The Hawks‘ Kyle Korver will miss the remainder of the playoffs with an ankle injury, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution [subscription required]. Korver suffered a severe high right ankle sprain in the third quarter of Friday’s Game 2 loss against Cleveland. His ankle got caught under Matthew Dellavedova when both were chasing a loose ball. X-rays were negative Friday, but an MRI and exam this morning at Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic showed the severity of the damage. Korver’s next move will be to see a foot and ankle specialist to review his options, which could include surgery. Korver is signed for two more seasons; he will make more than $5.7MM next year and $5.2MM in 2016/17.
Here’s more from the Southeast Division:
- It will be a surprise if Heat President Pat Riley holds onto the team’s number 10 draft pick, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. The columnist notes Miami hasn’t left the draft with its original pick in five years, and this year’s unsettled draft should provide plenty of chances to move up or move down. Winderman also speculates that if the Heat hadn’t been responding to LeBron James‘ stated preference for Shabazz Napier last season, the team may have pushed harder to swing a deal to draft Clint Capela, who was taken by Houston one spot ahead of Miami’s pick.
- The Heat got just a small taste of what Josh McRoberts can bring to the team, according to Joe Beguiristain of nba.com. Miami hoped for great production from McRoberts when he agreed to a four-year, $23MM deal last summer. However, he was limited to just 17 games before suffering a torn meniscus in December that wiped out the rest of his season. A few days before the injury, McRoberts turned in a tantalizing performance with 10 points and seven assists against Phoenix. “I’m looking forward to getting healthy and being able to come back and contribute,” he said about next season.
- Rasual Butler sees a bright future for the Wizards, even if he isn’t part of it, according to Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com. The 36-year-old veteran overcame the odds to make Washington’s roster this season after entering camp with no guarantee. He is among four Wizards’ free agents this offseason. “This is a great group of guys, a great coaching staff, a great organization,” Butler said. “I absolutely would love to return.”
The Magic are unlikely to add a player with the No. 5 overall pick who can make an immediate impact, so any dramatic roster improvements will need to come via the free agent market, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. Orlando would have about $14MM in available salary cap space if the team were to waive Ben Gordon and Luke Ridnour before their salaries for next season become guaranteed, Robbins adds.
“Organizationally,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said, “we’ve always maintained the same approach, the same philosophy: when available, spending up to the tax level as it relates to free agency. Our ownership has given us the ability to do that again, and we’ll continue to do that in these upcoming free-agent years, this offseason and next year as well.”
Here’s the latest out of the Southeast Division:
- One of the Wizards‘ top priorities this offseason will be to add a stretch four, which would result in Nene playing more at center, something the player might not be too keen on, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post writes.
- Wizards coach Randy Wittman indicated that Nene shifting to the reserve center role wouldn’t diminish his value to the team, Castillo adds. “As we saw down the stretch, he played some five, he and Marc in that situation,” Wittman said. “Him playing that position doesn’t make it a lesser role. We’ve got to look at what works best for who we have here. … With what John Wall does and the pace of play, we’ve got to play fast.”
- Heat president Pat Riley indicated that the team is looking for an all-around player who can score from the outside with the No. 10 overall pick in this June’s NBA Draft, Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald writes. “A lot of times you have a player or two players who are playmakers that are your best playmakers and your best scorers, but they might not have that kind of range or that kind of game, so you need to go out and get two or three of those kinds of players,” Riley said. “And so, while we felt we had enough maybe on the perimeter, that might be an area where we look, but I don’t want him to be a one-dimensional guy.”
Nerlens Noel is the current face of the Sixers, but he isn’t worried about being traded the way Michael Carter-Williams, the last potential franchise cornerstone, was, Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “No, no, no – that’s not on my mind at all,” Noel said. “I’m focused on helping build this team on the right path, building with the right coach, and bringing in young guys so we can really make a wave. I have a lot of confidence in Sam [Hinkie]. He hasn’t failed us so far. Joel‘s [Embiid] healthy and looking great – great. He’s moving well. I feel good. I’m healthy. We’re moving forward, and things are in place. I feel good about everything.”
Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference:
- If the Hornets can’t redeem the No. 9 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft for an impact player who can score, the franchise needs to trade away assets for draft picks and become worse so they can become better in the long run, opines Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer.
- The Heat owe a total of six draft picks (three first-round picks and three second-round picks) over the next seven years as the result of previous trades, with none due from other teams, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel points out. This makes it absolutely vital for Miami to select an impact player with the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft, Winderman adds.
- One of the factors involved in the recent shakeup of the Raptors‘ coaching staff was the slow growth curve of former No. 5 overall pick Jonas Valanciunas, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com writes.
- Many scouts and executives believe that the depth in the 2015 NBA Draft is between the mid-first round and late first round, right where the Bulls are slated to pick at No. 22 overall, Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com writes.
The Lakers will look at D’Angelo Russell for the No. 2 overall pick, but preliminary indications are that they’ll take either Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns, depending on which one of those two is left after the Timberwolves pick, as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times hears. Trading the pick is also an option, GM Mitch Kupchak says, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News tweets. In any case, the choices at No. 2 are a bit better than the Lakers would have had if the lottery had gone according to form and the team had ended up with the fourth pick. Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:
- Kings president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac said his team should be open to trading its draft pick, but in comments that Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee relays, he distanced himself from the mechanics of any such move. “I’m leaving that to my basketball people,” Divac said. It’s an odd statement from the team’s top basketball executive. In any case, Chad Ford of ESPN.com identified the Kings, who pick sixth, among the teams most likely to trade their top-10 pick, along with the Magic, Pistons, Heat and Hornets, as Ford wrote in a chat with readers.
- The Kings and the Pacers are the teams with the most interest in Willie Cauley-Stein, Ford adds in the same piece.
- Andrew Bogut is a fan of the way Steve Kerr handles his assistant coaches, as the big man tells Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group a year after assistant coaches were squarely in the spotlight for Golden State. The departures of assistants Brian Scalabrine and Darren Erman from the Warriors bench last year were symbolic of the tumult near the end of Mark Jackson‘s time as Warriors coach. “In their own way, they all have free reign,” Bogut said of Kerr’s staff. “You see them talk to the media, which is something that wasn’t happening with us the last couple of years. There’s no agendas where a coach thinks, ‘Oh, he’s doing extra workouts with this guy, he’s trying to take my job, or vice-versa, or he’s trying to get himself a head-coaching job.’ We don’t have any of that. We have guys that say something when they need to say something and to be professional throughout.”
Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant tells Hoops Rumors (Twitter link) that he’ll be working out for the Hornets on June 8th. That audition will mark just the second team workout for Grant, who previously worked out for the Pacers.
Grant and his agent are hearing (link) that he could go as high as No. 8 with teams estimating his range to be somewhere between No. 8 and No. 20. He added that based on those rumblings, it sounds unlikely that he’ll be available for teams selecting beyond No. 22. Stay tuned for Grant’s entire conversation with Hoops Rumors as a part of our Draft Prospect Q&A series which also features conversations with Cameron Payne, Richaun Holmes, and more.
Here’s today’s look at the Southeast Division..
- Historically, the No. 10 pick — owned by the Heat this year — has produced plenty of high-caliber, rotation-worthy players, as Couper Moorhead of Heat.com writes. Some of the most notable players to come off the board at No. 10 include Paul Pierce, Eddie Jones, Jason Terry, and Joe Johnson. In recent years, Brook Lopez, Andrew Bynum, Paul George, and Brandon Jennings have heard their names called at No. 10.
- Heat president Pat Riley has indicated that he’ll be looking for perimeter defending and three-point shooting in the draft, Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald writes. In a perfect world, Riley has said he would like a player similar to Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson, who was the 11th pick of the 2011 draft.
- The Magic weren’t thrilled to land at No. 5, but GM Rob Hennigan and CEO Alex Martins put a positive spin on it, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes. “We feel good about it,” Hennigan said. “We stayed where we expected to stay. Luckily, we didn’t move back, so we’ll take the hand that was dealt to us and certainly make the most of the pick we have.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel is less bullish about the talent available at No. 5 and he feels that the Magic should dangle the pick in a trade.
- More from Schmitz, who looked back at Kyle O’Quinn‘s season. Fellow Sentinel scribe Josh Robbins reported last month that the Magic will make O’Quinn the qualifying offer necessary for them to be able to match offers for him in free agency this summer.
It’s time for the Wizards‘ Paul Pierce to retire, argues A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. The former Celtics star has enjoyed a legendary career, Blakely writes, and there is little to be gained by trying to extend it. Pierce, 37, posted statistical lows in just about every category this season. He has a player option worth more than $5.5MM for next year.
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Kentucky’s Devin Booker would be just the kind of shooter the Hornets need, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Charlotte was the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA at just 31.8% this season. Booker hit 41% of his treys at Kentucky and considers himself “definitely” the best shooter from distance in the draft. The Hornets are currently slotted with the ninth pick heading into Tuesday’s lottery.
- The Heat and Goran Dragic should be able to come to an agreement shortly after free agency begins, writes Surya Fernandez of Fox Sports Florida. Dragic has made numerous statements about how much he likes the city and the team, and the Heat have been open about their desire to keep Dragic, whom they acquired from Phoenix in a three-team deal at the trade deadline. “So far I had a great experience here with the Heat,” Dragic said. “Great coaching staff and teammates.”
- Arizona’s Stanley Johnson would be a nice draft pickup for the Heat, contends Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post. Lieser writes that Johnson could provide immediate wing depth and would be an able replacement if Luol Deng leaves the team this summer or in 2016. However, Miami won’t know if it even has a first-round pick until the lottery. If the Heat pick falls to 11th or worse, it will be conveyed to Philadelphia.
- The Magic interviewed Kentucky’s Trey Lyles at the NBA Draft Combine, tweets Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Also interviewed was Bobby Portis of Arkansas, Robbins adds (Twitter link).
With the sting of his last second shot being waived off because time had expired and his team being eliminated from the postseason still fresh, the Wizards‘ Paul Pierce now has to make a decision regarding his player option for 2015/15 worth $5,543,725, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com writes. “I haven’t really thought about it,” Pierce said. “I don’t even know if I am going to play basketball anymore. These seasons get harder and harder every year, every day. Summers get even harder when you start getting back in shape. I’m 37 years old. I’m top two or three oldest in the league.” Pierce indicated he would take some time and discuss the matter with his family before making his call on next season, Youngmisuk adds. “I have been playing this game [for] like 32 years. Since I was a little kid. Probably going to be the hardest thing to do is put the game down. But I know that time is coming one day. I am not sure if it is this year or next year. I will sit down with my family and figure things out,” Pierce said.
Here’s more out of the Southeast Division:
- Wizards coach Randy Wittman indicated that he’d be very surprised if Pierce didn’t opt in and return to the team next season, J. Michael of CSNWashington.com relays (Twitter link).
- Heat president Pat Riley interviewed Kansas swingman Kelly Oubre at the draft combine, Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post tweets.
- While at the draft combine Hornets executives met with Kentucky’s Devin Booker and Willie Cauley-Stein, as well as Duke forward Justise Winslow, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer reports in a series of tweets.
- Riley also sat down with Booker for an interview, who said that the Heat executive told him that Dwyane Wade was in the final stage of his career and that the young guard would be able to learn from him, Lieser tweets. Also meeting with the team while in Chicago were Arkansas forward Bobby Portis and Kentucky forward Trey Lyles, Lieser adds (Twitter links).
