Nerlens Noel Switches Agents In Search For Max Deal

Nerlens Noel, who remains a restricted free agent, is still searching for a max contract on the market. In an effort to find that deal, he has switched agents, leaving ASM Sports and hiring Dan Fegan, according to Newy Scruggs of NBC.com.

Noel hasn’t received an offer from any rival suitor, Scruggs adds, which prompted the change. Should he still not find a long-term deal to his liking, he has the option to play for Dallas under his qualifying offer, which is worth $5.8MM.

Scruggs pegs Noel’s market value in the $12-13MM range, though it’s merely speculation. The scribe cites Noel’s injury history as a major reason why the big man will likely have to settle for less than the max.

The center has played 193 games since being selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 draft. He’s scored 10.0 rebounds and brought in 7.5 rebounds per game over his career while making 51.1% of his shots from the field.

James Harden Talks Chris Paul, Rockets, Summer 17

Chris Paulwho had the ability to become a free agent this offseason, informed the Clippers in June that he would not be returning to the club. Instead, he intended to go to the Rockets, which prompted Los Angeles to trade him to Houston prior to him activating his Early Termination Option.

James Harden played a key role in bringing Paul to Houston. The 2016/17 MVP runner up discussed the acquisition with Sam Amick of USA Today, telling the scribe that he spoke with Paul about forming a dynamic backcourt.

“I just knew that in the summertime obviously [Paul] was a free agent, and I wanted to see where his head was,” Harden said of Paul. “He didn’t seem happy, so after that we just took it from there.”

Harden continued, telling Amick that he feels the move puts the team in a position to match up with Golden State, the conference’s 3-time reigning champ.

“Obviously Golden State has been in the Finals and won two out of three, so that’s what everybody is trying to build-up against. But we’re right there. We’re right there. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do, but it definitely puts us in a better chance,” the 27-year-old added.

Harden understands that playing alongside someone as great as Paul is a huge opportunity. Paul can become a free agent at the end of next season, so there’s no telling whether the 2017/18 campaign will be the only one where the two share a backcourt. Harden, who has made several changes to his offseason routine, including the addition of yoga and pilates, isn’t going to take the opportunity for granted.

“Every summer, it’s about getting better and putting yourself in a position to last an entire season,” Harden said.“I know how exciting this season is [going to be, and] I know how important it is, so I’m going to take full advantage of it. I have a lot of charity [events], a lot of things going on, but when I’m in that gym that’s kind of my getaway. That’s kind of when I’m locked in.”

Lakers Under Investigation For Tampering

2:21 PM: The Pacers have filed paperwork with the league claiming that the Lakers are guilty of tampering, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, and the league will investigate the possibility of impermissible contact between Johnson and George.

Wojnarowski adds that the Lakers are denying the allegations and they expect to be cleared of any wrongdoing.

9:25 AM: The Pacers are expected to pursue tampering charges against the Lakers regarding Paul George, Peter Vecsey reports on his new pay site, Patreon.

An investigator for the NBA has contacted Lakers President Magic Johnson, GM Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss, according to Vecsey, asking for “any correspondence pertaining to” George, his agent Aaron Mintz and George’s parents.

The Indianapolis Star has reached out to the Pacers and the NBA for confirmation of the report, but neither has responded so far.

Mintz met with Pacers president Kevin Pritchard earlier this summer to inform him that George intended to opt out of his contract next year and planned to leave Indiana. A southern California native, George’s preference has long been rumored as signing with the Lakers. The Pacers found a soft trade market for George, with most of the league believing he is headed to L.A. next summer, and wound up dealing him to Oklahoma City in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

If the Pacers are alleging tampering, they must believe the Lakers had behind-the-scenes contact with the All-Star forward that influenced his plans. L.A. has been been focusing on short-term contracts and is clearly setting up its roster to maximize cap room for next summer, but the league would have have to find concrete evidence of improper contact with George or his representatives to impose any penalties against the team.

Hawks, Quinn Cook Agree To Deal

The Hawks have come to terms with Quinn Cook on a two-year deal, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). The contract will only be partially guaranteed.

Back in 2010, Cook was one of the top high schoolers in the nation and he decided to go to Duke to play under Mike Krzyzewski. He spent four years at the program before entering the 2015 draft, though he was not selected.

Cook played in the G-League during the 2015/16 season where he earned Rookie of the Year honors. He showcased great range, knocking down 86 three-pointers during the campaign.

The following year, he made his NBA debut on a 10-day contract with the Maverick. During that deal, owner Mark Cuban told Hoops Rumors that the team was impressed with the guard’s play. However, Dallas decided not to bring him back and he joined the Pelicans a couple weeks later, remaining with the franchise for the rest of the year.

Weekly Mailbag: 8/14/17 – 8/20/17

We have an opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap or the NBA draft? Drop us a line at HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com.

Is it really true that LeBron James will leave the Cavaliers next season for the Lakers? — Greg Dizon

Nobody knows the answer for sure, except for maybe LeBron and a few members of his inner circle. What we do know is that these rumors started shortly after the NBA Finals, and James hasn’t made a public statement to quash them. We also know that James was a strong supporter of former GM David Griffin and was upset that he wasn’t retained. And we’ve seen reports that James was disappointed by the team’s offseason moves, which amounted to re-signing Kyle Korver and adding Derrick Rose, Jose Calderon and Cedi Osman. Add in any lingering bitterness toward owner Dan Gilbert from their parting in 2011 and the feeling that James accomplished his mission when he brought the 2016 championship to Cleveland, and it’s easy to see why he might be on the move again. It may depend on what the Cavs do this season, or it may be a decision that has already been made.

Aside from the Lakers, where else could you potentially see LeBron in 2018-2019 if he leaves the Cavs? — Vijay Cruz

It’s hard to find another scenario that seems plausible, unless LeBron and his banana boat friends are all plotting to end up in the same place. Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade will both be free agents next summer (and maybe earlier for Wade if a rumored buyout happens in Chicago), while Carmelo Anthony has an early termination option. If Anthony winds up in Houston with Paul, the Rockets could emerge as a possible contender. An online betting site has already posted odds about LeBron’s next decision, listing the Cavs as favorites to keep him, followed closely by the Lakers. The Rockets and Spurs are tied at fourth, with the Celtics a surprising choice at third.

What’s happening with Giannis Antetokounmpo and EuroBasket? Why do NBA teams let their players risk injury in these international tournaments? — Ellis K., via Twitter

Antetokounmpo announced Saturday on social media that a knee injury will keep him out of this year’s competition and cited a failed physical administered by team doctors from Milwaukee. The Greek basketball federation is disputing the results of the physical and accusing the Bucks of using deception to prevent Antetokounmpo from playing. Greece’s fortunes rely on Antetokounmpo, who would probably be the best player in the tournament, but because he’s under contract to the Bucks, there’s little the national team can do. As to why teams let players participate, there’s a lot of nationalistic pride at stake in these competitions, so it would create rifts with international players to try to block them. Plus, players tend to play all summer anyway, so it’s safer to have them do it in an organized format with trainers and team doctors than on pick-up courts.

Heat Sign Jordan Mickey

The Heat have officially signed former Celtics forward Jordan Mickey, the team announced on its website. The contract has been reported as a two-year deal with a $1.5MM veteran’s minimum guaranteed for the first season and a team option on the second.

The 33rd pick in the 2015 draft, Mickey spent two years with Boston, but played most of that time in the G League. He appeared in 25 games for the Celtics last season, averaging 1.5 points in 5.6 minutes per contest.

The signing gives the Heat 18 players for training camp, two under the maximum. Miami now has 13 players with guaranteed money for the 2017/18 season, along with one on a two-way contract.

 

Mutual Interest Between Josh Smith, Rockets?

Josh Smith may be ready to sign up for his third tour of duty with the Rockets, tweets Kelly Iko of EPSN 97.5 in Houston. Iko adds that the the veteran forward is “very interested” in returning to the team, and an agreement could be reached soon.

Smith spent part of last season with the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association. He appeared in 26 games before leaving the team in late January.

Smith’s last NBA experience came with the Rockets at the end of the 2015/16 season after the team picked him up in a midseason trade with the Clippers. Smith played in 23 games, mostly as a reserve, and averaged 6.6 points and 2.9 rebounds.

He also played for Houston for part of the 2014/15 season after agreeing to a buyout with the Pistons. Smith appeared in 55 games that year and helped the team reach the Western Conference finals.

Smith, who will receive $5.4MM annually from Detroit through the 2019/20 season, has been working out with Rockets players in Houston while trying to get another shot at the NBA.

Clippers Offer GM Post To Michael Winger

Thunder executive Michael Winger has received an offer to become the new GM of the Clippers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who adds that the deal is expected to be finalized soon.

Winger, 37, currently serves as both assistant GM and team counsel for Oklahoma City and has been with the organization for the past seven years. He also spent five years with the Cavaliers and is viewed as one of the league’s top young executives, Wojnarowski adds.

As Clippers GM, Winger would report to Lawrence Frank, who was appointed president of basketball operations in a front office shakeup ealier this month that saw Doc Rivers reassigned to strictly coaching duties.

Southeast Notes: Wade, Mickey, Weiss, Hawks

Two more Heat players have spoken out about the possibility of bringing back Dwyane Wade if he agrees to a buyout with the Bulls, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Hassan Whiteside and Wayne Ellington both endorsed the move during an appearance Saturday at a Whiteside Foundation fundraiser. “He’s a great basketball-IQ guy,” Whiteside said. “He can find you on a lob. He can find you on a pick-and-roll situation. He’s a great scorer.”

Whiteside had previously backed a reunion with Wade through a nodding GIF on social media, but these were his first public comments on the potential move. Wade, who spent 13 years in Miami before signing with Chicago last summer, remains a popular figure in South Florida, but he would have to give up a significant portion of his $23.8MM salary for a buyout to occur. Ellington, who is among the players who might see a reduced role if Wade returns, is also on board. “Obviously this is something that D-Wade helped build,” he said, “so obviously this city and us as a team being able to have somebody like that on our team would be amazing.”

There’s more today from the Southeast Division:

  • The terms of Jordan Mickey‘s two-year agreement with the Heat have been confirmed, Winderman adds in the same story. The former Celtic’s first season will be guaranteed at the $1.5MM veteran’s minimum and the second will be a team option.
  • The Hornets are in the market for a new assistant coach after Bob Weiss left to join the Nuggets, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The 75-year-old had been with Charlotte since Steve Clifford was hired as head coach in 2013. Weiss opted to take a job in Denver to be closer to his grandchildren, and Clifford hopes to find another veteran coach to replace him.
  • Sharecare, a digital health company based in Atlanta, agreed to a five-year deal this week to become the Hawks‘ jersey patch sponsor, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta. “Every team has had their own strategy with regard to patch partners,” said Andrew Saltzman, executive vice president and chief revenue officer for the team. “But ours is very clear: true to Atlanta and making this a component of a much larger and fully integrated  partnership that benefits our fan base, Atlanta as a whole and certainly our partner and ourselves.”

And-Ones: Antetokounmpo, EuroBasket, Anthony

Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s decision to skip EuroBasket is causing international conspiracy accusations, relays Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In a message written in Greek, Antetokounmpo announced on social media this morning that he will miss the tournament to keep from aggravating a knee injury. He is serving as an NBA ambassador this week in China, where he failed a physical administered by team doctors for the Bucks. Antetokounmpo called the decision to pull out of EuroBasket “by far the biggest disappointment in my career.”

However, the Greek basketball federation is casting doubt on the injury, claiming it’s a ruse by the Bucks to keep Antetokounmpo out of the competition. “A series of clues by which we were particularly worried about since Giannis arrived in Greece and the national team training camp started, had created the conviction of an organized and well-staged plan by the NBA franchise in which Giannis has signed,” the organization charged in a written statement translated by Eurohoops.net. EuroBasket will get under way August 31st.

There’s more NBA-related news from around the world:

  • Two players who will be part of EuroBasket are Magic teammates Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier, who faced off in a preparation game today, relays Josh Cohen of NBA.com. Fournier’s French team, the defending champions of the event, easily dispatched Vucevic’s Montenegro squad, 100-70. The French roster is stocked with current and former NBA players, including Boris Diaw, Joffrey Lauvergne and Nando de Colo.
  • The KnicksCarmelo Anthony, who has been the subject of trade rumors nearly all summer, makes a Basketball Insiders list of players who could most benefit from a deal. Anthony has been at an impasse for weeks, as he will reportedly only waive his no-trade clause to go to Houston, and the Rockets and Knicks have been unable to craft a mutually acceptable deal. Others who could use a change of scenery, according to the Basketball Insiders panel, are the SixersJahlil Okafor and the SunsEric Bledsoe.
  • An ESPN panel reacted to the network’s projected standings for the upcoming season by picking the teams most likely to outperform and underperform their rankings. The Sixers got multiple votes for both categories in relation to a projected 37-45 record.
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