Rajon Rondo has been a disappointment for the Mavericks since they traded for him in December, owner Mark Cuban admits to Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry, and as the point guard readies to take on the Rockets in the playoffs with free agency looming this summer, Rondo’s time is now.
“He hasn’t been as good of a fit as we would’ve liked,” Cuban said. “And Rajon would tell you the same. I think that he is a guy that is built for the playoffs, and we haven’t had a lot of practice time together. He’s been here for maybe five or six practice days.”
While we wait to see if Rondo, who’s fallen out of the top 10 in the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings, can recover some of his value with a strong postseason, here’s more from around the Southwest Division:
- Marc Gasol in February cast doubt on the idea that an early postseason exit for the Grizzlies would dissuade him from re-signing, and owner Robert Pera echoed his center in comments to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal, who writes in a subscription-only piece. “It’s a very long season and there are always going to be ups and downs,” Pera said. “You can’t get too high when shots are falling or too low when they aren’t. With respect to Marc, he is unique in that he is as much a Grizzlies stakeholder as I am. He has been a Grizzly his entire career, experiencing the lows of rebuilding and the highs of the past few seasons. I believe his goal, like mine, is to build a winning culture in Memphis that will carry on long after we have both faded into the background. In that sense, I believe his decision will be based not on any one particular result but on the process generally and his confidence in the direction of our franchise.”
- Spurs coach/president Gregg Popovich has made Danny Green his whipping boy, but it’s not because he isn’t high on the swingman, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News explains. One unnamed executive who spoke with Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops recently estimated Green’s value at $6MM a year.
- The Spurs have assigned rookie Kyle Anderson to the D-League, the team announced. San Antonio’s affiliate has a playoff game tonight, while the NBA club doesn’t tip off its first-round series against the Clippers until Sunday night.
The Pacers won a random draw with the Jazz today that gives Indiana the 11th lottery position and Utah the 12th, reports Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). The teams finished with identical 38-44 records this season. Indiana will have an eight-in-1,000 chance at the No. 1 overall pick, and Utah will have a seven-in-1,000 chance, but while the extra chance the Pacers have probably won’t matter, the Pacers are in line to pick one spot in front of the Jazz if, as is most likely, neither team wins any of the top three picks.
The Lakers, who hold Houston’s first-rounder, won a random draw with the Celtics, who have the Clippers’ selection, for the 27th pick, so Boston will pick 28th, Washburn also reports (Twitter link). The Mavericks have the 21st pick and the Bulls the 22nd after winning the random draw between those teams, and the Grizzlies won their draw with the Spurs for pick No. 25, leaving San Antonio pick No. 26, according to Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk.com. We’ve updated our post showing this year’s draft order and lottery odds with the latest news.
The procedure for two teams tied for lottery spots dictates that they split the odds for the two positions they occupy, and that the winner of the tiebreaker receive the extra chance if there’s an odd number of them. But since the 11th team in the lottery receives eight chances out of 1,000 and the 12th gets seven chances out of 1,000 to win the lottery, the Pacers simply take over the odds of the 11th spot. There’s less than a 10% chance that either team will move up or back in the lottery.
The tiebreaker comes with a slight financial consequence for next season, since the Pacers will have the rookie scale amount for the 11th pick instead of the 12th counting against their cap, and the Jazz the opposite, a difference of nearly $100K. That difference will be slightly larger once the draftees sign for the usual 120% of those scale amounts. The teams could remove those respective cap hits if they and the players they pick agree in writing not to sign next season, but that’s an unlikely outcome.
Kawhi Leonard‘s recent play is a major reason why the Spurs have become the league’s hottest team, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reports. The reigning NBA Finals MVP is averaging 19.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.6 steals during the team’s current 11-game winning streak while shooting 56 percent from the field. Leonard is developing a reputation of stepping up his game late in the season and the playoffs, Kennedy continues. Leonard’s resurgence is a major reason why potential playoff opponents are fearful of drawing the Spurs, Kennedy adds. Leonard becomes a restricted free agent this summer, though he expects to remain with the Spurs for the long haul.
In other news around the Southwest Division:
- Mavs camp invitee Eric Griffin has signed to play in Puerto Rico for Leones de Ponce, TAB Deportes reports (Twitter link; hat tip to agent Brian J. Bass). The Jazz, Clippers, and Celtics were reportedly interested in signing Griffin last month while he was with the Mavs D-League affiliate, and he also reportedly met with the Clippers about a 10-day deal in February.
