Five Key Stories: 6/16/18 – 6/23/18

Missed any of this week’s biggest NBA headlines? We’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Listed below are the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days.

The 2018 NBA draft took place on Thursday, and the full results are right here. The Suns kicked off the proceedings by taking Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 pick, as expected, and the Mavericks made the biggest trade of the night by moving up to No. 3 to nab Luka Doncic. A recap of all the draft-night deals, including Phoenix’s acquisition of Mikal Bridges and the Clipperstrade for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, can be found here.

The Nets and Hornets agreed to a trade involving Timofey Mozgov and Dwight Howard. Although the deal can’t be finalized until July 6, Mozgov will head to Charlotte along with second-round picks and cash in exchange for Howard. The former No. 1 overall pick isn’t expect to stick around with the Nets though, as the two sides are said to be working on a buyout.

Kawhi Leonard met with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich in San Diego. There’s no indication that Leonard has changed his mind on his desire to be traded, but Spurs GM R.C. Buford said this week that the team still hopes to repair its relationship with the star forward.

Carmelo Anthony has informed the Thunder that he won’t opt out of his contract. His decision comes as no surprise, since it locks Anthony into a salary worth nearly $28MM for 2018/19. However, it remains to be seen whether he’ll ultimately suit up again for the cap-strapped Thunder, who could explore a trade or buyout.

The Hawks have reportedly placed Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore on the trade block. Atlanta, considered one of the NBA’s most active teams in terms of trade talks leading up to the draft, didn’t find a taker for Schroder or Bazemore, the two highest-paid players on the roster. However, the club figures to continue to explore potential deals.

Here are 10 more notable NBA headlines from the last week, including plenty of player-option news:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hornets To Sign J.P. Macura To Two-Way Deal

Former Xavier wing J.P. Macura will sign a two-way contract with the Hornets for the 2018/19 season, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Macura, whose deal can’t be finalized until the new NBA league year begins, went undrafted on Thursday night.

As a senior with the Musketeers in 2017/18, Macura averaged 12.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 2.9 APG with a shooting line of .479/.377/.821. Givony, who had Macura ranked 84th on his big board, describes the youngster as a “tough, high-IQ shot maker with a ton of game.”

The Hornets were one of several teams to work out Macura during the pre-draft process, along with the Suns, Grizzlies, and Spurs.

After carrying Marcus Paige and Mangok Mathiang on two-way deals in 2017/18, Charlotte appears poised to give Macura one of those two slots. According to Basketball Insiders’ data, Mathiang’s agreement spans two years, so Macura seems more likely to take Paige’s spot. Teams can only carry two players on two-way contracts at a time during the regular season, along with 15 players on standard NBA deals.

New York Notes: Near-Trades, Nets, Knox, Porzingis

The Nets selected Dzanan Musa with the No. 29 overall pick in Thursday’s draft and while GM Sean Marks said he was excited about the prospect, he admitted that the team was “very close” to trading up.

“You’re trying to figure out is the cost to trade up worth it,” Marks said in an interview with the FAN’s Mike Francesa (h/t Net Income and Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily). “And like most teams, you want to do it on the clock because you’re thinking: ‘Is my guy there? Is my target there? And what’s it going to cost to get there?”

”So at that point, we didn’t feel like it was worth it. We weren’t ready to give away the asking price. And at the same time, these two guys — [Rodions Kurucs] and Dzanan — we’d been targeting, so we’re definitely glad to have them in our family.”

Marks didn’t disclose which players or picks it would have taken to move up in the draft order, though he added that the organization likes its “solid vets on the team.”

Here’s more from the five boroughs:

  • Marks suggests the Nets will be active in free agency, as the pair of scribes relay in the same piece. “There are some things out there, whether it’s pending,” the GM said. “We’ll just have to wait and see in July, whether it’s how we use our cap space and how we move forward with that. We have flexibility in the future, which is important.”
  • The Knicks feel No. 9 overall pick Kevin Knox and Kristaps Porzingis will make a good tandem at the forward positions, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. Knox, who spoke to Porzingis via FaceTime after the draft, believes the duo can make an impact in the league. “He stretches the floor, shoots the ball, goes down low. I think me, him and some of the other guys will complement each other very well,” the rookie said.
  • The selection of Knox could give Porzingis another reason to sign a long-term deal once his deal expires next summer, Berman writes in the same piece. Porzingis is currently eligible for a contract extension, though the Knicks may prefer to wait to reach an agreement with the former No. 4 overall pick until next summer in order to preserve cap space.

Carmelo Anthony Tells Thunder He Won’t Opt Out

Carmelo Anthony has told the Thunder that he won’t exercise his Early Termination Option, sources tell Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). He will be under contract for approximately $27.9MM this upcoming season.

The move was widely expected, as the market for Anthony’s services didn’t appear to match the lofty figure he’ll receive during the final season of the five-year deal he signed with the Knicks during the summer of 2014. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported on Friday that Melo would take this route.

Anthony averaged a career-low 16.2 PPG this past season, adding career lows in assists per game (1.3) and minutes per game (32.1). He was an afterthought during the team’s short playoff run, often hitting the bench during crucial moments.

Anthony had previously indicated that he wanted a larger role and a buyout agreement between Anthony and Oklahoma City could be forthcoming. After this week’s draft, GM Sam Presti said he was in contact with the future Hall-of-Famer.

The trade market may a difficult one for the Thunder to navigate, but with many teams lacking cap space and holding contracts from the summer of 2016 on their books, it’s possible a deal gets done. That’s based solely off of speculation, yet with the contracts of Timofey Mozgov (two years, slightly over $32MM remaining) and Dwight Howard (one year, $23.5MM remaining; likely to reach a buyout agreement with the Nets) on the move this week, it appears that no contract is untradable under the right circumstances.

Suns Rumors: Bridges, Free Agency, Coaches, Williams

The addition of Mikal Bridges gives the Suns a logjam at the forward spots and they still need to address their point guard situation, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes.

After the draft-night trade with the Sixers to acquire Bridges’ rights, the Suns now have five recent first-rounders – Josh JacksonT.J. WarrenDragan Bender and Marquese Chriss being the others – angling for playing time in the frontcourt. GM Ryan McDonough said he might add a stretch four in free agency, Bordow continues, so they could use that depth in a trade, with Chriss and Warren the most likely to be dealt.

Despite selecting Frenchman Elie Okobo with the first pick of the second round, the Suns still need another veteran at that spot, and McDonough confirmed they could pursue a floor leader in free agency, Bordow adds.

We have more on the Suns:

  • The Suns consider Bridges a “special player” and that’s why they were willing to deal the No. 16 pick and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder for him, Bob Baum of the Associated Press reports. ‘‘We weighed the pros and cons of trading it heavily and carefully,” McDonough said. ”We were only going to put it in play if we had a chance to get a special player and that’s how we feel about Mikal.”
  • With $15-$20MM available to pursue free agents, the Suns will be proactive in free agency, Baum adds in the same piece. ‘We’re going to continue to be aggressive for the next couple of weeks in free agency,” McDonough said. “We’ve got some money to spend and we’re looking to spend it on the best players we can get.”
  • Joe Prunty, Corliss Williamson, Jamelle McMillan, Jason Staudt and Cody Toppert have officially signed up as assistants for new head coach Igor Kokoskov, Bordow tweets.
  • It’s hard to imagine the Suns will retain center Alan Williams on his current deal, Bordow adds in another tweet. Williams, whose $5.52MM salary is not guaranteed, would get a full guarantee if he’s still on the roster through July 6. He’d be a third-string center behind Deandre Ayton and Tyson Chandler if he sticks.

Kornet, Hicks Receive Qualifying Offers From Knicks

The Knicks have extended qualifying offers to both Luke Kornet and Isaiah Hicks, according to RealGM’s Transactions log. Those moves make them restricted free agents next month.

That duo signed one-year, two-way contracts last season. According to the latest CBA, the qualifying offer is a two-way contract, with $50K guaranteed.

At least one of them would have to eventually sign a regular contract for next season, since the club has reached an agreement with Arizona guard Allonzo Trier for one of their two-way deals.

Kornet, a 7’1” power forward/center out of Vanderbilt, appeared in 20 games with the Knicks last season. He averaged 6.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 1.3 APG in 16.4 MPG. Hicks, a 6’9” forward from North Carolina, saw action in 18 NBA games and posted averages of 4.4 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 13.3 MPG.

