Atlantic Notes: Jordan, Celtics, Sixers, Kobe

Nets center DeAndre Jordan is set to make his return to the court on Wednesday against Detroit, Malika Andrews of ESPN.com tweets. Jordan has been out since January 20 with a dislocated finger.

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics could benefit from having one more experienced role player, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports contends. Boston’s need for an eighth or ninth man could be exposed come playoff time.
  • Javonte Green‘s play has made Brad Steven’s rotation decisions more difficult, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald writes. “I’m just here to do what the coach asks. Even if I’m not playing I’m going to do my best to pick up my teammates from the bench. He put me in there to just do my job,” said Green.
  • The Sixers paid tribute to Kobe Bryant in multiple ways on Tuesday, as I wrote for Heavy.com. Joel Embiid wore No. 24 in the game against the Warriors, scoring 24 points. The big man hit a fadeaway and yelled “KOBE” during the contest.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/28/20

Here are Tuesday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Wizards have recalled Admiral Schofield from the Capital City Go-Go, per the team’s Twitter feed. Schofield was a second-round pick in the 2019 draft.
  • The Celtics are bringing Romeo Langford back from the G League. They’ve recalled him, per Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports (Twitter link).
  • The Spurs have recalled Keldon Johnson from the Austin Spurs, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Johnson was the No. 29 overall pick in the 2019 draft.
  • The Clippers have assigned Derrick Walton Jr. and Terance Mann to the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, per the team. Los Angeles hasn’t practiced in several days but is expected to hold practice tomorrow.
  • The Jazz have assigned Nigel Williams-Goss, Juwan Morgan, and Miye Oni to the G League, according to the league’s transaction log. All three are were just with the Salt Lake City Stars over the weekend.

Wizards Notes: Grant, Trades, Hachimura

The Wizards are in position to make some moves at the deadline, and if that happens the team could call up a few of its G League players. Shane Connuck of Wizards Xtra breaks down which players could get an opportunity with Washington, including Jerian Grant, who has been with the Go-Go for most of the season.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • The Wizards have made a trade leading up to trade deadline in each of the past 10 seasons, NBC Sports’ Chase Hughes writes. The team dealt Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr. in separate trades a year ago.
  • Rui Hachimura is getting close to returning to the court, as Hughes relays in another piece. The rookie went through a full practice without any limitations over the weekend.
  • Hachimura spoke about Kobe Bryant‘s impact on him, telling the media that Bryant was his hero (via Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports). “Three years ago, during [the] Final Four, [Bryant gave] a special pair of shoes as a surprise to the team. Not only that, he talked about what Mamba Mentality is and what people should be before basketball players,” Hachimura said. “He was more than just a basketball player.”

Josh Jackson On Grizzlies: They Kept Their Word

The Grizzlies acquired Josh Jackson over the summer via a trade with the Suns and decided the best course of action was to send the former No. 4 overall pick to the G League and allow him to work on his game. The team promised he would be given an opportunity at the next level if he made strides and Memphis made good on that promise earlier this week.

“They kept their word,” Jackson said, as Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian relays on Twitter.

During his time with the Memphis Hustle this season, Jackson made 38.0% of his shots from behind the arc on 6.6 attempts per game. Clearly, the franchise wanted him to work on this part of his game and he’s produced solid results.

“I’m learning a lot down here,” Jackson told Marc Spears of the Undefeated earlier this month. “I’m gaining confidence. I am working on things that I couldn’t do before. That was like one of the main things that me and the organization talked about in making this decision, was for me to work on a lot of other things.”

Jackson, who was charged last spring with escape and resisting arrest, is also maturing off the court. He recently addressed the arrest, vowing to be better in the future, telling Spears that he would have done “a bunch of things” differently if he could go back and do it all over again.

“I will never make the same mistake twice whether on the court or off the court, especially playing,” Jackson said.

Sixers Notes: Young, Embiid, Smith

Thaddeus Young may make sense as a trade target for the Sixers, as I wrote for Heavy.com. Young, who is in the first year of a three-year contract with Chicago, would give coach Brett Brown another option to stagger the frontcourt minutes, which would ultimately allow Joel Embiid and Al Horford to remain fresh.

Here’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Joel Embiid will start vs. the Warriors after seeing a hand specialist during pregame, Derek Bodner of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Embiid has missed the past nine games for the Sixers and the team went 6-3 in his absence.
  • Zhaire Smith is available to play for the Sixers tonight, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Smith injured his ankle on Saturday after playing just three minutes in his season debut.
  • Brett Brown said he can’t imagine Ben Simmons not making his second straight All-Star appearance, as Pompey relays on Twitter. Brown also mentioned Tobias Harris as a candidate.

