2:28pm: Rubio’s camp isn’t making any such push in the wake of this season, Wolfson clarifies (on Twitter). Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune nonetheless believes that Fegan has probably wanted a Rubio trade for a while and probably negotiated the extension with the knowledge that other teams would be willing to take on the revised terms of Rubio’s contract in a swap (Twitter links).
1:24pm: Ricky Rubio‘s camp has been pushing for a trade for some time, as Chad Ford of ESPN.com writes in his weekly chat with readers. However, the push isn’t as strong as it was before the point guard signed a four-year, $55MM extension this past fall, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). That deal triggered the Poison Pill Provision, which would make it difficult for any trade to meet the salary-matching requirements between the time the sides signed the extension and the end of June this year.
The Wolves are in the midst of a rebuilding project, having compiled the league’s worst record, though the presence of Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, who made Minnesota the only franchise with two All-Rookie Team selections this year, together with Rubio, signal a brighter future. Still, it’s not entirely clear if the team’s chances of winning are the reason why Rubio’s people have apparently wanted a swap.
Minnesota and the Dan Fegan client closed a large gap in extension negotiations between Rubio’s apparent initial ask of the max and Minnesota’s original four-year, $44MM figure. The Kings asked the Wolves about the idea of trading for Rubio prior to the extension, as Wolfson reported months ago, but it’s not clear just how strong the trade market for the former No. 5 overall pick would be at this point, after yet another injury-shortened season. Rubio played in only 22 games and shot 25.5% from behind the three-point line this season, both career lows. He missed 25 games in each of his first two NBA seasons before playing all 82 in 2013/14.
Andrew Wiggins was a unanimous All-Rookie First-Team selection, the league announced as it revealed the media voting results for the honors. Nikola Mirotic was the second-leading vote-getter, followed by Nerlens Noel, Elfrid Payton and Jordan Clarkson, all of whom comprise the first team. Marcus Smart, Zach LaVine, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jusuf Nurkic and Langston Galloway make up the second team.
Wiggins far outpaced all other contenders for Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 16.9 points in 36.2 minutes per game this season for the Timberwolves, who acquired the 2014 No. 1 overall pick in the Kevin Love trade. Minnesota, which finished with the league’s worst record this season and has a 25% chance to win the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, is the only team to place two players on the All-Rookie teams, with LaVine on the second team despite having garnered 22 first-team votes. Every member of the second team received at least three first-team votes.
Payton, the 10th overall selection, is the only first-round pick from 2014 to appear on the first team. Mirotic was a draft-and-stash selection from 2011, Noel was the sixth overall pick in 2013 but qualified as a rookie this season because he sat out all of 2013/14 with injury, and Clarkson was the 46th pick last year, having gone overlooked through all of the first round and half of the second.
Galloway made the second team despite having gone undrafted and not having made his debut until January 7th, after he had signed a 10-day contract with the Knicks. New York followed up with another 10-day deal and finally a multiyear pact for the surprisingly effective point guard.
The Timberwolves “hit a home run” when they made the Kevin Love/Andrew Wiggins trade, GM Milt Newton told Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press, and Wiggins, the newly crowned Rookie of The Year, seems enamored with the Wolves franchise.
“I hope I’m here forever,” Wiggins told Krawczynski. “I hope. It would be nice.”
That would conflict with reports of whispers that he’d love to play for his hometown Raptors someday. That won’t be his decision for quite sometime, anyway, and Newton and coach/executive Flip Saunders made it seem as though Wiggins will get his wish to stay in Minnesota for years to come, as Krawczynski details. Here’s more from the Northwest:
- Krawczynski expects the Timberwolves to trade Chase Budinger at some point this summer (Twitter link). Budinger is opting in to his $5MM salary for next season, but the Wolves reportedly sought to honor his trade request before the deadline.
