Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 2/5/16

The Bucks surprised many this past offseason when they landed center Greg Monroe in free agency, signing the big man to a three-year, maximum salary contract. Milwaukee, fresh off a 41-41 campaign in 2014/15 that included an Eastern Conference playoff berth, felt the addition of Monroe was the next step toward the upper-echelon of the conference. But plans often have a tendency not to work the way they are laid out and the Bucks have stumbled to a 20-31 record this season. Disappointment can bring about sweeping changes and a report by Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times relayed that the franchise is open to trading Monroe and point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has failed to impress since coming over in a controversial deadline trade a year ago.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is reportedly the only Bucks player completely off-limits for a deal, though it would take a “crazy” offer to pry Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton from Milwaukee, a league executive told Woelfel. Several people around the league have said they’d be surprised if the Bucks don’t make a significant trade, with the deadline looming two weeks from today, Woelfel added.

This brings me to today’s topics. I say topics because there are two related questions I will be posing to all of you this evening. The first is: Should the Bucks look to trade Greg Monroe prior to the trade deadline? While this is a relatively straightforward question, it does raise another extremely important one regarding the franchise’s future dealings, which is: If the Bucks do in fact deal away Monroe, will it negatively impact their future free agent pursuits?

While I will readily acknowledge that money trumps quite a bit in the free agent market, players do have concerns outside the basketball court. When a player changes teams in the league he also changes homes and cities, sometimes moving across the U.S., or in the case of players signing with the Raptors, outside of the country. The last thing most players want is to have to have to worry about the logistics of moving so soon after making such an important life choice, not just for themselves, but in many cases for their families as well. So, would dealing away Monroe so quickly after signing him count against the Bucks with future free agents? Milwaukee isn’t a destination city among NBA players, so the franchise already has its work cut out for it. Flipping a recently signed big name player may not be the best advertisement to send out to other future free agents.

But that’s merely my take and we’re looking for yours. Take to the comments section to share your thoughts regarding a potential Monroe deal, as well as if you think it would hurt the team in the eyes of future free agents. We look forward to what you have to say.

And-Ones: Celtics, Sixers, Bender, Free Agency

The unprotected first-rounder that the Nets owe the Celtics for this year’s draft is available for the right price, Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday in an appearance on the “Dale & Holley with Thornton” show on WEEI radio. That price is high, Ainge cautioned. Sean Deveney of The Sporting News wrote earlier this week that the pick was “definitely not available,” but while that might not technically be true, it sounds like that’s effectively the case for all but the most enticing offers.

“It would have to be, certainly, a very good player. And also it probably wouldn’t be someone in their 30s,” Ainge said to the radio hosts. “That would have to be a good young player, because again, even if we had a 5% or a 10% or a 15% chance at one of the top picks in the draft, that’€™s worth keeping.”

The Nets pick is No. 3 in the lottery order for now, as our Reverse Standings show, so if that position holds, it would give the Celtics a 17.8% chance at the No. 1 pick and about 50-50 odds of picking somewhere in the top three. See more from around the NBA:

  • Brett Brown understands the Sixers front office has the task of improving the team for the future, and the roster he has isn’t exactly a coach’s dream, but he would prefer that Philadelphia stands pat at the trade deadline, as he told Tom Moore of Calkins Media“All coaches beg for consistency,” Brown said. “You feel like your teaching message, your purpose, your points of emphasis have a chance to resonate and be delivered and improved upon better with time.” 
  • Versatility and an underrated toughness are some of the qualities that make Dragan Bender easily the top overseas prospect for the 2016 draft, but as the draft’s youngest prospect, his frame isn’t close to being ready to handle the NBA, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. Still, he’ll almost certainly enter the draft this year, Givony hears, and his vast potential has him No. 3 in Givony’s prospect rankings.
  • The ability to match competing bids in the summer, an understanding of the player’s contract demands from the extension window, and low rookie scale salaries are reasons why soon-to-be restricted free agents are intriguing trade candidates, SB Nation’s Tom Ziller posits, offering a few names as particularly interesting cases.

Latest On Blake Griffin

The Sixers and Nuggets have talked to the Clippers about Blake Griffin, league sources tell Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio and Amico Hoops (Twitter link), confirming an earlier dispatch from Mitch Lawrence of Forbes, who first reported the involvement of the Nuggets. However, the Clippers have no active interest in trading him in spite of offers that several teams have made, a source told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

It doesn’t seem as though the Nuggets have assets that align with what the Clippers would want for Griffin, observes Dan Woike of the Orange County Register (All Twitter links), even though Lawrence indicates that the Clippers were the ones who began the dialogue. The Sixers, like the Nuggets, will have as many as four first-round picks this year, but they have less to offer on their existing roster, as their league-worst 7-42 record would indicate.

The Nuggets have reservations about their ability to re-sign Griffin, whose contract runs through 2017/18 and includes an opt-out for the summer of 2017, Lawrence writes. Danilo Gallinari would be available for the right return, according to Lawrence, but it appears the price for Gallinari is high, as the Celtics have reportedly been unable to pry him from Denver. Outside of Gallinari and Emmanuel Mudiay, the Nuggets are “open for business,” as Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports said in a recent radio appearance, and Lawrence confirms the team would be willing to trade Kenneth Faried.

The Clippers plan a concerted effort to look for Griffin trades in the offseason if they disappoint in the playoffs this spring, as fellow Vertical scribe Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier today, but coach/executive Doc Rivers isn’t eager to trade the star power forward before the deadline, as Zach Lowe of ESPN.com wrote recently. Philadelphia chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo said this week that the Sixers aren’t actively looking for a deadline trade while not ruling out the possibility of making one. A pursuit of Griffin that takes place in the offseason would fall in line with reported efforts the team made to sign Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard under GM Sam Hinkie this past summer, though it’s unclear just how the Sixers will function now that Colangelo is around.

The broken shooting hand Griffin suffered, reportedly from hitting friend and Clippers assistant equipment manager Mathias Testi, will keep him from playing for several weeks, perhaps until late March, as the Clippers apparently believe. The incident has prompted an NBA investigation that’s likely to result in discipline for Griffin, commissioner Adam Silver told Sam Amick of USA Today.

Southwest Notes: Conley, Parsons, Anderson

Mike Conley isn’t ruling out any option as he approaches free agency this summer, as he said to reporters today in New York, where the Grizzlies are in town to play the Knicks, notes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). Conley also said that he hasn’t made any promises to Marc Gasol, Bondy points out, despite the point guard having recently pegged the difficulty of leaving the Spanish center as 11 on a scale of one to 10.

“Everything will be on the table when the time comes,” Conley said. “I haven’t committed to anything.”

See more on the Grizzlies amid items from the Southwest Division:

  • Chandler Parsons and Rick Carlisle have a close relationship off the court, but they don’t always see eye to eye about Parsons’ on-court role, with Carlisle hesitant to use him the way most teams feature their stars, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com examines. Parsons can opt out at season’s end, but he’s indicated that he wants to remain in Dallas for the long term and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants that same outcome, with the team having signed Wesley Matthews in part because he fits so well with Parsons, MacMahon writes. “What I see 100% is we’re going to keep those guys together for a long, long time,” Cuban said to MacMahon. “When they’re both 100% and have all their explosiveness, that’s a crushing tandem on the wing and we’ll fill in around them.”
  • The Spurs have turned to Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons more of late, allowing Anderson to respond on the court to doubts that preceded San Antonio’s decision to draft him 30th overall in 2014 and Simmons to continue impressing on his minimum-salary deal, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio News-Express details. The pair figure to have more opportunities to play with Manu Ginobili sidelined for at least a month.
  • The use of 10-day signee Ryan Hollins at the expense of minutes for JaMychal Green seems to show the disparity between coach Dave Joerger‘s full attention to the present and the front office’s broader attention to both now and later for the Grizzlies, opines Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal.

Suns Sign Orlando Johnson To 10-Day Contract

12:28pm: The signing is official, the team announced. It’ll cover three games, against the Jazz, Thunder and Warriors, the only ones Phoenix has left until the All-Star break, and expire before the February 18th trade deadline.

7:57am: The Suns will sign former Pacers and Kings shooting guard Orlando Johnson to a 10-day contract, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The two-year NBA veteran has been playing for much of this season with the Spurs affiliate in the D-League. He’s poised to go into the open spot on Phoenix’s roster and add depth on the wing to compensate for the loss of T.J. Warren, who suffered a season-ending broken foot.

Johnson, 26, averaged 4.0 points in 12.1 minutes per game with 38.3% shooting from behind the arc as a rookie in 2012/13 for the Pacers, who had acquired him via trade shortly after the Kings drafted him 36th overall in 2012. His minutes fell the next season and the Pacers waived him at the trade deadline in 2014 to accommodate their deal for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. He resurfaced on a pair of 10-day contracts with the Kings later that season but has been out of the NBA ever since, though it appeared the Pelicans were considering him last month.

