NBA roundup: Mavs claim Elton Brand
—The Dallas Mavericks claimed Elton Brand off amnesty waivers, the team announced.
The Mavs submitted a winning bid $2.1 million, sources told ESPN.com. Brand had been released Wednesday by the Philadelphia 76ers.
“Excited,” Brand told ESPN.com. “I figured that I’d be claimed (off waivers) and that’s definitely the destination I was hoping for. It’s going to be great playing with someone of Dirk Nowitzki’s caliber. Chris Kaman is still a really good player and is going to show everybody that. And I’ve heard a lot of good things about Coach [Rick] Carlisle.”
The Sixers are still responsible for the remaining balance of the $18.2 million for the final year of Brand’s contract.
Only teams under the salary cap could bid on Brand through waivers. He would’ve become an unrestricted free agent had he cleared waivers, but the Mavericks opted to claim him before that point. Dallas has added Brand, Kaman and Darren Collison this week.
—The New York Knicks are on the clock.
Point guard Jeremy Lin, named a starter by head coach Mike Woodson on Wednesday, signed a four-year offer sheet with the Houston Rockets worth $28.83 million.
Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said that he had not seen the offer sheet as of Thursday morning but expected the franchise to match any reasonable offer for the sensation. Woodson was more adamant, saying the Knicks would “absolutely” match the deal to keep Lin.
Before his season ended in April because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 35 games. The 23-year-old went undrafted out of Harvard and was cut by the Rockets and Warriors — he played 29 games with Golden State in 2010-11 — before he landed with the Knicks via waivers. He had seven double-doubles with the Knicks last season and started 25 games.
Woodson said Lin would enter training camp as his starting point guard ahead of veteran Jason Kidd.
“Jeremy Lin has always been a big part of what we’re trying to do as we move forward with our franchise,” Woodson said from the Knicks’ summer league workouts in Las Vegas.
—Clippers power forward Blake Griffin is expected to be ready for training camp in October but will miss the 2012 Olympic Games in London with a torn meniscus in his left knee.
“We’re relieved that this does not affect Blake’s ability to be ready in time for training camp,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said in a statement. “Missing out on the Olympic experience will be tough for him to take. I know how dedicated he was to doing that. We’re glad we can get this fixed now and take advantage of the available time for him to fully recover.”
Griffin was replaced Thursday on the Team USA roster by Hornets rookie Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft in June.
The knee injury occurred at a team scrimmage Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Griffin returned to Los Angeles Thursday and was examined by Clippers’ team physicians. He’ll see a specialist Sunday to confirm the diagnosis.
The No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft, Griffin signed a five-year, $95 million extension with the Clippers Wednesday. He averaged 20.7 points and 10.9 rebounds last season but hurt his left knee in the first-round playoff series against Memphis.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Griffin’s knee injury was related to the postseason injury, saying Thursday Griffin declined the option to have his knee scoped in May.
—NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving issued a challenge to Lakers guard Kobe Bryant: play one-on-one.
Irving approached Bryant with cameras rolling for Blue Planet, a Duke website, and SLAM Magazine during a Team USA shoot-around in Las Vegas.
Bryant smirked, trash-talked Irving relentlessly and ultimately accepted. He upped the ante a bit, too. Bryant said he will play Irving for $50,000. The loser will donate the sum to charity.
—The Houston Rockets are scrambling to clear the salary cap space required to absorb the high-priced contracts Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan wants to unload to any team that takes All-NBA center Dwight Howard via trade.
The Rockets dealt point guard Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors and used the amnesty provision to waive power forward Luis Scola and the three years, $21 million remaining on his contract.
Howard hasn’t committed to signing a long-term extension with any team other than his preferred destination, Brookyln. The Nets and Magic couldn’t agree on a trade and talks ended Wednesday, when Hennigan reportedly approached Howard about reconsidering his trade demands long enough to give the Magic’s yet-to-be hired coaching staff a chance.
The Rockets’ offer could involve multiple first-round picks they’ve received via trade, including a first-rounder in the Lowry deal, and might be able to flip multiple 2012 first-round picks: UConn guard Jeremy Lamb, Iowa State forward Royce White or Kentucky forward Terrence Jones. Houston also owns a first-round pick in 2013 from Dallas via the Lakers.
