Portland Trail Blazers Rumors

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.

Western Notes: Clippers, Barron, Iguodala

October 15 at 7:54pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Clippers are fortunate to have three solid veterans who are willing to come off of the bench, Melissa Rohlin of The Los Angeles Times writes. Discussing Spencer Hawes, Matt Barnes, and Jamal Crawford, coach Doc Rivers said, “There are two groups. One is the old veterans like Matt. They want to come off the bench. That’s when they’ve figured it out — it saves them, it makes them fresher, they’re smarter, they can actually watch the game and evaluate the game. And then there’s that extraordinary group of guys who clearly could be starters and actually still prefer coming off the bench…. Jamal could start anywhere, he could start here, but he prefers coming off the bench.

Here’s more from out west:

  • The Warriors depth has been an issue since the team decided to sign Andre Iguodala and let Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry leave as free agents, Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders writes. Golden State is exploring the idea of using Iguodala as their sixth man this season, notes Koutroupis.
  • One element of the Spurs‘ success over the years has been roster continuity, and the franchise places first overall in that department in Joe Freeman of the Oregonian‘s rankings. Finishing in second place was the Trail Blazers, which is a by-product of GM Neil Olshey‘s commitment to development from within the organization and to create year-to-year cohesion and consistency, notes Freeman. This plan will be tested next summer thanks to a number of players reaching free agency, Freeman opines.
  • With the Suns waiving Joe Jackson, Casey Prather and Jamil Wilson yesterday, Earl Barron remains the lone player in camp with a non-guaranteed contract, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic tweets. Coro notes that Barron has performed well enough in camp to be considered for the team’s final regular season roster spot.

Northwest Notes: Aldridge, Timberwolves, Billups

October 15 at 10:04am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Thunder have won the Northwest Division each of the past four seasons, but it’s conceivable that the team will receive a stiff challenge from the Blazers this year if Kevin Durant is slow to recover from the fracture in his foot. While we wait to see if there’s a competitive race in the Northwest, here’s the latest from the division:

  • Portland’s improvement last year was crucial to LaMarcus Aldridge‘s desire to continue playing for the Blazers, as he admitted in appearance with Justin Termine and Mike Dunleavy Sr. of Sirius XM NBA Radio, as Casey Holdahl of NBA.com’s Forward/Center blog transcribes. Aldridge added that was hoping to cash in on the NBA’s windfall of TV money when he passed on an extension to set up free agency next summer, but he suggests that he won’t try to sign a one-year deal this summer to become a free agent again in 2016, when the new TV deal starts. That jibes with a report from The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman, who heard earlier this month that the TV deal won’t affect Aldridge’s plan to sign a new long-term deal with the Blazers in 2015.
  • Timberwolves backup guard Mo Williams isn’t a fan of the NBA’s experiment with shorter games, as he tells Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, who hears similar disdain for the idea from Corey Brewer and J.J. Barea“I come off the bench, man,” Williams said. “They need to put 50 minutes on that so my minutes would be up. I need more minutes, not less.”
  • Despite fielding interest from the several different teams, including the Nuggets, about taking on a coaching or front office role, Chauncey Billups has decided to join the ESPN crew as an analyst, reveals Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. Billups cited a long-term commitment to broadcasting and said he’s not thinking of becoming a coach or executive.

