National Basketball Association
NBA News Wire
  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    NBA notebook: Aldridge has full schedule of visits
    By The Sports Xchange

    If the San Antonio Spurs are the favorite to land free agent All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, it's not evident by the itinerary of the Portland Trail Blazers' big man.

    • Aldridge, one of the most coveted players in the 2015 free agent class, is scheduled to visit with officials from the Los Angeles Lakers and then the Houston Rockets starting Tuesday night. Free agency begins at 9:01 p.m. PT.

      The Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns are also confirmed participants in the Aldridge Sweepstakes.

      San Antonio's chances to sign Aldridge, who is from Dallas and went to the University of Texas, could increase if Memphis center Marc Gasol re-signs with the Memphis Grizzlies as expected. The Spurs are also negotiating with restricted free agent Kawhi Leonard, who is thought to be the primary offseason priority for the franchise.

      The New York Knicks are the last stop on Aldridge's free-agent tour, if he makes it that far, on Thursday.

      --Free agent All-Star center Marc Gasol is granting the Memphis Grizzlies exclusive negotiating rights before setting up additional meetings with multiple suitors.

      Gasol was scheduled to host officials from the only NBA team he has played for on Wednesday in his native Spain. Gasol, 30, could sign a maximum five-year, $110 million contract or opt for a one-year deal to return to free agency next season, when the max-contract ceiling is projected to rise significantly with new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

      --Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler postponed several meetings with teams trying to lure the All-Star out of Chicago after receiving a max offer of $90 million for five years to return to the team.

      Butler received a $4.5 million qualifying offer from the Bulls, who would retain first right of refusal to match any incoming contract Butler receives in restricted free agency starting Wednesday.

      But he might not make it to free agency after being offered the five-year max contract.

      --Restricted free agent Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors are working toward a deal to keep Green from reaching the open market at the stroke of midnight Tuesday.

      Green was scheduled to meet with team officials Tuesday, and both sides are geared toward a contract that will keep the entire Warriors' roster intact with one exception: unrestricted free agent point guard Leandro Barbosa.

      Signing Green to a five-year, $90.67 million contract would put the Warriors well into the luxury tax. At the start of business Tuesday, the NBA champions were $10 million below the cap.

      --University of Kentucky coach John Calipari denied a Yahoo Sports report that he had talked to Sacramento Kings about their head coaching position.

      In his Tweet, Calipari said that Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive never offered him a job, and concluded by saying, "I WILL BE AT KENTUCKY."

      General manager Vlade Divac said the report was "absolutely untrue."

      --Point guard Luke Ridnour was traded to the Toronto Raptors, his fourth team in a span of six days.

      Ridnour was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Raptors, who gave up the rights to Tomislav Zubcic. The Thunder also receive a $2.85 million trade exception.

      Oklahoma City picked up Ridnour before the NBA draft from the Charlotte Hornets for guard Jeremy Lamb.

      His offseason roster hopping began when Ridnour was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Memphis Grizzlies, who flipped the 34-year-old to the Hornets.

      --The Cleveland Cavaliers extended qualifying offers to guard Matthew Dellavedova, guard Iman Shumpert and forward/center Tristan Thompson, making them restricted free agents.

      The qualifying offers allow the Cavaliers a right of right refusal to any of the three players who might sign an offer sheet with another NBA team.

      --LeBron James is no longer the king of NBA jersey sales. Stephen Curry, the sharpshooting guard who led the Golden State Warriors past James' Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals in June to the franchise's first championship in 40 years, passed James for the most popular jersey in the league.

      --Veteran Mike Miller exercised his 2015-16 option to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second season, his 16th in the NBA.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Curry tops James in jersey sales
    By The Sports Xchange

    LeBron James is no longer the king of NBA jersey sales.

    • Stephen Curry, the sharpshooting guard who led the Golden State Warriors past James' Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals in June to the franchise' first championship in 40 years, passed James for the most popular jersey in the league.

      James, who was the leader at the end of the regular season, fell behind the league's MVP and into second place based on overall sales ranked by NBAStore.com from April through June.

      Behind Curry and James are Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose and Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. Curry's teammate, guard Klay Thompson, rounded out the top five.

      Injured Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was sixth, followed, in order, by Houston's James Harden, the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin, San Antonio's Tim Duncan, the Clippers' Chris Paul, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, Cleveland's Matthew Dellavedova and Golden State's Draymond Green.

      The NBA champion Warriors also came out on top in team merchandise sales, ahead of the Cavaliers, Bulls, Lakers and Spurs.

      The second five, in order, were the Rockets, Clippers, Thunder, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Cavs make qualifying offers to Dellavedova, Shumpert, Thompson
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Cleveland Cavaliers extended qualifying offers to guard Matthew Dellavedova, guard Iman Shumpert and forward/center Tristan Thompson on Tuesday, making them restricted free agents.

