Southwest Rumors: Noel, Carmelo, Tucker, Pondexter

Mavs big man Nerlens Noel will likely come off the bench this season behind Dirk Nowitzki, coach Rick Carlisle told Tim MacMahon of ESPN and other media members. Noel started 12 of 22 games after being acquired from the 76ers in February. Carlisle informed Noel and agent Rich Paul of his plans over the weekend, MacMahon adds. “At this point in time, Dirk at the 5 position is probably the best scenario for Dirk and for our team, and I just don’t think that Dirk is a guy that’s going to come off the bench as long as I’m here,” Carlisle said. “So there’s a very good chance that Nerlens will come off the bench.” Noel had a tumultuous summer as a restricted free agent, changing agents and ultimately signing Dallas’ qualifying offer of $4.1MM when he didn’t get the contract offers he expected. Noel will an unrestricted free agent next summer.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets were never close to acquiring Carmelo Anthony before he was traded to the Thunder, according to a Houston Chronicle report. GM Daryl Morey said he wasn’t disappointed that he failed to work out something with the Knicks, the report adds. “We were involved in rumors in a situation he was very interested in coming here,” he said. “We had some interest if we could maybe work it out, but never did.”
  • Small forward P.J. Tucker will miss some of training camp because of a hamstring injury, according to another Chronicle report. Tucker suffered the injury during a recent workout but it’s not considered a major issue, the report adds. Tucker signed a four-year contract with the Rockets as a free agent this summer.
  • Former Pelicans forward Quincy Pondexter contracted a life-threatening infection while awaiting a third surgery on his problematic knee in January, he told Chris Haynes of ESPN. He required surgery to flush out the infection and spent a month in the hospital after the knee operation, Haynes continues. Pondexter was then dealt to the Bulls earlier this month. “It was a shock,” Pondexter told Haynes. “I was tired of letting the organization and fans down the last two years, and I wanted to do my best to help the Pelicans return to the playoffs. It was definitely a gut punch.” He also said he was never fined or missed an appointment during his knee rehab in 2015, refuted what coach Alvin Gentry claimed at the time.
  • Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge shrugged off the trade rumors this summer and came to camp with something to prove, Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News reports. “I’m a guy who is never satisfied,” he told Rohlin. “I’m definitely going to show that I can play my game and I’m still good.”

Lakers Notes: Bogut, Blue, Ball, George

Lakers coach Luke Walton will have the final say on who wins the 15th roster spot in training camp, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets. GM Rob Pelinka made the comment during the team’s media day. Bresnahan hints that it could come down to center Andrew Bogut or guard Vander Blue. Bogut signed a one-year, $2.3MM contract but only $50K is guaranteed. Blue hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2014/15 season. Pelinka added that the team isn’t actively seeking another veteran player, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

In other news regarding the Lakers:

  • President of basketball operations Magic Johnson isn’t concerned about LaVar Ball’s antics or comments unless it impacts the on-court effectiveness of son and rookie point guard Lonzo Ball,  he told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN and other media members. “Only time I am going to concern myself with what [Lonzo] does off the court is if it is affecting his play on the court,” Johnson said.  The Hall of Famer already considers the rookie as the team’s leader heading into his first season. “We needed a leader on this team,” Johnson said. “And we have one now.”
  • Johnson is mainly concerned that the team displays improvement this season and demonstrates to future free agents that the franchise is once again an attractive destination, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Johnson does believe this season’s group is talented enough to make the playoffs, Ganguli adds. LeBron James and Paul George, among others, are expected to seriously consider the Lakers next summer.
  • George said he’s more concerned with winning than joining his hometown team, Sam Amick of USA Today relays. George believes he can win a championship with the Thunder“You ask anybody, and who wouldn’t want to play for their hometown team?” George said. “Who wouldn’t want to go home and win a championship for their home? So yeah, a lot of me wanted to be a Laker. Even in the draft, coming out of the draft, I wanted to be a Clipper, to have a chance to play at home…(But) I’m not solely tied to LA. This feels like a championship team. Like I said, man, I’m in a good place.”

Atlantic Notes: Miles, Morris, Covington, Olynyk

C.J. Miles and Norman Powell enter the Raptors’ training camp as the primary contenders for the starting small forward spot, coach Dwane Casey told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and other media members. The winner in the competition will join guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, power forward Serge Ibaka and center Jonas Valanciunas in the starting five. Miles, the former Pacers swingman, was signed by Toronto as a free agent in July. “It could be either one,” Casey said.Delon Wright may see some minutes at the three because he’s a versatile young man. Bruno (Caboclo) gives you a standstill shooter.” The spot opened up when DeMarre Carroll was dealt to the Nets in July.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics forward Marcus Morris will miss the start of training camp Tuesday until his trial on an aggravated assault charge in Arizona is resolved, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com reports. His brother, Wizards forward Markieff Morris, is also on trial on in the felony case. Marcus Morris was acquired by Boston this summer in the deal that sent guard Avery Bradley to the Pistons.  The Morris brothers face possible prison time and discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10-game suspension if they are found guilty, Forsberg adds.
  • Sixers forward Robert Covington strikes an optimistic note that an agreement will be reached regarding an extension or renegotiation of his current contract, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. Covington, who stands to make less than $1.6MM this season, is in the unusual position of being eligible for an extension or renegotiation. It can’t be finalized until November 15, the three-year anniversary of when Covington signed his current deal.
  • Power forward Kelly Olynyk never wanted to leave the Celtics, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe notes. The Celtics’ brass kept in touch with Olynyk during the Gordon Hayward free agent saga, Washburn adds. When Hayward agreed to join Boston, Olynyk’s rights were renounced to create cap space and he soon signed with the Heat.

Suns, T.J. Warren Agree To Four-Year Extension

The Suns and forward T.J. Warren have come to terms on a four-year, $50MM extension, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Warren will make $3.15MM this season and was eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer. The deadline for the extension was October 16.

Warren became a starter last season, averaging 14.4 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 31.0 MPG. He appeared in 66 games, 59 as a starter, and missed 13 games in November and December due to a head injury.  The 6’8” Warren, who is expected to be Suns’ starting small forward again this season, has made 50.2% of his shots during his three-year career but needs work on his 3-point game (31.2%).

Phoenix can afford to extend a young player on the rise, as it has just $62.7MM on guaranteed commitments for the 2018/19 season, not including Warren’s new deal.

The Suns only lose $2MM on cap space because Warren had a $9.5MM free agent cap hold next offseason, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes.

With Warren in the fold, the Suns should have a stable roster in the next couple of years. The only significant player headed to unrestricted free agency next summer is center Alex Len, who recently signed his qualifying offer.

Pacers Sign Forward Jarrod Uthoff

SEPTEMBER 25, 5:35pm: The signing is official, per team release.

SEPTEMBER 21, 1:53pm: The Pacers have reached an agreement on a deal with free agent forward Jarrod Uthoff, reports Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). When Indiana finalizes the signing of Uthoff, it will bring the team’s roster count to 20 players, the offseason maximum.

Uthoff, 24, played his college ball at Iowa before going undrafted in 2016. After spending some time in the G League, Uthoff signed a 10-day contract with the Mavs in March, then stuck around for another 10-day contract and a rest-of-season deal. He was traded to the Rockets after the season when Houston was collecting non-guaranteed contracts, and was subsequently waived before his 2017/18 salary became guaranteed.

Although Uthoff played sparingly during his end-of-season run with the Mavs, he put up excellent shooting numbers in the G League. In 37 games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Raptors 905, and Texas Legends, the 6’9″ forward made an impressive 46.2% of his attempts from three-point range, averaging 11.1 PPG.

The Pacers only have 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts, so it’s possible Uthoff will get an opportunity to earn one of the club’s final two roster spots. He’ll compete with the likes of DeQuan Jones, Trey McKinney-Jones, Ben Moore, and Damien Wilkins.

Kenneth Faried Uneasy With Backup Role

Kenneth Faried comes into Nuggets training camp as a backup and he’s not happy about it, as he told Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm and CBSSports.com and other media members. Faried, who can play either power forward or center, strongly suggested that if he doesn’t play enough minutes, then he should be dealt. (Twitter links).

“If this team doesn’t want or respect me enough to play me the minutes, then I understand that. Maybe I go somewhere else,” he said.

Denver upgraded its frontcourt by signing Hawks free agent Paul Millsap to a three-year, $90.5MM contract.  The Nuggets have Nikola Jokic, a finalist for Most Improved Player in the league last season, at center. Wilson Chandler is slotted a small forward.

Faried isn’t surprised by the Nuggets’ thinking, but refuses to view himself as a reserve.

“I’ll just put this out there. I. Am. A. Starter,” he said (Twitter link).

Faried was in and out of the lineup last season when he battled a back injury. He appeared in 61 games, 34 as a starter, while averaging a career-low 9.6 PPG and 7.6 RPG in 21.2 MPG. He came off the bench just 17 times during the first five seasons of his career. There were unspecified teams reportedly interested in Faried when Millsap announced he would join the Nuggets.

Faried, who is averaging 11.9 PPG and 8.5 RPG in his career, is signed through next season. He’ll make $12.9MM this season and $13.76MM next season.

Gary Harris is the team’s starting shooting guard but there will be an open competition at point guard, Moore adds (Twitter link).

Emmanuel Mudiay, the team’s 2015 lottery pick, has been erratic in his first two seasons. He’ll be challenged by second-year man Jamal Murray, with veteran Jameer Nelson presenting a fallback option.

Bulls Buy Out Dwyane Wade

SEPTEMBER 25, 4:25pm: Wade has been formally placed on waivers, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. He will clear waivers on Wednesday, Charania adds.Dwyane Wade vertical

SEPTEMBER 24, 8:36pm: The Bulls and Dwyane Wade have reached an agreement on a buyout, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets.

The early favorites for Wade’s services are the Spurs, Cavaliers and Heat, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Miami is currently positioned to pay him the most money this season.

Within minutes, Wojnarowski followed up with another tweet saying that Cleveland was a “clear frontrunner.”

Per Bobby Marks of ESPN, the Heat can sign Wade for $4.2MM and the Spurs can sign him for $3.3MM. The Cavaliers at $2.5MM could pay little over the veteran’s minimum.

The idea of Wade suiting up elsewhere in 2017/18 has been a popular topic ever since the organization traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves earlier this summer.

It’s been said that Wade felt misled by the organization at the beginning of the offseason, given assurances that the team would remain competitive in his final year with the squad should he opt into his 2017/18 player option.

Wade, of course, did opt in but the Bulls soon changed course, trading Butler for a package centered around Zach LaVine and Minnesota’s No. 7 overall pick.

In the months since, the Bulls and Wade have gone back and forth in seemingly amicable negotiations.

Per Wojnarowski (also on Twitter), Wade will forfeit about $8MM of his $23.8MM contract, leaving the Bulls on the hook for around $16MM through 2017/18.

Considering that Chicago currently runs the risk of falling below the salary floor for the season, keeping the bulk of the veteran’s deal on their books isn’t particularly cumbersome.

Chicago came to an agreement with Nikola Mirotic earlier today that would have pushed the Bulls above the $89.2MM floor but the Wade buyout will drop them below yet again as training camps around the league begin in earnest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Asik, Parsons, Rockets, Noel

Pelicans center Omer Asik, who appeared in just 31 games during the 2016/17 season, won’t be ready to start training camp this week, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, who tweets that Asik is being treated for Crohn’s disease. General manager Dell Demps indicated today that Asik will be away from the team for camp, and there’s no timetable for his return to the court (Twitter link via Daniel Sallerson).

For his part, the Pelicans big man says even with no timetable for his return, he’s feeling much better. Asik’s health problems, which began with a parasite, have persisted for much of 2017, and he didn’t start feeling normal until last month (Twitter links via Kushner).

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace confirmed at the club’s Media Day that Chandler Parsons is healthy and ready to go for camp. Parson, who has been playing five-on-five ball, will be a full participant, tweets Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • While some NBA observers have concerns about how Chris Paul and James Harden will mesh in Houston, Rockets president of basketball operations Daryl Morey isn’t worried, suggesting today that the club is “100% certain” it will work (Twitter link via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle).
  • Ryan Anderson was able to breathe a sigh of relief this weekend when New York sent Carmelo Anthony to a team besides the Rockets. Speaking today to reporters, including Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter links), Anderson said he talked frequently to the Rockets’ brass and believed there was a “low probability” of being dealt, which he appreciated, since he and his family “love” Houston.
  • Addressing Nerlens Noel‘s role with the Mavericks, head coach Rick Carlisle said today that the big man will likely come off the bench, adding that Noel is okay with that (Twitter links via Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com). When he took center stage at Media Day, Noel was asked about signing the one-year qualifying offer with the Mavs and replied, “I love the city of Dallas. I do. But we all know what happens with this business.”

