2014 NBA Draft Rumors

Few 2014 First-Rounders Seeing Heavy Minutes

December 9 at 12:30pm CST By Chuck Myron

The stock of the 2014 draft class has been on a steady decline for the past year. It was billed before the beginning of the 2013/14 college season as a landmark group of prospects capable of changing the game, but thanks to an array of underwhelming performances, the draft soon became regarded as well-stocked but bereft of franchise-changing players. The broken foot that Joel Embiid suffered just weeks before the draft, when he was the leading candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, helped take the class down another notch. Now, a quarter of the way into the season, the performances that this year’s first-round picks have delivered suggest that the draft class was below average, at best.

Of course, there’s still plenty of time to go before any reasonable final judgments can be made on the field, which has the potential to live up to at least some of the expectations attached to it. Nonetheless, the minutes that each first-rounder is seeing paint a grim picture so far. Only a third of the 30 first-round picks are seeing at least 15 minutes per game, and two of those 10 have missed significant time with injuries. The rookie seeing the next most minutes per night, Julius Randle, posted that total in just one game, the contest in which he broke his leg and was lost for the rest of the season. Six first-rounders have yet to make their NBA debuts, including Embiid, two overseas players, and Josh Huestis, who’s on a D-League contract. Injuries have also helped to forestall the debuts of Adreian Payne and Mitch McGary, though both have gone on D-League assignment this year.

Here’s a look at how much each first-round pick is playing, ranked by minutes per game, with their respective draft positions in parentheses and additional notes where appropriate:

More than 20 minutes per game

Between 15-20 minutes per game

Between 10-15 minutes per game

Between 5-10 minutes per game

  • Tyler Ennis, Suns (No. 18) — 8.8
  • Jusuf Nurkic, Nuggets (No. 16) — 8.6
  • Noah Vonleh, Hornets (No. 9) — 8.0: Hampered by preseason hernia surgery. Has played only three games.

Fewer than 5 minutes per game

  • C.J. Wilcox, Clippers (No. 28) — 4.5: Has played only two games.
  • Clint Capela, Rockets (No. 25) — 3.7: Hampered by preseason groin injury. Has played only three games, but has played extensively in D-League.
  • James Young, Celtics (No. 17) — 3.6: Has played extensively in D-League.

Haven’t played NBA games

  • Joel Embiid, Sixers (No. 3) — 0: Injured, has yet to make debut.
  • Dario Saric, Sixers (No. 12) — 0: Playing overseas.
  • Adreian Payne, Hawks (No. 15) — 0: Hampered by plantar fasciitis. Has played extensively in D-League.
  • Mitch McGary, Thunder (No. 21) — 0: Hampered by broken foot suffered in preseason. Has played in D-League.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic, Suns (No. 27) — 0: Playing overseas.
  • Josh Huestis, Thunder (No. 29) — 0: Playing in D-League on D-League contract.

And-Ones: Jordan, Ledo, Cauley-Stein, Hawks

December 6 at 10:48am CST By Eddie Scarito

DeAndre Jordan‘s continued emergence as one of the best defensive big men in the NBA could put him in line to command a max salary contract when he hits free agency next summer, which would also be the first significant financial test of the Clippers‘ new owner, Steve Ballmer, Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times writes. A maximum five-year contract for Jordan projected at $103.5MM would probably nudge Los Angeles over the luxury tax threshold for a third consecutive season in 2015/16, which would trigger the repeater tax the following year, notes Bolch. Ballmer has stated that he would make whatever financial commitment was necessary to preserve the core of his team, but this dollar-for-dollar charge tacked onto the existing luxury tax fees will surely test the billionaire’s commitment to his stated goal, Bolch adds.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Despite all the hype leading up to the 2014 NBA draft, this season’s crop of rookies are off to the worst statistical first year start of any rookie class in the last 10 years, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com writes.
  • The Hawks have recalled Adreian Payne from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and have assigned Mike Muscala to the D-League, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link).
  • With his 21 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 blocks against Texas Friday night, Kentucky junior Willie Cauley-Stein, “Made himself some money,” according to one NBA scout, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv writes. Cauley-Stein is currently projected as the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft by DraftExpress. The big man returned for his junior season specifically to improve his draft stock, notes Zagoria. “For sure,” Cauley-Stein said. “You know, that is one of the biggest reasons that I came back is to just develop myself more as a basketball player. I feel like I am just starting to do that. It’s only December. I still have three months left.”
  • The Mavericks have recalled Ricky Ledo from the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League, the team announced in a press release. In five games this season for the Legends, Ledo has averaged 12.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.2 steals in 34.0 minutes per contest.