Almost as important to Hennigan is whether Houston can absorb the weight of long-term contracts he wants off the books in Orlando. Point guard Chris Duhon is owed $7.6 million over the next two seasons; Quentin Richardson is owed $5.4 million over two seasons and the albatross deals of Jason Richardson ($18.6 million through 2015) and Hedo Turkoglu ($23.6 million through 2014) are assuredly the contracts the Magic will insist on coupling with Howard.
To facilitate the deal, Orlando would have to consider accepting shooting guard Kevin Martin — signed for only the upcoming season at $13 million — in any trade with the Rockets.
—Free agent center Kwame Brown signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Brown made $6.75 million as a member of the Warriors last season. He played in just nine games before he tore his pectoralis major — the largest muscle in the chest which attaches to the shoulder — and had surgery in January.
In 11 pro seasons, Brown averaged 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Golden State was his sixth NBA team since 2005 when he was drafted No. 1 by the Washington Wizards out of Glynn Academy in South Carolina.
Brown was the first high school player to be drafted first in the NBA draft.
—The Bulls traded Kyle Korver to the Atlanta Hawks, putting them one step closer to bringing back veteran guard Kirk Hinrich, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The Bulls had talks with Portland and Minnesota break down but wanted to move Korver to avoid paying a $500,000 buyout that would have been triggered Sunday, the deadline for the team to decline a $5 million option on Korver for 2012-13.
Hinrich played for the Hawks last season and could be included in the deal as part of a sign-and-trade agreement. He’s committed to sign with the Bulls as an unrestricted free agent. If he first signs with the Hawks, the Bulls could retain their $3 million mini midlevel exception.
Korver, 31, averaged 9.5 points per game in his first nine seasons, including the past two with the Bulls. He’s a career 41.3 percent shooter from 3-point range and made 43.5 percent in 65 games with the Bulls last season.
Hinrich, 31, was the Bulls’ first-round pick in 2003 and a fulltime starter six of his seven seasons in Chicago. He was traded to the Washington Wizards before the 2010 draft, when the Bulls were furiously clearing salary cap space in pursuit of the mega free-agent class led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The Bulls made a push for all three before settling for lesser options, Carlos Boozer and Korver.
—The Pacers officially signed unrestricted free agent point guard D.J. Augustin on Friday.
Augustin’s addition was necessary to fill the vacancy created when Darren Collison was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.
“D.J. is an excellent pick-up for this team,” said Pacers’ GM Kevin Pritchard in a release. “He’s an amazing kid that will fit well here with the Pacers’ family.His experience will be valuable as we move our franchise forward. Our priority is to keep our own players and then to fill in the holes that exist. D.J. helps us accomplish that.”
Augustin’s $4 million qualifying offer as a restricted free agent was withdrawn by the Bobcats, who had been negotiating a sign-and-trade deal with Indiana. When the offer was rescinded, Augustin officially became an unrestricted free agent able to sign with any team.
The Bobcats’ 2011 first-round pick, Kemba Walker, and veteran newcomer Ramon Sessions are expected to compete for the starting point guard job in Charlotte.
Augustin was the ninth overall pick in the 2008 draft. He started 128 of a possible 130 games over the past two seasons with the Bobcats. Augustin averaged 11.1 points and 6.4 assists last season.
—Free agent O.J. Mayo was in Phoenix on Friday, his first visit with one of multiple teams in the hunt for the Grizzlies’ shooting guard.
Mayo’s agent said last week that the Rockets, Bulls, Celtics and Bobcats could be in the running for the four-year veteran. The Grizzlies declined to make a qualifying offer to Mayo and retain refusal rights, shifting Mayo’s status from restricted free agent to unrestricted.
He averaged 12.6 points per game last season, but shot selection has been questionable for the former Southern Cal star. He shot 40.8 percent from the field and might not commit to the level of defensive consistency and intensity Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau requires.
Chicago is reportedly finalizing details of a deal with Kirk Hinrich, who could start at point guard during Derrick Rose’s absence and slide to shooting guard in a timeshare with Richard Hamilton if Rose comes back healthy.
The Celtics lost Ray Allen to the Miami Heat in free agency and have interest in other guards, including Rockets guard Courtney Lee. The Rockets aren’t eager to sign any contracts until the dust settles in the team’s pursuit of restricted free agents
– Bulls center Omer Asik and Knicks guard Jeremy Lin — and on the trade front with the Magic and center Dwight Howard.
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