Denver Nuggets Rumors

Lowe’s Latest: Kidd, Blatche, Hammond, Profits

June 30 at 1:25pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Departing Nets coach Jason Kidd planned to eventually fire most if not all of the team’s front office as he sought control of the club’s basketball operations, several league sources tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe. The Grantland scribe has plenty more revelations on Kidd’s shocking change of address as well as insight on revenue and profitability for several NBA franchises. We’ll hit the highlights here:

  • Kidd suggested to Nets ownership at midseason that they replace GM Billy King, though he didn’t pitch himself for the job at that point, Lowe writes. The Bucks sought permission to talk to Kidd earlier this month, and when the Nets hesitated to respond, Kidd made his push to assume control of Nets front office.
  • The Nets publicly termed Andray Blatche‘s midseason absence a product of “personal reasons,” but it was instead because Kidd had essentially suspended him out of concerns over the big man’s conditioning and preparation, according to Lowe. Kidd’s move impressed Nets brass, Lowe adds.
  • The jobs of Bucks GM John Hammond and assistant GM David Morway are safe for the time being, Lowe hears, adding that those two nonetheless had no knowledge of ownership’s negotiations with Kidd.
  • The Nets are projected to have lost a league-high $144MM this year, Lowe reports. The Wizards are next on that list, projected to have lost just $13MM.
  • The Bucks are set to make about $18MM from the league’s revenue sharing program and $3MM from luxury tax payouts, making up for the $6.5MM the team is projected to have lost this year.
  • The Hornets are projected to have lost almost $34MM while taking in only about $22MM in revenue sharing income. The Pistons are set to tally $26MM in losses and recoup only $10.6MM.
  • The Lakers lead the league with a $100.1MM projected profit, followed by the Bulls at $61MM, Rockets at $40.7MM, Celtics at $33.1MM and Thunder at nearly $29MM. The Spurs, Jazz and Nuggets also are in line to profit.
  • The high-revenue Knicks are expected to have lost $3.5MM.

Draft Grades: Northwest Division

June 29 at 10:57am CDT By Eddie Scarito

With the 2014 NBA Draft officially in the books, it’s time to take a look back and see how each team used the draft to make improvements and fill needs. I’ve already run down the picks for the Atlantic, Central, and Pacific Divisions. We’ll continue on with a look at the Northwest Division:

Denver Nuggets

Team Needs: Frontcourt Depth, Shooting Guard, Point Guard

Draft Picks:

  •  No. 16 Jusuf Nurkic (Center)*
  • No.19 Gary Harris (Shooting Guard)*
  • No. 41 Nikola Jokic (Center)

*Acquired from Bulls in trade for 11th overall pick (Doug McDermott).

The biggest news for the Nuggets on draft day was the trade for Arron Afflalo, which added a much-needed outside shooter to the team’s lineup. Denver then decided to turn their one first-rounder into two by trading with the Bulls, who snatched up McDermott.

The Nuggets used two of their selections on foreign born big men, neither of whom is expected to play in the league next season. Nurkic is huge, as well as being a skilled post player. If he can stay healthy and continue to develop, he could be an impact player in a few years. Jokic is also talented, but extremely raw. Jokic is more of an outside shooter at this point, and needs to add bulk and improve his rebounding and defense if he wants to make it in the NBA.

I like the selection of Harris, but with the trade for Afflalo, he becomes a luxury pick instead of a need. Harris was mentioned as a potential lottery pick by most scouts, so he’s a definite value selection at No. 19. Harris slid because of his size, but he is one of the more polished two-way players in the draft, and his defense will earn him minutes immediately.

Overall Draft Grade:  B —I like the Nuggets turning their one first round pick into two. The selection of Harris was a definite value add, and Jokic was a decent selection, considering what else was available at that spot. Nurkic could turn out to be a good player down the line, but the team did pass on the chance to nab McDermott, Zach LaVine, T.J. Warren, and Adreian Payne by making the trade. All those players could have a much higher ceiling than Nurkic or Harris.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Team Needs: Small Forward, Power Forward, Point Guard

Draft Picks:

  •  No. 13 Zach LaVine (Shooting Guard)
  • No. 40 Glenn Robinson III (Small Forward)

*Traded 44th overall pick to Nets for cash.
**Traded 53rd pick to Rockets for cash.

The Wolves certainly got more athletic on draft night. LaVine is an intriguing prospect who could turn out to be a bargain at that spot. He’s very raw and doesn’t have a defined position yet. He’s been compared to Russell Westbrook quite a bit when scouts discuss his potential. He can play the point, but it’s not his natural position. He’ll likely begin his career at shooting guard, potentially taking some of the ball handling duties on the second team. LaVine has a ways to go, but he’s a freak athlete who has star potential, though he isn’t guaranteed to fully realize all those physical tools.

Robinson is a very raw talent who will need some serious D-League time his first season, but he has the potential to develop into a very useful reserve. I really like this pick, and a good value at No. 40, especially since some experts had Robinson potentially sneaking into the end of the first round.

Overall Draft Grade:  B- —The Timberwolves need players that who contribute right away. Not sure that either of these selections fits that bill, but in a couple of years, if both selections live up to their potential, this draft could be looked back at rather fondly.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Team Needs: Swingman, Point Guard, Size

Draft Picks:

*Acquired via trade with Hornets via Heat.

I can almost swear that the team did this same draft last year when they selected Steven Adams and Andre Roberson. Either the Thunder were very happy with how that worked out, or they figured they needed more of the same.

This isn’t a knock against taking McGary, a player that has a much higher upside than Adams. If his back is OK, he’ll be an immediate contributor. McGary would have been selected much higher if he entered last year’s draft, but an injury-shortened season that also saw him facing a suspension for marijuana use lowered his stock. The Thunder should be very happy with his mixture of athleticism, passing, and offensive potential. He could be a starter by year two.

Huestis is a scrappy player who plays tough defense but doesn’t project to be a regular rotation player. He’ll make a nice 11th or 12th man, but there were better options on the board at the same position. Christon is a project who will need D-League time before he can hope to contribute at the NBA level.

Overall Draft Grade:   C+ —The Thunder got some value with the McGary pick, who if healthy can be an immediate contributor. I’m not a fan of the Huestis pick, especially considering that Kyle Anderson, K.J. McDaniels, and Cleanthony Early were all on the board at the time.

Portland Trailblazers

Team Needs: Center, Defense, Depth

Draft Picks:

  • No picks

The Blazers had traded their first rounder as part of the Gerald Wallace deal a few years back. The fact that he’s not on the team and they don’t have much to show in return has to hurt a bit, but the presence of Damian Lillard is more than a decent consolation prize. Granted, there weren’t any franchise changing players available at No. 24, but there were still a few useful pieces the team could have chosen from.

Overall Draft Grade:  D- —Trading your first round pick is always a risky proposition, and the team has nothing from that trade that will help the franchise next season, other than Lillard, who was acquired in a follow-up swap. The team better hope C.J. McCollum improves in his second year, otherwise it will be status quo in Rip City.

Utah Jazz

Team Needs: Small Forward, Power Forward, Point Guard

Draft Picks:

Despite not having a shot to take their dream player in Jabari Parker, you have to really like what the Jazz were able to accomplish on draft night. Exum was being discussed as a potential top-3 pick, and having him slip to the Jazz at No. 5 was a win. The book is still out on Exum, and it has to be seen how he will handle the much-tougher NBA competition. But physically and athletically, Exum has the makings of a star.

He will most likely begin his career as a shooting guard, playing alongside last year’s top pick, Trey Burke. But Burke’s lack of elite athleticism and speed might force the team to transition to Exum at the point. Wherever he ends up playing, Utah is gambling that he’ll be a top-10 player in the league in a few years. Exum could make the Magic kick themselves for passing over him to nab Aaron Gordon.

