Washington Wizards Rumors

Southeast Notes: Heat, Williams, Rice Jr.

November 20 at 6:41pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The Heat are a better team with Dwyane Wade on the court, but him missing time due to a hamstring injury has helped build chemistry amongst the team’s newcomers, Shandel Richardson of The Sun Sentinel writes. “When you don’t have that guy [Wade] on the court, it’s a huge void that you have to fill,” Chris Bosh said. “I think it’s both a good and a bad thing. We want him out there, but at the same time our rookies are gaining a ton of experience and our new guys are gaining a ton of experience. It’s forcing the chemistry to happen a lot sooner.”

Here’s the latest from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat president Pat Riley deserves credit for taking a chance on signing Shawne Williams, despite some of the criticisms Riley received for fully guaranteeing this season’s salary, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald opines. Williams is rewarding Riley’s faith by averaging 11.4 points and is currently fifth in the league in three-point percentage, bombing away with a 50.9% success rate, notes Jackson.
  • Glen Rice Jr.‘s D-League assignment by the Wizards has less to do with his verbal outburst directed toward coach Randy Wittman and is more about the player’s overall development, J. Michael of CSNWashington.com writes. With the season underway, there isn’t enough practice time to fully develop younger players like Rice, who hasn’t seen any game action since November 7th, Michael adds.
  • Despite his lackluster performance during last year’s playoffs, the Heat re-signed Mario Chalmers, but his role and the team’s expectations of him have changed, Surya Fernandez of FOX Sports.com writes. Chalmers had started every game that he’s appeared in the previous three seasons but is now coming off the bench. “That’s a requirement when you have a championship-level team,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So nobody feels badly for anybody that has to sacrifice when you have an opportunity to be a part of a great team. That’s the hardest part of great teams is getting guys to sacrifice. So now the role has to be a little different with this team. He’s embraced that role and he’s been able to produce in this role. I think some of the experiences he went through the last six years have helped him get to this point.”

D-League Moves: Hawks, Wizards, Mavs

November 20 at 3:00pm CST By Chuck Myron

Wednesday was the 23rd day of the NBA season, and teams had already made 31 D-League assignments or recalls by the time the day was through. We’ve been keeping track of all the comings and goings, and we’ll continue to log them throughout the season on the post linked here. The movement continues, as we detail:

  • The Hawks sent Adreian Payne to the D-League today, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who adds that the team plans to keep him with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants through this weekend’s games, at least. The Hawks are without a one-to-one affiliate, as they share the Mad Ants with a dozen other teams.
  • One of those teams is the Wizards, who sent Glen Rice Jr. to the Mad Ants today, the team announced. Payne and Rice are the only two players so far this season who’ve gone on NBA assignment to the Mad Ants, who can only carry as many as four NBA assignees at once. The NBA and the D-League have established a protocol to help NBA parent clubs of the Mad Ants find a place for their D-League-bound players if the openings in Fort Wayne are full, as we detailed earlier.
  • The Mavs have assigned Ricky Ledo to the their one-to-one D-League affiliate, the team announced. Ledo played in more than three times as many D-League games as he did NBA games last season, and he’s yet to appear in a game for the big club this year.

And-Ones: Nene, Green, Cap, Johnson

November 17 at 6:56pm CST By Alex Lee

We have nine games on the NBA slate for tonight, the best of which is undoubtedly the Southwest division showdown in Memphis between the 9-1 Rockets and the 9-1 Grizzlies. Some might say the Grizzlies’ impressive record should include an asterisk, as the Kings continue insist that last week’s game-winner by Courtney Lee be overturned. However, Memphis GM Chris Wallace is confident the league will uphold his team’s victory, he tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

With that settled, let’s take a look at what else is going on around the Association on Monday night:

  • Nene and Gerald Green have joined the BDA Sports agency, as Liz Mullen of the SportsBusiness Journal reports in a subscription-only piece. Nene had been with Dan Fegan of Relativity Sports, while agent Kenton Edelin was Green’s representative. Green’s contract with the Suns is up after this season, while Nene’s deal with the Wizards runs through 2015/16.
  • Almost all team executives believe the salary cap for 2015/16 will fall somewhere between $66MM and $68MM, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Lowe includes this nugget in a longer analysis of yesterday’s Rudy Gay extension, which the Grantland scribe describes as “fair-ish” next season and as a potential steal come 2016/17. Lowe also believes that the Kings would like to add another piece after this season if they can free up some salary. He speculates that Jason Thompson and his $6.43MM 2015/16 salary could be a trade candidate.
  • Now in his 14th season at age 33, Joe Johnson tells David Aldridge of NBA.com that he can’t imagine playing too much longer after his deal is up with the Nets. Johnson, who recently got into some hot water after saying his team was playing selfishly, is under contract through next season with Brooklyn and will hit free agency at age 35 in the summer of 2016.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Beal, Love, Rondo, Smith

November 16 at 10:46am CST By Arthur Hill

The Wizards’ Bradley Beal is expected to practice Monday and could be back in the lineup by Friday, reports Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The high-scoring guard, who hasn’t played since fracturing his left wrist October 10th, went through a dribbling and shooting drill on Saturday. Last month, the Wizards  exercised Beal’s fourth-year contract option worth $5.7MM. Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Even though Kevin Love is likely to become a free agent this summer, the Cavaliers don’t believe he will leave Cleveland, writes Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. A rumor emerged last week that Love would consider opting out of his current contract at season’s end and to sign with the Lakers. Lloyd cautioned that many more rumors are likely regarding the six-year veteran before the season ends, but the Cavs are confident in his commitment to Cleveland.
  • The CelticsRajon Rondo cites improved health as the reason for his fast start, according to Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. ACL surgery limited Rondo to just 29 games last season, and the eight-year veteran said he never felt comfortable after his return. “I can get to the paint a lot easier now,” said Rondo, who will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. “Last year I was pretty slow, and now I’m a step faster.” 
  • The KnicksJ.R. Smith remains on the trading block, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Begley notes that the team is having ongoing internal discussions about dealing Smith, and has been since July. The 10-year veteran is being paid close to $6MM this year and has a player option for nearly $6.4MM next season.

Eastern Notes: World Peace, Sixers, Humphries

November 15 at 8:47am CST By Eddie Scarito

Metta World Peace believes it was a post-game locker room confrontation with J.R. Smith last year that led to him not being re-signed by the Knicks this season despite his familiarity with the triangle offense, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “I don’t understand why they didn’t [sign] me,’’ World Peace said. “But then again, I’m very direct. I think I was too direct in the locker room, too direct to J.R. Smith. It wasn’t from a bad place. If someone is not playing defense or not giving effort, that’s my specialty. I don’t hold back on my words. Nobody wants to talk direct to them. We don’t give it to them straight. I said some things directly to J.R. Smith in the locker room and he challenged me back, said some direct things to me. But he understood where we came from.”

Here’s more from the east:

  • As the Sixers‘ losses continue to mount, head coach Brett Brown still feels pride in what the franchise is working for and constantly reminds the players of the team’s plan, Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle writes. “It is hard, but it it’s something you remind yourself – why did you take the job?” Brown said. “What are the true realities of the roster we have? What’s the possible outcomes if we can navigate through the first few years we have to face? Sometimes its hard with the personnel that we have. I gotta coach them. I gotta remind them every single day that they have to be focused on the process, not the result.
  • Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas‘ production has been under a higher level of scrutiny this season but head coach Dwane Casey is quick to defend his young player, Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun writes. “He’s a young kid and his curse is two years ago when he got here everybody said he was the second coming,” Casey said. “Everybody was expecting that sort of impact. As a staff, all we expect is he’s going to grow at the right time, at the right pace and [eventually] he’ll get there. But everybody is waiting for him or wanting him to be more than what he is ready to be right now. He’s right where we need him to be.”
  • Sign-and-trade acquisition Kris Humphries has added a needed level of toughness and physicality to the Wizards‘ frontcourt, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post writes.

Eastern Notes: Labor, J.R. Smith, Butler, Cavs

November 14 at 12:03pm CST By Chuck Myron

The collective bargaining agreement is in place at least until 2017, but LeBron James wants to see constructive labor negotiations start sooner rather than later in the wake of sharp remarks this week from union executive director Michele Roberts and commissioner Adam Silver. Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group has the details.

“At some point we would like to start conversations, because you don’t want to get to a point to where the deadline happens and now we’re scrambling,” James said. “Our game is too good, it’s too popular, everyone loves our game all across the world and we don’t want to get to a point where there’s another lockout.”