Victor Oladipo To Have Minutes Restriction Upon Return

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo remains on track to make his return to the NBA on Wednesday night vs. Chicago after missing the last year with a torn quad tendon. However, the team will be cautious with the 27-year-old upon his return.

According to Nat Newell and J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, Oladipo will face a minutes restriction in his season debut and for at least the first few weeks after that. The team intends to re-evaluate that restriction at the All-Star break, at which time it could be adjusted or lifted entirely.

The Pacers haven’t indicated exactly how many minutes Oladipo will receive per game. The team was also noncommittal about his potential role, though Scott Agness of The Athletic suggests (via Twitter) there’s a good chance he’ll come off the bench for now. As Agness points out (via Twitter), Oladipo still hasn’t practiced with the starters and head coach Nate McMillan is aware that an adjustment period will be necessary.

Before going down with his quad injury last January, the veteran guard had been named an All-Star in each of his first two seasons in Indiana. He has averaged 21.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.6 APG, and 2.1 SPG on .461/.362/.780 shooting in 111 games since joining the Pacers in a blockbuster 2017 trade.

The Pacers have played very well in Oladipo’s absence, with Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis stepping up as the team’s leaders and making strong cases for All-Star consideration. At 30-17, Indiana currently ranks fifth in the Eastern Conference. With Oladipo back, the club will be pushing in the second half to secure a top-four seed and first-round home court advantage.

And-Ones: Dinwiddie, Ross, Rising Stars, Zion

There hasn’t yet been a league-wide push to retire Kobe Bryant‘s No. 8 or No. 24, but some players around the NBA have begun informally retiring those numbers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. As Charania tweets, the first of those players is Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who had worn No. 8 and will be switching to No. 26. Magic sharpshooter Terrence Ross is changing from No. 8 back to his old No. 31, Charania adds (via Twitter).

It’s not yet clear which other players will follow suit and make changes of their own. The NBA generally doesn’t allow players to change jersey numbers during the season, but Dinwiddie and Ross were granted permission, a source tells Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). Given the special circumstances, it seems safe to assume the league would approve similar requests from others. However, Stein hears that they’ll be reviewed on a case-to-case basis (Twitter link).

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA’s announcement of the rosters for this year’s Rising Stars game has been pushed back to this Friday at noon eastern, the league announced today in a press release. A source tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) that Pelicans forward Zion Williamson would be interested in participating now that he’s healthy, which would certainly add some extra excitement to the All-Star event.
  • Former Trail Blazers and Rockets guard Tim Quarterman has signed a G League contract and has been acquired off waivers by the Sioux Falls Skyforce, per the NBAGL’s transactions log. Quarterman, who appeared in 19 total games for Portland and Houston from 2016-18, spent last season playing in Israel and New Zealand.
  • A pair of former NBA guards have reached deals with international teams, according to reports from Sportando. Emiliano Carchia relays word of ex-Thunder guard Semaj Christon signing with Spanish team Baskonia, while Nicola Lupo has the details on former Pelicans guard Charles Cooke agreeing to sign with Atleticos de San German in Puerto Rico.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Central Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

With just nine days left until the 2020 trade deadline, we’ve surveyed each of the NBA’s divisions three times this season, identifying three potential trade candidates during each go-round. So far, every one of the five in-season trades completed in 2019/20 has included at least one player we’ve previously discussed as a trade candidate. Here’s the full list.

Although we may not have time to circle back through all six divisions a fourth time, we’re revisiting the Central today, taking a look at three more possible trade candidates. Let’s dive in…

Denzel Valentine, SG
Chicago Bulls

$3.4MM cap hit; RFA in 2020

While Valentine has been in and out of the Bulls’ rotation this season, any teams keeping an eye on him Monday night were rewarded with perhaps his best game of 2019/20. He racked up 16 points and made 4-of-6 three-point attempts with a +19 rating in 19 minutes.

The performance provided a glimpse of what kind of value Valentine can bring as a rotation player when things are going well. However, he seems increasingly unlikely to reach his potential in Chicago. Since a solid 2017/18 season, the 26-year-old has appeared in just 27 games due to ankle issues and Jim Boylen‘s rotation decisions. Restricted free agency is on tap for the fourth-year wing this summer, and I’d be surprised if he’s in the Bulls’ plans moving forward.

Given his modest cap hit, controllable rights and .377 career 3PT%, Valentine may appeal to teams looking for a low-cost shooter. The Bulls shouldn’t expect a substantial return, but if they can get a second-round pick out of a deal, it might be an offer worth taking.

Derrick Rose, PG
Detroit Pistons
$7.3MM cap hit; guaranteed $7.68MM salary in 2020/21; UFA in 2021

Like Dwight Howard in Los Angeles, Rose has experienced an impressive resurgence this season. The former MVP isn’t the superstar he once was, but he has been the Pistons’ most reliable scorer, with 18.8 PPG in just 26.6 MPG through 41 contests. He’s a walking bucket and could be a formidable play-making threat for a contender if Detroit decides to move him.

