Portland Trail Blazers

Northwest Notes: Connaughton, Huestis, Singler

Josh Huestis has no regrets about making a D-League arrangement with the Thunder last season, Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman writes. “I think it was a great decision,” Huestis told Mayberry. “I think it was the best decision that I could make in terms of my own career. I think having an opportunity to play in the D-League for a year has really taught me a lot and has prepared me to move forward in my career. And I think if I had to make the decision again I would make the exact same one.

The forward’s verbal arrangement with the Thunder should have him in line for a roster spot this season, but OKC currently doesn’t have an opening for Huestis, Mayberry notes. Also complicating matters is the torn right pectoral muscle the player suffered eight weeks ago while working out, the Oklahoman scribe adds.

Here’s more out of the NBA’s Northwest Division:

  • The Trail Blazers gave Pat Connaughton, the 41st overall pick in this year’s draft, a three-year, $2.5MM deal. It’s worth $625,100 this season, about $100K more than the rookie minimum. The third season is non-guaranteed at the minimum, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (Twitter link). Pincus doesn’t say if it’s worth more than the minimum in year two, but if it’s like most contracts for second-round picks, it’s not.
  • The 2016 second-rounder headed to the Thunder in the Jeremy Lamb trade is bottom-five protected, and it would be unprotected for 2017, RealGM shows.
  • Kyle Singler‘s five-year deal with the Thunder is worth $24.3MM, though the fifth year is non-guaranteed, Pincus tweets.
  • The Jazz are giving Raul Neto $840K this season, about $315K more than the minimum, as a part of three-year deal. He’s in line for slightly more than the minimum in year two and a non-guaranteed minimum salary in year three, for a total of $2.7MM, as Pincus relays (on Twitter).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Northwest Rumors: Kanter, Aldridge, Matthews

Thunder GM Sam Presti said shortly before receiving official notice of Portland’s max offer sheet to Enes Kanter that he intended to match any offer for him and had planned in advance for the sort of offer sheet to which the Trail Blazers signed the big man, as Presti told The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater. Presti added that Kanter, during a meeting with the Thunder on Tuesday, had expressed a desire to remain in Oklahoma City. The Thunder have until Sunday to follow through and exercise their right to pull their prize trade deadline acquisition back to OKC. Here’s more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Other teams simply weren’t interested in doing sign-and-trades for LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews, according to Blazers GM Neil Olshey, as Mike Tokito of The Oregonian relays (on Twitter). Aldridge and Matthews have officially signed outright with the Spurs and Mavericks, respectively.
  • Olshey also said that an extension for Meyers Leonard was a subject of discussion but made it clear that he wants the former lottery pick around for the long term, Tokito tweets. It’s unclear if the Blazers are having internal conversations about an extension or have begun talks with Leonard’s reps at the Creative Artists Agency. The sides have until October 31st to sign a rookie scale extension or Leonard will be set for restricted free agency next summer.
  • The Blazers renounced their Non-Bird rights to Alonzo Gee, among other players who’ve since signed elsewhere or have already retired, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • The Jazz have arranged to pay the maximum $625K toward the buyout of draft-and-stash prospect Tibor Pleiss from his contract with Barcelona of Spain, as José Ignacio Huguet of Mundo Deportivo reports (translation via Rick Saldaña; hat tip to Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune). Pleiss traveled to Utah and engaged in contract talks with the Jazz, though his trip ended before a deal could be struck, notes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter link). Still, Pleiss and the Jazz maintain mutual interest, according to Genessy (on Twitter).

Western Notes: Aldridge, Chandler, Booker

Blazers executive Neil Olshey said the team found out LaMarcus Aldridge was signing with the Spurs after his second meeting with San Antonio on July 3rd, Mike Tokito of The Oregonian writes. Olshey also took offense to the suggestion that he and the Blazers were trying to hide Aldridge’s pending departure from fans and the media, calling it “patently false,” Tokito adds. “More than anything, what was the upside to lying? What? What did we buy? Five days of peace? I can guarantee you there was no peace,” Olshey said. “What was our motivation to lie for 96 hours? It wasn’t like there was some big season ticket holder push during that 96 hours. There wasn’t some sponsorship that was up, it wasn’t that we were recruiting some other free agents that were only going to come if LaMarcus was going to be here.