Hood at No. 23 was a tremendous value, and he has the potential to become a productive starting player. The Jazz will benefit from Hood’s ability to drain it from deep, and if he can develop into a better defender and rebounder, Hood will end up being a steal for the franchise.

Overall Draft Grade:  A —The Jazz came away with two potential starters, both of whom should see plenty of minutes next season. This could become the draft that gets the franchise turned around. Jazz fans have a lot to be excited about going into next season.

Eastern Rumors: Caboclo, Gortat, Bulls

June 28 at 9:35pm CDT By Cray Allred

With word of Joel Embiid‘s injury putting him on the shelf for longer than previously reported, and Dario Saric’s contract keeping him overseas for at least another year, both the Sixers first round draft picks might not play for Philadelphia in the 2014/15 season. Coach Brett Brown told reporters including Jason Wolf of USA Today Sports that he isn’t disappointed facing another season where the Sixers will likely finish at the bottom of the standings. “It is not even close to being demoralizing,” Brown said. “It just reconfirms in a more profound way that our words about trying to rebuild and being disciplined and patient went to a far greater level last night.” More from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Raptors had promised Bruno Caboclo that they would draft the off-the-radar Brazilian at No. 37 in December, and chose him with pick No. 20 when they discovered the Jazz and Suns were poised to snatch him before that, reports Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun.
  • Multiple teams are preparing to make a run at free agent Trevor Ariza, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Kennedy says the small forward’s stock is very high following a strong 2013/14 campaign.
  • Zach Lowe of Grantland suggests (on Twitter) Marcin Gortat is a player other than Kyle Lowry that could join the Heat if Miami gains cap flexibility.
  • The Cavs weren’t torn on whether to select Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker with the No. 1 pick in the draft, reports Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer. The actual conflict in Cleveland was whether or not to trade away the pick, writes Pluto.
  • Pistons president Stan Van Gundy tells Keith Langlois of Pistons.com that Detroit will target around 10 players when free agency begins on July 1, with a priority given to players on the wing, where Van Gundy believes Detroit to be thinnest (Twitter links).
  • Anthony Randolph was absorbed by the Bulls from their trade with the Nuggets via the trade exception they received from moving Luol Deng earlier this season, tweets Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times.
  • Scottie Pippen is now listed as a special advisor to the Bulls president and COO (H/T Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv). Pippen had previously discussed working for the Knicks with Phil Jackson.

And-Ones: Embiid, Draft, Trade Exceptions

June 27 at 11:36pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Nuggets absorbed Arron Afflalo into Andre Iguodala‘s $9,868,632 trade exception in Thursday’s trade with the Magic, reducing its value to $2,368,632. Still, the deal lets them make a new exception worth $1,422,720, equivalent to Evan Fournier‘s salary, and offloading Anthony Randolph in Thursday’s pick swap with the Bulls allows the Nuggets to create another new trade exception worth $1.75MM.

More from around the league:

  • Colin Ceccio of USA Today broke down the salaries for this year’s crop of draft picks.
  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today looks at the winners and losers from Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
  • GM Sam Hinkie anticipates Thaddeus Young remaining with the Sixers, tweets Tom Moore of Calkins Media. When asked if Young would remain with the team, Hinkie said, “I do. I like everything Thad’s about.
  • NBA.com collected all the various draft grades the Hawks were given for their work on Thursday night.
  • The estimates for when Joel Embiid will be able to return to the court for the Sixers have changed, reports The Toronto Sun (hat tip to the Sports XChange). Embiid is predicted to be out five to eight months, instead of the originally reported four to six months.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Nuggets, Blazers, Wolves

June 27 at 10:36pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey will be busy once the free agent signing period begins, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Olshey will look to upgrade his bench and he will have the team’s mid level exception which would allow Olshey to spend as much as $5.305MM on a player for up to four years, and a biannual exception that will allow him to spend roughly $2.1MM on a player for up to two years, the article notes. Freeman also looks at some of the free agent possibilities the team might entertain signing this summer.

