Lakers In Talks With Earl Clark

November 26 at 9:08am CST By Chuck Myron

9:08am: The sides are working toward what would be a one-year deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

9:03am: The Lakers and Earl Clark have engaged in a “level of dialogue” about a possible deal, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. The five-year veteran’s name wasn’t among the several who were linked to the club last week, but the Lakers know him well, since he enjoyed a career year in purple-and-gold during the 2012/13 season.

Clark is averaging 28.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 35.8 minutes per game across four appearances so far for the Rockets D-League affiliate this season. Houston briefly had him on its NBA roster after claiming his training camp deal off waivers from the Grizzlies, but the Rockets waived him before opening night. The Rockets reportedly have interest in Al Harrington, another forward whose game is somewhat similar, but there have been no reports indication that Houston is thinking about bringing Clark back to the big club.

The 26-year-old put up 5.3 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 12.5 MPG for Memphis during the preseason, failing to stick even though the Grizzlies began the regular season with an open roster spot. Clark’s career has hit the skids ever since he signed a two-year, $8.5MM deal with the Cavs in 2013, a pact that he and agent Kevin Bradbury were able to land in large measure because of the performance Clark delivered for the Lakers. He averaged 11.6 PPG and 9.2 RPG with 37.8% three-point shooting during a 22-game hot streak in the middle of his year with L.A., but he failed to match that production for Cleveland, which shipped him to the Sixers at the deadline last season. Philadelphia promptly waived him, and apart from a pair of 10-day contracts with the Knicks, Clark hasn’t appeared on a regular season roster since.

The Lakers recently received a nearly $4.851MM Disabled Player Exception for Steve Nash to go with the Disabled Player Exception worth almost $1.499MM that they have for Julius Randle, but it seems unlikely that it would take more than the minimum salary to sign Clark. The team has a full 15-man roster, though the Lakers have enough injured players to qualify for a 16th roster spot if they were to apply for one and the league were to grant it. Ronnie Price and Wayne Ellington, who have partially guaranteed deals for the minimum, are the only two Lakers without fully guaranteed contracts.

Eastern Notes: Whiteside, Beal, Butler, Cavs

November 25 at 10:08pm CST By Eddie Scarito

League executives are confident that Bradley Beal will command a max extension from the Wizards, RealGM’s Shams Charania hears. Washington has made it known around the league that it intends to do whatever’s necessary to secure the shooting guard for the long term, Charania adds, echoing a report from last month indicating that the Wizards were already planning to ink Beal to an extension when he’s eligible for one in the offseason ahead.

Here’s more from the east:

  • The Heat see new signee Hassan Whiteside as a prospect they can develop for the long term, coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters, including Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The center had worked out two times in three years for the team, including an audition last week, as Jackson writes in a separate piece.
  • Whiteside’s free agent deal with the Heat is for two years, and includes partial guarantees for each season, Charania reports (Twitter link). It’s presumably a minimum salary arrangement, since the Heat are limited to giving out no more than that.
  • The Bulls and Jimmy Butler failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension, setting him up to become a restricted free agent next summer. But Butler isn’t letting his contract situation distract him and is continuing to work hard, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com writes in his profile of the swingman. “I feel like I’ve never been the best player,” Butler said. “I’ve never been highly recruited, so I’ve always had all the chips stacked up against me and I’ve always found a way to make things happen. [The contract talk] is just another obstacle, another hurdle. But I think I’m in the right direction and if I keep my eye on the prize I think I’ll end up successful.”
  • Not all “superteams” are created equal, and it takes great sacrifices to make a combination of superstar players work, something the Cavs are finding out the hard way, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report writes. “I tell people all the time that it’s easy to say the word sacrifice,” veteran swingman Mike Miller said. “But to sacrifice, whether it’s playing time, shots, things like that, without knowing the outcome, it’s scary. And that’s what you’re asking players to do here in Cleveland again. You got young, talented players that are asked to sacrifice without knowing what the outcome could be. If you don’t win a championship, is it worth it?

