Cole Aldrich

Clippers Rumors: Griffin, Paul, Jordan, Crawford

Doc Rivers hinted before the season that he would consider breaking up the team’s core if it fell short in the playoffs again, and trade speculation has surrounded Griffin for much of the year, but Rivers seems to maintain belief in what Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan can do, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The coach/executive said today that he doesn’t think the team’s window for title contention is closed, Markazi tweets.

“I like our team,” Rivers said after Friday’s season-ending loss to Portland. “Our bench was fantastic this year. The problem is we have a lot of free agents on our team and I think a lot of them are going to be attractive, and so we have to fight to keep our own first and then try to build from that point. We’re going to have a difficult time. It’s going to be tough.”

See more on the Clippers:

  • Rivers can’t envision any player in the league picking up his player option for next season, given the sharp escalation of the salary cap that’s poised to create a player-friendly market this summer, notes Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Rivers confirmed that means he expects Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson and son Austin Rivers to opt out from the Clippers this summer, and the coach/executive also believes Paul and Griffin will opt out in the summer of 2017, Bolch relays (Twitter links).
  • Doc Rivers said today that he wants to re-sign as many of the team’s free soon-to-be free agents as possible this summer, according to Bolch (Twitter links). “They all want to come back, but they’ve all played well and so they’ve all made it more difficult,” Rivers said. Jeff Green, Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute, Pablo Prigioni and Jeff Ayres are the Clippers on expiring contracts, and presumably the same sentiment applies to the trio with player options.
  • Crawford said after Friday’s game that he’d like to re-sign with the Clippers, tweets Jen Beyrle of The Oregonian. The 36-year-old Crawford and J.J. Redick, who turns 32 next month, both said on Redick’s podcast for The Vertical that they’d like to play five more years, and Redick would like to sign a four-year deal when his existing contract expires in the summer of 2017, as Markazi relays via Twitter.
  • Paul Pierce has one more year left in him, Rivers believes, according to Bolch (Twitter link). Pierce, 38, is signed through the 2017/18 season but is 50-50 on whether to retire this summer.
  • The creation of a Clippers D-League affiliate will be a matter of discussion this summer, Rivers said, cautioning that it remains uncertain whether a team will be in place in time for next season, tweets Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com. The Clips are reportedly exploring the idea of starting a D-League team in Bakersfield, California.

Western Notes: Grizzlies, Arthur, KG, Aldrich

GM Chris Wallace says the Grizzlies have skewed toward youth with the players they’ve signed to compensate for injury this season, given the cushion they’d already built for a playoff spot and the opportunity to “catch lightning in a bottle” with a prospect who pans out, as he tells Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Memphis has had success in this regard in the past with JaMychal Green, and Wallace is optimistic that Xavier Munford, who recently signed a two-year deal, will follow in his footsteps. “I’m very proud of both of those guys,” Wallace said. “They were given a golden opportunity to make the case that they’re NBA players. [Green]’s played more games than anybody has for us this year. JaMychal has proven he’s an NBA rotation player. Xavier came from further off the beaten path than JaMychal. Xavier had never been in an NBA training camp. Xavier had never had a call-up. But he’s got good size and is very long and rangy. He’s got good potential defensively. When he’s out there, it looks like he belongs and he does well. The coaching staff and his teammates are getting more and more confidence in him. You always have to be projective with younger players. He’s a major upward curve that’s very intriguing for us in the future.”

See more from the Western Conference:

  • Darrell Arthur wants to remain with the Nuggets, and he would like to do so with a new three or four-year deal, as he tells Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Still, the 28-year-old power forward is undecided about whether to turn down a player option worth more than $2.94MM for next season, as he also said to Dempsey. He’d have to opt out to get that long-term deal he wants, since he’s ineligible to sign an extension on the two-year deal he signed with the team last summer. In any case, he fielded strong interest from other teams at the trade deadline, according to Dempsey.
  • Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is optimistic that Kevin Garnett will return for next season, the last on his contract, but coach Sam Mitchell, a teammate of Garnett’s from 1995-2002, isn’t so sure the 39-year-old won’t retire this summer, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune relays. “There’s one person who knows his future, and that’s him,” Mitchell said of Garnett. “You know how he is. He’s just not going to tip his hand one way or the other. He has earned the right to do that.”
  • Doc Rivers believes the insertion of Cole Aldrich into the rotation in December sparked the Clippers‘ second unit, and he’s thrived in even more playing time of late, as Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times examines. Aldrich has a minimum-salary player option for next season.

