The Pistons plan to sign John Lucas III to a 10-day deal, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Lucas is being brought aboard to help fill the void created by the loss of star guard Brandon Jennings.
Lucas, a seven-year NBA vet, called off a scheduled workout with the Lakers back in November to sign with a Chinese team, the Fujian Sturgeons. That somewhat surprising decision capped what proved to be a very weird offseason for the 32-year-old guard. The Jazz had him under contract for a non-guaranteed $1.6MM at the beginning of the offseason, but they traded him to the Cavs in July. Cleveland flipped him two months later to the Celtics, who promptly waived him. The Wizards picked him up in late October, presumably with an eye on keeping him for the start of the regular season, but Washington put him back on waivers before opening night.
Now, Lucas is on his way back to the Association, this time to help give Detroit backcourt depth in the wake of Jennings’ torn Achilles. Jennings was averaging 19.8 points and 7.0 assists since the departure of Josh Smith and helped lead the club to a 12-4 record in that time period.
The Pistons had their eye on Heat guard Norris Cole as a possible backcourt addition, but it’s not clear if they’ll continue to pursue him via trade.
2:03pm: Thomas won’t be offered another 10-day deal, according to Wojnarowski.
1:35pm: The Grizzlies will sign forward JaMychal Green to a 10-day contract, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Green, 24, recently completed a 10-day contract with the Spurs.
Green averaged 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds in five appearances with the Spurs. While he didn’t get tons of playing time to show what he could do, he garnered interest as a possible 10-day signee from multiple teams, including the Grizzlies.
The power forward spent the preseason with the Spurs and was with San Antonio’s D-League affiliate in between stints with the big club. The Knicks, Bulls, Bucks, and Blazers also reportedly had him on their radar for a 10-day deal.
As our roster counts show, Memphis has a spot open on its 15-man roster thanks to the expiration of Tyrus Thomas‘ 10-day deal.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale didn’t talk to anyone about Josh Smith before the forward arrived in Houston, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Smith came to Houston with a questionable reputation after being waived by the Pistons December 22nd, but the coach said that didn’t influence any of his decisions. “The minute I start talking to him, I form my own opinion,” McHale said. “I don’t listen to anybody else. I never have. I’m friends with a lot of people that people don’t like. I deal with people how they deal with me. If he had a problem with anybody else, it didn’t bother me. He’s been great here.”
There’s other news from Houston:
- Smith returned to Detroit Saturday night, and Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle reports that the crowd loudly expressed its displeasure. Pistons fans booed Smith the first time he stood up to come into the game and every time he touched the ball. Smith, who spent less than a season and a half in Detroit, said he wasn’t bothered by the hostile reception. “It wasn’t emotional to me because I haven’t been here long enough to feel any kind of weight,” he said. “The booing didn’t affect me.”
- Smith has settled into a reserve role in Houston, but Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy tells Feigen for a separate piece that he never considered using Smith off the bench before making the decision to waive him. “He’s in a totally different situation, with a totally different team, in a totally different role,” Van Gundy said. “People around him are not even similar. Possibly, we could have done that. I just don’t know. How he would have played here probably would not have changed a lot. He just would have been coming off the bench.”
- The Rockets have recalled guard Nick Johnson from their D-League affiliate in Rio Grande Valley, the team announced. Johnson, the 42nd pick in last year’s NBA draft, appeared in three games for the Vipers, averaging 21.7 points, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals per contest. He has seen limited playing time in Houston, averaging 3.2 points in 17 games.
When the Lakers visit the Knicks this afternoon, Carmelo Anthony will be facing one of the teams that tried hardest to lure him last summer, according to Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. An unrestricted free agent, Anthony met with several teams before accepting a five-year $124MM deal to stay in New York. The Lakers’ presentation included a four-minute movie produced by Joel Silver and narrated by actor Tobey Maguire. “The film, I wish I could get my hands on that,” said Anthony. “It was a great pitch. I might take what they did and start recruiting on my own over here.”
There’s more news from the Big Apple:
- The same qualities that made Derek Fisher an effective role player have helped him weather the storm as a first-year coach, Medina writes in a separate story. With four wins in their past five games, the Knicks are enjoying their first taste of success in a season that included a 16-game losing streak, and Fisher’s calm demeanor has been helped right the ship. “When our record is flipped the other way, you’re not going to see me smiling and doing cartwheels on the sideline, either,” the coach said. “I’ll still be carrying myself the same way because I’m always thinking about what else we can do to get better.”
- The Knicks have recalled Cleanthony Early from the D-League, the team announced Sunday (Twitter link). Early played two games with Westchester during his D-League assignment. A second-round draft pick in 2014, Early has appeared in 15 games for New York, averaging 4.5 points and 1.9 rebounds.
