Jared Sullinger Headed To China?

Amid rumors that former Celtics forward Jared Sullinger is eyeing an NBA comeback, the 25-year-old is reportedly headed to China, according to Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily (via Twitter). The former 21st overall pick had a solid showing at The Basketball Tournament in Brooklyn this week — with the Nets on hand to watch Sullinger — as he scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds while shooting 50% from the floor.

After struggling with is weight in recent seasons, admittedly topping out at 320 pounds, Sullinger now weighs in around 285 pounds. The Nets had interest in the 6’9″ Sullinger as he would providedBrooklyn with frontcourt depth; outside of recently acquired Timofey Mozgov and rookie Jarrett Allen, the team lacks in that department.

In five NBA campaigns, the Ohio State product averaged 10.8 PPG and 7.5 RPG for the Celtics and Raptors. As recently as 2015/16, Sullinger averaged a near double-double as he posted totals of 10.3 PPG and 8.3 RPG in 81 games for Boston.

There is no further information on which team in Chinese team Sullinger will suit up for but we will pass along that information once its available.

Northwest Notes: Carmelo, Ferguson, Fredette, Connaughton

Bill Simmons of The Ringer noted on Monday that the Thunder are “circling” Carmelo Anthony as the Knicks look for a suitable trade. Anthony’s camp has made it clear he does not want to remain in New York with his preferred destination being the Rockets, which would partner Anthony with Chris Paul and James Harden. However, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman examines the likelihood and outcome of Melo possibly ending up in Oklahoma City.

Since Anthony wields the power of a no-trade clause — much like OKC native Blake Griffin, who was linked to the Thunder extensively — it’s ultimately up to the player whether or not a trade occurs. The Thunder have already acquired Paul George, teaming the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player with one of the league’s best players. One thing that could help facilitate a move is Anthony’s relationship Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver — who recruited Melo to Syracuse.

Even if Anthony warms up to the idea, a lot hinges on all sides finding the right trade. Also, due to their respective contractual situations, Anthony, George, and Westbrook could all hit free agency after next season, which could put the Thunder in the bad situation. However, if the three players can be paired together and enjoy success it can change a lot of things; Melo’s former coach at Syracuse, Jim Boeheim, remains an Anthony supporter.

“It’s a myth that he can’t play with good players,” Boeheim said to Horne. “And Russell will get along with anybody that will help him win.”

Below are additional notes surrounding the Northwest Division:

  • Terrance Ferguson remains the final first round pick not to have signed a deal. The Thunder selected Ferguson with the 21st overall pick but Horne notes that one potential holdup could be his contract with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia, Ferguson’s last team. Horne also delves into the salary cap ramifcations of Ferguson signing his deal later than expected.
  • Jimmer Fredette has signed a two-year deal to return to China as he resumes his professional career. Before he made the decision, however, the Timberwolves considered signing former 10th overall pick, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
  • The Blazers have moved their deadline to guarantee Pat Connaughton‘s 2017/18 contract from today to August 31, per Joe Freeman of The Oregonian (via Twitter).

Southwest Notes: Davis, Cousins, Miller, Irving, Prince

After the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans last season, New Orleans’ new big man and incumbent big man, Anthony Davis, did not have much time to establish an on-court chemistry. This offseaosn, however, Davis and Cousins have spent a lot of time working out together in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com writes.

“We’ve just tried to get in as much work as possible this summer,” Davis said to Eichenhofer. “We didn’t have that much time last season to work out with each other, because we didn’t have training camp or (many practices). So we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, where we had time in the summer in the same city and can get in some work together, because we’ll be playing with each other a lot.”

The Pelicans have been active this offseason, inking Jrue Holiday to a long term extension and adding another backcourt upgrade in the form of veteran point guard Rajon Rondo. Davis also gave his candid thoughts on Cheick Diallo‘s play in the Summer League and his expectations for the 2017/17 season.

Below are additional notes around the Southwest Division:

  • Darius Miller signed a two-year deal with the Pelicans yesterday and it was the opportunity that enticed the 27-year-old forward. Per Scott Kushner of The Advocate (via Twitter), Miller chose the Pelicans over the Magic and Rockets because of the opportunity to “contribute to winning.”
  • The Mavericks may not be in position to contend for a championship but an exciting core with first-round pick Dennis Smith Jr. and a slew of veterans should make the team interesting, Dallas News’ Eddie Sefko writes. With Dirk Nowitzki back in the fold, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews still in Dallas and a variety of veteran point guards, the Mavericks could surprise many next season, Sefko adds.
  • In a separate post, Sefko answers several questions pertaining to the Mavericks. In regrads to Kyrie Irving‘s trade request, the scribe believes the Cavaliers All-Star heading to Dallas is a long shot as the Mavericks likely do not have the assets to swing a deal.
  • In a series of tweets, Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press says former NBA champion Tayshaun Prince is pondering a possible front office or coaching gig with the Grizzilies. However, the 37-year-old — who did not play last season — is also weighing a possible on-court return.