Pacific Notes: Rivers, McDonough, Ranadive

Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers insisted the team didn’t listen when it fielded trade calls about Blake Griffin from other clubs, as Rivers told Marc J. Spears of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports, reiterating his faith in the power forward he contends was having an MVP-caliber season before his two-month absence. Rivers also defended the job he’s done as team’s player personnel chief.

“I don’t know. I don’t evaluate. I have too many people evaluating for me,” Rivers said. “I let them do it and I keep doing my job. I don’t care about the evaluations. I care about the team. We’re a team that doesn’t have a lot of leverage. We don’t have a lot of assets. But to me, we keep ending up with the Jeff Greens of the world, Cole Aldrich is terrific, Wes Johnson. … We’re getting these guys at minimum contracts. Even Josh [Smith] was a good gamble. It didn’t work out for us. But when you are in that minimum contract deal, you’re going to have some hits and misses and we’re fine with it and you keep doing.”

See more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns owner Robert Sarver issued a vote of confidence to GM Ryan McDonough in an open letter to fans posted on the team’s website, acknowledging that some of the risks the team has taken lately haven’t panned out but pointing to the Warriors as reason to continue making bold moves. “Not every decision will be the right one, but [McDonough] will continue to build our team around the young, talented players acquired through the draft and opportunistically in free agency,” Sarver wrote in part. “The best team in the NBA right now is a perfect example of that model.”
  • Kings owner Vivek Ranadive may have encountered trouble running the team so far, but his success in other venues shows he’s no fool, writes Andy Furillo of The Sacramento Bee. Ranadive told Furillo he’d buy out the stake of any minority-share owner who wants out, responding to reports that many of his partners are upset with him“If somebody’s unhappy, I’ll write them a check today,” Ranadive said.
  • The Kings could use some more defense in the backcourt and coach George Karl has praised Seth Curry‘s performance on that end, but Curry has remained largely tied to the pine, much to his frustration, as The Bee’s Jason Jones examines. Curry has a minimum-salary player option for next season.

Clippers Notes: Griffin, Rivers, Smith, Tskitishvili

Clippers forward Blake Griffin will be out of action for at least two weeks after suffering a partially torn left quadriceps, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. That means Griffin will miss at least six games before being re-evaluated two weeks from now. The team is hoping that rest and physical therapy will be enough to treat the injury, a source told Dan Woike of The Orange County Register (Twitter link). A source close to Griffin tells Ken Berger of CBS Sports that the Clippers are confident two to three weeks of that treatment will be sufficient for Griffin to recover (Twitter link). “Tough break,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers“Blake was playing so well. We just have to keep pushing forward until his return.” The five-time All-Star is averaging 23.2 points and 8.7 rebounds through 30 games.

There’s more Clipper-related news out of Los Angeles:

  • Rivers is taking a calm approach to the team’s 17-13 start, Woike writes in a separate story. The Clippers are fourth in the Western Conference standings but have been disappointing against the league’s best clubs, compiling just a 5-11 record against teams that currently hold playoff spots. Still, the coach said immediate changes aren’t needed. “I’ve had some teams where I would be panicked now,” Rivers said. “I’d have some teams where I’d go to sleep right now, they’ll be fine. So I think it depends on your team. This is a team that is just a team in motion. We made a lot of changes. It takes time.”
  • The Christmas Day win over the Lakers marked the second straight game in which Josh Smith was left out of the rotation, Woike notes in the same article. Smith signed a veteran’s minimum deal with the Clippers in July, but he’s struggled to find a role with the team. He is averaging just 5.9 points and 14.6 minutes of playing time this season. Rivers gave Smith’s normal minutes to Cole Aldrich Friday night.
  • Nikoloz Tskitishvili, who spent part of training camp with the Clippers, will soon be joining Champville in Lebanon, tweets international journalist David Pick. Tskitishvili has spent parts of this season in China and Japan after L.A. waived him in early October.

Clippers Sign Cole Aldrich

3:20pm: The deal is official, the team announced via press release.

MONDAY, 2:23pm: It’ll indeed be for the minimum, tweets Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.

11:59am: Aldrich and the Clippers are still talking, but the expectation is that he’ll indeed sign soon, tweets Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. A league source tells Dan Woike of the Orange County Register that the sides are close to agreement (Twitter link).

FRIDAY, 11:11am: The Clippers will sign Cole Aldrich to a two-year deal that includes a player option, reports Derek Wetmore of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (on Twitter; hat tip to 1500 ESPN Twin Cities colleague Darren Wolfson). Aldrich, a Minnesota native, departs the Knicks, with whom he spent 2014/15. He’ll give the Clippers the true backup center they’ve lacked. The contract, once he signs it, will almost certainly be for the minimum salary, since the Clips have no cap room and committed their taxpayer’s mid-level exception to Paul Pierce.