The former UC Santa Barbara player spent the last year and a half playing in Spain, the Philippines and the D-League. He’s averaging 15.2 points in 31.4 minutes per game and hitting 3-pointers at a scintillating 48.6% clip for the D-League Austin Spurs this season. He was slated to take part in the D-League All-Star Game and 3-point shooting contest, but he’ll be ineligible to participate in either if he indeed joins the Suns.

Phoenix already has Jordan McRae on a 10-day contract, as only 13 Suns have deals that run through at least the end of the season. The Suns are reportedly a strong bet to make at least one trade before the February 18th trade deadline, so they have plenty of flexibility to do so. Johnson’s contract would lapse and leave an open roster spot for the trade deadline as long as Phoenix signs him by the end of Monday.

Jazz Sign Erick Green To Second 10-Day Contract

The Jazz have signed point guard Erick Green to a second 10-day contract, the team announced. His first expired overnight. The latest deal will cover four games, against the Bucks, Suns, Mavericks and Pelicans. It’s set to end before the February 18th trade deadline, leaving Utah to decide whether to re-sign Green for the duration of the season or leave him in free agency and keep an open roster spot. The other 14 Jazz players are signed through at least the end of the season.

Green originally joined the Jazz the day after starting point guard Raul Neto suffered a concussion in a game against the Pistons, but Neto returned to play in time for Utah’s next game and hasn’t missed any time since. Green has only seen six total minutes of playing time with the Jazz, scoring four points, but it appears the team is interested in keeping him around nonetheless. He was the 46th overall pick in the 2013 draft and averaged 26.7 points, 4.4 assists and 1.6 turnovers per game in 23 D-League appearances after the Nuggets let him go earlier this season.

Utah has reportedly considered a pursuit of Hawks trade candidate Jeff Teague, but the Jazz have often gone without a point guard on the floor this season, using a three-wing lineup while Neto and backup Trey Burke sit. Dante Exum, who started 41 games at the position as a rookie last year, is out for the season with a torn ACL, but the team apparently remains 100% committed to him, leaving it unclear where a developing prospect like Green would fit in.

Nuggets Seek Pick In Return For Joffrey Lauvergne

The Nuggets want a late first-round pick in exchange for Joffrey Lauvergne, league sources tell Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (Twitter link). It’s unclear just how motivated Denver is to trade Lauvergne, one of three centers under the age of 25 on the roster, though the Nuggets are largely “open for business” outside of Danilo Gallinari and Emmanuel Mudiay, as Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports said earlier this week. However, coach Michael Malone said last month that the 24-year-old Lauvergne is a major part of the team’s long-term plans.

Lauvergne, the 55th pick in the 2013 draft, is beneath Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic on the Nuggets depth chart after making 15 starts earlier this season. He’s averaging 7.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in 17.6 minutes per game. The 24-year-old who signed as a draft-and-stash prospect in February 2015 is on the books at nearly $1.71MM this season and the same figure next year, though his 2016/17 salary is non-guaranteed.

GM Tim Connelly has the security of a new extension to rely on if he wants to focus on the future at the expense of the present. Denver is already well-stocked with draft assets, as the Rockets, Grizzlies and Trail Blazers all have first-round debt to the Nuggets that comes due as early as this year’s draft, and the Nuggets have the right to swap first-rounders with New York this year. That exchange wouldn’t happen as it stands, with Denver at 19-31, three games worse than the Knicks and four and a half games out of the playoffs in the Western Conference.

Western Notes: Griffin, Howard, Carter, Warriors

The Clippers plan to make a concerted effort to look for Blake Griffin trades if they don’t make a long playoff run this spring, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (video link). That’s regardless of whether an opportunity arises to swap Griffin for Kevin Durant, a move the Clippers wouldn’t hesitate to make, according to Wojnarowski. Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers suggested before the season that he would be open to major changes if the team disappointed in the playoffs, as Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reported, adding that it appears as though Rivers isn’t eager to trade any members of the team’s core before the trade deadline this month. See more from the Western Conference:

