With the Heat‘s need to add an outside shooter in this year’s NBA Draft, Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker certainly fits the bill, and could be available when the team selects at No. 10 overall, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. Team president Pat Riley is also looking to emulate the versatility of the Warriors’ backcourt, Winderman adds. “If you watch Golden State,” Riley said, “they don’t have a plethora of 3-point shooters beyond Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, they’re everything. They’re the most complete backcourt in the league. Not only are they the ballhandlers, catch-and-shoot players, the playmakers, but they’re both the main long-distance weapon for that team.”
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Croatian swingman Mario Hezonja could fit the bill as the outside threat that the Pistons need, Brendan Savage of MLive.com writes. “He’s got a little swagger to him,” an Southeastern Division executive said of Hezonja. “I think those Euro kids have to have some of that coming over here. He’s awfully gifted. He can guard okay, and he’s a capable shooter and a good passer. He checks off a lot of boxes that you’re looking for in a wing. He allows how he’s playing on the offensive end to determine how much effort he’s going to give you defensively. But he’s big. Agile for his size. He has a little nastiness to him that will serve him well if he decides to compete at the defensive end.“
- Their wealth of picks in the 2015 draft is making it easy for the Celtics to secure players for individual workouts, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com writes. “These guys [draft prospects] can’t work out for all 30 teams,” Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, told Blakely. “So agents try to limit it to your range. So that’s probably the biggest advantage in our wide net is we have a pick for every range, almost. We’re able to get more guys in which is even more important than what we’re trying to get.“
- The Sixers held workouts today for Trevor Lacey, Wesley Saunders, Rakeem Christmas, David Laury, and Travis Trice, Jake Fischer of LibertyBallers.com tweets.
The relationship between the NBA and the D-League continues to grow, and 17 NBA franchises currently have one-to-one D-League affiliates amongst the 18 D-League teams. The remaining 13 NBA teams shared the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this season. We at Hoops Rumors recapped each team’s use of the D-League this past campaign, looking at assignments and recalls as well as the players signed out of the D-League. Here is each team’s listing organized by division:
Note: Teams marked with an asterisk did not make any assignments to, nor did they sign any players from, the D-League this season.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak indicated that he hasn’t heard any offers enticing enough to sway him to deal away the No. 2 overall pick this June, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. “It would have to be a heck of an opportunity for us to consider doing something like that,” Kupchak said. “You have to weigh it against who you would get as the second pick. We’re a little bit impatient. So if you came across something that made your team better quicker, that would probably be a veteran. That’s something you would consider.”
But the GM also noted that even acquiring a solid veteran might not be enough for the franchise to make a trade, Holmes adds. “Something could be said for having the No. 2 pick in terms of building going forward,” Kupchak said. “You know you’re going to get a really good player. You know you’re going to get a player under a contract that you’ll be able to control for at least five years at a reasonable amount before you have to consider an extension. Those are pluses in addition to getting a heck of a talent.”
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Suns draft-and-stash pick Bogdan Bogdanovic won’t be making the jump to the NBA next season, and he will remain with the Turkish club Fenerbahce, David Pick of Eurobasket.com tweets. The 22-year-old was the No. 27 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
- The Lakers held workouts today for T.J. McConnell (Arizona), Bryce Dejean-Jones (Iowa State), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Dez Wells (Maryland), Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), and Maurice Walker (Minnesota), Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com relays.
- Wyoming big man Larry Nance Jr. has a workout with the Lakers scheduled for next week, Robert Gagliardi of WyomingCowboysBlog.com reports.
- The Suns worked out Askia Booker (Colorado), Branden Dawson (Michigan State), Kendall Gray (Delaware State), Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington), Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State), and Chris Walker (Florida), Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic relays (via Twitter).
Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis said that the team will look to establish its own D-League franchise once its new practice facility was completed, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post relays (Twitter links). Leonsis said the team wishes to have a site secured by the end of this offseason, and potential locales include Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, Castillo adds. The Wizards were one of the 13 teams that shared the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this past season. Washington only assigned one player to the D-League during the 2014/15 campaign.
Here’s more from the Southeast Division:
- The Hawks‘ difficulties in this year’s NBA playoffs have shown the need for the franchise to add another outside shooter, as well as a defensive-minded big man this offseason, Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal Constitution opines. Atlanta has been hampered by injuries, but the team’s lack of depth has certainly been exploited by the Cavs this postseason.
- Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers, who has close ties to the Magic organization, has called the team advocating for the franchise to acquire current Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune reports. Scott Skiles is the current front-runner for the team’s vacant coaching position, and the Magic are reluctant to offer Chicago compensation in return for Thibodeau, Johnson notes.
- The Heat would be best served not to deal the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft for multiple picks, opines Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Winderman’s reasoning is that the team doesn’t intend to rebuild anytime soon, so nabbing a potential starter at No. 10 would be a wiser move than hoping to get lucky with lesser picks.
The Nets and assistant GM Bobby Marks have parted ways, as Marks confirmed via his Twitter account (hat tip to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports). It’s believed the Nets are set on cutting costs across the board and staff cuts are underway, Wojnarowski tweets. Indeed, the austerity measures have been ongoing for months and the Nets progressively reduced their player payroll throughout the season, NetsDaily’s Tom Lorenzo writes. Brooklyn is poised to pay the luxury tax for the fourth straight season, triggering repeater penalties, if it keeps Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young as GM Billy King has said the team wants to do.
The team appears ready to explore moves to reduce salary elsewhere on the roster, as Marc Stein and Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com wrote earlier today. The well-respected Marks, who drew praise today from agent Brian Bass (Twitter link), among others, was a Nets employee for two decades. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:
- Knicks interim D-League coach Craig Hodges is expected to be back with the Westchester team as an assistant coach next season, returning to the role in which he spent most of this past season under now-fired head coach Kevin Whitted, reports Adam Johnson of D-League Digest. Still, there’s been no formal decision, a league source tells Johnson. Hodges, who spoke with Zach Links of Hoops Rumors this past fall, would like to come back, and the ball is in the Knicks’ court, a source tells Links (Twitter link). The name of Joel Abelson, director of basketball ops for New York’s D-League affiliate, keeps coming up as a potential head coaching candidate for the team, Johnson adds.
- Arizona small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brazilian point guard George Lucas are among the draft prospects to whom the Nets have spoken, notes Robert Windrem of NetsDaily (Twitter link).
- Maryland shooting guard Dez Wells has worked out for the Celtics, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.
TUESDAY, 3:21pm: A pursuit of Lawson isn’t on the forefront of the Mavs’ priorities, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com (Twitter link), citing the point guard’s off-court issues.
MONDAY, 3:08pm: Ty Lawson has been eyeing the Mavs and the team reciprocates the intrigue, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders hears (Twitter link). Lawson hinted at a desire to play for Dallas in a since-deleted Instagram exchange last month, but the Nuggets, who have Lawson under contract through 2016/17, hold sway.
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reported shortly before the deadline that the Nuggets were trying to trade the speedy point guard, but Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post heard that Denver was merely listening to pitches. The Nuggets wanted multiple first-round picks if they were to part with Lawson, sources told Grantland’s Zach Lowe at the time. The Mavs already owe their 2016 first-rounder to the Celtics as part of the Rajon Rondo trade.
Rondo’s failure to take command of the point guard position in Dallas would no doubt be at the root of any push the team might make for Lawson. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle acknowledged even before the playoffs were done that the Mavs aren’t expected to re-sign Rondo, who’ll be a free agent as of July 1st. Dallas has Devin Harris on a long-term deal, and Raymond Felton reportedly told the team that he’ll opt in, but there’s no clear-cut starter for next season at the point in Dallas, particularly with J.J. Barea also set for free agency. The Mavs are reportedly poised to make runs at big men LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan, leaving little capacity for the team to sign a point guard of equal caliber.
The Celtics and Nuggets engaged in exploratory talks about Lawson before the deadline, as Lowe reported, which was around the same time that the Bucks were being linked to him as well, as Kyler wrote then. Kings coach George Karl would love for the Kings to acquire Lawson, a person familiar with Karl’s thinking told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck in February, though that was before Vlade Divac took command of Sacramento’s front office. Lawson clashed with ex-Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, Karl’s replacement in Denver, Lowe heard, and there was tension and frustration between Lawson and the Nuggets at the deadline, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Shortly thereafter, Nuggets GM Tim Connelly implored Lawson to “grow up.”
Soon-to-be free agent Lou Williams has hired agent Wallace Prather of Perennial Sports and Entertainment, Prather tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). This season’s Sixth Man of the Year had been with Leon Rose of the Creative Artists Agency. Williams said toward the end of the season that he wanted to re-sign with the Raptors and was optimistic that his camp and the team would work out a deal.
Prather’s clients include Derrick Favors and, along with Brian Dyke of Shibumi Sports, Josh Smith. Prather also represents Jordan Adams and Anthony Morrow, as the Hoops Rumors Agency Database shows. Favors just finished year one of an incentive-laden four-year, $48MM extension with the Jazz, while Smith is drawing from both a four-year, $54MM contract he signed with the Pistons in 2013 and the one-year deal for the $2.077MM biannual exception he inked with the Rockets in December upon his release from Detroit. Morrow signed a three-year, $10.032MM deal with the Thunder this past offseason, the same summer in which Adams joined the Grizzlies on a rookie scale contract after going 22nd overall in the 2014 draft.
Williams, with Rose’s representation, signed a three-year deal with the Hawks in 2012 for the value of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception worth a total of nearly $15.7MM. A torn ACL prematurely ended his first season with Atlanta, and he struggled to regain his form after coming back last season. The Hawks shipped him to the Raptors in a cost-cutting move last June, and he blossomed in Toronto, scoring a career high 15.5 points per game, 5.1 better than his output last season.
There are “whispers” that a sprained right shoulder that’s been nagging Paul Millsap since the end of the regular season might require surgery in the offseason, when he’s set to become a free agent, according to Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. Millsap was vague about his free agent plans to Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams, but agent DeAngelo Simmons, Millsap’s uncle, had praise for the Hawks.
“Atlanta has treated us well,” Simmons said to Abrams. “They’ve treated us like first class. We’ve gotten a lot of support from them, so we’re excited to be a part of a great organization.”
The team is quietly optimistic about its chance to re-sign Millsap, as USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt reported last week. There’s plenty more on the Hawks, who remain committed to their team-oriented roster approach even as they face an 0-3 hole against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Here’s the latest:
- Millsap is in line with Atlanta’s philosophy, and made it seem as though he’s planning on sticking around in comments that Michael Lee of The Washington Post relays. “We don’t care what anybody else thinks,” Millsap said. “We feel like we’re a really good team. No matter what happens, still going to be confident. We feel like we’re going to do something special, whether it be this year, next year, or whenever. We’re going to stick to this.”
- Rival executives believe DeMarre Carroll could command $9-12MM a year on his next contract, as the execs tell Beck for the same piece. An executive who spoke recently with Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops pegged Carroll’s next salary at somewhere in the $8-9MM range. The Hawks are set to have competition for Carroll from teams including the Lakers, Celtics and Pistons, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported last week.
- Millsap could get $16MM annually or more, Beck adds, though it’s uncertain if that figure also comes from executives or is merely Beck’s educated guess.
- The Hawks need another shooter, another big man, and most of all, to learn from the experience of going deep in the playoffs, writes Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried are losing confidence in the Nuggets, and both have let the team know that unless it hires an inspiring name to fill the coaching vacancy or makes a significant trade, they’d rather be dealt away than go through rebuilding, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes in his NBA AM piece. There was mutual trepidation between Faried and the Nuggets even as the sides signed a four-year, $50MM extension this past fall, Kyler hears.
Lawson and Faried, like many Nuggets players, were vocal in their support of Melvin Hunt after he took over the coaching job on an interim basis from the fired Brian Shaw, with whom Lawson had reportedly clashed. Lawson told Kyler in March that Hunt was “giving everybody confidence” and had all the Nuggets on the same page. Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post wrote around the same time that Faried was particularly ecstatic about Hunt and that he and his teammates would vote unanimously to remove Hunt’s interim tag and formally make him the team’s coach. Kyler writes in his latest piece that major changes to the roster might nonetheless bode well for Hunt’s chances of staying in the job, since Nuggets management sees him as a viable head man for a rebuilding team. Hunt’s chances of keeping the job have improved of late, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported last week. Team president Josh Kroenke said last week that a “period of transition” was on its way and that the club would take an “aggressive” approach to finding the roster it wants.
Some within the Nuggets organization weren’t on board with the Faried extension, as Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com reported in November, a few weeks after the deal was signed. Arnovitz added that Nuggets brass consented to the extension in part because of the positive publicity it would generate, in spite of their doubts about Faried’s ability. The Nuggets were nonetheless hesitant to include Faried or Lawson in trades as of January, as Chris Mannix of SI.com wrote then, though people around the league sensed as the trade deadline approached that the Nuggets would part with them for a strong offer, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe. The Celtics and Nuggets engaged in exploratory Lawson talks, as Lowe reported at the same time.
The Mavs and Lawson have mutual interest, as Kyler reported Monday, though Lawson has two more seasons left on his contract, so the Nuggets have leverage. Kings coach George Karl would love it if Sacramento traded for his old point guard, a person close to Karl told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, as Beck wrote in February. Lowe heard at the deadline that Denver wanted multiple first-round picks if it was to relinquish the former 18th overall pick. That was in spite of the tension and frustration between Lawson and the Nuggets organization that Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reported, as well as GM Tim Connelly‘s call, shortly after the deadline, for Lawson to “grow up.”
Bucks team president Peter Feigin and Milwaukee leaders all said today that sides are close to a deal for the public’s share of funding for a new Bucks arena in the city, Scott Bauer of The Associated Press reports. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker expressed the same sentiments at the beginning of the month, though negotiations continue. Feigin and city leaders expressed optimism today that talks can result in a deal by the end of the week, and a key state legislator said the goal is to announce a deal Wednesday, Bauer tweets, though Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett added that there’s still work to be done, as Bauer writes in his story.
The Bucks face an NBA-imposed deadline to have an arena ready by opening night in 2017, and funding has to be secured by June in order for the project to remain on track, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com wrote recently. The league, should it determine at any point that the arena effort is not moving swiftly enough, intends to exercise its right to seize the team from owners Wesley Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan and seek to move it elsewhere, according to Windhorst. Commissioner Adam Silver has nonetheless publicly maintained confidence that public funding will come.
Feigin backed off an assertion in late April that a deal for public funding had to be done within 10 days from that point. State, county and city leaders have been squabbling over how to finance their $250MM share of the proposed $500MM arena. The Bucks owners, as well as former owner principal owner Herb Kohl, have committed the other $250MM.