It certainly seems that there has been interest. The Lakers and Sixers were recently cited as potential suitors, with the Clippers also reportedly inquiring. The Pistons may actually have a better chance of acquiring a first-round pick for Rose than they would for Andre Drummond, given the two players’ respective contract situations and cap hits.

Still, with Rose currently battling a sore right knee, potential suitors will proceed with caution. Health has always been the concern for the former Bull, and a contending team willing to surrender a first-rounder for a roster upgrade may prefer to pursue a player with a less worrisome injury history.

John Henson, F/C
Cleveland Cavaliers
$9.7MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Besides Tristan Thompson, whom we covered in an earlier look at the Central, the Cavaliers have three other veterans on pricey expiring contracts who could be on the move at this year’s deadline. However, none of those players have positive trade value.

Brandon Knight ($15.6MM), Matthew Dellavedova ($9.6MM), and Henson are borderline rotation players, and the Cavs will be hard-pressed to acquire a real asset for any of them unless they’re willing to take on some unwanted multiyear money.

Of the three, Henson looks like the most realistic trade candidate. Knight has barely played this season and is dealing with a knee injury, while Dellavedova’s numbers have been dreadful. Henson, in a part-time role, has at least showed he’s still capable of cleaning the glass and protecting the rim, with 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per 36 minutes. The Cavs also have a -1.4 net rating when he plays, compared to -9.8 when he sits.

Cleveland will still be hard-pressed to get much of value for Henson, but I’d expect the team to get more traction on him than some of its other expendable vets.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Community Shootaround: Honoring Kobe Bryant

A Change.org petition asking the NBA to make Kobe Bryant the league’s new logo has surpassed two million signatures, and that idea has some support among players too. Hornets center Bismack Biyombo, the vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, tells Roderick Boone of The Athletic that he’d be on board with the idea of having Bryant’s silhouette replace Jerry West‘s on the league’s logo.

“We are hoping,” Biyombo said. “The NBA is going to do something. As a player, I think you want to see that. You just want to see that because of what the guy has meant to the game, to be honest. For me, I think as a player, I would really like to embrace that because you’ve seen the change, and you’ve seen it over the course of the years. Kobe, he wants to teach. As we see now, he opened the academy, and everybody was going to his academy, and the guy was present there early in the morning early to teach. There’s not many people who are doing that.

“(Making him the logo), it’s an appreciation of what the guy has done for the game of basketball, and that’s what I think we all should be thinking about.”

Biyombo is right that the NBA will certainly find a way to honor the memory of Bryant, who died on Sunday in a tragic helicopter crash near Los Angeles. However, the idea of changing the NBA’s logo isn’t the only one that has been floated this week.

ESPN’s Mike Greenberg (video link) suggested on Get Up this morning that the NBA should name an award after Bryant, in the same way that Bill Russell is the namesake for the league’s NBA Finals MVP award. Pointing to Bryant’s longtime presence and popularity in Europe and Asia, Greenberg proposed that the award named after Kobe could be given annually to the player who does the most to grow the game internationally.

Other suggestions for ways to honor Bryant have involved his jersey numbers. Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link) wondered if the NBA might have this year’s two All-Star teams wear No. 8 (for Team LeBron) and No. 24 (for Team Giannis) uniforms.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced this week that his team will retire No. 24 in honor of Bryant. There has been speculation that other teams could follow suit. The Lakers, of course, have already retired both No. 8 and No. 24.

We want to know what you think. What would be an appropriate tribute by the NBA to honor Bryant’s memory?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts.

NBA Players Who Can’t Be Aggregated In Trades

The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement includes a rule that states players who are acquired using an exception (ie. not using cap space) can’t be aggregated in a second trade for two months after the original deal.

Aggregating a player in a trade refers to the act of combining his contract with another player’s contract for salary-matching purposes. For instance, an over-the-cap team can’t trade a player with a $5MM salary straight up for a player with a $13MM salary. But if the team aggregates that player with a second player who also earns $5MM, the deal would work.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Traded Player Exception]

The rule against including a player in an aggregated trade for two months after he’s acquired doesn’t preclude the player’s team from adding him to a multi-player deal. His salary simply can’t be combined upon with another player’s for matching purposes in such a trade.

For instance, even if a player earning a minimum salary can’t be aggregated in a trade, his team could still include him in a swap involving a pair of $10MM players, since his minimum-salary cap hit wouldn’t be needed for salary matching.

With those rules in mind, here’s the list of players who have been acquired using a cap exception within the last two months and can’t be aggregated in a deadline trade this season: