Doc Rivers, the Clippers‘ coach and president of basketball operations, said re-signing DeAndre Jordan is the Clippers’ top offseason priority, tweets Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. The most obvious question mark for the Clippers heading into the summer is if they can re-sign Jordan, who will be an unrestricted free agent coming off a big season, but besides that, the Clippers’ biggest need is depth, Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com writes (Insider subscription required). Many, including Grantland’s Zach Lowe (on Twitter), attribute the Clippers’ collapse in the playoffs to their lack of depth. In an ideal world, from the Clippers’ perspective and according to Pelton, the Clippers would re-sign Jordan and bring back Mo Williams with the taxpayer mid-level exception. Williams will hit free agency again this summer after playing well with the Hornets.
Here’s more from the Pacific division:
- As far as probable starting big men go, the Suns only have two under contract for next season — Alex Len and Markieff Morris — so it makes sense for Phoenix to draft a player with good size with its pick in the first round, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic writes. The Suns have a 96% chance of landing the No. 13 pick after Tuesday’s draft lottery, as Hoops Rumors’ odds page points out and as Coro notes. Coro lists Kentucky power forward Trey Lyles, Texas power forward/center Myles Turner, Arkansas power forward Bobby Portis and Wisconsin power forward Frank Kaminsky as possible targets that are projected to be available.Coro recently wrote in a seperate story that the Suns will consider taking Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker and Kaminsky.
- Quinn Cook, who played four seasons at guard for Duke, will work out for the Suns, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Cook is ranked No. 60 by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and is at No. 61, according to Chad Ford’s ESPN.com rankings.
- Vlade Divac, the Kings’ vice president of basketball and franchise operations, realizes there’s a lot of pressure on making Sacramento relevant again, but he has picked the brains of some top executives in the league and believes establishing team chemistry is the first goal, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes. “This year, we have to make sure there’s stability, we have a goal, and create a good environment for them to have fun and go out there and play, because you see the talent we have,” Divac said. “It’s one or two steps from being competitive, and we want to make sure we make those one or two steps this summer.” The Kings are projected to pick sixth in the draft, pending the results of Tuesday’s lottery, and could move into the top three or fall as low as ninth, as Jones notes.
The Lakers have an 82.8% chance to secure a top five pick in this year’s NBA Draft lottery. But despite those excellent odds, Los Angeles’ GM Mitch Kupchak is stressed about the outcome, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. “It’s completely out of our control. But I’m somewhat of a worry-wart,” Kupchak said. “I know our percentage is very high that we end up with a top-five pick, but I have to prepare for if we don’t get it. We’ll be prepared either way.” The executive’s worries stem from the fact that if the pick falls out of the top five it will convey to the Sixers. “If we get a pick, that’s an asset,” Kupchak said. “That’s an asset you can use to trade or work to use it on the player in the draft. If we don’t, we’ll still be able to carry on and move forward.”
Here’s the latest out of the Pacific Division:
- Despite having a roster already loaded with outside shooters the Warriors met with Georgia State gunner R.J. Hunter at the draft combine, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com tweets.
- The Lakers interviewed Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke forward Justise Winslow at the combine, Medina relays (Twitter links).
- Mike Woodson, who is now an assistant with the Clippers, indicated he still hopes to land another spot as a head coach, Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets. “I’ve been a head coach for nine years in this league. Hopefully I’ll get another opportunity,” Woodson said. The former Hawks and Knicks coach has a career record of 315-365.
- Kentucky products Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles interviewed with the Kings, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee relays (Twitter links).
- The Suns will consider taking Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky when making their draft selection this June, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “I feel like I can fit into multiple roles and help the team on the offensive end,” Kaminsky said. “I don’t think I have as many deficiencies on the defensive end as has been so kindly brought up by so many different people. I think I can fit in with just about any team.“
The relationship between the NBA and the D-League continues to grow, and 17 NBA franchises currently have one-to-one D-League affiliates amongst the 18 D-League teams. The remaining 13 NBA teams shared the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this season. We at Hoops Rumors will be recapping each team’s use of the D-League this season, looking at assignments and recalls as well as the players signed out of the D-League. We’ll continue onward with a look back at how the Suns utilized the D-League during the 2014/15 campaign…
D-League Team: Bakersfield Jam
Affiliation Type: One-to-one
D-League Team Record: 34-16
Number of NBA Players Assigned To D-League: 4
Total D-League Assignments: 14
Player Stats While On Assignment:
- Reggie Bullock: 2 assignments, 4 games, 23.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 2.8 APG. .507/.462/.812.
- Tyler Ennis: 4 assignments, 9 games, 18.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 5.3 APG. .479/.333/.810.
- Archie Goodwin: 4 assignments, 10 games, 22.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.0 APG. .436/.271/.655.
- T.J. Warren: 4 assignments, 9 games, 26.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.6 APG. .544/.286/.729.
At least one GM is among the multiple executives who believe Latvian power forward Kristaps Porzingis has a shot to be drafted as highly as No. 2, reports Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. The head of basketball ops for another team said that he’s a “lock” for the top five and that it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go within the top three, adding that he’d draft him in front of Jahlil Okafor, the Duke center who occupied the top spot in projections for most of the season. The 19-year-old is No. 5 in Chad Ford’s ESPN.com rankings and No. 8 with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress. Here’s more as draft rumors kick into high gear:
- Christian Wood, a power forward out of UNLV, is hoping to follow in Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s footsteps as a ball-handler with unusual height and length, Howard-Cooper writes in the same piece. The Bucks intend to interview Wood, Virginia small forward Justin Anderson and others today, tweets Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times.
- Both the DraftExpress team and Ford go in depth on the measurements from the combine, with Ford, in his Insider-only piece, noting that most top prospects sized up well and that this year’s draft class is among the longest groups in memory in terms of both height and wingspan.
- Michigan State power forward Branden Dawson has interviewed with the Wizards, Clippers and Pelicans at the draft combine, as he told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Ellis, in the same report, adds Stanley Johnson, Frank Kaminsky and Rashad Vaughn to the list of prospects with whom the Pistons have spoken.
- Terry Rozier met with the Pistons, too, as well as the Mavs, Suns, Knicks and Spurs, reports Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).
- The Sixers, Lakers, Cavs and Bucks have interviewed Cameron Payne, Kyler also tweets. Payne spoke with our Zach Links recently about his draft prospects.
- Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer adds the Hornets and Warriors to the list of teams speaking with Rakeem Christmas (Twitter link).
The 2015 NBA Draft combine is underway in Chicago and Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) offers up a primer for all of the scheduled events. The return of five-on-five play to the event has scouts and GMs excited, but that anticipation is tempered by the fact that only one player ranked in the top 30 — Terry Rozier, will be participating in the scrimmages, Ford notes.
Here’s more regarding the 2015 NBA Draft:
- Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal caught up with ESPN’s Chad Ford to talk about the Kentucky Wildcats’ seven NBA Draft hopefuls. Ford spoke highly of Trey Lyles, but says that he needs to prove himself in workouts between now and the draft.
- Former Virgina swingman Justin Anderson met with the Celtics today, and the player has a workout scheduled with the team on June 1st, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com tweets.
- The Wolves interviewed UNLV big man Christian Wood, and are also expected to sit down with Texas center Myles Turner, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune tweets.
- Arizona forward Stanley Johnson interviewed with the Hornets today, and Johnson touted himself as “the best two-way player in the draft,” Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer notes (Twitter link).
- Former Syracuse forward Rakeem Christmas met with the Bucks, Magic, and Suns today, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Twitter links). Christmas is also scheduled to workout for the Sixers, but he will not interview with the team at the combine, Pompey notes.
- Projected second-rounder J.P. Tokoto interviewed with the Cavaliers, Clippers, and Pistons on Wednesday, Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays (via Twitter). The guard met with the Hawks, Nets, and Mavs today, Gardner adds.
New Orleans faces its first turning point this summer with Anthony Davis, who becomes eligible for a rookie scale extension in July. So, the decision the Pelicans made to fire coach Monty Williams, one that GM Dell Demps reportedly pushed for, runs through the prism of significant negotiations with the team’s superstar on the horizon. Here’s the latest in the wake of the coaching change, with any new updates added to the top:
- Williams released a statement regarding his termination (hat tip to David Aldridge of NBA.com via TwitLonger). In his statement, Williams wrote, “I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Benson and Mickey for this unique opportunity I’ve had. My focus today is to appreciate the great journey over the last few years to be the head coach of this team. New Orleans is a special city with very special fans. I appreciate all the support that my family has received from all the great people and organizations we have been affiliated with throughout the area over the years. I need to thank my coaches and players because we take pride in our accomplishments as a group in progressing in the right direction and making the playoffs through the challenges of a long season. I’ll always be grateful for the relationships and thankful that our players always gave everything we asked of them on the court. I only wish the best for this team to continue taking strides forward and providing success to this special city.”
- Williams isn’t expected to become a candidate for the Nuggets vacancy, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post.
- If the Pelicans lure Thibodeau and the Bulls replace him with Fred Hoiberg, there’s a growing belief that the Cyclones would go after Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, who played at the school and whose contract calls for a lower annual salary than Hoiberg’s, writes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. However, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders heard that Hoiberg, who underwent open heart surgery last month, might not jump to the NBA because of his health.
- The Pelicans will be at the front of the line of suitors for Tom Thibodeau if indeed New Orleans decides to go after the Bulls coach, given the presence of Davis, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
- Those close to Thibodeau have long seen the Pelicans and the Magic as the teams he’d most likely end up with after his time with the Bulls, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick.
- John Reid of The Times-Picayune wouldn’t be surprised if the Pelicans made a run at former Thunder coach Scott Brooks (Twitter link), but for what it’s worth, the Pelicans didn’t reach out to Brooks before firing Williams, a person with knowledge of Brooks’ situation told Amick.
- There was an obvious disconnect between Williams and Demps from the very start of their working relationship in 2010, writes Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune, who argues that if the Pelicans wanted change, they should have looked at the front office instead.
The NBA’s draft combine in Chicago is underway as of today, and an increasing volume of draft rumors will follow until the event takes place June 25th at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Here’s the latest draft news:
- D’Angelo Russell and Devin Booker have chosen the Creative Artists Agency for their representation, as Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress passes along on Twitter. CAA’s Leon Rose, who’ll represent Booker as well as Karl-Anthony Towns, also signed with Dakari Johnson earlier this spring, Givony notes in another tweet. Russell’s agent will be Aaron Mintz, according to Givony (on Twitter). Charlie Adams of Hoops Rumors looked at Booker’s draft stock up close this week.
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune doesn’t get the sense that the Wolves will draft Karl-Anthony Towns first overall if they win the lottery, likely implying the team has its eyes set on Jahlil Okafor instead (Twitter link). Minnesota has a 25% chance of landing the top pick, as the lottery odds show.
- Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell received a last-minute invitation to the Chicago combine, Givony tweets. McConnell is Givony‘s 61st-ranked prospect while Chad Ford of ESPN.com has him 91st.
- Ford excoriates Nets GM Billy King for his willingness to trade so many of Brooklyn’s future draft picks, giving the team the worst chances of any to build through the draft for the next few years, Ford opines as he writes with fellow ESPN.com scribe Kevin Pelton in an Insider-only piece. Ford and Pelton also examine the needs for the Suns, Thunder and Celtics, believing that if Robert Upshaw improves his stock dramatically, he’d be the most logical rim-protector for the Celtics to grab at pick No. 16. However, Upshaw says he won’t take part in five-on-five scrimmaging at the combine, Givony reports (Twitter link).
Charlie Adams contributed to this post.
The Lakers should forget about free agent Rajon Rondo and stick with Jordan Clarkson as their point guard, contends Howard Ruben of Bleacher Report. The rookie out of Missouri showed poise from the time he took over the position, Ruben writes, making Rondo unnecessary. Clarkson is a much more affordable alternative, with a non-guaranteed salary of $845K for next season. Ruben also notes that Los Angeles has a shot to draft D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay, either of whom could be a long-term answer at point guard.
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Whether they’re able to keep him this summer or not, the Warriors understand the value of Draymond Green, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Green has been a force for Golden State both offensively and defensively this season, as he showed by frustrating the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis in a first-round sweep. “He does everything; he’s a jack of all trades,” coach Steve Kerr said of Green. “On top of that, he’s one of our leaders and the guy who talks the most trash to the other team, to the refs, to his teammates, to me. He’s kind of our life line.” Green is almost certain to command a max deal this summer, but he can cement that by continuing to shine in the playoffs.
- Jerel McNeal hopes to continue his NBA career after earning a late-season spot on the Suns‘ roster, writes Matt Petersen of NBA.com. After an outstanding season with Bakersfield in the D-League, Phoenix signed McNeal to a 10-day contract April 1st, then rewarded him with a two-year deal April 11th, although no money is guaranteed beyond this season. “I’ll probably end up doing Summer League with Phoenix and just use that as another opportunity to show what I can do and go do what the coaching staff asks,” McNeal said. “I’ll do whatever I need to do to stick around.”
- Chris Paul gave the Clippers the kind of moment they were hoping for when they traded for him in 2011, according to Ben Golliver of SI.com. Playing with an injured hamstring, Paul scored with 1 second left to defeat the Spurs in Game 7 of their playoff series. It was a breakthrough moment for Paul, who has often been the target of criticism for his playoff performances. The hamstring problem may force Paul to miss Monday’s opener of the Rockets series, reports Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Bucks‘ swingman Khris Middleton wishes to return to Milwaukee next season, Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel relays (Twitter links). “I hope to be back here,” Middleton said. “I feel we have a great young team, going in the right direction.” The 23-year-old can become a restricted free agent this offseason provided the Bucks tender him a qualifying offer worth $2,725,003. Middleton also noted that he wouldn’t want negotiations between he and Milwaukee to become drawn out, and referenced Eric Bledsoe and the Suns’ dealings from last summer, Gardner adds. “That’s a terrible situation,” said Middleton. “It worked out for him but it’s something I’d rather not be in.”
Here’s more out of the Central Division:
- The dislocated shoulder that knocked Kevin Love out of action for four to six months also ruined his chance at redeeming what the forward termed a “so-so” first season with the Cavs, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes.
- Bulls‘ swingman Jimmy Butler‘s uncanny ability to accept criticism from his coaches without reacting emotionally is a major reason that the 25-year-old has matured into a star player in the NBA, Eric Weiss and Kevin O’Connor of DraftExpress write in their profile of player. Butler will become a restricted free agent this summer if Chicago tenders him a qualifying offer of $4,433,683.
- The Cavs have already begun recruiting Love to remain in Cleveland with their statements about how much the big man will be missed now that he is out for the remainder of the playoffs, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. The scribe cites comments like ones made by guard Kyrie Irving, who said, “When one of your brothers goes down, there’s a piece of us that went with him.”
The Lakers are reportedly the favorites to land unrestricted free agent Rajon Rondo this summer, but the franchise isn’t as enamored with the mercurial point guard as it once was, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report writes. According to team sources, co-owner Jim Buss is not the believer he was earlier in the season when it comes to Rondo, and GM Mitch Kupchak now sees the player as a worthwhile value only at a lower salary, Ding adds. Despite Kobe Bryant‘s apparent desire to play alongside Rondo, the team has no intention to sign the guard just because the Mamba wants the team to, Ding notes.
Here’s more out of the Western Conference:
- The Suns haven’t been successful drafting near the middle of the first round the last few seasons, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic notes. Only two players out of the six taken by the team in the first round since 2008 are still with the franchise, which is not a great track record, Coro adds. Phoenix is projected to have the No. 13 pick in June’s draft according to our reverse standings.
- Pelicans coach Monty Williams values center Omer Asik, and considers him a player that the franchise intends to make a strong push to re-sign this summer despite his inconsistent play, John Reid of The Times Picayune relays. ”As far as Omer, he’s a huge part of what we do,” Williams said. ”If you look at our defensive numbers from last year to this year, we improved in a number of categories and Omer was a huge part of that. So he’s highly valued by this organization and that he’s an asset to this city.” Asik, 28, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. In addition to Asik, Williams indicated that he wanted all of his core players to return next season, Reid tweets.
- If the Trail Blazers were to lose unrestricted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge to another team this summer, the franchise would be just fine from a leadership standpoint thanks to the continued presence of Damian Lillard, Jason Quick of The Oregonian opines.