Washington Wizards

Eastern Notes: Dudley, Joseph, Dellavedova

Jared Dudley has been with a new team each of the last three seasons and the combo forward believes that he needs continuity to be the best player he can be, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders relays. “I’m a rhythm player,” Dudley told Brigham. “My game revolves around system, team, unselfishness. Obviously I’ve had to be healthy, though, and continue to adjust to playing a new position at power forward this year and last year. I had a great situation in Milwaukee, but I had to go between being a starter and a bench player back and forth.” Dudley, an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, noted that he is happy being a member of the Wizards, but did acknowledge the uncertainty that the future brings for veteran players, Brigham adds. “I’ve now come to the realization that you’ve got to rent instead of buying a home,” Dudley continued. “I don’t know where I’ll be 15 years from now. I don’t know what my job is going to be, but I’ve got time, and I’m happy where I am for now.

Dudley could be on the move once again as the Cavs are reportedly interested in his services. Here’s more from the East:

  • If the Heat look to make a deal in advance of the trade deadline, the expiring contract of Chris Andersen could be used to help the team pull off a deal, Bobby Marks of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports writes in his deadline primer for Miami. The Vertical scribe also notes that the franchise could save itself approximately $2.3MM in luxury tax penalties by dealing away rookie Jarnell Stokes, who has spent the bulk of the season in the D-League. Dana Gauruder of Hoops Rumors examined Andersen as a trade candidate before the season.
  • The Raptors‘ luxury tax situation will likely prevent the team from making any significant moves prior to next week’s trade deadline, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca opines. To obtain an impact player, Toronto would likely have to part with either Cory Joseph or Patrick Patterson, both of whom have been solid contributors this season, to make a deal work under the luxury tax threshold, Lewenberg writes. The TSN scribe argues that it wouldn’t improve the team enough to make it worthwhile to part with either player in a trade during the season.
  • Injured Cavaliers point guard Matthew Dellavedova is unlikely to return to action until after the All-Star break, Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal relays. The long layoff may be a boon to the point guard, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, Lloyd notes. “I would like that,” coach Tyronn Lue said regarding Dellavedova having extra time to heal. “I’m not sure Delly would like that. That’s the smartest thing to do, just come back, get seven or eight days off, and then come back fresh. He should be healthy by then. That’s the smartest thing to do.

Cavs Interested In Jared Dudley

The Cavaliers are interested in acquiring Jared Dudley and are one of the most active NBA teams on the trade market, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com said in an appearance on ESPN Cleveland radio with Tony Cartagena this morning (Twitter links; audio link). Dudley is making $4.375MM this season on the final year of his contract with the Wizards, who have lost five of their last six games to fall to 21-26.

It’s unclear whether Cleveland would target Dudley with part of its more than $10.5MM trade exception or look for an exchange of salaries instead. The Cavs have reportedly gauged the market for Timofey Mozgov, whose $4.95MM salary would be a close match with Dudley’s, but the Wizards already have two traditional big men in Marcin Gortat and Nene. In any case, Cleveland has reportedly sought a three-and-D wing player to back up Iman Shumpert, and Dudley is displaying a career-best 45.9% 3-point shooting stroke this season. He ranks 19th among all small forwards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus metric.

Dudley, 30, has assumed a leadership role for the Wizards in his first season with the team. He supported the trade that sent him from Milwaukee to Washington this past summer and expressed contentment last month with his situation in Washington. Still, he doesn’t have the power to veto a swap to Cleveland. Cavs GM David Griffin worked in the Suns front office when Phoenix traded for Dudley in 2008.

Would Dudley be the right fit for the Cavs? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Nets Interested In Tommy Sheppard For GM Job

The Nets have requested permission to interview Wizards senior VP of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard for their GM vacancy, a source said to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. He joins Bryan Colangelo, Arturas Karnisovas and Gersson Rosas as contenders for the position, Lewis notes, having reported earlier this week that Danny Ferry was no longer a viable candidate. John Calipari is a long shot candidate, but remains a possibility because of his strong support from CEO Brett Yormark, according to Lewis.

