Portland Trail Blazers Rumors

And-Ones: Allen, Thabeet, NBPA

October 30 at 10:42pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

In response to commissioner Adam Silver’s statement that a third of the teams in the league are still losing money, new NBPA head Michele Roberts said, “The NBA’s cries of poverty will not work this time,” Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes.”I can say that I was more than surprised,” Roberts told Yahoo Sports. “I am not suggesting that Adam is telling a lie. I am sure that the owners told him that. But it’s difficult for me to believe that, especially after looking at the 2011 CBA negotiations and seeing all the money the players don’t have now. There’s $1.1 billion that the players would’ve been otherwise entitled.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Mavs owner Mark Cuban left open the possibility that Dallas could add either Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis later on in the season, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News reports. “We haven’t talked to him, but I think he’s doing it the right way,” Cuban said of Allen. “He’s waiting to see who’s doing well. If it comes down to it, we’d always consider it. We’re always open to improving the team. But you don’t want to mess up a good thing, either. That’s when Caron Butler got hurt and Roddy [Beaubois] got hurt. But Peja Stojakovic is a good example of us adding a veteran in season.” In regards to Lewis, Cuban added, “Rashard Lewis is working out here. We’ve stayed in touch with him and worked with him.”
  • Hasheem Thabeet has passed on playing in Europe and instead will play for Grand Rapids in the NBA D-League this season, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). It appears that the Pistons, who had waived Thabeet, will retain his D-League rights as franchises can retain the rights of up to four players that they have waived.
  • The NBA D-League Draft is scheduled to be held this Saturday and the crew over at DraftExpress ran down the complete list of eligible players.
  • The Bucks will keep working toward an extension with Brandon Knight up until Friday’s deadline, David Alarcón of HoopsHype tweets. It’s unclear how far apart the two sides are in their discussions, but in his look at Knight in our extension candidate series, Chuck Myron opined that the two sides could compromise on a four-year, $41MM arrangement similar to what the Sixers gave Jrue Holiday two years ago.

Western Notes: Howard, Kobe, Robinson, Blazers

October 28 at 8:42pm CDT By Zach Links

Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss believes her team let Dwight Howard down during his year there, wants Kobe Bryant to continue playing after his contract expires in 2016, and also tells USA Today’s Sam Amick that the organization is functioning more smoothly with Phil Jackson off to New York:

I think it is trying to find how we’re going to operate together. I believe that Phil was a source of conflict between me and my brother and Mitch, I guess, as well. And now that Phil, as of six months ago, is now off the market and has a job – isn’t in the wings – that source of conflict is removed. And I think that the way we operate is becoming more clear. I’m satisfied with everybody’s role, and now we just need everybody to step up and do what is required of them. For me, that means stepping up and talking about the organization and being the face of the organization and establishing the clear lines of authority and transparency and, ultimately, accountability, which lies on my shoulders.

Buss adds that fellow co-owner and brother Jim Buss, along with GM Mitch Kupchak, have assured her that the team will make progress in win column each season in the coming years. More from the West..

  • Although the Blazers declined to pick up his team option of $4.7MM for the 2015/16 season, Thomas Robinson expressed his desire to remain in Portland, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. “I don’t think that worry should be even close. I want to stay thinking positive and that’s what I’m going to continue to do. Hopefully toward the end of the summer, the Blazers have a different mindset and they want to bring me back, because I want to be a part of this team. Something special is happening here. I want to be a part of it,” Robinson said.
  • Howard says he didn’t bolt from the Lakers because of Kobe, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I didn’t leave L.A. because I was afraid of Kobe Bryant,” Howard said. “I went to a good situation for myself. I can’t change people’s opinions, but I did what I had to do for myself.”
  • The Lakers expect big things out of offseason acquisition Carlos Boozer, an assistant coach tells Ryan Primeaux of Lakers.com“He’s a double-double virtually every night when he’s on his game. He provides leadership. He provides a constant, consistent low-post game, and the ability to step away from the basket and keep defenses honest. So he will definitely provide stability for us in the bigs department,” the unnamed coach told Primeaux.

Chuck Myron and Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Blazers Opt In With Leonard, McCollum

October 27 at 4:37pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Blazers have exercised their rookie scale team options for 2015/16 with Meyers Leonard and CJ McCollum, the team announced. Leonard will make nearly $3.076MM for that season while McCollum has more than $2.525MM coming to him, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows.

Leonard has struggled to live up to having been the 11th pick in the 2012 draft, and his minutes per game were nearly cut in half last season from what he saw as a rookie. The 22-year-old has diversified his game over the offseason, displaying an outside jumper in camp this month as the Blazers experiment with converting the 7’1″ Leonard into a power forward. It’s somewhat surprising that Portland was willing to commit to him and not to former No. 5 overall pick Thomas Robinson, whose team option will reportedly go unexercised. The $1.6MM gap between Robinson’s option, the more expensive of the two, and Leonard’s appears to have made a difference.

McCollum entered his rookie season with lots of promise after Portland grabbed him 10th overall last year, but injury helped limit him to just 38 games, and he saw just 12.5 MPG in those appearances. The guard made it into just six of the team’s 11 playoff games last season for 4.0 MPG.

Portland already picked up Damian Lillard‘s rookie scale option for next season, but even with Lillard, Leonard and McCollum on the books, they only have about $23.1MM tied up for 2015/16. Still, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez are all set to hit free agency, so there’s reason for the Blazers to keep their ledger relatively clean.

Blazers To Decline Option On Thomas Robinson

October 27 at 3:18pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Blazers have told Thomas Robinson that they won’t exercise their fourth-year team option on his rookie scale contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Robinson has been set to make more than $4.66MM in 2015/16 if the Blazers picked up the final year of his deal, but he’ll instead hit unrestricted free agency this summer, with the Blazers unable to pay him more than the amount of his option to retain him. The same would hold true for any team that would acquire him via trade this season.

Robinson has had a difficult adjustment to the NBA after the Kings made him the fifth overall pick in 2012. Sacramento shipped him to Houston in the middle of his rookie season, and the Rockets sent him along to Portland the following summer to clear cap space for Dwight Howard. Robinson saw fewer minutes per game in Portland than he did in either of his other stops, making it in for only 12.5 MPG this past season.

Portland only has about $17.4MM in commitments for 2015/16, so the Blazers would have plenty of room to accommodate Robinson’s option if they changed their minds. Still, LaMarcus Aldridge is poised to command a max deal in free agency this summer, and Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez are set to become free agents, too.

Blazers Waive Diante Garrett, Darius Morris

October 25 at 12:24pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Blazers have officially waived Diante Garrett and Darius Morris, the team announced via Twitter. These moves reduce Portland’s preseason roster count to 15, meaning they won’t be required to release any other players prior to the regular season beginning. Morris’ contract didn’t come with any guaranteed cash, but the team will owe Garrett $30K per their arrangement.

Garrett was on the fringe of the rotation for the Jazz last season, averaging 3.5 points and shooting 37.5% from three-point range in 14.8 minutes per game. That was after a season in which he spent the entire campaign on the Suns roster but only appeared in 19 contests.

The 23-year-old Morris reportedly turned down an offer from a Serbian team earlier this summer and took his shot at making the Blazers squad. In 94 career contests, the 6’4″ point guard has averaged 3.7 PPG and 1.5 APG. His career slash line is .399/.354/.653.

Western Notes: Blazers, Covington, Jackson

October 23 at 8:28pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Thunder GM Sam Presti said the team wants Reggie Jackson to remain a piece of the franchise’s puzzle, Cliff Brunt of The Associated Press writes. “I think we’ve been really clear about his importance to the team, that we see him as a core member of the team, as a core member of the organization,” Presti said. “We’re going to put our best put forward, and I believe he will as well. We’ll see if we can figure something out.” If he and the Thunder don’t sign an extension by the end of next week, Jackson can become a restricted free agent next summer and could command big money on the open market. It remains to be seen if Oklahoma City would match any offer sheets that Jackson inks with other teams. The Thunder’s cap commitment for the 2015/16 campaign is already approximately $63.6MM.

Here’s more from out west:

  • The Rockets still haven’t waived Robert Covington, despite the player not being with the team for the last two weeks, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Covington is currently weighing some guaranteed offers to play in Europe, Feigen notes.
  • The remaining players on the Grizzlies‘ preseason roster all fit the team’s system rather well, Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes in a subscription-only piece. This includes Patrick Christopher and Kalin Lucas, the team’s lone remaining players in camp whose deals aren’t fully guaranteed, notes Tillery. Both players are likely headed to the team’s D-League affiliate, the Iowa Energy, according to Tillery.
  • The Blazers still have decisions to make regarding their 2015/16 team options for C.J. McCollum, Thomas Robinson, and Meyers Leonard. Portland has until the October 31st deadline to exercise those options or the trio will become unrestricted free agents next summer. Joe Freeman of The Oregonian examines what the Blazers might do regarding each player’s contract.
  • Donald Sterling’s lawyers have begun talks with the NBA about dismissing Sterling’s federal antitrust lawsuit against the league, as Sterling attorney Maxwell Blecher revealed in a declaration filed in U.S. District Court today, reports Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. The former Clippers owner has sought more than $1 billion in damages in the suit, which became the primary thrust of his legal efforts against the league when he recently withdrew a different suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the NBA, his wife and Adam Silver.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Latest On Draft Lottery Reform

