Let’s take a look at today’s D-League moves from around the NBA:
- Charlie Westbrook has been claimed by the Heat‘s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. We heard Wednesday night that Westbrook had entered the D-League’s waiver process.
- Kings center Hamady N’Diaye has been assigned to the club’s D-League affiliate in Reno, the team announced today in an official press release. Ndiaye has played 52 minutes in nine games for Sacramento his season.
- The Hawks have swapped out two shooting guards today, assigning John Jenkins to the Bakersfield Jam of the D-League while subsequently recalling Jared Cunningham. A press release earlier today revealed the pair of moves.
Dwyane Wade‘s absences from the Heat lineup have grown frequent, and the team is pursuing trades that would either bolster the backcourt or allow Miami to clear a roster spot so it can sign a free agent replacement, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. The Heat want to deal from their surplus of backup big men, and are making Joel Anthony available, Windhorst writes.
Wade isn’t playing in back-to-backs, and Miami has six back-to-backs scheduled over the next six weeks. He missed Tuesday’s game against the Pistons, which wasn’t part of a back-to-back, with knee soreness, and last night’s game against the Bulls because of an illness. The Heat lost both games and are 2-3 overall without Wade this season.
The Heat have used three different starting shooting guards in those five games, highlighting the absence of Mike Miller, who was last season’s plug-in at the two when Wade was out. The Heat amnestied Miller over the summer.
Miami is carrying 15 players, the roster limit, so the team would have to either release a player or make a trade to add a free agent like Leandro Barbosa, Daniel Gibson or Richard Hamilton. The team could also release Michael Beasley or Roger Mason, both of whom are on non-guaranteed contracts, though Beasley has become a mainstay in the rotation and cutting Mason, a shooting guard, wouldn’t help the team’s backcourt depth.
It might not be easy to find a trade partner willing to take on Anthony, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel points out via Twitter. The 31-year-old is a rugged inside player, but he’s only 6’9″ and isn’t offensively gifted. He’s a former starter for the Heat who’s seen just 30 total minutes this season. Most troublesome is his contract, on which he’ll make $3.8MM this season with a player option for the same amount next year.
According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, several “NBA guys” (presumably scouts and/or executives) who were in attendance for a recent matchup between Michigan and Duke were disappointed in Glenn Robinson III‘s lack of assertiveness. Goodman adds that they consequently wondered if the current Wolverine should be considered in the top 20 during the upcoming draft or could possibly fall out of the first-round, with one proposing that Robinson III needs one more year in school (Twitter links).
Here are more of tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes:
- Rajon Rondo doesn’t appear close to a return date, according to Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge: “I don’t think he’s close…Meaning, I don’t think [his return is] going to happen the next few weeks. We’re not on pins and needles about it. We’re being very cautious with Rondo. I think he’s still got a little bit of a limp, his strength is not quite there, but he is making progress. We’re not close” (Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston).
- Although there may be a split between NBA executives on who they would choose between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker for the number one overall pick, Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com writes that the general consensus seems to associate Wiggins with the higher ceiling. Even after a less-than-stellar performance last week in the Bahamas, many are said to still be high on Wiggins’ potential.
- During tonight’s matchup between the Knicks and Nets on TNT, one video segment included coach Jason Kidd‘s comments on Lawrence Frank’s recent re-assignment from his assistant coaching duties: “Philosophies, sometimes things don’t work out…You have to accept that. I could accept that. At the same time, there’s a brand, the Brooklyn Nets that has to move forward. I have to find a way to make them better. For coaches, it happens just like players. It could be a disagreement, or an understanding that we don’t get along. But I have to do what’s best for the brand, and that’s what I had to do” (hat tip to Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated).
- Tom Haberstroh of ESPN looks at the rebirth of Michael Beasley‘s NBA career in Miami, as the Heat have presented the type of environment that will give the former lottery pick a chance to expedite his development (Insiders only).
- RealGM’s Shams Charania takes a compelling look at Tre Kelley of the D-League’s Austin Toros, whose challenges in trying to fulfill his NBA dream over the last several years only pale in comparison to the tragedies he’s had to endure away from the court.
