NBA News and Rumors – September 6, 2009

Allen Iverson plays waiting game with Grizzlies

Beasley Sounds Positive

Blazers will take a look at Juwan Howard and Stromile Swift

Knicks’ hopes are dropping with cap: NBA Insider

Stoudemire sets sights on big season, big paydayAllen Iverson plays waiting game with Grizzlies

Ronald Tillery

The Grizzlies remained Friday where they have been all summer with regard to Allen Iverson: In a holding pattern.

Another day passed without receiving an answer on whether Iverson would accept a one-year offer to play in Memphis this season.

The Griz expected Iverson, 34, to decide before the weekend. But the free-agent guard apparently needs more time even though the Grizzlies have expressed strong interest in him since July.

Memphis offered Iverson at least $3.5 million or what it has remaining under the salary cap. The Griz could increase the offer to about $4.4 million should it renounce its rights to Spanish guard Juan Carlos Navarro. The deal still is less than the $5 million Memphis originally considered paying Iverson to play a reserve role.

Iverson is a free agent for the first time in his 13-year career, and has struggled to find serious suitors. The Griz believe the odds are 50-50 that they will add Iverson.

Beasley Sounds Positive

Heat forward Michael Beasley, still at a Houston rehab center, spoke to personal advisor Bruce Shingler by phone last week and “he’s doing well,” Shingler said. “He sounded really upbeat. He accepted responsibility and expects to be ready for training camp. He told me he will do whatever is needed to help the team win.”

Blazers will take a look at Juwan Howard and Stromile Swift

Jason Quick

Veterans Juwan Howard and Stromile Swift will audition for the Trail Blazers next week as the team looks to sign a backup power forward before training camp opens at the end of the month.

Howard, a 15-year veteran, played in 42 games last season (three with Denver, 39 with Charlotte) and averaged 4.1 points and 1.8 rebounds.

Swift, an 8-year veteran, played in 19 games last season (six with New Jersey, 13 with Phoenix).

Both will scrimmage with current Blazers players over the next three weeks, and general manager Kevin Pritchard said he expects the team will sign one, or two, players before training camp starts on Sept. 28. The NBA allows teams to carry as many as 15 players; the Blazers have 12 players under contract, which doesn’t include rookie Jeff Pendergraph, who Pritchard said is "getting close" to signing.

Pritchard said other free agents will also take part in Blazers scrimmages this month, including former Blazers summer league standout Zendon Hamilton, but Howard and Swift have the biggest resumes.

Travis Outlaw will enter training camp as the backup power forward, and rookie Dante Cunningham will also add depth at the position, but Pritchard said he is specifically looking to add a power forward with the available roster spots.

"We want a competitive camp,” Pritchard said.

Howard, 36, has played with seven different NBA teams and is a former All-Star. Two seasons ago he played a key reserve role with Houston, averaging 9.7 points and 5.9 rebounds.

Knicks’ hopes are dropping with cap: NBA Insider

Brian Windhorst, The Plain Dealer

One year from now, when the postmortem is done on all the 2010 mega free agency, July 7, 2009, may actually be remembered as a major day in the battle.

It may get tedious to talk about, and certainly in a vacuum it may seem irrelevant leading up to the 2009-10 season that has incredible promise. But the truth is, what happened on that date is having a major effect on things happening now and especially in regard to the New York Knicks.

It was on July 7 the NBA announced the salary cap was dropping this summer and warned next summer’s could drop by as much as 5 percent. It put a screeching halt on the Knicks’ plans to improve this summer, which is what General Manager Donnie Walsh has been explaining in recent days after the Knicks lost out on another free agent as Ramon Sessions signed an offer sheet with the Timberwolves.

"That [memo] changed everything," Walsh told the New York Times. "It made it very difficult to project a scenario where you could fit in signing long-term contracts this year and yet have enough room to do what you want next year."

Stoudemire sets sights on big season, big payday

Ken Berger

Amar’e Stoudemire was back on the court this past week, rocking a pair of goggles to protect his surgically repaired eye and looking nothing like a man who’d missed five months of competitive basketball.

"Breathtaking" is a word one eyewitness used when discussing Stoudemire’s return to full-contact drills on the Phoenix Suns’ practice court. Much more meaningful was a comment that came from veteran Grant Hill, who couldn’t believe how active and agile Stoudemire was after such a long layoff.

"If I didn’t play for five months and came out here," Hill told a confidant, "I would die."

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not time to bury the Suns in the desert just yet. With a formidable weight lifted by the undoing of the ill-fated Shaq trade, the organization can look ahead to the 2009-10 season with a sense of relief, if not quite optimism.

Stoudemire’s quick recovery from eye surgery, the re-signing of Hill and Steve Nash, and the drafting of first-round pick Earl Clark have the Suns feeling frisky again. The practice gym has consistently hosted 10 players a day since early August, the first time that has happened to anyone’s recollection since Phoenix first re-signed Nash in 2004.

The key figure in all of this, of course, is Stoudemire, who had plenty of time to reflect on the emptiness of his career to this point after undergoing a second procedure on his right eye in July. Afterward, Stoudemire had to lay face-down all but two hours a day for about 10 days to ensure proper healing of the detached retina he suffered when he was poked in the eye in February. He wasn’t cleared for strength training until about three weeks ago, and finally returned to on-court drills Sept. 1.

Sources say Stoudemire emerged from the ordeal more determined than ever to reclaim his status as one of the most prolific power forwards in the game. More importantly, the typically aloof Amar’e has been more receptive than ever to suggestions that he embrace a bigger leadership role. It is likely that he’ll be named one of the Suns’ three captains before the start of the season.

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