And-Ones: Wolves, Knicks, Draft

April 18 at 9:47pm CDT By Chris Crouse

If the Wolves win the lottery and land the top pick in the NBA draft, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor are the only players whom the team should seriously consider using the selection on, opines Joel Brigham in a collaborative piece for Basketball Insiders. Point guard may be a position of need, considering Ricky Rubio‘s history of injuries, but the team has already indicated it will take a best-player-available approach when using its selection rather than drafting for need.

“I think when you’re a lottery-type team, you have to take the best player available,” President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders said. “If you’re there, you probably got there because you lost, and you’re probably still a little ways away. There’s not probably one player, really, that you think, wherever you’re at, ‘Hey, if I take that position, he can help me.’ The better chance you have of improving the team is to take whoever the best player you evaluate is there.”

Minnesota finished the season with a record of 16-66, which gives the team the best chance at winning the lottery and a 46.5% chance at landing one of the top two picks, as our 2015 Lottery Odds page indicates.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • If the Knicks win the lottery, Towns should be the selection, Tommy Beer opines in the same piece for Basketball Insiders. Beer believes Towns could be the defensive anchor that New York hasn’t had since it traded Tyson Chandler to the Mavs. The Kentucky product averaged 2.3 blocks while playing only 21 minutes per game during his lone college season.
  • The Warriors have recalled Ognjen Kuzmic from their D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, according to a team press release. To date this season, the center has appeared in 16 games for Golden State, averaging 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds in 4.5 minutes per game.
  • The Magic showed flashes of potential, but ultimately they turned in another sub-par season. Center Nikola Vucevic believes it’s time the team takes the next step, Denton writes in a seperate piece. “Now, we’ve got to accept the fact that we’ve got to change this and turn this thing around. Rebuilding was fine for two or even three years, but we’ve got to find a way to turn it around because [youth] is not an excuse anymore,” said Vucevic, who led the Magic in points and rebounds this season. “So we’ve got to find a way to turn this thing around quickly.’’ 

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Knicks, Salary Cap

April 18 at 8:19pm CDT By Chris Crouse

The Raptors will face some difficult decisions this offseason, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Amir Johnson, Lou Williams and Jonas Valanciunas will be free agents and Terrence Ross will be eligible for a rookie extension. Toronto won 49 games this season, one more than last year’s total, but the team went 12-16 over its final 28 games and didn’t look like a playoff-caliber team at times. GM Masai Ujiri has the challenge of figuring out if the young roster is still growing or if the team has plateaued as currently constructed.

“We’ll learn that as time comes,” Ujiri said. “This playoffs will help. We will continue with what we are preaching, we will continue to learn. It’s like at the trade deadline, if we added an older player, that would take away something from these guys showing themselves … [But] It’s going to take the playoffs, it’s going to take time to see [if] you keep this group or do you add in a player here or there. But they are building the stage and that’s what you want.” 

The Raptors, who lost the first game in their series with the Wizards earlier today by a score of 93-86, haven’t won a playoff series since they beat the Knicks in the 2001 playoffs. Here’s some notes from Toronto’s rival in the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks need to improve in almost every facet and Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal examines a few areas that deserve the most attention. Herring identifies the point guard situation as an area the team should invest resources in this offseason. He believes Jose Calderon, who was the subject of trade discussions during the season, could be a contributor to the team, but as part of the second unit instead of a starter. Herring also identifies adding athleticism to the roster and working to improve coach Derek Fisher‘s game management among the areas the team should focus on.
  • The projected salary cap increase over the next two seasons should help the Knicks land marquee free agents, opines Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork. League executives expect the salary cap to increase from its current $63.1MM figure to $67.1MM next season and $89MM during the 2016/17 season. Begley also cautions that the team should be careful when adding free agents this offseason; although the team will have roughly $22MM more to work with next offseason, the maximum salaries for players will also rise significantly since they are a product of the salary cap.

Magic Notes: Coach, Hennigan, Harris

April 18 at 6:50pm CDT By Chris Crouse

Hiring a head coach outweighs everything else for the Magic during the upcoming offseason, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

“It’s essential for us,” GM Rob Hennigan said. “We’re at a critical point now. Again, we believe in the talent on this team. We know we’re a young team. We know we have a long way to go. But, again, finding that right coach, that right person to push us in the right direction, to prod us in the right direction — it’s imperative.”

