LAS VEGAS -- Some dribbles of gossip from the front-office grapevine as we transition from summer league to Team USA training camp in the desert:
This is the week, by all accounts, that San Antonio and Richard Jefferson will complete the restructured deal that we’ve all assumed had to be forthcoming since Jefferson stunningly opted out of a $15 million salary for next season on the eve of free agency. The specifics in terms of years and dollars remain unknown, but I’ve been assured that Jefferson will officially be back with the Spurs quite soon.
With or without an official deal for Jefferson, Shaquille O’Neal remains by far the biggest available name on the open market … with Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson next in line on reputation. The Mavericks have abandoned the idea of a Shaq signing completely -- “He is out,” according to one team source -- since they have four centers currently on the roster until they can move the very available Alexis Ajinca. Atlanta, then, stands as the only team with a confirmed “live” interest in O’Neal. But Shaq, at last report, still wants assurances of a healthy slice of playing time as well as a salary that starts above the $5.8 million mid-level exception, which can be achieved through a sign-and-trade with Cleveland. No team out there, including Atlanta, is known to be willing to pay Shaq more than $2 million for next season.
The Clippers do have legit interest in McGrady and are scheduled to work him out Tuesday. As Clips general manager Neil Olshey told ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne last week: "Tracy and I have a good relationship. We've known each other for a long time. He and Baron [Davis] have a good relationship [and] we obviously have a need for playmaking and scoring on the wings.” But sources say that news of the workout being made public was also intended to let the Bulls know that McGrady does have other options, since Chicago is where those close to McGrady say he’d love to land.
Shaq, T-Mac and AI have all expressed interest in joining the most hated team in the league, yet you needn’t expect any of them to land on South Beach. In assembling a supporting cast for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on a severely limited budget, Miami has made it clear that it doesn’t want to add anyone -- no matter how much money he's willing to sacrifice -- who could conceivably challenge the chemistry or threaten to divert focus away from the three SuperFriends. O’Neal, frankly, was never a consideration after his stinging critiques of Miami’s training staff upon arrival in Phoenix and his history of slamming Bosh.
Two former All-Stars whom the Heat are far more likely to consider: Jerry Stackhouse and Michael Finley.
I’ve been advised that Philadelphia, with its surplus of swingmen, is open to moving sharpshooter Jason Kapono, who has one season left on his contract at $6.6 million. Kapono is a natural target for teams in the hunt for a perimeter specialist with Mike Miller and Kyle Korver getting snapped up early in free agency.
A season together with the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks in China did wonders for John Lucas’ son John and former Hornets and Cavaliers assistant coach Bob Donewald. Young Lucas followed up his strong play for Donewald in Shanghai with a big summer league with Chicago and is attracting interest from the Bulls and Heat. “I’m hopeful that we’ll have something to announce soon,” said Bernie Lee, Lucas’ agent. Donewald, meanwhile, has been hired as the new coach of China’s national team in addition to his Sharks duties.