Isaiah Thomas insists he didn’t verbally push the Suns to deal him to the Celtics last week, as Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald relays. Suns GM Ryan McDonough said Thomas’ desire to start was the catalyst for last week’s swap, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
“They said that? I did want to start, who doesn’t?” Thomas said. “I don’t get that. I was a team player, didn’t complain about anything. The guys who complain, you see it in the media. I didn’t say anything. For the most part, it was good. When we did play together it was positive and it worked, but it’s tough to do when you have three talented point guards who need the ball to be effective. It’s three point guards that want the ball.”
Thomas qualified that remark, saying that he would have liked to have played more, according to Coro. He called the Phoenix backcourt “a tough situation” that’s “not what I expected” in November, but later made comments indicating he was pleased with the setup. Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:
- Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob reiterated that he’s willing to pay the luxury tax next season, telling Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard that the team has no choice but to do so barring “some massive deal.” “[GM] Bob [Myers] keeps saying I must have the only owner in the NBA who says, ‘Stop worrying about the luxury tax,’” Lacob said. “Even today I said, ‘I don’t care about the luxury tax.’ I don’t want to make decisions based on the luxury tax. We want to get better. Our job is to get better. Secondarily, we’ll worry about the money.”
- Lacob wouldn’t address soon-to-be restricted free agent Draymond Green directly but said to Ballard, “It would take a lot to not sign our core players. Does that answer your question?”
- George Karl said he spoke with Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro about the idea of adding a point guard but added that he’d prefer not to make any more changes, observes Matt Kawahara of The Sacramento Bee. Darren Collison has missed the last six games with a right hip flexor strain and doesn’t appear on his way back anytime soon, so Karl has turned to Andre Miller and is giving him a much greater role than he had with the Wizards, as Kawahara examines.
- Karl’s reps impressed upon the Kings during negotiations earlier this month that the coach would likely have other opportunities in the offseason, putting pressure on Sacramento to hire him as soon as possible, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.
The Rockets’ Jason Terry believes Kevin Garnett will make an immediate impact with the Wolves, reports Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle. Garnett, a star with Minnesota for more than a decade, was reacquired Thursday in a trade deadline deal. He may not see much playing time, but he is expected to have a strong influence over the Wolves’ young players. “He will infuse discipline right away,” said Terry, who teamed with Garnett with both the Celtics and Nets. “Guys will come in and they are going to be expected to be professional at all times and I think learning from KG the last two seasons in Brooklyn and in Boston, I learned how to be a better leader myself, even in my 16th year in the league.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Some expect that Timberwolves assistant coach Sam Mitchell will succeed Flip Saunders as Minnesota’s head coach, according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com. Mitchell reportedly interviewed for the head job last summer.
- After a week that saw him get both traded and waived, Victor Claver got some advice from a former teammate on the Spanish national team, the Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol, writes Jabari Young of CSNNW.com. Claver was part of a five-player deal on Thursday that sent him from the Blazers to the Nuggets, but on Sunday he was waived by Denver. “He needed a change from [Portland]” Gasol said. “I don’t think he expected to get waived from Denver, but that’s part of the game.” Gasol’s advice was to stay aggressive and look for an opening where he can fit in. One possibility for Claver is a return to the Euroleague, where he played before coming to Portland.
- Enes Kanter gives the Thunder the inside scoring presence they’ve needed for years, writes Dave Leonardis of Bleacher Report. Kanter came to Oklahoma City from the Jazz in a three-team deal just before last Thursday’s deadline. Kanter was inserted into the starting lineup and delivered two straight double-doubles in wins over the Hornets and Nuggets.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Thunder aren’t making moves simply out of fear that Kevin Durant will jump ship in 2016 and Russell Westbrook will follow suit the next year, a league source tells TNT’s David Aldridge for his Morning Tip column on NBA.com. Still, it’s been an active season for GM Sam Presti, who went over the tax line to acquire Dion Waiters and stayed above it after Thursday’s swap that sent out Reggie Jackson and brought in Enes Kanter. Aldridge has much more in his column, and we’ll hit the highlights, many of which are Thunder-related:
- The Thunder let the Nets know they wouldn’t do the proposed Jackson/Brook Lopez trade just 15 minutes before the deadline, Aldridge reports. The Nets likely would have dealt Jarrett Jack to the Wizards if they’d done that deal, Aldridge adds.
- The concern that Arron Afflalo would turn down his player option and hit the open market dissuaded the Thunder from trading for him, as Aldridge explains.
- The Rockets preferred Goran Dragic to Jackson and the Celtics weren’t willing to trade young players for the then-Thunder guard, Aldridge writes.
- The Thunder didn’t have plans to re-sign Kendrick Perkins in the summer even before they traded him at the deadline, according to Aldridge.
1:49pm: Robinson has agreed to sign a 10-day contract, though the Nets are expected to eventually sign him for the rest of the season, Wojnarowski reports in a full story.