Brooklyn already reportedly received permission to speak with Karnisovas and Rosas. Washington denied a June 2014 request from the Grizzlies to interview Sheppard, as Chris Vernon of 92.9 FM ESPN in Memphis reported at the time, so it’s no lock that the Nets will have the chance to pursue him. Sheppard has been with the Wizards for 12 years and assumed his current position under GM Ernie Grunfeld shortly before the 2013/14 season.

The Nets reportedly want to hire a GM before the trade deadline, which is two weeks from today. Assistant GM Frank Zanin has been running the front office since the team removed Billy King from the GM job nearly a month ago.

Marcin Gortat Changing Agents

Marcin Gortat has parted ways with agent Guy Zucker, a source told J. Michael of CSNWashington.com (Twitter links). It’s unclear whom he’s targeting to hire as his new representative. Zucker has repped the 31-year-old center through his nine seasons in the NBA, helping him score a five-year, $60MM contract with the Wizards in 2014.

That deal doesn’t expire until the summer of 2019 and contains no option clauses, so Gortat isn’t due for another negotiation for quite some time. Neither is teammate John Wall, who left Dan Fegan for Rich Paul this year seemingly in large measure because his sneaker endorsement contract was up. Still, Gortat has been critical of his teammates this season, one in which the Wizards have gone 21-25, well short of expectations, and Washington’s future is uncertain as the possibility of landing Kevin Durant in free agency appears to fade with each loss.

Gortat had been Zucker’s most prominent client, a distinction that falls to Hawks swingman Thabo Sefolosha in the wake of the big man’s move. Bradley Beal, Washington’s star player aside from Wall, is with Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports & Entertainment.

Kevin Durant Fond Of Warriors; Clippers Loom

The Warriors would be “significant” front-runners for Kevin Durant should he leave the Thunder this summer, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports, who places emphasis on the word “significant.” Still, the former MVP isn’t leaning one way or another toward staying or leaving Oklahoma City, Wojnarowski adds. The Wizards, Rockets and Heat still loom as likely suitors, but the Clippers are determined to make a push for him and wouldn’t hesitate to trade Blake Griffin to facilitate the acquisition of Durant, as Wojnarowski details.

Durant wants to win titles and create a legacy, Wojnarowski writes, and the Warriors, the defending champions who sit at 44-4 this season, would give him a strong chance to do so. Draymond Green is on board with the move and is expected to recruit Durant this summer, though Stephen Curry, given his talent and personality, would be the most persuasive voice, Wojnarowski adds, nonetheless leaving it unclear whether Curry is expected to go as hard after Durant as Green is.

Golden State has long eyed Durant’s upcoming free agency, Wojnarowski notes, and so has much of the rest of the NBA, of course. The Warriors nonetheless have a reputation for aiming high, and Harrison Barnes, set for restricted free agency at season’s end, looms as a sign-and-trade chip, as Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group has pointed out.

The Warriors have close to $75MM committed for next season against a salary cap that’s projected to come in at $89MM, and with Durant’s maximum salary projected at $24.9MM, that creates a financial road block. However, Wojnarowski’s Vertical colleague Bobby Marks lays out a hypothetical scenario in which the Warriors trade Andre Iguodala, waive and stretch Andrew Bogut, waive and stretch Jason Thompson, renounce their rights to and elect against a qualifying offer for Barnes and renounce other cap holds to create enough cap room to sign Durant outright.

The Clippers, with close to $78MM in guaranteed salary for next season, would need to perform similar cap gymnastics to open the space necessary to sign Durant, making the sign-and-trade a more viable option. The Thunder wouldn’t go for a sign-and-trade unless they knew Durant was leaving, according to Wojnarowski, who nonetheless points out that Griffin, who starred for the University of Oklahoma, is an Oklahoma native. Teams are already calling the Clippers to inquire about trading for the injured Griffin, but coach/executive Doc Rivers appears set on keeping him and seeing how the team performs in the postseason, Wojnarowski writes.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Minutes, Playoffs

Bradley Beal will certainly attract attention this offseason when he is a restricted free agent, but his prior injuries have opposing teams worried, Chris Mannix of the Vertical on Yahoo Sports writes. “He’s one of the best pure shooters in the league,” a general manager told Mannix. “But I’m scared of him.”