Veterans Al Horford and Paul Pierce made the key hoops for their respective teams Wednesday in Atlanta’s victory in Game 5 of the Hawks-Wizards series, one that serves as a de facto Southeast Division championship. Whichever team wins the series, which the Hawks lead 3-2, will make its first appearance in the conference finals in more than three decades and will perhaps be in a better position to attract stars via free agency. The Hawks have a much better chance to clear cap room this summer than the Wizards do, but both teams have plenty of flexibility for the summer of 2016, when Kevin Durant and others are set to come free. While we wait to see how that all plays out, here’s the latest from around the Southeast:
A potential Pelicans coaching candidate appears close to coming off the market, as John Calipari is nearing a deal on extension that would tack an extra season worth $8MM onto his deal with the University of Kentucky, reports Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News. The amended contract would run through 2021/22, according tp DeCourcy. Calipari received a similar extension last year, though that didn’t stop NBA rumors. In any case, here’s more on the latest NBA team with a coaching vacancy:
- The Cavs sought to trade for Norris Cole when he was on the Heat prior to the deadline before the Pelicans were instead able to wrangle the point guard from Miami, as Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal writes within his Final Thoughts column. Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com spotted the Ohio native in Cleveland’s for last night’s Game 5 between the Cavs and the Bulls (Twitter link). Cole, a restricted free agent, is a client of Klutch Sports, the same Cleveland-based agency that represents LeBron James and Tristan Thompson.
- Monty Williams thought Tuesday’s meeting with Pelicans management would include discussion about a contract extension, league sources told John Reid of The Times-Picayune. Instead, it was in the meeting that the Pelicans told Williams they were firing him, and executive vice president of basketball operations Mickey Loomis admits the coach was surprised by the termination, Reid writes. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday that the expectation was that the Pels would use the meeting to tell the coach that they would at least pick up his option for 2016/17.
- Williams regarded Loomis as his immediate supervisor rather than consulting with GM Dell Demps, and the coach last week admitted that he and Demps hadn’t always seen eye-to-eye about the roster, Reid writes in the same piece. Demps, who wasn’t in the meeting in which Williams learned of his firing, denied that there was a disconnect between him and the coach.
- Anthony Davis was close with Williams, as USA Today’s Sam Amick notes, but the star was cognizant that Williams probably wouldn’t be his coach for his entire career, and Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel posits that the Pelicans made the change in part to try and entice Davis to stay. Williams sits atop the market for rookie scale extensions, as I examined earlier today, and if New Orleans doesn’t sign him to one this offseason, he’d hit restricted free agency in 2016.
Hoops Rumors extends its condolences to those close to European standout Rasmus Larsen, who was found dead at his home, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. The 20-year-old from Denmark was an early entrant for the 2014 NBA draft before withdrawing, though he didn’t apply for this year’s draft as he’d struggled with injury. The cause of the death has yet to be identified, agent Doug Neustadt told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). He was a mobile big man and versatile scorer reminiscent of Cody Zeller, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress (Twitter link). Here’s more draft-related news:
- Myles Turner‘s unusual running style has been cause for concern, but tests through the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York showed his gait is correctable with a series of daily exercises, as Matt Kamalsky of DraftExpress examines. The results of the tests, arranged by agent Andy Miller in concert with Turner’s father and trainer Ken Roberson, have been sent to NBA teams, Kamalsky notes. Turner is the 11th-ranked prospect on DraftExpress, and Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors wrote about the way the center from Texas runs in his prospect profile of the draft hopeful whom Eddie lists 10th in the Hoops Rumors Draft Prospect Power Rankings.
- The Timberwolves will interview D’Angelo Russell at the Chicago predraft combine this week, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). Russell is a candidate for Minnesota’s lottery selection, which will fall between No. 1 and No. 4, as the lottery odds show. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com both rank him as the fourth-best prospect.
- Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel delivers his mock draft, which has the Heat taking Kelly Oubre at No. 10, given team president Pat Riley‘s affection for players with upside. Miami would lose its pick if it falls out of the top 10 in the lottery, though there’s only about a 9% chance of that happening.