Denver Nuggets

And-Ones: Leonard, Lawson, Kings

Kawhi Leonard, who re-signed with the Spurs in July for five years and an estimated $90MM, ranks favorably among the best small forwards in history at similar stages of their careers, according to advanced stats, Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News writes. For example, in his fourth year, Leonard had a better Player Efficiency Rating (22.0) than Scottie Pippen (21.5), Bernard King (19.8), Alex English (19.7) and John Havlicek (19.2) did in their fifth, as McCarney points out. What’s more, he had more win shares per 48 minutes (.204) than those four as well as Rick Barry (.155) and Dominique Wilkins (.197), McCarney adds.

Here’s more news and notes from around the league:

  • The Kings‘ decision to sign Rajon Rondo to a one-year deal worth $10MM was a bad move because Rondo is a limited player and even if he does post a quality season, the contract does not provide any future control for the team, writes’s Ben Golliver in an analysis of Sacramento’s offseason. On the other hand, the Kings’ deal with Kosta Koufos is a good one, Golliver writes, because Koufos is a dependable, unselfish producer.
  • Ty Lawson, in reply to a comment on his Instagram account, criticized Nuggets GM Tim Connelly, owner Stan Kroenke and president Josh Kroenke (h/t Jeffrey Morton of Lawson was traded to the Rockets during the summer after continued alcohol issues. In response to a comment that labeled Lawson a disappointment in Denver, Lawson replied, “lol I wasn’t a disappointment…. I did my job.. Tim Conelly [sic] and the kronke [sic] are bad owners and gm’s.”

Northwest Notes: D-League, Wolves, Westbrook

The acquisition of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants by the Pacers will certainly change how teams around the NBA without their own affiliates utilize the D-League. The Blazers severed their partnership with the Idaho Stampede, who are now the Jazz‘s affiliate, at the completion of the 2013/14 campaign, but not having a D-League franchise of its own hasn’t hurt Portland’s player development yet, Mike Richman of the Oregonian opines. The franchise was still able to add point guard Tim Frazier last season, who was the D-League’s MVP and Rookie of the Year, despite not having their own affiliate, Richman notes. Establishing its own D-League affiliate isn’t currently a priority for Portland, Richman adds.

Here’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves GM Milt Newton, who’s in charge of the team’s front office while Flip Saunders recovers from cancer, wants to add two more players for training camp and he’ll need to unload one of the team’s 16 fully guaranteed contracts before opening night, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link).
  • Kevin Durant expressed his admiration for what teammate Russell Westbrook was able to accomplish last season with the rash of injuries the Thunder had suffered, including Durant himself missing a total of 55 contests, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report writes. “It was amazing to see a guy at the point guard position take over the game from all aspects and will his team with his passion, his enthusiasm, his energy on top of his skill,” Durant said. “It was incredible to watch. I was [expletive] I wasn’t out there to help him out. But I could tell he learned a lot and gained a lot of confidence.
  • The Nuggets are in for a long, difficult season, but the franchise does possess solid building blocks in Jusuf Nurkic and Emmanuel Mudiay, as well as a revitalized Danilo Gallinari, which should give the team hope for the future, writes Tim Bontemps of The New York Post (Facebook link) in his season preview.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Gallinari, Majok, Moreland

The Lakers, who have deals with 17 players, plan at least one more signing before the start of camp, reports Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). It remains unclear whether undrafted center Robert Upshaw will join the team. Upshaw was reportedly close to signing with the team back in July, but some personal issues have delayed the two sides coming to terms on a deal.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • There are no trigger dates attached to Eric Moreland‘s $200K partial guarantee that is included in his deal with the Kings, according to former Nets executive Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The partial guarantee is in effect from day one, and will not be dependent on Moreland remaining on Sacramento’s roster through a specific date.
  • The Lakers have made their required tender of a one-year, non-guaranteed, minimum salary offer to Ater Majok, which will allow the franchise to retain his draft rights, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (via Twitter). Majok was the No. 58 overall pick out of UConn in the 2011 NBA Draft. The center currently plays for Trefl Sopot of the Polish Basketball League.
  • If Danilo Gallinari‘s stellar play during the final two months of the 2014/15 season and this Summer’s Eurobasket tournament are any indication of what is to come from the small forward, the Nuggets got themselves a steal in their renegotiation-and-extension of his contract, Kevin Pelton of opines (Twitter link).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Northwest Notes: Favors, Bjelica, Malone

Derrick Favors had started only eight games the season before he signed his four-year, $49MM-plus extension with the Jazz in 2013, but GM Dennis Lindsey tells Adi Joseph of The Sporting News that the team wasn’t worried. Lindsey credits Favors with having patiently waited his turn to inherit a major role.

