Despite having a roster spot open, the Wizards aren’t anticipating a move, according to J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. Washington hasn’t filled the opening it created by waiving Glen Rice two months ago, and the Wizards don’t seem intrigued by any of the available options. Today is the last day players can hit waivers and still be eligible for the playoffs with another team, although that deadline applies only to players who have appeared in the NBA this season. “Nobody is going to be added to the team. That’s the reality of it,” coach Randy Wittman said earlier this week.
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Despite a post-All Star Game slump, the Wizards aren’t considering a coaching change, Michael writes in a separate story. Before Saturday’s win over the Pistons, Washington had dropped 11 of 13 games, causing some to question Wittman’s future with the team. Michael reports that Wittman still has the support of star player John Wall and there are no indications that he has “lost the locker room.”
- Hornets coach Steve Clifford blames unreasonable expectations for Lance Stephenson‘s early struggles in Charlotte, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “A lot of this is totally off base among basketball people,” Clifford said of the hype that accompanied Stephenson. “He’s 23 years old. He’d played for one coach in one offense.” Many thought Stephenson would be the missing piece for the Hornets after signing as a free agent during the summer. Instead he has struggled to find his shot, connecting on just 36.6 percent from the field this season and 15.1 percent from 3-point range.
- St. John’s basketball coach Steve Lavin said an extra year in college would have helped the Magic’s Maurice Harkless improve his draft status, tweets Josh Newman of Asbury Park Press. Lavin said NBA general managers told him that Harkless could have been a top three choice in the 2013 draft. Instead, he left St. John’s in 2012 and was selected 15th.
Brandon Knight‘s price tag as a restricted free agent was a good reason for the Bucks to trade him to the Suns, Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders believes. Knight will likely receive offer sheets in the range of $13MM-$15.9MM annually this summer after he was unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension with the club last fall, Duncan adds. Michael Carter-Williams, who was acquired from Philadelphia to take Knight’s spot, is on a rookie contract through the 2016/17 season and has more upside, Duncan opines.
In other news around the Eastern Conference:
- The acquisition of Carter-Williams could hurt the Bucks in the short run but improves their flexibility this summer, Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. The move gives them a young core of Carter-Williams, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, and they have approximately $15MM in salary cap space to make another major move, Gardiner adds.
- Four-year NBA veteran Daniel Orton has turned down offers from overseas after returning from his stint in the Philippines and is holding out for an NBA deal, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Orton was with the Wizards during preseason.
- Derrick Rose‘s latest knee injury could lead to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s departure, according to Nancy Armour of USA Today. Thibodeau’s relationship with Bulls management was already strained, Armour reveals, and Rose is one of his most fervent supporters. Losing Rose for perhaps the rest of the season could lead to Thibodeau, who has two years left on his contract, and the team cutting ties, Armour opines.
- The Hawks will try to re-sign Pero Antic when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Antic has struggled with his shooting in a reserve role this season, averaging 28.7% on three-point attempts, but that hasn’t changed the Hawks’ thinking, Vivlamore adds.
- Magic COO Alex Martins says the team will not interview head coaching candidates until after season, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. James Borrego is the interim coach for the remainder of the season after Jacque Vaughn was fired earlier this month.
- Forest City Enterprises, the Ratner parent company, confirms it’s looking to sell its shares in Nets and Barclays Center, NetsDaily tweets. Bruce Ratner is a minority owner of the Nets after selling 80% of the club to Mikhail Prokhorov in 2010.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Former Heat forward Michael Beasley could be an option to replace Chris Bosh, reports Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Bosh was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs this morning and will miss the rest of the season. Winderman notes that Beasley recently finished his season in China and has been holding workouts at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena. Another possibility is free agent center Andray Blatche, whom the team considered earlier this season. Miami has a $2.65 MM disabled-player exception from the knee injury suffered by Josh McRoberts.
There’s more news from the Southeast Division:
- Newly acquired Goran Dragic isn’t committing to staying with the Heat yet, but he’s offering hints that he would like to see it happen, Winderman tweets. Dragic adds that his focus for now is helping Miami for the rest of the season (Twitter link), and he hopes that he has “a lot more years” with the Heat, but the business side of basketball is unpredictable (Twitter link).
- Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told Winderman in a separate story that parting with Norris Cole was the most difficult part of the three-team trade that brought Dragic to Miami. Cole won two NBA titles in his three full seasons in Miami. “When you send a player like Norris Cole,” Spoelstra said, “to another team, a two-time champion, somebody that came up through our ranks — we developed him, we spent a lot of time when we drafted him — that’s always tough in this business.” For the record, the Bulls drafted Cole in 2011 and shipped him the next day to the Wolves, who flipped him to the Heat that same day.
- The Magic aren’t planning any buyouts before the end of the season, reports Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. At age 33, Willie Green had been considered a possible candidate, but he flatly stated that he has no interest. “‘Buyout’ is not really in my language,” Green said. “I get paid to come in here to be professional and play hard and go out and try to help the team win. As far as I’m concerned, I’m with Orlando for the rest of the year.”
With the trade deadline passed the Timberwolves‘ focus is now on seeing which players fit into their long-term plans, Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune writes. “It’s an evaluation time for some of these guys, for where they’re at,” president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said. “But also for what they have to work on, once the season ends and they start getting ready for next year, what they need to do to become solid rotational players. So it’s a little of both.”
Here’s more from around the league:
- The Grizzlies didn’t need to be make a deal prior to the trade deadline according to coach Dave Joerger, Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal relays (subscription required). “We’re pretty happy with where we are,” Joerger said. “What we could possibly add I don’t think is better than what we have here.”
- Toronto GM Masaj Ujiri said that the Raptors had “productive talks” with NBA D-League officials during the All-Star break about the team getting its D-League affiliate, Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun tweets.
- Thunder coach Scott Brooks is excited for what point guard D.J. Augustin can bring to the team, Nick Gallo of NBA.com writes. “I like the toughness that he brings to the table,” Brooks said. “Every night he’s had to battle to be in the position that he’s in. He’s making a nice career for himself. He’s a great shooter. He can run the team. He looks to make plays for others. He’s a pesky defender. He’s a great pickup for us.” Augustin arrived in OKC as part of the deal with Detroit and Utah that sent Reggie Jackson to the Pistons.
- The Magic have recalled Devyn Marble from the the Erie BayHawks, their D-League affiliate, John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com reports (Twitter link). This was Marble’s third D-League assignment of the season.
- San Antonio has re-assigned Kyle Anderson to the Austin Spurs, the team announced. In two treks to the D-League this season, Anderson has appeared in 10 games, averaging 22.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in 41.0 minutes per contest.
Lakers center Jordan Hill is “highly unlikely” to be traded before Thursday’s deadline, a source told Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. Hill, who is making $9MM this season and would make the same salary next year if the team picks up his option, said on Wednesday that he would like to stay put in Los Angeles. Many league executives believe the Lakers will pick up Hill’s option if he is not dealt, according to Deveney. Hill’s name has been mentioned in trade talks involving Goran Dragic and Reggie Jackson, Deveney adds.
In other news around the Pacific Division:
- The Warriors will likely match any offer sheet for restricted free agent Draymond Green, according to Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group. An unnamed Warriors executive, when asked recently if paying Green $12MM per season was too high, told Thompson “we’re keeping Draymond Green.” The Warriors are well aware Green’s value has risen dramatically this season, possibly to the status of a max contract, but there has been no indication they will decline to match any offer.
- The Clippers are hesitant to make any deal involving Jamal Crawford unless it would clearly improve the team, Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times tweets.
- Rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson has impressed the Lakers so much that they are reluctant to part with him in any proposed deal, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Clarkson, who was selected by the Wizards in the second round last June and was immediately traded to Los Angeles, is averaging 12.4 points, 3.8 assists and 1.9 turnovers over his last 10 contests.
- Lakers coach Byron Scott does not appear to be in the loop concerning trade talks, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reports. Scott said Wednesday he had not talked to GM Mitch Kupchak about trade rumors, including the Lakers’ pursuit of Goran Dragic, and wouldn’t discuss the topic with Kupchak until the GM approaches him, Pincus adds.
- The Kings’ main priority is to acquire a power forward who can stretch the floor with his shooting range, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. The Magic’s Channing Frye and Bucks’ Ersan Ilyasova are potential targets, Kennedy speculates. Even if they can’t find a 3-point shooter at the position, the Kings may still look to acquire a power forward before the deadline, Kennedy adds.
Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.
WEDNESDAY, 4:46pm: Orlando is seeking a first-round pick or a “talented young player” in return for Harkless, sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, which conflicts with Zillgitt’s report that the Magic are only looking for a minimal return.
