Latest chatter: Sessions over A.I.?
LAS VEGAS -- Here is the latest assemblage of chatter culled from conversations with a variety of knowledgeable sources -- front-office executives, coaches, players and agents -- camped at the NBA's annual summer league here in Vegas.
The distinct vibe in the stands at UNLV's Cox Pavilion is that the Clippers -- apart from owner Donald Sterling -- would greatly prefer to add more of a set-up man to a backcourt rotation that already features Baron Davis and emerging star Eric Gordon as opposed to signing Allen Iverson to a one-year deal up to the full $5.9 million midlevel exception.
The top choice in that scenario? Extending an offer sheet to restricted free agent Ramon Sessions.
Yet as we covered here Wednesday, Sterling wants a ticket-seller if he's going to spend. Winning the draft lottery and the right to select Blake Griffin with the No. 1 overall pick apparently resulted in the sale of only a few hundred extra season-ticket packages.
With Miami clearly focused on other targets, most notably Carlos Boozer via trade and exhausting every last hope of bringing Lamar Odom back, Iverson appears to have no option that can trump Clipperland in terms of money and market.
Yet questions persist about Iverson's willingness to accept a reserve role from L.A. or Memphis -- even if those teams are still willing to pay him in the $5 million range next season -- after Iverson famously said he'd retire if his next team asked him to come off the bench.
In more definitive transaction news involving the Clippers, L.A. has offered a coaching position to famed skills guru Tim Grgurich in hopes of convincing Grgurich to walk away from longtime boss George Karl. The Nuggets are working to convince Grgurich to stay.
Reports persist that Odom has been offered deals spanning three and four seasons in length from the Lakers, but that differs sharply from every bankable indication we've received.
The Lakers' best offer to Odom, so far, tops out at $27 million over three seasons. The expectation among rival teams remains that the sides will eventually come to terms.
If the Jazz can't complete a three-team deal involving one of the few teams possessing cap space when they ultimately move Boozer, they'll either be trying to work with a team that has a good-sized trade exception (Miami, New Jersey and Denver all qualify) or looking for a conventional trade that includes a contract like those possessed by Sasha Pavlovic or Greg Buckner.
Only $1.5 million of Pavlovic's $5 million contract next season is guaranteed. Only $1 million of Buckner's $4.1 million deal is owed, with the stipulation that he be waived Nov. 30.
These options, though, are just concepts for now. The Suns are not in the Boozer market at all, and the Mavs' interest is tepid at best, for a few reasons.
Besides the fact that the Mavs can't aggregate Buckner's freshly acquired contract with other players until mid-September, they have reservations about how Boozer's low-post game would fit into an offense filled with scorers who need touches. A combination of Boozer and Dirk Nowitzki would also lack a real rim presence defensively, which often hurt Utah when it rolled out its tag team of Mehmet Okur and Boozer.
Philadelphia's ever-available Samuel Dalembert would appear to make more sense for the Mavs, given his shot-blocking ability and mobility, as they search for a center to fill the void created by Orlando's decision to match Dallas' five-year, $34 million offer sheet to Marcin Gortat.
But the ever-inconsistent Dalembert -- which is one big reason why he's available -- has two years left on his contract at a pricey $25 million. And putting together a package close enough to Dalembert's $12 million salary in 2009-10, even in September when Dallas could throw Buckner's deal together with Shawne Williams' $2.4 million expiring contract, would require the Mavs to include at least one core piece such as J.J. Barea, which they are determined to avoid.
The Mavs also believe, as much as they lusted for Gortat, that they don't have to rush to find another center because A) they've got three starters who rebound well above average for their position (Jason Kidd, Josh Howard and Shawn Marion) to offset some of what they're missing at the 5 spot, and B) they'll have no shortage of trade possibilities in the foreseeable future with Erick Dampier's cap-friendly contract. (A thorough explanation of how cap-friendly it is can be found with a click to DallasBasketball.com, courtesy of North Texas' capologist of the people, David Lord.
I'm hearing fresh, credible rumblings that the Suns remain open to the possibility of trading Amare Stoudemire before the season, offsetting recent suggestions that they were leaning toward taking Stoudemire completely off the trade market between now and training camp.
Trading Stoudemire, however, continues to be complicated, just as it was around the February trade deadline and again at the draft. Any team interested is going to want some sort of clear indication that it can re-sign Stoudemire, who has the right to become a free agent on July 1, 2010.
The news, furthermore, that Stoudemire also needed additional work last week on his surgically repaired eye adds to a medical history that -- in spite of what ranks as the most emphatic comeback ever from microfracture knee surgery -- is bound to give suitors pause.
Suns president of basketball operations Steve Kerr acknowledged at a news conference in Phoenix earlier this week for the signing of Channing Frye that an extension for Stoudemire won't be considered until team officials can see Stoudemire play because "the eye situation was more serious than what we first thought."
It's believed that the Pistons, as of Thursday, have Rasho Nesterovic and Chris Wilcox ahead of Drew Gooden as their next free-agent targets, since it appears that they can't assemble an offer sheet rich enough for Glen Davis to keep the Boston Celtics from matching.
The NBA informed all 30 teams last week that the arbitrator who will rule on the grievance filed by Jamaal Tinsley against the Indiana Pacers has denied a motion by the Pacers to dismiss the grievance.
The grievance was filed on Tinsley's behalf in February by the NBA Players Association, challenging the Pacers' decision to bar Tinsley from participating in any team activities before last season began while they tried to trade him.
Indiana's motion to dismiss in May was made on the grounds that the grievance was not filed in a timely fashion. Arbitrator Calvin Sharpe ruled in favor of Tinsley, concluding that the issue of timeliness would be weighed along with all other aspects of the dispute when the sides convene for a hearing on the matter scheduled for July 27-29.
According to a Wednesday report from David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com, Tinsley "has been working out in the Atlanta area and is in terrific condition, considering how long he's been out of action."
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
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