    • The qualifying offers allow the Cavaliers a right of right refusal to any of the three players who might sign an offer sheet with another NBA team.

      Meanwhile, ESPN reported that the Cavaliers are interested in Chicago Bulls swingman Mike Dunleavy and plan to go after him during the free agency period that starts July 1. The report indicated that Cavs star LeBron James supports the team pursuing Dunleavy, who will be 35 before next season and is likely to stay with the Bulls.

      Dellavedova was forced to step in as a starter at point guard for the Cavs during the NBA Finals in June when Kyrie Irving suffered a knee injury that knocked him out of the series. In the playoffs, Dellavedova saw action in all 20 games and averaged 7.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

      During the regular season, Dellavedova made 13 starts in 67 regular-season appearances and averaged 4.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists, making a career-best 40.7 percent of his 3-point shots.

      Thompson played in all 82 games and started 15 during the regular season. He shot 54.7 percent from the field and averaged 8.5 points and 8.0 rebounds. He boosted those numbers in 20 playoff games, including 15 starts, to 9.6 points, 55.8 shooting from the field and 10.8 rebounds.

      Shumpert came to the Cavs from the New York Knicks during the season and played in a combined 62 games, starting 25 games and averaging 8.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals. He averaged 7.2 points 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 38 regular-season games with the Cavs.

      In the playoffs, Shumpert started 16 of 20 games and averaged 9.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.3 steals.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Ridnour traded for fourth time this offseason
    By The Sports Xchange

    Point guard Luke Ridnour was traded Tuesday to the Toronto Raptors, his fourth team in a span of six days.

    • Ridnour was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Raptors, who gave up the rights to Tomislav Zubcic. The Thunder also receive a $2.85 million trade exception.

      Oklahoma City picked up Ridnour before the NBA draft from the Charlotte Hornets for guard Jeremy Lamb.

      His offseason roster hopping began when Ridnour was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Memphis Grizzlies, who flipped the 34-year-old to the Hornets.

      The 12-year veteran has a nonguaranteed contract and can be waived until July 10.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Mike Miller staying with Cavs
    By The Sports Xchange

    Veteran Mike Miller exercised his 2015-16 option to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second season, his 16th in the NBA.

    • Miller played with LeBron James as a member of the Miami Heat and rejoined him with the Cavaliers last July. Miller started 15 games and played in 52, averaging 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game last season.

      Miller is 18th in NBA history with 1,563 3-point field goals.

      He has posted career averages of 11.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Bulls offer Butler $90 million deal
    By The Sports Xchange

    Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler postponed several meetings with teams trying to lure the All-Star out of Chicago after receiving a max offer of $90 million for five years to return to the team.

    • Butler received a $4.5 million qualifying offer from the Bulls, who would retain first right of refusal to match any incoming contract Butler receives in restricted free agency starting Wednesday.

      But he might not make it to free agency after being offered the five-year max contract.

      ESPN reported Butler called off upcoming meetings with the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks to determine his best course of action.

      Because of looming negotiations with owners toward a new labor deal next summer, Butler could opt for a short-term deal that puts him back on the free agent market in three years.

      Butler was named the NBA's Most Improved Player and went to his first All-Star Game in 2014-15, averaging 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game while ranking third in the league in minutes played per game.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Kings reportedly pursuing Calipari
    By The Sports Xchange

    Coach John Calipari's reputation for producing lottery picks continues to pull suitors to the University of Kentucky, and the Sacramento Kings are reportedly the latest NBA franchise to come knocking.

    • Calipari responded to the Yahoo Sports report via Twitter on Tuesday.

      "Since he bought the team, @Vivek and I have talked on and off about @boogiecousins," Calipari wrote in reference to Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

      "@Vivek has asked me what I thought about @boogiecousins and I told him he would be an all-star, and I was right," Calipari continued. "In the last two weeks, we’ve also talked a bunch about the draft and on draft day, obviously because of @ThewillieCS15 (Willie Cauley-Stein). ... At no time has Vivek offered me a job. I WILL BE AT KENTUCKY."

      Calipari, who learned he was selected into the Naismith Hall of Fame in April one day after Kentucky lost for the first time in the 2014-15 college basketball season at the Final Four, just produced another No. 1 overall pick last week, when Wildcats big man Karl-Anthony Towns was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

      While no formal offer has been made, Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that Calipari has been communicating with Ranadive and other members of the Kings ownership group in recent weeks. The deal would give Calipari control of the front office as well as the head coaching position.

      The Kings highest-paid player, Cousins, voiced his desire to be traded recently. Cousins played for Calipari at Kentucky.