  • The Celtics aren’t the only team the Rockets have engaged about Dwight Howard, but it’s unlikely a Howard trade happens this season as Houston isn’t shopping him so much as gauging his market value, reports Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. Three executives from around the league told Mannix they wouldn’t approach the max in an offer to Howard in free agency this summer, and an Eastern Conference GM pegged a fair contract for him at three years and $60MM, Mannix relays.
  • Vince Carter plans to play next season, which would be his 18th in the NBA, and while he’s taking a year-by-year approach, he’d like to play 20 seasons, notes Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Carter’s salary of more than $4.264MM for next season is partially guaranteed for $2MM, and fellow Commercial Appeal scribe Chris Herrington suggested recently that the Grizzlies will “almost certainly” waive him this summer and pocket the savings. Still, coach Dave Joerger expressed a fondness for the veteran swingman, as Tillery relays.
  • Executives from other teams know that so much as asking the Warriors about any of the key players on their roster would be ill-advised, writes Bobby Marks of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports as he analyzes Golden State’s trade assets.

Cavs Interested In Jared Dudley

The Cavaliers are interested in acquiring Jared Dudley and are one of the most active NBA teams on the trade market, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com said in an appearance on ESPN Cleveland radio with Tony Cartagena this morning (Twitter links; audio link). Dudley is making $4.375MM this season on the final year of his contract with the Wizards, who have lost five of their last six games to fall to 21-26.

It’s unclear whether Cleveland would target Dudley with part of its more than $10.5MM trade exception or look for an exchange of salaries instead. The Cavs have reportedly gauged the market for Timofey Mozgov, whose $4.95MM salary would be a close match with Dudley’s, but the Wizards already have two traditional big men in Marcin Gortat and Nene. In any case, Cleveland has reportedly sought a three-and-D wing player to back up Iman Shumpert, and Dudley is displaying a career-best 45.9% 3-point shooting stroke this season. He ranks 19th among all small forwards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus metric.

Dudley, 30, has assumed a leadership role for the Wizards in his first season with the team. He supported the trade that sent him from Milwaukee to Washington this past summer and expressed contentment last month with his situation in Washington. Still, he doesn’t have the power to veto a swap to Cleveland. Cavs GM David Griffin worked in the Suns front office when Phoenix traded for Dudley in 2008.

Would Dudley be the right fit for the Cavs? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 2/4/16

The Raptors are reportedly eyeing an upgrade at the power forward spot, a position where 35-year-old Luis Scola is currently the starter. Toronto has reportedly expressed interest in the Suns’ P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris, either of whom could be a boon to the team’s rotation. The Suns aren’t expected to give either player away cheaply if the team does indeed decide to make a trade, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

The Raptors certainly have some appealing assets to deal, with the franchise currently slated for an extra first-round pick both this year and next. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has indicated that the team plans to unload the surplus of first-rounders at some point, but Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reported that the Raptors have no intention of giving them up cheaply and aren’t interested in a stopgap player. However, that report was filed prior to James Johnson undergoing an MRI on Tuesday after suffering an ankle injury. Johnson was filling in at small forward for DeMarre Carroll, who still remains at least a few weeks away from returning after right knee surgery.

Toronto’s interest in Tucker dates back to at least the summer of 2014, when he was a free agent and re-signed with Phoenix, which led to the Raptors inking Johnson instead, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca noted. Tucker was originally a draft pick of the Raptors in 2006, but that was prior to Ujiri taking over Toronto’s front office. While Tucker would likely be just a stopgap if acquired, Morris would certainly factor into the team’s future plans given that he still has three more seasons remaining on the four-year, $32MM extension he signed with Phoenix in 2014.

Phoenix has reportedly been targeting young players and draft picks in exchange for Morris, and the Raptors do happen to have recent first-round picks Lucas Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo to dangle, as well as those surplus first-rounders for the next two seasons. The Suns reportedly spoke with the Pelicans and Rockets about Morris trades earlier this season, and the Pistons are also reportedly interested, so the Raptors may have some competition if they are indeed interested in Morris.

This brings me to the topic for today: Should the Raptors look to upgrade their power forward position? If so, whom should they target?

If you were Raptors GM, which player would you attempt to pry away from the Suns — Tucker or Morris? If you don’t think either would be a good fit, or perhaps believe that the price would be too high to land one of the Suns forwards, whom should the team target? One possibility I’ll throw out there is the Celtics’ David Lee, who is reportedly unhappy with his reduced role in Boston while the team looks to either trade him or reach a buyout arrangement. While I wouldn’t necessarily trade for Lee if I were running the Raptors, he could be a valuable in-season pickup for very little cost if he is in fact released.

But that’s merely my opinion and we’re looking for yours. Take to the comments section to share your thoughts on the matter. We look forward to what you have to say.

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