- Knicks president Phil Jackson has “kind of just divorced myself” from the Lakers, reports Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Jackson, who won five NBA titles as a coach in Los Angeles, insisted there won’t be any extra emotion involved in facing the team today. Those sentiments were echoed by Fisher, who also has strong Laker ties. He dodged questions about whether he would have been interested in coaching in Los Angeles. “Had we talked about it, I guess I would’ve decided then,” Fisher said. “But we never had any conversation about it, so I can’t say it would’ve interested me or not.”
Mo Williams‘ salary makes him a possible trade target for Cleveland, speculates Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon-Journal. The Wolves are reportedly willing to move the veteran in exchange for a draft pick, and the Cavaliers’ need for a backup point guard makes a return to Cleveland conceivable. Lloyd writes that the Cavs are focused on acquiring players making no more than $4MM, and Williams’ current salary is $3.75MM with a contract that expires in July. However, he cautions that the Cavaliers are low on draft picks until 2018 and that a reunion of Williams and LeBron James could be dicey.
There’s much more from Cleveland:
- Kevin Love may have struggled during his first half-season in Cleveland, but the Cavs made the right decision to deal for him, Lloyd contends in a separate article. Love has become the third option in the Cavaliers’ offense. His scoring is down nearly nine points per game from last season and he rarely touches the ball in the fourth quarter. But Lloyd argues that Love’s rebounding and floor spacing are valuable assets and that the only way the trade could be considered disastrous is if Love leaves Cleveland as a free agent in July.
- Andrew Wiggins, the centerpiece in the deal that brought Love to Cleveland, told Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio that things are working out well for him in Minnesota. Wiggins was the first pick in the 2014 NBA draft and expected to remain in Cleveland until Love became available late in the summer. “God does things, works in mysterious ways and I feel like this is the best spot for me,” Wiggins said. “I feel like I’ve grown a lot more here than I would’ve there.”
- Love got a much warmer welcome than he expected in his first game back at Minnesota Saturday night, reports Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Love, who spent six years with the Wolves before an offseason trade to Cleveland, had 14 points and 17 rebounds in the Cavaliers’ victory. “Truth be told, I thought it was a pretty good reception,” said Love, who had made it clear before the trade that he was unlikely to re-sign with the Wolves.
The Pistons are still searching for a third point guard after the season ending injury to Brandon Jennings, but with about two and a half weeks until the trade deadline, the team wants to remain as flexible as possible just in case it can find a trade partner, writes David Mayo of Mlive.com. “We could do two 10-days, and then if nothing materializes, we’ve got a guy who’s been with us for three weeks,” team president Stan Van Gundy said. “And if something does, then we make a move. That’s part of the timing issue.” Mayo identifies Norris Cole of the Heat as a potential trade target that makes sense. The Pistons were one of the teams interested in Cole, and our own Chuck Myron examined the point guard as a trade candidate earlier in the week.
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- The Celtics on Saturday assigned James Young to their D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, according to the team’s twitter feed. Young has already appeared in eight games for the Red Claws, averaging 22.4 points per game while shooting 47.9% from three point range.
- Going into the season, the Celtics didn’t expect to contend for a playoff berth, but president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would love to make the playoffs as long as the team keeps improving, writes Kevin O’Connor of SB Nation. “I would love to see our team in the playoffs, but I don’t want to see us back into the playoffs with a really bad record and not even have a fighting chance. If our team can keep getting better by developing, if we can make some deals at the trade deadline that put us in position to actually get into the playoffs and have a chance to win a playoff series, I think that would be a lot of fun,” Ainge said. Boston is unlikely to make any moves that sacrifice the future in order to climb up the standings this season.
- The Heat, with a record of 20-26, remain a good bet to make the playoffs thanks to the improved play of Hassan Whiteside, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Winderman argues that Whiteside has nearly become irreplaceable for Miami and with Dwyane Wade‘s recent injury, the center may take on an even bigger role. The 25-year-old has 15.3 points, 17.7 rebounds and 4.3 blocks in just 29.8 minutes per game over his last three contests.
Dwight Howard is expected to miss at least a month due to ongoing trouble with his right knee, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Sources tell Stein that the Rockets are confident that Howard will have enough time to recover and be ready for a late regular season stretch run as well as the playoffs. Another source told ESPN.com that a period of rest “likely measured in weeks” will be the minimum requirement before the center can return to the court.
Houston sits at 33-14 on the season, which is only eight games ahead of the Pelicans, who reside in ninth place in the conference. With the Western Conference being so competitive this year, teams that have even a short stretch of average games may find themselves drop significantly in the standings.
