Kenneth Faried

Nuggets Rumors: Hickson, Barton, Lauvergne

J.J. Hickson has handled trade rumors and reduced playing time in the best possible way, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. The Nuggets have been shopping the 27-year-old center/forward, who has been with the team since signing as a free agent in 2013. Hickson, who has fallen out of the rotation, is making nearly $5.614MM this season in the final year of an expiring contract. Coach Michael Malone has acknowledged the difficult situation that Hickson is in and complimented him for approaching it professionally and keeping himself ready to play.

Dempsey lists several other Nuggets who are attracting interest as the February 18th trade deadline nears:

  • Denver is getting numerous inquiries about Will Barton but doesn’t seem interested in making a deal. The 25-year-old shooting guard has taken a step forward this season, averaging 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Dempsey says the Nuggets know they have a “gem” in Barton, who is signed through the 2017/18 season.
  • The Nuggets began getting calls on second-year center Joffrey Lauvergne before the season started. Denver turned down those offers, and Dempsey believes the team will keep Lauvergne, in spite of a report that the Nuggets are seeking a late first-round pick for him. The Post scribe acknowledges that it’s not a certainty the Nuggets will hang on to the big man, but Malone has stated more than once that he considers Lauvergne part of the future, Dempsey notes. Lauvergne, who was the 55th pick in 2013, is also signed through 2017/18.
  • Kenneth Faried isn’t on the trade block, but Dempsey believes a “too good to be true” offer might change the Nuggets’ minds. The 26-year-old power forward has three years and nearly $39MM left after this season on the extension he signed in 2014.
  • The Nuggets were mentioned in Blake Griffin trade rumors last week, but Dempsey doesn’t think the Clippers will be dealing their star forward this season. He says L.A. has a “win now” philosophy, but that could change with another playoff disappointment. If that happens, the Nuggets would still be interested in Griffin this summer.

Latest On Blake Griffin

The Sixers and Nuggets have talked to the Clippers about Blake Griffin, league sources tell Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio and Amico Hoops (Twitter link), confirming an earlier dispatch from Mitch Lawrence of Forbes, who first reported the involvement of the Nuggets. However, the Clippers have no active interest in trading him in spite of offers that several teams have made, a source told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

It doesn’t seem as though the Nuggets have assets that align with what the Clippers would want for Griffin, observes Dan Woike of the Orange County Register (All Twitter links), even though Lawrence indicates that the Clippers were the ones who began the dialogue. The Sixers, like the Nuggets, will have as many as four first-round picks this year, but they have less to offer on their existing roster, as their league-worst 7-42 record would indicate.

The Nuggets have reservations about their ability to re-sign Griffin, whose contract runs through 2017/18 and includes an opt-out for the summer of 2017, Lawrence writes. Danilo Gallinari would be available for the right return, according to Lawrence, but it appears the price for Gallinari is high, as the Celtics have reportedly been unable to pry him from Denver. Outside of Gallinari and Emmanuel Mudiay, the Nuggets are “open for business,” as Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports said in a recent radio appearance, and Lawrence confirms the team would be willing to trade Kenneth Faried.

The Clippers plan a concerted effort to look for Griffin trades in the offseason if they disappoint in the playoffs this spring, as fellow Vertical scribe Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier today, but coach/executive Doc Rivers isn’t eager to trade the star power forward before the deadline, as Zach Lowe of ESPN.com wrote recently. Philadelphia chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo said this week that the Sixers aren’t actively looking for a deadline trade while not ruling out the possibility of making one. A pursuit of Griffin that takes place in the offseason would fall in line with reported efforts the team made to sign Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard under GM Sam Hinkie this past summer, though it’s unclear just how the Sixers will function now that Colangelo is around.

The broken shooting hand Griffin suffered, reportedly from hitting friend and Clippers assistant equipment manager Mathias Testi, will keep him from playing for several weeks, perhaps until late March, as the Clippers apparently believe. The incident has prompted an NBA investigation that’s likely to result in discipline for Griffin, commissioner Adam Silver told Sam Amick of USA Today.

