Northwest Notes: Aldridge, Hughes, Kanter, Durant

The Blazers will miss LaMarcus Aldridge‘s production but not his ego, writes Jason Quick of The Oregonian. Quick contends there was a “general exhaustion” with Aldridge in Portland, citing frequent attempts to sit out games with minor aliments and a failure to get over long-ago incidents. The columnist notes a growing rift between Aldridge and Damian Lillard caused by Aldridge’s insecurity. He also believes the Blazers are in good hands with Lillard as the new team leader.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Kim Hughes, the assistant coach who said Aldridge would leave Portland, was fired today, Quick writes in a separate story. “We can confirm Mr. Hughes is no longer with the team,” said Neil Olshey, Portland’s president of basketball operations. Team officials were reportedly “enraged” by the comments from Hughes, who has served as the Blazers’ big man coach for the past three seasons.
  • Aldridge admired the Spurs for years before today’s decision to join the organization, according to Ben Golliver of SI.com. Aldridge accumulated a slew of individual honors during his nine years in Portland, but only advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs once. That one trip to the second round ended with a sweep by San Antonio. “They never stop playing,” Aldridge said at the time. “If you guard their first option, they’ve got a second option. If you guard their second option, they’ve got a third option. They’re persistent. They’re not going to change. They’re going to run their stuff over and over and over. Once you mess up, they’re going to make you pay.”
  • The Aldridge decision could have far-reaching draft implications for the Blazers, according to Mike Tokito of The Oregonian (Twitter link). Portland owes a first-round pick to the Nuggets, but the Blazers will keep that over the next two seasons if they miss the playoffs. After that, the obligation will become two second-rounders.
  • Thunder free agent center Enes Kanter could become a target for the Blazers, tweets Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. He notes that Portland needs a center and has the cap space to throw a big offer at Kanter.
  • The Thunder’s Kevin Durant is reporting progress on the foot injury that cost him most of last season, according to Andy Vasquez of The Record (Twitter link). “Going well,” Durant said of his rehab. “I’m jumping when I’m shooting. Not quite running and cutting yet but I’m almost there … I’m excited.”
  • The Jazz are delaying the signing of first-round pick Trey Lyles to give themselves more cap room for possible transactions, tweets Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. There are also some minor details the sides are working out (Twitter link).

Pacific Notes: McGee, Crawford, Hibbert, Cousins

Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers plans to talk to free agent center JaVale McGee today, reports Adrian Wojnarowksi of Yahoo Sports. L.A. is seeking a replacement for DeAndre Jordan, who announced Friday that he will sign a four-year deal with the Mavericks. The Clippers have approximately $2.2MM in exception space available over the league minimum salary of $1.4MM, according to Wojnarowski. McGee, 27, has been a free agent since being waived by the Sixers in March.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers may try to trade Jamal Crawford in their quest for a new center, according to speculation from one executive who spoke with Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Crawford will make $5.675MM next season.
  • It’s unlikely that the Clippers can swing a three-team deal to land Roy Hibbert, according to Broderick Turner and Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times. There have been discussions about a trade that would send a newly signed Jordan to Dallas, a newly signed Monta Ellis to the Pacers and Hibbert to Los Angeles. However, it seems unlikely that Dallas would agree to help a potential rival for a playoff spot.
  • The Lakers haven’t tried to reopen trade talks for Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, tweets Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. He notes that Sacramento isn’t interested in dealing Cousins, despite reported discussions between the teams last month.
  • The Kings‘ reported interest in Denver guard Ty Lawson was exaggerated, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). Trade rumors surrounding Lawson have intensified since the Nuggets drafted Emmanuel Mudiay. Free agent point guard Rajon Rondo announced Friday that he intends to sign with Sacramento.

Pelicans To Re-Sign Dante Cunningham

Dante Cunningham has reached a new deal with the Pelicans, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN. It will be a three-year contract worth a total of $9MM, with the third year as a player option, according to Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link).

Cunningham told John Reid of The Times Picayune earlier this week that several teams were interested in his services. He came to New Orleans in December on a veteran’s minimum contract and made nearly $832K last season. The Pelicans didn’t have Bird Rights on Cunningham, so they were limited in what they could offer. Reid wrote that the team was looking at Richard Jefferson and Quincy Acy as possible replacements.

The 28-year-old Cunningham appeared in 66 games for the Pelicans last season, averaging 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. He took over as the starting small forward in January, but lost that job to Quincy Pondexter after the All-Star break.

Mavericks Rumors: Lin, Jordan, Cuban, Nowitzki

Free agent Jeremy Lin is considering the Mavericks despite the team’s limited remaining cap space, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. Although Lin could likely command a higher salary elsewhere, his desire to play for a contender and his friendship with Chandler Parsons from their days as teammates in Houston could be enough to bring him to Dallas. If the Mavericks get a commitment from Lin, Stein notes, they could waive Raymond Felton and stretch his contract to create a $2.6MM salary slot.

There’s more from Dallas on a holiday weekend:

  • The expected signings of DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews confirm that Dallas is still a free agent destination, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Sefko contends the two additions make the Mavericks relevant again and hints that a “very functional” point guard may be joining the team soon, possibly referring to Lin.
  • Owner Mark Cuban described his new center as “Shaq-like” and said he plans to give Jordan a significant role in the team’s offense, according to Melissa Rohlin of The Los Angeles Times. Not being a regular part of the offense was reportedly one of the things that made Jordan want to leave the Clippers. “We see him as ‘Shaq-like’ but never having been given the opportunity,” Cuban said in a radio interview on “The Ticket.” “We told him if he came to the Mavs, he would be a focal point. He would grow into being a franchise player.” Jordan averaged a career-high 11.5 points per game last season and shot a league-best 71% from the floor, but complained that he was never given a large enough role in L.A.
  • Although Parsons served as lead recruiter, the relationship between Cuban and agent Dan Fegan was key to getting Jordan to Dallas, tweets Zach Lowe of Grantland.com.
  • Jordan was impressed that Dirk Nowitzki cut short a family vacation to represent the Mavericks in their meeting, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. No Clippers players attended their team’s meeting with Jordan.

Hoops Rumors Weekly Mailbag 6/28/15-7/4/15

In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have 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:

I received quite a few questions regarding the NBA Draft, so I’ll answer the two most asked regarding the big event below:

Which 2015 draft picks gave the team the best value where they were selected?” — Multiple readers

Every year there are a few picks where I just shake my head and wonder how certain players were able to stay on the board as long as they did. This year was no different. My best value picks for the 2015 NBA Draft are…

  • Justise Winslow to the Heat at No. 10 overall It’s hard to believe that Winslow almost fell out of the top 10. He has the potential to be a two-way star, and make nine other franchises look back with regret at bypassing him. The Knicks better hope Kristaps Porzingis turns out to be a star. Likewise the Pistons with Stanley Johnson.
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to the Blazers at No. 23 overall Portland nabbed themselves the best perimeter defender in the entire draft, and a freakishly fast wing, then shipped him to the Nets in the Mason Plumlee trade. Of course, Hollis-Jefferson lacks an outside game. But that can be fixed with hard work and dedication to improve. What can’t be taught is explosiveness, tenacity, and pure defensive grit. Three qualities that the former Wildcat certainly possesses.
  • R.J. Hunter to the Celtics at No. 28 overall Boston nabbed a player who has the potential to be a top flight sixth man and scoring threat from anywhere in the arena. Hunter was projected as a potential late lottery pick by a number of mock drafts, and the Celtics landing him at the bottom of the first round certainly amounts to a great pickup in my book.
  • Montrezl Harrell to the Rockets at No. 32 overall Harrell is a bit of a tweener, which hurt his draft stock. But for Houston to land a player of Harrell’s talent, and one who was projected to be a first-rounder, in the second round is nothing short of a steal.
  • Joseph Young to the Pacers at No. 43 overall Young is a blazing fast scoring machine who can play either guard position offensively. He has injury concerns, but to pick up such an explosive player that late in the draft cannot be considered anything but a coup on Indiana’s part.
  • Dakari Johnson to the Thunder at No. 48 overall Johnson was overshadowed by the other frontcourt players at Kentucky. While I don’t think he’ll become a star in the NBA, he’s certainly capable of being a solid rotation player for years to come. What else can you ask for from a late second-rounder? Really solid pickup for OKC.

“Which 2015 draft picks were the biggest reaches?” — Multiple readers

This category is the flip side of the one above. These are the picks that made me shake my head and wonder what the teams were thinking. My biggest head-scratchers of the 2015 draft are…

  • Stanley Johnson to the Pistons at No. 8 overall If Winslow is off the board when Detroit was set to pick, then Johnson doesn’t make this list. But Winslow was available, and I can’t believe the Pistons bypassed a potential superstar for Johnson, who projects as a solid player, but in no way does he possess the upside of Winslow. Stan Van Gundy better be right on this one, or else it will set the franchise back in its development.
  • Terry Rozier to the Celtics at No. 16 overall There were quite a few point guards on the board that were ranked higher than Rozier when the Celtics made their pick. I don’t dislike Rozier as a player, but I have to believe that Boston could have traded down and still landed its man. I project him as a career backup, and if that is indeed the case, then the Celtics made a bad decision here.
  • Larry Nance Jr. to the Lakers at No. 27 overall Setting aside the potential awkwardness of Nance having to explain to Kobe Bryant about his negative tweets regarding the Mamba, I’m still shocked by this pick. Especially considering the available players at this draft spot. Selecting Nance in the first round and having to fork over the guaranteed contract that goes along with that doesn’t make sense to me for a player who many projected to be a mid second-rounder. There were a number of other players on the board who would have been much better values with this pick.