While we wait to see if LeBron can help bring the sides to the table, here’s the latest on his rivals from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks continue to have internal discussions about ways to trade J.R. Smith, just as they have since July, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. A report early this month indicated that New York and the Pacers had engaged in talks about a Smith trade, and while a follow-up cast doubt on that notion, the most recent dispatch indicates that the Pacers do have interest in the volatile shooting guard.
  • An anonymous executive suggests to fellow ESPNNewYork.com scribe Ian O’Connor that Smith continues to be a viable trade asset in the proper circumstances. “J.R. has had a lot of issues but he can be a big-time scorer when he’s doing the right things,” the executive said. “There’s always a team out there willing to take a chance on somebody if they feel he can put them over the top, and there’s no doubt J.R. can play. People are going to be concerned about chemistry issues in the locker room, so it would have to be a strong leadership and coaching staff that take him in.”
  • Randy Wittman was the driving force behind the Wizards‘ decision to sign Rasual Butler, as the coach prevailed upon the team to invite the 35-year-old to camp, according to J. Michael of CSNWashington.com, who writes in his mailbag column. The move has paid off, as Butler made the opening-night roster and is averaging 8.8 points in 17.6 minutes per game.
  • The Cavs have assigned rookie Alex Kirk to the D-League, the team announced. Kirk has only seen three minutes of regular season action thus far for Cleveland.

Offseason In Review: Washington Wizards

November 12 at 1:00pm CST By Chuck Myron

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.

Signings

Extensions

  • None

Trades

  • Acquired $1.8MM cash from the Lakers in exchange for 2014 pick No. 46.
  • Acquired Melvin Ely in a three-way trade with the Rockets and Pelicans in exchange for Trevor Ariza. Ely was subsequently waived.
  • Acquired DeJuan Blair from the Mavericks in exchange for the rights to Emir Preldzic. Blair was signed-and-traded for three years, $6MM. Third year is non-guaranteed.
  • Acquired Kris Humphries from the Celtics in exchange for Washington’s 2015 second-round pick (top-49 protected). Humphries was signed-and-traded for three years, $13.32MM. The third year is non-guaranteed.

Waiver Claims

  • None

Draft Picks

  • None

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

The Wizards had their greatest postseason success in more than three decades last season, but it’s not as if there weren’t expectations that they would step forward. The franchise had just committed a five-year maximum-salary extension to John Wall in the summer of 2013 and traded a first-round pick to Phoenix on the eve of the season to acquire Marcin Gortat and keep its playoff hopes alive in the wake of a serious injury to Emeka Okafor. Coach Randy Wittman was under the gun, and rumors about his future with the team reportedly persisted until the Wizards dispatched the Bulls in the first round. Wittman wound up receiving a three-year extension worth roughly $3MM a year soon after the Pacers eliminated the Wizards in round two, but that was just a single step in an offseason journey that scarcely allowed time for GM Ernie Grunfeld to revel in the team’s newfound success.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Miami HeatThere was pressure on the Wizards from the time Gortat arrived to ensure that they hadn’t surrendered the pick that turned out to be this year’s 18th overall selection for a mere rental. The Polish Hammer’s value only escalated as he proved he could handle the starting center job on a team capable of making noise in the playoffs. The Wizards tried to entice Gortat into signing an extension last season, but rare is the veteran who would do so, and he hit free agency as expected this past summer, drawing interest from the Cavs and Heat. Still, neither could offer the fifth year that the Wizards included in their proposal, and Gortat quickly chose to stay in Washington for $12MM annual salaries. The commitment is not especially dire for an accomplished starting center in his prime, especially given the expected jump in the salary cap in years to come. It made it harder for the team to find the money necessary to re-sign Trevor Ariza, but it wasn’t necessarily the reason why the swingman chose not to return.

Ariza said he took Houston’s offer of the same $32MM over four years that the Wizards had on the table in part because of the lack of a state income tax in Texas. The Wizards probably could have mitigated that difference, at least to some degree, and they certainly could have stuck a fifth year on their offer as they did with Gortat. Still, Ariza felt that the Rockets simply pursued him harder, even though the Wizards seemingly put him at or near equal footing with Gortat as the team established its priorities. Grunfeld nonetheless made the best of his loss, participating in a sign-and-trade that netted Washington a lucrative $8,579,089 trade exception. He also used the full mid-level exception that re-signing Ariza would have made difficult, if not impossible, to access to make the sort of signing the Wizards hadn’t made in ages.

Paul Pierce had his sights set on returning to the Nets, and once Brooklyn failed to bend to his demands, the Clippers were next in line. In an ironic twist, current Clippers and then-Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell helped turn Pierce on to what had been an uncommon destination for late-career veteran stars. Washington’s playoff run had positioned the franchise to convince the 10-time All-Star to join a team that’s spent much of Pierce’s career looking up at his team in the standings. The now 37-year-old clearly isn’t the player he used to be, as he’s coming off a career-low 13.5 points per game, but his arrival signals a potential turning point for the Wizards, one that nonetheless heaps additional pressure on the team to keep the momentum going.