Northwest Notes: Faried, Kaman, Snyder

Kenneth Faried acknowledged that the Nuggets trade of Ty Lawson to the Rockets is just part of the business of basketball, but he was still stung by it due to his close friendship with the point guard, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post relays. When asked about the trade, Faried said, “Basketball. Nature of the beast. I’m not part of the business side I’m part of the playing side. I just want to get up-and-down and play the game. It hurt me because that was my best friend but it’s the nature of the beast. You’ve got to live with it.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Mason Plumlee says he has learned a lot from veteran big man Chris Kaman in the short time that they have been teammates with the Trail Blazers, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. “The guys who are here 10-plus years in the NBA are here because they help the young guys,” Plumlee said of Kaman. “Here’s very good, he’s helpful, he knows what coach [Terry] Stotts wants so he’s been great.” Plumlee was acquired by Portland back in June.
  • Jazz coach Quin Snyder enters his second season with the team a bit more relaxed than his he was during his rookie campaign, and he aims to try and be less intense with his players this season, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News writes. “The course of the season and our team and how we play will dictate that as much as anything,” Snyder said, obviously making no hard promises regarding his future demeanor.
  • One of the problems facing the Timberwolves as they enter the preseason is that most of their big men are power forwards who will be tasked with manning the center position, Marcus R. Fuller of The Pioneer Press writes. Kevin Garnett, a power forward by trade, won’t be thrilled if he has to spend prolonged time in the pivot, Fuller adds. I still hate the center position,” Garnett said. “I’m 235, 240 [pounds]. Guys who play the center … DeAndre Jordan is 275, 280. That’s outweighing me by 40 pounds. But what I don’t make up in weight, I make up in heart and [expletive].”As for interim coach Sam Mitchell‘s plan for the rotation at the five spot, he said, “I’ve got an idea in my mind. But until we get out on the floor and actually watch them play a little bit, then we’ll start to formulate those opinions.

Northwest Notes: Aldridge, Faried, Durant

Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen said that the team has moved on from the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs this summer, and that he is excited for what the future holds for the franchise, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian relays. When asked if he felt betrayed by Aldridge, Allen said, “No. I think LaMarcus had a lot of options. We went down to Dallas, [GM] Neil [Olshey] and I pitched him and he chose to go a different direction. We made it to his last few choices and he was good enough to call me up and explain his decision and all that. It’s tough for a franchise, because we were all thinking that we had a real shot at getting him back. But in the end, he chose to go a different direction and now it’s a new day. We’ve moved on and I think you can feel the excitement and the energy in the gym now.

Allen said he enjoys the process of developing younger players, which makes the team’s current transitional period easier on him, Freeman adds. “It’s always a transition. I’m always trying to figure out how many times we’ve done a rebuild here. I think three. But you guys will probably correct me on that, I’m sure. I probably, more than a lot of owners, enjoy seeing young players develop. Always have. Always will. And that’s also been a hallmark of other teams like the Seahawks that I’ve been involved with. So seeing young players develop and I think if you watch some of the players that Neil has brought in here, we’ve been very lucky to be able to bring those in and be able to pivot from being a playoff team to being a team that’s going through a transition to hopefully being back in the playoffs before too long. So we’ll see.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The deals that Talib Zanna, Dez Wells, and Julyan Stone signed with the Thunder are all one-year, minimum salary arrangements that include no guaranteed salary, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • Omari Johnson‘s pact with the Blazers is a one year deal for the league minimum and includes no guaranteed salary, Pincus relays (via Twitter).
  • Difficulties between Kenneth Faried and former coach Brian Shaw negatively impacted the forward’s performance for the Nuggets last season, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post writes. If you don’t have a coach that believes in you, then what’s the point of going out there and playing?” Faried said. “If your coach doesn’t have faith in you and puts you out in the fire against all these great players, you’re going to get torched.
  • Kevin Durant is a fan of new Thunder coach Billy Donovan, Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman tweets. Of Donovan, Durant said, “Great basketball mind, but more importantly, a better person. We’ve hit it off.” With Durant eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, any added incentive for him to remain in Oklahoma City is certainly a boon for the franchise.
  • After a breakout season in 2014/15 for the Jazz, Gordon Hayward needs to become a better closer at the end of games in order to take his next step forward as a star player, Aaron Falk, Tony Jones and Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune write.