The team had been discussing the idea of adding the big man, as Dan Woike of the Orange County Register reported earlier this week, and apparently the return of DeAndre Jordan didn’t dissuade them from the idea. Amar’e Stoudemire has been another big man the team has eyed, but he’s reportedly close to a deal with the Heat.

New York had reportedly remained in contact with Aldrich’s reps, and the Jeff Schwartz client had expressed his affection for the triangle offense. Aldrich, who turns 27 in October, saw more playing time this past season than in any other during his five-year NBA career, making 16 starts and averaging 16.0 minutes per game.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Hackett, Nets

The Celtics‘ primary goal this season will be to make he franchise as attractive as possible to free agents hitting the market during next Summer, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com writes. With the team expected to have approximately $40MM to spend on free agents in 2016, the team has to develop its young core enough to convince big names like Kevin Durant that they can win in Beantown, Blakely adds.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Euro guard Daniel Hackett will work out for the Knicks in Las Vegas, David Pick of Eurobasket relays (Twitter links). Hackett, who is also on the radar of the Mavs and Rockets, was offered a contract by the Greek club Olympiacos, but the 27-year-old wants to explore his NBA opportunities before heading back overseas, Pick adds.
  • Nets GM Billy King‘s first two calls when the free agent signing period began were to Shane Larkin and Thomas Robinson, Rod Boone of Newsday tweets. Both players officially signed with Brooklyn today.
  • When King was asked if he expected Deron Williams and Joe Johnson to remain on the Nets‘ roster, he responded, “at this point, yes,” Boone tweets. King also indicated that the reports of the team trying to deal Johnson have been exaggerated, Boone adds.
  • The Knicks are still in contact with the representatives for Alexey Shved, Cole Aldrich and Louis Amundson, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.
  • The Nets will still look to add another big man to the roster, King indicated, but the team wants to get as close to, if not under, the luxury tax line as it can, Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com relays (via Twitter).

Western Notes: Cuban, Stoudemire, Aldridge

The NBA has fined Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban $25k for publicly confirming the team’s pending free-agent deals with DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews, Marc Stein of ESPN.com writes. Under league rules teams and players are allowed to strike verbal agreements on new contracts during July’s moratorium period, but team officials are not allowed to openly discuss those deals until July 9th, when the moratorium concludes, Stein adds. Cuban has accumulated over $2MM in league fines since becoming the Mavs’ owner back in 2000.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Unrestricted free agent Amar’e Stoudemire is talking with the Clippers regarding a deal, but Los Angeles’ difficult salary cap situation is complicating matters, Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times relays (on Twitter). The Clippers are also floating the idea of signing free agent center Cole Aldrich, Dan Woike of The Orange County Register tweets.
  • Ed Pinckney will serve as the lead assistant on coach Michael Malone‘s staff with the Nuggets, Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun tweets.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t officially inform the Trail Blazers that he was leaving Portland until last Friday, though the team likely knew the forward wouldn’t be returning, Jason Quick of The Oregonian notes (via Twitter). The big man agreed to a four-year, and approximately $80MM deal with the Spurs.
  • Veteran Kevin Garnett may end up transitioning into a front office position during the second season of his new deal with the Wolves if he isn’t healthy enough to play in 2016/17, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes (on Twitter). KG agreed to a two-year pact with the team earlier today.
  • Despite all of the roster additions the Mavericks have made this offseason, the team still may have lost ground to the other teams in the West who have also improved, especially the Spurs, who landed Aldridge, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes. But even if the team does regress in 2015/16, the additions of DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews give the franchise two important building blocks for the future, Sefko adds.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Raptors, Sixers

The Knicks are aggressively pursuing trades for players they covet in free agency in order to secure their Bird rights and attempt to lower their cap holds, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The Knicks are one of the teams chasing Suns point guard Goran Dragic, while the Magic’s Tobias Harris is interested in coming to New York. Kyler explains that Dragic’s cap hold of $11.25MM would allow the Knicks to preserve an extra $4.25MM or so in cap space to sign other players this summer. Harris has a cap hold of $5.91MM. Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Tim Hardaway Jr., Cole Aldrich and Andrea Bargnani are among the players whom the Knicks are shopping, Kyler adds.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Carmelo Anthony says the Knicks should only be focused on the future as the team heads toward the trade deadline, Brian Lewis of the New York Post reports. Anthony has been shut down for the remainder of the season because of his balky knee. “The only thing that matters at this point is about where we’re headed as a team, as an organization for the future,” Anthony said to reporters after Sunday’s All-Star Game.
  • Knicks president Phil Jackson said that New York is “in the mix” at the trade deadline, and that the franchise is hoping to make at least one move, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. Jackson also relayed that there isn’t much interest from other teams in Bargnani and Calderon, Berman notes. The Zen Master also said that the Knicks might not waive Bargnani, since the coaching staff feels he may be needed in the wake of Anthony being lost for the season and Amar’e Stoudemire‘s buyout arrangement.
  • The Raptors have assigned Bruno Caboclo to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team has announced. This will be Caboclo’s second trip to the D-League this season.
  • The Sixers would listen to any offers for Henry Sims, Luc Mbah a Moute, Jakarr Sampson, and Hollis ThompsonJohn Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com writes. Gonzalez adds that he doubts any of those players would bring Philly a significant return.
  • It’s unlikely the Celtics make any moves at the deadline, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com speculates. While Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has expressed a willingness to be active, Forsberg points out that the Celtics have made only one deadline trade in the past three seasons.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Aldrich, Nets, Williams, Covington

Cole Aldrich could have a future with Knicks president Phil Jackson thanks to his ability to play in the triangle offense, a league source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post.  “I personally love the triangle, being able to have more opportunities to post up but also have the ball in your hands in the pinch post with the guard coming off,’’ Aldrich said after putting up 18 points and seven boards against the Kings on Saturday night. “There’s a lot of opportunities to get assists and easy buckets down.”   More out of the Atlantic..

  • The Nets have all but given up on Deron Williams just two years after making him their franchise player, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.  Williams, who signed a ~$100MM deal with the Nets not long ago, has been benched for Jarrett Jack amid weeks of trade talk surrounding him.  Mikhail Prokhorov hasn’t been seen in Brooklyn in a while, but he’s surely unhappy about paying the league’s highest payroll without having a true franchise player to show for it.
  • It’s clear the Brook LopezMason Plumlee front court pairing isn’t working for the Nets, opines Tim Bontemps of the New York Post.  During the 61 minutes that the duo has played together, the Nets have been outscored by over 17 points per 100 possessions. The team has made Lopez available in trade talks.  Plumlee, meanwhile, was brought up by the Kings in recent trade discussions surrounding Deron Williams, but Brooklyn is very reluctant to part with the second-year center.
  • Robert Covington is in the midst of a breakout campaign has been particularly impressive lately, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Covington, who is signed to team friendly four-year $4.2MM contract, could be a very interesting trade piece for the 76ers as many teams looking for long distance shooting. The forward is shooting 43.3% from the three-point line, which is good for 11th best in the league.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Rondo, Knicks, Ross

Three Atlantic Division teams are in line for a top-10 pick in the 2015 draft, as our Reverse Standings show. The presence of the Sixers among that group certainly isn’t shocking, and the Celtics, with the league’s ninth-worst record, aren’t surprising many with their play, either. However, the Knicks are off to their worst start in franchise history at 4-16, and their unexpectedly poor performance doesn’t bode well for the future, either, as we examine amid the latest from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Lakers and Celtics had a brief conversation about a Rajon Rondo trade as recently as a few months ago, but the discussion was short and didn’t go anywhere, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. The Lakers continue to eye Rondo for free agency this coming summer, Shelburne writes in a full story, echoing a report from Chris Mannix of SI.com a month ago. The Celtics are willing to engage in Rondo trade talks merely on an “informational” basis at this point, and if talks were to heat up with the Lakers, they’d likely ask for at least one first-round pick, the sort of asset the Lakers are hesitant to give up, Shelburne hears.
  • The Knicks will make finding a center their top priority in free agency this summer, but they’re not optimistic that they will be able to lure Marc Gasol, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. They’ll make a run at Gasol, the No. 4 player on the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings, hoping his friendship with fellow Spaniard Jose Calderon pays dividends, but the Knicks understand he’s more likely to choose a contending team, Berman writes. That’s part of the reason why Knicks management doesn’t want to tank, as Berman explains. Regardless, the Knicks are unlikely to re-sign any of their existing centers aside from Cole Aldrich, according to Berman.
  • Terrence Ross will be up for a rookie scale extension from the Raptors this summer, and he’s getting a sudden chance to showcase his ability to take a lead role on offense in the wake of DeMar DeRozan‘s groin injury, as Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun examines.

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