Eastern Notes: Sixers, Bucks, MCW, Magic

Jahlil Okafor is preparing himself to be the focal point of the Sixers, and the rookie has already established himself in Philadelphia, Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

“He has brought a whole lot of excitement to this team,” teammate Robert Covington said. “He is a big man who has made his presence known already.”

Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

  • The Bucks‘ ability to convince Greg Monroe to sign with them over teams in bigger markets such as the Knicks or the Lakers signals that Milwaukee should be considered a major player in free agency and a contender in the years to come, Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders writes. Monroe should bring some needed offense to a team that ranked 25th in the league in offensive efficiency last season.
  • Milwaukee must figure out whether Michael Carter-Williams can be the team’s point guard of the future, Blancarte writes in the same piece. Blancarte acknowledges the point guard’s flaws but believes there is a tendency to overlook the things he does well. MCW has career averages of 15.7 points, 6.5 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game. He will be eligible for a rookie scale extension after the 2015/16 campaign.
  • Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com (Insider only) believes Mario Hezonja can contribute to the Magic right away, but he realizes that the 20-year-old’s basketball IQ and decision-making could be serious hurdles in his development.


Southeast Notes: Kaminsky, Hawks’ New Hires

Frank Kaminsky is high on the list of rookies who should be able to contribute to their teams right away, Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com (Insiders only) writes. Elhassan acknowledges that Kaminsky might struggle on the defensive end, but argues that his offense is solid and his game complements Al Jefferson‘s, which should allow the rookie to see significant minutes immediately.

The Celtics offered the Hornets a package that included four first-round picks to entice Charlotte to give up the No. 9 pick, but owner Michael Jordan preferred to select a more known commodity in Kaminsky over stocking up on future picks. Readers of Hoops Rumors offered various and conflicting opinions on whether Charlotte made the right call by keeping its selection in Tuesday’s Community Shootaround.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks have hired Michael Blackstone as an assistant GM, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Blackstone previously served as the executive director of basketball operations for the Cavs.
  • Atlanta has also hired John Treloar to be the director of player personnel, Vivlamore adds in the same piece. Treloar previously served as the director of player personnel for the Suns and as the coach of the Erie Bayhawks, the Cavs’ D-League affiliate. New Hawks GM Wes Wilcox has worked with both Treloar and Blackstone previously in Cleveland.
  • The Hawks also have promoted Jeff Peterson to director of scouting, according to Vivlamore in the same piece.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Papanikolaou, Jazz

Denver will drop to about $7MM below the salary cap once they officially waive Kostas Papanikolaou, former Nets exec Bobby Marks notes on Twitter. Marks adds that Milwaukee, Minnesota, Cleveland and Golden State have trade exceptions while Philadelphia and Portland have the cap space to claim the forward’s salary, which is worth slightly less than $4.8MM.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • If claimed, the 24-year-old’s contract will become guaranteed should he remain on the roster past October 4th. Any team that claims Papanikolaou off waivers cannot trade him until the 30th day of the regular season, as Marks notes on Twitter. With the season set to kick-off on October 27th, claiming the forward will not provide a potential suitor with the same type of valuable trade chip that the Nuggets previously possessed.
  • The Jazz didn’t sign any outside free agents because they didn’t want to block any of their young players’ development, Jonathan Tjarks of RealGM writes. Tjarks argues that most year-to-year improvements come from internal development rather than transactions in the offseason and the Jazz could end up being the team that improved the most due to their up-and-coming, young core.
  • Utah knew Enes Kanter was probably not going to be worth the mammoth contract he was set to receive this offseason and with the number of young players on the roster set to earn raises over the next few seasons, the team could not afford to add an ill-advised contract, Tjarks adds in the same piece.

Mavs Sign Justin Anderson

The Mavericks have signed first-round pick Justin Anderson, according to a team press release. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the value of his deal is expected be slightly under $7.06MM over four seasons as our 2015 First Round Picks Salary Page shows. With the news of Anderson signing, all the first-round picks have signed with their teams except for No. 26 overall pick Nikola Milutinov of the Spurs, who has signed with the Olympiacos of Greece.

Anderson had a good showing at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. He averaged 17.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals while shooting 43.4% from the field during his six games of action.

The 21-year-old is a long-armed, stout defender who had the eye of scouts on him during his first couple seasons at Virginia. His improvement on the offensive end during his junior season, in which he averaged 12.2 points and shot 45.2% from behind the arc, vaulted him into the first round. Anderson should get a chance to compete for minutes immediately with Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons as the only players whom are presumably locked into the team’s wing rotation.

