Portland Trail Blazers Rumors

Western Notes: Blazers, Covington, Jackson

October 23 at 8:28pm CST 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 CST 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 CST 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 CST 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 CST 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 CST 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 CST 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 CST 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 CST 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 CST 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.