Month: December 2017

And-Ones: Mudiay, Bosh, Lowry

Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders runs down many of the players returning to college next year who have first-round potential in the 2015 draft. Here’s more from around the association:

  • Highly touted 2015 draft prospect Emmanuel Mudiay will receive a $1.275MM salary from Guangdong of China, according to Pat Forde and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. That’s a little bit more lucrative than the $1.2MM figure that was originally reported when he signed with the club.
  • Chris Bosh admitted he was close to leaving the Heat as a free agent when being interviewed by The Ticket 104.3 FM in Miami (transcription via ESPN.com). “It was close. I’m not going to lie,” Bosh said. “It was a weird situation because we were waiting so long [on LeBron James‘ decision] and I didn’t know what was going on. I think you’re always in a situation where it is close even if you don’t leave because teams got very aggressive on me.”
  • Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report details Kyle Lowry‘s long and unexpected path to re-signing with the Raptors, who almost traded him in-season, then weren’t the favorites to bring him back as a free agent this summer. “[The Raptors] weren’t always the favorite, but [GM Masai Ujiri] wanted to get the deal done, and it made it a lot easier,” Lowry told Zwerling. “[Lowry’s agent and I] approached it as a business and so did [Toronto]. At the end of the day, I didn’t wait for [the other teams]. I wanted to make my decision for myself.”

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Rumors: Jokic, Grizzlies, Jazz, Kings

It doesn’t sound like the Nuggets intend to sign 41st overall pick Nikola Jokic this year, as Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post writes amid his mailbag column that the center from Serbia won’t be on the roster come fall. Here’s a rundown of the Western Conference, including some more notes out of Denver:

  • In another response, Dempsey predicts that the Nuggets will make the playoffs this season, but speculates that a failure to do so will result in a “gut-job” on the roster from the front office.
  • The Denver Post scribe would expect JaVale McGee to be on the trading block for 2015/16, when he will be on an expiring contract, if the Nuggets center doesn’t stay healthy and play well this year.
  • The Grizzlies have retooled their coaching and development staff with a group of promotions and hires, installing Jeff Bzdelik, Jason March, Drew Graham and John Townsend as assistant coach, assistant coach/advanced scout, head trainer, and director of player development, respectively, according to a team release.
  • Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune looks at the plethora of rookie extension decisions facing the Jazz, who have six lottery picks on their roster, in the coming years.
  • The Kings final court victory regarding their new arena will be appealed, but a team spokeswoman tells Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee that Sacramento will move forward with construction.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Rose Trying To Smooth Tension With Bulls

9:15pm: Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf released an official statement disputing Cowley’s report.

“I am confounded by the irresponsible report in the Chicago Sun-Times suggesting there is anything approaching discord or confusion between the Bulls executive office, coaching staff, and Derrick Rose or any other Bulls player,” the owner said. “To the contrary, I can remember no time when the organization has been any more focused, optimistic, and cohesive. I’ve got to assume suggestions otherwise are intended to undermine the goals and objectives, spirit, and reputation of the Chicago Bulls. I am deeply disappointed that unnamed sources and totally inaccurate statements and assumptions can be used to foment nonexistent friction. The report is totally without basis or fact. It is pure malicious fiction.”

Rose is on the record in acknowledging the tension in Cowley’s story, but perhaps Reinsdorf takes issue with the specifics of the disconnect portrayed by the Chicago Sun-Times scribe’s sources.

5:03pm: Derrick Rose acknowledged tension between his camp and the Bulls organization and is working diligently to heal the wounds, as he told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. The discord, which has resulted in a growing lack of communication between Rose and the team, stemmed from potshots that Rose’s camp, one that includes brother Reggie Rose and agent B.J. Armstrong, took at the franchise, according to Cowley. It boiled over with Rose’s seeming reluctance to recruit Carmelo Anthony, as Cowley writes.

A source tells Cowley that Rose resisted the team’s efforts to get him to talk to Anthony after a workout Rose conducted at the United Center on the day of the team’s meeting with the star free agent. Rose ultimately had a conversation with Anthony, and this week Rose detailed what he told the high-scoring forward, seemingly casting it as somewhat more than the brief hello that one of a few conflicting reports about the meeting suggested it was.

