Washington Wizards Rumors

Washington Wizards trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Stephenson, Harkless

March 1 at 9:25am CST By Arthur Hill

Despite having a roster spot open, the Wizards aren’t anticipating a move, according to J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. Washington hasn’t filled the opening it created by waiving Glen Rice two months ago, and the Wizards don’t seem intrigued by any of the available options. Today is the last day players can hit waivers and still be eligible for the playoffs with another team, although that deadline applies only to players who have appeared in the NBA this season. “Nobody is going to be added to the team. That’s the reality of it,” coach Randy Wittman said earlier this week.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Despite a post-All Star Game slump, the Wizards aren’t considering a coaching change, Michael writes in a  separate story. Before Saturday’s win over the Pistons, Washington had dropped 11 of 13 games, causing some to question Wittman’s future with the team. Michael reports that Wittman still has the support of star player John Wall and there are no indications that he has “lost the locker room.”
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford blames unreasonable expectations for Lance Stephenson‘s early struggles in Charlotte, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer“A lot of this is totally off base among basketball people,” Clifford said of the hype that accompanied Stephenson. “He’s 23 years old. He’d played for one coach in one offense.” Many thought Stephenson would be the missing piece for the Hornets after signing as a free agent during the summer. Instead he has struggled to find his shot, connecting on just 36.6 percent from the field this season and 15.1 percent from 3-point range.
  • St. John’s basketball coach Steve Lavin said an extra year in college would have helped the Magic’s Maurice Harkless improve his draft status, tweets Josh Newman of Asbury Park Press. Lavin said NBA general managers told him that Harkless could have been a top three choice in the 2013 draft. Instead, he left St. John’s in 2012 and was selected 15th.

And-Ones: Jennings, Wizards, Jerebko

February 26 at 10:12pm CST By Dana Gauruder

Brandon Jennings might not have been thrilled the Pistons traded for another point guard but after meeting with coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy, he understands why the move was made, according to David Mayo of MLive.com. Jennings, who suffered a season-ending torn left Achilles tendon January 24th at Milwaukee, could wind up sharing time with recently-acquired Reggie Jackson next season if Jackson signs with the club as a restricted free agent, Mayo continues. Jennings, who has one year and approximately $8.34MM remaining on his contract, will be tough to trade this summer as he tries to return from the injury, Mayo adds.

In other news around the league:

  • The Wizards indeed used part of their Trevor Ariza trade exception to absorb Ramon Sessions‘ salary in last week’s trade, allowing them to create a new $4.625MM trade exception equivalent to Andre Miller‘s salary, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). There had been conflicting estimates about how the Wizards handled the exceptions, as I noted earlier this week. The Ariza exception is now worth $2,252,089.
  • The Pacers, Knicks and Lakers are eyeing 28-year-old Lithuanian shooting guard Mantas Kalnietis, with Indiana showing the most interest, agent Tadas Bulotas tells Lithuania’s Sport 1 (YouTube link; transcription via TalkBasket.net). Kalnietis went undrafted in 2008, so no NBA team holds his rights.
  • Jonas Jerebko, who is in the final year of a four-year, $18MM deal he signed with the Pistons in December 2011, believes his time with the Celtics is an opportunity to showcase his true potential, reports Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. After spending his first five-plus NBA seasons with the Pistons, Jerebko was traded with Luigi Datome to Boston last week in exchange for Tayshaun Prince.
  • Monty Williams is acting like a coach with his job on the line even though he has a year left on his contract, John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reveals. The Pelicans coach has been forced to deal with injuries to his star player, Anthony Davis, but he is still under heavy pressure to win because of a frustrated fan base, Reid adds.

Will Joseph and Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Knight, Thibodeau, Antic

February 25 at 6:27pm CST By Dana Gauruder

Brandon Knight‘s price tag as a restricted free agent was a good reason for the Bucks to trade him to the Suns, Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders believes. Knight will likely receive offer sheets in the range of $13MM-$15.9MM annually this summer after he was unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension with the club last fall, Duncan adds. Michael Carter-Williams, who was acquired from Philadelphia to take Knight’s spot, is on a rookie contract through the 2016/17 season and has more upside, Duncan opines.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • The acquisition of Carter-Williams could hurt the Bucks in the short run but improves their flexibility this summer, Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. The move gives them a young core of Carter-Williams, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, and they have approximately $15MM in salary cap space to make another major move, Gardiner adds.
  • Four-year NBA veteran Daniel Orton has turned down offers from overseas after returning from his stint in the Philippines and is holding out for an NBA deal, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Orton was with the Wizards during preseason.
  • Derrick Rose‘s latest knee injury could lead to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s departure, according to Nancy Armour of USA Today. Thibodeau’s relationship with Bulls management was already strained, Armour reveals, and Rose is one of his most fervent supporters. Losing Rose for perhaps the rest of the season could lead to Thibodeau, who has two years left on his contract, and the team cutting ties, Armour opines.
  • The Hawks will try to re-sign  Pero Antic when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Antic has struggled with his shooting in a reserve role this season, averaging 28.7% on three-point attempts, but that hasn’t changed the Hawks’ thinking, Vivlamore adds.
  • Magic COO Alex Martins says the team will not interview head coaching candidates until after season, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. James Borrego is the interim coach for the remainder of the season after Jacque Vaughn was fired earlier this month.
  • Forest City Enterprises, the Ratner parent company,  confirms it’s looking to sell its shares in Nets and Barclays Center, NetsDaily tweets. Bruce Ratner is a minority owner of the Nets after selling 80% of the club to Mikhail Prokhorov in 2010.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Williams, Hawks, Garnett

February 24 at 6:34pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The Pistons claimed Shawne Williams off waivers to offset the loss of Jonas Jerebko, who was traded to Boston last week, David Mayo of MLive.com writes. “We’re a little thin up front and Shawne played very well in Miami this year, got put in that trade to New Orleans, New Orleans waived him before they got everybody hurt, so we got some luck there,Stan Van Gundy said. “So we got a little luck there. But we needed a little depth and he’s a guy that comes in, again, on a value contract, and he’s got a non-guaranteed contract for next year. So it gives us a lot of flexibility.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Wizards are sending $839K to the Kings as part of the Andre Miller for Ramon Sessions trade that occurred last week, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter link).
  • There’s a decent chance the sale of the Hawks won’t be complete until May or June, a person familiar with the deal told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Today is the deadline for prospective owners to submit preliminary bids, Vivlamore reports.
  • Newly acquired Goran Dragic has become a fan of his new team already, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald relays (Twitter link). Speaking about the Heat, Dragic said, “They take care of players. I feel I’m spoiled here. So much great stuff.
  • Kevin Garnett said that it was difficult for him to leave the Nets mid-season because of his loyalty to the organization, but he believed that returning to Minnesota was a great opportunity, Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com writes.
  • The Knicks are counting on oft-injured Andrea Bargnani to help make up for the scoring the team lost with Carmelo Anthony being out for the season, Justin Tasch of The New York Daily News writes. “Well, he has the skillset and the versatility to do those things,” coach Derek Fisher said. “Whether he can average the same amount of points [as Anthony], we’ll see. He’s capable of it. I think if he can stay healthy and just continue to get a comfort out on the floor again, playing basketball, competing hard every night, the physical and mental grind that exists in doing that – which is different when you haven’t done that for a year, which is basically what it’s been for him.

Pacific Notes: Thomas, Warriors, Green, Karl

February 24 at 12:15pm CST By Chuck Myron

Isaiah Thomas insists he didn’t verbally push the Suns to deal him to the Celtics last week, as Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald relays. Suns GM Ryan McDonough said Thomas’ desire to start was the catalyst for last week’s swap, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

“They said that? I did want to start, who doesn’t?” Thomas said. “I don’t get that. I was a team player, didn’t complain about anything. The guys who complain, you see it in the media. I didn’t say anything. For the most part, it was good. When we did play together it was positive and it worked, but it’s tough to do when you have three talented point guards who need the ball to be effective. It’s three point guards that want the ball.”