Northwest Notes: Billups, Williams, Matthews

October 14 at 6:31pm CDT By Chris Crouse

The start of the regular season is just two weeks away and franchises are still trying to finalize their regular season rosters. Teams can carry up to 20 players during the preseason but need to pare that number down to 15 by October 27th. In the Northwest Division the current preseason roster counts are Jazz (17); Wolves (18); Thunder (18); Blazers (17); and Nuggets (18). A number of tough decisions still need to be made by GMs, and a number of the players who get waived may end up in the NBA D-League hoping for a shot at some NBA action later in the season.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets would love to bring Chauncey Billups into their front office, but it is unlikely to happen this season, writes Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post in his weekly mailbag. Billups made his preference to join a front office in some capacity known when he retired this summer.
  • Mo Williams is focused on contributing to a young Wolves team for the time being, but he admits that he has aspirations of coaching an NBA club one day, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. “I’ve got some years left in me,” said Williams. “But absolutely, they know that, a lot of coaches know it just because of my personality. It’s something when my legs say I can’t do it no more and guys like [Zach LaVine] and [Andrew Wiggins] keep coming into the league, I’ll probably have to start coaching.
  • Wesley Matthews doesn’t believe the end of his contract this summer will bring an end to his time with the Blazers, as he indicated to Erik Gundersen of The Columbian. “Every year is a contract year,” Matthews said when asked if he’d feel added pressure to perform this year.

Charlie Adams and Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

Blazers Waive James Southerland

October 13 at 7:02pm CDT By Charlie Adams

The Blazers have placed James Southerland on waivers, the team announced (on Twitter). Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who was the first to report the the move, tweets that the swingman will ink a new deal overseas now that he’s officially been waived. Wojnarowski doesn’t specify where Southerland intends to sign, but he writes that the new pact will cover the length of the NBA season.

Southerland agreed to join Portland for camp on a non-guaranteed deal in August after the Pelicans opted not to bring him back for the 2014/15 season. The 24-year-old out of Syracuse saw limited action in his first NBA campaign last year, playing in a total of just 30 minutes across four games between time for the then-Bobcats and Pelicans. He didn’t appear in any of the Blazers’ first three preseason games.

It seemed like a long shot that Southerland would stick around long enough to make the opening night roster, given that Portland is already carrying the league maximum of 15 guaranteed contracts, as our list of roster counts shows. Darius Morris and Diante Garrett now stand as the only players left on the Blazers without guaranteed deals, and they seem to like strong candidates to be cut before the season as well.

Western Notes: Diaw, ‘Melo, Cuban, Blazers

October 10 at 4:38pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Boris Diaw‘s contract with the Spurs has some creative additions included in it, Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com notes (Insider subscription required). Diaw’s deal begins at $7.5MM and decreases by $500K during the second and third years, ensuring San Antonio is paying the premium up front, when Diaw’s performance will be at its peak, notes Elhassan. The contract also includes up to $500K in annual bonuses if Diaw meets certain weight requirements throughout the season. Lastly, Elhassan notes that the final year of the deal has a guarantee date of July 15, 2017. This will  give the Spurs flexibility to cut Diaw should his performance no longer befit his pay, and the later guarantee date means the Spurs can enter 2017 free agency without needing to make a decision on Diaw’s status. Diaw’s third year is partially guaranteed, notes Elhassan, and has a guarantee date of June 30th, 2016.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Carmelo Anthony visited with the Mavs shortly after they acquired former teammate Tyson Chandler, but Chandler tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post that he wasn’t aggressive in his attempts to recruit ‘Melo to Dallas. “It wasn’t strong,” Chandler said. “I didn’t ever think he was coming. I didn’t think Carmelo was ever leaving New York. I talked to him because it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t. But I never thought he was going anywhere. I thought if anywhere he was going it was to the Lakers. But when the Lakers didn’t have a strong enough roster to tempt him.”
  •  Darius Morris and Diante Garrett joined the Blazers this summer with the understanding that they’d have legitimate chances to making the opening-night roster even though they aren’t among the 15 on the team with fully guaranteed deals, The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman writes. The team would probably waive Victor Claver‘s guaranteed contract if it elected to keep Morris or Garrett, Freeman speculates. Garrett’s $30K partial guarantee gives him a slight edge over Morris, who has no guaranteed money.
  • Mark Cuban raised the idea of eliminating guaranteed money from contracts in response to Kevin Durant‘s suggestion that the league abolish maximum salaries, but Durant isn’t on board with the Mavs owner’s idea, observes Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Mavs, Grizzlies, Aldridge, Barea

October 6 at 3:04pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Charlie Villanueva has impressed Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, who insists Villanueva’s lack of guaranteed money won’t prevent the team from keeping him for opening night, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com chronicles.

