Portland Trail Blazers

Western Notes: Green, Rockets, McDaniels, Lillard

Erick Green won’t mind missing the D-League All-Star Game next week after signing a second 10-day contract with the Jazz, writes Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune. Green has only seen nine minutes of playing time in three games with Utah, but the 6’3″ guard has managed to impress coach Quin Snyder. “We felt like he’s done everything we’ve asked of him and the minutes that he has played he’s played pretty good,” Snyder said. “Some of it is a question of we’ve had a couple situations where guys are getting bumped and banged up a little bit and we feel good about what he brings.”

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Today’s lopsided loss to the Blazers is the latest evidence that the Rockets need a complete makeover, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. Houston is 27-26 a year after reaching the Western Conference finals, and there have been rumblings for some time that changes are needed. The Rockets are over the luxury tax threshold and facing a hard cap, so GM Daryl Morey is limited in what he can do.
  • The Rockets have assigned K.J. McDaniels to their D-League affiliate in Rio Grande Valley, the team tweeted today.
  • New teammates surround the BlazersDamian Lillard this year, but the move that bothers him most is LaMarcus Aldridge‘s decision to sign with the Spurs, according to Sam Amick of USA Today“I would have loved nothing more than to have him back,” Lillard said of Aldridge. “To have another All-Star on the team was good for me. I was happy with it. I reached out to him a bunch of times [before and during free agency], but I think he had got to the point where he thought maybe the organization was choosing me over him. And to this day, I still tell people that it’s not my team, it’s [owner] Paul Allen’s team, and I was willing to be the best complement I could to LaMarcus Aldridge. I expressed that to him multiple times, but I think it just came down to him being ready to move on to a new situation.” Portland lost four of its starters over the offseason, with Wesley Matthews signing with the Mavericks, Robin Lopez signing with the Knicks and Nicolas Batum being traded to the Hornets.

Western Notes: Howard, Pecherov, Simmons

Rockets center Dwight Howard has heard the trade rumors regarding himself, but insists that he isn’t concerned about his immediate future, Frank Isola of The New York Daily News relays. “There’s always going into be rumors and speculation,” Howard said. “I don’t want to pay attention to it. I didn’t say it. What can I do? There’s nothing I can say. Teams are going to say what they have to say. It doesn’t matter what I say. I’m here now. I’m a Rocket. That’s the only thing that matters. People are always going to have rumors and say certain things. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a distraction. Nobody thinks about that stuff. I know my mind is on trying to get better every day. I feel like I was in a good stretch and got hurt. I’m going to try to get back. That’s my mindset. We don’t sit around and talk about what’s going to happen next year because that means you’re really not in it. You don’t want to have those thoughts.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Nuggets camp cut Oleksiy Pecherov has signed with the Lebanese team Sagesse, Orazio Cauchi of Sportando reports. Pecherov, 29, has been out of the NBA since the 2009/10 campaign when he appeared in 44 games for the Timberwolves. The center has career NBA averages of 3.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 0.2 blocks to go along with a slash line of .386/.290/.793.
  • Based on the Spurs‘ track record of developing players, the team should think twice about trading away Jonathon Simmons and Kyle Anderson in any potential deals, as both have reasonably high upsides, Bobby Marks of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports opines in his trade deadline primer for San Antonio.
  • Blazers big man Ed Davis says he has found a home in the NBA for himself in Portland and admits he had some maturing to do after a difficult experience being buried on the Grizzlies bench during the 2013/14 campaign, writes Jason Quick of CSNNW.com in his profile of the player. “I think I grew up quicker after that,’’ Davis said. “I didn’t carry myself as well as I should have when I was there. I wish I would have communicated more with coach [Dave] Joerger. I never got into it with him – was never suspended, fined or had a skirmish in the locker room – but I wish I would have been more outspoken, like asking him what was going on, and what did he expect from me.’’

Western Notes: Pierce, Martin, Bass, Batum

The Clippers signed Paul Pierce to a three-year deal in the offseason, but the 38-year-old has shown the ravages of age this season, and coach/executive Doc Rivers admits the team’s maintenance plan for him isn’t foolproof, as Dan Woike of the Orange County Register examines. Pierce hasn’t ruled out retirement after the season.