- Mavs coach Rick Carlisle and point guard Rajon Rondo have seemingly put their differences aside heading into the playoffs, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Rondo served a one-game, team-imposed suspension after a heated exchange with Carlisle over play-calling in late February. Carlisle said that he and Rondo, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, have worked out a compromise, Medina adds. “Rondo’s been a pro. I like Rondo a lot. I’m looking forward to the playoffs because of his experience,” Carlisle said to Medina. “These kinds of adjustments are great opportunities for growth both for him and for us.”
- The Grizzlies are approaching the postseason with consistent defensive intensity despite injuries to key players, Ron Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. Memphis has held its last three opponents to 39% despite playing the Clippers without starters Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen.
Patrick Beverley hopes to return to the court if the Rockets make a deep playoff run, Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston writes. “Very strong possibility,” the 26-year-old said about his possible return. “Very strong. Let’s hope everything goes right.” Beverley, who will become a free agent at the end the season, also expressed his interest in returning to the team. “I want to be in Houston. I want to be a part of this whole thing that we’ve built since me and James first got here, but that’s not under my control. That’s up to my agent and [general manager] Daryl Morey of the Rockets. It’s going to be interesting this summer. I’m just happy I put myself in a position where I can play basketball and earn enough money to take care of my family,” the point guard said. “The culture, the city is me. A hard-working blue-collar type of city. I embrace that and they embrace me. I will definitely enjoy being here again.”
Here’s more from Texas:
- Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News believes this season won’t be Dirk Nowitzki‘s last. Cowlishaw also adds that he could see Tyson Chandler, who will be a free agent this offseason, leave the Mavs. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Dallas’ frontcourt, I’d speculate the team will have both players back for the 2015/16 season.
- San Antonio has assigned Kyle Anderson to its D-League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, according to the team’s website. This will be Anderson’s sixth trip to the D-League this season.
- The Spurs are ready to pass the torch to Kawhi Leonard, writes Andrew Keh of The New York Times. “It’s going to be Kawhi’s team, anyway,” 32-year-old Tony Parker said. “[Tim Duncan] transitioned to [Manu Ginobili], Manu transitioned to me, and now it’s going to be transitioned to Kawhi.” Leonard will be a restricted free agent during the offseason and it was reported that the team would almost certainly match any offer sheet that he signs.
The career of Mavs point guard Rajon Rondo has included a number of clashes with coaches, and the question persists if Rondo is a good enough player to act out the way that he does, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes in his in-depth look at the player. Rondo is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and Dallas will have to make a difficult decision regarding whether or not to re-sign him, and if so, what the limit will be regarding his salary cap hit. In 43 games with the Mavs since being acquired from Boston, the 29-year-old has averaged 9.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Joe Harris has been recalled from the Canton Charge, the Cavs‘ D-League affiliate, the team announced. The guard appeared in one playoff game for the Charge on his latest assignment, logging 24 points and 11 rebounds. Harris also played in nine regular season contests for Canton, averaging 15.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.2 APG in 31.7 minutes per night.
- Virginia junior swingman Justin Anderson is leaning toward entering the NBA draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tweets. The 21-year-old is projected to be a late first round or early second round selection if he chooses to enter June’s draft. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com rates Anderson as the No. 33 overall prospect and Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) places him at No, 36 overall.
- Wisconsin senior Frank Kaminsky has hired Kevin Bradbury of BDA Sports Management to be his agent, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Givony rates the big man as the No. 10 overall prospect and Ford‘s list has Kaminsky ranked 13th.
Dwight Howard says that his desire is for an extended career similar to that of Tim Duncan‘s, Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle writes. The Rockets‘ big man told Creech, “That’s always been my goal- to play 20 years in the league so I think it can be done. It would be great. Tim [Duncan] is still playing great basketball. He has migrated to different spots on the floor instead of just the post. When you play that long, you get an opportunity to do a lot of different things. God willing, I will play this game as long as I can. It brings a lot of joy to myself and to other people around me. Hopefully I can continue to play at a high level.” This is currently Howard’s 11th season in the NBA.
Here’s more out of the Western Conference:
- The Spurs have recalled Kyle Anderson from their D-League affiliate, the team has announced. In five jaunts to Austin this season Anderson has made 26 appearances, averaging 21.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 40.0 minutes of action per contest.
