With the Rockets being eliminated from the Western Conference Finals, team owner Leslie Alexander said the team could add another star player to its roster provided the opportunity presented itself, Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston writes. When asked about making marquee roster additions, Alexander said, “Yes, but I don’t think the odds are as good as they were in the previous years. If you want to win big, you have to take big risks. I’ve always been willing to take the big risk to win big. I think most of the group will be intact. There’s always going to be change, obviously, but most of the group will be intact.” Alexander also believes his team would have advanced to the NBA Finals if not for injuries to Patrick Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas, Berman notes.
Here’s more from the NBA’s Southwest Division:
- Duke point guard Tyus Jones has workouts scheduled for next week with both the Mavericks and the Rockets, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. You can view our full prospect profile for Jones here.
- The Mavs held workouts on Friday for Brandon Ashley (Arizona), Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), and D.J. Newbill (Penn State) Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops relays (Twitter link).
- Rockets guard James Harden wants the team to add another playmaker to its roster so he won’t need to facilitate the offense as often as he did this season, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. “That’s one of the conversations me and [GM] Daryl [Morey] are going to have [and] the coaches,” Harden said. “That’s one of the pieces to add, but that’s later conversations. We’ll be all right. We’re very confident in the group we have. This summer we have to work hard and be ready for next year.”
The draft is less than four weeks away, and Hoops Rumors has you covered. Check out our full log of draft news right here. Our Eddie Scarito runs down the first round in his Mock Draft, and we dive deeper into key figures with our Prospect Profile series. We’ve gained insight from a wide array of prospects through their interviews with our Zach Links, and, as always, we’ll pass along the latest news, including these reports on team workouts:
- UNLV shooting guard Rashad Vaughn will work out Monday for the Lakers and will soon do so with the Warriors, Suns and Spurs, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv.
- Chasson Randle auditioned for the Thunder and also plans to show off for the Sixers, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). The Celtics have already worked out the two-guard from Stanford, as we noted earlier.
- Shooting guards K.T. Harrell of Auburn and Josh Richardson of Tennessee worked out Thursday for the Heat, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears.
- The Sixers are taking a look today at Delaware State big man Kendall Gray, sources told Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (on Twitter), and they’re doing the same with Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
- Syracuse big man Rakeem Christmas is working out for the Spurs today and already got a look from the Mavericks, Pompey reveals in a separate piece.
Members of the Mavs front office have tossed around the idea of engineering a sign-and-trade that would send Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, should Jordan elect to sign with the Mavs this summer, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. The Mavs brass, who talked about the idea in a brainstorming session, according to MacMahon, wants to “do right” by Chandler, who would sign a market value contract with the Clippers as part of the scenario, though Dallas would insist that Felton be a part of such a deal, MacMahon writes. The Clippers appear poised to offer Jordan the max to stay, but the league’s leading rebounder has said the Clips aren’t necessarily the favorites to re-sign him and has apparently made it clear to the Mavs that he’s highly interested in playing for them, as MacMahon previously reported.
The Mavs would seek to re-sign Chandler, a somewhat less athletic version of Jordan at the center position, at market value if they miss on Jordan or sign LaMarcus Aldridge instead, MacMahon writes. Chandler has expressed a desire to return to the Mavs, but the Clippers may well hold appeal as an alternative, since Chandler is a Southern California native and former teammate of Chris Paul, MacMahon notes. The Clippers, given their existing salary commitments for next season, likely won’t have the means to sign Chandler outright. President of basketball operations Doc Rivers would thus be “crazy” not to show interest in a Chandler-Jordan sign-and-trade proposal from the Mavs, MacMahon posits, though a guaranteed long-term deal for Chandler would tie up money the Clips could spend in the summer of 2016 and beyond.
The Clippers have more than $58MM in commitments for next season, not counting more than $6.7MM in non-guaranteed money for mainstays Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes. The luxury tax threshold is projected to come in at $81.6MM, meaning the luxury tax apron, the line the Clippers can’t cross in any sign-and-trade acquisition, is projected at $85.6MM. It’s unclear just how much a market value deal for Chandler would entail, but Felton will be due more than $3.95MM next season once he makes his decision to opt in official, so the mechanics of the sign-and-trade the Mavs are considering could get dicey.
Chandler, a veteran of more than 10 seasons, is eligible for a max that’ll probably come in around an estimated $22MM. Jordan, a seven-year vet, could make about $19MM next season based on those same estimates. They’d be limited to four-year deals and 4.5% raises in any sign-and-trade deals.
The Mavericks don’t have a great track record of attracting top-tier free agents to Dallas, but the franchise badly needs to land Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPNDallas.com writes. Jordan represents the Mavs’ last hope to put a championship-caliber team together around Dirk Nowitzki, Taylor opines. The 26-year-old big man has expressed through back channels that he’ll be “extremely interested” in signing with the Mavs this offseason, but the Clippers have indicated that re-signing Jordan is the team’s top priority.
Here’s the latest from the NBA’s Western Conference:
- The Nuggets will begin their pre-draft workouts on Wednesday, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post reports (Twitter links). The first group to display their wares for Denver will consist of J.J. Avila, Askia Booker, Derek Cooke, Alex Herrera, Stanton Kidd, and Mitch McCarron, Dempsey notes. Working out for the team on Thursday will be Daniel Bejarano, Michael Frazier II, Cam Griffin, and Brett Olson, the Denver Post Scribe relays.
- Arizona guard T.J. McConnell said that he worked out for the Spurs, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
- Working out for the Jazz on Wednesday will be Dallin Bachynski, Ryan Harrow, Kendall Gray, Tyler Harvey, Hugh Greenwood, and Tyler Kalinoski, the team announced.
- Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones‘ first team workout will be for the Mavericks this coming Monday, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (via Twitter).
- The Timberwolves have workouts scheduled with Harvey and Michael Qualls for this Friday, Wolfson tweets.
TUESDAY, 3:21pm: A pursuit of Lawson isn’t on the forefront of the Mavs’ priorities, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com (Twitter link), citing the point guard’s off-court issues.
MONDAY, 3:08pm: Ty Lawson has been eyeing the Mavs and the team reciprocates the intrigue, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders hears (Twitter link). Lawson hinted at a desire to play for Dallas in a since-deleted Instagram exchange last month, but the Nuggets, who have Lawson under contract through 2016/17, hold sway.
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reported shortly before the deadline that the Nuggets were trying to trade the speedy point guard, but Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post heard that Denver was merely listening to pitches. The Nuggets wanted multiple first-round picks if they were to part with Lawson, sources told Grantland’s Zach Lowe at the time. The Mavs already owe their 2016 first-rounder to the Celtics as part of the Rajon Rondo trade.
Rondo’s failure to take command of the point guard position in Dallas would no doubt be at the root of any push the team might make for Lawson. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle acknowledged even before the playoffs were done that the Mavs aren’t expected to re-sign Rondo, who’ll be a free agent as of July 1st. Dallas has Devin Harris on a long-term deal, and Raymond Felton reportedly told the team that he’ll opt in, but there’s no clear-cut starter for next season at the point in Dallas, particularly with J.J. Barea also set for free agency. The Mavs are reportedly poised to make runs at big men LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan, leaving little capacity for the team to sign a point guard of equal caliber.
The Celtics and Nuggets engaged in exploratory talks about Lawson before the deadline, as Lowe reported, which was around the same time that the Bucks were being linked to him as well, as Kyler wrote then. Kings coach George Karl would love for the Kings to acquire Lawson, a person familiar with Karl’s thinking told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck in February, though that was before Vlade Divac took command of Sacramento’s front office. Lawson clashed with ex-Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, Karl’s replacement in Denver, Lowe heard, and there was tension and frustration between Lawson and the Nuggets at the deadline, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Shortly thereafter, Nuggets GM Tim Connelly implored Lawson to “grow up.”
Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried are losing confidence in the Nuggets, and both have let the team know that unless it hires an inspiring name to fill the coaching vacancy or makes a significant trade, they’d rather be dealt away than go through rebuilding, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes in his NBA AM piece. There was mutual trepidation between Faried and the Nuggets even as the sides signed a four-year, $50MM extension this past fall, Kyler hears.
Lawson and Faried, like many Nuggets players, were vocal in their support of Melvin Hunt after he took over the coaching job on an interim basis from the fired Brian Shaw, with whom Lawson had reportedly clashed. Lawson told Kyler in March that Hunt was “giving everybody confidence” and had all the Nuggets on the same page. Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post wrote around the same time that Faried was particularly ecstatic about Hunt and that he and his teammates would vote unanimously to remove Hunt’s interim tag and formally make him the team’s coach. Kyler writes in his latest piece that major changes to the roster might nonetheless bode well for Hunt’s chances of staying in the job, since Nuggets management sees him as a viable head man for a rebuilding team. Hunt’s chances of keeping the job have improved of late, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported last week. Team president Josh Kroenke said last week that a “period of transition” was on its way and that the club would take an “aggressive” approach to finding the roster it wants.
Some within the Nuggets organization weren’t on board with the Faried extension, as Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com reported in November, a few weeks after the deal was signed. Arnovitz added that Nuggets brass consented to the extension in part because of the positive publicity it would generate, in spite of their doubts about Faried’s ability. The Nuggets were nonetheless hesitant to include Faried or Lawson in trades as of January, as Chris Mannix of SI.com wrote then, though people around the league sensed as the trade deadline approached that the Nuggets would part with them for a strong offer, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe. The Celtics and Nuggets engaged in exploratory Lawson talks, as Lowe reported at the same time.
The Mavs and Lawson have mutual interest, as Kyler reported Monday, though Lawson has two more seasons left on his contract, so the Nuggets have leverage. Kings coach George Karl would love it if Sacramento traded for his old point guard, a person close to Karl told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, as Beck wrote in February. Lowe heard at the deadline that Denver wanted multiple first-round picks if it was to relinquish the former 18th overall pick. That was in spite of the tension and frustration between Lawson and the Nuggets organization that Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reported, as well as GM Tim Connelly‘s call, shortly after the deadline, for Lawson to “grow up.”
Amar’e Stoudemire may be with another team next season, especially if the Mavericks can land a top-tier free agent this summer, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. After being waived by the Knicks, Stoudemire came to Dallas and averaged 10.8 points in 23 games while emerging as a locker room leader. However, the Mavericks are expected to chase LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, which would make Stoudemire’s return unlikely. Sefko also examines some other Dallas free agents, writing that Rajon Rondo and Greg Smith are definitely leaving, although the writer is just making an educated guess on Smith. Sefko says Bernard James may find a better deal elsewhere, and the fate of Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva will depend on the market.
There’s more free agency news from Dallas:
- Al-Farouq Aminu is probably looking for a larger role and larger contract than the Mavericks are willing to give him, Sefko writes in a separate story. He’s the type of young, high-energy player Dallas needs, but as a small forward he could be trapped behind Chandler Parsons for the next two seasons, although Parsons can opt out next summer. Aminu can also play power forward, but Dirk Nowitzki is in his way there.
- If Monta Ellis decides to opt out of the $9MM he is owed next season, it will leave Dallas with a difficult decision, Sefko writes. Ellis is a big-time NBA scorer and would form a lethal inside-outside combination if the Mavericks are lucky enough to land Aldridge. However, Ellis’ defense is suspect and he tends to be a streak shooter. If Dallas gives him a max contract, Sefko argues, he would be another overpaid player on the roster along with Parsons.
- The Mavericks’ poor choices at point guard may force them to keep J.J. Barea, Sefko contends. With Devin Harris and Raymond Felton competing for the starting job, Dallas needs a competent backup, and Sefko notes that the free agent options aren’t promising.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr confirmed Thursday that lead assistant Alvin Gentry has interviewed for the Pelicans head coaching job, as Kerr told reporters, including Antonio Gonzalez of The Associated Press. Kerr said he’s OK with Gentry taking time to interview on off days, Gonzalez notes, and a source close to Gentry told John Reid of The Times-Picayune that it appears as though Gentry will again interview with New Orleans after Golden State’s season is over. Here’s more from around the Southwest Division:
- Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger feels as though Marc Gasol has essentially already made up his mind about what he’ll do in free agency, but he’ll head to Spain sometime soon to pitch the All-NBA First Team center on re-signing with the Grizzlies, notes Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal in a subscription-only piece. The Grizzlies don’t seem too nervous, but Gasol isn’t giving any promises, and his departure would be a devastating blow to the franchise, Calkins argues.