- Robin Lopez suggested that he’d prefer to re-sign with the Trail Blazers but didn’t make it seem as though he was confident in any particular outcome as his free agency looms, The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman relays in a slideshow. “Nothing’s 100% certain,” Lopez said. “Obviously, so far, I’ve loved my time here in Portland. I would love to come back. I’m very open to coming back. But it’s hard to say 100%. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. I think that’s something to put off until a little later.”
- Blazers GM Neil Olshey plans to stay in touch with all of the team’s free agents between now and July 1st and believes he’ll have a strong idea of what each of them wants to do once other teams can begin contacting them then, as he told reporters Thursday and as The Oregonian’s Sean Meagher transcribes. Olshey nonetheless noted that he has contingency plans for each of them in case they sign elsewhere, as Meagher relays. The GM also expressed his belief in growth from within the roster and pledged no shortage of activity at the draft, Meagher notes.
- Thunder GM Sam Presti and new coach Billy Donovan aren’t quite as close as many reports have indicated, according to Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Presti met Donovan on a scouting trip years ago and they’ve chatted on occasion since then, but the GM has admired the coach largely from afar, as Slater details.
Andrew Wiggins has won this year’s Rookie of the Year award, receiving 110 of the 130 first-place votes, the NBA announced. It’s no surprise to see the No. 1 overall pick from last year’s draft come away with the honor, especially since Jabari Parker, the second overall pick, suffered a season-ending ACL tear in December and Joel Embiid missed all of 2014/15 after breaking his foot over the summer. Nikola Mirotic finished a distant second, garnering 14 first-place votes. Nerlens Noel and fourth-place finisher Elfrid Payton were the only others to receive first-place votes.
The Cavs originally drafted and signed Wiggins before dealing him to the Timberwolves in August as part of the Kevin Love trade. The small forward who spent one year in college at Kansas had an expansive role on a rebuilding Minnesota squad this year, taking 13.9 shots per game and averaging 16.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 36.2 minutes a night.
Wiggins racked up 604 points in the voting system in which first-place votes are worth five points, second-place votes tally three points, and third-place votes are one point. Mirotic was well back, with 335 points. Only seven rookies garnered any votes at all. Wiggins, Payton, fifth-place finisher Marcus Smart and Jusuf Nurkic, who finished sixth, were the only first-round picks from 2014 among those seven. Noel sat out last season after having gone sixth overall in 2013, and Mirotic is a draft-and-stash selection from 2011. Jordan Clarkson, the seventh-place finisher, was the 46th overall pick last year. To see the selections from each media member who voted, click here.
Lakers coach Byron Scott believes Jordan Hill, who will enter the final year of his contract with the team next season, needs to change his offseason preparation to avoid crashing at the end of the season like he did this year, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes. Hill, 27, is averaging career-bests in points per game (11.9), rebounds per game (eight) and minutes played per game (26.8) in his sixth NBA season. But Hill’s statistics have declined since February and he has averaged only four PPG in April.
“I don’t know what he does in the summer time to get ready for the season,” Scott said. “But whatever it is, you have to up it. He’s got to up it. Then you have to look at what he’s eating and change eating habits as well. There’s a lot that goes into it when you’re trying to get ready for the NBA season.”
Here’s more from the Lakers and the Western Conference:
- Scott said he expects the Lakers to bring back Dwight Buycks for the team’s final two games, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Buycks’ 10-day deal expires after tonight’s game against the Mavericks. The team can keep Buycks for the rest of the season without waiving anyone, Pincus adds (on Twitter). Buycks has made seven of nine three-pointers in five games with the Lakers.
- The Timberwolves got a glimpse of how bright the future could be when rookies Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins each had big games Saturday as the dreadful season, from Minnesota’s perspective, comes to an end, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune writes. LaVine had 37 points and nine rebounds, both career-bests, and Wiggins added a career-high nine assists in Saturday’s loss against the Warriors.
Caron Butler, whose salary ($4.5MM) for the next season is non-guaranteed, would like to remain with the Pistons next season, David Mayo of MLive.com writes. Butler adds that if he is released, he would only consider signing with true contenders.
“I’m in a good situation,” Butler said. “So it’s a great opportunity to come back and continue the thing on. Or, if not, obviously the best thing for me is to contend. It’s either one or the other. But I won’t be looking for another situation to start over with some guys and stuff like that again. It’s either do this or contend for it all.”
While President of Basketball Operations and coach Stan Van Gundy has praised Butler for adjusting to his role on the Pistons, he was non-committal about whether the the team will bring back the 35-year-old next season. “A lot of things will determine that, where we think we’re going to be salary structure-wise and everything else,” Van Gundy said. The Pistons only have slightly more than $27.8MM in guaranteed salary on the book for the 2015/16 season, as our Salary Commitment page indicates.
Here’s more from Detroit
- President of Basketball Operations and coach Stan Van Gundy reiterated that he and Greg Monroe have stayed away from business discussions during the season, David Mayo of MLive.com writes. “Greg and I have not spent any time talking about that,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t think it would be appropriate, number one, to be focusing on anything beyond the rest of the season until the season’s over.”
- Monroe was slightly surprised he wasn’t able to sign an extension under Detroit’s old regime, Mayo writes in the same piece. “I thought I did enough and conducted myself in a way to at least get an offer. As people always say, it’s one thing if the player says no. But if I was never even offered anything, that says more to me than any explanation. I don’t really need an explanation once you get to that point where there wasn’t even an option for me,” Monroe said.
- Andrew Wiggins appears to be the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award and Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer reviews his season as well as the seasons for some of the players whom the Cavs have traded away this year.
An MRI performed on Trail Blazers guard Arron Afflalo confirmed that he has suffered a right shoulder strain, the team announced. Afflalo is expected to be out of action for one to two weeks, and if that timetable holds, the injury will likely cause the guard to miss Portland’s opening round playoff series. With the team already without Wesley Matthews, who is out for the season with a torn left Achilles, losing Afflalo puts a major dent in the team’s postseason hopes. In 25 games for the Blazers since being acquired from Denver the 29-year-old has averaged 10.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per contest.
Here’s more from around the Western Conference:
- The Warriors have assigned James Michael McAdoo to the Santa Cruz Warriors, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. McAdoo has appeared in 33 games for Santa Cruz this season, averaging 19.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 32.8 minutes per contest.
- Alex Abrines, a draft-and-stash prospect for the Thunder, in an interview with Gigantes.com (translation by HoopsHype.com) said that he isn’t ready to make the jump to the NBA just yet. The 21-year-old swingman was the No. 32 overall selection in the 2013 NBA draft, and he is under contract with Barcelona through 2016.
- Timberwolves‘ rookies Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins have learned much about what it takes to make it through the rigors of an NBA season, and the pair hope to take the momentum that they have gained into the summer to continue their development as players, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey still thinks extremely highly of Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons, who left Houston and signed a three-year $46.085MM deal with Dallas in the summer. Parsons, 26, was a restricted free agent. The Rockets, of course, chose not to match the Mavericks’ offer, but Morey said that had little to do with Parsons’ ability.
“To me, that’s all in the past. We thought Chandler could be a part of our future,” Morey said during a spot on The Afternoon Show with Cowlishaw and Mosley on KESN-FM 103.3, as transcribed by The Dallas Morning News. “Restricted free agency; it doesn’t always work out to where you can keep them.”
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- James Harden blossoming into an MVP candidate, the emergence of Steven Adams and Mitch McGary‘s potential are among 13 reasons the Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry listed for why the Thunder–Rockets trade in 2012 will never go away. While Harden’s ascension is obvious — he’s the league’s leading scorer — there are several other parts of the deal that still make it compelling. For example, from Oklahoma City’s perspective, Adams has played so well this season that the Thunder said he was off-limits at the deadline. McGary, who is signed through the 2017/18 season, is a long-term asset that should be a vital piece of the Thunder for years to come, Mayberry adds.