“It has to be [hard for him],” Rivers said. “You could see he didn’t have great rhythm tonight and he didn’t practice and he takes the days off. Again, it’s an imperfect science. I think at the end of the year it will be great for him because now the rhythm will start and he’ll start playing, but I really don’t know. I’m just trying to do the best with him so we can preserve him.”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Some teams with interest in trading with the Timberwolves for Kevin Martin would prefer that he picks up his player option worth nearly $7.378MM for next season, but a larger and more seriously intrigued bunch of teams wants him to turn down the option, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders hears. The same is true among suitors for Lakers power forward Brandon Bass, who has a $3.135MM player option, Kyler adds.
  • Soon-to-be free agent Nicolas Batum said after Friday’s game that he “loved” playing for the Trail Blazers, but Portland’s victory over the Hornets, in which Batum struggled, was in large measure about the Blazers moving past Batum and the other players the team didn’t bring back from last season, as The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman details. The Charlotte swingman was the last of the four former Blazers starters to play a game with his new team in Portland.
  • The Rockets have recalled Donatas Motiejunas and K.J. McDaniels from the D-League, the team announced (Twitter link). Motiejunas, set for restricted free agency at season’s end, gave his consent to the D-League trip as a rehab assignment, and he said he’ll again join Houston’s affiliate later in the week, notes Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (on Twitter). Motiejunas has three previous years of experience, so the Rockets need his permission as well as the union’s to send him to the D-League.

Northwest Notes: Batum, Malone, Singler

Nicolas Batum‘s former Trail Blazers teammates Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have fond memories of the small forward whom Portland traded to the Hornets this past summer, and Batum admits it will be “weird” Friday when Charlotte plays at Portland, The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman observes. Batum is a free agent at season’s end, and the Blazers will have plenty of cap space this summer, but there’s been no talk of a reunion.

“He was a really good teammate,” Lillard said. “I always remember my rookie year and my second year, when it would get to five minutes or less in the game, he would always come tap me on my back and be like, ‘Dame, it’s your time. Take over the game.’ Just being so young and having somebody who’s been a part of this team come to me and have that much confidence, that always meant a lot to me. He was always that type of person. He was unselfish. Just a good dude to play with.”

See more from the Northwest Division:

  • Michael Malone still stings from having been fired from the Kings in 2014, but he’s fully engaged with the Nuggets and he and former Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro, who was Malone’s boss at the time of the firing and is now in the Nuggets front office, don’t feel any “angst or hate” toward one another, Malone tells Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports.
  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan has said repeatedly that he’s a fan of what Kyle Singler can do on defense with his 6’8″ body, and the absence of the injured Andre Roberson will challenge Singler to live up to the five-year, $24.3MM deal he signed this past summer, observes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman.
  • Tyus Jones hasn’t played in 12 consecutive games for the Timberwolves, but he’s not complaining, and he prefers sitting on the bench and getting practice reps with his NBA teammates to playing on D-League assignment, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune details. The rookie spent much of December with the Jazz D-League affiliate.

Keith Bogans Joins Knicks D-League Team

JANUARY 29TH, 11:30am: The Knicks affiliate has added Bogans, the team announced (Twitter link). Bogans signed with the club after he went unclaimed via D-League waivers, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

JANUARY 27TH, 4:35pm: Bogans has signed with the D-League and is now subject to its waiver process, Reichert tweets.

JANUARY 14TH, 5:02pm: Veteran shooting guard Keith Bogans intends to sign with the NBA D-League in the near future, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor relays (on Twitter). Bogans, once he officially signs, will be subject to the league’s waiver process to determine which team he will play for.

The 35-year-old last appeared in an NBA regular season game during the 2013/14 campaign when he made six appearances for the Celtics, averaging 2.0 points in 9.2 minutes of action per contest. Bogans’ career numbers through 11 NBA campaigns are 6.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists to accompany a slash line of .394/.353/.716.

Bogans was on the Blazers’ summer league roster this past offseason, though he failed to impress, averaging just 0.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting an abysmal 11.1% from the field, which likely explains why he didn’t secure a training camp invite. Joining the D-League is likely the best course for the veteran if he hopes to land a 10-day contract in the NBA this season, though he will certainly need to perform better than he did over the summer if he hopes to garner any NBA interest.

Dead Money: Northwest Division

Not every dollar of each team’s payroll shows up on the court, as franchises often dish out funds to players who are no longer on their rosters. Players with guaranteed money who are waived, either through a standard waiver release, use of the stretch provision, or when a buyout arrangement is reached, still count against a team’s cap figure for the duration of their contracts, or the amount of time specified by the collective bargaining agreement for when a player’s salary is stretched.

There are even situations that arise, like the one with JaVale McGee and the Sixers, where these players are actually the highest-paid on the team. McGee is set to collect $12MM from Philly, and he won’t score one point or collect one rebound for the franchise this season. The next highest-paid athlete for the Sixers is Gerald Wallace, who was also waived, and he is scheduled to earn $10,105,855 for the 2015/16 campaign. In fact, the total payroll for the Sixers’ entire active roster this season is $32,203,553, which is merely $3,709,857 more than the amount being paid to players no longer on the team!

Listed below are the names and cap hits associated with players who are no longer on the rosters of teams in the Northwest Division, with the exception of those who had 10-day contracts that ran to term:

Denver Nuggets

Total= $2,550,480

Minnesota Timberwolves

Total= $3,725,000

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • None

Portland Trail Blazers

Total= $3,083,181

Utah Jazz

Total= $1,527,476

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Northwest Notes: Hayward, Durant, Plumlee, Davis

The Jazz are “poking around” the market for a point guard, several league sources tell Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. It’s not entirely clear if such efforts are related to the team’s reported 10-day deal with Erick Green, though it would seem given the timing of that agreement, so soon after Raul Neto suffered a concussion Monday, that the team had already been looking. The Heat reportedly rebuffed Utah when it tried to engage them in Mario Chalmers trade talks over the offseason, but the Jazz’s interest in Chalmers was minimal, according to Lowe. The ESPN scribe speculates about other options, including Jrue Holiday, whose leg issues leave teams “petrified” and whom the Pelicans are reluctant to deal, anyway, Lowe reports. Lowe also believes Jeff Teague would be a fit for Utah, but reports that the Hawks have had “major trust issues” with backup Dennis Schröder and are focused on contending this season. In any case, the Jazz appear reluctant to pilfer from their store of future picks, which includes the Warriors unprotected 2017 first-rounder as the relative cost of rookie scale contracts becomes cheaper amid the rapid salary cap escalation, Lowe writes.

“Picks are that much more valuable,” GM Dennis Lindsey said to Lowe.

See more from Utah:

  • The impending financial realities threaten the core of the Jazz, as Lowe details in the same piece, and Gordon Hayward, who can opt out after next season, acknowledged to Lowe that they cast a shadow on his future. “I’m constantly thinking about that,” Hayward said. “Contracts are so short now. A lot of our guys are on their rookie deals, and they’ll come up for extensions. It all might determine whether or not I stay in Utah.”
  • The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater examines the surprising lack of legitimate rumors about Kevin Durant‘s impending free agency, writing that the idea of the Thunder star signing a deal that would allow him to opt out after just one season “has gained traction.” It’s not clear whether that idea is growing on Durant himself or if more people are simply realizing that it would likely represent the most lucrative path for the former MVP. That would allow him to take advantage of a projected $108MM cap for the summer of 2017 and a higher maximum-salary tier, since he’d be a 10-year veteran.
  • The playmaking ability of Trail Blazers offseason acquisitions Mason Plumlee and Ed Davis has helped alleviate the pressure from incumbent guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, as Mike Richman of The Oregonian examines. Plumlee will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason.

Texas Notes: Lawson, Smith, Aldridge, Mavs

The Rockets expect to hang on to Ty Lawson through the trade deadline, as USA Today’s Sam Amick hears (Twitter link). The Bucks have been linked to Lawson of late, as Amick says, echoing a recent report from Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who said a trade to Milwaukee was nonetheless unlikely. Houston had reportedly been exploring the market for Lawson as the point guard’s camp sought a way for him to see more playing time elsewhere, but the market proved slow. Houston instead struck a deal to acquire Josh Smith from the Clippers. See more on that amid the latest from Texas:

  • Smith called the idea of returning to the Rockets “amazing” and said in an interview with Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston that he hopes to deliver leadership to the Rockets and relieve pressure from James Harden and Dwight Howard (All Twitter links here). “I look at that team as being right there, just missing a couple of pieces and I feel like I’m one of those missing pieces,” Smith said to Berman.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge confirmed that the Suns were the last team other than the Spurs that he considered in free agency this past summer and said that while he enjoyed being the focal point of the Trail Blazers, he’s undergone a change that allows him to take a back seat on the Spurs. Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio News-Express has the details. “I don’t see myself being that guy here,” Aldridge said. “This is more Kawhi [Leonard]’s team, and we all fit in around him and try to make his life a little easier. If I was trying to be that guy still, I should have not come. I’m OK trying to help Kawhi be great every night.”
  • The Mavericks have recalled Justin Anderson, Jeremy Evans and Salah Mejri from the D-League, tweets Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com. The team had just sent the trio on assignment Thursday.

Northwest Notes: Mudiay, Singler, Felton

Emmanuel Mudiay is taking a cue from Russell Westbrook of late, playing more aggressively and confidently and impressing coach Michael Malone, as Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post examines. Mudiay’s stock fell in the lead-up to the draft last year, but the Nuggets have empowered the seventh overall pick.

“I love how aggressive he’s playing,” Malone said. “Obviously he’s got to be able to make his free throws. In the last couple of games he’s not converting at the foul line. But I think the art of finishing is something that comes with time, experience, and getting used to playing against the size and length that they have in the paint, and he’s only going to get better. I just like how aggressive he’s playing right now.”

See more from the Northwest Division:

  • Kyle Singler played sparingly earlier this season even though the Thunder re-signed him to a five-year, $24.3MM deal, but the desire for more defense has led coach Billy Donovan to put Singler back in the rotation in place of Anthony Morrow, who’s in the final guaranteed season of his contract. The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel has the details.
  • The Mavericks tried to entice the Timberwolves into trading for the No. 21 overall pick this past June, with Raymond Felton attached, but the late Flip Saunders turned down the proposal, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter links). Minnesota wound up trading with the Cavs instead to nab 24th overall pick Tyus Jones.
  • The Trail Blazers shrewdly signed Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis to deals that will give them salaries below league average and decline in value over time, allowing the team to benefit from their production at a relatively cheap cost as they move into their primes, contends Keith P. Smith of RealGM. GM Neil Olshey has Portland ahead of schedule on its rebuild, which provides a refreshing contrast to the tear-down efforts of other teams, Smith writes.

Western Notes: Suns, Kings, Davis

Mirza Teletovic and P.J. Tucker have attracted interest on the trade market, but the Suns are delaying discussions about those two players until they believe they are out of the playoff picture, one league source told Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. That time might come soon, however, considering the Suns are 13-27 and four and a half games behind for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Markieff Morris is also still viewed as a valuable stretch-power forward on the trade market, according to Deveney. That’s because Morris’ contract (he has three years and $24MM left after this season) is affordable and he still has plenty of upside, one source told Deveney.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac does not make it a priority to return calls from other executives around the league, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst (link to podcast hosted by ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe; h/t Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com). What’s more, Divac was unaware that there was a trade call to the league office when Sacramento sent Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, and Nik Stauskas to the Sixers, according to Lowe.
  • Ed Davis, whom the Blazers signed to a three-year, $20MM deal in the summer, said Portland differs from his previous team, the Lakers, because the Blazers have a clear-cut rebuilding plan, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders details.  “Here, we’re trying to build something,” Davis told Kennedy. “I enjoyed my time with the Lakers. Coach [Byron] Scott, [GM] Mitch [Kupchak] and all those guys were good to me, so I don’t really have any complaints. But it’s just different [in Portland]. Obviously in L.A. they want those big stars and they’re not really trying to keep a core together. Now they’re starting to do it because they aren’t getting those top free agents in. Here, there’s just stability. You know that guys are going to be around for a while. You don’t have the feeling that you could get traded any minute or that they’re going to bring a superstar in [to replace you]. You can just focus on doing your job. You know [the plan] and that everything is going to be fine.”
  • The Grizzlies assigned James Ennis to their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be Ennis’ seventh assignment to the Iowa Energy.

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