Month: February 2024

Atlantic Notes: Monroe, Sixers, Celtics

The Knicks have a good shot at signing Greg Monroe during the offseason, opines Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman admits that New York may have a hard time landing marquee players given its bleak situation, but he believes Monroe, as well as restricted free agent Tobias Harris, could be an exception. Last offseason, Monroe signed his qualifying offer in Detroit which will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year. Such a move was a strong signal that the Georgetown product wanted to leave town but after the Pistons released Josh Smith, which cleaned up the team’s jumbled frontcourt situation and gave Monroe a better role, a divorce doesn’t seem as much of a certainty as it previously did. Still, out of the players on our Free Agent Power Rankings, Monroe, who owns seventh place on the list, is among the most likely to change teams during the offseason.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers are looking to acquire talent through the draft, but the team previously had talent on its roster and foolishly traded it away, opines former Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell in a piece for the Philadelphia Daily News. Governor Rendell lists Nikola Vucevic, Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday and Michael Carter-Williams among the players who could be contributors had the franchise not opted to trade them away instead. Vucevic and Iguodala were dealt away in the Andrew Bynum trade before current GM Sam Hinkie took over the team. As a result of the Hinkie’s moves, the SIxers could have up to four first-round picks in the 2015 draft, as our Draft Pick Tracker indicates.
  • The Celtics have had 40 different players on their roster since the start of the season, but even with a set of new faces on the court, Boston’s goals remain intact, writes Chris Forsberg of Coach Brad Stevens has high hopes for the team’s latest additions. “I’m really happy that Gigi [Datome], Jonas [Jerebko], and Isaiah [Thomas] are here. It’s more work for us, but it’s enjoyable work to try to figure out how this group can play its best together,” said Stevens. “That’s what you try to figure out with every group. I don’t know if we’ll be able to assess progress a whole lot, because we’re only together eight weeks, but hopefully we can extend that [into the postseason] and maybe we can feel really good about that.”
  • Despite losing Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green via trade and Jared Sullinger because of an injury, the Celtics remain in the hunt to make the playoffs, writes Julian Edlow of Avery Bradley, Boston’s longest tenured player, believes some of the new additions are key to the team’s success. “‘€Isaiah Thomas,”€ Bradley said without hesitation when asked what sparked the change in the team. “€œNot only him, Jae Crowder, I can go down the list. Everyone’€™s just buying in to what Brad [Stevens is] trying to do and that’€™s team basketball.” The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Will The Heat Make The Playoffs?

Miami made headlines with its blockbuster acquisition of Goran Dragic at last week’s trade deadline. The Heat appeared to be in position to make the playoffs and possibly win a series. Fans envisioned a matchup against Cleveland, in which the team had a chance to knock a LeBron James-led team out of the playoffs, something no Eastern Conference team was able to accomplish while the four-time MVP was in Miami.

Less than 24 hours after the trade, the optimism surrounding the team faded. Medical tests indicated that Chris Bosh had multiple blood clots in his lungs and although he was released from the hospital today, as Surya Fernandez of Fox Sports relays, the center remains out for the rest of the season. The news was obviously devastating to Bosh and the team.

On the court, it leaves Miami with a clear void. Bosh was averaging 21.1 points and 7.0 rebounds in 35.4 minutes per game this season. The team signed Michael Beasley to a 10-day contract earlier this week. The former No. 2 overall pick has some experience playing the four spot but has been a hindrance on the defensive end in the past. The Heat had interest in Andray Blatche earlier this season and he would be a more traditional option to replace some of Bosh’s production.

Finding that production over its remaining games is crucial. The race for the seventh and eighth seed in the conference looks to be a tight one down the stretch. The Heat, Pacers, Pistons, Celtics, Hornets and Nets are all within three games of each other in the loss column entering Saturday night. After tonight’s loss against Atlanta, Miami has 24 games left, with seven of those against the teams in this clustered race for the last two playoff spots. Another 12 games are against teams with a better record than the Heat. With a tough schedule and a roster that lacks depth, the team’s small lead in the race for the playoffs could evaporate with just a short stretch of poor play or an additional injury.

If Dragic can fit in seamlessly and play at a star-caliber level, Miami has a chance to maintain its current position. The franchise paid a hefty price to acquire the 28-year-old. The Heat surrendered two first round picks, as well as several reserves, to bring Dragic aboard but they could have waited until the offseason to try to acquire him via free agency. Miami was on the guard’s shortlist of teams that he desired to play for but the team would have been forced to make corresponding moves in order to meet Dragic’s expected salary demands, as Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors notes. By not waiting and paying such a price midseason, it was a clear sign that the team’s priority was not only to acquire Dragic, but also to improve the team this season in order to make a substantial postseason run.

After the highs and lows that Miami has endured recently, will the Heat be making a postseason appearance?