“It’s going to come down to who plays the best, who fills needs,” Carlisle said. “And we’ll go from there. Mark [Cuban]’s the kind of owner, he’s not going to let a few dollars get in the way of keeping the right team together.” 

Still, it’d cost the Mavs, who have 15 guaranteed contracts plus partial guarantees with Eric Griffin and Ivan Johnson, at least $991,482 in dead money to waive the players necessary for them to keep Villanueva, unless they can work out some sort of trade. While we wait to see just how much Cuban is willing to sacrifice, here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace told Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal that he wasn’t explicitly told not to perform his duties while former CEO Jason Levien was in charge of the team, as Tillery writes in a subscription-only piece. Wallace clarified that he made his own choice to remove himself from player personnel, Tillery notes. Wallace also made a run at openings with the Kings last year and Cavs earlier this year, according to Tillery.
  • The new TV deal won’t affect LaMarcus Aldridge‘s plan to sign a long-term deal with the Blazers this summer, a source tells The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman, pointing out that the maximum salary goes up as the salary cap does. Still, it’s worth noting that cap figures only affect the amount of a max contract for the first season of the deal, and since it appears unlikely the cap will rise dramatically until the summer of 2016, there’s still plenty of incentive for Aldridge to sign a short-term deal instead.
  • Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders didn’t seem merely to be trying to up J.J. Barea‘s trade value when he said the guard was one of the team’s best performers in camp again this year, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
  • The NBA’s national TV deal isn’t the only one due for a sharp increase, as some predictions have the Clippers local TV rights fees increasing to $80MM annually from the $20MM the team receives each year under the current arrangement, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. The existing deal is up after the 2015/16 season, Kennedy notes (on Twitter).

Northwest Notes: Arthur, Blazers, Wolves

October 4 at 2:31pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

When asked if he’d like to remain with the Nuggets past this season, Darrell Arthur said, “Oh yeah, for sure. My family loves it here. My mom was just up here for a couple of weeks and she just loves it – loves the atmosphere, loves the people here. I love the organization, everything. It’s a family organization, they welcome you with open arms. I definitely would like this to be home,Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post relays. Arthur is in the final season of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Here’s more from the west:

  • NBA TV’s Steve Smith was in Portland covering the Blazers training camp and discussed the contract situations of LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, and Robin Lopez. All three players are in the final year of their respective deals and Smith was asked if it would become a distraction and he said, “LaMarcus being the main one. I can’t speak for him, but I think he’ll be the easiest one to figure out. He’ll be all right. I think Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez, financially — I’m not saying they’re not set, we all are, we play in the NBA — but LaMarcus is going to get the max. Now with those other two guys, you have to balance sacrificing for the team and making as much money possible in your career. I think this contract is … the big one for those guys.”
  • Smith also discussed the offseason additions of Steve Blake and Chris Kaman, saying, “It’s funny. Sometimes you look at moves — and, like you said, they’re not huge as far as names that go across the entire association — but Steve Blake is one of those veterans that just fits well with this team. You can tell just by watching practice. And he makes home here in Portland. So you have a guy who’s comfortable. He’s played here, what, three times? Chris Kaman, if you want to draw up a Portland Trail Blazer, it’s Chris Kaman. He just looks like he belongs. (laughs) And also, I think the pressure is off him. He can come in and be himself.
  • Ricky Rubio believes that the departure of Kevin Love to the Cavs will be good for both Love and the Wolves, Jeff Caplan of NBA.com writes. “Of course we had a lot going on last year and the media was talking, they were wondering if Kevin wanted to be here, blah, blah, blah, and that hurt the team and hurt himself,” Rubio said. “Now that he’s not here, the media’s not going to talk about that anymore. I think that’s going to be good for him and for us.”