October 21 at 4:06pm CDT By Chuck Myron

9:37am: The Heat and Pelicans are thinking about voting “no” or abstaining, though they remain undecided, according to Lowe (Twitter links).

11:01pm: Two new teams are considering joining Philly, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee in an attempt to block the measure, Lowe reports, adding that some last-minute lobbying could take place before tomorrow’s vote (Twitter links).

1:55pm: Proposals that would give all 14 lottery teams equal shots at the top pick or teams with the eighth- through 14th-worst records equivalent chances are also “on the table,” writes Marc Berman of the New York Post, though it’s unclear how seriously the league is considering either idea.

1:22pm: The Sixers and Thunder continue to advocate caution as the Board of Governors is poised to vote Wednesday to approve a measure that would reduce the chance that the worst team in the league will win the lottery, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Still, executives from both teams have abandoned hope of gathering enough support to block the reforms, according to Wojnarowski, though the Bucks have joined their side, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com. Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee would still need to gather five more “no” votes to block the proposal, which would pass with the approval of 23 of the league’s 30 teams.

The new system would likely take hold in time for the 2015 lottery, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported earlier. It would give the teams with the four worst records in the league each a 12% chance to win the lottery, longer odds than the ones currently in place for the three losingest teams. Clubs with the fifth and sixth worst records would have 11.5% and 10% chances, respectively, Wojnarowski reports, filling in gaps in the outline of the structure that Lowe described earlier this month.

At least one GM whose owner has already decided to vote “yes” expressed trepidation about the proposal to Wojnarowski, and the pitch that Thunder GM Sam Presti is making centers on the effect the changes will have on small markets. Presti argues that small-market teams have a disadvantage in free agency and trades, helping large-market teams win more often, as Wojnarowski details. Allowing teams with superior records greater chances at leapfrogging to the top spot in the draft would cause further imbalance, Presti argues. Supporters of lottery reform prioritize the discouragement of tanking, Wojnarowski notes. Still, the Oklahoma City GM isn’t campaigning as much for “no” votes as he is simply trying to express his concerns about what would happen in small markets if the measure passes, execs tell Wojnarowski.

The Board of Governors are also discussing revenue sharing, with small-market franchises eyeing a share of the league’s increasing income, Wojnarowski notes. Blazers owner Paul Allen, a small-market advocate, and large-market stalwart Mark Cuban verbally clashed during meetings this week, Wojnarowski hears.

Still, the matter of lottery reform isn’t a question of market size for every team, as some will vote based on short-term concerns involving the protected picks they either owe or have coming to them, Lowe tweets. The focus is on the short term because of a feeling that the league will change the rules again before too long, Lowe adds (on Twitter).

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Thunder, Nurkic

October 19 at 5:43pm CDT By Arthur Hill

The patience of new coach Quin Snyder is appreciated by the younger Jazz players, writes Gordon Monson of the Salt Lake Tribune. Snyder has been accepting of mistakes as he tries to bring a faster pace to the Utah offense. Monson writes that Snyder is using turnovers as opportunities for teaching, rather than berating players or pulling them from games. The up-tempo style is also a hit with players, including Derrick Favors, who said, “I like it. We’re moving the ball, looking for each other.”  More out of the Northwest Division..

  • The Trail Blazers have a difficult roster decision to make this week, writes Mike Tokito of The Oregonian. Camp invitees Darius Morris and Diante Garrett are in the running for a regular season roster spot, but keeping one of the point guards would force the team to cut or trade a player with a guaranteed contract. “At the end of this trip, it’s time to make some decisions,” coach Terry Stotts said.
  • Thunder coach Scott Brooks told Nick Gallo of NBA.com that injuries have created a “golden opportunity” for four young players to showcase their skills in a battle for the final opening-night roster spot. Brooks said Michael Jenkins, Richard Solomon, Lance Thomas and Talib Zanna have all been impressive in camp. “They’ve been competing hard,” Brooks said. “I’m happy. (GM Sam Presti) has done a great job of bringing four guys in who are very competitive and are going to fight for that last spot.”
  • It has only taken two preseason games for Nuggets rookie center Jusuf Nurkic to make an impression, according to Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. Denver coach Brian Shaw said opposing coaching staffs have told him how impressed they are with Nurkic’s physical play and how aggressively he pursues the ball. With JaVale McGee recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his tibia, Nurkic is expected to start the season as the Nuggets’ backup center.