“The present screams while the future whispers,” Lindsey said. “And many of those contracts, you do have to project. But Derrick gave us a great sense of calm with how he’s handled himself as a player and as a person.”

Lindsey added that he considered supplementing the team’s playoff push this season with a veteran free agent addition or a splashy trade but decided against it when the right player didn’t emerge, entrusting Favors and the other members of the team’s youthful core with taking the next step this season. While we wait to see if they can, see more on the Jazz and their Northwest Division rivals:

  • Favors wasn’t initially sold on Utah, but that’s changed, as he said to Joseph for the same piece. “I didn’t expect to stay [long term], no,” Favors said. “Utah was so different, I was so new to it. I didn’t expect to stay. But as the years have gone on, I’ve grown to love it. I got used to it. I just started feeling comfortable. I like how calm and chill it is in Utah. It’s a good thing and it’s a bad thing. The bad part is, maybe after a big game you want to go out and hang out or whatever, and there’s really not too many spots like that in Utah. Down here, you could go anywhere. Out in Utah, it’s chill, laid-back. There’s not a lot of rah-rah stuff going on. You can focus on your job, your career, whatever else you have going on.”
  • Nemanja Bjelica will fight for minutes at a crowded power forward position as a rookie this year, but the Timberwolves draft-and-stash signee figures to earn his share of playing team, and he’s capable of becoming a star in the NBA, opines SB Nation’s Liam Boylan-Pett. His performance in this week’s Eurobasket tournament has provided glimpses of why he can succeed at the NBA level, as Boylan-Pett examines.
  • The addition of coach Michael Malone is one of the few moves that the Nuggets have made recently that seem to have struck the right chord, writes Shaun Powell of in his 30 Teams, 30 Days series.

Western Notes: Bryant, Gates, Malone

With Kobe Bryant entering the final year of his current deal, the Lakers were hampered by the Mamba’s $25MM salary when trying to rebuild their roster this offseason, and as a result this season will be more of a farewell tour for the superstar than a run at a final title, Shaun Powell of writes in his season preview of the club. Powell also notes that while Bryant has a reputation as someone willing to do anything to win a championship, if that was indeed the case he would have pushed to join a contender for what could end up being his final NBA campaign. So instead, Powell opines that Bryant is willing to win, but only on his terms.

Here’s more out of the West:

  • Former Pelicans assistant coach Bryan Gates, who wasn’t retained when Monty Williams was fired, has been added to Flip Saunders‘ staff with the Timberwolves, Ken Berger of reports (Twitter link).
  • New Nuggets coach Michael Malone acknowledged that he was consulted by the team’s front office prior to troubled point guard Ty Lawson being traded to the Rockets, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post writes. “We’re a team. There’s no separation between church and state,” Malone said of his relationship with Denver’s front office. “We’re together, we’re one, we communicate, and I think that’s so important. But at the end of the day, Tim’s [Connelly] job as GM is to make those decisions, obviously with the blessing of [team president] Josh Kroenke. They asked my opinion, I gave it, I tell him what I feel and believe in, and then whatever decision they make I roll with it.
  • The Trail Blazers will have to take a committee approach to try and replace the rim protection that was lost when Robin Lopez departed for the Knicks in free agency this Summer, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes.