Robbins notes that the team is strongly inclined to hire someone with extensive NBA head-coaching experience. While the Magic haven’t named any potential candidates, Robbins names Scott Skiles and Tom Thibodeau as likely candidates this offseason.

Here’s more from Orlando:

  • All indications are that a contract extension for Hennigan will be in place relatively soon, writes Robbins in the same piece.
  • The team should generate additional cap space and make a simultaneous run at Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, opines Robbins in the same piece. Orlando has slightly under $38.9MM in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2015/16 season, as our Salary Commitment page indicates.
  • Tobias Harris, who scored 17.1 points per game this season, will be a restricted free agent this offseason. The 22-year-old has tried to not worry about his future, John Denton of NBA.com writes. “You get a little nervous at times, but I think everything is going to work out for me  I wanted to go out and have a successful year and a great year and I think I’ve put in the work. It’s in the teams hands with whatever wants to be done,’’ Harris said. “All I can do is really sit back and be patient at this time.’’  The forward has been linked to the Knicks, but if Orlando extends him a qualifying offer, it can match any offer sheet he signs.
  • Elfrid Payton played in every game this season and the rookie has shown he belongs in the NBA, opines Denton in the same piece. Payton averaged 8.9 points per game and sported a 13.8 player efficiency rating this season.

And-Ones: Cauley-Stein, Parsons, Knicks

April 18 at 5:22pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Mavs forward Chandler Parsons understands the criticism levied against him regarding his production not being worthy of his $14.7MM salary this season, Ben Golliver of SI.com writes. “The whole expectations of being a max player and taking that next step, it’s tough to manage at first,” Parsons said. “A lot of people look at me like I’m a different player. I’m the same player. I’ve gotten better. My numbers are down a little bit but at the same time I continue to get better. I’m on a different team. We’re very explosive offensively, we have more of a balanced attack, and I’m playing five minutes less than I did in Houston. I’m a basketball player and I impact the game in many different ways. My job is to be a good teammate, work extremely hard and do whatever it takes to win games.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Rich Kleiman of Roc Nation Sports and Leon Rose of the Creative Artists Agency will team up to represent Willie Cauley-Stein, as Liz Mullen of the SportsBusiness Journal reports in a subscription-only piece. The center from the University of Kentucky is the No. 6 prospect in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings and No. 7 with Chad Ford of ESPN.com.
  • Nuggets GM Tim Connelly indicated that there are no players on Denver’s roster who are untouchable in terms of trades, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post tweets.
  • The Knicks are expected to have a busy offseason, and team president Phil Jackson will need to make decisions regarding a large number of players on his current roster. Marc Berman of The New York Post breaks down the team’s roster, and who the franchise should retain for the 2015/16 campaign. Players whom the Post scribe believes the team should bring back include Louis Amundson, Lance Thomas, and Cleanthony Early, while the team should part ways with Cole Aldrich and Travis Wear.
  • The Cavaliers have assigned Joe Harris to the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate, the team announced.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

A.J. Hammons Declines To Enter Draft

April 18 at 4:16pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Purdue junior A.J. Hammons will skip the NBA draft this season and return to school for his senior campaign, the team has announced. The big man was a potential second-rounder if he entered this year’s draft, with Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranking him the No. 45 overall prospect, and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress slotting him 51st.

Earning my degree is one of the most important goals that I have for myself and returning to Purdue next year will enable me to reach that,” Hammons said. “In addition, I feel that our team has a lot of unfinished business to reach next season and I want to be a part of something special. Purdue is an outstanding school with great people and the chance to compete for a Big Ten Championship and more is something I want to experience again with my teammates.

In 34 appearances for the Boilermakers last season, the seven-footer averaged 11.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks in 24.3 minutes per game. His career numbers are 11.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 2.6 BPG. Hammons’ career slash line is .516/.000/.684.

2015/16 Salary Commitments By Team

April 18 at 3:00pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Hoops Rumors took a look ahead at each franchise’€™s salary cap situation heading into the offseason, and the inevitable free agent frenzy that occurs every year when the weather turns hot. We went through the contracts on each teams’ books for next season, minus any cap holds for unrenounced free agents.

While the exact amount of the 2015/16 salary cap won’€™t be announced until July, the cap is projected to come in somewhere around $67.4MM, with the luxury tax threshold projected at approximately $81MM. This year’s $63.065MM cap represented an increase of 7.7% over 2013/14, which was well above the league’€™s projected annual increase of 4.5%. It would appear that these figures are due for a significant bump in the near future. NBA teams were recently advised ‎that the league’s salary cap could rise past the $100MM mark as soon as the 2017/18 season. These estimates should make the hearts of NBA agents palpitate, and set the stage for some exciting future offseasons.

Here are each of the teams’ 2015/16 salary cap listings organized by conference and division:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic Division

Central Division

Southeast Division


WESTERN CONFERENCE

Northwest Division

Pacific Division

Southwest Division

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of these posts.

Hoops Rumors Weekly Mailbag 4/12/15-4/18/15

April 18 at 1:46pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have added a second opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap, or the NBA draft? Drop me a line at HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com or @EddieScarito on Twitter. Now for this week’s inquiries:

“Do you see the Knicks signing Greg Monroe this summer? If so, what kind of a fit do you think he’ll be with New York?” Vinny

I would definitely say that the Knicks are the favorites to sign the big man when he hits free agency this offseason. The team has more than enough cap space to offer Monroe a max deal, something he’ll likely be seeking this summer. I don’t happen to believe that Monroe is a max contract player, a sentiment many NBA teams are likely to share. But New York will be in full desperation mode after enduring all of the losses this campaign, so the franchise will be more apt to overpay for someone like Monroe.

As for how he would fit with the Knicks, the jury is still out. Team president Phil Jackson has indicated that the team is seeking players who can defend, which is in no way Monroe’s forte. I’m also not sold that Monroe and Carmelo Anthony would be a good pairing. Both players like to occupy similar spots on offense, and ‘Melo has been his best when playing the four. New York could use Monroe as a center, but then the team may as well lay out  some red carpet in the lane at Madison Square Garden to make opposing players’ trips to the hoop even more accommodating. If Monroe does end up in New York he’ll be an upgrade to what they have had in the post in recent seasons, but I don’t see him and Anthony as a championship-caliber pairing.

“Which coaches do you see getting the axe this offseason?” — Sam R.

Now that the regular season is over we should start seeing some proverbial heads start to roll shortly. I don’t see too many vacancies opening up though, since Orlando, Denver, and Sacramento already changed coaches during the season. The Kings already filled their spot with George Karl, who was a great hire in my view. I don’t think James Borrego is retained by the Magic, nor do I think the Nuggets keep Melvin Hunt. Hunt has a better chance to stay on than Borrego does, but if he’s still running the show next season in Denver it will be because “plan A” failed.

As for the rest of the league, I think Scott Brooks is in real danger of being let go by the Thunder. That franchise probably needs to make a change at this point, and it will likely begin with a new coach. The only other coach who I think could be jettisoned is the Hornets’ Steve Clifford. The franchise had an extremely disappointing campaign, and Clifford could pay the price. I do think he’ll get one more season to turn things around, but wouldn’t be at all surprised if Clifford was let go. Flip Saunders could also end up firing himself so that he can concentrate more on his executive duties. Mike Malone to the Wolves would be a nice fit in that scenario. But my most likely non-interim coach to be let go is Brooks, though he probably wouldn’t be out of work for long.

“Which projected lottery pick this year is the most likely to be a bust?” Carter

This is always a tough call, and it’s one that has cost numerous executives their jobs. But this one for me is an easy choice. I think this year’s candidate for biggest draft disappointment will be Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis, who is currently projected as a top seven pick. Now, I will fully admit to being automatically skeptical of Euro players making the jump to the NBA. While there have been a number of notable exceptions, the washout rate is far too high for my tastes, and I wouldn’t risk an early lottery pick on such an unknown quantity.

Porzingis is uber-athletic, especially for his size. But it takes more than athleticism to make it in the NBA. All the scouting reports that I have read on Porzingis laud his physical tools, which are quite stellar. But he isn’t dominating competition overseas, which is a big red flag for me. While the overseas game has made incredible strides over the years, the competition and talent levels involved pale in comparison to what is awaiting Porzingis in the NBA. Draft history is on my side in predicting Porzingis won’t live up to the billing, though I hope I’m wrong. He’d be pretty fun to watch if he did live up to the hype.

“With the playoffs beginning this weekend let’s get this on record — who do you have making it to the NBA Finals? Who takes home the trophy this season?” Arthur

I guess it’s prediction time. It really feels wide open this season, as each playoff team has a number of questions heading in. For the NBA Finals I’ll go with the Cavs against the Warriors (if they can stay healthy for once in the postseason). The Cavs are a flawed team, but I’m not betting against LeBron James and company when the spotlight is on. The Warriors have been the best team all season, but the playoffs are a whole different story. Many talented teams have fallen in the playoffs because of lack of experience. Golden State may be a season away, but I’m still going with them as my choice. As for who will be hoisting a championship banner to the rafters…I’ll go with the Cavaliers.

That’s all the space I have for this week. Thanks for all of the submissions! I’ll be back next week with more answers to your inquiries.

Atlantic Notes: Calderon, Sixers, Celtics

April 18 at 12:30pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Knicks point guard Jose Calderon had a difficult first season in New York, but he insists that he’ll turn things around if he’s still a member of the organization in 2015/16, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “One hundred percent, we didn’t see the Jose Calderon I was all these years,’’ Calderon told Berman. “Personally, [I was] just disappointed how it was individually because I can do a much better job. And I didn’t get it right. The only good thing about it, I know I’m going to be much better next season. I know what they want, I know what they want from me and how it’s going to work. Hopefully I’ll get better with [avoiding] injuries.’’

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • There is still a chance that the Knicks could waive Calderon using the stretch provision, but the veteran says his first choice is to return to New York, Berman adds. “I’m pretty confident I’m going to be here,’’ Calderon said. “I want to be here. That’s the feeling I got from the coaching staff. That’s what I feel about next year. But you’re only one phone call away for something to happen. I always got to be prepared. It’s how the NBA works. I don’t want to get out now because the good part is coming. You don’t want to leave now.’’
  • The Sixers have many needs that need to be addressed this offseason, but coach Brett Brown says the team needs to prioritize improving its defense, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer notes. “In my heart of hearts, I know we have to build on our defense,” Brown said. “That’s just who we are.” Philadelphia ranked 20th in opponents points allowed this past season.
  • The Celtics made the playoffs this season not by bringing in more talented players, but by acquiring players who better fit their philosophy, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com opines.  “It’s very unusual,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of Boston’s rebuilding efforts while still making the playoffs. “They’ve done it with overhaul, and at the same time losing an All-Star point guard [Rajon Rondo). We kind of did the same thing last year [with Rudy Gay]. We lost an All-Star wing guy, kind of rebuild. Sometimes it’s good, addition by subtraction. And Boston is a good example of that.

Hoops Rumors Originals 4/12/15-4/18/15

April 18 at 11:20am CDT By Eddie Scarito

Here’s a look at the original analysis generated by the Hoops Rumors staff this past week…

  • Chris Crouse profiled Cavs GM David Griffin as an Executive of the Year candidate.
  • I profiled 2015 NBA draft prospect Kelly Oubre.
  • If you missed our weekly chat you can review the full transcript.
  • We published the latest edition of Hoops Rumors’ Free Agent Power Rankings.
  • I ran down how the Nets and Hornets utilized the D-League this season.
  • Chuck looked at notable players who weren’t signed to contracts during the 2014/15 season.
  • We released our latest 2015 NBA Draft Prospect Power Rankings.
  • Check out Hoops Rumors’ Reverse Standings to see where your team is in line to pick in the first round of this year’s draft. All of the teams’ draft lottery odds can be found here.
  • I reviewed the 2015/16 salary commitments for the Jazz and Wizards.
  • We ran down all of the key dates for the 2015 offseason.
  • Here’s how you can follow Hoops Rumors on Facebook, Twitter, and your RSS feed.

Week In Review 4/12/15-4/18/15

April 18 at 10:00am CDT By Eddie Scarito

At this week’s NBA Board of Governors meetings, teams were reportedly advised ‎that the league’s salary cap could rise past the $100MM mark as early as the 2017/18 season. Based on current projections, league officials expect the salary cap to increase from its current $63.1MM figure to $67.1MM next season, $89MM in 2016/17, and $108MM in 2017/18. The league has been careful to stress to its teams that these projections are contingent on the NBA and its players avoiding a work stoppage after the 2016/17 season when the league and the NBPA can opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement. Here’s the rest of the happenings from the week that was…

Signings


2015 NBA Draft News

  • Duke freshman small forward Justise Winslow is entering the NBA draft.
  • Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis will declare for the 2015 NBA draft.
  • Virginia junior small forward Justin Anderson plans to enter this year’s draft.
  • Ohio State freshman D’Angelo Russell plans to declare for the 2015 NBA draft.
  • Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones will leave school to enter the NBA draft.
  • Notre Dame sophomore point guard Demetrius Jackson will return to school for another season.
  • Gary Payton II intends to return to Oregon State next season.
  • Wichita State junior guards Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet plan to remain out of this year’s NBA draft.
  • Arkansas sophomore power forward Bobby Portis has decided to enter this year’s draft.
  • Boston College junior combo guard Olivier Hanlan will declare for this year’s draft.
  • Draft prospects Montrezl Harrell of Louisville and Trey Lyles of Kentucky signed with agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
  • Sam Dekker of Wisconsin signed with agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports. Georgia State junior R.J. Hunter also inked a pact with the agent.
  • Ryan Harrow, a senior from Georgia State, has signed a deal with agent Wallace Prather of Perennial Sports & Entertainment.
  • Eastern Washington’s Tyler Harvey has signed with agent Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports.
  • West Virginia senior guard Juwan Staten has signed with agent Colin Bryant of Max Deal Sports.
  • Arkansas junior guard Michael Qualls is leaving school early to enter the draft.
  • Stanford senior guard Anthony Brown has also hired Goldfeder as his agent.
  • Murray State sophomore Cameron Payne has hired Travis King of Relativity Sports as his agent.
  • Alpha Kaba, a 6’10” forward playing for the French team Espoirs Pau-Orthez, will enter the 2015 NBA draft.
  • N.C. State junior shooting guard Trevor Lacey has decided to enter this year’s draft.
  • French big man Mouhammadou Jaiteh will enter this year’s draft.
  • Overseas prospects Cedi Osman and center Nikola Milutinov will enter this year’s draft.
  • 21-year-old Bosnian forward Adin Vrabac, who is currently playing in Germany, will declare for the 2015 NBA draft.

News/Rumors

  • NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn plans to retire in August.
  • Al Jefferson said that he is likely to opt in and remain with the Hornets next season.
  • Ares Capital’s Tony Ressler, who is fronting a group that includes Grant  Hill, is making a bid to purchase the Hawks.
  • NBA coaching veteran Scott Skiles, Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg and Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool are among the candidates for the Nuggets coaching job. Also garnering interest are Billy Donovan, Michael Malone, Mike D’Antoni, Alvin Gentry and, if the Thunder let him go, Scott Brooks.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge may be more willing to leave the Blazers this summer than previously thought.
  • The NBA and the NBPA announced that blood testing for Human Growth Hormone will commence under the league’s anti-drug program, beginning during the 2015/16 NBA season.
  • Dwyane Wade confirmed that he intends to pick up his $16.125MM player option for next season.
  • The Lakers reportedly will attempt to trade Nick Young this offseason.
  • Goran Dragic confirmed that he’ll turn down his $7.5MM player option for next season, as he’s long planned to do.
  • The Hawks nominated Mike Budenholzer, and not Danny Ferry, for the Executive of the Year award, which reportedly irked a number of executives around the league.
  • Rockets rookie K.J. McDaniels will likely miss the playoffs due to a fractured wrist.
  • The Knicks are reportedly one of Greg Monroe‘s preferred free agent destinations.
  • Thabo Sefolosha blames New York City police for the season-ending injury he suffered outside a New York nightclub last week.
  • Soon-to-be free agent forward DeMarre Carroll acknowledged interest in the Knicks and hinted that he wouldn’t mind signing with the Lakers or Clippers, either.
  • The Magic intend to make Kyle O’Quinn the qualifying offer necessary for them to be able to match offers for him in free agency this summer.
  • There is mutual interest between Joe Ingles and the Jazz in the player returning to Utah next season.
  • A number of draft order tiebreakers were settled.
  • The Lakers reportedly intended to re-sign Dwight Buycks prior to him suffering a broken right hand during game action.
  • Wolves forward Kevin Garnett is reportedly leaning toward playing next season.
  • All of the week’s NBA D-League assignments and recalls can be found here.