Ryan Anderson, who has been out of action since February with an MCL sprain in his right knee, could be making his return for the Pelicans next week, John Reid of The Times Picayune writes. ”We’re progressing each day and continue to ramp up to be ready,” Anderson said. ”We’ll do a little more on the court. There is a mental aspect where I got to get over the fact that my knee is stronger and OK. There is still some strengthening I need to build up. But we’re doing everything we can and it is frustrating and it’s tough being out.” In 52 games this season the big man has averaged 14.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per night.
Here’s more out of the Western Conference:
- Earl Barron‘s deal with the Suns for the rest of the season is indeed just that, without any extra years tacked on, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
- Jordan Hamilton‘s latest Clippers contract is a two-year arrangement with non-guaranteed salary for next season, Pincus tweets.
- The Pelicans tacked a non-guaranteed minimum salary for next season onto their deal with Toney Douglas, Pincus relays (Twitter link). His 2015/16 pay becomes guaranteed if he remains under contract through August 1st, as Pincus shows on the Basketball Insiders Pelicans salary page.
- Bryce Cotton‘s multiyear deal with the Jazz covers both 2015/16 and 2016/17 with non-guaranteed salaries, as Pincus also reports (Twitter link).
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Nobody knows NBA teams better than beat writers, save for those who draw paychecks with an NBA owner’s signature on them. The reporters who are with the teams they cover every day gain an intimate knowledge of the players, coaches and executives they write about and develop sources who help them break news and stay on top of rumors.
We at Hoops Rumors will be chatting with beat writers from around the league and sharing their responses to give you a better perspective on how and why teams make some of their most significant moves. We’ll tip off the series with Dan Woike of the Orange County Register, who covers the Clippers. You can follow Dan on Twitter at and click here to check out his stories for the Register.
Hoops Rumors: How is Doc Rivers handling the dual role of coach and executive? How heavily does he lean on the other basketball operations execs, and has the dynamic evolved during his time there?
- Dan Woike: I think he still views himself as a coach first. He’s not taking time from his daily coaching duties to review scouting reports from D-League games or draft candidates. His priority is the team he has today. I think he leans on guys like [GM] Dave Wohl to handle that stuff for him. Like any job, I think he’ll get better handling the two roles. What’s interesting to me is how, at times, they should pull him in different directions. As a coach, his priority has to be to win now. But as an executive, you have to be trying to figure out how to win in five years. The great ones figure out ways to accomplish both, and I think that’s what he’s trying to do.
Hoops Rumors: What’s been the most substantial change around the organization since Steve Ballmer replaced Donald Sterling as owner?
- Dan Woike: There was always a sense that another shoe would drop with Donald Sterling, that he’d do or say something that would embarrass the organization. Now that he’s gone, there isn’t that worry. They show the owner on the scoreboard now and people cheer. They didn’t put Sterling up there because they knew how people would react. They’ve invested in things like 3-D court displays, analytics stuff for fans and better in-game promotions to better the fan experience. There’s still room to grow on that end, but people seem happier.
Hoops Rumors: It’s been really quiet on the Sterling front since Ballmer officially took over. Do you get the sense that everyone there, players included, has put Sterling behind them?
- Dan Woike: Players were ready to move on as soon as he was banned for life. The sale cemented that. They don’t spend a lot of time thinking about him, I can promise.
Hoops Rumors: Was there any hesitancy at all among the players when it became clear the team was in talks to trade for Austin Rivers? How has Doc’s son been received by his teammates?
- Dan Woike: I talked to some former Clipper players at that time, and they expressed some concerns about how a team would handle something like this. Would players still be free to vent their frustrations? Would they need to watch what they said? I think everyone involved worked hard to make it clear that it wouldn’t be an issue, and the fact Austin has come in with a good attitude and a willingness to play defense, I think it’s helped. The fact that they’re winning certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
Hoops Rumors: DeAndre Jordan spoke about this summer’s free agency recently and has done so from time to time. Is there any sense of anxiety around the rest of the team when he brings that up?
- Dan Woike: I think it’s on DJ to decide what he wants to do. The Clippers have been open and clear about their intents. Doc Rivers has said they’ll do anything they can to keep him. The question becomes, does DJ want to stay? I think they know there’s not much more they can do to convince him than what they’ve already done.
Hoops Rumors: Do you think that Doc would still make the Eric Bledsoe/J.J. Redick deal if he had a chance to do that 2013 offseason over again?
- Dan Woike: This is a great question. At the time, people really liked that trade because it seemed like they were adding two starters. Injuries kept Jared Dudley from becoming the player the Clippers hoped, but Redick has been such a key for their offense. Could the Clippers have just signed Redick outright without trading Bledsoe? I don’t know. Could they have maybe gotten a little more? They certainly could’ve used a young asset back in that deal to help them improve down the road. I think if they were faced with the exact same offer today, knowing how good Redick has been, they’d make the deal. Maybe. Haha.