Semaj Christon To Play In D-League

October 7 at 8:59am CST By Chuck Myron

Second-round draft pick Semaj Christon has agreed to play for the Thunder’s D-League affiliate this year, agent Doug Neustadt tells Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Thunder will retain the NBA rights to the point guard, whom they acquired via trade from the Hornets, after Charlotte originally picked him up from the Heat. News about this year’s No. 55 overall pick was scarce during the summer, and Oklahoma City left him off its training camp roster, indicating that Christon was destined either for the D-League or an overseas deal.

The 6’3″ Christon, who turns 22 next month, was more of a scoring guard than a traditional point man in college for Xavier, having put up 17.0 points in 35.3 minutes per game as a sophomore this past season while balancing 4.2 assists against 2.6 turnovers each night. He added proficiency from behind the arc to his game this year, nailing 38.8% of his three-point attempts.

The Thunder are taking advantage of a new D-League rule that allows them to retain the D-League rights to Christon, who would have been subject to the D-League draft in years past. That’ll prevent the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s D-League team, from having to trade to secure his rights, as they did last year with Thunder second-rounder Grant Jerrett. Two of the three players the Thunder acquired through this year’s NBA draft will play for their D-League team this year, as Christon will join No. 29 overall pick Josh Huestis.

And-Ones: Allen, Thabeet, Arroyo, Ingles

September 2 at 3:15pm CST By Chuck Myron

Only a half dozen second-round picks from this June are without deals to play in the NBA, overseas or the D-League, as our log of this year’s draft pick signings shows, and Friday looms as a key date for them. That’s the last day their NBA teams have to make a required one-year tender for the minimum salary without losing their rights to them. Such glorified training camp invitations might not be ideal for draftees who’d hoped to establish more solid footing in the NBA, but if any are at an impasse in negotiations, the deadline could be a tipping point. While we wait to see how that plays out, here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Ray Allen has fielded recruiting calls from LeBron James and others, as the sharpshooter tells Don Amore of The Hartford Courant, but Allen cites a desire to stay around his family as he continues to insist that there’s a strong chance he’s played his last game. “I don’t want to go into a situation where I don’t understand the coaching, don’t understand the direction of the team,” Allen said. “My family is very important in making the decision. Right now, there is nothing that I need to do. If I ultimately decide this will be it for me, I’m content with that.”
  • Hasheem Thabeet remains on the Sixers roster, so it appears they’ve guaranteed his salary for the coming season. Monday was the last day they could waive him without owing him his $1.25MM pay for 2014/15, as Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman confirmed. Philadelphia was reportedly likely to waive him in advance of that deadline.
  • NBA teams would have to buy Carlos Arroyo out of his deal with Galatasaray in Turkey to bring him stateside for this season, and while he’d consider returning to the Association, no one from the NBA has shown serious interest, as he tells HoopsHype’s David Alarcon.
  • The widespread NBA interest in Joe Ingles is surprising, observes David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). The Australian small forward was having a tough time generating interest from European teams before this week’s strong FIBA World Cup showing, according to Pick.

Jordan McRae To Play In Australia

August 29 at 8:48am CST By Chuck Myron

Sixers second-round draftee Jordan McRae has signed with CTI Melbourne United of Australia, the team announced (hat tip to Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi). The terms aren’t immediately clear, but it looks like this year’s 58th overall pick is set to spend the season overseas rather than with Philadelphia, which acquired his NBA rights in a draft-night swap with the Spurs.