- Monta Ellis has never played a major role on any team that has won a playoff series, so the 10th-year veteran is a big question mark as the Mavericks enter the postseason, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News opines. Ellis, who will make about $8.4MM this season, would benefit from a strong playoff run because he has a player option for the 2015/16 season. If he opts out of the final season of his contract, his Early Bird rights allow the Mavericks to make an offer with a starting salary of up to $14.63MM. His stats have declined since the All-Star break, as Sefko notes.
- Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, who are both signed through the 2017/18 season, have been rare bright spots for the Timberwolves this season and the young players are learning and improving despite losses accumulating, Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. Wiggins, who is the favorite for Rookie of the Year honors, also wants to add some size before next season, Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
Timberwolves team owner Glen Taylor said his team would be healthier in the long run if it signed a top-notch coach who would allow Flip Saunders to concentrate on his duties as president of basketball operations, but Taylor wouldn’t object if Saunders stayed on as coach for the immediate future, Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune writes. “I’d like to hire a very good coach [for the long term],” Taylor said. “I haven’t talked about it with Flip as far as next year, but if he wanted to coach he certainly would be allowed to coach.”
Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- With surgery scheduled for his injured right Achilles tendon, Wolves center Nikola Pekovic is concerned about his career, Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune writes. “Of course I am [worried],’’ Pekovic said. “I’m pretty much worrying about how this is going to affect my life in 10 years. I mean, I’m still thinking about basketball [too]. But when you deal so much with something like this….It’s a big deal, I think.’’
- Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt gives his assistants much of the credit for keeping the team afloat throughout all the season’s turmoil, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post relays. “It’s a lot of stuff, but it’s manageable,” Hunt said. “I think when you put things in perspective, and you prioritize things and you have good people working with you — I’ve got Noel Gillespie who has a wealth of experience, I’ve got Patrick Mutombo, who is a quick study. So this really helps me as a coach. I don’t feel overwhelmed or that there’s so much coming at me at one time because my guys are catching a lot of that, and that helps.”
- Rookie Andrew Wiggins has come a long way in his development since the beginning of the season, Frank Zicarelli of The Toronto Sun writes. Saunders is still trying to get more out of his star player, but acknowledges how difficult this season has been for the young Canadian swingman, Zicarelli adds. “He’s playing in a situation where, because we’ve been so undermanned, that he’s the guy,” Saunders said. “Like [Monday night versus the Jazz], when he got the ball, they had three people over there guarding him. But this will help him when we can surround him with more veteran guys.”
The Raptors are reportedly already planning a run at Andrew Wiggins, and there are apparently whispers that he’d love to play for his hometown Toronto team someday, even though he can’t elect unrestricted free agency until 2019. Still, Wiggins said today, in advance of tonight’s Timberwolves-Raptors game, that he’s quite content in Minnesota, making his remarks to reporters, including Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link).
“I love Minnesota,” he said. “They treat me nice up there. I plan to be there a very, very, very long time.”
That’s no doubt the plan for the Wolves, too, who acquired the 2014 No. 1 overall pick this year in the Kevin Love trade. Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Tyson Chandler knew the Mavericks were trying to trade for him this past summer, but he didn’t think it would happen, as he tells Ian Thomsen of NBA.com. “I think the Knicks had rejected every possible trade that they offered,” Chandler said. “I didn’t think I was going from New York. The Knicks had visited me to teach me the triangle offense two days before I got traded. So I definitely didn’t think [a] trade was in the works.”
- The Jazz are 11-2 since the trade deadline, when the deal that sent Enes Kanter out created more playing time for Trevor Booker. The ex-Wizards power forward didn’t expect Utah to play this well when he signed with the Jazz in the offseason, and he wants to remain with the team, as he tells Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Only $250K of his $4.775MM salary for next season is guaranteed.
- Pelicans coach Monty Williams praised Eric Gordon for putting the team above himself when he decided not to have surgery on the torn labrum in his left shoulder, a move that would have helped ensure he’s 100% for next season, the last on his contract, observes Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune. Gordon can hit free agency as soon as this summer if he chooses, though he’d have to turn down a player option worth more than $15.514MM to do so.