As the 2012 NBA season inches closer and closer, we're seeing an influx of news and rumors pouring out of training camp.
Even in training camp—a time for players to improve and gel as a team—rumors of future deals, depth-chart movement and potential changes are popping up.
Will the Warriors sign Stephen Curry to a contract extension before the October 31 deadine? Will Dion Waiters be a starter come opening night? Will Andray Blatche see serious minutes in Brooklyn?
And why is Deron Williams making news in Dallas now that he's locked up with the Nets?
The answers to these questions—and more—as we roundup the latest NBA rumors.
His contract with the team expires after this season, but Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic told Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune that he hopes to stay in Minnesota:
I would like to stay here because of everything...I just like everything. I like the area. I like the team. I like all the stuff. Now I got some friends here. Now it's real easy. It's just nice, nice people, nice town. I would like to be here.
Pekovic was the 31st overall selection in the 2008 draft and had a breakout season last year, averaging 13.9 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 56.4 percent from the field.
Head coach Rick Adelman heaped praise on his starting center:
You just watch him. Guys in the scrimmages just want out of there...They don't want to go against him. He's going to be crucial for us. If we have a guy who has to be our Iron Man, it's Pek. When we have him out there, he's such a force around the basket. (via startribune.com)
Pekovic's agent, Jeff Schwartz, has an extensive negotiation history with the Timberwolves. He negotiated current Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson's $65 million deal with the Wolves in 2007. Last season, he negotiated Kevin Love's four-year, $61 million-plus extension.
Although the Golden State Warriors only have until October 31st to offer star guard Stephen Curry a contract extension, talks between Curry's representatives and the team are shelved until the end of the preseason, according to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.
In his article, Simmons writes that he believes the Warriors hope to use the preseason to evaluate Curry's health. Curry had offseason ankle surgery and has been plagued with injuries over the past two years. He averaged 14.7 points and 5.3 assists for the Warriors last season while shooting 49.0 percent from the field, but he played in only 26 contests.
If Curry proves himself healthy in the preseason, talks are expected to be right back on track. He started on Monday night's contest against the Utah Jazz at Oracle Arena and had two points and six assists in 12 minutes of playing time.
Dion Waiters did not start for the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first preseason contest against the Italian team Montepaschi Siena. Waiters came off the bench behind veteran C.J. Miles. Waiters had 11 points in 15 minutes while Miles had 10 points in 20 minutes. The Cavaliers won 91-85.
According to The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer, it's not necessarily a permanent move. Boyer wrote that coach Byron Scott said not too read too much into Miles starting.
"Like I said before and the same thing with Kyrie last year, Dion has to earn that," Scott said. "Simple as that. He has to earn it."
Waiters, the No. 4 overall selection by the Cavaliers in the 2012 draft, was a surprising selection and considered a reach over players such as Sacramento's Thomas Robinson or Golden State's Harrison Barnes.
Waiters averaged 12.6 points, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals last year at Syracuse.
Brooklyn Nets coach Avery Johnson told New York Post reporter Tim Bontemps that he believes big man Andray Blatche "could be one of the steals of free agency."
According to Bontemps, the compliment was "just the latest...that he’s been paid since training camp began."
The 26-year-old Blatche spent his first seven seasons in the league with Washington before being amnestied this offseason. He was not picked up by any team, but signed with Brooklyn on September 12 to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract.
Since the contract is not guaranteed, the Nets could still cut Blatche without losing any money, but it sounds as if Blatche is not only impressing the Nets' coaching staff but is earning himself a spot in the rotation. Blatche does have NBA-level skills—in the 2010-11 season he averaged 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds—but has had a number of off-the-court problems since joining the league.
The Nets are fairly light at frontcourt depth, and Blatche seems a safe bet to play behind starters Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.
The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry believes that Thunder point guard Eric Maynor won't be re-signed by the Thunder if the team finalizes a contract extension with guard James Harden.
If Harden signs, Maynor is gone. If Harden doesn't sign, Maynor has a great shot at staying. But even then it depends on his price tag. The Thunder isn't going to overpay for Maynor when Reggie Jackson is waiting in the wings.
Mayberry still believes that Jackson is a capable replacement, but he then goes on to praise Maynor, saying, "He is one of the best backup PGs in the league, and he has skills nobody else on the team has."
Maynor, a fourth year guard from VCU, played in only nine games last season before tearing his ACL. He averaged 4.2 points and 2.5 assists in 15.2 minutes in the nine games he played.
With Harden likely seeking a max contract, it makes sense that the Thunder would then have to limit any further expenses. They already have two max contracts on their books to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Brooklyn Nets star Deron Williams, who re-signed with the team this offseason, told Roderick Boone of Newsday that the absence of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban during discussions with the Mavericks played a part in convincing Williams to stay in Brooklyn.
Williams, who grew up in Dallas, met and negotiated with the Mavericks before deciding to remain with the Nets. Cuban, the Maverick's well-known owner, was in Los Angeles during the meeting while filming his television show "Shark Week".
About Cuban's absence, Williams said:
"I think (Cuban) would have been able to answer a lot of the questions me and my agent have for him that really didn't get answered that day pertaining to the future...And I think if he was there he would have been able to answer those questions a little bit better. It maybe would have helped me.
The Mavericks cleared cap space over the past two season in hopes of securing a top-tier talent, but Cuban's absence obviously hurt their chances at snagging the hometown hero.