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Dragic, Adams, Moreland, Smith

November 25 at 8:19pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Zoran Dragic will receive $1.5MM in base salary this season and next, but he’ll count for more than $1.706MM against the Suns‘ cap each year because of his nearly $413K signing bonus, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). The bonus went toward the part of Dragic’s buyout from Spain’s Unicaja Malaga that wasn’t covered under the $600K that teams are allowed to keep off their books when they buy players out of their overseas contracts. Here’s more from the western half:

  • The Grizzlies have re-assigned Jordan Adams to the Iowa Energy, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be Adams’ second trip to the D-League this season. During his first assignment, Adams appeared in one contest, contributing 20 points, seven rebounds and one assist in 31 minutes. The 20-year-old is averaging 1.5 points, 1.3 assists and 0.75 steals in 10.1 minutes per contest in four appearances for Memphis this season.
  • Eric Moreland has been recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the D-League, the Kings have announced. This was Moreland’s second stint in the D-League this season, and he’s averaging 13.3 PPG, 10.7 RPG and 1.7 APG in three appearances for Reno this season. Moreland has yet to appear in a regular season contest for Sacramento.
  • The Delaware 87ers of the NBA D-League have claimed Nolan Smith off of waivers, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest reports (Twitter link). Smith had cut ties with Turkey’s Galatasaray back in October and intends to use the D-League to showcase his talents for NBA teams. Smith’s last taste of the NBA came during the 2012/13 season when he appeared in 40 games for the Blazers and averaged 2.8 points and 0.9 assists.
  • Mavs big man Tyson Chandler said that he felt like a scapegoat for the Knicks’ failures last season, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com writes. When asked whether his leadership attempts were unappreciated in New York, Chandler said, “At times, at times, at times. But I feel like New York made me a lot stronger, a lot stronger of a person going through trials and tribulations there. But that’s life. It also depends on where your mind is. If everybody is locked in and they want to win and they know I’m in it 100% and they’re in it 100%, nobody’s sensitive. But if there’s other agendas, it’s going to make things sensitive.”

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Lakers Granted Disabled Player Exception

November 25 at 6:34pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The NBA has granted the Lakers a disabled player exception in response to the season-ending injury that Steve Nash suffered, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). The exception will be valued at half of Nash’s 2014/15 salary, which means it will be worth nearly $4.851MM, notes Windhorst. The Lakers will have until March 10th to acquire a player whose salary fits into that allotment by signing a free agent or by claiming a player off waivers, and they can trade for a player who makes the value of the exception plus $100K anytime between now and the trade deadline. No matter the method of acquisition, the contract for whomever they’d add couldn’t run past this season.

This is the second such allowance that Los Angeles has been approved for this season. The franchise had previously been granted a disabled player exception in response to the season-ending injury that rookie Julius Randle suffered on opening night. That exception was worth $1,498,680, which was half of Randle’s salary for this season.

Being granted the exception will aid the Lakers in adding a new player by allowing them to exceed the salary cap, but with the team’s roster currently at 15 players, Los Angeles would need to waive or trade a player in order to add another healthy body to its roster, as the league-maximum roster count limit still applies.

The Lakers could avoid waiving a player if they apply for a hardship provision, which would allow the team to add a 16th player. With Nash, Randle, and Xavier Henry all out for the season, along with Ryan Kelly, who’s expected to be out at least another four weeks with a torn right hamstring, Los Angeles would certainly meet the criteria to be granted the extra roster spot. But once Kelly was able to make his return, the Lakers would need to pare down the roster to 15 players, so that would only be a temporary solution to their personnel woes.

Hoops Rumors Featured Feedback

November 25 at 5:27pm CST By Eddie Scarito

We value your input on the news we cover here at Hoops Rumors. That’s why we’re passing along some of the best insight from the comments on our posts and on the Hoops Rumors Facebook page. Share your reaction to and insight on the news and rumors around the league, and you’ll have a chance to see your name here.

If you haven’t commented at Hoops Rumors before, it’s easy to sign up and start. First, read our Commenting Policy. Then, scroll to the bottom of any post, and you’ll see the word “Login” on the right side atop the comments section. Click the word and choose whether you want to comment using a Disqus account or your existing Facebook, Twitter or Google account. If you don’t have a Disqus account and you want to create one, just choose that option and click “Need an account?” at the bottom right of the box that pops up.

Yesterday, the Heat signed Hassan Whiteside and waived Shannon Brown to clear a roster spot for the big man. Reader Z…. points out that the move to release Brown was likely due to the strong play of Shabazz Napier and Miami’s fondness for Andre Dawkins.

  • Brown has played well defensively, and had a backer in Dwyane Wade. My assumption is that this move is brought on by the good play of Napier, and the fact that we’ve had injuries to our big men, namely  [Josh McRoberts], Birdman [Chris Andersen], and [Justin] Hamilton. I also really like Dawkins, and my guess is that the Heat do as well, which is probably why he is still on the roster

NBA commissioner Adam Silver mentioned in an interview with Chuck Klosterman of GQ.com that one of the changes he would like to implement is a harder, more restrictive salary cap for the league. Reader Curtis Smith believes that this potential stance, plus the NBPA’s likely push for doing away with maximum salary restrictions altogether, will mean that some compromises will need to be made in order to avoid a potential lockout in 2017.