Heat Notes: Hayward, Irving, Olynyk

Gordon Hayward was extremely inspired during his free agency meeting with the Heat, passes along Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. In fact, the small forward was so pumped that he felt about ready to put on a Miami uniform:

After the video, he [Pat Riley] kind of talked a little bit,” Hayward said. “And that was the moment where you kind of do get some chills. And everyone’s wearing their ring, too, everybody on the staff was. And so that’s the moment where you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’ an I-want-to-put-on-the-jersey-right-now type feeling.

Hayward went on, “Miami was the spot that the more and more we talked about it, the more and more it looked like this would be a really, really good fit for me. And we actually broke it down and had like a point system of different pros and cons and on a weighted scale of different things that each city would represent and each team would represent, and Miami was always near the top of the rankings when we did it.”

Hayward was also struck by “this family vibe that they have.”  The now Celtics forward also said about the Heat pitch, “Mark [agent Mark Bartlestein] had tried to tell me, after you talk with him, you’re going to be like, ‘Mark, I’m ready to sign right now.’ You do get that vibe from him. He’s a great motivator. And we watched some videos, too, of the Heat and their tradition. He definitely makes you feel like you’re going to be competing for championships year in and year out.

Here’s more from the Miami Heat:

  • The Heat do not have considerable optimism about being able to land Kyrie Irving in a trade, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Tim Reynolds, who covers the NBA for the Associated Press, said that he does not believe that the Heat are even interested in acquiring Irving. Regardless, Jackson says that the Heat’s best chance to get Irving in a trade is if suitors with more appealing assets cannot strike a deal and the Cavs circle back to Miami.
  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes that the Heat have completed more trades, six, with the Cavaliers than any other team. Winderman details this rich trading history, which suggests that an Irving deal should not be viewed as impossible.
  • In a separate piece, Winderman argues that the Heat owe it to themselves to consider trading for Irving. As Winderman puts it, the Heat should consider breaking up a good team to put together a great team. The scribe also points out that Irving’s list of preferred destinations purposefully includes teams with respected coaches and front offices.
  • Eric Pincus tweets that Kelly Olynyk‘s deal includes a 5% trade kicker that cannot be used in excess of $2MM.


Lakers No Longer In Mix For Ian Clark

The Lakers are no longer interested in signing Ian Clark, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times reports. This news comes shortly after the team re-signed point guard Tyler Ennis to a one-year minimum contract with a team option for the second year.

Clark has played four seasons in the NBA since coming out of Belmont University. After beginning his career with the Jazz and Nuggets, the guard has seen his playing time rise with the Warriors. In 2016/17, Clark clocked 14.8 MPG in 77 games, during which he averaged 6.8PPG and shot a robust 48.7% from the field.

The Lakers have expressed interest in Clark in recent weeks, even meeting with the free agent guard for 45 minutes last Thursday afternoon, but no offer was made. The Bucks still maintain interest in Clark, reports Gery Woelfel on Woelfel’s Press Box.

Suns Will Not Include Josh Jackson In Kyrie Irving Offer

The Suns will not include Josh Jackson in any trade for Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Twitter link) adds that the team has reassured Jackson of this as well.

Phoenix has been rumored to be interested in the disgruntled Cleveland point guard, but it will not be entertaining offers that include its top 2017 draft pick. Jackson was selected fourth overall by the Suns as a forward out of the University of Kansas. The Suns clearly view Jackson as a critical part of their future if they are not willing to discuss trading him for a star of Irving’s caliber.

In Jackson’s lone season at Kansas, he averaged 16.3 PPG and 7.4 RPG, while shooting 51.3% from the field. Last season for the Cavs, the 25-year-old Irving scored 25.2 PPG and dished out 5.8 APG, while boasting an extremely impressive slash line of .473/.401/.905. Irving’s career playoff figures are even more impressive, as he has averaged 23.9 PPG, 4.7 APG, and 1.5 SPG in 52 career playoff games with a slash line of .465/.415/.876. Irving’s numbers in the past two playoffs are much higher still.

Since the Cavaliers do not need to trade Irving any time soon, although one could argue it would be awkward if they didn’t before training camp, it appears less likely that the Suns could nab him without agreeing to part with Jackson. Still, the Cavaliers may have interest in Eric Bledsoe as the centerpiece of a potential Irving trade.

Chauncey Billups Talks Kyrie, Turning Down Cavs Job

Chauncey Billups says that he knew Kyrie Irving was unhappy when Billups interviewed for the Cavaliers‘ GM position last month, passes along Brian Windhorst of ESPN. On Tuesday, Billups gave an interview on the Vic Lombardi Show on Altitude Sports 950 AM in Denver, in which he provided his opinion on Irving’s trade request and explained why he turned down an offer to be Cleveland’s general manager.

Billups, on Irving:

“[Irving’s trade request] didn’t surprise me. I knew as [the Cavs] were doing their due diligence on me I was doing the same thing on them. I knew so much about the situation that the rest of the world doesn’t know. But it’s unfortunate, man, because [Irving is] a special talent. So much of what he’s been able to accomplish on and off the floor has been as the beneficiary of having LeBron James. You’re getting everything you want. You get all the shots you want, you’re playing for a great coach who’s letting you go to work, when the game is on the line they’re coming to you, you’re playing on TV every week. To me, I don’t get it. Everybody has their own desires. Maybe he wants to be Russell Westbrook and go try to win the MVP and get all the shots. That’s the only sense I can make of it, and to me that doesn’t make sense.”