      Calipari is under contract at Kentucky for seven years. He signed a $54 million extension last year, when he was offered a huge contract from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

      Calipari said in June that he had no regrets about not joining the Cavaliers.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Warriors, Draymond Green playing beat the clock
    By The Sports Xchange

    Restricted free agent Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors are working toward a deal to keep Green from reaching the open market at the stroke of midnight Tuesday.

    • Green was scheduled to meet with team officials Tuesday, and both sides are geared toward a contract that will keep the entire Warriors' roster intact with one exception: unrestricted free agent point guard Leandro Barbosa.

      Signing Green to a five-year, $90.67 million contract would put the Warriors well into the luxury tax. At the start of business Tuesday, the NBA champions were $10 million below the cap.

      Other teams can offer Green a max deal of four years, $67.3 million. The New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks are thought to be interested in Green if he is still available Wednesday.

      Green, who put up a triple-double in the NBA Finals, does a little bit of everything for the Warriors. He finished as runner-up to Chicago Bulls restricted free agent shooting guard Jimmy Butler for the NBA's Most Improved Player award and was also second in voting for Defensive Player of the Year (Kawhi Leonard, Spurs).

      Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Green is eligible for a contract with a maximum base salary of $15.8 milion next season.

      The Warriors could create a cash exception by trading forward David Lee, whose contract expires after next season, but Golden State will be required under league trade protocol to take similar contract value in return.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Aldridge begins free agent tour with Lakers
    By The Sports Xchange

    If the San Antonio Spurs are the favorite to land free agent All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, it's not evident by the itinerary of the Portland Trail Blazers' big man.

    • Aldridge, one of the most coveted players in the 2015 free agent class, is scheduled to visit with officials from the Los Angeles Lakers and then the Houston Rockets starting Tuesday night. Free agency begins at 9:01 p.m. PT.

      The Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns are also confirmed participants in the Aldridge Sweepstakes.

      San Antonio's chances to sign Aldridge, who is from Dallas and went to the University of Texas, could increase if Memphis center Marc Gasol re-signs with the Memphis Grizzlies as expected. The Spurs are also negotiating with restricted free agent Kawhi Leonard, who is thought to be the primary offseason priority for the franchise.

      The New York Knicks are the last stop on Aldridge's free-agent tour, if he makes it that far, on Thursday.

      Aldridge is widely expected to leave Portland, who acquired him via trade from the Bulls on the night Chicago drafted him second overall in the 2006 draft. The Bulls received LSU forward Tyrus Thomas in return.

      Aldridge averaged 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds in 2014-15 with the Blazers, who can offer Aldridge a max contract of $110 million over five years.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Gasol gives Grizzlies exclusive window
    By The Sports Xchange

    Free agent All-Star center Marc Gasol is granting the Memphis Grizzlies exclusive negotiating rights before setting up additional meetings with multiple suitors.

    • Gasol was scheduled to host officials from the only NBA team he has played for on Wednesday in his native Spain. Gasol, 30, could sign a maximum five-year, $110 million contract or opt for a one-year deal to return to free agency next season, when the max-contract ceiling is projected to rise significantly with new Collective Bargaining Agreement terms.

      Verbal agreements on contracts are permitted until July 9, when new deals can become official.

      The Grizzlies are approximately $38 million under projected 2015-16 salary cap, including forward Jeff Green picking up his $9.2 million option and are eager to add perimeter shooting. Memphis had discussions with the Brooklyn Nets about Joe Johnson, according to multiple reports, but no deal was consummated.

      Gasol, the younger brother of Bulls All-Star forward Pau Gasol, went to high school in he region when Pau Gasol played for Memphis. The Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks were planning to pursue Marc Gasol, who was reportedly interested in playing for Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.

      But all indications are the Grizzlies will be successful in their in-person push to keep what many believe to be the NBA's top center.

  • Monday, June 29, 2015
    Hawks G Korver to undergo elbow surgery
    By The Sports Xchange

    Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver is scheduled to undergo his second surgery in five weeks on Tuesday.

    • The team announced Monday that Korver will have surgery in New York to remove loose bodies from his right elbow.

      Korver, who was named to the All-Star team this past season, had surgery to repair ligament damage in his right ankle on May 27.

      He suffered the ankle injury in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers and missed the rest of that series.

      Recovery time for his elbow surgery will be determined after the surgery. Korver was expected to be sidelined for three months because of the ankle operation.

      Korver, 34, averaged 12.1 points in 2014-2015 while leading the league in 3-point shooting at 49.2 percent.

  • Monday, June 29, 2015
    NBA notebook: Wade to test free-agent market
    By The Sports Xchange

    Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade informed the team he would opt out of his contract and become a free agent on Wednesday, but forward Luol Deng activated his player option to remain in South Florida.

