The Sixers and rookie Glenn Robinson III have mutual interest in working out a deal that would keep the player in Philadelphia beyond this season, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Robinson will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Sixers tender him a qualifying offer worth $1,045,059. The rookie is currently on a one year, minimum salary deal. “They’ve really done a good job with me, just the little time I’ve been here,” Robinson said. “So I would definitely love to come back and play with these bigs [Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel] and this whole team. I think we really have a good chance of being a great team.”
Robinson has only appeared in one contest for the Sixers since the team claimed him off of waivers from the Timberwolves earlier this month. The young swingman said that getting released by Minnesota tested his resolve, Pompey notes. “I learned a lot in regards to how tough and how strong I am,” said Robinson. “I try not to pay attention to that and still keep pushing. I still believe that one day I’m going to be one of the best players in this league. I have no doubt about that.” The Nuggets were also reportedly interested in Robinson.
Sixers coach Brett Brown said the team would need to take a look at what Robinson could do at some point, Pompey adds. “I don’t feel the pressure yet,” Brown said of the need to play Robinson. “I don’t feel that I’m in a rush to make it happen.” Robinson is currently behind Jason Richardson, Hollis Thompson, Robert Covington, and JaKarr Sampson on the Sixers’ depth chart.
The 21-year-old out of Michigan was selected with the No. 40 overall pick by the Timberwolves in the 2014 NBA draft. Robinson appeared in 25 games for Minnesota this season, averaging 1.2 points and 0.6 rebounds in 4.3 minutes per contest.
Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt is encouraged by the recent strong play of Danilo Gallinari as the player continues to make his way back from injury, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. “He could become better, he could become a smarter player,” Hunt said. “Athleticism can be honed. I’m just thankful for him to have time. He may not be the same, but a lot of the great players, when they come back from injury, they add something, they’ll subtract something, they’ll emphasize something. He’s no different. He knows what his weapon is, his ability to shoot the ball. But he’s putting together a nice little package of drives, finding other guys — and he’s an underrated passer. Gallo is going to figure out ways to reinvent himself. I’m not worried about Gallo at all.”
Here’s more out of the Northwest Division:
- Will Barton is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but the swingman has no desire to leave the Nuggets, Dempey writes in a separate article. “No doubt,” Barton said. “I think we can build something here. We have a lot of good talent, a good organization, coaching staff is good. I can see us building and having a strong future here. We can grow together.” Barton was acquired by Denver in a deadline trade, and he has averaged 12.2 points and 4.4 rebounds since joining the Nuggets.
- Hunt believes that Barton possesses the skills to be a productive player in the NBA for years, Dempsey adds. “For sure,” Hunt said. “He has an NBA skill: play hard. As long as he has that, the other things are gravy. In his short time with us, we’ve seen him make threes, we’ve seen him have spectacular dunks, we’ve seen him have big blocked shots, we’ve seen him get a technical because he was just angry. He’s shown that he has a lot of things in his toolkit.”
- The Timberwolves, despite their 16-54 record, aren’t considering tanking for a better draft spot, Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press tweets. Team owner Glen Taylor was at the forefront this preseason in the push for new plans to discourage tanking, Krawczynski notes.
The Jazz have officially acquired the Idaho Stampede, becoming the eighth NBA team to fully own and operate their own D-League franchise, the team announced. The Stampede have also signed a one-year contract extension with the downtown arena and will continue to play in Boise, Idaho for the 2015/16 season. “Our purchase of an NBA D-League team reflects the value we place on having an exclusive affiliate for player development and building the scope of our basketball operations to support the Jazz,” said Jazz president Randy Rigby. “It is a tremendous commitment from the Miller family to make this acquisition that will contribute to our pursuit of becoming a championship-caliber team.” Idaho was already Utah’s affiliate, but now the Jazz will control both the basketball operations and business sides of the D-League franchise.