Central Notes: Rose, Noah, Mozgov

Derrick Rose remains undecided about attending Team USA’s minicamp this month, Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com reports. Sources told Friedell that Rose is considering taking more time off before Bulls training camp in late September. If Rose skips the minicamp, he may cost himself any chance of a roster spot since USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo has said that players who wish to be considered for the 12-man roster that will represent the United States at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro must attend the minicamp, Friedell adds. Rose was set to play in the 2012 Olympics before injuring his left knee during the NBA playoffs that year.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • Joakim Noah said his health issues last season were “very humbling” and he’s eager to “prove I can help this team win big,” K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets. New Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg recently visited Noah at a training facility in California and Noah “enjoyed vibing with him,” Johnson added in a separate tweet.
  • Timofey Mozgov has no incentive to sign an extension with the Cavaliers since the salary cap will rise dramatically next season, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Mozgov will be an unrestricted free agent after making $4.95MM during the upcoming season and he could be worth at least $15MM a year if he has another strong season, Pluto adds.
  • Unrestricted Cavs free agent J.R. Smith has value on the right type of team with a one-year contract, Pluto opined in the same story. The Cavs suggested that Smith take a one-year, $6.4MM option for the upcoming season but he declined, Pluto adds.

Knicks, Sasha Vujacic Agree To Deal

SATURDAY 4:31pm: Agent Herb Rudoy told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that the contract is fully guaranteed (Twitter link).

FRIDAY 3:39pm: The contract will be guaranteed, Charania indicates on Twitter, running counter to previous reports (below).

2:41pm: It’s mostly non-guaranteed, according to Marc Berman and Jonathan Lehman of the New York Post.

2:34pm: It’ll be for the minimum salary, Charania writes in a full story. So, he’d make the $1,356,146 eight-year veteran’s minimum if he remains under contract through the season, but since it’s a one-year deal, the Knicks would only have to pay the two-year veteran’s minimum of $947,276, with the league footing the rest of the bill.

1:55pm: The arrangement is believed to be a training camp deal, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, which suggests that it is no more than partially guaranteed.

1:11pm: The Knicks and Sasha Vujacic have agreed to a one-year deal, league sources tell Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). David Pick of Eurobasket.com reported Thursday that the sides had engaged in talks. The 31-year-old has appeared in only two NBA games since the 2011 lockout, but it appears his connection with Knicks team president Phil Jackson, Vujacic’s coach when they were with the Lakers, has drawn him back to the Association.

New York is also reportedly expected to sign draft-and-stash prospect Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and adding him and Vujacic would give the Knicks deals with 16 players. New York, at present, has only 11 fully guaranteed contracts, presuming that’s the case for the newly re-signed Lou Amundson, and Wesley Saunders and Darion Atkins seem like longshots to make the regular season roster, so Vujacic seems to stand a decent chance of sticking around for opening night.

Vujacic played parts of seven seasons with the Lakers, mostly with Jackson as his coach, picking up a pair of championship rings in a reserve role. He was a much more prominent figure for the Nets after a trade sent him to New Jersey early in the 2010/11 season, averaging 11.4 points in 28.5 minutes per game, but just as his NBA career seemed to be heating up, he headed overseas. The native of Slovenia has played in Turkey, Italy and Spain since his last full NBA season, stopping back in the NBA only for a single 10-day contract with the Clippers in 2013/14.

Hoops Rumors Originals 7/26/15-8/1/15

Here’s a look back at the original analysis generated by the Hoops Rumors staff this past week…

  • Sam Amico, the founder and editor of AmicoHoops.net and a broadcast journalist for Fox Sports Ohio, will write a weekly feature for Hoops Rumors with news, rumors and insight from around the NBA. He posted his initial column this past week, and it can be found here.
  • Chuck Myron looked at how underclassmen fared in the 2015 NBA Draft.
  • If you missed the week’s live chat, you can view the transcript here.
  • Chuck ran down the list of players who were dealt during the 2015 offseason with at least $10MM in guaranteed money left on their respective deals.
  • Zach Links highlighted some of the better basketball blogs around in his weekly installment of Hoops Links.
  • We ran down the list of players who survived past their contract guarantee dates.
  • If you missed any of our daily reader-driven discussions, be sure to check out the Community Shootaround archives.
  • Chuck ran down the number of free agent signings made by each franchise this offseason.
  • Here’s how you can follow Hoops Rumors on social media and RSS feeds.
  • We reviewed out commenting policy. Play nice everyone.