The Hawks were the lone Southeast Division representative in action last night and they didn’t disappoint, topping the Clippers 107-97 in Atlanta. Kyle Korver went 6-9 behind the arc and scored 23 points while Paul Millsap led the way with 25 points and nine boards. Here’s today’s look at the Southeast Division..
- Wizards rookie Otto Porter Jr. won’t commit to a return date, but he feels that he’s getting closer to making his NBA debut, writes Michael Lee of the Washington Post. Washington is currently 9-9 without the services of their No. 3 overall pick. The Georgetown product was (and is) considered by some to be the best overall talent in the 2013 draft.
- If Bradley Beal, Al Harrington, and Porter can get back on the floor, Wizards center Marcin Gortat believes that his team can shock everyone, Lee writes. “We should be really good,” Gortat said. “Maybe at the end – maybe at the end – I will be the guy who is going to laugh, from some of the people here that we won 50 games.” Gortat came to the Wizards in a late-October trade with the Suns.
- When asked if offseason pickup Michael Beasley has found his idea role in the NBA – an impressive scorer off the bench – Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel said that the Heat are still working to make him a complete player, which means bringing his defense up to speed.
The Eastern Conference will have a few chances to improve its dismal record against the West tonight, as the Cavs and Hawks host the Nuggets and Clippers respectively, while the Pacers play in Utah. As we look forward to a night of NBA action, let’s check out a few items from around the East….
- Having been demoted by the Nets, Lawrence Frank will retain “high-powered” legal counsel, likely in the hopes of working out a buyout agreement with the team, a source tells Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. As various reports have noted since Frank’s “re-assignment” yesterday, the Brooklyn assistant signed a lucrative six-year contract with the club this summer.
- In spite of Derrick Rose‘s season-ending injury, the Bulls are still excited about their future, GM Gar Forman said on ESPN Radio on Tuesday. Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com has the key quotes from Forman.
- Along with ESPN’s Scoop Jackson and Doug Padilla, Friedell debates whether the Bulls believe they’ll re-sign Luol Deng next summer, in a separate piece.
- Given the way Michael Beasley has played this season, it’s clear that at least one of the Heat‘s two non-guaranteed players will have his salary guaranteed, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Roger Mason is the other Miami player on a non-guaranteed contract.
- Beasley ranks among the best bargain signings of the offseason, according to Lang Greene of HoopsWorld, who also includes Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll in his list.
In an incredibly weak Eastern Conference, the Southeast Division practically qualifies as a powerhouse. Led by the 14-3 Heat, the Southeast is the only Eastern division above .500 as a whole — its five teams have combined for a 46-43 record so far. Three Southeast clubs will look to improve on that mark tonight, as the Heat host the Pistons, while the Magic play in Philadelphia and the Bobcats visit Dallas.
Here’s more from around the division:
- The Heat‘s signing of Greg Oden this summer received plenty of attention, but the former first overall pick is coming along slowly, according to Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio. Amico hears from several sources that Miami doesn’t plan to integrate Oden into the rotation until around the All-Star break, and even then, he’ll likely only play about 8-10 minutes per game.
- Within the same piece, Amico asked an NBA executive for five players he thinks will be traded this season, and the Magic‘s Jameer Nelson was among the players mentioned by the exec.
- Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld wonders if the Heat‘s Big Three could become a Big Four next summer, when LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade are all eligible for free agency. Kyler’s scenario would involve all three players opting out and taking significant pay cuts, and would mean purging the rest of the roster to create room for a fourth impact player, so it sounds like a real long shot.
- While Al Harrington has been sidelined recently by a sore knee, he tells Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel that he likes being a Wizard, and is trying to forget his stint with the Magic. Harrington came to Orlando as part of the four-team Dwight Howard blockbuster, but missed most of last season and was waived in the summer, before signing with Washington.
After receiving eight DNP-Coach’s Decisions this year, Trevor Booker is none too pleased with the Wizards. A source close to the power forward said recently that if the Wizards don’t extend him a qualifying offer and let him become an unrestricted free agent, he would look elsewhere for employment based on how the season has gone, writes Michael Lee of the Washington Post. It’s been a strange quarter-season for Booker, who started the first three games of the season but has seen little burn since. More from around the Association..
- Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com looks at how Kobe Bryant‘s lucrative two-year extension could affect the Heat and Dwyane Wade.
- In today’s column, David Aldridge of NBA.com looks at how Kobe’s deal will affect the Lakers over the next couple of years.
- Dante Exum is a mortal lock to go top five in the 2014 Draft, but he says that he hasn’t decided whether to go pro, writes Joe Pierik of the Sydney Morning Herald. ”To be honest, I haven’t been thinking about it too much,’‘ Exum said. ”I am back home but my mum is still in Singapore, so she is going to head back soon. After that I will make my decision with my whole family. I want to get it done by February. It shouldn’t be too hard [a decision] to make. But I just want to make sure I use my time right so I make the right decision.’‘
- The Bulls might be thinking about rebuilding or retooling in the wake of Derrick Rose‘s injury, but Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com isn’t sure if coach Tom Thibodeau would be on board for that.
- Guard Jose Calderon is going out of his way to assist rookie point guards Gal Mekel and Shane Larkin with their transition to the NBA, writes Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram. While coach Rick Carlisle appreciates Calderon passing along his veteran wisdom, he says he’s more concerned with seeing him back on the hardwood. Calderon is currently dealing with a bone bruise on his right ankle.
- The Lakers announced that they have recalled Ryan Kelly back from their D-League affiliate, the L.A. D-Fenders. To keep track of all of this year’s D-Leage assignments, check out Hoops Rumors’ running list.
If it looks like Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is only now starting to formulate a plan for offseason pickup Michael Beasley, you’re not far off, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. ”With Michael,” Spoelstra said, “it was more about, initially, we felt he was part of our family. We drafted him. We spent a lot of time with him, not only during those two regular seasons, but during the offseasons and we just wanted to open up our arms back into our family,” the coach said. Here’s more from around the Association..
- Damien Wilkins, who was in training camp with the Hawks over the summer, has reached agreement on a deal with Beijing in China, tweets Shams Charania of RealGM.
- Victor Claver spoke with El Mundo after the rumors about his future published by Spanish media and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando provides the translation. “Portland is the team where I want to play. But at the same time I want to play more and here I don’t have chances to. The season is very long, let’s see if something will change. Right now I am not thinking about returning to Europe. I have no idea if there is a chance to be traded. But if it happened, I hope it is for the better,” said the Spanish forward.
- Nick Young has jokingly touted himself as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate at times this season, but coach Mike D’Antoni believes the swingman has a legitimate shot at the award, notes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
- D’Antoni is overseeing a locker room with ten players on expiring contracts, but he appears much more effective at building camaraderie with this Lakers team than with last year’s, as Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times observes.
- In this week’s mailbag, Mary Schmitt-Boyer of the Plain Dealer fields questions on the possibility of the Cavs trading for Luol Deng and more.
The Bulls and Heat were perhaps the strongest Eastern Conference title contenders to start the season, but they’ve taken divergent paths, thanks to Derrick Rose‘s injury. The Bulls probably won’t win the title this year, while the Heat appear only to have the Pacers in their way as they try for their fourth straight conference title. Here’s more from Chicago and Miami:
- There were four teams interested in trading for Marquis Teague at the start of the season, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Wolves and Jazz were reportedly two of them, but it’s not clear who the other teams were or if any clubs maintain their interest. The Bulls have hoped that Teague would improve this year, with Kirk Hinrich set to hit free agency.
- Michael Beasley‘s has assumed a “significant” role on the Heat, coach Erik Spoelstra says. It’s Spoelstra’s strongest endorsement of Beasley this year, observes Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald, who examines how the team’s minimum-salary gamble is paying dividends so far. Beasley’s deal remains non-guaranteed.
- The Heat might be able to find a better bargain on the free agent market in the summer, but Chris Bosh‘s slow start has done nothing to affect his value to the Heat this season, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes in his mailbag column.
The Cavs drafted Anthony Bennett first overall with many in the organization envisioning him becoming a small forward at some point, notes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. Lloyd argues that the team should make the former UNLV big man the starter at that position now. Cleveland’s win tonight brings the team’s record to just 5-12, so Lloyd believes it’s an idea worth trying in a season when few of coach Mike Brown‘s gambits have worked. Here’s more from around the NBA: