $7 million a year. I know I said that I wasn’t going to deal with the money issues, but I have to say that is a lot for a back up point guard. He played for the pacers on 2008-09 when Current coach Frank Vogel was an assistant under Jim O’Brien. I’m not sure if they had a good or bad relationship, but talent trumps all.

How does he help the Pacers? He’s steady. He proved that in this past year’s playoffs. The pacers struggled with turnovers and point guard play throughout the playoffs. With D.J. Agustin an unrestricted free agent and not having the best of series in the Eastern Conference Finals, Jack would be a definite upgrade but he may be too expensive for them while trying to keep several other key free agents. But he could even dethrone George Hill as the starter. Hill didn’t do much to help his case in the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami making him expendable if your goal is to beat the defending champs and get to the Finals.

O.J. MAYO (Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls)

Courtesy: NBA.com

UPDATE (7/9/13): Various media reports Mayo agrees to 3 year $24 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.

If Kevin Martin leaves Oklahoma City, Mayo could be the guy to fill the void that Martin played after coming over in the James Harden trade. Unlike Martin, Mayo can create his own shot. Not like Harden, but better than Martin. That’s a dimension the Thunder needed desperately all season and especially during the playoffs after the Rockets Patrick Beverly accidentally injured Russell Westbrook in game two of their first round series. If a deal between these two gets done, it could be the steal of free agency.

The following unrestricted free agent players should stay put with their current teams for the benefit of their career and team success.

NATE ROBINSON (CHI): With the Chicago Bulls Nate became what many thought he’d always be when he came out of the University of Washington. Until this past season Nate was known as a spectacular athlete who could often times be a malcontent. Some way some now Coach Tibideau found a way to maximize Nate’s abilities on a team that could’ve easily folded. With Nate as a back up to Derrick Rose, he could be the perfect compliment in the second unit D-Rose has never had. Also, the city of broad shoulders got behind Nate and he became the unofficial symbol of what the 2012-2013 team was about. Heart, hustle and hope.

J.R. SMITH (NYK): No other coach or franchise will allow him to be who he was this year – on and off the court – and not change him. He became the sixth man of the year due to Mike Woodson’s coaching, had he not hit that slump in the playoffs, maybe they would’ve faced off in the Eastern Conference against Miami.

KEVIN MARTIN (OKC): He’s not James Harden and that’s okay. He did just what was needed off him and it showed against his old team the Rockets in the playoffs. It wasn’t his fault they lost to Memphis in the second round, blame Patrick Beverly – he caused the injury to Russell Westbrook – and Serge Ibaka for not showing up. Martin is 30 years old and may be looking for the type of contract the Thunder can’t afford. USA Today and various media outlets are reporting the Minnesota Timberwolves will off Martin a 4 year $28 million deal.

MATT BARNES (LAC), TONY ALLEN (MEM), AND CHRIS ANDERSEN (MIA): I put these three together because they bring the same thing to their respective teams; toughness, energy, defensive tenacity and professionalism. You never heard any of these guys complain about their role, they do what they do every night to the best of their ability better than anyone. They are often times the difference between a win or a loss and receive less the credit. In Andersen’s case just watch the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers series, the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder series for Allen and his whole damn career for Matt Barnes (I never understood why this guy bounces around. He’s a glue guy). UPDATE: CBS Sports and other media outlets are reporting that Allen has verbally agreed to stay with the Memphis Grizzlies and sign a 4 year $20 million extension.

DAVID WEST (IND): Has agreed to sign a 3 year $36 million deal with the Indiana Pacers. The contact won’t become official until July 10th. Smart move for both he and the franchise. He is the difference between them getting over the hump to a NBA Finals or being in the bottom half of the playoffs. However this deal may keep them from being able to keep Tyler Hansbrough, a key energy guy off the bench.