Month: April 2017

Odds & Ends: Nuggets, Howard, Hornets, Celtics

It was a rough night for the Knicks in South Beach.  First, the Heat went up 2-0 in their first round series with a 104-94 win behind 25 points from Dwyane Wade.  Later, reporters were held out of the Knicks' locker room as Amare Stoudemire was being tended to for lacerations on his left hand.  It appears that the big man took his frustrations out on a fire extinguisher and his status for Game 3 could be in jeopardy.  Here's more from around the league..

Prospect Profile: Tyler Zeller

Lottery teams in search of centers know exactly who the top target at the position is in this year's class.  If you have the good fortune of landing a pick between No. 2 and 5, the high-risk, high-reward Andre Drummond could be yours.  After that, it gets a little bit tricky.  Ohio State sophomore Jared Sullinger had some GMs drooling this time last season before he opted to stay in school for another season.  The Buckeye has a more advanced post game than your average 20-year-old but at 6'9" is shorter than your average center as well.  Teams that are less-than-enamored with Sullinger (or, drafting after he is taken) will take a long, hard look at North Carolina center Tyler Zeller.

The UNC standout improved his stock greatly by turning in a strong senior season in which he was the most reliable option on a star-studded team.  Zeller averaged 16.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, and shot 55.3% from the floor as he stuck close to the rim in 2011/12.  In fact, he stayed so close to the rim that he hardly got the opportunity to show off his shooting range.  In previous seasons, the 22-year-old has shown the ability to bury shots from mid-range and sometimes a step beyond.

While his 55.3% field goal percentage is impressive, the most eye-popping number on his stat sheet just might be his 81% success rate at the charity stripe.  Zeller was widely mocked for his aversion to physical play as an underclassman but he has flipped a switch in recent years.  Now that he has shown that he won't shy away from contact, you can expect the big man to get plenty of opportunities at the free throw line.

Unlike Sullinger, Zeller can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Association's big men at 7'0".  He's also unlike Sullinger in that he doesn't have the world's most polished offensive skill set with his back to the basket.  However, that's not unique to 7-footers coming into the league and it's likely something that Zeller will be able to develop with time.  His post game should be accelerated by adding bulk to his 250 pound frame and any team that tabs Zeller will insist that he hits the weight room from day one.  Will he get the distinction of being the second center off of the board on June 28th?  That'll be largely dictated by where the ping-pong balls land and how the two perform in pre-draft workouts.

Sonny Weems Drawing Interest

After spending the season in Lithuania, Sonny Weems is anxious to return to North America and test the NBA free agent waters this summer. Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld reports that a number of teams have already expressed interest in Weems, with the Celtics among the clubs expected to pursue him.

Having sat out the season, Weems remains under the Raptors' control. He'll be eligible for restricted free agency, so the Raps would have the option to extend him a qualifying offer and then match any rival offers. It's not clear, however, whether Weems is a part of the Raptors' plan going forward.

"I haven’t heard anything (from the Raptors)," Weems said. "It doesn’t matter to me either way. My agent, Roger Montgomery, has been talking to many different teams and a lot of them are very interested. I’m just very excited for free agency. If I don’t go back to Toronto, it wouldn’t be a heart-breaker for me because it gives me a chance to start over and join another team."

Weems, 25, has played for the Nuggets and Raptors in his three NBA seasons. In 2010/11, he averaged 9.2 points in 23.9 minutes per game over the course of 59 contests.

