DeJuan Blair

Suns Waive DeJuan Blair

MONDAY, 6:11pm: The team officially announced today that Blair has been waived (Twitter link).

THURSDAY, 5:15pm: The Suns will waive newly acquired power forward DeJuan Blair, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic reports. The news that Phoenix would waive Blair or Kris Humphries was first relayed by Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. Blair was shipped to the Suns along with Humphries in exchange for Markieff Morris earlier today.

Blair is earning $2MM this season, the remainder of which Phoenix will be on the hook for. The power forward is under contract for 2016/17, but that salary is non-guaranteed, so the Suns won’t have any impact on their salary cap for next season as a result of this move.

The 26-year-old appeared in 29 contests for the Wizards this season and averaged 2.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 7.5 minutes of action per outing. His shooting numbers are .412/.000/.385.

Wizards Acquire Markieff Morris

Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports Images

Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports Images

7:20pm: The Suns have traded Markieff Morris to the Wizards for Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and Washington’s top-nine protected 2016 first-round pick, the teams announced. Phoenix is reportedly set to waive Blair. It’s a swap that ends a months-long saga involving Morris, who demanded a trade over the summer and recanted that stance, at least publicly, before the season, saying as late as Wednesday night that he wanted to stay in Phoenix.

Washington wasn’t prominent among the several teams linked to Morris since the summer, a group that included the PelicansRockets, Pistons and Raptors. Instead, the Wizards were among the teams linked to Ryan Anderson and other, mostly reserve big man options, before coming away with one of the season’s most talked-about trade candidates.

“Markieff is a versatile, young power forward who brings athleticism and physicality along with a good shooting touch,” Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld said in the team’s statement. “He will be a very good addition to our team as we make our playoff push and gives us a proven starter at that position for the next several years.”

Morris, who’s facing felony aggravated assault charges for his role in a January incident, is under contract for three more seasons after this one at an average of $8MM a year. Humphries is making $4.4MM this season with a non-guaranteed $4.63MM salary for next year. Blair has $2MM coming his way this season, but next year’s $2MM salary is non-guaranteed, just as with Humphries. So, this move compromises Washington’s cap flexibility for this summer, when D.C. native Kevin Durant will be a free agent. The Wizards nonetheless still project to have enough room to offer the max to Durant, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).

The $7.4MM on the books for Morris next season brings Washington’s guaranteed salary commitments to about $45MM, and that, plus a roughly $14MM cap hold for Bradley Beal and at least about $3.3MM in other cap holds, leaves room for Durant’s projected $24.9MM max beneath the projected $89MM cap. A higher cap of $95MM, which some forecast, would lift Durant’s projected max somewhat higher too, but not by as much, giving the Wizards even more breathing room.

The Wizards will hope for a return to form for Morris, the 13th overall pick from the 2011 draft whose numbers are off sharply this season. His 3-point shooting is a career-worst 28.9%. Humphries added a 3-point shot to his game this year and made 34.3%, but injuries have limited him to only 28 games this season, and his appearance against the Knicks last week was his first since January 3rd. Blair was out of the rotation for most of his year and a half with Washington, averaging only 6.9 minutes per game combined between this season and last.

Phoenix moves on from a tumultuous relationship that seemed to come to a head in the wake of the offseason trade that sent his brother to the Pistons. I chronicled the back-and-forth between Morris and the Suns when I examined his trade candidacy last month.

Today’s swap adds $1.56MM to Washington’s payroll, bringing the Wizards to only about $1MM shy of the tax line. It also allows the Suns to create a trade exception for that $1.56MM amount.

Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports first reported the deal. TNT’s David Aldridge relayed that a first-round pick would go to Phoenix (Twitter link) and Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic had news of the details of the pick (on Twitter). Marc J. Spears of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports reported that Humphries and Blair were Suns-bound, while Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post added that one of them would be waived (Twitter link). RealGM confirms that the pick going to Phoenix is Washington’s own.

Eastern Notes: Sullinger, Zeller, Blair

Celtics president Danny Ainge said he will continue to have contract extension conversations with the agents for forwards Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger, but he added “there’s nothing imminent,” Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reports.

The two players are eligible for rookie scale extensions between now and November 2nd. Ainge reportedly began negotiating with both players’ camps in August.

Here is more out of the Eastern Conference:

  • Jonas Jerebko re-signed with the Celtics over the summer on a two-year, $10MM deal because he felt comfortable with the team and now he is eager to compete for the spot as the first small forward off the bench, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes.
  • Wizards backup center DeJuan Blair believes he needs to rebound from his disappointing campaign last season for the sake of his career and his own dignity, J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic details. Blair’s career took a major hit last year because he was relegated to mop-up duty in blowouts and never even made an appearance for the Wizards during the playoffs.
  • Andrew Nicholson‘s scoring and playing time both diminished after he stopped attempting shots in the low post with his back to the basket, but with a new coaching staff in place for the Magic, Nicholson expects to be used more effectively, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

Southeast Notes: Winslow, Hawks, Wizards

The Heat would be wise to move up in the draft and select Duke’s Justise Winslow, Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post opines. Winslow has the total package the Heat need at small forward if Luol Deng declines his player option and becomes an unrestricted free agent, Lieser continues. Winslow is expected to be off the board by the time Miami’s lottery pick comes up at No. 10 since many of the teams drafting 5-9 need a small forward, in Lieser’s estimation. Winslow could also play shooting guard and that’s the other position where the club needs an upgrade, Lieser adds.