- The Mavericks are hopeful that Chandler Parsons can return from injury in time for the playoffs, though no timetable has been set, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com writes. “He’s doing better. He’s just not there yet,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’d like to get him back to play a game or two before the playoffs, if it’s possible. But nothing is for sure. He’s doing better each day and there are some encouraging signs. But beyond that, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen.” Parsons is out of action courtesy of a balky right knee.
- The Wolves have announced (Twitter link) that Nikola Pekovic underwent a successful debridement and repair of his right Achilles tendon this morning. The center will remain out of action indefinitely. In 31 appearances this season Pekovic averaged 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per contest.
Monta Ellis, who has a player option for the 2015/16 season, has “contract numbers for next year in his head” and he’s “very replaceable,” Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes in a chat. Ellis has seen a decline in points per game, assists per game and field goal percentage since the All-Star break. Still, he’s a proven scorer who can carry a team on any given night. 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. If Rajon Rondo flees via free agency, locking up Ellis would be a decent fallback plan. If the Mavs kept Rondo, Sefko adds he would be stunned if Ellis also wound up back with the team as well.
Here’s more from the Southwest Division:
- A more experienced and mature roster seems to be making a difference for the Rockets as they head into the playoffs, Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle writes. In the offseason, the Rockets added Jason Terry and Trevor Ariza. Then, Corey Brewer, Josh Smith and Pablo Prigioni were each acquired during the season and have added strong work ethic and sound basketball knowledge, Creech notes.
- Kawhi Leonard, who is set to be a restricted free agent this summer, continues to get overlooked as a star, but with him back in the lineup after the All-Star Break, the Spurs are playing very similar to the way they did last season, which, of course, bodes well for a deep playoff run, Ben Golliver of SI.com writes. San Antonio is 27-10 since Leonard returned from a hand injury in mid-January.
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.
Rockets rookie center Clint Capela is getting personalized instruction from Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, reports Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Capela, the 25th pick in last year’s NBA draft, has spent most of the season in the D-League and has seen little NBA action until recently. But the Rockets think Olajuwon, the NBA’s career leader in blocked shots, can give him a greater presence on the defensive end. “I can be effective on blocked shots on the weak side,” Capela said. “I can be more active. I think he will help me for sure. He is always at the game here. He saw me play the last game. He saw my game, how I play. Today he told me how I can be more helpful for the team. I’m sure it will help.”
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- The Rockets‘ Kostas Papanikolaou is getting closer to returning from a sprained ankle, according to Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle. Papanikolaou, who has been sidelined since hurting the ankle in warmups prior to a February 23rd game, hopes he can be ready to play next week. He is set to make more than $4.6MM next season, but his contract is non-guaranteed if he is waived before September 28th.
- Tyson Chandler should be the Mavericks‘ top priority in free agency, opines RIck Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News in his weekly chat. Dallas will have eight free agents this summer, but Gosselin says a skilled rebounder is a necessity on a team filled with shooters, and the Mavericks learned how hard it is to replace Chandler the last time they let him go.
- The Mavericks have recalled Dwight Powell from the D-League, tweets Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com. Powell has appeared in eight games for the Texas Legends, averaging 28.3 points and 9.4 rebounds.
Unlike Orlando’s past star big men such as Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, Nikola Vucevic is determined to be a member of the Magic for his entire career, Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes. “Yeah. I’m here for the long haul,” Vucevic said. “I love it here. I really love the city. I’ve improved a lot as a player. I’d love to stay here for a long time and make something special happen. If it takes years, it takes years. I ain’t going anywhere.” The big man will have a few years before his loyalty to Orlando will be tested since his current deal runs through the 2018/19 season.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Wizards swingman Garrett Temple began running and participating in drills this week and said he is at 80% strength, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post notes. Temple, who strained his right hamstring back on March 9th, was projected to be out approximately four to six weeks, putting his return date within the original prediction.
- The Mavericks have re-assigned center Dwight Powell to the Texas Legends, their D-League affiliate, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com tweets. This will be Powell’s 13th trek of the season to the D-League.
- The 2015 NCAA tournament is winding down and only four teams remain standing. Chris Mannix of SI.com looks at the draft prospects who have the most to gain from standout performances in the Final Four and beyond. Mannix’s list includes Justise Winslow (Duke), Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin), and Devin Booker (Kentucky).