TUESDAY, 4:32pm: The Magic are willing to trade third-year forward Maurice Harkless, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports (Twitter link). Orlando only seeks what Zillgitt terms a minimal return for the 21-year-old former first-rounder out of St. John’s. The franchise is also reportedly willing to trade Andrew Nicholson, though the team is seeking a more substantial return for the power forward. Harkless is making $1,887,840 this season, and he is set to earn $2,894,059 during the 2015/16 campaign.
A report from Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders last month relayed that numerous teams had called Orlando regarding Harkless, but the Magic’s asking price was too high for inquiring teams. It is unclear if Harkless’ stock has fallen dramatically within the organization since then, or if the Magic have simply become more realistic about the trade market for their young swingman. Kennedy’s report also stated that Orlando’s front office hoped that interim coach James Borrego could coax more out of Harkless than former coach Jacque Vaughn did. This change apparently hasn’t occurred as desired, since Harkless has only logged a total of 12 minutes over Orlando’s last four contests.
Harkless has appeared in 27 games this season, and has averaged 3.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per contest. These numbers fall short of Harkless’ career averages of 7.1 PPG and 3.6 RPG. His career slash line is .459/.317/.594.
The Sixers are willing to take on expiring contracts in order to increase their stash of second-round draft picks, according to Tom Moore of Calkins Media. Trade talks have been heating up, an NBA source told Moore, and the team is likely to make at least one deal before Thursday’s deadline. The Sixers already own 16 second-rounders over the next six drafts but wouldn’t mind adding more assets. The franchise also has $18.4MM in salary-cap room to absorb expiring deals, Moore continues. If the Sixers do make a deal, Luc Mbah a Moute is the player most likely to be moved. Mbah a Moute, who has an expiring contract of approximately $4.4MM, is averaging a career high of 10.0 points, and could draw interest from a contender. Moore also speculates the club would consider moving its best all-around player, Michael Carter-Williams, for the right price.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Reggie Jackson would probably wind up with a non-contender if he’s dealt by the Thunder before the trade deadline, Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman writes. Jackson’s most likely destination would be a team needing a long-term solution at point guard with the expectation of re-signing him when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer, Slater adds. Jackson is making just over $2.2MM and might have to be paired with a higher-salaried player such as Kendrick Perkins, who is making approximately $9.65MM, in order to bring back a quality player in return, according to Slater.
- Gary Payton has shown interest in joining George Karl’s staff with the Kings, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee tweets. Payton was Karl’s long-time point guard in Seattle, including during the 1996 NBA Finals when the SuperSonics lost to the Bulls.
- The Magic have re-assigned Devyn Marble to the Erie BayHawks, their D-League affiliate, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel tweets. Marble, a rookie guard, has not appeared in an NBA game since January 25th. In 16 games with the Magic this season, Marble is averaging 2.3 PPG.
- Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are the main building blocks for the Jazz and have too much potential to be traded, Brad Rock of the Deseret News writes. Quality big men are precious commodities and that makes the duo more important than the team’s current star, Gordon Hayward, Rock adds.
FEBRUARY 17TH: The Magic are hesitant to give up Nicholson if they can’t get much in return, as sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who writes amid a larger piece.
10:44am: It’s unlikely a trade partner will emerge, but Dallas owner Mark Cuban was at one point high on Nicholson, according to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, who suggests it’s possible the Mavs will pursue him before the deadline (Twitter links).
FEBRUARY 12TH, 9:23am: The Magic are making Andrew Nicholson available to other teams if they want to trade for him and are working with agent Mark Bartelstein to try to find a new home for the 25-year-old power forward, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Nicholson’s playing time is down sharply this year, and he hasn’t played since January 10th. He’s seen only 8.9 minutes per game across 18 appearances this season as he sits behind Channing Frye and Kyle O’Quinn on the team’s depth chart at power forward, with Tobias Harris and Aaron Gordon jockeying for playing time at both forward positions.
Nicholson is making close to $1.546MM on year three of his rookie scale contract, which calls for him to receive nearly $2.381MM next season in the final year of the deal. He’ll be eligible for an extension this summer. The 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft was in the rotation for the Magic his first two seasons, averaging 16.0 MPG, but offseason additions Frye and Gordon have crowded him out. However, it’s somewhat surprising that GM Rob Hennigan and company would seek to pivot on Nicholson with the team’s coaching situation in flux, since a new coach might value him more than former coach Jacque Vaughn or interim boss James Borrego have.
