NBA Rumors: Weekly Twitter Summary of the Hottest Chatter
No professional sport uses Twitter as heavily as the NBA. Between players constantly updating their accounts, pundits voicing their opinions and insiders posting the latest news, often the best way to find out what is happening around the league is to simply check a handful of tweets.
Like any offseason, this summer has been filled with so many ongoing rumors and major happenings that it has been difficult to keep track of, so I've put together a little Twitter-based rundown of the latest free-agent developments, Summer League standouts and, of course, Dwight Howard news.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the buzz from the NBA over the last week.
Dwight Howard to Lakers, Andrew Bynum to Cavaliers Trade Not Dead
One of the rumors that was picking up steam over the past week was that the Cleveland Cavaliers would act as a third party facilitator in a deal sending Dwight Howard to Los Angeles, Andrew Bynum to Cleveland and Anderson Varejao to Orlando as the centerpiece of a package that involved draft picks and cap relief.
Though that rumor died down, Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reported via Twitter Sunday that it is not dead.
This deal makes more sense for the Cavs and Lakers than it does for the Magic. Cleveland gets the franchise center they have lacked for years and a perfect big man to pair with Kyrie Irving, while the Lakers get the coveted Howard and can begin to retool their team around him for the future.
Orlando gets Varejao, a solid player when healthy but by no means a star, and though the picks they acquire would be valuable, they would not be netting a transcendent player.
RealGM.com's Jarrod Rudolph reported that Howard would be willing to re-sign with Los Angeles following the season, and his commitment, along with Bynum's, is essential for this deal to go through.
Luis Scola Finds New Home with Phoenix After Amnesty
In an offseason that saw the Wizards part with Andray Blatche, the Clippers ditch Ryan Gomes and the 76ers send Elton Brand packing, easily the most surprising use of the amnesty clause went to Houston, who dispensed of veteran power forward Luis Scola.
ESPN's Marc Stein first confirmed the move via Twitter on July 13, with the Suns ultimately placing the winning bid on Scola via the waiver process.
At 32, Scola is still very effective thanks to his below-the-rim style of play and his physical nature. In a down season, he still averaged 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists on 49.1 percent shooting from the field.
He is great in the post but can also step outside and hit midrange jump shots if necessary.
Scola said via Twitter he is "very excited" to join the organization and has even changed his Twitter profile picture to his Phoenix jersey, albeit with a question mark for a number.
Scola will likely slide into the starting 4 spot and make a great frontcourt partner for Marcin Gortat, while being a prime pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop big with Goran Dragic, who he showed great chemistry with in Houston last season.
Scola has plenty of good basketball left to play, and should be an immediate impact player for the Suns as they begin the post-Steve Nash era.
Chicago Adds Veterans for Depth
After dealing Kyle Korver, watching Omer Asik sign a staggering three-year, $25.1 million offer with Houston and not exercising options on Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson, the depth that carried Chicago for much of last season is largely gone.
However, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, the team has begun to rebuild the "Bench Mob."
Friedell states that the team is working on a one-year deal for shooting guard Marco Belinelli, who averaged a career-high 11.8 points and 2.6 rebounds for New Orleans last season while connecting on 37.7 percent of his three-point attempts.
Belinelli would largely take Korver's role as a floor spacer because of his ability to run off of picks and spot up on the perimeter. He has a decent handle and can react to a closeout, but will largely be expected to work without the ball and create space to get off a clean shot.
Belinelli will reportedly earn the bi-annual exception, worth a hair under $2 million per season. This effectively guarantees that Chicago won't match Asik's offer—using the bi-annual exception means they cannot go into the luxury tax.
Friedell also reported that the team officially signed former Bull Kirk Hinrich, who will likely step in as the starting point guard until Derrick Rose is fully healthy.
The team is also reportedly finalizing an agreement with center Nazr Mohammed for one year, according to Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy. Mohammed will replace Asik off the bench as a defensive-minded big man who can protect the paint and hit the glass.
Boston Bolsters Backcourt with Courtney Lee
After much speculation, the Boston Celtics finally landed Courtney Lee in a sign-and-trade with the Rockets that will net the defensive-minded shooting guard a four-year, $21.5 million deal, per Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears.
It took some time for the deal to finally get done, with Portland ultimately getting involved as a facilitator. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweeted that the final deal resulted in Portland netting Sasha Pavlovic, the Charlotte Bobcats' second-round pick (from Boston), and Houston grabbing E'Twaun Moore, Sean Willliams and JaJuan Johnson.
With Ray Allen's departure, the C's wanted another guard to provide depth, and the team needed someone capable of starting with Avery Bradley recovering from surgery.
Last season, Lee averaged 11.4 points and 2.7 boards while hitting 40.1 percent of his attempts from three. He's a great perimeter defender, a good athlete and will be able to start while Bradley gets healthy.
Moore was having a very solid Summer League, and Johnson is still an intriguing prospect after an extremely successful career at Purdue, but the Celtics are a win-now team and getting a known commodity in Lee makes the most sense for the future.
