Jamal Crawford

NBA Notes: Jamal Crawford chooses Timberwolves over Warriors, Cavaliers

NBA Notes: Jamal Crawford chooses Timberwolves over Warriors, Cavaliers

MINNEAPOLIS -- At 37 years old and having never played in the NBA Finals, Jamal Crawford certainly could have gone ring chasing when he received a buyout from the Atlanta Hawks.

The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, who have met in the last three finals, were both interested in the veteran scorer. LeBron James was calling Crawford personally to recruit him to Cleveland.

So naturally, Crawford chose ... the Minnesota Timberwolves?

The Wolves have missed the playoffs for 13 straight seasons. But after Minnesota added Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague this summer, Crawford decided to join Tom Thibodeau's team in hopes of being an integral part of a team trying to break through as opposed to the latest hired gun on an established contender.

"I want to experience it with these guys and go through the wars and the struggles and just really embrace the journey with these guys," Crawford said Wednesday. "To me, that can be even more gratifying than just going to a team that's already made and ready to win a championship. Hopefully, we'll get there, but we'll all go through it together" (see full story).

Spurs: Ginobili indicates he’ll return for 16th season
SAN ANTONIO -- As the clock ticked down on the Spurs' season and Manu Ginobili was pulled from the game, a thunderous roar from the home crowd guided him to the bench.

Ginobili wore an appreciative but quizzical look on his face as he put a warmup shirt back on and prepared to head off into the summer. Clearly, the fans were saying goodbye to one of the most popular players in Spurs history.

Ginobili was not ready to do the same: The Argentinian posted a message on his Twitter account on Wednesday that he is re-signing with San Antonio for another season, which will be his 16th with the Spurs.

"It felt like they wanted me to retire," Ginobili said with a smile after the Spurs were swept out of the Western Conference finals by the Golden State Warriors. "Like they were giving me sort of a celebration night. And of course, I'm getting closer and closer."

Save those goodbyes for at least another year (see full story).

Clippers: Griffin calls decision to stay a ’no-brainer’ 
LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin was back in his usual place, front and center on a Clippers stage.

After opting out of his contract, Griffin didn't spend the offseason toiling over whether to sign with another team -- like his teammate DeAndre Jordan famously did. For Griffin, it was an easy decision to sign a max five-year deal to stay with the only NBA team he's played for in his seven-year career.

"I want to say how excited I am to be back. This has been my home since I was drafted. A lot went into this decision," Griffin said Wednesday. "In the end, I realized this was a no-brainer for me. This is the place where I want to start and finish my career. . This next chapter and next season for the Clippers and myself, I've never been more excited about an opportunity."

Griffin, 28, is undoubtedly the star of the Clippers with Chris Paul gone in the trade with the Rockets that sent Pat Beverley to Los Angeles.

Griffin said he and Paul talked about his decision to want to leave the Clippers.

"No hard feelings," said Griffin, a five-time All-Star. "I think we're all professional enough to know and we've all been in the situation now to know sometimes you have to do what's right and what's best for yourself and your family. I've never had hard feelings with any of my teammates who decided to leave or felt like it was best to leave. I wouldn't start now" (see full story).

Wizards: With Porter deal done, team keeps core intact
WASHINGTON -- Otto Porter is a quiet, complementary piece to the Wizards' talented young core. He is also now Washington's highest-paid player.

At least temporarily.

Guards John Wall and Bradley Beal garner most of the attention as Washington has made it to the second round of the NBA playoffs three of the last four seasons. But for now, Porter makes the most money after the Wizards matched a four-year, $106.5 million max-contract offer sheet the forward signed with the Brooklyn Nets.

There might be questions if the 24-year-old Porter is worth that money. But the Wizards believe he is a good fit alongside Wall, 26, a four-time All-Star, and Beal, 24, one of the league's top shooting guards.

"You just use that as motivation just like John and Brad did," Porter said at a news conference Wednesday. "They set the bar high. I'm going to set my bar, high, too" (see full story).

Grizzlies: PG Chalmers signs contract
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies have signed guard Mario Chalmers, nearly 1 1/2 years after he ruptured his right Achilles tendon playing for the team.

