The NBA's free-agent market continued to move Thursday, with signings finalized, waivers cleared and extensions discussed. The most significant action Thursday afternoon—at least in the short term—was actually more of a non-movement, as Mike Miller cleared amnesty waivers and became an unrestricted free agent when the 5 p.m. ET deadline to submit a claim passed without action.
When that same deadline passed, it may have signaled the end of Linas Kleiza's NBA career.
Thunder emerge as Miller frontrunner shortly after clearing amnesty waivers
Less than an hour after Mike Miller cleared amnesty waivers and hit the free-agent waters, the Oklahoma City Thunder emerged as the leading candidate to sign the 6'8 veteran, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported. Shortly after Miller cleared amnesty waivers, the Thunder were lumped in with others considering the 12-year veteran, including the Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.
Miller passed through the waiver wire in part because of a lingering back issue related to bulging disks that has him considering offseason fusion surgery for the second year in a row. The Cleveland Cavaliers were among the teams considering placing a waiver claim on Miller but ultimately chose not to in light of his health.
Orlando signs Jason Maxiell
Jason Maxiell has signed a $5 million deal to play for the Orlando Magic, the ever-busy Wojnarowski also reported Thursday. The deal includes a team option for the second year of the two-year deal. Maxiell played the first seven years of his career in Detroit and started 71 of 72 games played last season, but the emergence of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond signified a nearly certain drop in his role with the team.
Maxiell's 24.8 minutes and 5.7 rebounds per game in 2012-13 were both career highs.
Linas Kleiza may play overseas after clearing amnesty waivers
Linas Kleiza cleared amnesty waivers Thursday after the Toronto Raptors exercised the amnesty provision on him, and he may head overseas to continue his playing career, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported. Kleiza signed a four-year, $18.8 million deal with Toronto in the 2010 offseason but only played in 20 games last season before the Raptors decided they wanted out of the final year of his contract.
Stein said his days in the NBA are likely over, and the 28-year-old Lithuanian has had success in both international play for his home country and in Euroleague play. He last played for Olympiacos in 2009-10, and he averaged 17.1 points per game.
Paul Pierce talks about final days in Boston
Paul Pierce was introduced as a Brooklyn Net at a news conference Thursday, and many of the questions asked had to do with how he saw the trade that sent him from the Boston Celtics—his only team to date in 15 years in the league—to Brooklyn.
Pierce said he thought he would retire a Celtic upon signing a four-year deal in the 2010 offseason, but as things unfolded during the last year—Rajon Rondo's injury, Doc Rivers' departure for the Los Angeles Clippers, and the outlook general manager Danny Ainge showed in order to begin rebuilding the team—Pierce began to see a trade was inevitable.
He said he understands why Ainge did what he did, and Pierce even said he would have done the same were he a general manager in a similar situation.
Larry Bird vows to match any offer on Paul George next offseason
Indiana Pacers point guard Paul George has emerged as one of the league's young superstars-to-be, and as such, he's likely to command considerable consideration next offseason when he hits the market as a restricted free agent. But team president Larry Bird said the Pacers would match any offer on George—that is, if the team doesn't sign him to an extension before then—on an Indianapolis talk show Thursday.
The Los Angeles Lakers seem to be among the teams who would pursue George with equal parts necessity and cap space, but Bird spoke plainly in stating the team's desire and ability to keep George around.
George, who is from Southern California, averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season at age 22.