Suns’ Alan Williams To Miss Six Months

Suns big man Alan Williams underwent a meniscus repair of his right knee today in Phoenix, the team announced in a press release. According to the announcement from the Suns, Williams will miss most of the 2017/18 season after undergoing the procedure — he’s on track to return to full basketball activity in approximately six months.

Williams suffered the injury last Monday when he landed on a teammate’s foot during a workout, per Marc Spears and Chris Haynes of ESPN. It’s another unfortunate blow for a Suns team that has already been hit hard by knee injuries this offseason. Brandon Knight tore his ACL and is expected to miss the entire 2017/18 season, while rookie Davon Reed will miss several months with a meniscus injury of his own.

[RELATED: Phoenix Suns’ depth chart at RosterResource.com]

Williams, 24, took a step forward with the Suns in 2016/17. Although he only averaged 15.1 minutes per contest in 47 games overall, he was very productive when he played, recording 17.6 points and 14.8 rebounds per 36 minutes, and seemed poised to take on a bigger role going forward for the club.

A free agent this summer, Williams signed a three-year deal worth just over $17MM with the Suns. The second and third years of that contract are non-guaranteed, so it will be interesting to see if the young forward/center remains in Phoenix’s long-term plans next summer.

In the short term, bigs like Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, and the newly re-signed Alex Len could see a few extra minutes in the Suns’ frontcourt. If the team uses some smaller lineups, players like T.J. Warren, Jared Dudley or rookie Josh Jackson could see expanded roles.

Northwest Notes: Wade, Westbrook, Anthony, Favors

Paul George has launched an electronic full-court press to try to convince Dwyane Wade to come to Oklahoma City, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Wade has become the hottest free agent on the market since agreeing to a buyout with the Bulls Sunday night. “I’m in his phone text, his DMs, Snapchat,” George said, “whatever it takes to get this dude here.”

Thunder GM Sam Presti is a little more reserved in his pursuit of Wade, but he would definitely like to have him as part of a Big Four with George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. OKC finalized its camp roster earlier today with the signing of Markel Brown, but a move would certainly be made to accommodate Wade. “He’ll go through the process and we’ll be in touch,” said Presti, who adds Wade may have already decided where he will sign next (Twitter link).

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Cavaliers, Thunder and Heat were consider the early favorites to sign Wade, but the competition may be more intense than originally believed, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link), who adds that “many more teams” are pursuing him.
  • Westbrook declined to give a direct answer to questions today about the five-year, $207MM extension the Thunder have offered him, posts Royce Young on ESPN Now. “Man, it’s been a long, long summer,” Westbrook responded. “Had a baby. Been working on a little fatherhood. But like I’ve said before, this is a place I want to be.” Westbrook has an October 16 deadline to accept the deal, and former Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter believes he is leaning toward taking it. “I feel like he’s going to sign (the extension)” Kanter told reporters today in New York (Twitter link).
  • The Nuggets considered trying to bring Anthony back to Denver before the trade with the Thunder was announced, tweets Eric Goodman of Mile High Sports Radio. Although they weren’t among the teams Anthony said he would waive his no-trade clause to join, the Nuggets were interested in trying because the price for Anthony kept falling.
  • Jazz forward Derrick Favors has a chance to rebuild his reputation before heading into free agency next summer, relays the Associated Press. Favors says he has overcome the knee and back injuries that plagued him over the past two seasons and dropped 15 to 20 pounds during the summer. Utah needs to replace about 40 points per game with the loss of free agents Gordon Hayward and George Hill, and Favors is a prime candidate to increase his production. Favors will be an unrestricted free agent in July after making $12MM this season.
  • Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey isn’t concerned that his team is headed into a difficult Western Conference playoff race with one of the youngest rosters in the league, tweets Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Recently signed free agent Anthony Morrow is Portland’s only player older than 30. “It’s a roster that still has some upside to it, because of its age,” Olshey said. “We’re expecting a lot of internal growth.”
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