Portland Trail Blazers

Aldridge To Meet With Lakers, Six Others

10:33pm: Aldridge is leaning toward signing with the Lakers, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

9:33pm: The Lakers will indeed be the first team to meet with Aldridge, followed by the Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Mavericks, Raptors and Knicks in that order, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets. He does not need to meet with the Trail Blazers since he already knows their offer, Aldridge adds.

9:10pm: Coach Gregg Popovich and veteran stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker will attend the Spurs’ meeting with Aldridge, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports tweets.

8:35pm: The Lakers’ meeting with Aldridge will occur immediately after the free agency period begins at 12:01 AM Eastern Time on Wednesday, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

2:57pm: Aldridge will meet with the Raptors, too, reports Shams Charania of RealGM, and he’ll think about a visit with the Rockets, Charania adds. Toronto has max-level cap room following its trade of Greivis Vasquez to Milwaukee, but Houston would have to clear salary.

1:54pm: LaMarcus Aldridge is almost certain to leave the Blazers and will meet with the Knicks, Spurs, Mavs and Lakers, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. ESPN colleague Tim MacMahon first reported that Dallas would sit down with the big man. The Knicks are a long shot for him, just as is the case with DeAndre Jordan, according to Broussard.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported Friday that the Spurs and Lakers were in the lead for Aldridge, a client of Arn Tellem and Thad Foucher, shortly after Blazers GM Neil Olshey denied a report that Aldridge has already told the Blazers he’s leaving. Portland can offer Aldridge a five-year deal with 7.5% raises, somewhat better than the four years and 4.5% raises he can end up with elsewhere, though apparently that advantage may not be enough.

The Knicks, Lakers and Mavs should have plenty of cap room to chase Aldridge with a max offer that will likely start around $19MM a year. The Spurs are apparently confident they can find the same amount of room even if they re-sign Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

New York will also meet with Aldridge teammate and close friend Wesley Matthews, Broussard reports. Carmelo Anthony has reached out to Aldridge and Jordan as well as Greg Monroe and fellow Blazer free agent Arron Afflalo, sources tell Broussard.

Free Agent Rumors: Wright, Belinelli, Barea

Dorell Wright is unlikely to return to the Trail Blazers, Jabari Young of CSNNW.com reports. Wright, who was born in Los Angeles, would like to return home and play for either the Clippers or Lakers, Young continues. The Lakers are the more likely suitor for the unrestricted free agent, who made $3.135MM last season, unless the Clippers fail to secure the services of Paul Pierce, Young adds. The Raptors could also make a run at Wright but Young believes the Heat, who were previously thought to be interested in Wright, probably won’t pursue him since Luol Deng exercised his player option.

In other free agent news around the league:

  • Spurs swingman Marco Belinelli could be targeted by the Bulls if they fail to re-sign Mike Dunleavy,  K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets. The Bulls have made retaining Dunleavy a priority and he’s comfortable playing in Chicago, Johnson adds. Both players are unrestricted free agents.
  • The Clippers are interested in C.J. Watson, Lavoy Allen, Darrell Arthur and Gerald Green, among others, according to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register (Twitter links). They’d like to find a true point guard to serve as a backup, a league source tells Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
  • The Raptors could be a landing spot for Bismack Biyombo, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Biyombo will be an unrestricted free agent because the Hornets decided not to make him a qualifying offer.
  • The Heat, Bulls, Lakers and Mavericks are among teams interested in signing J.J. Barea, a source told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com (Twitter link). Barea is seeking a multi-year contract in the $3MM per year range, MacMahon adds.
  • The only incumbent free agents the Pelicans don’t appear to have at least some interest in re-signing are Jimmer Fredette and Toney Douglas, as John Reid of The Times-Picayune details.