Thomas qualified that remark, saying that he would have liked to have played more, according to Coro. He called the Phoenix backcourt “a tough situation” that’s “not what I expected” in November, but later made comments indicating he was pleased with the setup. Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob reiterated that he’s willing to pay the luxury tax next season, telling Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard that the team has no choice but to do so barring “some massive deal.” “[GM] Bob [Myers] keeps saying I must have the only owner in the NBA who says, ‘Stop worrying about the luxury tax,’” Lacob said. “Even today I said, ‘I don’t care about the luxury tax.’ I don’t want to make decisions based on the luxury tax. We want to get better. Our job is to get better. Secondarily, we’ll worry about the money.”
  • Lacob wouldn’t address soon-to-be restricted free agent Draymond Green directly but said to Ballard, “It would take a lot to not sign our core players. Does that answer your question?”
  • George Karl said he spoke with Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro about the idea of adding a point guard but added that he’d prefer not to make any more changes, observes Matt Kawahara of The Sacramento Bee. Darren Collison has missed the last six games with a right hip flexor strain and doesn’t appear on his way back anytime soon, so Karl has turned to Andre Miller and is giving him a much greater role than he had with the Wizards, as Kawahara examines.
  • Karl’s reps impressed upon the Kings during negotiations earlier this month that the coach would likely have other opportunities in the offseason, putting pressure on Sacramento to hire him as soon as possible, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.

Gal Mekel Signs To Play Russia

February 24 at 8:29am CST By Chuck Myron

Former Mavs and Pelicans point guard Gal Mekel has signed with Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi). The Pacers and Wizards are among the teams with interest in signing him for next season, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter), since he has an NBA escape clause that will allow him to shake loose this summer, as David Pick of Eurobasket.com reports (Twitter link). The contract otherwise runs through 2016, the team says, but it wouldn’t force Mekel or any NBA team to pay a buyout if he decided to end the deal this summer, Stein points out in his tweet.

Pick reported Monday that a deal was close, though Hapoel Jerusalem in Mekel’s native Israel made a strong effort to sign him late in the running, Stein adds (Twitter link). Mekel had been waiting for an NBA deal since the Pelicans cut him loose after a brief December stint. Coach Monty Williams wouldn’t rule out a new deal between the Pelicans and the 26-year-old shortly after his release, but no such arrangement materialized.

It’s no surprise to see the Pacers once more linked to Mekel, since Indiana reportedly would have signed him in November if it weren’t for visa-related complications. The Thunder have apparently held interest in him in the past, and he reportedly worked out for the Lakers twice earlier this season. He’s been drawing money from the Mavericks this season and will continue to do through 2017/18, since Dallas waived him before opening night and used the stretch provision on the second of the two years remaining on his contract.

Aldridge’s Latest: Thunder, Lopez, Jackson

February 23 at 2:36pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Thunder aren’t making moves simply out of fear that Kevin Durant will jump ship in 2016 and Russell Westbrook will follow suit the next year, a league source tells TNT’s David Aldridge for his Morning Tip column on NBA.com. Still, it’s been an active season for GM Sam Presti, who went over the tax line to acquire Dion Waiters and stayed above it after Thursday’s swap that sent out Reggie Jackson and brought in Enes Kanter. Aldridge has much more in his column, and we’ll hit the highlights, many of which are Thunder-related:

  • The Thunder let the Nets know they wouldn’t do the proposed Jackson/Brook Lopez trade just 15 minutes before the deadline, Aldridge reports. The Nets likely would have dealt Jarrett Jack to the Wizards if they’d done that deal, Aldridge adds.
  • The concern that Arron Afflalo would turn down his player option and hit the open market dissuaded the Thunder from trading for him, as Aldridge explains.
  • The Rockets preferred Goran Dragic to Jackson and the Celtics weren’t willing to trade young players for the then-Thunder guard, Aldridge writes.
  • The Thunder didn’t have plans to re-sign Kendrick Perkins in the summer even before they traded him at the deadline, according to Aldridge.

Financial Impact Of Deadline Trades: Southeast

February 23 at 8:58am CST By Chuck Myron

Last week’s trade deadline was a dizzying affair, with 39 players and 17 teams involved in a dozen trades, including a trio of three-team transactions. The day had wide-ranging effects on the salary structures of those 17 teams, and we’ll examine the aftermath for each of them in this multipart series.

We’ll begin today with the Southeast Division, home to the Heat, who acquired Goran Dragic, arguably the top player involved in the deadline-day trades, and the Wizards, who engineered an Andre Miller trade for the second deadline in a row. The salary figures listed here denote this season’s salaries, though we’ll also discuss salary for future seasons.

Miami Heat

In: ($9,206,250)

Out: ($6,159,673)

The Heat slightly lowered their financial commitments for 2015/16, since Zoran Dragic‘s salary for next season is about $464K less than Danny Granger‘s player option. That’s rare for a team that acquires a star, but it’s not nearly the most significant financial upshot here. There was no reasonable chance that Miami would have had been able to clear the cap room to chase Goran Dragic with a fair offer in free agency if they hadn’t traded for him at the deadline. Making a play for Dragic without already having him in the fold would likely have required Dwyane Wade to down his $16.125MM for next season and agree to re-sign for mid-level exception money. Even a “Heat lifer” such as Wade would no doubt hesitate to do that. The motivation to trade for Dragic was much greater for the Heat than for the Knicks or the Lakers, two of the other teams Dragic was reportedly eyeing, and two teams expected to have enough cap room to pay him the max this summer. Those teams will still be out there once Dragic turns down his $7.5MM player option, as he plans to do, but now Miami has the financial advantage of Dragic’s Bird rights to go over the cap to sign him.

For the time being, the trade makes it more difficult for the Heat to find a way to offset the loss of Chris Bosh for the season, since it causes the Heat’s team salary to leap by $3MM, putting them only around $1MM shy of the tax line. That makes it unlikely the team uses the full value of its nearly $2.653MM disabled player exception.

Washington Wizards

In: ($2,077,000).

Out: ($4,625,000)

Sacramento used a trade exception to accommodate this swap, which gave the Kings more than twice as much salary as they gave up, and that in turn allowed the Wizards the chance to create a trade exception of their own. The precise value of that new exception is unknown, since J. Michael of CSNWashington.com writes that the team used part of its $4,329,089 Trevor Ariza trade exception to absorb Sessions, while Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders figures the Wizards kept that exception intact (Twitter link). Michael’s way lets the Wizards create a new exception equivalent to Miller’s $4,625,000 salary, leaving the Ariza exception at $2,252,089. Pincus has the Wizards creating a new exception worth the difference between the salaries for Miller and Sessions, which comes to $2.548MM. If I had to take a guess, I’d say the Wizards did it as Michael indicates, since in that case the larger exception would be the newer of the two, giving it a later expiration date. However, that’s just my speculation.

What is clear is that Washington gave up some cap flexibility next season, taking on Sessions’ 2015/16 salary of more than $2.17MM instead of Miller’s contract, which expires at the end of this season, for some relief against the tax threshold this season. The Wizards were $1MM shy of the tax line going into the deadline, and now they have $3.548MM in breathing room. Even without the trade, Washington could still have added any player on a prorated portion of the minimum salary, which is all they have to give, and avoided the tax, assuming unlikely bonus clauses in the contracts of the players already on the roster didn’t trigger. I’d imagine the move was motivated more by Washington’s belief that Sessions can outperform Miller than by any immediate tax concerns, though that’s just my speculation. In any case, the team wouldn’t have had a chance to open enough cap room this summer to chase a marquee free agent before the trade, so adding Sessions’ salary for next season doesn’t do much harm. The Wizards should still have enough room beneath the projected $81MM tax threshold for 2015/16 to use the full biannual and non-taxpayer’s mid-level exceptions.

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

Eastern Notes: Canaan, Sixers, Wizards, Sanders

February 21 at 11:09pm CST By Arthur Hill

It didn’t take Sixers coach Brett Brown long to name his new starting point guard, according to Mark Macyk of The InquirerIsaiah Canaan, who came from Houston to Philadelphia along with a second-round draft pick on Thursday in exchange for K.J. McDaniels, has been chosen to replace the traded Michael Carter-Williams. “I’m excited to coach him,” Brown said of Canaan. “I think that there’s a youthful spirit and a competitiveness, along with what he’s really known for, which is his shot.”