More from the west:

  • According to Nuggets GM Tim Connelly, both Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris are “long term plays,” writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Connelly also said, I think Brian [Shaw] is an open competition coach, and if those guys come in and earn minutes, great, but I like what’s in front of them and I like the guys they are going to be able to learn from.”
  • Shaw is happy with how the Nuggets roster is currently constituted, writes Dempsey in a separate article. Shaw said, “In terms of our team, I think we got better yesterday. It’s tough. Evan Fournier is a young guy that had a lot of promise and had tremendous upside. But I think (the Arron Afflalo trade) gives us a legitimate starter at the two position. In terms of the depth of our team… we wanted to wear them down with the first unit and wear them out with the second unit. We never got an opportunity to get to that because of the injuries.”
  • If Kevin Love is traded this summer, the Timberwolves will move from an offense centered on his versatility and shot-making to one built around passing and a dangerous transition game, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press. The article examines how the draft night selections of Zach LaVine and Glenn Robinson III fit into that plan.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News examines what Nik Stauskas will bring to the Kings.

Eastern Notes: Bulls, Bucks, Magic

June 27 at 8:58pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Bulls trade that sent the No. 16 and 19 picks to the Nuggets for the chance to draft Doug McDermott actually hurt the teams chances of landing Carmelo Anthony, writes Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders.The article notes that by adding Anthony Randolph‘s $1.825MM salary to McDermott’s $1.898MM cap hold as the 11th pick and the roster charge of over $500,000, Chicago actually now has about $1 million less to offer Carmelo in free agency  than they would have had if they kept both picks.

More from the east:

  • Despite picking second, the Bucks got their number one draft target in Jabari Parker, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Coach Larry Drew said, “When the announcement came that Andrew Wiggins was the first pick by Cleveland, I looked around the room and Iooked at the faces, and I could see guys were really trying to hold their composure. When it came to our pick, faces just changed because we knew we got the man we really wanted.”
  • Despite having had a successful draft, the Magic are looking at the Summer of 2015 as when they will take the next step forward, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel. With an abundance of cap space and a number of promising young pieces in place, the team should be an attractive landing spot for big name free agents, opines Schmitz.
  • Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal looks at what the Knicks have lost and gained in the wake of the draft and the trade of Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks.
  • The Heat are making Norris Cole “very available” in trades, reports Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Magic, Afflalo, McRoberts, Heat

June 27 at 4:14pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Thursday’s trade that sent Arron Afflalo to the Nuggets in exchange for Evan Fournier and No. 56 pick Devyn Marble also gave the Magic a chance to reap an additional asset. It allows Orlando to create a $6,077,280 trade exception representing the difference in salary between Afflalo and Fournier. Of course, it might not last long if Orlando, which has been technically operating above the cap in spite of its diminutive payroll, elects to use cap space this summer. Still, it’s one more arrow in GM Rob Hennigan‘s quiver, and it helps explain another decision he made, as we detail below amid the latest from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic fielded offers that would have allowed them to obtain a first-round pick for Afflalo, but they elected to take the package from the Nuggets instead, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe reveals.
  • Hornets GM Rich Cho contends that the team’s decision to draft big man Noah Vonleh at No. 9 doesn’t affect Charlotte’s designs on re-signing Josh McRoberts, as Cho told reporters today, including Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).
  • It was a surprise when Caron Butler signed with the Thunder instead of the Heat this past season, but he said in a recent radio appearance on FM 104.3 The Ticket that the Heat approached him after he’d already committed to joining Oklahoma City. Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald has the highlights from the interview, in which the soon-to-be free agent confirmed that he’d consider signing with Miami this summer.

Western Notes: Nuggets, Lakers, Prince, Wolves

June 27 at 2:44pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Nuggets GM Tim Connelly shares the belief of former GM Masai Ujiri that, while having a marquee player is ideal, it’s possible to construct a team that goes deep into the playoffs without one, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe details.

“Watching the playoffs, I do think there is an increasing sense of parity,” Connelly said to Lowe this morning. “We lack that superstar, but we also think a couple of our younger players could really step their game up. I like our roster as I wake up today. It’s a roster that should restore a playoff spot. But we also want to maintain flexibility so that we can make moves. All of our assets are movable.”