Southwest Notes: Green, Rondo, Brewer

Memphis is leading the Southwest Division with a record of 41-16 and Jeff Green‘s seamless transition to the team has helped the Grizzlies remain in good position to make a run at an NBA title, writes Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. “I don’t have to adapt,” said Green. “They just want me to go out there and be myself. Be aggressive, because if I’m aggressive that’s going to take a lot of pressure off of other guys, so we’re out there sharing the ball, just playing team basketball.” The Grizzlies are 15-5 since acquiring Green from the Celtics.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Coach Rick Carlisle has clashed with new addition Rajon Rondo, but his experience coaching Jason Kidd should help steer the relationship in the right direction, opines Fran Blinebury of Blinebury suggests that relationship is repairable and notes that Kidd had virtually the same issue with Carlisle that Rondo is having over ceding the play calling duties to the coach. Two seasons later after their power struggle, Carlisle and Kidd had established a level of trust and the franchise won its first NBA championship.
  • Rondo isn’t a good fit for the Mavs and there is a chance he doesn’t remain in Dallas long-term, opines Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News. Cowlishaw names Brandon Knight and Goran Dragic as potential offseason targets if Rondo does indeed leave town. The Mavs have approximately $44.26MM in salary commitments for the 2015/16 season. That figure includes player options for Monta Ellis, Raymond Felton and Al-Farouq Aminu. I would speculate that Ellis declines his $8.72MM option in search of a more lucrative offer. Dallas may have to worry about a new contract for Ellis, as well as a contract for soon to be free agent Tyson Chandler. Knight and Dragic will both likely require near maximum salary contracts and if the team wants to retain the majority of its nucleus, the pair of point guards may be out of Dallas’ price range.
  • Houston’s bench has become a strength for the team, opines Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle. Corey Brewer, who was acquired in a December trade with the Wolves, is enjoying his role. “For me it is all about winning,” Brewer said. “I love coming off the bench. I love having fun. I love giving starters a boost, love giving them that energy. That’s what it’s all about.”  The Rockets have made quite a few changes to their roster since last season’s loss to the Blazers in the first round of the playoffs. In my latest poll, readers of Hoops Rumors were split on whether the changes will allow the team to advance further in the playoffs this year.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Johnson, Knight

The Lakers seem to have quite a bit of turmoil surrounding the team, writes Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports. Dwyer cites the franchise’s dismissal of new technology and advanced statistics as reasons to why Los Angeles could spend a considerable amount of time in the cellar of the Western Conference. Coach Byron Scott’s disdain for analytics is well documented and Dwyer points out that the Lakers were one of the last teams in the NBA to install SportVU cameras that allow the tracking of player movement on the court. Such drawbacks could severely hinder the team’s chances of competing for a championship in the near future. Having said all this, if the Lakers can hold onto their 2015 first-round draft pick, which will head to Philadelphia if it doesn’t fall within the top five, the team could see a turnaround sooner. Los Angeles has a record of 16-41, the fourth worst in the league and, as our Reverse Standings indicate, it has a decent shot at keeping its pick.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Wesley Johnson has enjoyed his time in Los Angeles and hopes to be in the Lakers‘ future plans, writes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News“I want to definitely stay here,” said Johnson, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. “I like coach Scott and the whole coaching staff. I love it here. I definitely want to be a part of when they get back.” Johnson is currently making slightly more than $981K this season.
  • A high draft pick is what the Lakers need but Scott doesn’t see obtaining one as a goal this season, writes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “We’re not trying to tank games,” Scott said. “We’re going to try to win every game and whatever happens after that with the lottery pick, happens. I think if you go into it saying. ‘We’re going to lose every game to see if we can get the best pick,’ I think it backfires on you.”
  • The Suns believe new addition Brandon Knight can be a team leader, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. “He understands the game, so that’s always helpful,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “If you’re out there just relying on athletic ability, it’s tough to talk because maybe you don’t even know what’s going on. When you get a smart player who understands the game, I think he’ll help us offensively to get into things.” The 23-year-old will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Central Notes: Sloan, Blatt, Ennis

Donald Sloan has proven to be a valuable find for the Pacers this season, writes Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders. Brigham compares Sloan’s path to the NBA to Hassan Whiteside‘s path. Both players came into the league with Sacramento in 2010, both spent time playing in the D-League and this season, both are playing major roles on their respective teams. Sloan hasn’t quite been as dominant as Whiteside, but the 27-year-old has started 21 games for Indiana this season. The Pacers are 24-34 on the season and currently own the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Sloan will become an unrestricted free agent after this season, in which he is making slightly more than $948K. The Texas A&M product is averaging 13.6 points, 6.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per 36 minutes this year and with numbers like that, he should expect a raise on his minimum salary arrangement, although that is just my speculation.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavs coach David Blatt almost ended up as an assistant on Steve Kerr‘s staff in Golden State, but despite some early season difficulties, Blatt is happy to be in Cleveland, Chris Fedor of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. “Once I had the opportunity to come to the Cavaliers I really didn’t feel any regret,” Blatt said. “It’s really through the good graces of Steve Kerr and the Golden State staff that I had the opportunity to interview for the job and they were willing to let me follow this path. I still hold a really good feeling of appreciation for the way they handled that situation. It’s turned out pretty good for both sides.”
  • Blatt heard all of the criticism levied at him when the Cavs began the season slowly, but he never felt the need to validate his coaching credentials, Fedor adds. “I’ve been a head coach for 22 years,” Blatt said. “People overlook that too easily and I think unfairly. I know I’m the new kid on the block in the NBA and I recognize the greatness of this league and the difficulty of this league and the fact that I’ve had to make, and am still going through the adjustment to coach in this league, but I am not now, nor have I been for quite some time, a rookie coach.”
  • New addition Tyler Ennis was excited about coming to Milwaukee and is happy with his increased playing time, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel. Ennis has played 88 minutes in his first five games with the Bucks after seeing only 58 minutes of NBA action during his time with the Suns this season.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post