    • The Heat could still bring back Wade, an 11-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion, even after Wade passed on the final year of his contract worth $16.1 million. Wade has until one minute before midnight to notify the Heat if he would pick up the option for next season, but the Miami Herald reported Monday evening that the team was informed Wade is testing the market.

      Deng, 30, joined the Heat last summer as an unrestricted free agent from the Atlanta Hawks in the aftermath of LeBron James' departure for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Heat retained Wade and Chris Bosh from a team that went to four consecutive NBA Finals. Deng will make $10.1 million in 2015-16.

      --There will be another summer of LeBron in Cleveland, but the Cavaliers are fully aware of how the next chapter will play out as LeBron James enters free agency for the third time in six years.

      James will bypass his $21.6 million player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. But unlike the previous two visits to the open market, James is not planning to entertain other offers. He will not make trips to other cities or meet representatives from the NBA's other 29 teams.

      James is staying in Cleveland, but as he did when he returned to Ohio last July, James will be writing his own story.

      Cavs forward Kevin Love notified the Cavaliers that he is opting out of his contract, worth $16.7 million next season, but said during the Finals that he is not planning on playing for a different team in 2015.

      --The Golden State Warriors exercised the team option on the contract of forward Marreese Speights for the 2015-16 season, the team announced.

      Speights, 27, appeared in 76 regular-season games (nine starts) for Golden State in 2014-15, averaging a career-high 10.4 points along with 4.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per contest.

      --The Orlando Magic waived guard Ben Gordon.

      Gordon played in 56 games last season with Orlando, averaging 6.2 points in 14.1 minutes per game, while shooting .361 from 3-point range and .836 from the free-throw line. He scored in double figures in 17 games.

  • Monday, June 29, 2015
    Warriors exercise contract option on F Speights
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Golden State Warriors exercised the team option on the contract of forward Marreese Speights for the 2015-16 season, the team announced Monday.

    • Speights, 27, appeared in 76 regular-season games (nine starts) for Golden State in 2014-15, averaging a career-high 10.4 points along with 4.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per contest.

      Speights led the Warriors in bench scoring a team-high 31 times, and drew 29 charges (second-most in the NBA). The 6-foot-10 Speights appeared in 10 postseason games, averaging 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in 6.7 minutes.

      A seven-year NBA veteran, Speights has appeared in 499 regular-season games with Philadelphia, Memphis, Cleveland and Golden State, averaging 7.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest.

  • Monday, June 29, 2015
    Magic waive G Gordon
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Orlando Magic waived guard Ben Gordon on Monday.

    • Gordon played in 56 games last season with Orlando, averaging 6.2 points in 14.1 minutes per game, while shooting .361 from 3-point range and .836 from the free-throw line. He scored in double figures in 17 games.

      Originally selected by the Chicago Bulls in the first round (third overall) of the 2004 NBA Draft, Gordon has appeared in 744 career regular-season games (269 starts) with Chicago, Detroit, Charlotte and Orlando, averaging 14.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 27.4 miniutes per game.

      Gordon earned the NBA Sixth Man Award in 2004-05, becoming the first rookie in league history to win the honor.

  • Monday, June 29, 2015
    Heat keep Deng; Wade to test free agency
    By The Sports Xchange

    Miami Heat star guard Dwyane Wade informed the team he would opt out of his contract and become a free agent on Wednesday, but forward Luol Deng activated his player option to remain in South Florida.

    • The Heat could still bring back the 11-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion even after Wade passed on the final year of his contract worth $16.1 million. Wade has until one minute before midnight to notify the Heat if he would pick up the option for next season, but the Miami Herald reported Monday evening that the team was informed Wade is testing the market.

      Deng, 30, joined the Heat last summer as an unrestricted free agent from the Atlanta Hawks in the aftermath of LeBron James' departure for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Heat retained Wade and Chris Bosh from a team that went to four consecutive NBA Finals. Deng will make $10.1 million in 2015-16.

      But now the Heat are preparing for the most decorated player in franchise history to enter free agency. Wade, an eight-time All-NBA selection, will automatically become a free agent Wednesday if he decides to not take any action on his own player option by midnight.

      The Heat expect to discuss parameters of a new contract with the 33-year-old veteran later this week. Wade is believed to be seeking a deal that would average at least $16 million over the next three seasons. The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly among the potential suitors for Wade.

      Point guard Goran Dragic is also a free agent and the Heat plan to make an attempt to sign him long-term, which could take a five-year, $80 million offer.

      Wade led Miami in scoring this season, averaging 21.5 points per game, but his health continues to be a concern. He missed 20 games in 2014-15 because of injuries and illness. Wade is Miami's career leader in games, points, assists and steals.

      "Everybody in this organization over the years has had to sacrifice," Heat president Pat Riley said of Wade last week. "The one player that's had to sacrifice (most) for the sake of winning has been him. This is now getting down to business. We respect him. We want him back. We want him here for the rest of his career. And we're going to try to do everything to make that happen."

