NBA rumours

Stoudemire won’t play in Olympics

51 comments by Paul Coro - Jun. 19, 2008 12:04 PM
The Arizona Republic

Suns star Amaré Stoudemire declined the opportunity to be an Olympian this summer for USA Basketball.

Jerry Colangelo, managing director for the USA Basketball senior men’s national team, said Thursday that Stoudemire is not on the 12-man Olympic roster that will be announced Monday in Chicago.

“Amaré has pulled himself out of consideration for the roster and that’s predicated on, despite the fact that he’s had an injury-free year coming back (from knee surgeries in 2005 and 2006), he’s a little hesitant on pushing the envelope too hard,” Colangelo said.

Stoudemire has not returned calls on the Olympic matter.

It was clear that the Suns power forward had a spot on the team if he wanted when Colangelo said in April, “I’m assuming he’s in.”

Stoudemire expressed reservations about the health of his knees at the time. He talked about the need for a basketball break to be fully healthy for the next Suns season but also said he would play “without a doubt” and “without a hesitation” if he was 100 percent.

“It’s more than a year-round grind,” Stoudemire told The Republic during this year’s playoffs. “It’s last year and the year before that and the year before that. It’s really been like a three-year-round basketball circuit. Coming back from microfracture (surgery in 2006), I tried out with the USA Basketball then and played a few months then. Then went into the training camp in the NBA and had the season last year. Came back and played USA Basketball last summer and came back for training camp this year and played this season. So it’s a lot going on after the microfracture (in 2005), after the knee surgery (in 2006). I just want to make sure I’m ready to handle that.”

Stoudemire played on the national team last year in the FIBA Americas Championship. He came off the bench behind Orlando’s Dwight Howard, ranking fifth in scoring (11.0) and fourth in rebounding (4.7) on the gold medal team.

Stoudemire also withdrew from the 2006 national team before it left for the World Championship because he was coming back from a right knee arthroscopy.

“Three years ago, I had great interest in seeing Amaré wear a USA uniform and represent the US, USA Basketball and the Phoenix Suns in the Olympics in Beijing,” said Colangelo, who is still an adviser to the Suns as team chairman and was CEO in 2002 when he had a major voice in drafting Stoudemire. “Obviously, a lot has happened in his life with the microfracture, the comeback, etc. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be a reality.”

Stoudemire, 25, was sixth in NBA Most Valuable Player voting this season, when he averaged 23.2 points and 9.1 rebounds. He was also the All-NBA second team center, collecting the sixth-most points in voting.

The schedule for the USA Basketball team, which still has ex-Suns coach Mike D’Antoni as an assistant, would have kept Stoudemire busy for the next two months. Players report to Las Vegas for a June 27-29 minicamp and reconvene there for a July 20-25 training camp before leaving for Asia on July 26, where they will remain until Olympic basketball competition concludes Aug. 24.

The coming NBA season is important for Stoudemire, who is eligible for a contract extension next summer.

“That’s one thing, but health is the most important for me,” Stoudemire said in April. “I want to make sure I’m totally healthy to play the game of basketball. I want to have a long career, and I just want to make the right strides toward doing that.”

Suns guard Leandro Barbosa said he also is not participating with his Brazilian national team, which must play in a final qualifying tournament in Greece in July. He said he needs the rest.

Popovich: Ginobili should sit out Olympics

SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says Manu Ginobili should “definitely not” play for Argentina in the Olympics if his injured left ankle doesn’t improve.

Ginobili hurt his ankle early in the NBA playoffs and a recent MRI revealed that a ligament in his heel is about five times the size of the one in his other heel, Popovich says.

Popovich said on Thursday that Ginobili will have another MRI in three weeks and that “if it hasn’t changed at all, I think he should definitely not play in the Olympics.”

Argentina won the gold medal in 2004 in Athen

Draft Watch: Trade talk heating up

With the NBA draft just days away and teams getting close to finishing their workouts with prospects, GMs are getting serious about jockeying for position in the draft.