There’s more on the Nuggets from Lowe’s piece among the latest from the Western Conference:

  • The Nuggets have been planning to discuss an extension with Thad Foucher client Kenneth Faried, and it appears they’ll waste no time in doing so. Connelly tells Lowe that he’ll meet with Faried’s representatives next week, just as Faried’s extension eligibility window opens (Twitter link).
  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak downplayed the idea that he’ll allow the team’s free agent signings to influence whom the club hires as coach, as Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com notes amid his piece on the team’s hopes for a splashy acquisition.
  • The Grizzlies were never that keen on rumored talks with the Raptors involving Tayshaun Prince and John Salmons, as Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes in a subscription-only piece.
  • Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders isn’t anxious to use the $5.305MM mid-level exception likely to be available to the team this summer, observes Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press“We will wait,” Saunders said. “Right now, there are not a lot of guys that are out there … that I think are better than players we have on the team. We aren’t just going to spend it just because we have it. If someone pops down and we think it’s worth it, we’ll do it.”
  • Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro and coach Michael Malone insisted Thursday night that the team’s decision to draft Nik Stauskas at No. 8 isn’t an indication that they’ve lost faith in fellow shooting guard Ben McLemoretweets Jon Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom.

Nuggets Acquire Arron Afflalo

June 27 at 12:18am CDT By Zach Links

FRIDAY, 12:18am: The deal is official, the Magic have announced via press release.

THURSDAY, 12:18pm: The Magic have agreed to send Arron Afflalo to the Nuggets for Evan Fournier and the No. 56 pick, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).  The Nuggets appear to be absorbing Afflalo into a trade exception, Zach Lowe of Grantland tweets.  A quick glance at this summer’s outstanding trade exceptions would indicate that Denver is using the $9.868MM exception from the Andre Iguodala deal to take on Afflalo.NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers

Afflalo is set to earn $7.56MM this season and has a player option for 2015/16 at $7.75MM, but it seems likely that he’ll opt out, effectively making his deal an expiring contract.  The haul for the guard may seem light, but that fact could have weighed down his trade value.  Afflalo put up a career-high 18.2 PPG this season in 35 minutes per contest.  His ~46% field goal percentage was right in line with his career average and his 16.0 PER was a full three points higher than his mark last season.

The deal is something of a homecoming for Afflalo, who played for Denver from 2009/10 through 2011/12.  The reunion won’t be short lived, as a source tells Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post (on Twitter) that the 28-year-old will not be flipped to another team in a trade.  Afflalo has been mentioned as someone the Nuggets were interested in acquiring for the purposes of flipping him to the Wolves in a Kevin Love deal.

Fournier averaged 8.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 1.5 APG in 19.5 minutes per night in 76 games last season.  The shooting guard showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie campaign but didn’t take significant strides forward in 2013/14.  Even though he shot well shot well from downtown, his field-goal percentage dropped to 41.9%, down 7.4 percent from the previous season.

Orlando surely likes Fournier but the real motivation for the deal comes in additional flexibility. Following the trade, the Magic have roughly $27.5MM in guaranteed salary on the books for 2014/15.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Acquire Doug McDermott From Nuggets

June 26 at 9:28pm CDT By Chuck Myron

9:28pm: The trade is official, the Bulls announced via press release. It’s McDermott and Randolph to Chicago, while Jusuf Nurkic (the 16th pick) and Gary Harris (the 19th pick) head to Denver along with the least favorable of the Bulls’ pair of second rounders in 2015 (Chicago has both its own second-round pick and Portland’s second-rounder that year).

8:58pm: Anthony Randolph is also set to go to Chicago in the swap, tweets Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post.

8:15pm: The Bulls are also sending a future second-round pick to Denver, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).

7:48pm: The Nuggets will trade Doug McDermott to the Bulls after taking him 11th overall, reports Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link). The Nuggets get picks Nos. 16 and 19 in exchange, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.