Patrick Beverley‘s injured wrist is still being evaluated and the player will miss at least ten days, and potentially the remainder of the Rockets‘ season if he requires surgery, Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle writes. “He is going to meet more people today and get a final determination as to what is going to happen,” coach Kevin McHale said. “There probably won’t be any major decisions made for a week-10 days, see what happens.” Beverly has been diagnosed with a torn ligament, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Former Knicks coach and current Clippers assistant Mike Woodson says that he absolutely wants to be an NBA head coach again, Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times relays (Twitter link).
- Woodson also said that if he had been retained as Knicks coach he would have pushed for the team to hold onto Tyson Chandler and to keep the veteran core together another season, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.
- With the loss of Beverely, the Rockets will need Jason Terry to step up his game if the team is to stay afloat in the Western Conference, Creech writes in a separate article. “I am looking to turn up my aggression offensively,” Terry said. “It’s something I haven’t been doing all season. You have seen a spark once or twice, like in Atlanta, maybe the Milwaukee game, but at this age it’s hard to do that all the time, but in these last two weeks before the playoffs, I am going to turn up my aggression very high and try to get a rhythm and consistency on the offensive end of the floor.”
Metta World Peace has signed a contract with Italy’s Pallacanestro Cantù for the remainder of the season, the team announced (Twitter link). The former Ron Artest’s brother, Daniel Artest, said this weekend that the 15-year NBA veteran would sign with the team, though Cantù’s coach wouldn’t confirm the news, saying only that the club was in talks with World Peace. The 35-year-old forward hooked up with Octagon Europe and agent Georgios Dimitropulos to facilitate the deal, as Dimitropulos tweets (hat tip to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia).
It’s the second overseas excursion this season for World Peace, who played 15 games with China’s Sichuan Blue Whales after signing with the team in August. He had reportedly been seeking deals with the Knicks, Lakers and Clippers over the summer, and while the Knicks apparently considered the possibility, no deal materialized, and World Peace made it clear once the season started that he no longer wanted to play for the Knicks or the Lakers. There appeared to be some level of interest from the Clippers in a late-season deal, but coach/executive Doc Rivers downplayed that, and now it appears World Peace is off the table.
World Peace put up 19.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game in China this year after a season of career lows in New York that ended shortly before former coach Phil Jackson took over as team president. The 2003/04 Defensive Player of the Year regretted buying out his contract before the Zen Master arrived in New York, but a reunion never came to pass. A four-year tenure with the Lakers ended in 2013 when the team used the amnesty clause to waive him.
With the way Brook Lopez has played this season, he has plenty of reason to not exercise his $16.7MM player option for the 2015/16 season with the Nets, and instead test free agency, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post writes. Lopez signed a four-year, $60.8MM deal with the Nets in July 2012. The big man is averaging 16.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game since the All-Star break, so he would likely receive plenty of interest from several teams, Bontemps adds. Lopez played in only 17 games last season because of a foot injury.
“I haven’t thought about that,” Lopez said of the player option. “I want to keep going, keep continuing to get my legs under me, and back to confidently playing basketball and being the player I normally can be. That’s still way out. I always take it one game at a time, so it’s definitely a ways out.”
Here’s more from around the league:
- Clippers coach Doc Rivers said “there’s a chance” that Jamal Crawford will not return this season and added that the veteran guard is nowhere near playing, Melissa Rohlin of The Los Angeles Times writes. The reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year has a very deep bruise on his right calf, and he’s had to have it drained once in the last 10 days, the Clippers said before Sunday’s game. The Clippers have gone 6-4 since losing Crawford, who is averaging 16.4 PPG this season. J.J. Redick has stepped up without Crawford by scoring at least 20 points in each of his last four games. “Jamal told me he’s feeling better,” Rivers said. “It’s just that it doesn’t seem like it. Honestly, we don’t know. There’s no target date for Jamal, for sure.”
- There’s a strong chance Justin Holiday‘s short run as the Warriors’ starting shooting guard ends Monday if Klay Thompson‘s sprained right ankle is healed, but the journeyman has made strides toward improving his game while playing in an enhanced role, Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group writes.
DeAndre Jordan told Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports last week that “the free agency process is definitely going to be a fun one.” The Clippers’ center, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, has good reason to be looking forward to the summer. He’s enjoying another season of gaudy raw numbers that could land him a maximum deal.
Jordan, who is making $11.44MM this season, is averaging 11.2 PPG and 2.2 blocks. His 14.8 rebounds per game and .709 field goal percentage are both tops in the league. He’s this season’s only player to post three 20-point, 20-rebound games. He ranks second in the NBA in defensive win shares.
“He’s clearly the defensive player of the year,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, per Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. “If anybody else gets that award, we need to have an investigation.”
Winning the award could further solidify Jordan’s status, but it’s likely that he inks a maximum deal regardless. Another thing to keep in mind: Jordan will only turn 27 in July and has started every regular season game for the Clippers since the 2010/11 season. He brings size, length and athleticism. Outside of his offensive limitations, there isn’t much to dislike. With top big men being hard to find, there are several teams — including the Clippers — that could conceivably make pitches to Jordan, who said he has no interest in signing a one-year contract, as Markazi wrote.
“I’m not going to be greedy and sign a one-year deal,” Jordan said. “Nah. I’m just focused on getting it over with and focusing on playing again. I’m just trying to win here.”
It’s too early to tell which teams are seriously interested in reeling in Jordan, who, as Markazi pointed out in the aforementioned story, has been making the rounds on national sports talk radio shows recently while gaining more mainstream attention. The market could be dictated by the actions of other soon-to-be unrestricted free agent big men Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge. Tim Duncan is in the final year of his contract and if he retires, that could make things even more interesting because the Spurs would be in play for a big man.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Staying with the Thunder presents the best opportunity for Kevin Durant, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2015/16 season, to win the NBA championship, opined columnist Howard Beck of Bleacher Report on Bleacher Report Radio (audio link). Beck cited the Thunder’s myriad of injuries has the reason for the down season and added that this year should not erase the franchise’s recent run of success.
“The Thunder have not failed and they have not failed Kevin Durant,” Beck said. “The requisite talent to win championships is there. If you want to finish your career where the best talent is, where your best shot at winning championships is, that’s still Oklahoma City.”
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- The Rockets have had a very hard time winning games this season when star guard James Harden has had an off night, notes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets are 6-11 in games when Harden has been held to less than 20 points. The team is 40-12 when Harden totals at least 20 points. The Rockets have been without Dwight Howard since early February. The team didn’t bolster its roster with any major deals before the trade deadline, outside of acquiring rookie guard K.J. McDaniels and veteran guard Pablo Prigioni in two separate deals.
- J.J. Redick is enjoying a career year and has been especially solid this month (21.2 PPG), writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The eighth-year veteran is in his second season of a four-year, $27MM deal he inked with the Clippers.
2:24pm: The deal also covers next season with non-guaranteed salary, Woike adds (on Twitter).
2:22pm: The signing is official, the Clippers announced via press release.
2:12pm: The Clippers will sign Jordan Hamilton for the rest of the season in a move that’s expected to take place today, reports Dan Woike of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers had told reporters Sunday that the move would take place, but it appeared as though the team changed course amid concern over Hamilton’s ankle injury. Now, it looks like the Clippers are once more ready to commit to the former 26th overall pick.
Hamilton earlier signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Clippers, the last of which expired Sunday night. The 24-year-old has averaged 4.0 points in 9.5 minutes per game across eight appearances with the team, draining eight of 14 three-point attempts. He was originally with the Raptors for training camp, earning a $25K partial guarantee, and he briefly spent time with the Jazz at the beginning of the season after Utah claimed him off waivers, though he didn’t see any action there.
The Clippers are limited to the prorated minimum salary for the Aaron Mintz client, though they have the flexibility to tack on an additional season. The move will give the Clippers a full 15-man roster, though the team will retain a modicum of flexibility since Nate Robinson is on a 10-day contract.
The Jazz‘s willingness to commit to paying building blocks like Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors has helped the team show signs that it will quickly rebound from its rebuilding project, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News details. Critical, too, was the deadline-day trade that sent Enes Kanter out, at his request, as the Jazz weren’t interested in paying a premium to keep him in restricted free agency this summer, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com. A greater focus on Favors and Rudy Gobert since then has paid dividends, as Mannix examines.
“[The trade] helped me work on my game a lot,” Favors said. “Enes was the first option in the post. Since the trade, it’s always been me. It’s helped me work on my game and made me better for it.”
Coach Quin Snyder downplays the connection between the Kanter trade and the team’s ascent in the standings, Mannix notes. Still, Utah was 19-34 at the deadline and has gone 12-3 since. There’s more on the Jazz amid the latest from the Western Conference:
- Jazz higher-ups are “positively giddy” about the future of Rodney Hood, as Mannix reports in the same piece. Utah selected Hood 23rd overall in June after the swingman spoke to Zach Links of Hoops Rumors last spring.
- The Clippers aren’t sure they’ll have Jamal Crawford back for the playoffs, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Crawford has missed the last eight games because of a bruised right calf that Doc Rivers has deemed a “serious injury” and one that won’t have him back “anytime soon, that’s for sure,” Howard-Cooper notes. L.A. has an open roster spot and Nate Robinson on a 10-day contract.
- The Spurs are keeping a close eye on draft-and-stash prospect Davis Bertans of late, as Lefteris Moutis of Eurohoops.net writes in a slideshow dedicated to the 10 European players who have the best chances of playing in the NBA next season. The power forward has a contract that runs through 2017 with Spain’s Laboral Kuxta (aka Saski Baskonia), as Mark Porcaro shows in our Draft Rights Held Players database, though it apparently contains NBA escape clauses for each year of the deal.