The last few days, a number of GMs have told me the phones ring more and more, with serious trade discussions taking place. Those talks will hit a fever pitch next week.

Here’s what we’re hearing so far:

The Phoenix Suns have put Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw on the table in attempts to either move up in the draft or secure another veteran to play alongside Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O’Neal.

“I think our needs are pretty clear,” one Suns insider told “We can’t ask Grant Hill to play 40 minutes a night, and Barbosa isn’t really a point guard.”

The Suns own the Atlanta Hawks’ pick at No. 15, but the players they covet in the draft – Russell Westbrook, Joe Alexander and Brandon Rush – probably will be lottery picks.

Small forwards on the market include Richard Jefferson of the New Jersey Nets, Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks, Gerald Wallace of the Charlotte Bobcats and Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons.

But there are stumbling blocks to each deal. The Mavs might not want to send Howard to a rival team. Detroit president Joe Dumars is probably not interested in Diaw. The Nets need contracts that expire by 2010. And it’s unclear whether the Suns would be willing to take back Wallace’s contract.

The Suns and a number of other teams are talking to the Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Nets about trading up in (or out of) the draft.

The Wolves seem especially ready to make a deal if Michael Beasley isn’t on the board at No. 3. They like several of the bigs in this draft, including Brook Lopez, Kevin Love and Danilo Gallinari, but none of them is worth taking at No. 3.

It appears the Wolves won’t take back veterans, though. Several GMs told me that Kevin McHale is looking for young players only.

The Knicks’ Donnie Walsh would like to find a new home for Zach Randolph, but he has struggled to find takers. And New York would love to move up a spot or two in the draft to get O.J. Mayo or Jerryd Bayless.

If it can’t, much-desired Westbrook might be the target. Word of the Knicks’ interest in Westbrook has generated phone calls from teams trying to get him.

The Clippers have been looking to move up to the No. 3 spot to get Mayo, and they’ve talked with a number of teams about virtually everyone on L.A.'s roster.

According to one Clippers insider, “No one is safe right now.” With players such as Elton Brand, Al Thornton and Chris Kaman on the roster, the Clips could jolt things as the draft approaches.

The Bucks have been trying to move up in the draft to add some star power to their team.

In particular, we’ve heard Mayo’s name associated with the Bucks. The Bucks have been trying to get into that seven-team Mayo workout in Chicago on Saturday to get a closer look.

Bucks GM John Hammond has gotten a lot of calls, with other teams especially interested in Yi Jianlian and Charlie Villanueva. Mo Williams and Michael Redd are also in play in Milwaukee right now.

The Nets, I’m told, did not make a promise to draft Gallinari – in part, that’s because they might not keep the No. 10 pick. They are trying to find a deal that brings them a star in the draft and/or allows them to move Richard Jefferson to clear cap space for the summer of 2010. Right now, it looks as though the cap space solution is the more likely option for New Jersey.

The Blazers have the 13th, 33nd, 36th and 55th picks in the draft. Obviously, they don’t want four rookies joining the two they already have coming in – Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez.

GM Kevin Pritchard, as always, is being creative trying to package those picks with young assets such as Jarrett Jack and Travis Outlaw and the expiring contract of Raef LaFrentz to move up or to get a veteran. Portland also is considering packaging those second-round picks to get another first-round pick.

To hear Pritchard talk about the Blazers’ draft plan in our Tuesday podcast, click here.

We have, it appears, our first known promise of the draft. Multiple sources say that UCLA’s Westbrook has shut down all workouts and has a promise in the mid-lottery range.

Apparently the promise isn’t coming from the Knicks. They like Westbrook at No. 6, but they’re also looking at Mayo, Bayless, Alexander and Eric Gordon.

The promise isn’t coming from the Bucks or Pacers; neither team was able to get him in for a workout.