In other news around the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat would not have traded two potential lottery picks to the Suns for Goran Dragic unless Miami got a guarantee of re-signing the unrestricted free agent, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel surmises. If the Heat fail to re-sign Dragic, they would be limited to using one of their exceptions to find a replacement since they would not have the cap space to chase a higher-level free agent, Winderman continues. Even a player such as Suns’ reserve and unrestricted free agent Gerald Green, who made $3.5MM last season, would be out of Miami’s reach if he wanted a raise unless a sign-and-trade was arranged, Winderman adds.
  • The individual brilliance of LeBron James has the Cavaliers in full control of the Eastern Conference Finals, but Hawks coach/acting GM Mike Budenholzer is among those with the team who aren’t about to give up on an egalitarian philosophy, observes Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution“Every team has different ways to build and different ways to give themselves what they feel is their best chance,” Budenholzer said. “There is no doubt the way we’ve built the team with a lot of really good players, a lot of high-character guys. We feel like we can compete and play with anybody in the league. They’ve done it a different way. It’s a great battle. Obviously someone is going to win and lose. This is the way we are built. We believe in it. We think we can win at a high level. We’ll continue to do that.”
  • CSNWashington’s J. Michael gives his input on four key offseason decisions for the Wizards, who’ll seek a stretch four and have decisions to make regarding Nene Hilario, Martell Webster and soon-to-be free agent DeJuan Blair.

And-Ones: Clippers, Smith, Blair

TNT’s David Aldridge had relayed on Monday that the Clippers‘ players weren’t getting along with each other, but Spencer Hawes disagrees with that report, Rowan Kavner of NBA.com writes. “Any team over the course of any season, there’s going to be stuff like that,” Hawes said. “But as far as I’m concerned, this team, off the court, on the court, gets along with each other as well as any that I’ve been a part of. I think there’s a lot of competitive guys, a lot of guys that just want to win. Sometimes you see that side of it, but you don’t see the everyday of how we get along with one another.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Rockets‘ newest addition, Josh Smith, is ecstatic to get the opportunity to play for coach Kevin McHale, Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle writes. “Being able to play for a guy who is a Hall of Fame player, who was a dominant player at his position is great,” Smith said. “I love being able to get bits and pieces off of him. Always great for an NBA player’s game.”
  • DeJuan Blair expected to see more playing time than the 4.6 minutes per game that he is currently receiving from the Wizards when he agreed to a sign-and-trade deal this summer, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post writes. “I don’t know what’s going on,” Blair said. “I don’t know. I just show up and wait for my name to be called.” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said that Blair is handling the situation as well as can be expected, Castillo notes. “He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing,” Wittman said. “He’s doing a good job. Stays ready. Practices hard. Understands, I think, the situation. That’s what you have to do. That’s what any player that doesn’t play — the opportunity’s going to come. It’s going to happen. We all know that. We’ve seen it throughout and when that opportunity comes be ready.”
  • Carmelo Anthony said that he still remains in contact with former Knicks coach Mike Woodson, Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes. “It was a tough season [2013/14], it was a tough situation to be in at that point in time,” Anthony said. “I know how much work he put in as a coach and with all the guys with the team. I know how much he meant to a lot of guys on the team, especially me. So to see him go out the way he went out, for me as a person it was sad to see that.”

And-Ones: Cousins, Durant, Blair

Here are some miscellaneous news and notes to pass along this evening:

  • Earlier today, ESPN reported that Kings center DeMarcus Cousins injured his right knee during Team USA practice today. Fortunately, an MRI reveled no structural damage, and Cousins is now listed as day-to-day, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.
  • USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo described Kevin Durant‘s decision to drop out of Team USA as a “contractual situation” in which “he had no choice,” notes Erik Horne of NewsOK, who doesn’t think that those comments are consistent with Durant’s official statement for withdrawing. Last week, the Thunder star mentioned an inability to fulfill his responsibilities from a “time and energy standpoint” as a reason for his departure.
  • Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski was among many who were caught off-guard by Durant’s decision to leave the national team, notes Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com.
  • DeJuan Blair is eager to build on a productive playoff series against the Spurs this past May as he suits up for the Wizards in 2014/15, writes Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. “I was very excited when I (learned I was traded from Dallas to Washington). It was like a dream come true…Last year, I saw what type of team they had. The youth, the big men coming up, the ingredients around the team. And I think I’ll be a great addition.”
  • Based on what he’s seen from Andre Drummond so far, Team USA assistant Tom Thibodeau spoke glowingly about how Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy will be an ideal coach to help the 21-year-old big man reach his potential (piece from Keith Langlois of Pistons.com).