Now that the Knicks have seemingly missed out on all the big names, what do you think of the team’s offseason?” — Kyle

It’s not going great, which is unfortunate for the team and its fans. While I’m not surprised that the biggest names are avoiding New York this offseason, it’s still a bit disheartening. I’d have to think that landing Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams, and Robin Lopez, as well as drafting a long-term project in Porzingis, was not Phil Jackson‘s plan when the season ended. While both Afflalo and Lopez are solid additions, neither of them will ensure that the Knicks make the playoffs next season. I do love Afflalo’s deal though, and believe that it’s a short-term investment that carries little risk for New York. Williams’ addition I’m not too keen on. He’s not a good defender or rebounder, nor a lights-out shooter, which makes him a sketchy fit for the triangle offense at best.

While it’s still early in the offseason, things are not looking good for a Knicks resurgence in 2015/16. As a Knicks fan, I’d be content knowing that the team would likely have a lottery pick next summer to help build for the future…but that pick goes to Toronto in exchange for the privilege of having had Andrea Bargnani sit on the bench in street clothes for 93 of the 164 contests the Knicks played during his tenure. I’m still having a difficult time processing my anger over that trade…

That’s all the space I have for this week. Thanks again for filling up my inbox, and please keep them rolling in. I’ll be back next week with more responses.

Raptors To Sign Bismack Biyombo

The Raptors have reached an agreement with unrestricted free agent Bismack Biyombo, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. The deal is for two years, and $6MM, Wojnarowski adds. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer had pegged Toronto as the likely landing spot for Biyombo earlier this week.

Toronto GM Masai Ujiri and coach Dwane Casey went into the offseason wanting to upgrade the team’s defense, notes Wojnarowski. The 6’9″ Biyombo, along with the team’s other free agent prize, DeMarre Carroll, who agreed to a four-year, $60MM deal with Toronto on Wednesday, can certainly help that desire become a reality.

Biyombo, a former seventh overall pick, did not receive a qualifying offer from the Hornets after making 64 appearances for the team last season. The 22-year-old averaged 4.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 19.4 minutes per contest, and owned a slash line of .543/.000/.583. Through 284 career games, his numbers are 4.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 1.6 BPG.

Latest On David West

SATURDAY, 12:38pm: The Cavs and the Spurs are both aggressively pursuing West, with Cleveland having a slight edge at the moment, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports relays (via Twitter).

FRIDAY, 9:56am: The Wizards are making a hard push for West, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Spurs are still very much in the picture for him, but the Warriors have become “highly unlikely,” Stein adds in a second tweet. The ESPN scribe said Wednesday that the Spurs and Wizards were his most likely destinations. Washington has only the $5.464MM mid-level exception to spend unless it can work a sign-and-trade.

THURSDAY, 9:35am: David West is seriously interested in playing for either the Spurs or the Warriors, a source with knowledge of his situation told USA Today’s Sam Amick. Playing for one of the last two NBA champions would jibe with the reason he turned down his $12.6MM player option with the Pacers, as he explained Wednesday to Bob Kravitz of WTHR-TV in Indianapolis, telling him that he wants a legitimate chance at a title that he feels the Pacers can’t provide. He also said to Kravitz that while the team’s open criticism of Roy Hibbert wasn’t the deciding factor, it also played a role in his choice to leave Indiana.

“That’s one thing where I wish they would have handled better was the situation with Roy,” West said. “I’ll be honest with you, that bothered me a little bit, and I told Roy that. I’m the type of guy who feels like we’re all in this fight together and I’m not designed in that way to put it all on one guy. That did rub me the wrong way. That threw me off. I started reading some of that stuff, I started thinking, ‘Whoaa.’ I just didn’t feel good about that. I told Roy that it bothered me, that he’s still my teammate.”

West was open-minded at the end of the regular season about returning to Indiana, but as he watched the Finals on TV, he decided winning was a greater priority, as Kravitz detailed. The Pacers still have West’s Bird rights, but he doesn’t sound keen on re-signing, and it doesn’t sound like he’s Knicks-bound, either. He called the rumor that he was likely to sign with the Knicks ridiculous, citing his desire to play with a contender, Kravitz tweets.

