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.
Amar’e Stoudemire‘s $2.5MM buyout from the Knicks only represented a net loss of $2,014,330 for him, since it was offset by his prorated minimum salary deal with the Mavs, but it was a savings of $6.25MM for the Knicks, as Marc Berman of the New York Post points out. The $2.5MM that Stoudemire gave up, an amount that Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders first reported, as we noted last month, would have entailed an extra $3.75MM in luxury taxes had the big man remained under contract. Still, Stoudemire collected a total of more than $97.2MM in salary from the Knicks over the course of his five-year contract, and New York is in line to pay at least some tax for a third straight year, meaning the team will incur repeat-offender penalties if it goes over the tax next season. Here’s more from the Atlantic:
- Sources told Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders that they suspected the sale of the Nets was to have been based off a $1 billion price for the Hawks, but those same sources believe the Atlanta franchise will go for around $900MM instead, as Kyler relays (Twitter links). Multiple sports bankers had believed the Nets would sell for as much as $2 billion, as they told Josh Kosman and Claire Atkinson of the New York Post earlier this month, but that price point never materialized, Kyler hears (Twitter link). Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov appears to be backing away from the idea of a sale.
- There are whispers that Andrew Wiggins would love to play for the Raptors, but he’s under contract through 2018 and would have to take discount salaries if he wants to play in his native Canada anytime this decade, writes Eric Koreen of the National Post. In any case, the talent pool in Canada has grown enough such that GM Masai Ujiri need not dig deep to fulfill his promise of bringing a domestic talent onto the Raptors, making the GM’s pledge “harmless,” Koreen believes. Still, a majority of Hoops Rumors readers believe that Ujiri shouldn’t concern himself with a player’s nationality.
- The “minor setback” that Joel Embiid has suffered as he continues to recover from a broken right foot bears watching, but it’s not worth an overreaction, Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters, including Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The franchise still believes that Embiid is capable of becoming its cornerstone if he can get healthy, Pompey writes.
The Wolves reportedly want to re-sign Kevin Garnett for another two years when his contract expires this summer, and he’s expected to take them up on that, a source told Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. Minnesota insisted on Thaddeus Young instead of a first-round pick in the Kevin Love trade, and after dealing Young for Garnett on Thursday, coach/executive Flip Saunders guaranteed that Garnett will have a greater effect on the Wolves than the first-round pick ever would have, Zgoda tweets. Saunders said he tried to engage the Nets in conversations regarding the Love trade to see if he could acquire Garnett then, but Brooklyn resisted the idea, as Zgoda also relays (on Twitter). There’s more on Garnett amid the latest from Minnesota:
- Wolves owner Glen Taylor acknowledged the return of Garnett as a player bodes well for KG’s chances of becoming a part-owner, notes Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). “It’s just that he’s a player. But I think that opens up that possibility,” Taylor said. Still, there were some hard feelings when Garnett and the Wolves parted ways in 2007, and Taylor and the star haven’t said more than hello since, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press.
- The choice Andrew Wiggins made not to sign with Klutch Sports, the agency that represents LeBron James, played a key factor in the Cavs’ decision to put him in the Love trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com said on SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link). Wiggins is a Bill Duffy client.
- The two-year deal that Lorenzo Brown signed with the Wolves on Thursday is a minimum-salary affair that’s non-guaranteed for next season, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).
Trey Burke has embraced his new role of coming off of the bench for the Jazz, and the change has benefited both the player and the team, Chad Mobley of NBA.com writes. “There’s this fixation with the bench and starting and to me what Trey has embraced is not so much the bench. I don’t want him to embrace the bench, I don’t want him to embrace starting, I want him to do what’s best for our team,” coach Quin Snyder said. “He’s embraced becoming a better player. I don’t want it to be about the bench for him. If he starts again I want him to keep getting better.”
Here’s more from the West:
- The Benson family’s legal squabble over the control of the Pelicans and Saints threatens to ruin the clan’s sports legacy in New Orleans, Margaret Cronin Fisk and Laurel Brubaker Calkins of Bloomberg News write.
- Josh Smith is a big fan of playing for the Rockets, and he views his time in Houston this season as a chance to revitalize his career, Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston tweets. “It [Houston] does have a home feel. I can’t stop smiling because I’m in such a good position with a great opportunity in front of me,” Smith told Berman.
- Rookie Andrew Wiggins is the Wolves‘ lone ray of hope for a better future, and he is providing Minnesota with an acceptable return for dealing away Kevin Love to the Cavs, Pat Borzi of USA Today writes.
- Suns center Alex Len is essentially a rookie after missing most of the 2013/14 campaign due to an injury, and the big man is starting to feel the effects of logging heavy minutes, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “There is going to be some adjustment for him for playing these big minutes,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Eighty-two games is a lot of games. You’re traveling and doing all this and you kind of get worn down. You have to get used to playing like that.“
The rapid development of rookie Andrew Wiggins is one of the few bright spots for the Timberwolves this season, Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press writes. “He’s above where we thought he would be,” president of basketball operations and coach Flip Saunders said of Wiggins. “There have not been very many rookies that have gone through a 15 game stretch where they’re averaging 21 [points] a game and been in a situation where they’re taking the other team’s best defensive player and playing both ends of the floor.”
Here’s more from the West:
- Mavs forward Greg Smith has signed with agent Seth Cohen of Versus Management, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype reports (Twitter link). Smith, who is earning $948,163 this season, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
- The Lakers have recalled Ryan Kelly from the L.A. D-Fenders, their D-League affiliate, the team has announced. This was Kelly’s first trip to the D-League of the season.
- The Mavs knew that they would experience some rough patches as Rajon Rondo was integrated into the team, and it’s a process that is still ongoing, Schuyler Dixon of NBA.com writes. ”We got a point guard that’s got a lot of experience and a championship and is a great player, but I also think we’ve still got some work to do on both ends of the floor,” Dirk Nowitzki said. ”I could certainly see the potential that’s there, but the problem is the West is just so tough. It’s kind of hard to see right now how it’s going to end up.”