The 23-year-old shooting guard gradually emerged as a scoring force over his time at the University of Tennessee, averaging 18.7 points per game as a senior this past season, 10.1 more than he’d poured in as a sophomore. McRae led the Volunteers in scoring this year, outpacing 35th overall pick Jarnell Stokes, and he also possesses a 7’0.5″ wingspan, according to DraftExpress, to aid him defensively. McRae prides himself on his versatility and is confident he can play point guard, too, as he told Zach Links of Hoops Rumors prior to the draft for our Prospect Profile Series. McRae will have a chance to refine his skills in Australia, where he’ll play for former Bulls and Mavericks center Chris Anstey, the CTI Melbourne United head coach.

Philadelphia was among the teams to have McRae in for a predraft workout, as McRae also informed Zach. The patiently rebuilding Sixers will wait to bring him stateside, just as they’re doing with No. 12 overall pick Dario Saric and 52nd overall pick Vasilije Micic, two others among the six 2014 draftees whose rights the team possesses. McRae will join fellow second-round pick DeAndre Daniels, whose NBA rights belong to the Raptors, in Australia this season.

Sixers Sign Joel Embiid

August 28 at 8:48am CST By Chuck Myron

SEPTEMBER 29TH: The team finally acknowledged the signing, including Embiid on its preseason roster.

AUGUST 28TH: The Sixers still haven’t made an official announcement, but the appearance of the move on the RealGM transactions log provides further confirmation that the signing has taken place.

AUGUST 26TH: No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid has signed his rookie scale contract with the Sixers, according to his verified Twitter account. The team has yet to make an official announcement, but it appears as though the last remaining first-round pick from this June who had yet to sign with his NBA team or agree to play elsewhere has inked his deal. He’ll make nearly $3.69MM, as our table of salaries for this year’s first-rounders shows.

Embiid was a strong contender, if not the front-runner, to become the No. 1 overall pick until he suffered a broken foot shortly before the draft. The most recent estimate has him out anywhere from between November and February, though it appears as though he’s in line to see action at some point this season for Philadelphia. A back injury that forced him to miss the final six games of his college career at Kansas sparked concern for much of the spring, but ultimately that didn’t seem to depress his draft stock nearly as much as his foot did.

Whenever he’s healthy enough to play, he’ll look to build upon last season’s breakout campaign, one in which he came to join college teammate Andrew Wiggins, a far more heralded prospect coming out of high school, and Jabari Parker as contenders for the top pick. The 7’0″ center only began playing basketball in 2011, so his skills are raw, but with a game that shows shades of Hakeem Olajuwon, his upside is vast, as Zach Links of Hoops Rumors examined this past April in his Prospect Profile of Embiid.

He’ll join fellow Cameroonian native and mentor Luc Mbah a Moute on the Sixers, and Mbah a Moute’s close ties to Embiid appeared to be one of the reasons Philadelphia acquired the veteran forward as part of its participation in the Kevin Love trade. The 20-year-old Embiid won’t encounter much in the way of immediate expectations in Philadelphia, which is in a long-term rebuilding effort, and while Embiid is a centerpiece of that project, the Sixers appear willing to wait for his skills to more fully develop.

The Sixers had been carrying 16 players after Tuesday’s acquisition of Hasheem Thabeet and before Embiid’s signing, though Philadelphia appears poised to waive Thabeet. Embiid is one of just eight players with fully guaranteed deals on Philadelphia’s roster.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

Jazz Sign Brock Motum

August 26 at 3:00pm CST By Cray Allred

TUESDAY, 3:00pm: The deal is official, the team announced.

MONDAY, 8:34pm: The Jazz have agreed to terms with free agent Brock Motum in what is most likely a training camp arrangement, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The Sydney Morning Herald originally reported that Utah had extended a training camp invitation to Motum. Pincus suspects the deal will be non-guaranteed, which would line up with the latest moves out of Utah, as three players have been signed for training camp auditions at partially guaranteed salaries in Kevin Murphy, Dee Bost, and Jack Cooley.

The 6’10” Australian-born forward, who played alongside fellow Aussie Dante Exum for the Jazz in summer league, will face the daunting task of making Utah’s final roster. Motum becomes the 17th player on a team with 13 guaranteed contracts on the books for 2014/15.  The Jazz have a blend of youth and veteran talent at the power forward position, with Derrick FavorsTrevor Booker, Jeremy Evans, and Steve Novak on the team. GM Dennis Lindsey indicated that Utah would keep one or two roster spots open below the 15-man minimum for training camp competition, which bodes well for Motum’s chances.

Motum went undrafted in 2013 after finishing his senior year as a Washington State Cougar, and didn’t get any NBA traction beyond draft workouts and a summer league stint with the Sixers. The forward spent last year playing professionally in Italy. In his final college season, he averaged 18.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG.

Edy Tavares To Play In Spain

August 26 at 10:25am CST By Chuck Myron

AUGUST 26TH: Tavares will indeed remain with Gran Canaria of Spain, Vivlamore confirms after the No. 43 pick from this year’s draft spoke at a press conference he held today with his Spanish team.

JULY 28TH: It’s “very likely” that Hawks second-round draftee Edy Tavares, also known as Walter Tavares, will continue to play overseas next season, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It appears as though he’ll remain with Spain’s Gran Canaria, the club with which he spent 2013/14.

Atlanta drafted the 7’3″ center 43rd overall last month, and he spent time with the Hawks during summer league, averaging 6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 16.8 minutes per game across six appearances. The 22-year-old expressed an openness to the idea of remaining overseas, where he would stand to see more playing time than he would with the Hawks this season, as he told Vivlamore earlier this month.

The Cape Verde native nonetheless started just 17 of 35 games for his Spanish club this past season, notching 6.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 1.6 BPG in 21.5 MPG. Tavares remains raw, having only played the game for four years, as Vivlamore notes.

Lakers Sign Jordan Clarkson

August 25 at 8:36pm CST By Cray Allred

8:36pm: It is still unknown whether Clarkson’s contract is fully, partially, or non-guaranteed, but the total deal is for two years at the minimum salary, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

4:26pm: The Lakers have signed rookie Jordan Clarkson, according to a team release. Clarkson was the 46th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, acquired by Los Angeles from the Wizards on draft night.

Terms of the deal weren’t announced, but it is presumably for the minimum, considering the Lakers are above the cap and have no exceptions to use. The 6’5″ guard averaged 15.8 PPG, 1.2 APG and 5.0 RPG for the Lakers in Summer League, with a slash line of .424/.421/.882 after putting up 17.5 PPG, 3.4 APG, and 3.8 RPG with a .501./281./831 slash line in his junior season with Missouri.

Clarkson’s path to minutes in Los Angeles will be affected by Steve Nash‘s health and how coach Byron Scott determines to use his roster. Scott was open to using Clarkson as a ball-handler when interviewed by Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. Jeremy Lin, Nash, and Kobe Bryant stand as the guards ahead of Clarkson on the roster, with a handful of guard/forward wing players established in front of him as well.

Hornets Sign P.J. Hairston

August 22 at 12:33pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Hornets have signed 26th overall pick P.J. Hairston, the team announced via press release. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reported the signing minutes before the team’s announcement (Twitter link). Hairston was one of two remaining unsigned first-round picks Thursday when I looked at the 2014 draftees who’d yet to strike a deal with their respective NBA teams. He’s likely to receive close to $1.15MM this season, as our chart of salaries for 2014 first-round picks shows.

Hairston had intially chosen an agent who wasn’t union-certified, and that appeared to be at the root of the delay as he went unsigned for almost two months following the draft. Charlotte acquired his rights on draft night in the trade with the Heat that also gave the Hornets the rights to 55th overall pick Semaj Christon, who’s yet to come to terms with the club. No. 9 pick Noah Vonleh, the other 2014 draftee whose rights belong to Charlotte, signed with the team last month. The signing gives Charlotte 14 guaranteed deals plus a pact with the undrafted Justin Cobbs that’s presumably non-guaranteed.

It’s quite possible that Hairston will go down as a steal, since he seemed destined to end up as a lottery pick had the University of North Carolina not decided to part ways with the shooting guard over NCAA-eligibility concerns. Hairston spent much of last season in the D-League with the Texas Legends, and he became the first former D-League player selected in the first round of the NBA draft.

Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranked Hairston as the 18th-best draft prospect in spite of his D-League detour, while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress had him 20th, furthering the notion that the Hornets have a chance to make out well with the 26th pick. Our Alex Lee was also high on the 6’5″ 21-year-old, projecting him as the 16th pick in the final version of his Hoops Rumors Mock Draft.