Wilson Chandler Opts In With Nuggets

JUNE 23rd, 9:07 am: Chandler has officially opted in, according to RealGM’s Transactions log.

JUNE 22nd, 5:11 pm: Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler will opt in for the final year of his contract, Chris Haynes of ESPN tweets. Chandler will make $12.8MM rather than test the free agent market.

Chandler had until Sunday to make a decision on his option. With Gary Harris extension kicking in next season, the Nuggets now have a handful of players making between $12.8MM-$29.7MM.

Chandler started 71 of the 74 games in which he played last season but his role diminished. He averaged just 8.5 shots per game, his lowest total since his rookie year with the Knicks in 2007/08. His 10 PPG were his lowest since 2011/12, when he played just eight games.

That was a stark contrast to the previous season, when Chandler averaged 15.7 PPG – second-most in his career – and a career-high 6.5 RPG.

The 6’9” Chandler could see an even bigger dip in playing time if the team’s draft pick, Michael Porter Jr., is healthy enough to play regularly. Porter slipped to the No. 14 overall spot because of long-term health concerns after he underwent back surgery in his lone college campaign at Missouri.

Clippers’ Austin Rivers Exercises 2018/19 Option

JUNE 23, 9:03am: Rivers has officially opted in, according to RealGM’s Transactions log.

JUNE 21, 2:37pm: Clippers guard Austin Rivers plans to opt in for next season on a $12.65MM contract, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

Rivers’ move is one of three major player option decisions for the Clippers, who are also waiting to hear from DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025) and Milos Teodosic ($6.3MM).

Rivers, 25, put up career-best numbers in his third full season in L.A., averaging 15.1 points and 4.0 assists in 61 games. He became a full-time starter this season, but missed six weeks with an injured right ankle.

Jared Terrell Agrees To Two-Way Deal With T-Wolves

Rhode Island guard Jared Terrell has agreed to a two-way deal with the Timberwolves, the school’s men’s basketball team tweets.

Despite getting passed over on Thursday night, Terrell had attracted Minnesota’s attention during the pre-draft process. Terrell worked out twice for the club.

Terrell was a four-year starter for the Rams and his senior season was his best. The 6’3” Terrell averaged 16.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.4 APG and 1.5 SPG. His shooting also improved, as he drained 41.4% of his 3-point tries.

Terrell led Rhode Island to the NCAA Tournament, where it defeated Oklahoma and Trae Young in overtime during the first round of the Midwest Region before succumbing to Duke.

Pistons Notes: Thomas, Scouting, Gores, Brown

The Pistons were looking to add depth at the wing spots and got two players who will compete for minutes next season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. Detroit didn’t have a first-round pick but traded away two future second-rounders to the Sixers to nab Creighton’s Khyri Thomas at No. 38, then chose Bruce Brown of Miami (Fla.) four picks later with their own selection.

“You never know how the draft’s going to go,” senior advisor Ed Stefanski said. “It didn’t look like we were going to be able to move like we did. People were asking for some big asks, but as the night went on it got much better and we were able to make the move. … We need some young guys, especially, to play that position.”

Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard are projected to eat up most of the minutes at those spots but Thomas and Brown could get into the mix if an injury strikes.

In other news regarding the Pistons:

  • Stefanski notified the team’s scouting department that their contracts would not be renewed at the end of the month, Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated tweets. The team’s front office is undergoing a complete makeover after head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy and GM Jeff Bower were dismissed. The team is still seeking one or more young executives to take front office roles. Spurs executive Malik Rose has been offered a front office job. New head coach Dwane Casey is in the process of building his staff. The team reached an agreement with Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney to join its staff.
  • Top players Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson were asked for their input when owner Tom Gores was conducting the coaching search, Langlois writes in a separate piece“I did consult with them, (though) they weren’t making the decision,” Gores said. “I texted Reggie, Andre, Blake. ‘What kind of coach do you want? Let’s check the boxes.’ I did engage with them. I know them pretty well. Meeting Dwane, he really did check all those boxes.”
  • Bruce Brown underwent season-ending foot surgery in his final season with the Hurricanes but he has no restrictions this offseason, as he told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press and other media members. “I’m good to go,” Brown said. “I’m fully cleared. All my medicals look fine at the combine so I’m ready to go 100 percent.”