  • Monday, June 29, 2015
    James opts out with $200M deal in sights
    By The Sports Xchange

    There will be another summer of LeBron in Cleveland, but the Cavaliers are fully aware of how the next chapter will play out as James enters free agency for the third time in six years.

    • James will bypass his $21.6 million player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. But unlike the previous two visits to the open market, James is not planning to entertain other offers. He will not make trips to other cities or meet representatives from the NBA's other 29 teams.

      James is staying in Cleveland, but as he did when he returned to Ohio last July, James will be writing his own story.

      The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player elected to decline the player option he holds as part of the two-year contract signed last summer to do another one-year pact covering the 2015-16 season and re-enter unrestricted free agency next summer. That bumper crop will also include Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and a new collective bargaining agreement.

      Based on a new revenue from television and digital rights contracts, James could receive a five-year deal worth up to $200 million in 2016 because the Cavaliers hold his Larry Bird Rights, the clause in the current CBA that entices players to re-sign with their current team.

      Everyone in Cleveland and around the NBA believes James isn't going anywhere this summer and likely not next year, either. J

      Cavs general manager David Griffin said last week the team had been in regular contact with James since the end of the NBA Finals.

      James returned to Northeast Ohio in July 2014, leaving the Miami Heat four years -- and two NBA championships -- after bolting Cleveland in an excruciating public departure aired by ESPN and titled "The Decision."

      The level of fear that James might take his talents elsewhere is minimized this time by the passionate letter in the July 2014 Sports Illustrated that trumpeted a triumphant comeback to Cleveland last summer.

      James addressed Cavaliers fans one week ago in a video posted for Bleacher Report. There was no indication of his desire to leave Cleveland.

      "Hopefully I was an inspiration, being back to you guys for this first year," James said in the video. "Hopefully I can continue that in the near future. And I just thank you guys -- I thank the fans, I thank everybody for the support that y'all gave us all year, the support that you gave me by welcoming me back.

      "And hopefully I made you guys proud in Year 1. Like I said, I'm not satisfied, I'm not happy with the way things turned out. I'm bummed about it for sure. But hopefully I can put our team in position once again to try to compete for a championship next year and year-in and year-out. That's my goal, and my inspiration hasn't changed. So I appreciate everything. I thank you guys, I love you guys and I'll see y'all soon."

      The Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors 105-97 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals without All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love due to injuries, and James was "not happy with the way it closed out."

      "It hurt to lose, and I'm still in a little funk right now, but I'm trying to work my way out of it," James said in the video to Cavs fans. "You know, for a team that's first getting together, in our first year to be able to reach the Finals -- not saying I'm happy with the results, but I'm proud of our guys. Just the growth that they had from the first day we walked in the gym to the other day, us losing, I'm proud of the guys and what they was able to accomplish."

      James had a historic Finals performance -- averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists while playing 45.8 minutes per game.

      Love reportedly also plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent. Love notified the Cavaliers that he is opting out of his contract, worth $16.7 million next season, but said during the Finals that he is not planning on playing for a different team in 2015. Like James, he could sign a short-term deal to maximize his payday next summer.

  • Sunday, June 28, 2015
    NBA notebook: As expected, LeBron plans to opt out with Cavs
    By The Sports Xchange

    LeBron James, as expected, will bypass his $21.6 million player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers and become a free agent on Wednesday.

    • ESPN.com reported Sunday that the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player has elected to decline the player option he holds for the 2015-16 season and re-enter unrestricted free agency that starts on July 1.

      But most everyone in Cleveland and around the NBA believes James isn't going anywhere as this is just a formality. James intends to re-sign with his current team, according to multiple reports.

      The opt-out move is the third time in the past six years that James will be an unrestricted free agent.

      Cavs general manager David Griffin said last week the team had been in regular contact with James since the end of the NBA Finals.

      James returned to Northeast Ohio in July 2014, leaving the Miami Heat four years -- and two NBA championships -- after bolting Cleveland in an excruciating public departure aired by ESPN and titled "The Decision."

      The level of fear that James might take his talents elsewhere is minimized this time by the passionate letter in Sports Illustrated that trumpeted a triumphant comeback to Cleveland last summer.

      James addressed Cavaliers fans one week ago in a video posted for Bleacher Report. There was no indication of his desire to leave Cleveland.

      The Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors 105-97 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals without All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love due to injuries.

      James had a historic Finals performance -- averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists while playing 45.8 minutes per game.

      ---The Miami Heat informed forward Michael Beasley that the team will not pick up his $1.3 million option for next season.

      The No. 2 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft was told of the team's decision Saturday night. Beasley will officially become a free agent on Wednesday.