Billups, on turning down the Cavaliers GM offer:

“The whole [possibility of] LeBron leaving the next year, to be honest that didn’t bother me that much. Here’s why: When you have an opportunity to really put something together and put your imprint on it — rebuilding is a beautiful thing if [they’re] going to have the patience with you. What bothered me more than if LeBron left or not was that I didn’t think they had great assets if you have to do a rebuild. It was more that than Bron. Bron and I have always had an amazing relationship.

Billups, on where things stand for him now:

“It was a great process. That team is a great team, a lot of expectations, lot of pressure involved with that team. But I didn’t mind that. That’s kind of been my entire career, the stress and pressure. At the end, in my spirit, it just didn’t quite feel like it was the right time at the end. It was one of those gut things. So I took myself out of consideration. I felt good about it. Dan and I talked afterwards and I thanked him for giving me such a good opportunity. … We will remain friends. I don’t need the job. I love my life. I love this ESPN thing; it’s been fun. And I’ll just wait until it feels right.”

Brandon Knight Expected To Miss Season

Suns guard Brandon Knight has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. An official announcement from the Suns states that Knight will undergo surgery and is expected to miss the entire 2017/18 season.

In six career seasons with three different teams, Knight has averaged 15.2 PPG and 4.3 APG on 41.5% shooting. Knight played by far the least minutes of his career this past season, averaging just 21.1 minutes per game and starting only 5 of the 54 games in which he played. His scoring average was also a career low at 11.0.

Knight was acquired by the Suns in February of 2015 in a three-team trade. Two years earlier, the guard had been traded from the Pistons to the Bucks. Knight’s best scoring season came with the Suns in 2015/16 when he averaged 19.6 PPG. However, he shot just 41.5% from the floor during the campaign.

With near-All-Star Eric Bledsoe and up-and-coming Tyler Ulis at point guard for the Suns and Knight likely missing the entire 2017/18 season, it will be interesting to monitor the Kentucky product’s future in Phoenix. After an incredibly disappointing performance last season, Knight had already been on the outs with the Suns. This injury may have solidified the young guard’s future elsewhere.

Knight is owed $13.6MM this season, $14.6MM next, and $15.6MM more the following season.

Magic, Arron Afflalo Agree To One-Year Deal

The Magic have agreed to a one-year contract with free agent swingman Arron Afflalo, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The deal will be worth the veteran’s minimum, per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter link). Once the signing is official, Orlando looks to be capped out.

Although the Magic front office is under new management now, with Jeff Weltman and John Hammond running the show, the move represents a reunion for the two sides — Afflalo previously played for the franchise from 2012 to 2014.

The 31-year-old journeyman has played for six different franchises in ten seasons. His career slash line is .451/.386/.825, with his best scoring season coming as a member of the Magic in 2013/14. That season, Afflalo scored 18.2 PPG, while shooting 45.9% from the field. The former UCLA Bruin started all 73 games in which he played during that campaign. Over the course of Afflalo’s career, he has averaged 11.3 PPG and has started 534 of his 709 games played.

On Sunday, it was reported that the Magic were  “on course” to sign Marreese Speights to a minimum salary contract. The signing has not yet been made official.

Lakers To Re-Sign Tyler Ennis

The Lakers have reached an agreement to bring back free agent guard Tyler Ennis, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Twitter link). Shelburne reports that Ennis will get a two-year, minimum salary deal with a team option on the second year.

Ennis, who will turn 23 next month, was selected by the Suns with the 18th overall pick in the 2014 draft, but has bounced around the league since then. In addition to spending a little time in Phoenix, Ennis has also had stints with the Bucks, Rockets, and Lakers, appearing in 132 total regular season contests.

While Ennis hasn’t been able to stick with one team for long, the Lakers “really liked” what they saw from him down the stretch in 2016/17 after acquiring him at the deadline, tweets Shelburne. The Canadian point guard averaged 7.7 PPG, 2.4 APG, and 0.9 SPG, with a shooting line of .451/.389/.864 in 22 games as a Laker. All of those averages would have been career highs for a full season.

The Lakers were rumored to be considering Ennis, Derrick Rose, and other guards in recent weeks. The club displayed serious interest in Rose, but the former MVP committed to the Cavaliers on Monday night, prompting L.A. to move quickly to lock up Ennis.

The timing of Ennis’ signing will be interesting to keep an eye on. Currently, the Lakers have $815,615 in cap room remaining, which is exactly enough to sign a rookie, such as Thomas Bryant. The club could still sign Bryant using the minimum salary exception after signing Ennis and going over the cap, but a deal with that exception is limited to two years. If the Lakers wait to officially finalize Ennis’ contract, it’s likely a signal that they hope to use that remaining cap room to sign Bryant or another rookie to a three- or four-year pact.

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