That leaves the Clippers at No. 7 and the Bobcats at No. 9. As noted above, the Clippers are trying to move up to get Mayo, so I doubt it’s them. That leaves the Bobcats as the most likely to have made a promise to Westbrook.

One other possibility: The Seattle SuperSonics have taken a strong interest in Westbrook, according to sources. Although No. 4 is a little higher than expected for him to go, one source said it’s possible that the Sonics will trade down a few spots and take Westbrook.

More trade notes:

• With the Lakers flaming out in the Finals, it didn’t take long for speculation about Lamar Odom to begin. A number of teams covet Odom because of his expiring contract.

I’d expect the Lakers to hear from the Nets (for Richard Jefferson), the Bulls (for Andres Nocioni), the Kings (for Ron Artest) and the Grizzlies (for Mike Miller).

The Lakers and Grizzlies, as you might remember, have a history.

• The hottest rumor of the day has the Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets talking about a swap that would send Kyle Lowry and the No. 28 pick to Denver for the No. 20 and Linas Kleiza.

• The Cleveland Cavaliers have been talking to a number of teams about Anderson Varejao.

One possible destination for Varejao is the Golden State Warriors. According to a source familiar with the talks, the Cavs would send Varejao and the No. 19 pick to Golden State for Brandan Wright. The Warriors hold a $10 million trade exception that allows them to take back a lot more money than they send out in a trade.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

Navarro follows money to Spain
Contract lures guard away from Grizzlies

By Ronald Tillery (Contact)
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Grizzlies have experienced a different kind of La Bomba than they have become accustomed to.

Spanish guard Juan Carlos Navarro’s chances of returning for a second season in Memphis were blown to pieces Wednesday afternoon when he decided to re-sign with FC Barcelona.

Navarro, who earned $538,000 with the Grizzlies last season, was swayed by a deal that will pay him between $20million and $24 million over the next four years.

After playing 10 seasons in Spain, Navarro nearly set a record for 3-pointers made by an NBA rookie.

The 27-year-old, 6-3 shooting guard proved to be a capable marksman as well as a capable defender.

The money, however, was too much to pass up. Memphis just wasn’t going to match what Navarro stood to make in Europe.

The Grizzlies are still on the hook for a first-round draft pick they traded to the Washington Wizards to acquire the rights to Navarro. The pick is protected through 19 this year.

In 2009, picks 1-16 are protected; in 2010-12, picks 1-14 are protected; in 2013, picks 1-12 are protected. If the Wizards haven’t used the pick by then, they will receive cash and a second-round pick.

Navarro was selected by the Wizards in the second round of the 2002 draft but never signed and developed into one of the top players in Europe.

Griz general manager Chris Wallace expressed no remorse about the deal.

“We needed to add outside shooting,” Wallace said. “And obviously it was an attempt to solidify things with Pau (Gasol). But we’re not going to have a Carmelo Anthony situation from it.”

Wallace referred to the Vancouver Grizzlies’ deal in which they relinquished the No. 2 overall pick in 2003 (which became Anthony) to satisfy a 1997 deal involving Otis Thorpe.

Notes: The Grizzlies held a draft workout Wednesday with a group the team will consider with the No.28 pick. New Mexico’s J.R. Giddens, DePaul’s Draelon Burns, Arkansas’ Sonny Weems and Louisville’s Juan Palacios participated in the 90-minute session. Giddens, a senior guard, was the featured attraction and even sank a half-court shot at the end of the workout. Griz personnel director Tony Barone Sr. usually ends the workouts with a fake promise of a luxury car to a player who buries the long-range shot.

Missing from the workout was Virginia Tech’s Deron Washington. Griz brass will visit Chicago on Saturday to watch USC’s O.J. Mayo work out for a select group of teams. The Griz also have a tentative workout scheduled June 25 with University of Memphis guard Chris Douglas-Roberts. The draft is June 26.

In another development, the Grizzlies are again hosting their dance team audition finals at Horseshoe Casino-Bluesville in Tunica. The event will feature the 30 finalists for the Grizzlies dance team. Doors open at 6p.m. with the finals at 7. Admission is free and open to the public.

– Ronald Tillery: 529-2353

Heat, Marion resume contract talks
The Heat plans to begin a new round of negotiations with Shawn Marion and, in an about-face, was granted a visit with draft prospect Derrick Rose.


Shawn Marion would like a three-year deal between $13 million and $15 million a season; the Heat prefers an average of about $10 million a season.
Blog | Heat lands Rose … for the weekend
Colangelo gives Wade positive endorsement
With the deadline looming to opt out of the final year of his contract, Shawn Marion and the Miami Heat plan to resume negotiations this weekend on a possible extension.

And that is just one issue Heat president Pat Riley is juggling as the team prepares for a hectic few days leading to the NBA Draft on Thursday.

Marion, a four-time All-Star forward, must notify the Heat and league office by Tuesday whether he would opt out of the $17.8 million he is set to earn next season. If Marion, 30, opts out, he would become a free agent July 1 and could sign with any team, including Miami, when the league’s moratorium expires July 9.

The Heat and Marion had been in off-and-on negotiations for nearly a month. Riley had said the process was ‘‘productive’’ as recently as three weeks ago. But there appears to be a gap between the sides, and talks might have broken down recently.


But the lines of communication with one of the Heat’s top targets in the draft apparently have been reopened. The Heat, which holds the No. 2 pick, has been invited to meet with University of Memphis point guard Derrick Rose in Los Angeles this weekend, one of his representatives confirmed Friday.

The visit with Rose comes on the heels of his two-day session with the Chicago Bulls, who own the top pick. Rose’s brother and former guardian, Reggie, told Chicago reporters Thursday the visit with the Bulls was Rose’s ``last stop.’’

The Heat also was among a group of teams that planned to attend a follow-up workout for Southern Cal guard O.J. Mayo in Chicago.

But the Marion matter could shape the Heat’s course for the offseason.

Marion is believed to be seeking at least a three-year deal, with an average salary between $13 million and $15 million a season. The Heat likely would prefer Marion to opt out and agree to a new contract that would average about $10 million a season.

Dan Fegan, Marion’s agent, declined to discuss details of the negotiations Friday, but said he expected to resume talks with Riley. Marion, however, is not expected to opt out.

‘‘I want to be clear on this: No decision has been made,’’ Fegan said Friday. ``I’m hopeful to have another round of conversations with Pat over the weekend. Hopefully, we can work to come to some resolution.’’


Marion has not responded to messages seeking comment. But he said at the end of the Heat’s 15-67 season he wanted to finish his career in Miami.

Marion was acquired Feb. 6 from Phoenix in the Shaquille O’Neal trade and averaged 15.4 points and 10.2 rebounds last season.

He missed the Heat’s final 16 games because of foot and back injuries.

Should Marion elect not to opt out, he would still be eligible to negotiate an extension with the Heat this summer.

It also is possible he could enter the 2008-09 season with an expiring contract that could be used in potential trades. Or, the Heat could keep Marion and benefit from the salary-cap relief when his deal expires next summer.

Marion’s decision could result in subsequent moves by the Heat.

The Tuesday deadline comes two days before the draft. If Rose goes to Chicago, the Heat is expected to select Kansas State’s Michael Beasley, who, like Marion, is capable of playing both forward positions. But Riley has also said he would entertain trade options.

The Heat worked out Beasley in Miami this week. Before Friday afternoon, the Heat had been unable to schedule a similar visit with Rose, a Chicago native who prefers his hometown team instead of the Heat.

The Heat’s front-office staff has not seen Rose since the Orlando predraft camp late last month. At that time, Riley said he had not been rebuffed by prospects regarding potential workouts with Miami.

‘‘No, no,’’ Riley said during the predraft camp. ``That would be foolish.’’