Bucks Expressing Interest In Jodie Meeks

The Bucks are the latest team to show interest in Jodie Meeks, tweets Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops. We told you earlier this month that the Clippers and Hornets have both reached out to the 32-year-old shooting guard, and it appears the market is expanding.

Meeks has a history in Milwaukee, starting his career there after being taken with the 41st pick in the 2009 draft. He was traded back to the Bucks last October while serving a 25-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. Milwaukee waived him in November when that suspension expired. He signed with the Raptors late in the season, getting into eight games during the regular season and 14 in the playoffs.

Milwaukee already has the league limit of 20 players under contract for training camp, including 14 with guaranteed contracts, so someone would have to be moved to make room for Meeks.

Makur Maker Considers Alternatives To College

Makur Maker, one of the top high school prospects in the nation, may be the next player to bypass college on his road to the NBA, writes Evan Daniels of 247sports. The 6’11” center, who attends Pacific Academy in Irvine, California, has already received interest from the G League, the NBL and other professional leagues, according to his guardian, Ed Smith.

“It’s definitely appealing playing against grown men, although you’re playing against grown men in college too,” Maker said. “Competition is going to be there no matter what.” The thing about college is you play on national TV every night so you’re getting that exposure from the country and basically the world. That’s very appealing to me.”

Maker is considered a top five college prospect. He is the cousin of Pistons center/power forward Thon Maker, who was drafted without ever playing college basketball.

More players are seeking alternatives to the NCAA as they plot out their futures. Top 2020 prospects R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball both opted for the NBL. K.J. Martin Jr. is training privately instead of going to college, while potential 2021 draftee MarJon Beauchamp plans to train with Chameleon BX, a private company based in San Francisco.

Maker has plenty of suitors if he opts for college basketball. He named Kentucky, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington State as heavy recruiters, and he may visit Howard this fall.

“The thing about college is it keeps you relevant, and from my perspective it helped Zion (Williamson) a lot,” Smith said. “He did get better, but it also helped his career standpoint. You have to keep an eye on that.”

Five Key Stories: 8/17/19 – 8/24/19

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

Dwight Howard completed an unlikely return to the Lakers this week, reaching an agreement to sign with L.A. once he clears waivers. He consented to a buyout deal with the Grizzlies and was waived this morning. Howard had a messy parting with the franchise when he left as a free agent in 2013, but an ACL injury to DeMarcus Cousins last week created an opening for him to return.

The final roster decision for the U.S. World Cup team was simplified when a sore left ankle took Kyle Kuzma out of the running. Team USA suffered its first international loss in 13 years earlier today when Australia pulled off a 98-94 victory in an exhibition game.

The NBA and the Kings concluded their investigation into a sexual assault lawsuit filed against Sacramento coach Luke Walton. The league ruled that there isn’t enough evidence to take disciplinary action against Walton. His accuser, Kelli Tennant, refused to participate in the investigation.

The Hawks promoted Travis Schlenk to president of basketball operations and gave him a multi-year contract extension. Schlenk has put together one of the league’s most impressive collections of young talent since joining the organization in 2017.

Tyronn Lue reached an agreement to become part of Doc Rivers’ staff with the Clippers. Lue, who was considered the favorite to become the Lakers‘ next head coach earlier this summer, compiled a 128-83 record in Cleveland.

Here are 10 more noteworthy headlines from the past week:

  • In amendments to a lawsuit filed against his former representative, Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson alleges that Gina Ford and Prime Sports Marketing started recruiting him in January, three months before he declared for the NBA draft.
  • Williamson and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant are the favorites to be named Rookie of the Year in a survey of their peers. However, it’s been more than a decade since that survey picked the correct winner.
  • Some WNBA players are discussing a work stoppage that could wipe out all of next season. The league’s base salary is about $75K and the average player makes $116K, but attendance is down and a $12MM loss was reported last year.
  • There’s speculation that the Thunder will be patient in their effort to trade Chris Paul. Oklahoma City found few takers in its attempt to move Paul after acquiring him from Houston, and the front office hopes to build some leverage before trying again.
  • A source says Bradley Beal would give “serious consideration” to joining the Heat if he can’t work out a long-term deal with the Wizards. Beal is eligible for an extension this summer, but he plans to wait until Washington can make a larger offer before deciding on his future.
  • Rockets forward P.J. Tucker said he’s optimistic about an extension with the team. Tucker will make $8.3MM this season, but only has a $2.57MM guarantee on his $7.97MM salary for 2020/21.
  • Free agent power forward Trevor Booker is getting interest from three of the NBA’s top teams. Booker worked out for the Nuggets this week and has upcoming sessions with the Bucks and Clippers.
  • Veteran guard Isaiah Canaan has reached a deal to play in China this season. The 28-year-old will join Shandong in the Chinese Basketball Association.
  • Jerryd Bayless, who split last season between the Sixers and Timberwolves, is also headed to China. The 31-year-old guard signed with the Sichuan Blue Whales.
  • Long-time Maverick J.J. Barea officially signed up for another year with the franchise. He is still recovering from an Achilles tear and hopes to be ready for training camp.

Photo courtesy of USA Sports Images.

French Team To Sign Briante Weber

Briante Weber, who has spent time with five NBA teams, will play in France this year, according to Dario Skerletic of Sportando. The 26-year-old point guard has reached an agreement with Metropolitans 92, which is based in Boulogne-Levallois.

Weber attended a pair of free agent mini-camps in June with the Raptors and Timberwolves. He began last season with Sioux Falls in the G League after being waived by the Heat in training camp, then signed with the Greek club Olympiacos in February.

Weber’s last NBA experience was a combined 18 games for the Rockets and Grizzlies during the 2017/18 season. He also had brief stops with the Heat, Warriors and Hornets.

Team USA Notes: White, Mitchell, Kuzma

USA Basketball lost their first game in 13 years, as Australia took them down in exhibition game by a score of 98-94.

“Some of it is expected with a new group that’s trying to learn about each other and learn a system,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said (via ESPN). “So it’s not surprising. But the Aussies gave us a great lesson as far as where we want to be and how you have to play in this kind of a competition.”

The squad has one more exhibition contest (Monday vs. Canada) before the start of the FIBA World Cup. Here’s more from Team USA:

  • Derrick White tripped and fell face forward during the game in Australia. Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link)  hears that the point guard has passed his first concussion test and suffered no damage to his teeth during the fall. White did need four stitches over his left eye.
  • Tony Jones of The Athletic wonders if Donovan Mitchell can carry Team USA. Mitchell has learned so much since coming into the league and Jones examines the play of the former Rookie of the Year runner up.
  • Kyle Kuzma recently dropped out of international competition with an ankle injury. He was impressive during his time with the club, as Mike Trudell of NBA.com details.

Northwest Notes: Collins, Porter Jr., Thunder

Zach Collins is expected to be 100 percent healthy by the time training camp rolls around, Jason Quick of The Athletic relays. The big man suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain while competing in Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas.

Collins is expected to play a significant role for the Blazers this upcoming season. The team lost Enes Kanter in free agency and jettisoned  Meyers Leonard to Miami. Portland did acquire Hassan Whiteside, though the team’s big man depth will be tested until Jusuf Nurkic is able to recover from the broken leg he suffered at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • How much will Michael Porter Jr. play for the Nuggets this upcoming season? Eric Spyropoulos of NBA.com would be surprised if it was more than 15-17 minutes per game as a result of the depth on Denver’s roster.
  • In the same piece, Spyropoulos argues that no team will start the season as strongly from a chemistry standpoint as the Nuggets will. The team brings back a core that has spent several seasons together with the only major addition being Jerami Grant.
  • We may be in the midst of a player empowerment era in the NBA, though Tom Ziller of SB Nations contends that Paul George‘s move to Los Angeles is not on par with Anthony Davis‘ and LeBron James‘ power moves. Ziller ezplains how the Thunder, like the Pacers two years prior, received good value in a trade for George.

Hoops Rumors Originals: 8/17/19 – 8/24/19

Every week, the Hoops Rumors writing team creates original content to complement our news feed. Here are our original segments and features from the past seven days:

  • With so many players finding themselves on new teams, there’s a long list of players who can’t be traded for a while. Luke Adams detailed which players can’t be traded until December 15 and which ones can’t be dealt until January 15.
  • Depth could be a major problem for the Heat this upcoming season and that means the team’s two-way contract players may have to step up. We examined Miami’s roster and some candidates for those two spots.
  • Luke Adams examined which 2020 first-round picks have already changed hands.
  • Did you know we had a free agent tracker? While it is an intuitive product, we provided some details on the tracker and how it’s updated.
  • Prior to Dwight Howard signing with the Lakers, we conducted a poll on the team’s options at center. Nearly 40 percent of our readers who participated believed the team should sign Howard. Roughly 25% believed in Joakim Noah with the remainder opting for either another center or standing pat.
  • This week in our Community Shootarounds, we discussed:

Community Shootaround: Dwight Howard’s Return To Hollywood

Dwight Howard, after a tumultuous recent existence in the NBA, is set to return to the place where the origins of his decline can arguably be attributed to. After being officially waived the Grizzlies on Saturday, Howard is expected to join the Lakers on a non-guaranteed deal after he clears waivers.

