Month: December 2017

Eastern Notes: Irving, Bayless, Hoiberg

Celtics coach Brad Stevens would like to see Jerryd Bayless return to the team next season, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. Stevens said, “You don’t know how all the numbers are going to work themselves out and all the different people, but he’s a good guy to have on your team. He’s bright, he thinks about the game on both ends of the floor, he’s physical, and he can score the ball in a flurry. I like him and I’d like to have him. At the same time, I don’t know how all that stuff is going to work itself out. I’m a big fan of Jerryd Bayless; I like him.” In 35 appearances for Boston, Bayless is averaging 9.7 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 3.2 APG in 24.7 minutes per contest.

More from the east:

  • Kyrie Irving has been cleared to return to practice after missing the Cavaliers last eight games with a biceps injury, reports Sam Amick of USA Today. He can resume full contact immediately, but the team said his status for this week’s games hasn’t been determined. Cleveland is 4-4 since Irving was injured.
  • Irving, who is eligible to sign a contract extension this summer, shot down rumors of him being traded, writes Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. Irving said, “I’m on my rookie deal. The team that can extend me is the Cleveland Cavaliers, and, you know, for me to even think about getting traded is blasphemy. It’s ridiculous.
  • Fred Hoiberg is being talked about as a head coaching candidate for a number of NBA teams. Sam Smith of Bulls.com looks at some of the possible suitors, and also analyzes whether Hoiberg should leave Iowa State for the NBA. Hoiberg has been mentioned lately as a possibility to take over the Knicks next season, should Mike Woodson not be retained.
  • Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Daily News tries to find some positives in the Sixers dismal season. He looks at a number of their young players, and what roles they might play in the team’s future.

Seth Curry To Sign With Santa Cruz

Seth Curry is going to sign with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA D-League, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest is reporting (Twitter link). This will be his second stint with the team this season. This comes on the heels of the Cavaliers declining to sign Curry to a second 10-day contract. Curry only appeared in one game for the Cavs, contributing three points, two steals, and one rebound in nine minutes of action.

Curry also spent time in the NBA this season on a non-guaranteed contract with the Grizzlies, until Memphis waived him. Curry only saw the floor once in Memphis as well.

In 36 games with Santa Cruz, Curry has averaged 19.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 5.9 APG in 35.3 minutes per game.

Prospect Profile: Tyler Ennis

Tyler Ennis didn’t look like a potential lottery pick at the beginning of the season. Nor was he considered likely to leave Syracuse after just one year, but last Thursday he did just that, and declared himself eligible for this June’s NBA Draft. While considered a Five-star recruit coming out of high school by 247 Sports’ composite rankings, Ennis’ ascent up the national ranks is a bit of a surprise. The Canadian native came into the year ranked no higher than the 20th-best prospect in his class by recruiting services, but since then the Syracuse point guard has swiftly changed opinions with clutch performances and poised point guard play.

Ennis, a second-team All-ACC selection, is considered a mid-to-late lottery pick. ESPN’s Chad Ford ranks him as the tenth-best player and third-best point guard in the 2014 class, behind Dante Exum and Marcus Smart. In current mock drafts, Draft Express has him going 14th, NBA Draft.net has him being taken 18th, and Bleacher Report has him going seventh. In February, an anonymous NBA general manager told Ford (Insider subscription required) he would take Ennis over Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.

In 34 games he averaged 12.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.5 APG, and 2.1 SPG in 35.7 minutes per game. His slash line was .411/.353/.765.

Ennis has impressed scouts with maturity well beyond his age. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim consistently put the ball in his hands with the game on the line, and Ennis rewarded that faith. He made eight of his first nine shots and all 14 of his free throws during clutch situations to start the regular season, according to Chris Carlson of Syracuse.com.

Boeheim isn’t known to shower acclaim on his players, much less on freshmen, but has been quite vocal in his praise of Ennis this season. Boeheim said, “Tyler, for us, he’s so valuable. He plays 40 minutes in the [ACC games]. We can’t win a game without him. Literally. If you talk about the best pro prospect (in the ACC), it’s Jabari Parker, but who’s the most valuable to his team? We don’t have a point guard, I don’t know where we would be without Tyler Ennis.

Scouts around the league often use the term, “feel for the game,” and Ennis has demonstrated plenty of that. He’s a smart ball-handler who works well within the framework of an offense, communicating with his teammates and keeping the ball moving. He’ll be the latest Boeheim product, following Michael Carter-Williams, who sees the court at an advanced level from the moment he steps on an NBA floor.

When looking at how his skills translate to the NBA game, Ennis’ ability to score off the pick-and-roll also stands out as being promising. Many point guards aren’t given enough trust within college-level offenses to create off the dribble, which slows their growth as they try to learn the nuances of an NBA attack. Roughly a third of Ennis’ possessions that ended in a shot attempt, turnover or foul, came as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, per Synergy Sports (subscription required).

Ennis is a pass-first point guard, and is as pure as they come at his position. That’s not to say he can’t put up points, but he chooses to score more as a secondary option, which is the more traditional mentality you want your point guard to operate with. It has been said that Ennis is too unselfish at times, and he doesn’t look to score as often as he should. The point guard position has changed over the years, and there aren’t many stars at the point who don’t score in volume.

One stat that jumps out is his 3.24 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s also 18th in the country with a pure point rating of 5.38, a metric devised to accurately weigh assists to turnovers relative to each other. “His assist-to-turnover ratio is almost comical,” said assistant coach Gerry McNamara. “His feel is as good as I’ve ever watched. I said that about Michael [Carter-Williams] last year. Tyler’s in that same realm. It’s difficult to speed him up. He plays at the pace that he wants to play at.”

As far as being a scorer, his shot consistency is a bit of an issue, but Ennis has range and projects as a good, if not elite shooter. He hit three-point jumpers at a 35.3% success rate and appeared more comfortable taking those shots at higher volumes as the season went along. He can also be quite deceptive. Ennis is able to gain separation for a jumper when you least expect it or find ways to avoid the contest at the rim and somehow finish around it. With a reliable stop-and-pop pull-up, Ennis can also be a threatening scorer off the dribble, even if he isn’t able to get to the rim. He has an assortment of runners, floaters and push shots he can make on the move successfully. Ennis might not evolve into a consistent scoring threat, but he can provide some points when the opportunity calls.

Defensively, Ennis might lack the size and strength to guard the larger NBA guards, but he certainly has the speed and the basketball intelligence. He led the ACC in steals, and was second in steal percentage at 3.9. Ennis was eighth in defensive win shares at 2.2. He doesn’t project as an elite defender, but should be an above average contributor.

Ennis’ game has been compared by Dick Vitale of ESPN to Jason Kidd‘s, although I don’t see him as having the same physical strength as Kidd. He’s also been compared favorably with Chris Paul. Paul is a quicker player, but Ennis has a similar ability to change directions to beat defenders and similar steal numbers for players of similar height and build. Paul was 6’0″, 175 pounds coming out, whereas Ennis is listed at 6’2″, 180 pounds. As a passer, Ennis actually has a higher assist percentage as a freshman than Paul did in his first season at Wake Forest. Defensively, Ennis sits just below Paul in steal percentage and steals per game, according to the article by Peter Bukowski at SI.com, who made the Paul comparisons.

Ennis might not become an All-Star level point guard, but he is almost certain to be a solid contributor. He offers plenty of intangibles and instincts that can’t be coached. From a character, toughness and stability standpoint, there’s not much to question. He never seems to get too high or too low, which is what you want from a floor general and potential team leader. The difficulty with teams gauging Ennis’ draft stock is that much of what he offers is in the way of intangibles. He might not wow scouts in pre-draft workouts, but watching Ennis on film, and appreciating all the subtle things he does on the court might tempt some teams to take him in the top ten. My best estimate is that he is the second point guard taken after Exum, and comes off the board in the six to ten range.

And-Ones: Nowitzki, Draft, Parker

Dirk Nowitzki eschews an agent and has mentor Holger Geschwinder negotiate his contracts for him, but the Mavs star isn’t fond of free agency, as he tells TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Nowitzki reiterates that he fully intends to re-sign with Dallas this summer.

More from around the league:

  • Despite Nowitzki’s stated intent to re-sign with Dallas, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders believes Dirk would be well-served to explore his options. Kennedy cites Nowitzki’s desire to be on a championship contender as the primary reason, and believes if he was willing to take a pay cut, he could fit in nicely with a number of teams that offer him a better chance to win than the Mavericks.
  • Rich Paul was mentioned earlier as a possible agent for Andrew Wiggins. Paul might also land Duke’s Jabari Parker if he declares for the draft, tweets Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Deveney also lists former NBA player B.J. Armstrong as a possibility to represent Parker.
  • Western Michigan Senior Shayne Whittington has signed with agents Ronald Shade and Herb Rudoy of Interperformances, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Whittington is currently ranked 195th by Chad Ford of ESPN.com, and is a projected second round pick at best.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

 

Wiggins Notes: Celtics, Agent, Durant

The 2014 NBA Draft won’t be held until June 26th, but the fact that it’s still almost three months away won’t dampen the excitement and anticipation of executives and fans around the league. The rush of underclassmen declaring their intent to be a part of the process has already begun. You can check out our latest early entrants list to stay up to date with who teams will have to choose from on draft night. One of the more exciting prospects to declare was Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins. You can check out our prospect profile on him here.

More talk about Wiggins:

  • The Celtics are hoping for a little luck when the lottery order is determined now that Wiggins has officially declared for the draft, writes Jeff Pini of Boston.com. The Celtics currently have the fifth-worst record in the NBA and have a strong chance of landing a top-three pick in the draft.
  • Wiggins is expected to hire Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group as his agent, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News (Twitter link). Paul was formerly with C.A.A. before forming his own firm. He currently represents LeBron James, Tristan Thompson, Eric Bledsoe, Kevin Seraphin and Cory Joseph.
  • Wiggins started the season as the probable first overall pick, and if a knock on Wiggins’ game developed over time, it was that he could be too passive and did not steal the show nightly, writes Deveney in a separate article. Wiggins’ last game where he scored four points on only six shots didn’t help change this opinion. Kevin Durant had similar criticisms as well before he entered the NBA, according to Deveney. The article references this scouting report on Durant that stated, “One aspect of his game that was put on center stage throughout the (NCAA) tournament was his tendency to disappear throughout stretches of the game. For 10 minutes, you will be watching the best player the college game has had to offer in the last 10 years. Then for 5 minutes, you will forget that he is even on the floor offensively.

Hoops Rumors Chat Transcript

Click below to read this week’s chat transcript:

 

Pacific Rumors: Thomas, Jackson, Marshall

There will be something on the line for every team in the Pacific Division over the final two weeks or so remaining in the regular season. The Clippers have an outside chance at catching the Thunder for the second seed in the Western Conference, while the Warriors and Suns are fighting for one of the final playoff spots and the Kings and Lakers are jockeying for draft lottery position. Plenty of intrigue will carry over into the offseason, as we detail:

  • Isaiah Thomas let his affection for the Lakers be known recently, but the soon-to-be restricted free agent tells Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee that he’d prefer to remain with the Kings. The Kings would like to keep him, since they’ve concluded that Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay can form the core of a quality team, Jones writes. “I definitely want to be around when it does turn around,” Thomas said. “I was drafted here. I’ve been welcomed with open arms by the Sacramento community. It just feels like a second home. I can’t control it, though. At the same time, I’m going to do whatever’s possible to be around. That’s all I can do.”
  • Regardless of what happens between Mark Jackson and the Warriors, the former Knicks point guard won’t have the chance to return to New York, as Knicks team president Phil Jackson wouldn’t hire him, tweets Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group. Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob will be the sole decision-maker regarding the coach’s future with Golden State, Kawakami adds (Twitter link).
  • Kendall Marshall still holds a grudge against the Suns for trading him just one season after they took him 13th overall in 2012, observes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The Lakers plan to retain Marshall on his non-guaranteed contract next season, as we noted earlier.

Andrew Wiggins Enters NBA Draft

MONDAY, 2:10pm: Wiggins made it official, announcing in his press conference today that he’s entering the draft. He’s among nearly 20 underclassmen who’ve made it known that they intend to head to the NBA, as our updated early entrants list shows.

SUNDAY, 8:20pm: Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins will have a press conference tomorrow at 2:00pm CST to announce his decision regarding the draft, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. It has long been widely assumed that Wiggins will declare for the NBA draft, and Goodman says this will be the case tomorrow (Twitter links).

As we detailed in our Prospect Profile series, the Canadian phenom has been considered a first-overall talent since high school. Although Wiggins had an inconsistent year at Kansas, including a 4-point dud in the Jayhawks’ elimination game from the NCAA tournament, he still sits atop many draft projections, including those of Jonathan Givony at DraftExpress and ESPN Insider Chad Ford. The only two players believed to threaten Wiggins at the top of the draft are teammate Joel Embiid and Duke’s Jabari Parker. Parker also had an underwhelming tournament exit, and Embiid sat out of the tourney due to a back injury.

Kings Sign Jared Cunningham To 10-Day Deal

1:01pm: The signing is official, the team announced.

8:01am: The Kings will sign 2012 first-round pick Jared Cunningham to a 10-day contract, reports Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). The team is still high on Royce White, whom Sacramento has been considering for another contract, but a shortage of healthy guards has prompted GM Pete D’Alessandro and company to temporarily fill their final roster spot with Cunningham, Jones tweets.

Injuries had left rookies Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum as the only available guards for Sacramento, so Cunningham, a shooting guard, figures to see plenty of minutes. It’ll be a stark contrast from Cunningham’s experience on NBA rosters so far, as he’s played more games on D-League assignment than in the NBA in both seasons since turning pro. The Hawks waived him in late February to address their shortage of bodies in the frontcourt.  Cunningham said shortly thereafter that he would sign with an NBA team within the week, but he wound up waiting almost a month for his return to the Association.

The Sam Goldfeder client was the 24th overall pick in 2012, but he’s seen action in just 13 NBA games so far between the Mavs and Hawks, putting up 18 points on 7 for 16 shooting in 48 total minutes. He’s played in 37 D-League games, averaging 16.1 points on 36.9% shooting from the field in 32.5 minutes per contest.

Patrick Beverley Will Return This Season

MONDAY, 12:37pm: Beverley will be back this season and won’t undergo surgery, Wojnarowski reports.

SUNDAY, 1:47pm: There’s a possibility that Beverley will not need surgery, and he might be able to return as early as the first-round of the postseason, reports Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (h/t to Zach Harper of CBSSports.com). Beverley says he feels “pretty good” and believes he’ll return this season “for sure.” He’ll see Dr. James Andrews on Monday and make a decision after their visit.

FRIDAY: Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley is likely done for the season with a torn meniscus in his right knee, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports originally reported the injury, noting that Beverley will seek a second opinion in hopes that he can rehab and return at some point before the end of Houston’s playoff run.

Amick cites the lengthy absences of Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, who also suffered meniscus tears, though Metta World Peace returned 12 days after undergoing surgery on his torn meniscus last season. Still, that quick recovery was something of an outlier, and the procedure World Peace underwent, in which his meniscus was removed entirely rather than repaired, can cause issues that linger over the course of a long career. Beverley, just 25 years old, might not be as willing as World Peace, then 33, to sacrifice the future for the benefit of the present.

In any case, the specter of entering the playoffs with Beverley is a tough blow for the Rockets, who’ve compiled the fourth-best record in the Western Conference thanks in no small part to the gritty, defensive-minded second-year player. He represents one of GM Daryl Morey‘s shrewdest acquisitions, as Morey picked him out of the Russian league in the middle of last season, signed him to a minimum-salary contract, and watched him quickly make his mark on the team. Beverley’s deal is non-guaranteed for next season, but it would be a shock if Morey doesn’t keep him around, regardless of the injury.

It’s too late for the team to apply for a disabled player exception, which wouldn’t have given the team much flexibility, given Beverley’s diminutive salary. The Rockets have a prorated portion of the $2.652MM room exception available to sign a free agent replacement, but it’s unlikely anyone on the market will be able to replace what Beverley has brought to the team, much less be worthy of more than the minimum salary. Rookie Isaiah Canaan figures to draw more playing time behind Jeremy Lin, who’ll no doubt become the starter, and Morey might regret trading veteran point guard Aaron Brooks to the Nuggets at the deadline for swingman Jordan Hamilton.

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