      Beasley, in his third stint with the Heat after returning from China, averaged 8.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and shot 43.4 percent in 24 games last season. He also was with the Heat from 2008 through 2010 and was part of the 2013-14 team that went to the NBA Finals.

      ---Forward Paul Pierce will not exercise the final year of his contract with the Washington Wizards and will become a free agent.

      Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld confirmed to the Washington Post on Saturday night that Pierce opted out of his contract.

      Pierce was due to make 5.5 million next season. By opting out, Pierce can either sign a new deal with the Wizards or explore opportunities with other teams.

      Pierce reportedly is interested in the Los Angeles Clippers because he grew up nearby in Inglewood, Calif., and would be reunited with coach Doc Rivers, who he played for with the Boston Celtics.

      ---Kobe Bryant has talked with Los Angeles Lakers' first-round draft pick Larry Nance Jr. about a 2012 tweet that referred to a sexual-assault case involving Bryant.

      Bryant, speaking at the BET Experience held at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday night during an interview with ESPN's Jemele Hill, said "there's no need" for any further discussion about the matter.

      "The kid figured it out himself," Bryant said. "He's a kid, man. He actually sent me a great message (Friday), which is really funny. I looked at it (the text message), and it was like, 'This is when you know it's about time to hang these things up, when your teammate writes you, Hi, Mr. Bryant.' ...

      "It was really nice and apologetic about what had happened. I said, 'Dude, listen. We've all said things and done things that we regret and wish we could take back. It's water under the bridge, man. Welcome to the team.' He writes back, 'Thank you, sir.'"

      Nance's tweet posted in 2012, which was deleted within minutes of his selection by the Lakers with the 27th overall pick Thursday night, read: "Gee I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time." It also included the hashtag "#rapist."

      Bryant was involved in a 2003 sexual-assault case in Colorado when a woman accused him of raping her in his hotel room. All charges were dropped after she refused to testify, but a civil suit was later settled and Bryant publicly apologized. Bryant admitted no guilt in the case.

      ---The Philadelphia 76ers were forced to pay $3 million to the New Orleans Pelicans last season for failing to fully disclose guard Jrue Holiday's leg injury before the 2013 NBA Draft, according to a report.

      The Sixers did not reveal the extent of the injuries before dealing Holiday to the Pelicans for the rights to sixth overall pick Nerlens Noel, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Saturday.

      The 6-foot-4 Holiday had stress fractures in his lower right leg during the 2012-13 season with the Sixers. He continues to have leg issues with the Pelicans.

      During the 2013-14 season with New Orleans, Holiday was limited to 34 games because of a stress fracture in his right tibia. Last season, he missed 41 consecutive games with a stress reaction in his right lower leg.

  • Sunday, June 28, 2015
    As expected, LeBron plans to opt out with Cavs
    By The Sports Xchange

    LeBron James, as expected, will bypass his $21.6 million player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers and become a free agent on Wednesday.

    • ESPN.com reported Sunday that the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player has elected to decline the player option he holds for the 2015-16 season and re-enter unrestricted free agency that starts on July 1.

      But most everyone in Cleveland and around the NBA believes James isn't going anywhere as this is just a formality. James intends to re-sign with his current team, according to multiple reports.

      The opt-out move is the third time in the past six years that James will be an unrestricted free agent.

      Cavs general manager David Griffin said last week the team had been in regular contact with James since the end of the NBA Finals.

      James returned to Northeast Ohio in July 2014, leaving the Miami Heat four years -- and two NBA championships -- after bolting Cleveland in an excruciating public departure aired by ESPN and titled "The Decision."

      The level of fear that James might take his talents elsewhere is minimized this time by the passionate letter in Sports Illustrated that trumpeted a triumphant comeback to Cleveland last summer.

      James addressed Cavaliers fans one week ago in a video posted for Bleacher Report. There was no indication of his desire to leave Cleveland.

      "Hopefully I was an inspiration, being back to you guys for this first year," James said in the video. "Hopefully I can continue that in the near future. And I just thank you guys -- I thank the fans, I thank everybody for the support that y'all gave us all year, the support that you gave me by welcoming me back.

      "And hopefully I made you guys proud in Year 1. Like I said, I'm not satisfied, I'm not happy with the way things turned out. I'm bummed about it for sure. But hopefully I can put our team in position once again to try to compete for a championship next year and year-in and year-out. That's my goal, and my inspiration hasn't changed. So I appreciate everything. I thank you guys, I love you guys and I'll see y'all soon."

      The Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors 105-97 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals without All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love due to injuries, and James was "not happy with the way it closed out."

