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Markieff, Marcus Morris Agree Upon Four-Year Extensions With Suns

Markieff and Marcus Morris have agreed to contract extensions with the Phoenix Suns, according to sources.

Markieff's deal is worth $32 million over four seasons, while Marcus will earn $20 million over four, according to Paul Coro.

Via Marc Stein/ESPN

Thunder Look Forward For Opportunity To Re-Sign Kevin Durant In 2016

Kevin Durant candidly discussed his present and future with the Oklahoma City Thunder, making it clear that he is pleased with the franchise's direction and likes his situation.

"We'll keep dancing around (the topic), and by the time it comes it's going to be even more awkward than it was, so it's not a surprise (that people ask him about it) because everybody wants to know," Durant said. "But I'm taking it day by day with the Oklahoma City Thunder. That's my main concern. And whatever the future holds, I don't know, because I can't tell you the future. I'm going to take it a day at a time. I enjoy being here. I enjoy my teammates. I like the direction we're going in, and that's not just a cliché (expletive) answer. That's real."

"I love OKC. I always wanted to be a part of something bigger than just basketball. And what I told myself coming into the league was, 'This city is going to adopt me, I'm going to adopt this city, and we're going to grow together.'"

For their part, the Thunder are confident about their chances to re-sign Durant as a free agent in 2016.

"We know it's there, and we are looking forward to it — the opportunity to re-sign a legacy player — especially when you consider where our team could be at that point, with two more years of experience and cohesion and taking that into account," Presti said. "We have to honor the season in front of us, because we have a tremendous opportunity to win right now and continue to build the tradition of the Thunder. We are fortunate to be in this position, and we want to capture and respect this moment. We have to put that anticipation in its place for now and not allow ourselves to get distracted from the present, regardless of what the future could look like for Kevin and the organization he has built with us, brick by brick."

Via Sam Amick/USA Today

D.J. Stephens To Sign Camp Contract With Pelicans

Free agent swingman D.J. Stephens has reached an agreement on a training camp deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, leagues sources told RealGM.

A freak athlete who recorded a 46-inch vertical as an NBA draft prospect in 2013, Stephens signed a 10-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks last season. In three NBA games, Stephens scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds.

Stephens played four seasons at the University of Memphis.

Via Shams Charania/RealGM

Durant To Return To USA Basketball For 2016 Olympics

Kevin Durant intends to rejoin USA Basketball for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Durant withdrew from the 2014 World Cup citing exhaustion.

Durant was previously with USA Basketball for the 2010 World Championships and the 2012 Olympics.

Via Marc Stein/ESPN

Morey Responds To Criticism From Cuban

Mark Cuban has made a series of comments about Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets over the past few months, which has finally elicited a response.

Cuban has deried Dwight Howard's decision to sign with the Rockets, while also signing away Gersson Rosas as GM only to have him step down as return to Houston months later. The Mavericks also signed Chandler Parsons to a max contract.

"I think [Cuban's] pissed that we went after Dirk [Nowitzki] in free agency, however unsuccessful it was," Morey told Yahoo Sports. 

"We've been pretty good, and I think he's doing a smart thing to take on a rival," Morey told Yahoo Sports late Sunday. "He should want to beat up on San Antonio, too, but it's hard to paint the Spurs that way. So he's directed his bully pulpit onto us. Our owner stays above the fray, so I'm outgunned honestly.

"But let's be clear: If the money's equal between the Rockets and Mavericks, I think players are picking Houston. Every time. For Dwight [Howard], I just don't think it was a hard choice between us and Dallas. If you want to win, you're going to want to join our organization. We have a first-team All-NBA player in his prime [James Harden]. They have an enormously talented superstar [Dirk Nowitzki] but he obviously isn't 24 years old.

"The choice was pretty obvious between the two teams. Dwight is the smart guy in this."

Cuban recently criticized the Rockets for not caring about chemistry.

"I completely reject it," said Morey.

"Our teams have had great chemistry, and it's something we believe in. Hey, if Mark believed so much in chemistry, he wouldn't have busted up a title team for cap room. He's trying to reunite a lot of those people now, bringing back the center [Tyson Chandler] from that title team. Maybe he's got some chemistry religion recently.

"He's tripled his analytics staff. If he's equating analytics with not caring about chemistry, well, he's tripling down on it. I think he's smart to paint a competitor in a negative light, but none of those statements are lining up. He says that we're the team that you sign with and then we will trade you, when that's what he said he would've done with Dwight.

"We don't care about chemistry, but he busted up a championship team for what he hoped cap room could do."

Like the Mavericks, Morey and the Rockets know the value of perception in free agency.

"We're fighting for the hearts and minds of free agents," Morey said.

Via Adrian Wojnarowski/Yahoo! Sports

Rondo Wants To Stay With Celtics, Realistic About Short-Term Prognosis

Rajon Rondo will begin the 14-15 season coming back from a left hand injury, but it will be an important year with free agency looming in July. A veteran of eight seasons, Rondo has assumed a leadership role with the Boston Celtics since the departure of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. He has also developed a good relationship with Brad Stevens, who replaced Doc Rivers before the 2013-14 season.

There have been rumors for more than a year that Rondo’s days with the Celtics are numbered, but on Monday he insisted that he wants to remain with the Celtics over the long-term. He even joked that he hopes to put an end to persistent trade rumors by negotiating a no-trade clause into his next contract, looking over at Danny Ainge with a smirk.

“Yes,” Rondo replied with conviction when asked if he wants to re-sign with the Celtics. “The fans and the people here are the ones that make me want to stay. I can’t say enough about Danny and Wyc [Grousbeck], but when I’m out there on the street the whole community embraces me.”

Rondo could command a max contract as an outright free agent next summer, something he admitted during the team’s annual media day that he believes he deserves. He was the starting point guard for a championship team as a second-year player back in 2008, but he's aware that Ainge is currently working on a rebuild.

“I’m pretty smart, I know this isn’t a championship season,” Rondo said when asked about the team’s short-term chances.

Via Andrew Perna/RealGM

Turner Has Nothing Bad To Say About Pacers, Not Weighed Down By Expectations As Former 2nd Overall Pick

Evan Turner was supposed to push the Indiana Pacers over the hump last spring, but they ended falling at the hands of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second-straight season.

Turner’s arrival, which came via a deadline trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, wasn’t the only thing that didn’t go Indiana’s way in the second half, but he quickly became one of the faces of the Pacers’ demise.

“I did the best I could. When coach asked me to do something, I tried my best to do it,” Turner said of his short tenure with the Pacers, which he knows many viewed as a disappointment.

“Whether it was bring the ball up, pass it off or anything else. The thing that put a big hit on it was that I wasn’t putting up 15 points per game. I feel like I took a big hit on that, but I just tried to fit in and shoot when I could. Rebound, play defense. A lot of times those things get blown up.”

In 27 appearances with Indiana, Turner scored just 7.1 points on 41.1% shooting in 21.1 minutes per game. For his career, Turner has averaged 11.1 points on 42.7% shooting. Never an efficient offensive player, issues were magnified in Indiana.

“I had certain scoring outbursts and then other nights I only shot three times or something like that,” the swingman said. “That’s just how the game goes and you go along with it.”

Turner was also involved in some controversy with then-teammate Lance Stephenson. A Yahoo! Sports report claimed that Stephenson and Turner fought during practice as the Pacers were preparing for the Atlanta Hawks, their first-round opponent.

“I thought it was a great experience,” said Turner, who refused to say anything outwardly negative. “Once again, surrounding the Pacers there were a lot of rumors, a lot of controversy towards them and it made things seems crazier than it probably was.”

Turner watched his value decrease as he entered free agency, eventually landing a two-year, $6.7 million deal with the Boston Celtics. The No. 2 overall pick in 2010, who will turn 26 on Oct. 27, insists that he isn’t trying to silence any critics.

“I’m not coming in here like I have anything to prove, I really just want to get into a groove and make the best of my opportunity,” Turner said. “That’s really it. I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody else; I’m trying to prove something to myself. I have to look in the mirror. If I tried to prove myself to other people, I’d probably go crazy.”

Turner said there were no discussions between his agent and the Pacers this summer about a potential return.

“No, we both kind of decided that we were just going to go our separate ways and that was pretty much it,” he admitted.

A polarizing figure at both of his previous NBA stops, Turner is comfortable enough in his own skin to know someone is always going to find something wrong with his game given the expectations with which he entered the league.

“Too much is given, too much is expected, that’s just the way of life. When it comes down to it you know there are a hundred ways you can attack the story of me and how my career is going,” Turner opined. 

“The one thing I always try to say is I’m getting better every year. I look at these past years, I feel like I’ve made jumps. When it comes down to it, next to my name you’ll either say the No. 2 pick before or after, so things come along with that. I’ve always just tried to fit in the best way I could. It hasn’t been the 25 points everyone has been expecting and whatever occurred, but I’m just worried about what’s happening now.”

Via Andrew Perna/RealGM

Robert Sarver Still Regrets Allowing Joe Johnson To Leave Suns

Robert Sarver still regrets the departure of Joe Johnson as a free agent in 2005.

The Phoenix Suns were $833,333 per year apart on an extension before Johnson's last season with the team.

As a free agent, Johnson felt like the Suns tried to lower his value and did not make an offer, prompting him to ask that they not match the Atlanta Hawks' $70 million offer ($20 million more than he had wanted nine months earlier).

"I beat myself up about that one because we were in a position where that piece could have helped us probably extend our chance to run for a longer period of time," Sarver said.

Via Paul Coro/Arizona Republic

Sources: Knicks Not Discussing Extension With Shumpert

The New York Knicks and Iman Shumpert's representatives have not had contact about a contract extension, according to sources.

The Knicks have about four weeks to start talks with Shumpert, but they are content to to let him become a restricted free agent next summer.

The Knicks explored trades for Shumpert in the offseason but could not find equal value for their 2011 first round pick.

Via Ian Begley/ESPN

Chris Johnson Claimed By 76ers Off Waivers

Chris Johnson was claimed by the Philadelphia 76ers off free agency waivers, according to sources.

Johnson was recently waived by the Boston Celtics.

Via Marc Stein/ESPN

Norris Cole 'Ready' To Start For Heat

Pat Riley identified Mario Chalmers as the Miami Heat's starting point guard in the offseason.

Ricky Rubio, Wolves Continuing Extension Talks On Possible $11M Annually

Ricky Rubio and the Timberwolves will have contract talks in person this week that could make him the second-highest paid player on the team.

Nuggets Pursuing Alonzo Gee

The Nuggets are actively pursuing free agent forward Alonzo Gee, sources with knowledge told RealGM.

Tyreke Evans To Miss 3-5 Weeks With Strained Hamstring

Tyreke Evans is expected to miss 3-5 weeks with a strained right hamstring.

Tim Duncan Hesitated Before Accepting $10.3M Player Option

Tim Duncan admitted he had hesitation before opting into his $10.3 player option for the 2014-15 season.

Cavaliers Trade Keith Bogans To 76ers

The Cavaliers will also send a future second-round pick and create a $5.3 million trade exception in the process.

Brendan Haywood Cleared For Full Participation To Start Cavs' Camp

David Blatt called Brendan Haywood the surprise of the day one of camp.

Julius Randle Gives Lakers An Ability To Handle Ball At Forward

Julius Randle projects in the NBA as a power forward.

Luol Deng Forgives Danny Ferry For Racial Comments

Luol Deng wants to move on from the unfortunate situation of Danny Ferry's racial remarks directed toward him during free agency.

Hornets Remove Jeffery Taylor Indefinitely From Team Activities

Jeffery Taylor will not be participating in any team-related activities with the Hornets while the NBA is investigating his conduct, effective immediately.

Rajon Rondo Out 6-8 Weeks After Surgery On Broken Hand

Rondo's return timetable is six to eight weeks.

Jason Kapono Agrees To Camp Deal With Warriors

Jason Kapono last played in the 2011-12 season for the Lakers.

Christian Watford To Re-Sign With Celtics After Release

Christian Watford has agreed on a new training camp contract to re-sign with the Celtics on Monday, league sources told RealGM

Thunder To Sign Michael Jenkins To Training Camp Deal

The Thunder have reached agreement with Michael Jenkins on a training camp deal, a league source told RealGM.

Aron Baynes Re-Signs With Spurs On Guaranteed One-Year Deal

Aron Baynes has re-signed with the Spurs on a guaranteed, one-year contract, a league source told RealGM.

Bulls Sign Solomon Jones To One-Year, Vet Minimum Deal

The Bulls have signed free agent center Solomon Jones to a one-year, veteran-minimum contract, a league source told RealGM.

Rockets Sign Akil Mitchell For Camp

The Rockets have signed Akil Mitchell.

Gortat Believes Ariza Left Wizards To Return West, Not For More Money

Trevor Ariza signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Rockets.

Jason Maxiell To Sign Non-Guaranteed Deal With Hornets

Jason Maxiell averaged 3.2 points and 2.5 rebounds in 34 games last season.

Hornets Start Extension Talks With Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker will enter his fourth NBA season having averaged 17.7 points and 6.1 assists last season.
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