The Magic are about $7MM under the cap, so they have plenty of flexibility to make a trade. They have all their own first-round picks plus one coming their way from the Lakers in 2017, and at least one second-round pick in each upcoming draft, though it would seem unlikely they’d have to send Nicholson out with a pick unless it was part of a larger deal.
1:06pm: The general belief is that Borrego will have a chance to have the interim tag removed and stay beyond the end of the season if he performs well down the stretch, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The team has hired Igor Kokoskov, a former assistant with the Clippers, Pistons, Suns and Cavs, to serve as Borrego’s lead assistant, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported and as the Magic later formally announced.
11:57am: The Magic told Borrego today that he’ll remain the interim coach through the end of the season, reports John Denton of Magic.com (Twitter links).
10:31am: There’s increasing chatter that the Magic intend to let interim head coach James Borrego finish the season in that position, preferring a slow-paced search for his eventual replacement, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Brian K. Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel suggested that was the case earlier this morning, following up on his assertion from last week that the timing at play and the Magic’s track record indicated that Borrego would stick until season’s end. Borrego last week said that the Magic hadn’t told him their plans and said he took that as a sign that he’d remain in the job. Still, there’s widespread belief that the Magic will ultimately fill the position with a proven coaching veteran, as Schmitz also wrote last week.
Scott Skiles had drawn the most prominent mention as a candidate for the vacancy created when the team fired Jacque Vaughn, and Skiles indeed has interest, according to Schmitz. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders had heard earlier that Skiles wouldn’t take the job without personnel control and that his candidacy was a phenomenon driven by Magic ownership. Mark Jackson, Michael Malone, Vinny Del Negro and, if he were to shake loose from the Bulls, Tom Thibodeau have also drawn mention in connection with the Magic coaching job since the team let go of Vaughn. So, too, did George Karl, who publicly expressed interest in the position, helping prompt the Kings to hire him before the Magic had a chance to snap him up.
Borrego had been an assistant coach with the Magic throughout Vaughn’s tenure, and he previously served as an assistant for the Pelicans and Spurs. He began his NBA career in 2003 as an assistant video coordinator for the Spurs, aligning him with GM Rob Hennigan, as well as Vaughn, as part of San Antonio’s sphere of influence. Borrego has gone 2-2 so far as interim head coach for the Magic.
The Knicks have engaged the Suns in talks as they keep an eye on Goran Dragic, just as the Lakers have done, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes in his NBA AM piece. The Knicks and Lakers would be on board with trading for a player whom they could otherwise just wait to sign outright in free agency this summer, like Dragic, but it doesn’t seem that either would give up major assets in any such swap. Kyler has plenty more new information with the trade deadline just two days off, and we’ll hit the highlights here:
- Miami is open to trading Luol Deng, according to Kyler, who suggests that the veteran small forward isn’t garnering the sort of interest it would take for him to be traded. Kyler also lists Norris Cole, Chris Andersen and Danny Granger as players the Heat are making available, which jibes with earlier reports on all three.
- Golden State is “more than” interested in Kevin Garnett, Kyler hears, which advances a suggestion from Grantland’s Zach Lowe on Monday that the Warriors would like to try to convince Garnett to waive his no-trade clause. The 20th-year veteran reportedly has no plans to seek a buyout.
- The Bucks are “being linked” to Ty Lawson, Kyler writes, though it’s unclear just what sort of interest is there.
- The Bulls would think about trading Tony Snell for a veteran shooting guard who fits what they’re looking for, Kyler writes. Still, while Chicago is speaking generally about doing some deals before the deadline, the team doesn’t appear to be willing to give up what it would take, according to Kyler.
- The Suns are making Gerald Green available, according to Kyler.
- Charlotte has interest in Wilson Chandler, but the Hornets would prefer to trade for Arron Afflalo, as Kyler hears. That’s the reverse of the Blazers‘ apparent preference. The Bulls are “sniffing at” both players, too, Kyler adds, nonetheless casting doubt once more on whether Chicago is willing to give up the assets necessary to swing a deal.
- Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas have come up in trade rumors, but it’s more likely that the Raptors deal someone on an expiring contract, according to Kyler, naming Landry Fields, Tyler Hansbrough and Amir Johnson as examples.
- Sources close to the Pacers tell Kyler that David West is likely to opt in with the Pacers for next season, when his contract calls for him to make $12.6MM.
- There is “a sense” that the Magic are making Ben Gordon and Luke Ridnour available, Kyler says.