Beal acknowledged earlier this month that he will probably have to deal with minute restrictions for the rest of his career, but his agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports and Entertainment, is optimistic about Beal’s future. “It’s been frustrating for Brad because he’s a great competitor and he wants to be there for his teammates, his coaches,” Bartelstein said. “The good news is that we have got this thing figured out.”

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Bartelstein went into more specifics with Mannix about Beal’s plan going forward, noting that he’s taken measures that range from additional padding in his sneakers to more vitamin D in his diet. Beal, who took it slow as he returned from injury in December, has also tried to reduce the impact of the relatively high elevation of his jump when he shoots 3-pointers, as Mannix details.
  • The Wizards came away from Thursday’s player only meeting confident that they can turn this season around, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post reports. The team is 21-24 on the season after Saturday’s win over the Rockets, sitting 2.5 games behind the Pistons for the eighth seed in the conference.

Eastern Notes: Mickey, Dudley, Hezonja

Celtics coach Brad Stevens is enamored with the potential of power forward Jordan Mickey, who was the No. 33 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com writes. “I think really highly of Jordan,” Stevens said. “I was disappointed that he came down with the ankle sprain because I think he’s got a lot of good things going for him and has been really consistent up [in Maine] every single night. I think the biggest thing about Jordan that you’ll all see more of down the road is he is a consistent personality. He works the same way and he doesn’t change his demeanor. He’s going to play the same way in Sioux Falls in a D-League as he will when he gets his opportunity in the NBA.”

The 21-year-old has only played a total of six minutes for the Celtics this season, but is averaging 17.1 points and 10.4 rebounds in 21 appearances for the Maine Red Claws in the NBA D-League. The rookie isn’t upset about his lack of NBA minutes and embraces the opportunity the D-League provides, Forsberg adds. “Coming in, I figured I wasn’t going to get a lot of playing time, and I was going to have to go into the D-League and work anyways,” said Mickey. “Hard work is nothing new to me. I’ll go work to get better, listen to what the coaches tell me [in Boston], and implement it [in Maine].

Here’s what else is happening in the Eastern Conference:

  • The Wizards are a team struggling to find their identity on a nightly basis, a trend that is wearing on swingman Jared Dudley, who believes Washington needs to take a more modern approach to its offense, Ben Standig of CSNMidAtlantic.com notes. “I keep hearing, what’s our identity, what’s our identity,” forward Jared Dudley said.”Basically our identity for us on this team is to space the floor, put pressure on the defense. We’re a 3-point shooting team that can go in to Nene. We have to be aggressive defensively. Those are our strengths.”
  • Magic coach Scott Skiles envisions rookie Mario Hezonja evolving into a force on both ends of the court, which is a major reason the swingman’s minutes have been limited thus far, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. Skiles wants Hezonja to build a solid base on the defensive end of the floor, and believes that holding the rookie accountable, even if it means him sitting on the bench as a result, is the best way to instill this mindset, Robbins adds. “We picked him with the goal of him being a two-way player,” Skiles said. “The reality is there aren’t that many of those in the NBA. Teams can be a good defensive team without having great defensive players if they have a good defensive system and the players marry themselves to it. But, then, you have the Klay Thompsons, the Jimmy Butlers, and there’s more than that — the guys that are legit two-way players. They can lock you up. Our goal for is for [Mario] to at some point be that type of player, and so we’re trying to help him build a foundation on the other end of the floor.

Brook Lopez’s Deal Only Conditionally Guaranteed

The three-year maximum-salary contract that Brook Lopez signed this past summer with the Nets contains only conditional guarantees for next season and 2017/18 based on the health of his right foot, as Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports reports in a story that suggests the contract terms as a model for Bradley Beal. Lopez’s salary of $21.166MM for next season is only 50% guaranteed, and the team could avoid paying 75% of his more than $22.642MM take for 2017/18, according to Mannix.

Full guarantees kick in if the Wasserman Media Group client hits certain benchmarks, Mannix adds, and it’s unclear if the 27-year-old center has already triggered any such protections after having played in all 46 of Brooklyn’s games so far. The key is for Lopez to avoid another significant injury to the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, Mannix writes. That’s a bone he’s broken multiple times in the past.

Lopez is making a fully guaranteed $19.689MM this year. The Nets, with Lopez’s full salary taken into account, have more than $45MM in commitments for next season against a projected $89MM salary cap, and about $41MM for 2017/18, when the cap is projected to shoot up to $108MM. Free agency is especially important for the Nets, who are without their first-round picks in 2016 and 2018 and must swap first-rounders with the Celtics in 2017, so additional flexibility wouldn’t hurt, though it appears that would only come at the cost of a major injury to Lopez, the team’s leading scorer this season.

The Wizards have planned to sign Bradley Beal to a maximum-salary contract this summer, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported this past fall, though that was before Beal said that he’ll probably have to deal with a minutes limit for the rest of his career. An NBA GM told Mannix that he’s “scared” of Beal because of his injury history.

Southeast Notes: Porzingis, Wade, Wizards, Magic

The Magic were determined to land Kristaps Porzingis in the 2014 draft and GM Rob Hennigan promised to take him with the No. 10 pick if he stayed in the draft that year, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Instead, he withdrew, and as he prepared for the 2015 draft, the Magic realized he wouldn’t slip past fourth, even though the Knicks had talks about swapping the No. 4 pick for a wing player and another first-rounder up until the day of the draft, Wojnarowski adds.

“Rob had a thorough, comprehensive plan,” Miller said to Wojnarowski. “He had invested as much, or more time, into Kristaps as anyone in the league. He really studied him. They had a plan for supplemental training, development. It wasn’t just, ‘Let’s just draft him and see what happens.’ This was a plan. Kristaps knew the plan and just wasn’t ready.”

Porzingis would have had the Magic’s blessing to remain overseas for a year had they drafted him in 2014, but as the 2015 draft approached, Porzingis’ camp wanted him to end up with the Knicks, as the Yahoo scribe details. Agent Andy Miller withheld him from working out or taking a physical for the Sixers, who had pick No. 3, Wojnarowski notes. The Magic wound up drafting Mario Hezonja with the fifth pick. See more from the Southeast Division.

  • Pat Riley said LeBron James never asked him to fire Erik Spoelstra, as previously rumored, as Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald relays, rounding up comments the Heat team president made Thursday. Riley also said he’s proud of Dwyane Wade for “how he has come back and changed the narrative about himself and worked on his body,” Skolnick notes. Wade hits free agency again this summer.
  • A third straight loss that dropped the Wizards to 20-24 prompted a players-only meeting Thursday, as J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic details. Jared Dudley, referring to himself as the spokesperson for the team, implicated the coaching staff in his comments following the meeting, as well as a return to a lineup featuring both Marcin Gortat and soon-to-be free agent Nene, who’s been marginalized most of this season. “The flow has been terrible for us these last couple games. That’s something that players and coaches have to do a better job,” Dudley said. “At times it’s good to play Nene and Gortat together. … What team are we trying to be here? We can’t keep coming into this locker room talking about inconsistency because April 15 [when the regular season ends] we’ll all be back at the crib.”
  • Hennigan last week cited the youthfulness of the Magic roster for the team’s struggles of late, but the team’s players said before the season that wouldn’t be an excuse, observes Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. The Magic, tied with the Wizards at 20-24, have evoked memories of last season’s 25-57 disappointment as they’ve lost 11 of their last 12 games, and it indicates little progress under new coach Scott Skiles, who faces a challenge to turn the season around, Schmitz writes.

2016 NBA All-Star Game Reserves Announced

The NBA has officially announced the reserves for the 2016 All-Star game, which will be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Sunday, February 14th. The names of the reserves were first reported by Carron J. Phillips of The News Journal and confirmed by Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution (All four Twitter links). The starters for both conferences were announced last week, with Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard voted to tip off the exhibition in the West and LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Kyle Lowry slated to represent the East.

While the starters are selected by the fans, reserves are chosen by the coaches in each conference, though they are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. Listed below are the reserves for the 2016 NBA All-Star game for each conference:

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

Who was the biggest surprise among the All-Star reserves announced tonight? Share your thoughts with a comment.

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