  • Sounds like Adam Silver wants a hard cap. Prepare for another lockout. The players are going to try to get rid of max salaries. Something has to give.

In an entertaining back and forth discussion, reader Sky14 disagreed with my opinion that the Timberwolves should consider trading Nikola Pekovic for younger, cheaper assets.

  • It will be an interesting couple of years for the Wolves. They have a lot of individually talented players but always seem to have trouble putting it together. Could not disagree more on your take about Pekovic. He has not averaged below his career averages in points or rebounds since his rookie year. He is much more of a 17 and 9 guy that he has been the past two seasons. In fact, his PER has been over 20 the past three seasons, and last season he was 23rd in the NBA, one spot behind Dwight Howard and 61 spots ahead of Thaddeus Young, whom you mentioned would be in line for $12MM per year in his next contract.

In a recent reader poll we asked in response to Eric Bledsoe‘s comments about whether the Kentucky Wildcats could defeat the Sixers in a seven game series, reader alphakira agreed with the plurality of voters who disagreed with Bledsoe’s assertion that Philadelphia would fall to the college squad.

  • You said it perfectly already. The Sixers may be a bottom-feeder in the NBA, but they’re players in the NBA…which means they were all in the top 60 players in all of college basketball when they were drafted. If you voted for Kentucky, please look at Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker (and basically the rest of the elite draft class). They were the top two players in all of college last year and have yet to prove much in the NBA.

Check out what more readers had to say in previous editions of Hoops Rumors Featured Feedback. We appreciate everyone who adds to the dialogue at Hoops Rumors, and we look forward to seeing more responses like these from you!

Largest Player Options For 2015/16

November 25 at 3:30pm CST By Chuck Myron

Player options can be a nuisance for teams. Teams interested in trading for Corey Brewer earlier this month reportedly sought to have him waive his $4.905MM player option for 2015/16, and Brewer doesn’t even possess a particularly expensive option. No team would mind having LeBron James at the value of his league-high $21.573MM player option for next season, but the specter of Roy Hibbert‘s $15.514MM option, tied for the fifth-most expensive 2015/16 player option in the NBA, is a complication for the Pacers.

There’s a decent chance that the salary would be better than any that Hibbert would be able to command in free agency, but he’d probably be able to secure a much greater amount of money over the long term if he opts out, so it isn’t easy for the Pacers to guess what he’ll do. President of basketball operations Larry Bird and company are no doubt keyed into the thinking of the center who’s been a part of the team since 2008, but until they know for sure, the Pacers will have to look ahead to next summer with uncertainty about whether they’ll have significant cap room. Add to the mix David West‘s $12MM player option, another one that could go either way, and there’s no clear picture of the summer ahead for Indiana, which, aside from the options, currently has about $36MM in commitments for 2015/16.

Hibbert and West possess two of the NBA’s nine 2015/16 player options worth more than $10MM, but the Pacers are just one of three teams with multiple players holding such lucrative options. The Cavs, with two of the three most expensive ones, and the Heat are the others. The tenth-most expensive player option in the league, which belongs to Thaddeus Young, is actually an early termination option, though it functions much the same way as a standard player option does.

Jared Dudley holds the only other early termination option for 2015/16, but the possibility, if not the assumption, that he’ll opt in led the Clippers to trade him to the Bucks this summer for a pair of contracts with non-guaranteed salary for 2015/16 instead. The Clippers didn’t have to factor in that non-guaranteed money when they waived Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica, the two players they acquired in the Dudley trade, and used the Stretch Provision to spread their salaries. Conversely, the value of Dudley’s option would have counted if the Clippers were to have simply waived and stretched him, so even though Dudley may never end up seeing that money, it’s already influenced where he’s playing. However, if Dudley’s option were merely a player option instead of an early termination option, the salary wouldn’t necessarily have counted. Players and teams who sign contracts that contain player options choose whether or not the player will receive the salary in the option year in the event that he’s waived before he has a chance to decide on the option.

The presence of player and early termination options will no doubt come into play again as teams discuss trades between now and the February 19th trade deadline. All 33 player options for 2015/16 are listed below and rounded to the nearest $1K.