Spurs Rumors: Aldridge, Splitter, Leonard, Duncan

Sources who spoke with Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News didn’t produce a consensus on the chances the Spurs have of landing LaMarcus Aldridge, with some deeming San Antonio the front-runner while others weren’t so sure. The Spurs and Lakers were the co-favorites, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported Friday, though the notoriously fickle power forward is tough to read. McDonald has a ton more on the weeks ahead for San Antonio, and while his entire piece is worth a read, especially for Spurs fans, we’ll round up the most relevant highlights here:

  • The Spurs are making Tiago Splitter available for a trade, multiple league sources tell McDonald, but while McDonald posits that the most direct path to landing Aldridge would be via sign-and-trade in a deal that sends Splitter to Portland, the Blazers are uninterested, McDonald writes. The Spurs turned away teams with interest in trading for Splitter before the draft, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com wrote last week, but perhaps San Antonio’s position has changed.
  • Kawhi Leonard‘s preferred deal is four years at the max, according to McDonald, not five. Either way, the Spurs are still expected to re-sign him, McDonald notes.
  • Tim Duncan still hasn’t made up his mind about returning, a source familiar with his thinking told McDonald. The Spurs have reportedly been operating on the premise that he and Manu Ginobili will re-sign with them rather than retire.

Latest On Al-Farouq Aminu

Al-Farouq Aminu, who opted out of his minimum-salary player option with the Mavs for next season, is scheduled to visit the Knicks, Celtics, Blazers, Raptors and Pelicans, NBA.com’s David Aldridge tweets.

The Mavs remain in the mix for the forward’s services, Aldridge notes. Aminu previously expressed his affection for the city of Dallas and the Mavs, and he said he’d love to re-sign.

Aminu’s visit with the Blazers is not unexpected, Joe Freeman of the Oregonian writes. Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey drafted Aminu when he was with the Clippers and is quite familiar with the fifth-year player, Freeman adds.

Aminu averaged 5.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game last season with the Mavs. Aminu, who was mostly used in a reserve role in the regular season was featured more prominently during the playoffs. He started two of five postseason games against the Rockets, averaging 11.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 64% from 3-point range.

Hornets Rumors: Batum, Lamb, Clifford

New Hornet Nicolas Batum can expect an expanded role in Charlotte, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Batum, who was acquired from the Blazers Wednesday in exchange for Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh, was a third or fourth option in Portland. Charlotte coach Steve Clifford plans to start Batum at shooting guard and run the offense through him, similar to how Hedo Turkoglu once operated when Clifford was an assistant coach in Orlando. “I know my role is going to be different and I like that,” Batum said. “I know I can do a lot of things on the court; I’m a very versatile player. So me and Kemba [Walker] can do great things together.” Batum has one year left on his contract at nearly $11.9MM and will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

There’s more news from Charlotte:

  • Jeremy Lamb is ready for a “fresh start” with the Hornets, writes Pat James of The Charlotte Observer. The Hornets acquired Lamb from Oklahoma City in a draft-day trade as part of an effort to improve their league-worst three-point shooting. The three-year veteran, who is now with his third team, says Charlotte is a good place for him to showcase his skills. “It gives me an opportunity to try to get a role and just play,” Lamb said. “I’m going to make the most of it. I’m just going to work hard and try my best to put myself in a position to play and have a role on this team.” Still on his rookie deal, Lamb is under the Hornets’ control through the 2016/17 season.
  • Clifford thinks the Hornets are much improved after a week that brought three trades and a lottery pick, according to Steve Reed of the Associated Press. In addition to the deals that added Batum and Lamb, Charlotte acquired Spencer Hawes from the Clippers and drafted Frank Kaminsky at No. 9. Clifford said the moves brought “more size, skill and versatility” to the Hornets.
  • The Hornets’ priorities in free agency will be finding a third point guard and possibly another shooter, Bonnell tweets. He adds that it’s not certain Bismack Biyombo will receive a qualifying offer. This week’s trades added $5MM to the Hornets payroll. (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Sullinger, Tokoto