1:26pm: Nets officials changed their minds about Robinson this weekend after they were initially uninterested in signing him, according to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post (Twitter link).
12:57pm: Robinson confirmed the agreement to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, as Kennedy relays in a pair of tweets.
12:47pm: The Nets and Thomas Robinson have agreed to a deal that will see the big man join the team after he clears waivers from the Nuggets, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Denver released him Sunday after agreeing to a buyout deal, so he’s poised to clear waivers Tuesday. It’s something of a surprise to see Brooklyn end up with the former No. 5 overall pick, since a report late Sunday indicated that the Nets weren’t interested. That ran counter to an earlier dispatch from Shams Charania of RealGM that said Brooklyn, along with the Spurs, Suns, Heat and Hornets, had engaged in talks with Robinson.
Brooklyn has an open roster spot, so no corresponding move is required. The Nets are limited to paying the Tony Dutt client no more than the prorated minimum salary, which is less than the other teams reportedly in discussions could offer, as I explained. Still, it’s not a shock to see him settle for the minimum, as he’s struggled to live up to his lofty draft position, and Brooklyn is poised to become his fourth team in fewer than three NBA seasons. The Blazers declined their team option on the fourth year of his rookie scale contract before trading him to Denver at the deadline on Thursday.
Robinson was one of three prospects the Nets were particularly enamored with when they traded their 2012 lottery pick to Portland, according to Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter). That pick came in sixth, which the Blazers used to select Damian Lillard, so Brooklyn wouldn’t have had a chance to nab Robinson, since the Kings took him fifth. Since then, Robinson has displayed proficiency on the boards, hauling in 11.7 per 36 minutes for his NBA career, but he’s otherwise failed to make much of an impact.
SUNDAY, 3:41pm: The Nuggets announced that they have waived Robinson.
THURSDAY, 8:33pm: Robinson and the Nuggets have reached a verbal agreement on a buyout, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweets.
4:14pm: Thomas Robinson may not be a member of the Nuggets for very long. The player’s representatives are going to seek to reach a buyout arrangement with Denver, Jabari Young of CSNNW.com reports (Twitter link). The young forward out of Kansas was acquired by the Nuggets as part of the deal that sent Arron Afflalo to the Trail Blazers. Denver also received Will Barton, Victor Claver, a second-rounder, and a future lottery-protected first-round pick in the transaction.
The 6’10” forward is making $3,678,360 this season, and is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It’s unclear just how much of his salary Robinson is willing to give back in a buyout. But with Kenneth Faried currently entrenched as the starting power forward, and the Nuggets in full-rebuilding mode, Robinson may prefer to seek out a contending team in need of an athletic big man, though that is just my speculation.
In 32 appearances for the Blazers this season, Robinson has contributed 3.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 12.2 minutes per contest. His career numbers since becoming the No. 5 overall pick back in 2012 are 4.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 0.5 assists. Robinson’s career slash line is .462/.000/.523.
SUNDAY, 3:40pm: The Nuggets announced that they have waived Claver.
FRIDAY, 8:37pm: The Nuggets intend to waive forward Victor Claver, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link). Claver was acquired from the Trail Blazers on Thursday along with Will Barton and Thomas Robinson in exchange for Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee.
The 26-year-old from Spain is earning $1.37MM this season, and was set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the campaign. Denver currently has the league maximum 15 players on its roster, so releasing Claver would allow the team some roster flexibility moving forward.
Claver has appeared in 10 games this season, all with Portland, and he is averaging 2.4 points and 2.0 rebounds in 7.6 minutes per game. His career numbers through 80 contests are 3.2 PPG and 2.2 RPG. Claver’s career slash line is .398/.293/.585.
Thomas Robinson has had conversations with the Spurs, Nets, Suns, Heat and Hornets in the wake of his buyout deal with the Nuggets, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). The former No. 5 overall pick went to Denver in the deadline-day trade that sent Arron Afflalo to the Blazers.
The Suns can spend the most, with more than $3.247MM in cap room. Miami has a disabled player exception worth nearly $2.653MM it can spend. The Spurs have a prorated portion of their mid-level, worth about $2.4MM, while the Hornets have their room exception, which comes to about $2MM at this point. The exceptions that San Antonio and Charlotte possess reduce in value daily. The Nets are limited to the minimum salary, which also prorates on a daily basis.
Robinson has seen his minutes decline each season after his rookie campaign, when he was traded midseason from the Kings to the Rockets. Portland acquired him when Houston sent him out in a cap-clearing move that helped the Rockets sign Dwight Howard, but at each stop, the power forward has failed to live up to his draft position. Still, he’s an efficient rebounder, averaging 4.2 boards in 12.2 minutes per game this season.
With the trade deadline passed the Timberwolves‘ focus is on seeing which players fit into their long-term plans, Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune writes. “It’s an evaluation time for some of these guys, for where they’re at,” president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said. “But also for what they have to work on, once the season ends and they start getting ready for next year, what they need to do to become solid rotational players. So it’s a little of both.”
Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The first-round pick the Jazz netted in their trade of Enes Kanter is Oklahoma City’s 2017 choice, and it’s lottery-protected every year through 2020, as RealGM shows. If it doesn’t convey by then, the Thunder will send their 2020 and 2021 second-round choices.
- Thaddeus Young‘s representatives had asked the Timberwolves to trade him prior to Thursday’s deadline, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reports (Twitter link). Young was dealt to the Nets for Kevin Garnett.
- Joffrey Lauvergne‘s contract with the Nuggets is for three years and $5.2MM, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). The big man will earn $1.89MM the first year, and then $1.7MM in each of the two remaining years, with the third season non-guaranteed, Pincus notes. Denver used part of its mid-level exception to sign the big man, Pincus adds.
- Nuggets GM Tim Connelly was critical of Ty Lawson, whose relationship with the team has reportedly deteriorated, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post reports (Twitter links). Speaking about Lawson, Connelly said, “He needs to grow up. The organization, top to bottom, can’t be anymore supportive. It’s time for, not just Ty but for several of our guys to be pros or it’s time to take a hard look at our roster.“
- As a result of their deadline dealings the Blazers now have an empty roster spot, something president of basketball operations Neil Olshey is in no hurry to fill, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian writes. Olshey believes that the Blazers’ player rotation is set and the organization believes that it has enough talent and depth to be a contender in the Western Conference, Freeman adds.
- With the Nuggets reportedly set to waive him, Victor Claver‘s representatives are working to find the player a spot on an NBA roster, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype.com relays. “The priority would be to find a new NBA deal even if it has to be a 10-day contract,” a league source told Sierra. “That would not be a problem, especially considering it may be too late for a deal in the Euroleague at this point.“
Blazers GM Neil Olshey made it clear that Thursday’s trade for Arron Afflalo was a product of the team’s emphasis on the present, as he told reporters and as The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman transcribes.
“It’s one of the things about our league; you can’t be a development team and a winning team,” Olshey said. “They’re not always independent of one another, but they’re more independent than people would like to admit.”
All five Northwest Division teams made trades Thursday, and that included two deals in which Northwest teams hooked up with each other. We rounded up the latest on the Wolves, the lone team that didn’t make an intradivision trade, earlier today, and now here’s what’s happening in the rest of the division:
- The Nuggets expected that Afflalo would command $9-10MM a year in a new contract this summer, reports Chris Mannix of SI.com, who writes in his Open Floor column. The new Blazers shooting guard has a player option likely worth $7.75MM for next season, up from his base salary of $7.5MM. That’s because playing with Portland means he’ll probably trigger the bonus for making the playoffs that’s part of his contract, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
- There were strong feelings in the Nuggets organization that the presence of JaVale McGee negatively influenced a “winning culture,” Mannix also writes in the same piece.
- Reggie Jackson sat out a game at the beginning of the season because he was disappointed the Thunder didn’t trade him, a source tells Royce Young of ESPN.com, who delves into the frayed relationship between Jackson and his now former Thunder teammates.
- The development of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors and the desire for cap flexibility motivated the Jazz’s decision to trade Enes Kanter, not Kanter’s trade request, Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey insists, as Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune relays.
- Dorell Wright, a free agent at season’s end, would prefer re-signing with the Blazers over a deal with any other NBA team, as he tells Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders.
- There’s a decent chance Tibor Pleiss, the draft-and-stash prospect whom the Jazz acquired Thursday from the Thunder, leaves his Spanish team soon, making him available to sign with Utah, a source indicated to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). Pleiss, a center, is currently under contract through 2016, as our draft rights held database shows.
8:07pm: Philadelphia has no intention of discussing a buyout arrangement with McGee, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
5:15pm: The Sixers and JaVale McGee are headed for a buyout, as Tom Moore of Calkins Media believes (Twitter link). McGee was acquired by Philadelphia from the Nuggets earlier today along with the Thunder’s 2015 first-round pick and the rights to Nigerian forward Chu Chu Maduabum in exchange for the rights to draft-and-stash prospect Cenk Akyol.
The 27-year-old center out of Nevada is earning $11.25MM this season, and is scheduled to make $12MM for the 2015/16 campaign. It’s unclear how much of next year’s fully guaranteed salary Philadelphia would be willing to absorb if the team decided to waive McGee as part of a buyout agreement. With McGee’s injury history it would be a bit surprising to see him give up a major chunk of next year’s salary, though that is just my speculation.
McGee missed most of the 2013/14 campaign due to a stress fracture in his leg and has also missed time this year because of an injury in the same area. The big man has only appeared in a grand total of 22 games for the Nuggets over the last two seasons. The athletic 7-footer has career averages of 8.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. McGee’s career slash line is .541/.200/.587.