Bobcats Coaching Rumors: Silas, McMillan, Cho

When the Bobcats announced earlier today that Paul Silas wouldn't be returning to coach the team next season, they added that the search for his replacement would begin immediately. With Charlotte not wasting any time looking for a new coach, rumors about who that coach will be are already swirling. Here's the latest (all links via Twitter):

  • Silas may not be the head coach in Charlotte anymore, but he'll remain with the team in a consulting role, says Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Within the same tweet, Bonnell says Paul's son Stephen Silas will be interviewed by the Bobcats for the coaching job.
  • Former Blazers coach Nate McMillan is a North Carolina native and seems like a logical fit, but Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports hears that there's a "remote chance" McMillan will have interest in the position.
  • McMillan himself told Bonnell, "I certainly do want to be in coaching again, so we'll see what happens."
  • The coaching free agent market is rich, but Bobcats owner Michael Jordan will have to sell hard on the Charlotte job, says SI.com's Chris Mannix. Wojnarowski is more blunt in his assessment of the Bobcats' opening, calling it "one of the least appealing coaching jobs in modern NBA history."
  • Bobcats GM Rich Cho wants the next coach to see the job as an opportunity rather than a burden, says Bonnell. That sales pitch could probably use some work.
  • Jordan needs to hand over control of the basketball decisions to Cho, suggests Mannix.

Draft Updates: Harris, Mock Draft, Small Forwards

The NBA's early-entry deadline came and went late last night, and it appears that Maryland's Terrell Stoglin was the only last-minute addition to this year's list of NCAA underclassmen to declare for the draft. With the 2012 class taking shape, let's check in on a few draft-related updates….

  • Gonzaga junior Elias Harris also took his decision down to the 11th hour, but decided to return to school, reports Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
  • ESPN.com's Chad Ford has published the fourth version of his mock draft for this year (Insider only). Of note: Ford has Bradley Beal going third overall and Jared Sullinger down to 12th.
  • TNT's David Aldridge breaks down this year's crop of small forwards, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes topping his lists as the only locks for the lottery. Aldridge's piece features plenty of quotes from talent evaluators, and is worth the read.

Nets Officially Move To Brooklyn

The New Jersey Nets are no more. At midnight last night, the franchise became formally known as the Brooklyn Nets, with the team's official website and Twitter feed updated to reflect its new identity. The new-look Nets unveiled the logo and color scheme for Brooklyn today, introducing the Jay-Z-designed, black-and-white logo at the Modell's Sporting Goods store across to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Brook Lopez, coach Avery Johnson, and GM Billy King were among the Nets' representatives on hand for the event, as Colin Stephenson of the Star-Ledger writes. Majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov was not in attendance, but a spokeswoman says he "loves" the team's new look, according to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York.

The Nets' goal is that the new identity will help attract free agents to Brooklyn. King vowed that the team is "not going to build slowly" and NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver suggested that cementing the franchise's new brand will help with player recruitment. The Nets are expected to have plenty of cap room this summer, though a good chunk of that could be used to try to re-sign Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, and Lopez.

For our purposes, Nets-related posts will be tagged with "Brooklyn Nets" from now on. The URL to find Nets rumors remains the same, as do the addresses for our Nets pages on Twitter and Facebook.

Paul Silas Will Not Return To Coach Bobcats

Paul Silas will not return to Charlotte to coach the Bobcats next season, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. The team confirmed the decision in a press release.

The move is hardly a surprise, since Silas' contract was set to expire and the Bobcats finished the season with an all-time-worst 7-59 record. Even outside of posting an NBA-record-low .106 winning percentage and ending the season on a 23-game losing streak, Silas and the Bobcats endured their share of turmoil. Silas, 68, reportedly clashed with Boris Diaw before the veteran was waived, and the coach had a locker-room altercation with Tyrus Thomas as well. Silas also received some criticism for allowing his son Stephen to coach a handful of games.

When I previewed the Bobcats' offseason earlier today, I didn't touch on the coaching situation, but the task of finding a new coach now figures to be at the top of the team's summer to-do list. According to Bonnell, candidates the Bobcats could consider include Nate McMillan, Mike D'Antoni and Patrick Ewing. Of course, if other coaching jobs open up over the next few weeks, it's hard to imagine Charlotte being the first choice of any big-name candidate.

Wizards Will Again Try To Trade Blatche

The Wizards were one of the league's more active teams at last month's trade deadline, shipping JaVale McGee and Nick Young out of town in a blockbuster deal that landed them Nene. Washington also tried to move Andray Blatche, but couldn't find a taker. The Wizards will continue to try to trade Blatche this summer, according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, who says there's a good chance the forward has played his final game with the Wizards.

