HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Top Five Free Agent SGs
By Derek Page
Despite the NBA Conference Finals commencing this past week, the vast majority of NBA teams are out of the 2013 postseason and are focused on improving their rosters this offseason.
Teams around the NBA have their sights set on the upcoming free agency period and are in the process of figuring out their options in terms of new additions this summer.
For teams in need of a two-guard, there are a few names on the market that should draw some serious interest when the free agency period commences this July.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at an offseason shopper’s guide to the top free agent shooting guards set to be available:
Drama Awaiting Rockets with Howard?
By Bill Ingram
Over the last 72 hours or so, speculation about Los Angeles Lakers free agent Dwight Howard seems to have kicked into overdrive. Though no decision can be made before free agency starts in July, speculation is absolutely rampant about where Howard will spend the foreseeable part of his NBA career.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind as we begin to approach this subject, starting with the fact that Howard has been notoriously indecisive about his future over the last two seasons. He talked about how much he wanted to stay in Orlando, even as “sources” around him couldn’t wait to talk about him wanting to play in Brooklyn or in L.A. with the Lakers. Many of those same sources are now pointing a finger at Houston as his next destination, and while it’s difficult to put much stock in rumors that surface in May about a decision that might not be made until August – or even later, in a nightmare scenario – it’s worth noting that there are likely to be some adjustment issues in Houston if they do finally land their prime free agency target.
The 2013 NBA Draft’s Mystery Man
By Alex Kennedy
Entering the NBA draft combine in Chicago, everyone was talking about Ricky Ledo out of Providence. Executives wanted to meet with him, scouts wanted to evaluate him, reporters wanted to interview him and opposing players wanted to size him up.
The 20-year-old’s draft stock has been on the rise recently, and he’s one of the most intriguing – and mysterious – players in the class.
Ledo has never played a second of college basketball. He practiced with Providence last year, his freshman season, but he wasn’t able to play in any games because he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA.
Even though he’s unproven, he has the game and frame to play in the NBA, and teams lined up to interview and schedule workouts with him while in Chicago. At the combine, he interviewed with nearly half of the league, and he’ll meet with even more teams over the next month. He has already had individual workouts out for the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, and has many others on his calendar.
Kings Moving Forward
By Steve Kyler
While the NBA has yet to formally approve the sale of the Sacramento Kings to Vivek Ranadive and his local ownership group, it appears the Indian software tycoon is looking at his new teams’ options and that includes massive changes on the basketball operations side.
USA Today Sports’ Sam Amick is reporting that Ranadive has already started reaching out to possible candidates including front office executives R.C. Buford of the Spurs, Travis Schlenk of the Warriors and possibly current Grizzles GM Chris Wallace.
Current Kings’ President Geoff Petrie is expected to step down in what’s likely going to be called a retirement.
The Kings are also expected to replace head coach Keith Smart and the front runner appears to be Golden State assistant coach Mike Malone, although sources in coaching circles say that the new executive in Sacramento would be making the coaching hire for the Kings and until that is settled coaching is a secondary problem.
It’s Hard To Savor The Modern NBA
By Travis Heath
Maybe I should start off this column by telling you to get off my lawn. I actually do have a lawn to tell you to get off of now, by the way, which wasn’t true last year at this time. It is yet another sign of me growing older, I suppose. And perhaps what I am beginning to see is somewhat of a generational divide.
Twitter can be absolutely exhausting. When it first became popular among sports media and fans, it was a fun little tool that allowed for quick banter. I remember using it to disseminate news and engage in basketball related chatter back in the summer of 2008. At that time, I was a little bit late to the party. All of the cool kids were already on it.
In truth, I’ve enjoyed my stay on Twitter. Not enough to even consider signing up for Facebook, but it has been an overall enjoyable experience.
Lately, though, it seems like I just can’t keep up. Trying to watch a basketball game and follow my Twitter feed has become almost intolerable.
David West’s Value In Free Agency
By Lang Greene
The Indiana Pacers signed former All-Star forward David West to a two-year, $20 million deal before the start of the lockout-shortened 2012 season. West seemed destined for a larger payday but suffered a season-ending left knee injury the prior season as a member of the New Orleans Hornets.
Last season, when West returned to the court, the impact of the torn ACL he suffered was on clear display. Make no mistake the veteran was still very productive and provided the young Pacers with a steadying presence both on and off the court, but he spent the majority of the campaign working his way back into game shape and gaining confidence in his surgically repaired knee.
This season, the 32-year-old West has regained his form from years past.
The veteran increased his scoring average from 12.8 points per night to 17.1 during the regular season and, with the playoffs now in full swing, has been instrumental in the Pacers’ fight to win the Eastern Conference versus the defending champion Miami HEAT.
Now, the question is how will the Pacers handle West’s pending free agency this summer?
Leiweke Lands Masai Ujiri To Run Raptors
By Stephen Brotherston
It took a week, but according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Toronto Raptors’ offer to Masai Ujiri of $15 million over five seasons was too much for the Denver Nuggets to match and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO and president Tim Leiweke finally made his first big-time hire in Toronto. Ujiri will be rejoining the Raptors as general manager (or an equivalent title) after a three-year absence.
Ujiri was the Raptors’ assistant general manager under then president and general manager Bryan Colangelo in 2010 when Denver tapped him as their second choice to become their general manager. The Nuggets had wanted David Griffin, who had spent 17 seasons with the Phoenix Suns, but they went quickly back to Ujiri after Griffin turned them down. Three successful seasons later and Ujiri had won the 2013 NBA Executive of the Year award.
Del Negro: “It was Mr. Sterling’s decision”
By Eric Pincus
After the best regular season in franchise history, the Los Angeles Clippers let head coach Vinny Del Negro hit free agency without renewing his contract. In an exclusive phone interview with HOOPSWORLD, Del Negro said that Clippers owner Donald Sterling made the final call.
“It was Mr. Sterling’s decision,” Del Negro said. “In the end, they did what they felt was best for their organization.”
“It’s always difficult when you part ways… the disappointment is not being able to stay and finish the job,” Del Negro continued. “I was very happy to be part of that group that was able to have a lot of success in a short period of time.”
The Clippers are at a crucial crossroads with All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who will be an unrestricted free agent in July. The team’s top priority is securing him to a long-term deal.
Was Paul responsible for Del Negro’s ouster?
Head Coach Candidates Dwindling
By Joel Brigham
Anybody who has signed up for NBA alerts on their smartphone probably has noticed an uptick in pings this week, due largely to the fact that teams with head coaching vacancies are really starting to make some hires. The names that have come off the board are not surprising, but many of the top assistants ready for a shot at being top dog have already been hired. That means the next wave is more likely to be retreads than first-timers, but whatever the case, teams are trying to get their head coaches hired ahead of the draft, and we’re really starting to see the dominoes fall.
The following is a look at who has been hired already, and which candidates might be best for the jobs that remain open: