Western Notes: Rockets, Brown, Abrines, Suns

Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon are gambles for the Rockets, but they’re probably risks worth taking, writes Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. Both players are sharpshooters who should fit well into new coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, but both have an extensive history of injuries. Anderson missed a significant stretch last season with an MCL sprain in Feburary, and had a season-ending neck injury in 2014. Gordon has been through a long string of injuries that have limited him to an average of 53 games per season over the past four years. Assuming they are reasonably healthy next season, Blancarte expects them to be valuable additions because of their ability to stretch the defense and Gordon’s talent for driving to the basket.

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • High-scoring European player Bobby Brown will attend training camp with the Rockets on a non-guaranteed deal, tweets international journalist David Pick. Brown spent time with the Kings, Clippers, Hornets and Wolves from 2008-10.
  • The signing of Alex Abrines has helped the Thunder begin to lift the dark cloud caused by Kevin Durant‘s departure, writes Bery Tramel of The Oklahoman. Abrines will give Oklahoma City a 3-point threat and may take Dion Waiters‘ spot as a reserve guard behind Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo. The biggest question on the European star is whether he can defend well enough to earn significant playing time.
  • The Suns‘ collection of young players has produced renewed optimism in Phoenix, according to Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic. Part of the confidence came from GM Ryan McDonough’s draft-night deal with the Kings that gave Phoenix Marquese Chriss along with Dragan Bender. In addition, McDonough likes the commitment he is seeing from his veterans this summer. “I think we’ve seen a powerful change over the past few months in terms of players buying in,” he said. “Our guys like being around each other. They like being in Phoenix. A lot of our core players have basically made Phoenix their home and stick around all summer. It’s 115 degrees and those guys could be anywhere in the world. They choose to stay in Phoenix. And that says something.”

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Lin, Embiid

The Celtics have put major trade talks on hold after today’s flurry of signings, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. So far, the quest to obtain Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin has made little progress, with the Thunder and Clippers wanting more than Boston is willing to surrender. Instead, the Celtics wrapped up a few smaller moves today, agreeing to terms with free agent swingman Gerald Green and center Tyler Zeller, in addition to deals with second-round picks Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil. The Celtics now have 18 players under contract, three over the roster limit. Bulpett expects Bentil to battle in training camp with R.J. Hunter, James Young and John Holland for the last roster spot, with Hunter as the early favorite. That would mean the end in Boston for Young, a 2014 first-round pick whose $1,825,200 salary might be included in any Celtics trade.

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • A source confirms, “There is no big deal right now” for the Celticstweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.
  • New Nets point guard Jeremy Lin moved around the league so much because he has yet to find the “perfect” situation, relays Steve Serby of The New York Post. Lin recently signed a three-year deal with Brooklyn, which will be the sixth franchise for the six-year veteran. “And because I’ve been in situations I didn’t want to be in,” Lin explained, “I’ve created and negotiated in terms of free agency a lot of shorter deals that give me the flexibility to leave if I’m not happy with the way things are going.” In a wide-ranging interview, Lin expresses excitement about the future of the Nets and the chance to once again play for new head coach Kenny Atkinson, who tutored Lin when he was an assistant with the Knicks.
  • Defeating Justin Bieber in an arm-wrestling match may not prove that the SixersJoel Embiid is ready for the NBA, but that was just part of an active weekend in Los Angeles, writes Rob Tornoe of The Philadelphia Inquirer. More significant was a video of Embiid working out on the court that was posted online this morning by his trainer, Drew Hanlen. Embiid, who sat out his first two NBA seasons with injuries, was cleared for five-on-five play last month.

Community Shootaround: Summer Olympics

Nobody is calling this the “Dream Team,” but the United States is still a heavy favorite to win gold in men’s basketball at next month’s Summer Olympics.

Reigning MVP Stephen Curry won’t be part of the team in Rio, and neither will many of the NBA’s brightest stars, such as LeBron JamesRussell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. They all elected to skip the Games because a combination of injury, a desire for rest, or even though none of them said it publicly, possible concerns about security or the Zika virus.

Even in their absence, Team USA boasts a lot of talent with considerable experience in international play. Carmelo Anthony is headed to his fourth Olympics, a record for an American men’s basketball player. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green give the U.S. plenty of star power on a deep roster than also includes Harrison Barnes, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, DeAndre Jordan and Kyle Lowry.

The Americans had their first Olympic tuneup Friday night in Las Vegas, destroying an experienced Argentina team, 111-74. Durant had 23 points to lead Team USA, while George chipped in 18 and Anthony added 17. Luis Scola, a veteran of the NBA and the Argentinian National Team, was impressed by what he saw.

“Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world,” Scola said.

The U.S. team has captured the last two gold medals and hasn’t lost a game in 10 years. While it would be surprising to see anyone else win in Rio, there are several capable opponents with NBA-level talent. Spain is a traditional power, but will be missing Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Argentina was the last nation to win gold besides the United States, but its roster built around Scola, Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino has gotten old. France, Serbia, Lithuania and the host nation of Brazil are all talented enough to present problems.

That brings us to our question for today: Which team has the best chance at upsetting Team USA in Rio? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.

Heat Notes: Green, James, Wade, Riley

The addition of James Johnson, Derrick Williams and Wayne Ellington left no room in Miami for Gerald Green, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Green, who agreed to terms with the Celtics this morning, spent one season in Miami and saw his playing time decline steadily as the year wore on. He appeared in 69 games, starting 14, and averaged 8.9 points per night. Green had expressed a desire to return to Miami, Winderman writes, and the Heat could have offered the same $1.4MM deal he received from Boston. Miami made it clear that the 30-year-old swingman wasn’t in its plans by signing Johnson, Williams and Ellington to be part of an already crowded rotation that includes Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler JohnsonAmar’e Stoudemire and Dorell Wright are now the only remaining unsigned free agents from the 2015/16 roster.

There’s more news out of Miami:  

  • As players become more powerful, the idea of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul on the same team becomes more likely, Winderman writes in another piece. During the season, James speculated on the possibility of the four friends someday joining forces.
  • Team president Pat Riley recently offered some insight on teaming up James, Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010, Winderman relates in the same article. All three were slated to get max deals of $16.5MM per season, but they wanted to add Mike Miller and re-sign Udonis Haslem. Eventually, Wade volunteered to take less money, and James and Bosh agreed to sign-and trades. “The interesting part is on July 9th, they all agreed to come in on five-year deals, room only, so I didn’t have to give up any assets,” Riley said. “Then, at the 11th hour, they all wanted the sixth year. You know what that cost me and Andy [Elisburg, the Heat’s general manager]? That cost us four picks. I just said to them, ‘If you want the sixth year because I know you’re going to opt out after the fourth anyhow, but if you want the sixth year, I don’t want any of you to walk into my office and say, ‘Hey, can we get any young guys around here? Can we get some draft picks around here?’ Because they were gone.”
  • Riley’s decision to add more physical players this offseason was likely a matter of taking what was available on the market, rather than a strategy, Winderman writes in a separate piece. Winderman’s comment came in response to a reader’s question on whether acquiring Johnson, Williams, Luke Babbitt and Willie Reed would make the Heat more like the roster Riley had with the Knicks.

And-Ones: Big Men, Colangelo, Fortson

The emphasis on guard play and the 3-point shot hasn’t depressed salaries for big men, Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders notes. High-profile players like Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside and Dwight Howard were paid over $20MM annually in this year’s free agent market but less heralded centers also cashed in, Greene continues. Timofey Mozgov (Lakers) and Ian Mahinmi (Wizards) were both signed to four-year, $64MM deals, even though Mozgov had a diminished role with the Cavs last season, while the Wizards already had an established center in Marcin Gortat. Bismack Biyombo received an even bigger contract from the Magic after playing a limited role with the Raptors much of last season, while the Bucks will pay Miles Plumlee an average of $13MM annually over the next four seasons even through he’s never averaged more than 25 minutes during his career.

In news around the league:

  • USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo will not discourage Team USA players from speaking out on social or racial issues, The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears reports. NBA and WNBA players have increasingly taken public stands on hot-button topics, while the league pulled the All-Star Game from Charlotte this week over a controversial North Carolina law. “No, we’re not telling them what to say,” Colangelo told Spears. “We are saying we’re supportive. We’re in fact encouraging and they have to make their own choice. We’re not telling them what to say and what not to say.”
  • Courtney Fortson has signed with the Chinese team Zheijiang Guangsha, international journalist David Pick tweets. Fortson played last season with Banvit in Turkey. The point guard appeared in a combined 10 games with the Clippers and Rockets during the 2011/12 season.
  • The Warriors’ new trio of Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant played two minutes together during Team USA’s exhibition win over Argentina but more often in pairs, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com writes. Team USA had a lot of success with a smaller lineup featuring Green at center and Durant at small forward, according to Windhorst. “Honestly, if you want me to be quite frank with you, I didn’t even notice me, Klay and KD were out there together,” Green told Windhorst.

Mavericks Rumors: Williams, Cuban, Hammons

Point guard Deron Williams is confident he’ll be healthy when training camp opens, he told NBCDFW.com. Williams underwent sports hernia surgery shortly after the Mavs were bounced in the first round of the playoffs. “It’s healing pretty well, I’m doing a lot of work on and off the court. I haven’t got the full-go clearance yet but that’s coming soon,” Williams said. “I’ll be ready to go definitely by the time training camp rolls around.” Williams re-signed with Dallas this month on a one-year, $10MM contract, though he was hoping for multi-year deal. “Would have liked a little longer deal but I’m back for one year and hopefully can build on last year and improve,” he added in the interview.

In other news involving the Mavericks:

  • Owner Mark Cuban offered Dallas as a possible destination for this season’s All-Star Game after the NBA removed the event from Charlotte, he said in a radio interview with 105.3FM The Fan’s Ben and Skin Show. Cuban doesn’t expect the league to choose Dallas but he supports the league’s decision to switch the venue in reaction to a controversial North Carolina law. “When it came up, I told (commissioner) Adam Silver Dallas is ready, willing and able to host if they decide to move,” Cuban said. “But honestly I haven’t heard anything back from him on that, so most likely it won’t happen. … I think it’s the right move. I know it’s controversial and I know you can’t make everybody happy but I think it’s the right move.” New Orleans has emerged as the likely destination for the All-Star Game.
  • The Mavs made a smart move by drafting big man A.J. Hammons in the second round, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News opines. Hammons was productive while playing in a major conference and brings youth, size, defense and rim protection, all areas of need for the club. With the trade acquisition of veteran center Andrew Bogut, the team can afford to develop Hammons at a slower pace, Gosselin adds.

Trail Blazers Notes: Leonard, Crabbe, Free Agency

Power forward Meyers Leonard is hopeful that he can return to action by the start of the regular season, he told Brian Wheeler and Michael Holton from Blazers.com. The 7’1” Leonard suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in mid-March and underwent surgery later that month. Leonard will be re-evaluated at the beginning of August and believes that he’ll be cleared for contact and one-on-one drills during the middle of training camp, Leonard added in the interview. Despite the injury, the Blazers re-signed Leonard to a four-year, $41MM deal after he entered the market as a restricted free agent.
In other developments around the Trail Blazers:
  • President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey never balked at matching the monstrous four-year, $75MM offer sheet the Nets handed to Allen Crabbe, he told Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. The 24-year-old shooting guard averaged 10.3 points as the team’s sixth man last season and cashed in on a free agent bonanza. “It was never a question. We don’t draft guys here to let them walk away or we don’t take it for granted,” Olshey said. “I think you’ve seen the commitment we’ve made to the guys we’ve drafted.”
  • In the same story, Olshey indicated he accomplished his offseason goals by retaining Leonard and Crabbe while adding two outside free agents, swingman Evan Turner and center Festus Ezeli. “I think we maximized our cap room,” Olshey said. “We had some holes, maybe not positionally, but in terms of skill-set, that we identified. We were able to do, I think, a pretty admirable job in free agency.”
  • The Blazers have their deepest roster since Olshey joined the franchise in 2012, Mike Richman of The Oregonian opines. Ezeli and Leonard will join Mason PlumleeEd Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu in the frontcourt rotation while backcourt starters Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have solid backups in Crabbe and Turner, who will also see playing time at small forward, Richman points out. They could be even deeper if they retain restricted free agent forward Moe Harkless, Richman adds.

Thunder Sign Swingman Alex Abrines

JULY 23rd, 2:19pm: Abrines has signed a multi-year contract, according to the team’s website.

JULY 18th, 9:37am: Since losing Kevin Durant to the Warriors, the Thunder have been fairly quiet, opting not to make a splash in free agency. According to multiple reports, however, it appears Oklahoma City will use some of the spending flexibility created by Durant’s departure to bring over draft-and-stash prospect Alex Abrines.

According to Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops, Abrines and the Thunder have agreed to a deal that will pay the Spanish forward nearly $18MM over three years. Chema de Lucas (via Twitter) pegs the value at $17MM over three years. The Thunder will be able to pay up to $650K of Abrines’ buyout from Barcelona, which is believed to be in the range of $2.2MM — he’ll have to cover the rest of that buyout himself.

Abrines, who turns 23 next month, was drafted 32nd overall in 2013 using one of the picks the Thunder acquired from Houston in the James Harden trade. He averaged 9.3 PPG and shot 41.7% from three-point range in 25 Euroleague games this past season.

As Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman details, a source had told him earlier this summer that Abrines was unlikely to make the jump to the NBA for the 2016/17 campaign, but with Durant gone and Dion Waiters‘ restricted free agency still up in the air, it makes some sense for Oklahoma City to bring him over now.

Although the Thunder only have about $72MM committed to player salaries for next season prior to Abrines’ deal, Waiters’ cap hold is worth nearly $13MM, and there are other cap holds on the books for first-rounder Domantas Sabonis and some former OKC players. Throw in a trade exception and the team’s mid-level exception and the total increases to more than $94MM, so there’s a chance the Thunder could remain an over-the-cap team this year rather than using cap room.

As such, it makes sense that Abrines’ three-year deal is reported to be worth nearly $18MM — if Oklahoma City signs him using its full mid-level exception, he would earn $17,643,780 over three years. If the Thunder end up losing Waiters or going under the cap for another reason, they could sign Abrines to a similar deal using cap room.

Hoops Rumors Originals: 7/17/16 – 7/23/16

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

  • Four NBA teams have remained over the cap and haven’t used cap room so far this month, and one of those four may dip below the cap soon. We have the details right here.
  • We provided an update on traded player exceptions around the NBA, including which ones are left from the previous league year, which ones have expired or been renounced, and which teams have created new ones.
  • We’re keeping tabs on this offseason’s draft-and-stash signings, as teams formally sign players whose draft rights they held.
  • Will Joseph highlighted some of the better basketball blogs around in his weekly installment of Hoops Links.
  • Arthur Hill answered reader questions in our Weekly Mailbag. Here’s how you can submit your own questions for our mailbag feature.
  • Our Community Shootaround discussions this week included conversations about the offseason moves for this year’s playoff teams in the East and the West, and a discussion on the outlook for the three remaining restricted free agents on the market.
  • Our Free Agent Tracker continues to have up-to-date data on this summer’s contract agreements and signings from around the NBA.
  • If you haven’t already, be sure to download the Trade Rumors app for your iOS or Android device.

Week In Review: 7/17/16 – 7/23/16

With 2016’s major free agent period winding down, here’s a look back at all the notable news and events from around the NBA this past week:


Signings/Agreements


Notable International Deals


Waivers


News/Rumors

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