Shannon Brown Back in the Desert
Though not one of the more coveted free agents this summer, Shannon Brown lasted longer than expected on the open market. However, Ken Berger of CBS Sports is reporting that Brown has recently signed a two-year, $7 million deal with the Phoenix Suns.
Brown spent last year with Phoenix as well on a one-year, $3.5 million deal. He averaged 11 points, a career high, along with 2.7 rebounds, primarily in a reserve role.
Re-signing Brown is one of a number of moves the Suns have done this offseason in the wake of Steve Nash's departure.
Michael Scotto of RealGM.com sees Phoenix's offseason activity as a positive. The organization wasted no time picking Nash's replacement by signing former Sun and Nash protege Goran Dragic, bringing in Michael Beasley on a three-year, $18 million deal, drafting North Carolina passing wizard Kendall Marshall and snagging veteran power forward Luis Scola off the amnesty wire.
Bringing Brown back gives the team flexibility with their starting lineup, as they could go with either him or Jared Dudley at the 2-guard spot after Brown showed he can thrive off the bench in his time with the Lakers and Suns.
Damian Lillard, Josh Selby Light Up Summer League
According to Slam Magazine, the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard and Memphis Grizzlies' Josh Selby have been named the co-MVP's of the 2012 NBA Summer League after absolutely torching their opponents.
The two guards simply played at another level compared to their competition, making plays on both ends of the court that stunned fans and pundits.
Lillard averaged 26.5 points, four rebounds and 5.3 assists per game, while Selby notched 27.5 points per game and shot over 59 percent from the floor.
Playing in the Big Sky Conference at Weber State, people were not quite sure what to expect from Lillard, but he proved just why the Blazers tabbed him to be their franchise guard. He scored efficiently, made great decisions with the basketball and ran a devastating pick-and-roll with fellow Portland lottery pick Meyers Leonard.
NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper even tweeted that Lillard would be his dark horse pick for Rookie of the Year behind Anthony Davis.
For Selby, Summer League was redemption after a mundane rookie season in which the talented combo guard barely saw the floor for the Grizzlies.
Alton Clark of ESPN True Hoop said that Selby's phenomenal play was reminiscent of the kind of basketball he played in high school that made him a top-five recruit. Selby showed he could handle the ball and be a playmaker on offense, but what really stood out was his unbelievable shooting and ability to get to the rim.
Summer League is about taking advantage of opportunities, and these two young guards certainly did so in July.
Houston Rockets End Linsanity in New York
In one of the most surprising developments of this offseason, the New York Knicks opted not to match the Rockets' offer of a three-year, $25 million deal for Jeremy Lin that will net the point guard roughly $14 million in year three.
Even with the heavy luxury tax penalty, Lin's on-court abilities and off-court marketing value had many fans believing James Dolan and the team's front office would simply bite the bullet.
ESPN's Skip Bayless tweeted that he was "cutting off [his] nose to spite [his] face" by letting the star point guard walk.
CBS' Greg Doyle noted on July 20 that since Lin's formal departure, Madison Square Garden stock has depreciated in value by $93 million after it saw a substantial spike during the peak of Linsanity.
During a bleak stretch that saw New York dip below .500, deal with injuries to their biggest stars and barely resemble a playoff ballclub, Lin emerged as the team's leader, main offensive option and, ultimately, saviour.
He ran the pick-and-roll to perfection, got the rim seemingly at will and gelled perfectly with the Knicks' role players.
Opinions have been divided, with some fans saying that the financial restrictions the third year of Lin's deal would have placed on New York were simply too significant to look past, while others believed that Lin's marketing value and electrifying pay were well worth the salary cap hit.
The Book of Basketball writer and Grantland.com editor Bill Simmons offered up what is perhaps the most succinct tweet about the Lin debacle: "The Knicks are stupid. Period."
Nicolas Batum to Remain in Rip City
After a back-and-forth battle with the Minnesota Timberwolves that became incredibly heated, Portland has elected to match Batum's four-year, $46 million offer sheet.
According to Chris Haynes of Comcast SportsNet Northwest, Minnesota was so enamored with the French swingman they were willing to offer former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams and two first-rounders in a sign-and-trade, which the Blazers refused.
Though plenty of drama occurred over the summer, as Batum seemed to want to land in Minnesota, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian tweeted that new Portland GM Neil Olshey said, "We were never not going to keep Nic."
While Batum would have been the default starter with the Timberwolves, he is actually a more important piece for the Trail Blazers. Coming off of a breakout season in which he averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds along with a block and steal per contest, Batum showed that he could potentially be the team's second scorer behind LaMarcus Aldridge.
He shot 39.1 percent from three-point range and had several huge scoring outbursts from the perimeter.
Heading into his fifth NBA season, Batum will actually be an elder-statesman on this extremely young Portland team and be asked to shoulder a huge load on both ends of the court.
That being said, he's proved capable of being a dangerous two-way player and should have great chemistry with new point guard Damian Lillard.
Though plenty of fans scrutinized the lucrative contract, including Ace Gershfield, who noted that he will earn roughly the same amount as three-time All-Star Rajon Rondo, if Batum lives up to his enormous potential as a scorer and multi-position defender, it could look like a very savvy signing for the new-look Blazers.
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