      "It hurt to lose, and I'm still in a little funk right now, but I'm trying to work my way out of it," James said in the video to Cavs fans. "You know, for a team that's first getting together, in our first year to be able to reach the Finals -- not saying I'm happy with the results, but I'm proud of our guys. Just the growth that they had from the first day we walked in the gym to the other day, us losing, I'm proud of the guys and what they was able to accomplish."

      James had a historic Finals performance -- averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists while playing 45.8 minutes per game.

      Love reportedly also plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent.

      ESPN.com reported last week that Love notified the Cavaliers that he is opting out of his contract, worth $16.7 million next season.

  • Sunday, June 28, 2015
    Heat decline F Beasley's option
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Miami Heat informed forward Michael Beasley that the team will not pick up his $1.3 million option for next season.

    • The No. 2 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft was told of the team's decision Saturday night. Beasley will officially become a free agent on Wednesday.

      Beasley, in his third stint with the Heat after returning from China, averaged 8.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and shot 43.4 percent in 24 games last season. He also was with the Heat from 2008 through 2010 and was part of the 2013-14 team that went to the NBA Finals.

      "Michael has shown a lot of poise and maturity in coming back from China and battling back into the NBA and earning not only a position but a role where he could contribute, and the future for Michael is bright and his talent is still being developed," Beasley's agent, Jared Karnes, told the Miami Herald on Sunday.

  • Sunday, June 28, 2015
    Kobe calls Nance's 2012 tweet 'water under the bridge'
    By The Sports Xchange

    Kobe Bryant has talked with Los Angeles Lakers' first-round draft pick Larry Nance Jr. about a 2012 tweet that referred to a sexual-assault case involving Bryant.

    • Bryant, speaking at the BET Experience held at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday night during an interview with ESPN's Jemele Hill, said "there's no need" for any further discussion about the matter.

      "The kid figured it out himself," Bryant said. "He's a kid, man. He actually sent me a great message (Friday), which is really funny. I looked at it (the text message), and it was like, 'This is when you know it's about time to hang these things up, when your teammate writes you, Hi, Mr. Bryant.' ...

      "It was really nice and apologetic about what had happened. I said, 'Dude, listen. We've all said things and done things that we regret and wish we could take back. It's water under the bridge, man. Welcome to the team.' He writes back, 'Thank you, sir.'"

      Nance's tweet posted in 2012, which was deleted within minutes of his selection by the Lakers with the 27th overall pick Thursday night, read: "Gee I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time." It also included the hashtag "#rapist."

      Bryant was involved in a 2003 sexual-assault case in Colorado when a woman accused him of raping her in his hotel room. All charges were dropped after she refused to testify, but a civil suit was later settled and Bryant publicly apologized. Bryant admitted no guilt in the case.

      Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday night the team had spoken to Nance, the former Wyoming forward, about the tweet.

      "I've spoken to Larry Nance Jr. with John Black, our public relations director," Kupchak said. "Really, I'm not in a position to really share information. But it is something that they will have to discuss amongst the two of them. My understanding is that it's something that happened years ago, and in today's world, things don't go away, which really doesn't make it any less offensive because it was said three, four years ago."

      Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and former league MVP, is scheduled to make $25 million in his final contract season and 19th year with the Lakers.

      There has been speculation that Bryant could play beyond next season and the guard -- who will turn 37 when next season begins -- hasn't ruled out that possibility.

  • Sunday, June 28, 2015
    Report: 76ers pay $3 million to Pelicans for Holiday deal
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Philadelphia 76ers were forced to pay $3 million to the New Orleans Pelicans last season for failing to fully disclose guard Jrue Holiday's leg injury before the 2013 NBA Draft, according to a report.

    • The Sixers did not reveal the extent of the injuries before dealing Holiday to the Pelicans for the rights to sixth overall pick Nerlens Noel, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Saturday.

      The 6-foot-4 Holiday had stress fractures in his lower right leg during the 2012-13 season with the Sixers. He continues to have leg issues with the Pelicans.

      During the 2013-14 season with New Orleans, Holiday was limited to 34 games because of a stress fracture in his right tibia. Last season, he missed 41 consecutive games with a stress reaction in his right lower leg.

      In the 34 games Holiday did play in 2013-14, he averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals. Then last season, he saw action in 40 games and averaged 14.8 points, 6.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds.

      76ers general manager Sam Hinkie refused comment, but the Inquirer said a team source denied the allegation.

      The Inquirer also reported that the Sixers are pursuing compensation from the Los Angeles Lakers for center Andrew Bynum, who was acquired in a four-team trade in August 2012 but never played for the 76ers because of injuries.

  • Saturday, June 27, 2015
    Pierce opts out of Wizards contract
    By The Sports Xchange

    Forward Paul Pierce will not exercise the final year of his contract with the Washington Wizards and will become a free agent.

    • Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld confirmed to The Washington Post on Saturday night that Pierce opted out of his contract.