Cowley hears that Bulls officials didn’t know that Rose wouldn’t show up at the team’s dinner with Anthony that evening and were “irate.” Rose was nonetheless an enthusiastic recruiter of Pau Gasol, Cowley notes.

“That’s someone that I knew I could play with,’’ Rose told Cowley about why he recruited the Spanish-born center. “You think about Pau, him now being in the East, what he’ll be able to achieve with the way we play, the way we dump the ball in the post a lot. It could be great.’’

Armstrong is a former Bulls executive who, Cowley hears, harbors ill feelings toward Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson, though Armstrong vehemently denies such an assertion. Rose’s contract with the Bulls runs for three more seasons, and it doesn’t contain any option clauses, so Armstrong would be unable to take his client to free agency until 2017.

Poll: Which Rebuild Will Pay Off First?

We are well acclimated to claims of “rebuilding” being met with charges of “tanking” when teams aggressively clear veteran salary and acquire assets while plummeting to the bottom of the standings. However you view teams that go into win-later mode, the reality is that many franchises are convinced that the method is the best bet to build a long-term winner.

I’ve summarized the moves for each team that won 25 games or fewer last season. This excludes the Lakers and Kings, teams in the Western Conference with recent records and expectations that typify a rebuild, but front offices using the free agent and trade markets to gain older, more expensive talent in ways that defy a standard rebuild.

  1. Orlando: The Magic began the offseason by trading away their best veteran piece in Arron Afflalo, the kind of move typical for a team doubling down on rebuilding efforts. However, they have since added veteran free agents Channing Frye, Ben Gordon, and Luke Ridnour, all of whom could be more productive as starters then their younger positional counterparts in Orlando. The Magic also added lottery picks in point guard Elfrid Payton and power forward Aaron Gordon to their young core of Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, and Tobias Harris. Orlando owns all of its future first-round draft picks, and is owed many second rounders in the next few years. Head coach Jacque Vaughn is the longest tenured among these teams, entering just his third season on the bench.
  2. Milwaukee: The new Bucks owners are resigned to a rebuild that will take years to complete, but the team didn’t arrive in this position by design. Milwaukee followed up a playoff berth in 2013 with moves meant to maintain competitiveness, but injuries and poor performance sunk them last season. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo, selected outside of the lottery by the Bucks last year, has proven to be a talent more in line with the top tier of the draft. They added phenom Jabari Parker with this year’s No. 2 pick, as well as head coach Jason Kidd after his unceremonious departure from Brooklyn. The first year of Larry Sanders‘ four-year, $44MM contract kicks in this season, and the team is also locked into pricey contracts with Ersan Ilyasova, O.J. Mayo, and Zaza Pachulia for at least the next two seasons. The Bucks have made modest backcourt additions in Jerryd Bayless and Kendall Marshall this offseason. Milwaukee owns all of its future first-round draft picks, and is owed many second rounders in the next few years.
  3. Philadelphia: Largely viewed as the most calculated tanker in the league, the Sixers haven’t done much to sway that notion this summer, including putting up resistance to a proposed rules change that would decrease the odds that the very worst teams land the No. 1 draft pick. Philadelphia is still below the salary floor for 2014/15, and has yet to sign a free agent despite having a roster that many view as heavy on D-League talent and light on true NBA-caliber players. A year after acquiring Nerlens Noel in a draft-night trade, GM Sam Hinkie drafted two players that the team doesn’t count on seeing on the court this season in Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. The team made a shrewd deal in acquiring Saric, regaining control of its first-round pick in the 2017 draft from the Magic, who received Payton, the Sixers original No. 10 pick. Michael Carter-Williams just won rookie of the year, but Thaddeus Young could still be moved to facilitate a Kevin Love trade and gain Philadelphia even more assets. Brett Brown had little to smile about in his first year as a head coach outside of the team’s surprise 3-0 start, but is a believer in the team’s intentional process. The Sixers will owe their 2015 first-round pick to the Celtics if it falls outside the top 14–a seeming impossibility–but otherwise will convey two second-round picks to Boston, of which they have an abundance.
  4. Boston: Celtics GM Danny Ainge has preached patience, but there have been plenty of rumblings about his eagerness to jumpstart Boston’s rebuilding efforts with a blockbuster deal, the loudest of which surround Kevin Love. So far, Ainge has been forced to stay the course, with a modest free agency period (Bayless and Kris Humpries leaving, Evan Turner arriving, Avery Bradley remaining) bolstered by the additions of No. 6 pick Marcus Smart and No. 17 selection James Young. The team also took on more salary burdens in deals for Marcus Thornton and Tyler Zeller that netted them more future assets. The team is on track to free up cap room in 2015 and 2016, and Rajon Rondo‘s free agency next summer will play a crucial part in where the team is headed, and how fast. Brad Stevens is another sophomore coach that signed up expecting a long-term process requiring patience. The Celtics own all of their first-round picks, and will receive up to six extra first rounders from other teams through 2018.
  5. Utah: The Jazz retained Gordon Hayward this summer, and the 24-year-old projects to be the team’s oldest starter. Utah drafted point guard Dante Exum to play alongside Trey Burke and Alec Burks in a young, developing backcourt. The team let Marvin Williams leave as a free agent, and brought in veteran forwards in Steve Novak and Trevor Booker via the trade and free agent market, respectively. The Jazz let former twin towers Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson walk as free agents prior to the 2013/14 season to make way for their young frontcourt pieces in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, who have showed promise but have yet to excel as a post tandem. The team hired new coach Quin Snyder from the Spurs coaching tree, and will hope the rookie coach can bring some of the San Antonio magic to Salt Lake City. The Jazz own all of their picks moving forward, and are owed one first rounder and seven second rounders through 2018.

Which team do you think is closest to seeing the fruits of their rebuild? A team like the Magic would appear to be moving forward more aggressively than the ultra-methodical Sixers, but an impatient shortcut to team improvement could end up stalling a team’s ultimate resurgence. Meanwhile, a team like Boston appears more likely to turn their assets into star players, but until they do, there is less to be excited about from their developing roster than some of the other clubs.

Weigh in with your vote, and state your case in the comments.

Bucks Notes: Bayless, Udoh, Foster

The Bucks might not win a lot of games next season, but there are still intriguing storylines in Milwaukee. Jabari Parker‘s play as a favorite to win Rookie of the Year, Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s continued development (including ball handling, as the “Greek Freak” spent time at the point in Summer League), and how new coach Jason Kidd handles a young and athletic roster will all be interesting factors to watch. Here’s a rundown of Bucks notes:

  • Jerryd Bayless‘ two-year, $6MM contract with the Bucks is fully guaranteed, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.
  • Bayless’ decision to sign with Milwaukee was largely influenced by the presence of Kidd, one of the best point guards in league history, he tells Rich Rovito of The Associated Press“The thing that was most intriguing was Kidd,” Bayless said. “He can help me in a variety of different ways. There aren’t a lot of guys like him that come around.”
  • The Bucks renounced their rights to Ekpe Udoh and Marquis Daniels earlier this week, tweets Pincus. Removing those cap holds, in conjunction with their signings of Bayless and rookie Johnny O’Bryant, leave the team nearly $7MM under the salary cap, as Pincus details in his updated salary sheet for Milwaukee.
  • Greg Foster has left the Sixers assistant coaching staff to join Milwaukee as their second assistant, tweets Bob Cooney of Philadelphia Daily News, confirming an earlier report by Jake Fischer of Liberty Ballers (on Twitter) of Foster’s move.

Bucks Sign Johnny O’Bryant

THURSDAY, 5:35pm: The final year of O’Bryant’s contract is actually non-guaranteed salary, rather than a team option, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

6:40pm: O’Bryant’s deal is for three years, with the third year being a team option, reports Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

WEDNESDAY, 5:02pm: The Bucks have signed Johnny O’Bryant, the 36th pick in this year’s draft, the team announced. Exact terms of the contract were not announced. He’ll compete for playing time with Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson, though O’Bryant seems destined to spend significant time in the NBA D-League this season to help him develop.

The 6’9″ power forward had appeared in five games for the Bucks during Summer League play in Las Vegas, where he averaged 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per contest. He saved his best game for last, when he posted 10 points and 10 rebounds against the Warriors Summer League entry.

O’Bryant played for three seasons at LSU, where he averaged 12.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 1.3 APG for his career. He earned First Team All-SEC honors in 2013 and 2014.

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Nuggets Sign Jusuf Nurkic

JULY 31ST: The signing is official, the Nuggets announced.

JULY 23RD: The Nuggets have signed 16th overall pick Jusuf Nurkic, reports Mark Deeks of ShamSports (via Twitter). Nurkic will likely be making more than $1.7MM this season, as our table of salaries for 2014 first-round picks shows.

Denver’s other first rounder, Gary Harris, signed his deal with the team earlier this month. However the situation with Nurkic, a 19-year-old international prospect from Bosnia, was less clear as his addition to the Nuggets roster faced the obstacle of a $1.77MM buyout due to his overseas club. Eventually, Nurkic and KK Cedevita (of Croatia) agreed to spread the buyout over two seasons. With Denver paying the $600K Excluded International Player Payment Amount this upcoming season, that would put Nurkic on the hook for about $285K in 2014/15 and the full $885K in 2015/16, meaning he will pocket roughly $1.42MM in his first season in the NBA.

At 6-foot-11 and 280 pounds, Nurkic is a traditional center that rocketed up draft boards due to his size and touch around the basket. As Denver GM Tim Connelly indicated after the draft, the Bosnian is a “long term play” although he does possess the skill level that could allow him to have an impact sooner than some think.

Nuggets Sign Gary Harris

JULY 31ST: The team has followed up with a formal announcement, making the signing official.

JULY 9TH: The Nuggets have signed 19th overall pick Gary Harris, according to Aaron J. Lopez of Nuggets.com (Twitter link). Harris will likely be making a little more than $1.5MM this season, as our table of salaries for 2014 first-round picks shows.

Denver’s other first-round pick, 16th overall selection Jusuf Nurkic, is reportedly working on a buyout from his overseas club and remains unsigned, though the latest report indicates that he’s likely to join the Nuggets this year. Both came via trade from the Bulls in a deal in which the Nuggets surrendered the rights to No. 11 pick Doug McDermott.

Harris, a 6’4″ shooting guard, averaged 16.7 points in 32.3 minutes per game this past season, with 35.2% shooting from behind the three-point line. Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors, who examined the prospect profile of Harris, cast the former Michigan State Spartan as a strong value for teams picking 10th through 15th, suggesting that he’s a steal for the Nuggets at No. 19.

Eastern Notes: Irving, Lottery, Moore, Bayless

Kyrie Irving is still upset with rumors that he wanted out of Cleveland that persisted until he signed a five-year extension nearly a month ago, and he has no issue with ceding his position as the preeminent star of the Cavs to LeBron James, as Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding details. Of course, Irving might wind up as the third most important player on the team should Cleveland swing a deal for Kevin Love. There was news on that front earlier, and we’ll pass along a few more items from around the Eastern Conference here:

  • The league’s proposal for evening out the odds in the draft lottery isn’t generating a ton of enthusiasm from the Sixers or anyone else, Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes. Critics most commonly suggest that it wouldn’t effectively deter tanking for the top pick and that it would encourage tanking among teams with a chance to make the playoffs, according to Lowe. Many agree with the Sixers that immediate implementation of the proposal for next year’s draft would be an issue.
  • The league projects the Sixers to have turned a net profit of about $10.4MM from last season, Lowe also reveals in his piece. Still, the Sixers didn’t make any contributions to revenue sharing last season, Lowe writes, a matter that had reportedly been a bone of contention for other clubs.
  • Former Magic guard E’Twaun Moore is drawing interest from Olimpia Milano of Italy, Sportando’s Enea Trapani reports. Orlando withdrew its qualifying offer to Moore last month, making him an unrestricted free agent.
  • The contract that Jerryd Bayless signed today with the Bucks is for two years and a total of $6MM, a source tells Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Hawks swingman Kyle Korver has been re-elected to a three-year term as vice president of players union, Lowe reports (Twitter link).

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

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