Grunfeld wasted no time reaping another benefit from the Ariza sign-and-trade, using part of the trade exception to engineer yet another sign-and-trade that saw Washington come away with a player this time around. Kris Humphries is a 10-year veteran whose production has tailed off in recent years, but he’s still just 29 years old and seemingly capable of finding the form that allowed him to average a double-double in back-to-back seasons with the Nets in 2010/11 and ’11/’12. His arrival lends further credence to the win-now attitude that surrounds the Wizards, particularly given Washington’s decision to pass on a qualifying offer for Trevor Booker at the conclusion of his rookie contract this summer. Humphries seems capable of filling the role that Booker, now with the Jazz, played last year off the bench and as a part-time starter for the oft-injured Nene.

DeJuan Blair figures to mount a challenge for those minutes, too. The undersized big man came to Washington via yet another sign-and-trade, one that Grunfeld made possible with the trade exception that rose from the vestiges of last summer’s ill-fated Eric Maynor signing. Blair’s acquisition seemed a clear signal that Grunfeld considers depth along the front line a priority. The re-signing of late-season find Drew Gooden is further indication of that. The Wizards will certainly have plenty in reserve should Nene go down with injury again, but they’ve also positioned themselves firmly in the dwindling camp of teams that believe in the benefits of having two big men on the floor.

The Wizards also secured the services of center Kevin Seraphin for another year when they extended him a qualifying offer, which Seraphin simply decided to ink. It was somewhat surprising to see the Wizards make a qualifying offer to Seraphin and not to Booker. Even though the Wizards had triggered a bump in the value of Booker’s would-be qualifying offer, it still would have been less than $1MM greater than Seraphin’s. Every dollar certainly counted for the team as it sought to bring back Gortat and Ariza, and Seraphin, at 6’9″, can play the center position a lot more capably than the 6’7″ Booker can. Still, it’s an odd choice, particularly given that Booker saw nearly twice as many minutes per game as Seraphin did last year.

The timing of the decision came as the team opted to guarantee Andre Miller‘s $4.625MM salary for this season rather than waive him and owe only a $2MM partial guarantee, so perhaps Washington viewed Miller and a qualifying offer for Booker as an either-or proposition. Regardless, Miller, another shrewd midseason veteran acquisition, gave the Wizards stability in the backcourt, as did the re-signing of Garrett Temple. Upgrading the backup point guard position was seemingly on the team’s to-do list before it acquired Miller, but Temple clearly proved his value to Grunfeld and company, earning a deal that gives him two guaranteed seasons, including a player option on year two. The 6’6″ Temple has shown his versatility as he’s capably plugged the hole that Bradley Beal‘s early season injury had created at shooting guard, leaving precious few minutes for Rasual Butler, whom the team kept to start the season on his non-guaranteed training camp deal.

Still, even the 35-year-old Butler is symbolic of the commitment to the present in Washington. Six of the team’s 15 players have already celebrated their 30th birthdays, and Humphries will join that club in February. Neither Wall nor Beal has yet reached age 25, but there’s no mistaking that the Wizards are a veteran team built to win now. They’re still a step or two away from title contention, but even amid all the pressure surrounding the club, that’s not necessarily the only goal in mind. If the team can sneak into the Eastern Conference Finals this year, thus continuing its trend of unfamiliar postseason success, the Wizards will have furthered their status as a free agent destination, with Washington native Kevin Durant‘s free agency looming in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Southeast Notes: Oladipo, Fournier, James, Wall

November 9 at 12:35pm CST By Arthur Hill

Magic guard Victor Oladipo has donned a mask and is participating in light drills, reports Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel. The second-year guard suffered a facial fracture under his right eye during an October 23rd scrimmage and underwent surgery October 25th. He has been cleared to fly and is joining the team on its current road trip, but there is no schedule for his return to the court. “The biggest thing is just getting used to it, having something on your face,” Oladipo said of his mask, adding that it felt “a little bit” weird to wear it.