Here’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • Olshey also fielded questions regarding whether or not the team considered trading Aldridge last season, Tokito tweets. The GM relayed that it would have been extremely difficult to trade Aldridge in final year of his contract, and that teams wouldn’t be willing to deal for the forward without knowing if he’d re-sign with them, Tokito adds.
  • The Mavericks have expressed interest in former Wizards big man Kevin Seraphin, Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops reports (Twitter link).
  • The Suns are thrilled with their signing of center Tyson Chandler to a free agent deal, Matt Petersen of NBA.com writes. “The first thing I think of when I think of Tyson Chandler is a winner and winning,” GM Ryan McDonough said. “His teams in New York won a lot. His teams in Dallas won a lot, including a championship. The World Championship [with USA Basketball] in Istanbul when I was there five years ago won the gold. He’s always won everywhere he’s gone.”
  • The Blazers have promoted Jim Moran to assistant coach to replace the recently fired Kim Hughes, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian tweets.
  • The Jazz are likely to keep Trevor Booker on the roster for next season, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune relays (on Twitter). Only $250k of the $4,775,000 Booker is set to earn in 2015/16 is guaranteed.

Blazers Ink Pat Connaughton

The Trail Blazers have officially announced the signing of Pat Connaughton. The details of the contract were not released. The rights to the swingman were acquired from the Nets in the trade that brought Mason Plumlee to Rip City.

Pat’s character, competitive nature and ability to make shots will be a welcomed addition to our team,” said Neil Olshey, Portland’s president of basketball operations. “He is an excellent fit for our basketball system and our culture.

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.

Spurs Sign LaMarcus Aldridge

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

JULY 9TH, 2:39pm: The deal is official, the team announced via press release.

JULY 4TH, 11:21am: The Spurs and unrestricted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge have reached an agreement that will bring the talented forward to San Antonio, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter links). The arrangement will be for four years, and approximately $80MM, Wojnarowski notes, almost assuredly a max deal. The pact also includes a player option for the final season, the Yahoo! scribe relays.

The deal between San Antonio and Aldridge brings his nine year career with the Trail Blazers to a close. The 29-year-old appeared in 71 games for Portland during the 2014/15 campaign, averaging 23.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 35.4 minutes of action per contest. His shooting numbers last season were .466/.352/.845. Aldridge’s career numbers through 648 games, all with the Blazers, are 19.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 1.9 APG, with a slash line of .485/.276/.796.

The departure of Aldridge doesn’t come as surprise to the Blazers, who were informed by the forward on Friday night that he had narrowed his choices down to either the Spurs or the Suns, Wojnarowski tweets. A source told David Pick of Eurobasket.com as early as Wednesday that Aldridge would sign with the Spurs and turn down the hard-charging Suns (Twitter links), though he continued to take meetings in the days that followed. Aldridge had two sit-downs with the Lakers, and also met with the Heat, Rockets, Raptors, and Mavs during the free agent process. He cancelled a scheduled meeting with the Knicks, who never appeared to be serious contenders to land the big man.

Aldridge’s signing will have an impact outside of lining the forward’s pockets and giving the Spurs a new star to pair alongside Kawhi Leonard, who reached an agreement on a five year, estimated $90MM contract of his own with the team on Wednesday. Popovich, who has mulled calling it quits when Tim Duncan decides to hang up his sneakers and retire, is now looking to coach for the four remaining years on his contract, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. San Antonio is now aggressively pursuing unrestricted free agent David West as it reloads for 2015/16, tweets Wojnarowski.

Phoenix is likely heartbroken over missing out on the star forward, as it had reportedly made a strong impression on Aldridge, and he would have been the star the team so desperately seeks to acquire. The Suns would have instead focused on trying to convince Kevin Love to come to Arizona if Aldridge had simply stuck to his pledge of a year ago to re-sign with the Blazers, Jake Fischer of SI Now relays (via Twitter). Love has reportedly agreed to a five-year deal for about $110MM with Cleveland. While the agreement cannot be finalized until July 9th, it would indeed have been a shocking turn of events for Love to spurn the Cavs for the Suns, so Phoenix will have to settle for Tyson Chandler as its lone coup on the big man market.

Knicks Ink Arron Afflalo

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

JULY 9TH, 12:43pm: The deal is official, the team announced (on Twitter).

JULY 2ND, 8:01am: The Knicks will sign Arron Afflalo to a two-year deal worth $16MM with a player option on the final season, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. The agreement gives the Sam Goldfeder client slightly more in average annual value than he would have made had he picked up his $7.75MM player option with the Blazers.

The deal comes as no surprise, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports on Monday identified the Knicks as the front-runners for the shooting guard who turns 30 in October, and Chris Mannix of SI.com reported Tuesday that Afflalo was open to a deal that allowed him to hit free agency again in a year or two. The Knicks were to meet with Afflalo today, and it sounds like they either met early this morning or reached agreement before having a sitdown.

New York will use part of its nearly $30MM in cap flexibility on the eight-year veteran, but plenty of room is left over to sign Greg Monroe to a max contract. Monroe is reportedly meeting with the Knicks and three other teams, including Portland.

Blazers Sign Damian Lillard To Max Extension

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

JULY 9TH, 12:12pm: The deal is official, the team announced, confirming that it runs for five seasons, through 2020/21.

“From the day he arrived in Portland, Damian has embodied all of the characteristics we value and expect as a player and a person,” GM Neil Olshey said. “The level of commitment we are making to one another provides the foundation our organization will be built on. We could not find a finer example of the organizational culture we are working to create than Damian.”

5:33pm: Lillard released a statement regarding his new deal, hat tip to Spears (via Twitter). “Just thankful, man. I play the game out of love and it’s inspiring to be rewarded for doing things the right way and being a high character person,” Lillard said. “It’s also comforting knowing that none of what I’ve accomplished has been handed to me.

JULY 2ND, 4:57pm: The Blazers and Lillard have agreed to the max extension, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link). Spears hears from a source who estimates it’ll be worth between $125-129MM, though that would be based off the standard 25% max and doesn’t take into account the 30% max he’d make if he triggers the Rose rule.

JULY 1ST, 8:02am: The Blazers and Damian Lillard are nearing agreement on a five-year max extension, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The news is no surprise, as Lillard was intent on seeking a max extension, as Shams Charania of RealGM reported in April, while Portland had plans to be “very aggressive” to sign the Aaron Goodwin client to just that sort of deal, as Stein later wrote.

The rookie scale extension would be the second during this year’s signing window, as Anthony Davis and the Pelicans quickly agreed to a five-year max extension of their own just as the calendar flipped to July 1st. Both will become the Designated Players for their respective teams, meaning that no one else on Portland or New Orleans can sign a five-year rookie extension until Lillard or Davis are either traded or their extensions run to term. For Portland, that affects C.J. McCollum, Meyers Leonard and the newly acquired Noah Vonleh.

Lillard, whose extension would kick in for the 2016/17 season, would receive an estimated haul in excess of $120MM, according to Stein, though that figure would be based on the point guard ending up with the standard 25% max for veterans of seven or fewer years. However, he made the All-NBA Third Team in 2013/14, and even though he didn’t earn another All-NBA selection this past season, Lillard can still trigger the Derrick Rose rule and end up with a 30% max if he returns to one of the All-NBA teams or wins MVP. The difference would be an estimated starting salary of around $25MM with the 30% max and roughly $21MM on the 25% max.

Blazers Sign Ed Davis

JULY 9TH, 9:22am: The deal is official, the team announced.

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

JULY 2ND, 1:56pm: The Blazers are finalizing a deal with Ed Davis, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). It’s for three years and $20MM, according to Shams Charania of RealGM (on Twitter). It doesn’t include any options, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). The deal appears to be small enough so that Portland can sign him using the mid-level exception if it retains LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez, though it appears more likely the Blazers will use cap space.

Agent David Bauman took to Twitter to confirm the deal (hat tip to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders). The Lakers made a concerted push to retain him even as they chased star free agents, but Davis’ commitment to the Blazers was too quick for L.A. to catch up to, a source indicated to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link). The Knicks, Pistons and Celtics apparently showed interest, too, but Davis wound up with salaries lower than the ones Medina had earlier reported he was seeking.

Davis made 79 appearances for the Lakers this past season. He notched averages of 8.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 23.3 minutes per game, with a slash line of .601/.000/.487. His career numbers through 354 contests are 7.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 1.0 BPG.

Blazers Sign Al-Farouq Aminu

JULY 9TH, 9:20am: The deal is official, the Blazers announced.

11:48pm: Aminu confirmed the agreement with the Blazers on Twitter (h/t David Aldridge of NBA.com on Twitter).

JUNE 30TH, 11:29pm: Al-Farouq Aminu will sign a four-year, $30MM deal with the Blazers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The figure means that Portland will be using cap space unless it can engineer a sign-and-trade, and it also represents a significant raise on the minimum salary the forward made this past season.

The Mavs had been concerned that Aminu would land a lucrative offer, and so they were reportedly poised to try to convince him to sign a one-year deal that might have allowed him to further up his value.  Blazers GM Neil Olshey drafted Aminu when he was with the Clippers, so he is quite familiar with the fifth-year player.

Aminu proved a valuable part of the Mavs rotation even as he recorded his fewest minutes (18.5) and points (5.6) per game since his rookie season. His 14.4 PER set a new career high, and ESPN ranks him sixth among small forwards this season in its Defensive Real Plus/Minus metric. He saw equal time at small forward and power forward, according to Basketball-Reference, and he’d rank seventh in Defensive Real Plus/Minus among players at the four.  Even though he was mostly used in a reserve role in the regular season, he 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.

Aminu had visits scheduled with the Knicks, Celtics, Raptors, and Pelicans, but apparently the nationwide tour has been called off just minutes into free agency.

Western Notes: Cuban, Stoudemire, Aldridge

The NBA has fined Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban $25k for publicly confirming the team’s pending free-agent deals with DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews, Marc Stein of ESPN.com writes. Under league rules teams and players are allowed to strike verbal agreements on new contracts during July’s moratorium period, but team officials are not allowed to openly discuss those deals until July 9th, when the moratorium concludes, Stein adds. Cuban has accumulated over $2MM in league fines since becoming the Mavs’ owner back in 2000.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Unrestricted free agent Amar’e Stoudemire is talking with the Clippers regarding a deal, but Los Angeles’ difficult salary cap situation is complicating matters, Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times relays (on Twitter). The Clippers are also floating the idea of signing free agent center Cole Aldrich, Dan Woike of The Orange County Register tweets.
  • Ed Pinckney will serve as the lead assistant on coach Michael Malone‘s staff with the Nuggets, Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun tweets.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t officially inform the Trail Blazers that he was leaving Portland until last Friday, though the team likely knew the forward wouldn’t be returning, Jason Quick of The Oregonian notes (via Twitter). The big man agreed to a four-year, and approximately $80MM deal with the Spurs.
  • Veteran Kevin Garnett may end up transitioning into a front office position during the second season of his new deal with the Wolves if he isn’t healthy enough to play in 2016/17, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes (on Twitter). KG agreed to a two-year pact with the team earlier today.
  • Despite all of the roster additions the Mavericks have made this offseason, the team still may have lost ground to the other teams in the West who have also improved, especially the Spurs, who landed Aldridge, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes. But even if the team does regress in 2015/16, the additions of DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews give the franchise two important building blocks for the future, Sefko adds.

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