      Pierce was due to make 5.5 million next season. By opting out, Pierce can either sign a new deal with the Wizards or explore opportunities with other teams.

      Reportedly, Pierce is interested in the Los Angeles Clippers because he grew up nearby in Inglewood, Calif., and would be reunited with coach Doc Rivers, who he played for with the Boston Celtics.

      The Wizards, who expected the move from Pierce, can offer him a 20 percent raise and pay him $6.6 million next season.

      The Boston Celtics, Pierce's former team, also would like to bring him back. Reports indicate the Celtics plan to pursue free agent forward Kevin Love and would like to pair him with Pierce, a 17-year NBA veteran.

  • Friday, June 26, 2015
    NBA notebook: Anthony unhappy with Knicks' pick
    By The Sports Xchange

    New York Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony reportedly expressed his displeasure Thursday night with team president Phil Jackson's decision to draft 7-foot-1 big man Kristaps Porzingis.

    • Anthony, in a phone conversation with former teammate Tim Hardaway Jr., who was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, questioned Jackson's decision to select the 19-year-old Porzingis because he may not be ready to contribute immediately, according to New York Daily News and ESPN sources.

      "I (was) talking to my sources last night. All they said was, he's furious, he's livid. He feels completely hoodwinked and betrayed by Phil Jackson," ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said Friday on SiriusXM Radio. "He feels like he was lied to, like he was sold a bill of goods. And he's willing to concede that he wanted his money. But he didn't know it was going to be like this. He didn't know it was going to be this bad. And he can't believe that his second season under the Phil Jackson regime, he has to look forward to it being worse than even last year was."

      Jackson told ESPN that he texted with Anthony on Thursday night about the pick.

      "Carmelo is always on my mind," Jackson said Friday. "He's our favorite son. At this point in his life, that's the way it should be. But the second-most important thing is what we do for this franchise. And that has to be a consideration.

      "And I let Melo know that as we made this choice. He actually sat in during KP's workout for a few minutes. ... We anticipate it's going to be (a significant period of development) regardless of whether we have a 19-year-old KP or a 19-year-old whomever. They're still young players."

      Anthony, who turned 31 on May 29, had season-ending knee surgery in February and will be ready by the start of training camp. Last year, Anthony signed a five-year, $124 million deal, shunning offers from the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers in the process.

      The Knicks are trying to rebuild after winning just 17 games in Jackson's first full season as team president.

      ---The San Antonio Spurs are expecting power forward Tim Duncan to return in 2015-16 for his 19th NBA season.

      Sources told ESPN.com that although Duncan and guard Manu Ginobili have yet to make a formal announcement about their plans for next season, the Spurs are optimistic about re-signing both.

      Duncan, 39, and Ginobili, 37, are among 10 players on last season's 15-man roster who become free agents Wednesday. Ginobili would be entering his 14th NBA season.

      ---The 2015 NBA Draft set a viewing record on Thursday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

      The telecast averaged 3,738,000 viewers on ESPN, an increase of eight percent from 2014 that made it the most-watched NBA Draft in history. The peak audience was 5,131,000 viewers from 8 to 8:15 p.m. ET.

      The draft's 2.4 U.S. household rating was a four percent increase from last year and peaked at 3.3 from 8 to 8:15 p.m.

  • Friday, June 26, 2015
    NBA Draft breaks TV viewing record
    By The Sports Xchange

    The 2015 NBA Draft set a viewing record on Thursday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

    • The telecast averaged 3,738,000 viewers on ESPN, an increase of eight percent from 2014 that made it the most-watched NBA Draft in history.

      The peak audience was 5,131,000 viewers from 8 to 8:15 p.m. ET. Center Karl-Anthony Towns was the first pick in the draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

      The draft's 2.4 U.S. household rating was a four percent increase from last year and peaked at 3.3 from 8 to 8:15 p.m.

      The NBA Draft has been televised by ESPN since 2003 and viewing records date to 1994.

  • Friday, June 26, 2015
    Spurs expect Duncan back for 19th season
    By The Sports Xchange

    The San Antonio Spurs are expecting power forward Tim Duncan to return in 2015-16 for his 19th NBA season.

    • Sources told ESPN.com that although Duncan and guard Manu Ginobili have yet to make a formal announcement about their plans for next season, the Spurs are optimistic about re-signing both.

      Duncan, 39, and Ginobili, 37, are among 10 players on last season's 15-man roster who become free agents Wednesday. Ginobili would be entering his 14th NBA season.

      Spurs guard Tony Parker recently told the San Antonio Express-News that he won't pressure either Duncan or Ginobili into continuing their careers.

      Parker said he does "think they're both going to play one more year. I've talked to them and told them what I think. Now it's their decision. It's a very personal decision."