Northwest Notes: Faried, Bennett, Kaman

People close to the Nuggets have indicated that Kenneth Faried played a larger role in the downfall of former coach Brian Shaw than publicly known, according to Ben Dowsett of Basketball Insiders. Trade rumors surrounded Faried for much of the past year, and many people around the league expect Denver will deal him away. Still, Dowsett takes Shaw to task for his performance as a coach last season and calls the hiring of Michael Malone the team’s best offseason addition. See more from the Northwest Division:

  • Anthony Bennett looked strong playing for the Canadian national team during the summer, and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor downplayed the idea that the Wolves will trade the former No. 1 overall pick, telling Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, “We shouldn’t assume he’d go” (Twitter link). The Wolves have reportedly been willing to move Bennett for the right return.
  • Chris Kaman would probably fit best on a contender, but he enjoyed playing for the Trail Blazers last season, and Kaman’s level of contentment has had much to do with whether he’s been successful over the past few seasons, as The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman examines. Kaman will make $5.016MM this season in the last year of his contract.
  • The exodus of so many of last season’s Trail Blazers has C.J. McCollum excited about the more prominent role he’s poised to take on this year, one reminiscent of his time as a scoring force in college at Lehigh, as he tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. McCollum is hopeful that he can continue to work with Steve Nash, who helped him with his game this summer, even though Nash is reportedly finalizing a deal to become a part-time player development consultant for the Warriors.

And-Ones: Faried, Deng, DeRozan

The growing sense around the Nuggets is that the team wants to see if Michael Malone can mentor Kenneth Faried the way he reached DeMarcus Cousins with the Kings, and it seems highly unlikely that Denver will trade the power forward before the start of the season, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Heat want to hold on to Luol Deng and see how well the team can play, sources close to the organization tell Kyler, but if Miami underwhelms, Kyler believes Miami would put Deng on the block.
  • The Raptors are not entertaining trades for DeMar DeRozan, sources close to the team informed Kyler.
  • The additions that the Clippers made this offseason to bolster their bench have made them the NBA’s most improved team heading into the 2015/16 campaign, opines Bradford Doolittle of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). Doolittle also calls out the Hornets and Mavericks as teams that have made positive strides this Summer, while listing the Nets, Sixers, and Suns as franchises that have taken a step back this offseason.
  • With the NBA’s salary cap expected to increase dramatically next Summer there are a number of pending free agents who stand to benefit from the windfall, Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) writes. Some under-the-radar players who can expect significant pay increases on their next contracts include Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Hornets), Harrison Barnes (Warriors), Langston Galloway (Knicks), and Jordan Clarkson (Lakers), Pelton opines.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Latest On Ty Lawson, Nuggets, Kings

2:22pm: Karl is “enamored” with the notion of trading for Lawson, Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, Berger writes in another piece, presumably in a deal that sends out Cousins. The Nuggets are open to trading Lawson and Chandler, but the Poison Pill Provision attached to Faried’s recently extended contract would make the salary-matching cumbersome for any deal involving him before July, Berger adds.

TUESDAY, 10:45am: Karl would consider trading Rudy Gay for Lawson, a source told Chris Broussard of ESPN in a story that centers on Kings owner Vivek Ranadive’s unwillingness to allow any DeMarcus Cousins trades. That would seemingly throw Karl’s ability to engineer a Gay-Lawson trade through Kings front office chief Vlade Divac into question, though that’s just my speculation.

MONDAY, 5:24pm: The Nuggets and Kings have discussed a deal involving Ty Lawson, but the sides have found little traction, league sources tell Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Chad Ford of ESPN.com suggested as much in a recent chat. Sacramento has been pursuing Lawson from Denver with the sixth pick at the heart of would-be deals, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders wrote in his NBA AM piece earlier today. Kyler nonetheless hears that Denver’s demands for Lawson are too high for the Kings and that Sacramento isn’t on board with giving up the No. 6 choice and future draft picks for Lawson.

Still, the Kings continue to make Nik Stauskas available, Berger reports, while the Nuggets are involved in a potential trade scenario that would send their No. 7 pick to the Knicks, an executive from another team told Berger. The Nuggets would also give up the right to swap first-rounders with the Knicks next year, one that they gained via the Carmelo Anthony trade, in such a deal, Berger adds.

Kings coach George Karl would reportedly love for the team to acquire Lawson, whom he coached with the Nuggets. Still, Denver was asking for multiple first-round picks for him at the deadline, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported.

Stauskas, whom Sacramento took eighth overall last year, became available as early as this past January, as Berger reported then. Knicks president Phil Jackson has expressed a willingness to trade back from the No. 4 pick, and speculation has resulted in numerous such scenarios.

Latest On Nuggets, Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried

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.”

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Wolves, Batum

The centerpieces for the Nuggets appear to be Danilo Gallinari and Jusuf Nurkic, as Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post sees it, and Kiszla finds it reasonable that the team will talk this summer about trading Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, or both. In any case, team president Josh Kroenke made it clear to Kiszla and fellow Post scribe Christopher Dempsey that he intends a strong push to find a star.

“There’s a period of transition that’s coming up, and we’re going to be aggressive … as an organization,” Kroenke said. “And continue to be aggressive until we feel we have the roster that truly can compete for something special.”

Kroenke judges by the volume of trade inquiries that he’s received from other teams, which include two calls since the season ended, that the players on Denver’s roster have plenty of value, Dempsey notes. There’s more on the Nuggets amid the latest from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves are tentatively planning a predraft workout with two-guards Rashad Vaughn from UNLV, J.P. Tokoto from North Carolina and Michael Frazier from Florida next month, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter links).
  • The prospect of a Nicolas Batum trade seemed far-fetched last summer, but now it’s a realistic possibility, as The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman writes in a roundtable piece with other Blazers beat writers. Freeman would nonetheless bet on Batum staying in Portland and having a bounceback season in 2015/16, the last on his contract.
  • Thunder GM Sam Presti wants to re-sign Enes Kanter and Kyle Singler, and that has to do with the team’s cap situation as much as the talent and production of the pair of soon-to-be restricted free agents, The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry posits. Let them go, and the Thunder wouldn’t have the cap flexibility to replace them, Mayberry points out.
  • Kroenke pointed to a lack of communication as the most unexpected shortcoming of Brian Shaw‘s tenure as Nuggets coach, as Dempsey writes in a separate piece.

Northwest Notes: Hunt, Neal, Gasol, Tomic

The Trail Blazers have never won a Northwest Division title, but they’re seemingly destined to do so this year, since they’re up nine games in the loss column on the Thunder with less than a month to go in the regular season. The last time Portland won a division title, in 1999, the team was in the Pacific Division. Here’s the latest on the teams looking up at the Blazers in the standings:

  • Nuggets players, and Kenneth Faried in particular, are ecstatic about interim coach Melvin Hunt and would unanimously vote to remove the interim tag from his title, observes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. However, owner Stan Kroenke is still dissatisfied with a team far from playoff contention, Dempsey also notes.
  • Timberwolves guard Gary Neal doesn’t regret chasing the money and leaving the Spurs to sign a two-year, $6.5MM deal in 2013 in part because he saw DeJuan Blair go from a starter to signing a minimum-salary contract in short order, as Neal tells Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. Neal will be a free agent again at season’s end.
  • Kevin Durant has posited that Oklahoma City’s lack of “orchestras and plays” dissuaded Pau Gasol from signing with the Thunder this past summer, but Gasol said this weekend that such cultural attractions weren’t a factor, according to The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry. The Bulls big man instead said it was a matter of on-court fit that led him to choose Chicago, as Mayberry relays.
  • Jazz draft-and-stash prospect Ante Tomic believes the offseason ahead is his last legitimate opportunity to join the NBA, and while he acknowledged that he’s in talks about a new deal with his Spanish team, he won’t rule out a jump to Utah. The 7’2″ center made his remarks to Jesús Pérez Ramos of Mundo Deportivo (translation via HoopsHype). FC Barcelona has a team option on the 28-year-old for next season, but the Jazz are reportedly willing to pay to buy Tomic out of his contract.

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