NBA Sunday: Time To Accept The Vet Minimum?
NBA training camps for the 2013 season are set to open in less than two weeks, but there are still more than a few proud and battle tested veteran players looking for employment.
Although there are still teams with money available to spend, the new collective bargaining agreement has in essence dried up the late offseason market for veterans who used to be in play for multi-year deals after the top free agents came off the board.
The group includes guys who are still more than potentially capable of providing a contending team a boost or assisting a rebuilding organization in cultivating its younger talent.
But with gyms set to open is it time for these veteran players to accept the veteran’s minimum?
Last Season: Atlanta Hawks
Stat Line: 5.3 points, 3 rebounds, 2.1 assists
McGrady is far removed from being the two-time scoring champion he was during his prime years due to knee injuries, but the veteran has proved over the past two seasons that he still can be effective in a limited role and most importantly has remained relatively healthy.
McGrady has reportedly received interest from the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Bobcats and San Antonio Spurs at varying times during the offseason but nothing imminent at the moment.
Last Season: Boston Celtics
Stat Line: 6.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 34% 3PT
Pietrus’ agent told anyone within earshot throughout the offseason that his client would not accept a vet minimum deal for the 2012-2013 campaign, but he remains unemployed.
The Celtics still have their $1.95 million biannual exception but have yet to offer it to the veteran forward. The Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves have at least had exploratory talks with Pietrus’ camp but nothing close to the contract negotiating variety.
Last Season: Indiana Pacers / Toronto Raptors
Stat Line: 11.1 points, 38% 3PT
The speedy guard recently went public with his free agency options naming the Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers as his suitors heading into training camp. However, sources close to all of those franchises quickly issued denials of their interest to their local media outlets.
Last Season: Los Angeles Clippers
Stat Line: 5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1 block
The New York Knicks continue to covet Martin as a frontcourt option they’d like to pursue, but the problem is the team has yet to convince the former No. 1 overall pick of accepting a vet minimum deal.
Martin, who will turn 35 in December, could opt to wait until the season begins to see how the landscape shakes out if he’s looking for a multi-year deal to round out his career.
Last Season: Phoenix Suns
Stat Line: 8.2 points, 1.5 rebounds, 32% 3PT
The Memphis Grizzlies have been rumored to have interest in the former All-Star, but according to a report by the Commercial Appeal, the franchise isn’t likely to add any additional payroll pending the team’s purchase and already sitting $3 million over the luxury tax threshold.
The Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards have also been rumored to be in the mix during the offseason.
Last Season: Utah Jazz
Stat Line: 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists
An assortment of injuries has limited the former All-Star over the past four seasons, but he managed to get his legs back under him last season in Utah.
The Charlotte Bobcats are amongst the teams who have expressed interest in the veteran forward, though the talks remain exploratory in nature.
The Bobcats are said to be looking for an experienced small forward to play behind Michael Kidd-Gilcgrist, their 2012 lottery pick, with Corey Maggette now playing in Detroit.
Last Season: Oklahoma City Thunder / Los Angeles Lakers
Stat Line: 5.6 points, 2.7 assists, 1.9 rebounds
The market has seemingly dried up for the five-time NBA champion guard. Fisher reportedly turned down an offer to join the Chicago Bulls this summer and the Thunder are looking elsewhere headed into training camp.
Fisher is no longer capable of playing major minutes but his knack for hitting big shots and providing leadership will certainly get him at least a look at some point this season.
Rockets’ McHale Ready For First Training Camp As Head Coach
Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale is a Hall of Fame player and a former longtime league executive who has logged 160 games on the sidelines calling the shots. But surprisingly he has never run his own full training camp as a head coach – until now.
The 2012 lockout shortened season was McHale’s first leading the Rockets and it was filled with numerous reports of players balking at his demands and more than a few clashes. As a result only two Rockets remain on the team’s roster heading into training camp from the end of last season and the fresh outlook has given McHale a reason for optimism.
“It’s much more comfortable just knowing that we’re here, planning with the coaches, having players coming in and out, being able to talk to them about what we’re envisioning,” McHale told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “We’re just getting a comfort level with each other as opposed to having the lockout lifted, two days and then getting started.”
McHale will likely enter the season with one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the league next season.
“I think if you ask any coach they would tell you ‘Give me a good veteran team of a bunch of guys that have been together four, five years. Now, let’s go play,’ ” McHale said. “That’s not where we are. Last year, I thought we were settling more into that type of team. Things change in this league. Right now, we have a lot of young guys. With young guys, there’s a lot of uncertainty. But there’s also a lot of excitement and anticipation. They’re going to grow. They’re going to get better.”
As the Rockets are currently constructed wins will be hard to come by as the youngsters take their lumps adjusting to the nuisances of the NBA game. McHale is hopeful his young core can hit the ground running do something most young teams fail to do – win without taking lumps.
“Being in the NBA for 30-plus years, you know the growth that is going to take place,” McHale said. “Unfortunately, you know the growing pains that are going to take place. You’re like, ‘I just want the growth without the pain.’ That’s never happened in our league. Young teams take some lumps. There’s no teacher like experience.”
Grizzlies’ Tony Allen On Schedule Following Knee Surgery
Grizzlies guard Tony Allen has worked hard to gain the reputation as one of the league’s fiercest perimeter defenders over the years and he’s ready to get back on the floor following surgery to repair cartilage in his left knee during the summer.
“I’m definitely getting myself back to being that thirsty dog,” Allen told Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal. “I don’t want to rush it. But I’ll be back for the first game, Oct. 31, against the (Los Angeles) Clippers. I guarantee that.”
Allen is in the final year of his deal which will pay him $3.3 million in 2013. With free agency looming the guard makes it clear he’d like to remain in Memphis long term.
“I can’t think about that,” Allen said regarding his upcoming free agency. “I have to let that play out. When I came here, I did everything they asked me to do. I’ll keep it simple and let the organization make that decision. I don’t want to go anywhere.”
Allen was named to the All-Defensive first team for the first time in his career in 2012 as the Grizzlies reached the playoffs for the second consecutive season.