Members of the Knicks’ front office were involved in trade discussions with the Magic, Suns, and Celtics in the hours leading up to Thursday night’s NBA Draft, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com writes. Boston discussed a package that included multiple draft picks and Jared Sullinger with New York, and Phoenix also spoke with members of the Knicks about a trade involving Eric Bledsoe in the hours leading up to the draft, Begley adds. Team president Phil Jackson said the Knicks had talked to teams about potential offers but all the offers were contingent on which players were selected ahead of them, the ESPN scribe notes. “Those things fell the way they did. We had what we wanted and we went with it,” Jackson said.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks coach Derek Fisher indicated that finding frontcourt help will be a priority once the free agent signing period begins, Begley also relays. “I don’t think it’s any secret we need to get some size up front, and I think that’ll be a big focus for us,” Fisher said. Potential targets include DeAndre Jordan, David West, Omer Asik, Greg Monroe, and Marc Gasol, Begley adds.
  • In addition to a pair of second round draft picks, the Nets also sent $880K to the Hornets as part of the deal to acquire the rights to Argentinian small forward Juan Vaulet, Robert Windrem of NetsDaily tweets. Brooklyn doesn’t intend for Vaulet to play in the NBA next season, Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com relays (on Twitter).
  • According to multiple sources, the Sixers nabbed North Carolina swingman J.P. Tokoto with the No. 58 overall pick with the understanding that he would either play in the D-League or overseas next season, Jake Fischer of LibertyBallers reports (Twitter links). Tokoto will have the chance to compete for a roster spot, but told Philly he would be open to being stashed during the 2015/16 campaign, Fischer adds.
  • The Greivis Vasquez trade allowed the Raptors to generate a $6.4MM trade exception, since they gave him up without taking back any salary in return, notes Pincus (on Twitter), though with Toronto possessing only about $42.4MM in guaranteed salary for next season, it seems there’s a fair chance they’ll dip under the cap after the July Moratorium and renounce the exception.
  • The Nets could have created a $1,357,080 trade exception for Mason Plumlee if they decided to use their $2,339,131 Kevin Garnett trade exception to absorb Steve Blake, as Pincus presumes they’ve done (Twitter link). That would knock the Garnett exception down to $982,051. Alternatively, they could have taken Blake into the $3,326,235 Andrei Kirilenko exception and reduced its value to $1,969,155, a move the Nets might have preferred because the Kirilenko exception expires more than two months sooner than the Garnett exception does. The trade meanwhile allowed the Blazers to create an exception worth the $719,920 difference between the salaries of Blake and Plumlee, though that exception would vanish if they go under the cap, as they may well do if LaMarcus Aldridge ends up elsewhere.
  • The tiny $355,016 leftover portion of the trade exception that the Knicks generated in last year’s Tyson Chandler trade has expired. New York used the bulk of what was once a $3,637,073 exception to acquire Alexey Shved at the trade deadline. The  Tim Hardaway Jr. trade afforded the Knicks the chance to create a new $1,250,640 exception for his salary, as we noted, though that will disappear if the Knicks dip below the cap next month, as expected.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Looney, Koponen, Plumlee

The Trail Blazers were extremely high on Arizona swingman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but could not pass on adding a starting-caliber player like Mason Plumlee, whom the team acquired from the Nets in exchange for Hollis Jefferson and Steve Blake, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. “We really like Rondae. He’s a terrific young player,” Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said. “But we just felt like, based on some of the moves we have to make [and] some of the uncertainly regarding some of our unrestricted free agents, the opportunity to get a dynamic young center that’s a little bit more accomplished, that we know we can put on the floor this fall, that can help you win games but still has a tremendous upside because of his age and his athleticism, it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The NBA is proceeding with a plan to seed playoff teams one through eight in each conference regardless of division starting with 2015/16, reports Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
  • The reason that talented UCLA forward Kevon Looney lasted until the Warriors nabbed him with the 30th overall pick is that he was red-flagged with a degenerative back as well as a hip issue, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress tweets. Looney may require surgery at some point in his career as a result, Givony adds.
  • There’s only a 10% chance that Finnish guard Petteri Koponen signs with the Mavericks this offseason, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com relays (on Twitter). Dallas holds the rights to Koponen, who was selected with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Blazers Acquire Rights To Daniel Diez

FRIDAY, 12:40am: Utah receives cash, according to the formal announcement from the Blazers.

THURSDAY, 11:09pm: The Jazz are sending the rights to the No. 54 pick, Spanish small forward Daniel Diez, to the Blazers, reports Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress (on Twitter). It’s not immediately clear what Utah is getting in return.