Here’s more from Utah:
- Greg Miller, the former CEO of the Miller Management Corporation that controls the Jazz, believes that Utah has a bright future, Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News writes. Miller ended his seven-year tenure as CEO earlier this month. “Everywhere I go people want to talk about the Jazz and I tell them we are in a period where when we look back on it, we’ll say that this was the beginning of a very special era,’’ Miller said.
- Bojan Dubljevic, whose rights are owned by the Timberwolves, will be with Valencia of the Euroleague for at least the next two seasons without the possibility of arranging a buyout, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reports (Twitter link). The forward was selected by Minnesota with the No. 59 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
- Utah had an option in its contract with the Stampede, giving the Jazz the ability to buy the D-League team, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets. Utah was interested in purchasing Idaho at start of this season, Zillgitt adds.
Sean Kilpatrick was in the right place at the right time to get a 10-day contract with the Timberwolves, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. The short-handed Wolves were looking for a player who could get to Thursday’s game in New York quickly, so they turned to Kilpatrick, who was 45 minutes away in Delaware, where he played for the 87ers of the D-League. Despite missing shootaround, Kilpatrick played 10 minutes. “I was just trying to fit in,” he said. “You just go out there and try to play defense. You want to do the right things to stick out and that’s something I wanted to do.”
There’s more from around the world of basketball:
- Metta World Peace will sign with Pallacanestro Cantu of the Italian league, according to his brother, as Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia relays. The one-time NBA player, formerly known as Ron Artest, reached an agreement by phone and will leave Wednesday for Italy, his brother said. World Peace last played in the NBA with the Knicks in 2013/14.
- Lakers coach Byron Scott said the team will “absolutely” consider bringing back free agent Wayne Ellington, according to Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. Scott noted Ellington’s improved shooting and defense, but said the Lakers still have to set their priorities in the draft and free agency. “He made himself a valuable part of this team,” the coach said. “We don’t know what next year holds. But he has shown 30 teams he knows how to play the game.”
- The time may be right for Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones to enter the NBA draft, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Zagoria quotes an unidentified NBA scout who says, “He should leave because his stock will never be higher.”
President of basketball operations Flip Saunders says signing Sean Kilpatrick came down to proximity, according to Alan Horton, who is the play-by-play announcer for the Wolves (Twitter link). Minnesota played the Knicks tonight and Kilpatrick was playing for the Delaware 87ers, the D-League affiliate of the Sixers. After a three hour car ride to New York, the Cincinnati product was in uniform for the Wolves. Minnesota had only eight healthy players active, the league minimum, in the game tonight.
Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Kevin Durant had a setback at practice today and isn’t playing in Friday’s game against the Hawks, according to Royce Young of the TrueHoop Network. “Just he experienced some soreness,” coach Scott Brooks said. “I think when you go through rehab, we all know through the rehab process you’re going to have some peaks and valleys, and you just have to adjust accordingly. That’s why he was off today, and he’s definitely not playing tomorrow. That’s all part of the process with his rehab.” Durant has missed 17 of the last 23 games, including 13 straight, because of a foot injury.
- The Jazz have one of the youngest rosters in the league and Ben Detrick of Grantland.com chronicles how the franchise turned itself into a team with one of the brightest futures in the Western Conference. Detrick points out that Utah’s success lately is partially a result of trading away Enes Kanter. The move cleared up a jumbled frontcourt situation and gave Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors ample playing time. Of the power forwards in the league, only Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis have a higher PER than Favors’ 22.4 rating this season.
- The Jazz have recalled Grant Jerrett from their D-League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede, according to the team’s website. The Arizona product appeared in four games for the Stampede, averaging 12.8 points and 1.5 blocks per game.
Sean Kilpatrick has been signed to a 10-day contract by the Timberwolves, the team’s public relations staff tweets. Minnesota had a full roster but was granted an NBA hardship exception for a 16th roster spot in order to add Kilpatrick, the tweet adds. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reported the deal minutes before the announcement (Twitter link).
The Timberwolves applied for the hardship exception after a dealing with a number of injuries. Shabazz Muhammad required season-ending finger surgery last month and Robbie Hummel and Anthony Bennett have also been out for an extended period. The deadline to apply for a disabled player exception expired in January, so Minnesota did not receive any extra salary flexibility to replace the second-year swingman.
Kilpatrick, an undrafted rookie guard out of Cincinnati, was playing for the D-League’s Delaware 87ers and could give the Timberwolves a perimeter boost. He was averaging 15.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals for the 87ers in a 20-game stint while shooting 48.7% from the field and 42.1% on 3-point attempts. Kilpatrick told HoopsRumors.com during the draft process that he could defend as well as score.
Kilpatrick passed through two other organizations before the Timberwolves signed him. He was on the Sixers’ summer-league team, then was signed by the Warriors during training camp. He was released before the start of the season and hooked on with Golden State’s D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz, where he remained until he was traded to the 87ers in January.
Despite chatter that Masai Ujiri might be gearing up for a pursuit of Andrew Wiggins, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders doesn’t think there’s much of a chance last summer’s No. 1 pick joins the Raptors any time soon. In order to choose his destination as an unrestricted free agent, Wiggins would have to accept his qualifying offer in 2018, which would likely mean turning down a long-term deal with the Wolves. There hasn’t been a big name player to do that outside of Greg Monroe, as Kennedy notes.
Let’s round up the latest from around the NBA:
- Nick Young has suffered a slight fracture in his knee, the Lakers announced. He’ll be evaluated on a week-to-week basis for the remainder of the year, but it’s unclear whether or not he’ll appear on the hardwood again this season.
- Myles Turner has had an inconsistent freshman season with the Longhorns, but it may not have hurt his stock as much as some think, as Chad Ford of ESPN.com reveals in a chat with readers that some scouts attribute Turner’s up and down production this year to Texas coach Rick Barnes.
- The Nuggets’ decision to rest key veterans has irritated Wilson Chandler, but interim head coach Melvin Hunt insists the choice is one the entire Denver organization is making together and not just an order from the front office like Chandler hinted at, tweets Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post.
The Raptors are reportedly already planning a run at Andrew Wiggins, and there are apparently whispers that he’d love to play for his hometown Toronto team someday, even though he can’t elect unrestricted free agency until 2019. Still, Wiggins said today, in advance of tonight’s Timberwolves-Raptors game, that he’s quite content in Minnesota, making his remarks to reporters, including Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link).
“I love Minnesota,” he said. “They treat me nice up there. I plan to be there a very, very, very long time.”
That’s no doubt the plan for the Wolves, too, who acquired the 2014 No. 1 overall pick this year in the Kevin Love trade. Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Tyson Chandler knew the Mavericks were trying to trade for him this past summer, but he didn’t think it would happen, as he tells Ian Thomsen of NBA.com. “I think the Knicks had rejected every possible trade that they offered,” Chandler said. “I didn’t think I was going from New York. The Knicks had visited me to teach me the triangle offense two days before I got traded. So I definitely didn’t think [a] trade was in the works.”
- The Jazz are 11-2 since the trade deadline, when the deal that sent Enes Kanter out created more playing time for Trevor Booker. The ex-Wizards power forward didn’t expect Utah to play this well when he signed with the Jazz in the offseason, and he wants to remain with the team, as he tells Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Only $250K of his $4.775MM salary for next season is guaranteed.
- Pelicans coach Monty Williams praised Eric Gordon for putting the team above himself when he decided not to have surgery on the torn labrum in his left shoulder, a move that would have helped ensure he’s 100% for next season, the last on his contract, observes Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune. Gordon can hit free agency as soon as this summer if he chooses, though he’d have to turn down a player option worth more than $15.514MM to do so.
Nuggets players would endorse the removal of the interim tag from coach Melvin Hunt‘s job title, and it’s a move the organization will at least consider, GM Tim Connelly told Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post.
“As an organization, we have all been impressed with the job Melvin has done thus far,” Connelly said. “When the season concludes, he will be one of the candidates as we begin an exhaustive search to find a head coach.”
Hunt is an impressive 6-3 in his brief tenure, and Hochman argues that while he deserves a shot, there are other candidates who merit consideration, too. Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The injection of 20th-year veteran Kevin Garnett into the inexperienced Timberwolves roster struck an immediate chord, Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders told reporters, including Newsday’s Roderick Boone. “It was like three little kids looking at Santa Claus coming down the chimney,” Saunders said of the reaction some of his younger players had to meeting Garnett.
- Thaddeus Young indicated to the Wolves that he didn’t intend to pick up his player option worth about $10MM for next season, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. Young had reportedly requested a trade through his agent. Young, who hasn’t decided on opting in with Brooklyn, credits the Timberwolves organization for accommodating his wishes, working with his agent and keeping him in the loop, as Zgoda relays. Saunders this week expressed his affection for Young as a player, as Boone notes in his story.
- The Nuggets have begun to sit key players for rest, but Wilson Chandler, a free agent after next season, is not pleased, as Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post relays. “It’s tough when you’re fighting together but you’re getting set up for failure,” Chandler said. The decision isn’t coming from the players or Hunt, Dempsey writes, which suggests it’s the front office’s call.
- Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News has more details on Greg Miller’s decision Monday to relinquish his role as CEO of the company that controls the Jazz, a move that team and company officials insist won’t have much effect on Jazz basketball operations.
- The Jazz have recalled Ian Clark from the D-League, the team announced. He averaged just 14.0 points in 32.0 minutes per game but nailed 45.0% of his three-point attempts on an assignment that last nearly a month.
5:08pm: Bjelica is ready to sign with Minnesota if the Wolves hold on to his rights, a source tells Cauchi. Several NBA teams are interested in trading for those rights, but Minnesota has set a high bar for such proposals, sources also indicated to Cauchi. In any case, the Timberwolves plan to either sign him this summer or trade his rights, Wolfson tweets. There is the matter of a buyout worth 1.2 million euros, as Cauchi points out. That would be the equivalent of about $1.268MM at the current exchange rate. Minnesota or another NBA team would only be able to foot the bill for about half of that.
12:05pm: Draft-and-stash power forward Nemanja Bjelica has interest in signing with the Timberwolves this summer, according to Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi (Twitter link), who confirms an earlier report from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities that the Wolves also want a deal with him. Wolfson wrote in February that Minnesota is planning a strong push for the 26-year-old whose rights the Wolves acquired on draft night in 2010 shortly after the Wizards made him the 35th overall pick. His contract with Turkey’s Fenerbahce Ulker runs until 2016, as Mark Porcaro notes in our Draft Rights Held Players Database, but there’s an opt-out that would allow him to jump to the NBA this summer, sources tell Cauchi (Twitter link).
Bjelica signed with agent Arn Tellem’s Wasserman Media Group prior to the season, and the Wolves have a strong relationship with Tellem, as Wolfson noted. Wolfson speculated that signing Bjelica would require an offer similar to the three-year deal worth more than $16.6MM that fellow draft-and-stash prospect Nikola Mirotic inked with the Bulls this past summer. The starting salary in Mirotic’s contract is equivalent to the full value of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception, seemingly a high price tag for a player who’s putting up solid but unspectacular averages of 12.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game overseas.
The Wolves have about $51MM in guaranteed salary for next season against a salary cap that’s projected to come in at around $68MM, not including a $5MM player option for Chase Budinger or the cap hold for what’s sure to be a high lottery pick. Minnesota would be hard-pressed to open significant cap room, making it more likely that at least a portion of the mid-level, or the biannual exception, would go toward signing Bjelica if the sides were to reach a deal.