There’s much more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The parting of Carter-Williams and the Sixers was best for both parties, writes Keith Pompey of The Inquirer. Pompey charges that Carter-Williams is a poor shooter, often holds the ball too long, commits too many turnovers and is injury prone. He also cited two public disagreements with the coaching staff during lopsided Sixers’ losses.
  • The Wizards followed Friday’s embarrassing loss to the Cavaliers with a “spirited” film session on Saturday, reports J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. The team discussed defensive breakdowns, post-game squabbles and the generally awful effort that led to a 38-point loss on national television. When you got good guys like we got on the team, guys speak up and let guys know what need to be done,” said newly acquired guard Ramon Sessions. “As a pro you don’t look at that and take that in the wrong way. You take that in a way to make the team better. We’re going to be fine.”
  • Larry Sanders gave up a lot of money Saturday in accepting a buyout from the Bucks, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Amick wrote that Sanders received about $15.2MM of the $38MM left on his contract, in addition to what he already earned this season.
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that he “wasn’t the right fit” for the Knicks‘ triangle offense. Smith and Iman Shumpert were traded from New York to Cleveland on January 5th. “It was tough from a mental standpoint,” Smith said. “You start second-guessing yourself and your talent to a certain point. So many guys thrived in that triangle, and you want to put yourself in that class. Not living up to it is kind of disappointing.’’

Gary Neal To Push For Buyout

February 21 at 6:37pm CST By Chuck Myron

FEBRUARY 21ST, 6:37pm: The Timberwolves have no plans for a buyout with Neal, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The season-ending injury to Shabazz Muhammad has no bearing on Minnesota’s thinking, Wojnarowski adds.

FEBRUARY 20TH, 9:35am: Saunders indicated that he remains disinclined to do a buyout, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune relays. “I’m not into buyouts,” Saunders said. “I’m not into paying a guy to play for someone else. It has to make sense for the team, not just the player.” To be clear, Neal would by definition be the party relinquishing money in a buyout, though Minnesota would still have to pay whatever remains on his contract, even if he hooks up with a new team.

5:42pm: The Wizards would have interest in Neal if he were to become a free agent, J. Michael of CSNWashington.com reports (Twitter link). Washington has an open roster spot it could use to add Neal, Michael adds.

4:21pm: The Bulls also have interest in Neal should he reach a buyout deal, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

FEBRUARY 19TH, 11:38am: Neal wants a trade to a playoff team, and the Hawks remain one of four or five postseason-bound clubs with interest in trading for him, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). He will indeed push for a buyout if there’s no trade, Berger adds (Twitter link).

6:38pm: The Wolves are trying to include Chase Budinger in any trade involving Neal, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

FEBRUARY 18TH, 4:09pm: Neal continues to prefer either a trade or a buyout rather than remaining in Minnesota, Chris Mannix Of SI.com reports (Twitter link). Atlanta remains interested in Neal, Mannix adds.

FEBRUARY 13TH, 1:08pm: There’s a significant level of interest in Neal around the league, and the Hawks are among the teams that would like to sign him, but substantive buyout talks between the Relativity Sports client and the Wolves have yet to take place, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

9:12pm: Neal and his representatives will make a push to reach a buyout deal with the Wolves, in spite of Minnesota’s preference he remain on the roster for the remainder of the season, Wolfson tweets.

3:38pm: The Wolves have no plans to arrange a buyout with Neal, Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders told reporters, including Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). Instead, Saunders said he insisted on receiving a shooter in the deal with the Hornets, Zgoda notes, though Neal has slumped from behind the arc this year, as I noted (below).

12:40pm: Minnesota is looking at either a buyout or another trade involving Neal, Charania now says (on Twitter).

FEBRUARY 10TH, 12:22pm: The Wolves plan to explore a buyout with Gary Neal after having acquired him from the Hornets this afternoon, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link) Charania previously reported that the team would look for ways to flip the guard (Twitter link), but his latest dispatch indicates that Minnesota won’t do that. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities first raised the possibility that Neal would push for a buyout (on Twitter). In any case, the Wolves have plans for the roster spot that today’s trade opened up, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press, adding that he’s heard that spot should be filled by day’s end.

Neal, 30, is making $3.25MM in the final season of a two-year contract that he signed in 2013 with the Bucks, who shipped him to the Hornets a year ago. He’s a client of Dan Fegan’s Relativity Sports, an agency with multiple Timberwolves clients, as Wolfson points out (Twitter link).

The fifth-year veteran is experiencing his worst three-point shooting season so far, nailing just 29.3%. He was a 39.4% three-point shooter during his first four seasons of action, and that skill led Charlotte to acquire him at last year’s deadline. Neal has averaged 9.6 points in 21.7 minutes per game across 43 appearances this season.