Western Notes: Thompson, Blazers, Barron

October 18 at 10:37am CDT By Eddie Scarito

The deadline for players and teams to agree to contract extensions is October 31st. A few members of the 2011 draft class have already inked their deals, but one of the more prominent players still awaiting his turn is the WarriorsKlay Thompson. Chris Bernucca of Sheridan Hoops runs down where Thompson and all of the 2011 first-rounders stand in regard to their contracts and extensions.

Here’s more from out west:

  • One of the few rotation and roster decisions left for the Trail Blazers is at the backup power forward spot, Mike Tokito of The Oregonian writes. In the article, Tokito breaks down the available personnel and the options that GM Neil Olshey and coach Terry Stotts have at the position, and he also opines that the bench should be more productive this season thanks to the additions of Chris Kaman and Steve Blake.
  • When the Suns signed Zoran Dragic he became the 15th fully guaranteed deal on their books, which made Earl Barron‘s bid to make the regular season roster unlikely, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. But Barron has continued to impress the team and coach Jeff Hornacek said Barron has a shot at making the regular season roster, and that managing partner Robert Sarver has expressed a willingness to waive a player with a guaranteed contract if Barron’s presence makes the team better in the long run, Coro notes.
  • Kevin Durant‘s injury that will sideline him for at least six to eight weeks is part of a rash of preseason injuries suffered by players this year. In an Insider article, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com examines the science behind Durant’s injury, if it was preventable, and what future issues the “Slim Reaper” and the Thunder might have to deal with.

Wolves Shopping Chase Budinger?

October 17 at 9:47pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

9:47pm: The Wolves haven’t had any talks with the Blazers yet about a possible Budinger-for-Robinson trade, as Wolfson hears, countering the earlier report (Twitter link).

9:40pm: Wolves president Flip Saunders was adamant that the team wasn’t shopping Budinger, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune reports (Twitter link).

3:47pm: The Rockets have “zero interest” in absorbing Budinger’s contract, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

12:48pm: Portland isn’t shopping Robinson, Deveney clarifies via Twitter, suggesting that the onus would be on the Wolves or another team to convince the Blazers to give him up.

FRIDAY, 11:18am: The Blazers are also in the mix for Budinger, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News hears, with Thomas Robinson a possibility to head to Minnesota in the deal (Twitter link).

THURSDAY, 9:35pm: The Pacers have also shown interest in Budinger, tweets Wolfson. With Paul George injured and Lance Stephenson gone in free agency, Indiana could use an outside threat on their roster.

6:35pm: Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News confirms the earlier report that the Pistons have inquired about Budinger’s availability. Goodwill also notes that the only player that Detroit has that would fit the salary requirements for trade would be Jonas Jerebko, whose $4.5MM deal will expire at season’s end.

3:58pm: The Wolves have gotten a few inquiries on a number of players, including Budinger, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities tweets. Wolfson also adds that his sources tell him the team isn’t actively shopping Budinger at this time.

3:49pm: The Timberwolves are shopping Chase Budinger, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. According to Wojnarowski’s sources several teams, including the Pistons and the Rockets, have shown interest in the 26 year-old forward out of Arizona. I would also speculate that the Pacers might also have interest with Paul George most likely out for the season and Indiana in need of outside scoring threats. Both the Pistons and the Rockets are reluctant to take on Budinger’s deal which includes a $5MM player option for the 2015/16 season, and no trade is imminent, Wojnarowski notes.

Minnesota currently has an abundance of small forwards with Corey Brewer, Andrew Wiggins, Robbie Hummel, Glenn Robinson III, Anthony Bennett, and Shabazz Muhammad all in the mix at the three spot. The Wolves still have 15 fully guaranteed deals and one partially guaranteed deal on the books, and trading Budinger’s fully guaranteed contract could help the team lock down their regular season 15.

With Jodie Meeks being lost for two months in Detroit, and the Rockets needing depth behind Trevor Ariza, acquiring Budinger makes sense for either franchise if the price is right. Budinger’s lifetime numbers are 9.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 1.3 APG. His career slash line is .428/.357/.806.