The Grizzlies announced the deal Wednesday. Terms of the contract weren't disclosed.

The 31-year-old Chalmers was injured in March 2016. During the 2015-16 season, Chalmers played 61 games for the Grizzlies and Miami Heat, averaging 10.3 points, 3.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds.

Chalmers played for Miami from 2008-15 and was part of the Heat's 2012 and 2013 NBA championship teams.

NBA Notes: Rockets sign James Harden to NBA-record $228 million extension

NBA Notes: Rockets sign James Harden to NBA-record $228 million extension

LAS VEGAS -- The Beard has the richest contract in NBA history.

The Houston Rockets signed guard James Harden to a four-year, $228 million contract extension Saturday. The extension will run through the 2022-23 season. But with Harden under contract on his existing deal for another two seasons, it will not affect Houston's aggressive pursuit of free agents this summer as the Rockets try to make a run at the Golden State Warriors.

"Since he arrived in Houston, James has exhibited the incredible work ethic, desire to win, and passion to be the best that has made him one of the most unique and talented superstars in the history of the game," Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement issued by the team. "Additionally, the commitment he has shown to our organization, the city of Houston, and Rockets fans all over the world makes him a perfect leader in our pursuit of another championship."

Harden is coming off of his finest season. Moving to point guard for new coach Mike D'Antoni, Harden averaged 29.1 points, an NBA-leading 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds and finished second in the MVP race to former Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook.

Harden's do-it-all season helped the Rockets bounce back from a massively disappointing 2015-16 season that collapsed under the weight of chemistry issues with the All-Star guard and big man Dwight Howard. With Howard gone, the Rockets put Harden at the center of everything they do on offense, and it paid off in a major way.

Houston went 55-27 in the regular season and beat Westbrook and the Thunder in the first round of the Western Conference semifinals.

"Houston is home for me," Harden said. "Mr. Alexander has shown he is fully committed to winning and my teammates and I are going to keep putting in the work to get better and compete for the title." (see full story)

AP Source: Jamal Crawford agrees to 2-year deal with Wolves
LAS VEGAS -- A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Jamal Crawford has agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The cap-strapped Wolves only had the room exception left to use for the deal, worth about $4.2 million for the upcoming season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Crawford has to clear waivers before signing the deal.

The 37-year-old Crawford averaged 12.3 points in 82 games for the Clippers last season. He was traded to Atlanta to help make room for Danilo Gallinari and reached a buyout agreement with the Hawks.

Crawford gives the Timberwolves a much-needed scorer off of the bench. It continues an aggressive summer that has also seen the additions of Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson (see full story).

Knicks sign free-agent guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
NEW YORK-- The New York Knicks have signed free-agent guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71 million contract.

The team announced the deal Saturday.

The 6-foot-5 Hardaway returned to the Knicks after two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. Last season, he had career highs in scoring (14.5), assists (2.3), rebounds (2.8), minutes (27.3) and field-goal percentage (.455). In four seasons with New York and Atlanta, he has averages of 11.0 points and 23.4 minutes.

"Bringing back Tim to his original NBA home is an exciting time for him and this franchise," general manager Steve Mills said in a team statement. "As a versatile wing whose game continues to improve, he will fit right into the core of players that make up a roster emphasizing youth, athleticism, accountability and unselfishness."

His father, five-time All-Star Tim Hardaway, is an assistant coach for Detroit (see full story).

Timberwolves' Taj Gibson arrested after NYC traffic stop
MINNEAPOLIS -- New Minnesota Timberwolves player Taj Gibson was arrested for a traffic violation in New York City.

The New York Police Department says a 2016 Mercedes Benz sedan made an illegal U-turn in Queens early Thursday. Police stopped the car and Gibson, who was driving, produced a suspended Illinois driver's license.

The Star Tribune reports Gibson was arrested for driving with a suspended license and a moving violation. He's due in court on Sept. 1.

Gibson recently agreed to a two-year, $28 million contract to play in Minnesota. The deal reunites the 32-year-old power forward with Tom Thibodeau, who coached him for five seasons in Chicago.

The Timberwolves said in a statement Saturday they're aware of the incident involving Gibson and are "confident that the matter has been resolved." (see full story)

Accidentally or purposefully, Sixers may have been wise to sit out free-agent frenzy

Accidentally or purposefully, Sixers may have been wise to sit out free-agent frenzy

Big name after big name came off the board.

The Sixers reportedly had interest in veterans like Jamal Crawford and Rajon Rondo. Younger, restricted free agents like Harrison Barnes, Dion Waiters and Allen Crabbe had been linked to the team at one point or another. 

With big contracts being handed out like candy, Sixers fans wondered, "When are the Sixers going to get involved?"

There's debate as to how serious the Sixers were about some of the guys they were linked to. They supposedly made a "significant offer" to Crawford. Before free agency started, they were said to be willing to offer Barnes and/or Waiters max deals. Whether it was on purpose or by accident, Bryan Colangelo may have been wise to sit back and watch the madness unfold.

While more sought-after players agreed to terms with other teams, Colangelo and company didn't make a big splash. They agreed with veteran combo guard Jerryd Bayless on a three-year, $27 million deal last week. On Monday, they signed Spanish point guard Sergio Rodriguez — who had a stint in the NBA before returning to Europe — to a one-year, $8 million deal (see story)

Sure, the logjam still exists in the frontcourt, and as far as long-term fits for the backcourt, Bayless, 27, and Rodriguez, 30, likely don't fit that description. But during the 2016-17 season, they make the Sixers better. 

Bayless and Rodriguez aren't All-Stars. At best, they're likely good bench pieces on a winning team. Bayless has played on winning teams in the NBA. He's played in 29 playoff games (two starts) and averaged 21.3 minutes per game. Rodriguez — who was a teammate of Bayless' for one season in Portland — hasn't played a ton of big minutes in the NBA, but led his team, Real Madrid, to a Euroleague title in 2015. (The Euroleague is widely regarded as the second-most competitive league in the world.)

As far as fits on the court, both players make sense. They're not the greatest defenders, but offensively they're a great complement to the Sixers' biggest building blocks. Bayless shot a career-best 44 percent from three on a career-high 231 attempts last season. Rodriguez shot 40 percent from distance overseas the last five years. That will give the team proper floor spacing and allow Ben Simmons more room to do his thing. Rodriguez also demonstrates the ability to excel in the pick-and-roll. He's a true point guard, which will help the game of whichever big men are still on the Sixers' roster.

Consider this: The Sixers' top-six perimeter players from a minutes-per-game standpoint last season were Ish Smith (32.4), Robert Covington (28.4), Hollis Thompson (28), Isaiah Canaan (25.5), Nik Stauskas (24.8) and T.J. McConnell (19.8). With all due respect to those players, you'd have to consider Bayless, who's played important NBA minutes, and Rodriguez, the 2014 Euroleague MVP, upgrades over several of them. 

Bayless and Rodriguez weren't the names Sixers fans were lusting over, but who did you really want? Kevin Durant and Mike Conley weren't coming here. Not to rip a guy like Barnes, who's had a solid NBA career and helped the Warriors win a title, but are you upset that the Sixers didn't offer a guy like that max money? Are you disappointed they won't pay a 30-year-old Rondo to dominate the ball and bring his attitude to town?

Just because the Sixers have money, it doesn't mean they need to spend it. Next offseason, the cap will rise again and the ridiculous contracts will continue. Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin will be in line for serious raises. By 2018, Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins and James Harden will be looking to cash in. 

The point is, for the next several seasons, there'll be money to spend and players to spend it on. The Sixers' best player will turn 20 years old in a couple weeks. They have a top-three protected pick (which will be unprotected in 2018 if it doesn't convey this season) from the Lakers and an unprotected first-round pick in 2019 from the perpetually struggling Kings. They also still have the right to swap picks with Sacramento next year. If they continue to give Simmons a solid supporting cast that will help him develop and help the profile of the team, the Sixers can become an attractive destination.

Before you know it, the Sixers will make their big splash. It just doesn't appear to be this year. And that may work out for the best.