And-Ones: Boozer, Blair, Williams, Mavs

With the Bulls using their amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer on Tuesday, only seven NBA players remain amnesty-eligible as noted in our 2014 Amnesty Primer. But the five teams that haven’t used the provision will have to wait until next summer, as Wednesday marked the deadline for this offseason.

Boozer was snatched up by the Lakers earlier today for a manageable price of $3.25MM, though as ESPN’s Marc Stein reports (via Twitter), the Duke product had strong interest in the Rockets had he gone unclaimed and cleared waivers. Meanwhile, Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times speculates that Boozer’s presence might signal a more complimentary role for rookie Julius Randle unless the playoff-hungry Lakers consider June’s No. 7 pick a small forward (Twitter links are here).

Here’s more from around the league on Thursday night:

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Draft, Jackson, J.R. Smith, Blair

The league office proposed a new lottery system for as soon as next season that would more evenly distribute the odds that non-playoff teams would have of ending up with the No. 1 overall pick, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports. The proposal to the competition committee, which would cut the worst team’s chance from 25% to 11%, was the dominant subject of talk about lottery reform at league meetings this week, but it’s nonetheless one of many the NBA has considered, Lowe cautions. There’s more draft-related fodder among the latest from around the league:

  • Chad Ford of ESPN.com unveiled his top 100 top prospects list and mock draft for 2015 in a pair of subscription-only pieces. His top three players are Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Karl Towns, Jr. Mudiay’s recent decision to withdraw from college basketball and play overseas shouldn’t much affect his draft stock, according to Ford.
  • Phil Jackson doubts that Jerry Buss, as has been reported, made the final decision to pass Jackson over to hire Mike D’Antoni as Lakers coach in 2012, as the Zen Master writes in an update to his latest book with Hugh Delehanty, as excerpted in the New York Daily News. Jackson also says that he spoke to the Nets, Raptors and Suns about jobs in the wake of Lakers’ choice.
  • J.R. Smith appeared on ESPN’s First Take Thursday, telling the hosts that he wouldn’t blame the Knicks if they traded him (transcription via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com). No. Absolutely not,” Smith said. “The way I was playing, I was playing like a person who didn’t want to be there. Not looking as focused as a person should be in that situation that we were, in the trenches. I wouldn’t blame them at all.” 
  • DeJuan Blair went into Washington’s $2,016,000 trade exception left over from when the team traded Eric Maynor at the deadline, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Previous reports had indicated that the Wizards would absorb Blair into their new $8,579,089 trade exception created through Trevor Ariza‘s sign-and-trade to Houston, but it appears the team will instead preserve that exception. Just how much of the Maynor exception Blair will take up remains to be seen, since the precise amount of Blair first-year salary has yet to be reported.

Cray Allred contributed to this post.

Wizards Acquire DeJuan Blair Via Sign-And-Trade

9:23pm: The deal has been completed, the Wizards announced. Washington will receive Blair from the Mavs in exchange for the rights to Emir Preldzic, a 2009 second-round pick.

5:55pm: Blair’s contract will be for three years and $6MM, with a team option on the final year, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

WEDNESDAY, 12:51pm: The teams are on track to finalize the deal today, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). It remains unclear what Dallas would receive in the transaction, but presumably it wouldn’t involve any guaranteed salary.

SUNDAY, 10:25pm: The Wizards and Mavs are in advanced discussions on a potential sign-and-trade that would send DeJuan Blair to Washington, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter).  The Wizards have strong interest in the big man and are in talks to see if a sign-and-trade is possible before the Mavs are forced to renounce him (link).

Blair, who was used inconsistently by the Spurs and hardly at all in the postseason, signed with the Mavericks last summer on a one-year deal.  In 15.6 minutes per contest, Blair averaged 6.4 PPG and 4.7 RPG for Dallas last season.  For his career, Blair has averaged 7.5 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 18.2 minutes per night.

Eastern Rumors: Boozer, Blair, Durant

Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report details how the Heat’s maneuvers to accommodate the Big Three back in 2010 are now proving costly with the departure of LeBron James. The Heat’s 2015 first round pick–given to the Cavs as part of James’ sign-and-trade to Miami–is still owed to Cleveland, and Miami is still paying Mike Miller‘s amnestied contract while the sharpshooter is on the verge of re-teaming with LeBron in another city. Here’s more from the East:

  • The Hawks, reportedly one of the favorites to place a bid on Carlos Boozer, took a step in that direction, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders confirms the team has officially slipped beneath the cap (Twitter link).
  • The Mavs promised DeJuan Blair that they would try to sign-and-trade him to give him a financial boost, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, and indeed it appears Dallas is close to sending him to the Wizards via sign-and-trade,
  • The Wizards will bring University of Maryland women’s assistant coach David Atkins as an assistant coach for player development, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. A handful of rival executives see it as a sign that Washington has begun to position itself to make a run at Durant, a D.C. native, according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt (Twitter link), since Atkins was one of Kevin Durant‘s high school coaches, fellow ESPN scribe Mark Stein notes (on Twitter).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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