The Rockets have an emerging young talent in Donatas Motiejunas and the Rockets may elect to give the power forward extended minutes rather than bringing in outside help. Houston currently has a 15-man roster, which wouldn’t allow the team to bring on another player without making a corresponding move, if they choose to go that route. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has never failed to make a trade during the month in which the trade deadline has fallen since he took over the job before the 2007/08, so it’s reasonable to expect that he’ll try to swap for frontcourt help.
Michael Carter-Williams has three triple-doubles on the season, which ties Rajon Rondo for the most in the league. The Syracuse product had a triple-double in Friday’s win over the Wolves and nearly had another one in Wednesday’s win over the Pistons as he accumulated 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Earlier in the week, I examined the point guard’s trade value as well as the future plans for the Sixers.
Here’s more from Philadelphia:
- Giving up on Nerlens Noel would be an unwise move for the Sixers, opines Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey acknowledges that if the team gets the first pick in the 2015 draft, center Jahlil Okafor should be the selection and it might be difficult to find heavy minutes for both players. Still, Pompey believes Noel is rapidly improving and compares a potential Noel trade to the 2012 trade that sent Nikola Vucevic to the Magic, which should be a lesson for the franchise about giving up on a young talent too early.
- Thaddeus Young had nothing but praise for the Sixers when he returned to Philadelphia to play the team on Friday night, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. “I gave my blood, sweat and tears literally to this franchise for seven years,” Young said. “It’s great to have these fans behind you because sometimes they can be pretty brutal, but they always stuck behind me, no matter what. … It was a great seven years, amazing seven years. It’s a business and you have to move on, but definitely I miss this place.” Young was sent to the Wolves in a three-way trade last offseason.
- Although Luc Mbah a Moute has been valuable to the Sixers as a player and as a mentor to their young players, the forward may find himself in Philadelphia for only one season, writes Tom Moore of Calkins Media. The team should have a handful of young, talented players next season and the 28-year-old could find himself in a limited role. If he is going to be the eighth or ninth man on a team, in terms of minutes played, it may be more beneficial for him to be in that role on a winning team, which Philadelphia doesn’t project to be. Mbah a Moute will be a free agent at the end of this season.
The Lakers believe they have a contributor in rookie Jordan Clarkson, writes Jovan Buha of ESPNLosAngeles.com. “I think we have a pretty good basketball player in this young kid,” coach Byron Scott said. “When he falls on his face, he gets right back up. He wants to get better; he works his butt off every single day. If you look at his first game [starting] against San Antonio, and his last game last night, he’s shown improvement.” Clarkson is averaging 13.8 points per game while shooting 40.4% from the field during his four games as the team’s starting point guard.
Here’s more from Los Angeles:
- Jordan Hill and Jeremy Lin are among the players whom Jabari Davis of Basketball Insiders believes could be dealt before the trade deadline. Hill would probably garner the most in a trade but the center has a de-facto no trade clause in his contract, which might make a deal difficult. Kennedy lists the Clippers and the Blazers as potential destinations for Hill based on their need for frontcourt depth.
- Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant decided they wouldn’t work as teammates last summer when Anthony was a free agent, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. “It was a great visit. The conversations I had with Kobe was just man to man. We both had to come to reality and say, ‘Is this what we really want?’ And it didn’t happen,” Anthony said. The forward also added that he believes Bryant will not retire at the end of the season. “I know him, and this is not the way he wants to go out,’’ Anthony said. “I’m pretty sure he’ll do whatever he has to do to get back on the court one more time before he hangs them shoes up.’’
- Some people doubt that Kobe Bryant will be able return to the NBA from his latest injury, but Fran Blinebury of NBA.com is optimistic that the 36-year-old will silence his doubters. Blinebury compares Bryant to other former stars, such as Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon, who were injured late in their careers yet continued to play, just not at the level than people were used to seeing.
Thabo Sefolosha is expected to miss 6-8 weeks due to a calf strain, according to the Hawks’ twitter feed. The 30-year-old injured his calf in the win over the Blazers on Friday night.
Sefolosha is only averaging 19.0 minutes per game and while the team is also without the services of forward DeMarre Carroll due to an Achilles injury, the Hawks most likely won’t need to make a move in order to maintain their position in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta has a full 15-man roster, so an addition would have to come at the expense of someone on the roster.
The Hawks sit atop the conference with a record of 39-8, seven games ahead of the second place Raptors. With that kind of lead, the team can afford to see what it has on its roster before making any kind of move. I would speculate that Atlanta will give extended minutes to reserve Kent Bazemore and perhaps John Jenkins during Sefolosha’s absense.