  1. LeBron James, Cavaliers: $21.573MM
  2. Brook Lopez, Nets: $16.744MM
  3. Kevin Love, Cavaliers: $16.744MM
  4. Dwyane Wade, Heat: $16.125MM
  5. Eric Gordon, Pelicans: $15.514MM
  6. Roy Hibbert, Pacers: $15.514MM
  7. Al Jefferson, Hornets: $13.5MM
  8. David West, Pacers: $12.6MM
  9. Luol Deng, Heat: $10.152MM
  10. Thaddeus Young, Timberwolves: $9.972MM (early termination)
  11. Jeff Green, Celtics: $9.2MM
  12. Monta Ellis, Mavericks: $8.72MM
  13. Arron Afflalo, Nuggets: $7.5MM
  14. Goran Dragic, Suns: $7.5MM
  15. J.R. Smith, Knicks: $6.4MM
  16. Gerald Henderson, Hornets: $6MM
  17. Paul Pierce, Wizards: $5.544MM
  18. Chase Budinger, Timberwolves: $5MM
  19. Corey Brewer, Timberwolves: $4.905MM
  20. Jared Dudley, Bucks: $4.25MM (early termination)
  21. Raymond Felton, Mavericks: $3.95MM
  22. Kirk Hinrich, Bulls: $2.855MM
  23. Mike Miller, Cavaliers: $2.855MM
  24. Jameer Nelson, Mavericks: $2.855MM
  25. Steve Blake, Trail Blazers: $2.17MM
  26. Jordan Farmar, Clippers: $2.17MM
  27. Danny Granger, Heat: $2.17MM
  28. Alan Anderson, Nets: $1.333MM
  29. Cartier Martin, Pistons: $1.271MM
  30. Brandon Rush, Warriors: $1.271MM
  31. Al-Farouq Aminu, Mavericks: $1.101MM
  32. Ed Davis, Lakers: $1.101MM
  33. Garrett Temple, Wizards: $1.101MM

The Basketball Insiders salary pages and Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ were used in the creation of this post.

Central Notes: Butler, Knight, Gray

November 25 at 2:15pm CST By Chuck Myron

Few would have imagined that the Bucks, who had the worst record in the NBA last year, would have a better mark nearly a month into this season than LeBron James and the Cavs do, but that’s the case, with Milwaukee at 7-7, a half-game clear of 6-7 Cleveland. Still, it won’t be difficult for the Cavs to climb back into contention for a high playoff seed, since they’re only two games back of the Central Division-leading Bulls in the loss column. Here’s the latest from the Central:

  • Jimmy Butler tells Ben Golliver of SI.com that it was difficult to pass on an extension with the Bulls last month but that he turned down Chicago’s offer because he believed in his ability to improve his offensive game after a step back last season. Butler has proven wise so far, averaging 20.8 points per game on 49.7% shooting this season compared to 13.1 PPG and 39.7% shooting last year.
  • Brandon Knight has had three coaches in his four NBA seasons, but his relationship with new Bucks coach Jason Kidd has been positive so far, and a desire for stability is one reason why Knight wants to re-sign with the Bucks this summer, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News examines.
  • Aaron Gray won’t play this season because of a heart ailment, and he acknowledges that there’s a chance that he’ll never be healthy enough to return, as he says to MLive’s David Mayo. Still, he’s not giving up hope, and a couple of weeks shy of his 30th birthday, Gray is serving as an unofficial assistant coach for the Pistons, who waived him last month in part because of his health, as Mayo details. “They brought me here for a service,” Gray said. “Even though I’ve been waived, the type of guy I am, I’m still getting paid for two years. I just wouldn’t feel right not contributing as much as I possibly could.”

Xavier Henry Out For Season With Torn Achilles

November 25 at 2:04pm CST By Chuck Myron

TUESDAY, 2:04pm: Henry is expected to recover in time to for the start of next season, the Lakers note amid an announcement acknowledging that he underwent surgery today. Henry’s contract only covers this season, however, so he’ll have to convince teams that he’s healthy in free agency.

MONDAY, 6:33pm: The Lakers have confirmed that Henry is expected to be out for the rest of the season, the team announced. He’ll have surgery Tuesday.

5:09pm: The MRI showed that the Achilles is torn, and Henry will miss the rest of the season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (on Twitter).

2:31pm: The Lakers suspect that Xavier Henry ruptured his left Achilles tendon during practice today, the team announced (Twitter link). Henry is undergoing an MRI to confirm the initial diagnosis. The injury would probably knock the 23-year-old out for the season, though there’s no timetable yet. The team is already expected to be without Steve Nash and No. 7 overall pick Julius Randle for the rest of 2014/15.

Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding suggested recently that the Lakers were likely to release Henry if they signed Quincy Miller, one of several players the Lakers reportedly worked out in the past several days. The Lakers used a portion of their room exception to re-sign Henry this summer to a fully guaranteed one-year deal for $1.082MM, but he’s struggled to come back from a series of injuries that have plagued him since his hot start for the Lakers last season. The 12th overall pick from the 2010 draft is averaging just 2.2 points in 9.6 minutes per game in nine regular season appearances so far this year.

Henry’s deal is one of 13 fully guaranteed pacts for the Lakers, who also have Ronnie Price and Wayne Ellington on partially guaranteed contracts, as our roster counts show. Ryan Kelly is out at least another five weeks with a torn right hamstring, so a long-term injury for Henry would put the Lakers in line to receive a 16th roster spot if they apply for one and if the league allows it. The NBA has already granted a Disabled Player Exception for Randle, which lets the Lakers exceed the minimum salary to sign a player, and the team’s application for a more sizable DPE for Nash, which would be worth nearly $4.851MM, is still pending, as we passed along earlier today.

Rockets Show Interest In Al Harrington

November 25 at 12:42pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Rockets are thinking about signing power forward Al Harrington, who just left his Chinese team because of apparent interest from NBA clubs, reports Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders. Houston has a full 15-man roster, so the team would have to make a corresponding move if it were to add Harrington.

The 34-year-old veteran of 16 seasons is a sharpshooting power forward who would seemingly fit well within Houston’s perimeter-oriented offense. He’s a 35.2% shooter from three-point range for his career, and he knocked down the long ball with 34.0% accuracy in 34 games last season with the Wizards. He expressed hope that he would re-sign with Washington once he returned from China, where he had been averaging 32.8 points per game for the Fujian Sturgeons, but it’s unclear if the Wizards are willing to consider him at this point.

Terrence Jones, Houston’s starting power forward, is out indefinitely with a peroneal nerve contusion, which is an injury to his left leg. The team has 13 fully guaranteed contracts, and starting point guard Patrick Beverley is on a non-guaranteed deal, as our roster counts show. Tarik Black, who has already earned more than the $50K partial guarantee on his deal for this season, appears to be the most vulnerable Rocket, though that’s just my speculation. The Rockets have reportedly been anxious to make a trade to upgrade their rotation, but perhaps they envision being able to do so with the addition of a rejuvenated Harrington instead.

Western Notes: Lakers, Price, Martin, D-League

November 25 at 12:25pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Lakers are in contact with the NBA about “roster possibilities” in the wake of Xavier Henry‘s season-ending torn Achilles, tweets Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. The team will probably apply for a Disabled Player Exception for Henry, according to fellow Times scribe Eric Pincus (Twitter link). That’s even though the $541K exception would only be useful to acquire a player making a prorated salary. Here’s more on the Lakers and a few of their Western Conference foes:

  • There’s a strong possibility that the Lakers will cut Ronnie Price to bolster their injury-hit roster, as David Pick of Eurobasket.com hears (Twitter links). Price’s minimum salary is partially guaranteed for about $329K, and that guarantee jumps to more than $658K if he remains under contract through December 15th.
  • The Timberwolves confirmed today that Kevin Martin had surgery to repair his fractured right wrist that they expect will keep him out about six to eight weeks (Twitter link), echoing an earlier report of that timeframe. The Wolves have considered applying for a 16th roster spot, and if the league grants it, the team would most likely add a post player, as Flip Saunders said Monday to reporters, including Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).
  • Dahntay Jones is set to sign with the D-League, reports Gino Pilato of D-League Digest. The 10-year NBA veteran spent the preseason with the Jazz, who cut him before opening night. No D-League team holds the rights to Jones, so the D-League waiver system will determine the identity of his new team, Pilato notes.
  • Tyler Ennis is in a tough position in a deep Suns backcourt, but this year’s 18th overall pick doesn’t mind the stigma of his recent four-day D-League assignment, as he told reporters, including Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.  “A lot of people look at it as a bad thing, D-League, and think it’s something horrible, but it’s not like we’re stuck down there for the year,” Ennis said. “They let us know they want to see us play and see us stay in shape and we thought it was a good thing as far as us going down and playing well. I think I was able to show that I should be on this [NBA] level.”