Also in the Eastern Conference:

  • After a change of scenery, Evan Fournier is thriving in his new role for the Magic, Schmitz writes. Fournier, who was traded to Orlando along with the 56th pick of the 2014 draft for Arron Afflalo last June, isn’t trying to replace Affalo’s production. “I don’t take it that way,” Fournier said. “I’m here to play my game. That’s the only thing that matters. I’m not here to do something like Arron.”
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel says LeBron James is asking for patience with the Cavaliers, but rarely showed it during his final season with the Heat. “By the end of his Miami Heat tenure,” Winderman writes, “all indications were LeBron James‘ patience had run out with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley/Micky Arison. He essentially left without a clarifying word to any.” Winderman charges that James’ desire to win more NBA titles to add to his legacy led the Cavaliers to trade away overall No.1 picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, while adding veterans Mike Miller and James Jones.
  • John Wall lamented the Wizards‘ lack of a “killer instinct” after nearly letting a 22-point lead get away Saturday against the Pacers, reports Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The fifth-year guard, who is in the second year of a five-year, $84.79MM max extension, says the Wizards haven’t learned haven’t learned how to put teams away when they have the opportunity. “We made it a tougher game than we wanted it to be,” Wall said. “We didn’t do a great job of closing the game out, but as long as we got the win and finished four-in-five-nights 3-1, you can’t ask for a better record.”

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Wiggins, Ariza, Mavs

November 7 at 10:15pm CST By Eddie Scarito

No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins is only averaging 9.8 PPG after his first four NBA games, but the Wolves rookie is already drawing comparisons to another NBA star, Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops writes. “He reminded me of Paul George,” an Eastern Conference GM told Scotto. “Paul came in a better off-ball defender than Andrew. He’s [Wiggins] probably a good on-ball defender. Paul had a very difficult time handling the ball when he came in and worked on it and their shooting is similar. I’d say Andrew is a hair better athlete and Paul is a little bigger maybe.” The biggest difference between the two players as rookies is Wiggins is under much more scrutiny and pressure than George was as a rookie thanks to his top slot on the draft board, adds Scotto.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Despite quite a few predictions of a Cavs-Bulls Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors and the Wizards might prove those prognostications premature, Eric Koreen of The National Post writes. Toronto and Washington are taking different approaches regarding the mixture of veterans and younger players on their respective rosters, notes Koreen. The Raptors are building around a younger core, and the Wizards, despite younger stars like Bradley Beal and John Wall, have added a number of long-in-the-tooth veterans this past offseason. Wizards coach Randy Wittman said, “Obviously, talent prevails. You’ve got to have that first. It was important for us to have a mixture of veterans with our young guys,” Koreen adds.
  • The Mavs have been affiliated with the Texas Legends of the D-League for five seasons and view the partnership as a way to experiment with new ideas, Bryan Gutierrez of ESPNDallas.com writes. “There have always been a lot of advantages to having the team in Frisco, but we’re using it more experimentally now,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. “There are certain things we’ll hopefully unveil that will be different. We’ve been practicing some things, and hopefully they will work. We want to try some things that will hopefully change things up.”
  • Trevor Ariza is making it easy for Rockets fans to forget that Chandler Parsons is now in Dallas, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) writes. Thus far, Ariza is averaging 15.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.2 APG, while shooting a ridiculous 55% from behind the arc for the 6-0 Rockets.

And-Ones: Thunder, Durant, Butler

November 4 at 10:56pm CST By Alex Lee

Let’s take a look at some news and notes from around the Association late on this Tuesday night:

  • The injury-plagued Thunder might just become a “cautionary tale of prudence” this season, writes Scott Stinson of the National Post. Stinson argues that, in today’s NBA, a caveat of opting for competitive longevity over the aggressive pursuit of a title is that something out of a team’s control — injuries, in this case — might lay the best-laid plans to waste.
  • There’s been no shortage of Kevin Durant news today, as the Thunder superstar is making the media rounds to promote the premiere of his HBO special. On ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike (via the Oklahoman), Durant was asked if the decision of LeBron James to return to Cleveland might impact the possibility that he could sign with the Wizards. To which, Durant said: “I really haven’t thought about that, to be honest. I hear it a lot. But I think I can make an impact on the community I grew up from anywhere. So I think I’m doing a good job of that in Oklahoma. My friends, my family, the kids in my neighborhood, are seeing that. I’m inspiring them from Oklahoma City. I really haven’t thought about it. I love where I am. I know that sounds cliche and the answer everybody gives, but that’s really true from my side of it. I’m sure everybody’s watching from afar.”
  • Between the dearth of shooting guards in the NBA and Klay Thompson‘s near $70MM deal, Jimmy Butler‘s decision to turn down the Bulls‘ extension offer might prove to be a smart one if the swingman can stay healthy, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times.