Pacers Expected To Purchase D-League Team

12:53pm: The sale could be delayed until the 2016/17 season to make sure everything is in order, The D-League Digest tweets.
12:12pm: The Pacers are expected to purchase the D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants but the details are still being worked out, which has delayed an official announcement, according to Adam Johnson of the D-League Digest (Twitter links). It’s unclear how this will affect the 11 NBA teams who do not have a D-League affiliate, since the Mad Ants are the only unaffiliated team in the league, but the NBA may use a flex assignment system, Johnson adds (additional Twitter links).
A flex assignment system was already in place to accommodate assignments to the Mad Ants, as SeaDubsCentral.com explains. Under that system, the D-League tried to find other teams willing to accept a player from an unaffiliated team if Fort Wayne already had a maximum four NBA players on assignments or two assigned players at the player’s position. The independent NBA team could then choose which D-League team to send that player to. If no D-League team stepped forward to take the player, a lottery system was used to find him a landing spot.
The 11 remaining teams without an affiliate are the Wizards, Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Timberwolves, Bucks, Clippers, Nuggets, Bulls, Hornets, Hawks and Nets.
Logistically, the move makes sense for the Pacers and Mad Ants. Fort Wayne is an approximate two hour drive from Indianapolis and the Pacers can easily shuttle players back and forth. It’s also reasonable to suggest the Mad Ants would forge a tighter bond with their fans by having players on Indiana’s roster gaining experience with an in-state affiliate.

Nuggets Expected To Waive Kostas Papanikolaou

The Nuggets will waive Kostas Papanikolaou, a source told David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). His $4,797,664 deal was non-guaranteed.

Papanikolaou played for the Rockets last season and was traded to Denver as part of the Ty Lawson swap last month. Pablo Prigioni, Joey Dorsey, Nick Johnson and a protected 2016 first-round pick were also forwarded to the Nuggets in the deal. Houston exercised its option on Papanikolaou in June and his salary would have been guaranteed if he remained on Denver’s roster past October 4th.

With plenty of other forward options, the Nuggets had no intention of keeping Papanikolaou and wanted his non-guaranteed contract in order to shed salary.

The 6’9” forward was a regular part of the Rockets’ rotation during the first half of the 2014/15 season, but the acquisition of Josh Smith cut into the 24-year-old’s minutes and he also battled an ankle injury. He averaged 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 24.6 minutes per game before Smith joined the team and 2.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG and just 12.1 MPG in 21 appearances afterward.

Northwest Rumors: Burke, Huestis, Donovan

Trey Burke views the Jazz’s logjam at point guard as a source of motivation, Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune reports. This summer and upcoming season is crucial to Burke’s future with the club, Falk continues. Burke was a lottery pick in 2013 but lost his starting spot to 2014 lottery selection Dante Exum. The Jazz also have point guards Bryce Cotton, Raul Neto and Olivier Hanlan on the roster. Burke shot just 36.8% from the field and 31.8% on 3-point attempts last season while averaging 12.8 points and 4.3 assists in 30.1 minutes. His shooting percentage was the lowest of any player attempting at least 1,000 shots since 1965, Falk adds.  “I just look at it as another test. A stepping stone. You can use it as motivation going into training camp,” Burke said during a conference call. “Right now, I’m really dedicating myself and, come training camp, I know I’ll be prepared, and that’s all that matters.”

In other news around the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder gave Josh Huestis the full 120% bump on his rookie scale contract and thus he will make about $1.1MM this season, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Huestis made a pre-draft arrangement with Oklahoma City in 2014 to be taken in the first round and then delay signing a rookie contract. He spent last season with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate while making approximately $25,000. Huestis, who signed a four-year deal with a team option after the second season, is glad he took that gamble, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman“Obviously I was the first to do it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a more common practice,” Huestis said to Mayberry of the domestic-draft-and-stash route. “Not only does it give you an opportunity to stay close to your organization and stay in America, but you get to play against great competition and learn from great coaches and a great staff.”
  • The focus on the Thunder this offseason has centered on new head coach Billy Donovan, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman writes.  Donovan has already drawn rave reviews from people around Oklahoma City for his personality and seems to be a good fit with the community, Carlson adds.

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