Blazers Acquire Mason Plumlee

FRIDAY, 12:17am: The trade is official, the both teams announced.

“We are very excited to add Rondae to our roster,” Nets GM Billy King said in a press release. “He is the type of athletic wing we were looking for, and we felt he was the best defensive player in the draft. I also wanted to thank Mason for his time with the Nets and wish him the best with his new team.  Mason worked extremely hard from the first time he stepped on the court in training camp last year, and I am sure he will have a long and successful career.”

Technically, Hollis-Jefferson won’t formally join Brooklyn’s roster until he signs, though that should be merely a procedural step.

THURSDAY, 10:41am: The Blazers will acquire Mason Plumlee and the rights to Notre Dame shooting guard Pat Connaughton, who is the 41st overall pick, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. They’ll send the rights to No. 23 pick Rondae-Hollis Jefferson and Steve Blake to the Nets, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter links).

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

In Plumlee, the Blazers land a solid replacement should forward LaMarcus Aldridge leave Portland as is anticipated. Brooklyn was reportedly seeking a lottery pick in exchange for the 25-year-old former first rounder, so the team’s return could be considered a disappointment. While Plumlee isn’t in Aldridge’s class ability-wise, he certainly has the talent to step in as an immediate starter. He appeared in all 82 games for Brooklyn last season, averaging 8.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 0.9 assists in 21.3 minutes per night. His shooting numbers were .573/.000/.495. Plumlee is set to earn $1,415,520 next season, and his deal carries a team option worth $2,328,530 for 2016/17.

Connaughton, 22, is an exceptional athlete who possesses good shooting range. He appeared in 139 career games while at Notre Dame, averaging 10.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. His career slash line was .450/.386/.777. He was the 58th best prospect in this year’s draft according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.

As for the Nets, they land Hollis-Jefferson, who is arguably the best defender in the entire draft, though there are serious concerns about his outside shot. He is a similar player to the Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in skillset. Last season at Arizona, Hollis-Jefferson averaged 11.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG, with a slash line of .502/.207/.707.

In Blake, the Nets obtain a veteran point guard who can provide depth off the bench. The 35-year-old is entering the last year of his current deal, and is set to earn $2,170,465 in 2015/16. He appeared in 81 games last season, his most since the 2007/08 season, averaging 4.3 PPG, 1.7 RPG, and 3.6 APG. Blake made 35.2% of his shots from beyond the arc, but only sank 37.3% of his field goal attempts overall.

LaMarcus Aldridge Tells Blazers He’s Leaving?

FRIDAY, 12:09am: Blazers GM Neil Olshey denies having heard from Aldridge that he’ll sign elsewhere, as The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman relays. “I hung up with LaMarcus a half-hour ago … he was as bemused by the report as I was,” Olshey said.

THURSDAY, 3:48pm: Rumors have been piling up in recent days indicating that LaMarcus Aldridge will be leaving the Blazers this summer in free agency.  Apparently, the Blazers now understand this to be fact.  The multiple time All-Star has informed the Blazers that he will not return to them, a Western Conference executive with knowledge of the situation told Erik Gundersen of The Columbian.

Aldridge, 30 in July, has made four consecutive All-Star game appearances over the last four years.  Despite his stellar play, he has yet to reach the Western Conference Finals with Portland.  The Spurs, Lakers, Knicks, and Mavs have all been heavily connected to the big man and the Hawks and Cavs were mentioned as possibilities by Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN.com earlier today.  Teams, meanwhile, are reportedly grumbling that the allure of the Spurs will be hard to beat for anyone chasing Aldridge.  The always ambitious Rockets are also going to try to get in the mix for Aldridge, as well as Cleveland forward Kevin Love.

One league executive told Gundersen that the trade of forward Nicolas Batum looked like “a rebuilding move,” and league sources say that the Blazers are “not done” dealing. On Wednesday, Batum was shipped to the Hornets in exchange for Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson. Batum had a weak season, appearing in 71 contests and averaging 9.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. However, his work prior to last season was more impressive.