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Wolves, Kanter

Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic is sitting out the Eurobasket tournament as he continues to rehab his left knee, though he hopes to be healthy enough to play for the Nuggets at the start of the season or shortly thereafter, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post reports. Nurkic was planning to play for Bosnia and Herzegovina before he underwent knee surgery in May to repair a partially torn left patella tendon, Dempsey continues.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Wolves‘ lottery luck turned around and gave them perhaps the second franchise player in their history, writes Shaun Powell of Karl-Anthony Towns, the first player selected in this year’s draft, has the potential for greatness, according to Powell, and he has the good fortune of being tutored by Minnesota’s other franchise player, Kevin Garnett. The writer believes Towns’ addition makes Nikola Pekovic expendable, although his salary of more than $35MM over the next three years may make a deal difficult until at least the trade deadline. Ricky Rubio may also be dealt now that rookie Tyus Jones and veteran Andre Miller are in town. With a wealth of young and inexpensive talent on hand, Powell sees the Wolves as contenders for a top free agent next summer.
  • Enes Kanter tells Carla Hinton of The Oklahoman that efforts to accommodate his Muslim faith made him feel welcome in Oklahoma City. Kanter, whose four-year, $70MM offer sheet with the Blazers was matched by the Thunder, said the organization set up a prayer room for him at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: J.R. Smith, Wizards, Contracts

J.R. Smith‘s new two-year contract with the Cavaliers has an unusual structure that includes partial guarantees for both this season and next, sources tell Brian Windhorst of (Twitter links). This year’s salary, worth $5MM, is guaranteed for only $2MM, and next year’s salary, a player option, has a $2.15MM partial guarantee on the full $5.4MM value, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (All four Twitter links). However, this season’s salary becomes fully guaranteed if the team keeps him through Monday, Pincus adds. That’s almost certain to happen, but the reason that clause is in the contract is so that his 2016/17 salary can become fully guaranteed if he sticks on the roster through the same date next year, in a structure similar to the deal that Kostas Papanikolaou signed with the Rockets last year, Pincus explains. The Cavs formally announced Smith’s signing Wednesday, nearly two weeks after Smith revealed that he would be rejoining the team.

See more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Coach Randy Wittman likes the grit that Wizards camp signee Toure’ Murry has shown in the past, but the shooting guard will have to make quite a convincing case for the Wizards to keep him over one of the 15 players on their roster with a fully guaranteed contract, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Jaleel Roberts, the other Wizard with a non-guaranteed deal, won his training camp roster spot more so by his performance at Tim Grgurich’s private camp than through his play with the Wizards summer league squad, Michael hears. Still, Roberts is more likely to make the regular season roster in 2016/17, when the team will ostensibly have greater flexibility, than he is this year, according to Michael.
  • Kelly Dwyer, Ben Rohrbach and Eric Freeman of Yahoo! Sports weighed in on which 2015 NBA draftee ended up in the best situation to succeed next season. Dwyer chose the KnicksKristaps Porzingis, while Rohrbach tabbed Justise Winslow of the Heat, and Freeman’s pick was the Nuggets’ Emmanuel Mudiay.
  • The Cavs had possessed one of the most tradeable contracts in the league in Brendan Haywood‘s non-guaranteed pact, which they had dealt to the Blazers at the end of July. Pincus, in a separate post, ran down some of the most desirable trade chip contracts around the NBA , including Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko of the Celtics, the WizardsKris Humphries and Martell Webster, as well as Ersan Ilyasova‘s deal with the Pistons.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

Northwest Notes: Rubio, Harkless, Claver

Ricky Rubio answered affirmatively when asked whether he wanted to remain with the Timberwolves and praised the team’s offseason additions in an interview with Jamie Goodwin of the Gulf News in Dubai, where the point guard had traveled for a basketball camp. Reports conflicted this spring on the subject of whether Rubio’s camp was pushing for a trade, though comments since that time from Rubio and Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders have downplayed the notion that a trade is forthcoming. See more on Minnesota’s Northwest Division rivals here:

  • The Trail Blazers were eyeing Maurice Harkless long before they traded with the Magic this summer to acquire him, as GM Neil Olshey tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe“Mo was very high on our board a few years ago in the [2012] draft,” Portland general manager Neil Olshey said. “We were excited about him. He has a lot of potential. He fits our model right now; he’s an emerging young player. He’s got a lot of talent. We have a lot of faith in our player development staff and our coaches that guys hit their ceilings, and we know Mo’s not even close to his ceiling at this point. He’s going to get a great opportunity with us to be the player we loved coming out of the draft.”
  • Former Blazers small forward Victor Claver has officially signed with Lokomotiv Kuban of Russia, the team announced (hat tip to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). International journalist David Pick first reported the deal this weekend. It had appeared that Claver would return to his native Spain to play, but he’s instead headed to Russia, where he finished up this past season with Khimki Moscow after hitting NBA waivers. The Blazers traded him to the Nuggets in the Arron Afflalo deal, and Denver released him a few days later.
  • The Jazz have hired Jordan Brady as an assistant coach for their D-League affiliate, the team announced. He spent last season as a Lakers D-League assistant coach. He’ll work under D-League head coach Dean Cooper and replace Andrae Patterson, who moved into a front office role with the Jazz this summer.

Joey Dorsey, Turkey’s Galatasaray Strike Deal

AUGUST 29TH, 8:38am: The signing is official, the team announced (translation by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando).

AUGUST 18TH, 8:15am: Joey Dorsey and Galatasaray of Turkey have agreed to a deal worth more than $650K, a source tells international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Agent Misko Raznatovic confirmed the pact (on Twitter). The salary would indicate that it’s a one-year arrangement, and Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi says that’s indeed the case (Twitter link). Pick indicates that the sides have already put pen to paper, though it would appear to be contingent upon a release from the Nuggets, who still have him under contract after acquiring him from the Rockets as part of the Ty Lawson trade. Dorsey has a guaranteed salary of more than $1.015MM coming his way this season as one of 15 Nuggets with fully guaranteed pacts.

Dorsey signed last summer with Houston on a guaranteed two-year, minimum-salary deal that brought him back to the NBA after an absence of three years. Injuries to Dwight Howard and others allowed Dorsey to make an NBA career-high 17 starts this past season, one in which he averaged 2.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game. The 31-year-old nonetheless saw only 13 total minutes in the playoffs.

Denver is well-loaded at power forward and center, Dorsey’s positions, with Jusuf Nurkic and draft-and-stash signee Nikola Jokić manning the pivot and Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson, Joffrey Lauvergne and the newly re-signed Darrell Arthur at the four. Power forward Kostas Papanikolaou is also on the roster at power forward, but his salary of nearly $4.798MM is non-guaranteed, and conflicting reports have emerged about whether the Nuggets will keep him.

Do you think we’ll see Dorsey in the NBA again? Leave a comment to tell us.

Carlos Boozer Unlikely To Sign Before Season Starts

Carlos Boozer is likely to remain unsigned for the rest of the offseason and instead seek a deal with a playoff contender after the season starts, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Thus, it appears as though the 13-year veteran simply isn’t seeing an offer that he likes for now, though it casts doubt on the idea that he would bite on apparent interest from the Chinese league, an option that had reportedly intrigued him earlier this month.

Boozer, who turns 34 in November, made $16.8MM combined last season from the Bulls, who waived him via the amnesty clause in July 2014, and the Lakers, who submitted a partial claim of $3.251MM to snag him off waivers. He’d be hard-pressed to make even the amount of that amnesty claim on an NBA contract this season, simply because most teams have no more than the $2.814MM room exception to spend. The Mavericks, one of the latest three NBA teams reported to have interest in him, have only the room exception to use, while the Knicks, another of those interested parties, are limited to the minimum. The Rockets have more than $2.274MM left of their mid-level exception, but using it would impose a hard cap on them, and they still have yet to sign No. 32 overall pick Montrezl Harrell. The Spurs, Raptors, Pelicans, Nuggets, Nets, Lakers and Heat were reportedly interested in the Rob Pelinka client earlier this summer, but none of them have the capacity to give him as much as the Lakers paid for him last year. The Lakers renounced their Bird rights to him last month.

The two-time All-Star put up 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in 2012/13, but his numbers have declined in each of the two seasons since, and his 6.8 boards and 23.8 minutes per contest last season were career lows. Former Nets executive Bobby Marks wouldn’t be surprised if Boozer waited until Christmas to sign (Twitter link). I’d speculate that a decent chance exists that he stays on the market even longer. Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal, two other aging former All-Stars, chose to carry on as free agents into the season last year but never wound up signing.

What do you think Boozer will end up doing? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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