When he was extended last week, Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld indicated there was a chance Blatche would be on the roster for next season, but the odds of that "seem remote," says Lee. The Wizards would almost certainly have to take on another bad contract and/or give up draft picks to find a trade partner, so using their amnesty provision on Blatche seems more likely. For his part, Blatche says he's ready for anything.

"I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but whatever is going to happen is going to happen for a reason," Blatche said. "If I come back, I’m more than happy to try to fight through this little hole I’m in. If I’m somewhere else, I’ll continue to try to get better."

Injuries and poor conditioning led to a terrible 2011/12 campaign for Blatche. According to Lee's sources, the 25-year-old's weight ballooned above 280 pounds at one point. In the 26 games he played, Blatche posted a 10.6 PER, well below the 15.9 career mark he'd recorded prior to this season. He has three years and $23MM+ remaining on his contract.

Offseason Outlook: Charlotte Bobcats

Guaranteed Contracts

Options

Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Draft Picks

  • 1st Round (Pending lottery; 25% chance at first overall pick)
  • 2nd Round (31st overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary (including likely options): $43,149,547
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary, Cap Holds: $26,786,055
  • Total (not including draft picks): $69,935,602

To say that the 2011/12 season was a horror show for the Charlotte Bobcats would be putting it lightly. Needing only one win in its final 23 games to avoid setting an NBA record for futility, the team lost 23 straight to finish the season with the league's worst-ever winning percentage (.106, 7-59).

While the Bobcats may have been better off had the lockout simply wiped out the season, you have to think the worst is behind them. Things can only get better from here. Right?

Heading into 2012/13, the Bobcats still have a number of undesirable contracts on their books, but many of them will expire at the end of next season. Assuming DeSagana Diop and Matt Carroll opt in for 2012/13, their contracts, along with Corey Maggette's and a few others, will be in their final year. The team's remaining bad contract, Tyrus Thomas', runs through 2014/15, but Charlotte will have the option of using its amnesty clause to wipe out the remaining three years and $26MM+ owed to the underachieving big man.

With some room to work with next season and increasing cap flexibility in the long-term, the Bobcats will have the means to match any offers for restricted free agent D.J. Augustin. However, considering the promising rookie season from Kemba Walker, who posted a 14.9 PER compared to Augustin's 14.1 mark, Charlotte shouldn't feel obligated to overpay for Augustin if a team signs him to a huge offer sheet.

The Bobcats will also have a top-four pick to add to its core of Walker and Bismack Biyombo, and while Anthony Davis is far and away their prospect of choice, losing the lottery and ending up with a consolation prize like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson wouldn't be the end of the world. Still, a frontcourt of Davis and Biyombo is one worth salivating over, and would give Charlotte the young potential star it badly needs.

While the Bobcats will head into 2012/13 wanting to put the embarrassment of this season behind them, it's hard to imagine a huge roster overhaul happening quite yet. Charlotte won't exactly be a top destination for free agents, so even though the Bobcats could use help at a number of positions, including on the wing, it's hard to imagine them luring free agent help.

Based on their current salaries and cap holds, the Bobcats figure to be an over-the-cap team for one more season, meaning their only hope of attracting a major free agent is the mid-level exception. Amnestying Thomas and renouncing some cap holds could create a little room to spend, but I don't think that would necessarily help the team in the long-term.

Making a splash in free agency this summer probably isn't the best plan of action for the Bobcats anyway. While no one in Charlotte wants a repeat of the historically bad 2011/12, attempting to move forward by making drastic changes is more likely to set back the rebuilding effort than to advance it. With a handful of bad contracts entering their final year, Charlotte simply needs to stay the course, adding another young player to its core and preparing for the summer of 2013, when the team figures to have another lottery pick and a ton of cap space.

Storytellers Contracts and Sham Sports were used in the creation of this post.

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