The Spurs have maximum-level cap flexibility as they seek LaMarcus Aldridge after agreeing to trade Tiago Splitter to the Hawks, and while West probably wouldn’t command the max, he may well be a fallback option for San Antonio should it miss on Aldridge or Marc Gasol. The Warriors have only the $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level exception to offer. It’s not clear if either team has interest in the Lance Young client.

Pacers, Mavs, Clippers Discuss Trade For Hibbert

The Pacers have contacted the Mavericks about a possible sign-and-trade deal involving center Roy Hibbert, Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter link). The proposed deal would also include the Clippers, Turner notes. In the proposed deal, Indiana would send Hibbert to Dallas in exchange for Monta Ellis, who would then ship Hibbert to the Clippers in exchange for DeAndre Jordan, Turner relays (on Twitter). A source within the Mavericks’ organization doubts that the team would agree to such a transaction, since Dallas has no desire to help the Clippers improve their roster, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com relays (via Twitter). Indiana is also exploring other trade options involving the center, MacMahon adds.

Hibbert, who is scheduled to earn $15.514MM next season after exercising his player option, is no longer in the Pacers’ long-term plans, as the team is looking to implement a faster style of play. Indiana had reportedly been aggressive in their attempts to trade Hibbert prior to the 2015 NBA draft. Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird and coach Frank Vogel signaled this spring that they wanted to move on from the 28-year-old.

The big man’s contract has a 15% trade kicker included, and even though the starting salary in his deal was for the max, the kicker still has value, as he’s since accrued seven years of service and is eligible for a max worth roughly 30% of the salary cap instead of just 25%, noted Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The kicker would add more than $2.327MM to his base salary, which the Pacers would be required to pay, though it would count toward his cap hit for whichever team were to take him on.

This potential three-way deal would benefit the Pacers the most financially, as the Mavs have already agreed to a deal with Jordan, and don’t need to free up cap space to accommodate his addition. The Pacers can likewise fit in Ellis’ new deal under their cap figure, but would certainly love to have Hibbert’s player-friendly deal off of its books for next season. As for the Clippers, in the wake of losing Jordan and the team not having sufficient cap space to sign an impact player, agreeing to the trade would allow the franchise to add a starting-caliber big man without requiring additional cap clearing moves. That last point is why the Mavs would be hesitant to agree to such a trade, and Indiana or Los Angeles would likely need to add further compensation for Dallas to consider such a trade, though that is merely my speculation.

Hibbert made 76 appearances for Indiana last season, all as a starter, and averaged 10.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in 25.3 minutes per game. His shooting numbers were .446/.000/.824.

Hoops Rumors Originals 6/28/15-7/4/15

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

  • Chris Crouse examined the free agent stock of Monta Ellis. Ellis reached an agreement on a four-year, $44MM deal with the Pacers this week.
  • You can track all of the 2015 free agent signings here.
  • I ran down the 2015/16 roster counts for the Heat, Knicks, Pelicans, and Timberwolves.
  • Zach Links highlighted some of the better basketball blogs around in his weekly installment of Hoops Links.
  • Here’s how you can follow Hoops Rumors on social media and RSS feeds.
  • If you missed any of our daily reader-driven discussions, be sure to check out the Community Shootaround archives.
  • We reviewed out commenting policy. Play nice everyone.

Western Notes: West, Matthews, Stoudemire

Serbian big man Miroslav Raduljica is garnering interest from NBA teams, with the Kings being one potential suitor, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando notes (via Twitter). The 27-year-old made a cameo appearance for the Wolves last season on a 10-day deal, averaging 1.6 points and 1.0 rebound in 4.6 minutes per contest over five games. Raduljica is also mulling overseas offers as well, Carchia notes.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Trail Blazers never made a contract offer to free agent Wesley Matthews, who agreed to a four-year pact with the Mavericks on Thursday, Jason Quick of The Oregonian tweets.
  • The Clippers attempted to sign center Kendrick Perkins after he was waived by the Jazz last season, but the big man joined the Cavaliers instead, Arash Markazi of ESPN.com relays (on Twitter). Los Angeles still has interest in the big man, which has likely increased in the wake of losing DeAndre Jordan to Dallas, Markazi adds.
  • There is mutual interest between unrestricted free agent Amar’e Stoudemire and the Clippers, Lakers, Mavericks, Spurs and Suns, Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report tweets.
  • With a void in their frontcourt with the loss of Jordan, the Clippers are showing interest in unrestricted free agent David West, Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com relays (Twitter link).