NBA News and Rumor Roundup – July 22, 2009

Clippers, Knicks in hot pursuit of Sessions

Hawks courting Joe Smith?

Stymied Blazers taking a run at Sixers point guard Miller

Nuggets to trade Weems for Bucks’ Malik AllenClippers, Knicks in hot pursuit of Sessions


The pursuit of Ramon Sessions is heating up.

Sessions, the Milwaukee Bucks talented young point guard who is a restricted free agent, is drawing intense interest from the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers.

What’s more, it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities a third team — NBA officials at the recent NBA Summer League in Las Vegas speculated Oklahoma City — may make a last-minute attempt to land Sessions as well.

Officials from the Knicks and Clippers contacted Bucks general manager John Hammond Monday and they discussed Sessions’ situation.

Both teams are considering offering Sessions their mid-level exception, which starts at $5.854 million in the first season. The annual salary then can increase each year thereafter by a maximum of eight percent — or $468,000.

It is believed James “Chubby’’ Wells, Sessions’ agent, is looking for a five-year deal that would be worth approximately $34.5 million.
Both the Knicks and Clippers apparently are amenable to that request.

The Clippers have also tossed out the idea of doing a sign and trade with Milwaukee, dangling their trade exception as part of the deal.
The Clippers, Knicks and Bucks are expected to resume talks Tuesday and there are indications a resolution could occur at that time.

Sessions, 23, is regarded as one of the premier young point guards in the NBA. He has already compiled some impressive numbers.

Hawks courting Joe Smith?

Sekou Smith

Who said the Hawks were done chasing big men this summer?

You didn’t hear it around these parts, at least not officially (from me).

Barring a last minute change of plans, veteran big man Joe Smith is scheduled to visit town on Wednesday, according to two of my best spies. And the Hawks are not out of the running for Ben Wallace, who has yet to agree to terms with Detroit (though, one of my best spies up north insists that it’s just a matter of time before Wallace returns to the Pistons).

A 6-10, 225-pound veteran of 14 NBA seasons, Smith showed he has plenty left in the tank against the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, averaging 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 points and 1.2 blocks in a little over 21 minutes per game. He’s got that “old man” strength that belies his seemingly slender frame. I watched him push the Hawks’ around in that series whenever he was on the floor.

Smith’s numbers (10.8 points and 5.5 rebounds) in the Cavaliers’ first round sweep of Detroit were even more impressive. He’s capable of that kind of production off the bench for a quality team, which speaks volumes for the type of veteran and pro that he has become since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 draft.

Pair him on the frontline with Zaza Pachulia behind Josh Smith and Al Horford and the Hawks’ paper-thin frontcourt rotation suddenly takes on a different look. While it’s far from the “championship move” many have argued for around here, it’s certainly a move in the right direction (provided the Hawks are able to recruit him and sign him at some point between now and training camp).

Stymied Blazers taking a run at Sixers point guard Miller

David Aldridge, TNT analyst

Twice spurned in their attempts to sign a high-profile free agent this summer, the Portland Trail Blazers are jumping back into the fray, opening discussions with the agent for Philadelphia 76ers free-agent point guard Andre Miller, according to sources. A deal is not imminent, but there has been progress made toward resolving Miller’s status, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.

The Blazers have been looking to upgrade at point guard but didn’t get very far in talks with Dallas guard Jason Kidd (who re-signed with the Mavericks) or Phoenix’s Steve Nash (who agreed to a two-year, $22 million extension with the Suns on Monday). Portland was not looking hard at Miller because the Blazers thought they needed to add someone to the roster with more perimeter shooting skills than the 33-year-old. But with $7.7 million in cap room and a dwindling number of free agents available, Miller may be Portland’s last best chance to bring in a veteran player that can help its young core.

Portland already has been left at the altar twice this offseason. The Blazers thought they had a five-year, $50 million deal with Orlando forward Hedo Turkoglu, only to see Turkoglu bolt at the 11th hour to sign a five-year, $53 million contract with Toronto. Portland then gave Utah restricted free agent forward Paul Milsap a four-year, $34 million offer sheet that called for more than $10 million to be paid to Milsap within a week of the deal being signed, an attempt to keep Utah from matching.

The Jazz decided to match, leaving Portland with the same $7.7 million in cap room with which it started the summer.

Nuggets to trade Weems for Bucks’ Malik Allen

Benjamin Hochman – The Denver Post

The Nuggets have agreed to a trade that would net them veteran power forward Malik Allen from the Bucks in exchange for Sonny Weems and Walter Sharpe, an NBA source said Tuesday afternoon. The trade will likely become official later in the week.

The 6-foot-10 Allen averaged 3.2 points off the bench for Milwaukee last season, playing in 49 games. He has been in the league since 2001, with a career average of 5.4 points per game. With question marks surrounding Steven Hunter — and Johan Petro yet to be re-signed — Denver’s only other reserve low-post player is Chris Andersen.

Denver had high hopes for the athletic Weems, but he missed training camp with injuries and struggled during the recent summer league, playing inconsistently with a rusty shooting touch.

"Sonny is an athletic player that’s got to learn how to play basketball," Nuggets coach George Karl told the Post during the summer league.

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