The eight-time All-Star has bounced around the NBA the past four years, suiting up for the Rockets, Hawks, Hornets and Wizards since the 2015/16 season. After being one of the NBA’s elite players his first eight seasons with the Magic, Howard has not made an All-Star team since 2014 and has been saddled with the worrisome reputation in regards to his style of play and demeanor.

As we detailed on Friday, Howard showed up to the Lakers’ facility a day before his scheduled meeting. He reportedly struck an emotional chord with Lakers brass, showing his awareness that he’s “hit rock bottom” in his career and is motivated to prove his doubters wrong. It was also noted that Howard showed up in great shape and is considered to be past the back injuries that have hampered him in recent years.

Howard originally joined the Lakers for the 2012/13 season as part of a blockbuster trade. He teamed with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in hopes of forming a superteam in a chase for a title. However, injuries, an adversarial relationship with Bryant and an uncertain future given he was headed for free agency clouded his tenure in L.A.

After DeMarcus Cousins recent injury, the Lakers developed a need for a veteran big man who can rebound and defend the paint. A former three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Howard certainly has the track record to fill that void. However, the question is whether or not Howard can stay healthy and not become a distraction.

How do you see Howard’s return to the Lakers shaking out? Can he adjust to a reduced role and prove himself as a capable NBA player? Can the 33-year-old stay healthy for a full season after suiting up for just nine games last season? Is there a chance that Howard can recapture his past All-Star form? If he makes the team, what should his role be?

Share your thoughts in the comments down below!

Grizzlies, Dwight Howard Agree To Buyout

AUG. 24: The Grizzlies have officially waived Howard, the team announced in a press release.

AUG. 23: Dwight Howard and the Grizzlies have completed the buyout of his contract. The move will allow Howard to officially sign with the Lakers.

Memphis had no intention of bringing Howard to training camp, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com (Twitter link), so allowing him to move on was best for the franchise.

Memphis made out financially as a result of their experience with Howard. The big man was scheduled to make $5.6MM this upcoming season, though he agreed to give up nearly $2.6MM as a part of the buyout arrangement.

Earlier in the summer, Memphis acquired Howard in exchange for C.J. Miles, who is making $8.7MM for the 2019/20 season. The trade netted the team over $3MM in savings, which brings the franchise’s total savings this summer to roughly $5.6MM.

The Grizzlies have the option to keep Howard’s remaining $3MM on their books this year or use the stretch provision, as Bobby Marks of ESPN.com tweets. Memphis is approximately $7.4MM below the luxury tax line.

Scott Brooks Talks Wizards, John Wall, Bradley Beal

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks had his team thoroughly tested last season, facing a myriad of injuries. As Washington prepares to be without its high-paid point guard in John Wall, Brooks was reflective on his team’s trying 2018/19 campaign.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, Brooks described the Wizards’ disbelief after Wall’s initial diagnosis. Wall, who signed a massive extension two summers ago, remains the organization’s top financial investment. Given the uncertainty of his health returning from an Achilles tear, it’s fair to wonder how impactful he’ll be when he’s ready.

Brooks also weighed in on Bradley Beal’s development and improved leadership:

 

How the Wizards handled John Wall’s injury…

“Well, you know a couple of things. I look back to the last couple of months. First thing you look back, I didn’t do a good job. I could have done things different, and then I think we’ve had some unfortunate luck with injuries and that’s the part you hate but you don’t prepare for it. You can never prepare for John missing 40 games last season and 50 games this season. Now who knows if he even plays. He’s working his butt off to get back, but I wasn’t expecting all that. I figured, ‘OK, we had our bad injury year,’ but last year it was just from the start. It was tough and John was a big part of our team. We were really good when John was healthy.”

The development of Bradley Beal…

“But the bright side of it is Bradley Beal really stepped up and took his game on the court and in the locker room to another level. And going forward he’s going to have to do that with the group of young players that we have. But also, with all that being said, we never made excuses. Not one time, not one time did any of our players make excuses. We had a lot of injuries and if we didn’t have injuries we would be competing against the best teams in the East.”

How Beal can further develop…

“Three years ago, when I took the job, I knew he could shoot. But he can score in every area of the floor, attack the basket, free throws, three points. And now I think the last year and a half he was able to facilitate and make his teammates better this year. I think there’s no limit. I think he can average eight or nine assists a game. I think those are numbers that are attainable, and I think he’s ready for that challenge.”