- Count GM Chris Wallace among those in the Grizzlies organization with confidence in Gasol’s return. “I firmly believe we will re-sign Marc Gasol this summer,” Wallace said on WHBQ-AM radio, according to host Peter Edmiston (Twitter link).
- Unless the Mavericks can lure Gasol or DeAndre Jordan to Dallas this summer, they should prioritize re-signing Tyson Chandler, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News believes.
- A panel of ESPN.com writers, in an Insider-only piece, agree that the Pelicans coaching job is more attractive than a would-be opening for the Bulls and that New Orleans should look to re-sign Omer Asik this summer.
Now that the Clippers have been eliminated from the playoffs, the team needs to look toward the offseason and find a way to improve despite the franchise’s challenging salary cap situation, Fran Blinebury of NBA.com writes. According to coach/executive Doc Rivers, Los Angeles’ first order of business this summer will be re-signing center DeAndre Jordan, Blinebury notes. “Our first priority is D.J.,” Rivers said. “That’s obvious. I don’t know how much I can say there. Can you tamper with your own guy? If that’s true I’m going to go tamper right now.” The Clippers will have competition for the unrestricted free agent’s services, and Jordan has already expressed through back channels that he’ll be “extremely interested” in signing with the Mavs this summer.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- The Nuggets are taking their time looking for a new head coach, and a decision isn’t expected for another couple weeks, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. “It’s exactly how we thought it would go,” team president Josh Kroenke said. “We’ve had several conversations with a lot of people. I think that it benefits us to talk to as many people as we can. We have some people in the back of our mind that we think would be great fits. I’ve talked to enough people, and going through the process before, your coaching hire is probably going to be your hardest hire because there’s so much that goes into that role in today’s sporting industry.”
- Kroenke also relayed that the Nuggets aren’t concerned about the length of time the coaching search has taken thus far, Dempsey adds. “It’s beneficial for us on some level to be patient,” Kroenke said. “I think more candidates have opened up since the end of the season. Based on different organizations wanting to go different directions with different guys, I think there was never a time when we wanted to rush into anything. Until you have that guy that you know is the one that you want, I think it really benefits you to talk to as many people as you can. Because also during the course of these interviews you’re getting to pick some of the best basketball minds that are out there. That’s an incredible benefit to the process.“
- The Lakers aren’t 100% set on drafting either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor, and the team is intrigued by D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com tweets.
The Grizzlies have tried multiple times to strike up extension talks with Mike Conley, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who says that Conley has nonetheless resisted. That’s no surprise, since the salary for the first season in a veteran extension for him could be no more than 107.5% of his salary in the last season before the extension were to kick in. The point guard’s existing bargain deal tops out at little more than $9.388MM next season, so an extension would entail a giant financial sacrifice for Conley. He’s therefore destined to become one of the headliners in the 2016 free agent class, but there’s more on this summer’s business first amid the latest from the Southwest Division:
- The working assumption in Memphis is that Jeff Green will pick up his $9.2MM player option to stay with the Grizzlies for next season, but the presence of wily agent David Falk in the equation makes that less than a foregone conclusion, as Stein details in the same piece.
- The Celtics were among the many teams that made trade proposals for Kosta Koufos this year that the Grizzlies turned down, Stein writes. Boston was involved in a rumored three-team scenario that would have sent Koufos to Cleveland, but it didn’t appear until now that the C’s made a play for the big man themselves. In any case, Memphis is aware that Koufos, a free agent this summer, wants to start, Stein says.
- Alvin Gentry, Scott Brooks, an NBA assistant coach or a college coach who isn’t already a star would probably pass muster with Pelicans GM Dell Demps sooner than Tom Thibodeau, John Calipari or Jeff Van Gundy would, as Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune opines. The GM is reportedly weary of internal conflict, and a coach who carries less authority would be easier for Demps to handle, Smith believes, calling the front office situation, in which Saints/Pelicans executive Mickey Loomis holds sway over Demps, “untenable.” The Pels reportedly interviewed Gentry on Monday, but it’s unclear whether the Warriors assistant is the right fit for the New Orleans roster, according to Smith.
- Al-Farouq Aminu‘s energy is reminiscent of Corey Brewer and Jae Crowder, and the Mavs should work to retain soon-to-be free agent Aminu this summer, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News argues, positing that the forward would be a bargain at around $4MM a year.