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Western Notes: Blazers, Rondo, Thunder

The Trail Blazers, who have an empty roster spot, are more likely to sign a younger player who they could possibly develop for a role off the bench next season than bring in a veteran, Jabari Young of writes. There are a few NBA D-League players who Portland could target, including Seth Curry and Glen Rice Jr., or the team may look to ink Jordan Hamilton if the Clippers don’t sign him for the remainder of the season, Young notes. Hamilton was recently inked to his first 10-day contract of the season with Los Angeles.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Despite his recent one game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team that resulted from a dust up with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, Rajon Rondo is committed to helping Dallas to contend for a title this season, Earl K. Sneed of writes. “I’m going to do what’s best for the team and play my heart out for these next 22 games we have left, and [help] make a run in the playoffs,” Rondo said. “We’ve moved forward and our team has moved forward, and we’ve got a game to look forward to tomorrow.  You know, I’m playing with some great players, with the addition of Amar’e [Stoudemire] now, and I think we’ve got a great chance to win a championship. So, that’s my main focus. I’m going to continue to work to get better and do what’s best to lead this team.
  • The veteran point guard also said that he and the team both want to achieve the same goals, Sneed relays (Twitter link). “I’ve talked to pretty much everybody in the organization, and everyone is pretty much on the same page,” Rondo said.
  • The trades that Thunder GM Sam Presti made this season will help the team not only in 2014/15, but in the summer of 2016 when Kevin Durant becomes a free agent, Shaun Powell of writes. The depth that Presti has added should make the team more competitive, which will in turn make the franchise harder to walk away from for Durant, Powell opines. The Slim Reaper is enthusiastic about the Thunder’s mid-season moves, Powell adds. “It shows how great our organization is,” Durant said. “You keep getting talent after talent and keep rolling them in there like that. It shows we’ve got a great eye for talent.

Hoops Rumors Weekly Mailbag 2/21/15-2/28/15

In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have a second 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 or @EddieScarito on Twitter. Now for this week’s inquiries:

“What a deadline!! I don’t think I can ever remember a trade deadline that crazy! Anyway, my question was about the Suns’ day. It makes sense that they got rid of Goran Dragic, but they also got rid of two others [point guards] in Tyler Ennis and Isaiah Thomas. Getting Brandon Knight back was a good haul, but they also didn’t address their frontcourt (even weakened it some). What kind of message do you think this is sending? Are they giving up on the season while keeping the core for the future or are they gearing for a run and trying to improve the chemistry?” Matt E.

The Suns deadline moves told me two things. The first was that Dragic more than likely gave Phoenix the distinct impression that he wasn’t going to re-sign with them this summer. I don’t believe the team wanted to trade Dragic, but only did so to recoup something of value for him. The second message was that the multi-headed point guard experiment wasn’t working out as well on the court, or in the locker room, as the franchise had hoped.

If GM Ryan McDonough didn’t believe that Phoenix had a good shot to retain Dragic beyond this season, which I don’t think it did, flipping him for Knight was an excellent tradeoff. But I’m not as thrilled with the team parting with Ennis, who is a player with quite a bit of upside. I get the Suns wanting to move Dragic and Thomas, but the team dealing away three point guards seems like overkill to me. Keeping Ennis, who is on a team-friendly rookie contract, would have been a wise move for a rebuilding franchise like Phoenix. I also agree that the Suns’ moves failed to improve their frontcourt. This was one of the things McDonough had reportedly wanted to address heading into the deadline, and Knight does nothing to change the team’s needs. This is an area that Phoenix will absolutely need to address this offseason if it hopes to contend in 2015/16.

To be realistic, Phoenix wasn’t likely headed to the conference finals this season, so blowing up its nucleus isn’t necessarily a bad move. The trade will give the Suns a bit more cap flexibility this summer with Thomas’ deal off the books, and now the team doesn’t have to sweat out Dragic’s free agency decision. Knight isn’t going to be cheap to re-sign, but the Suns will be able to match any offer sheet that the guard is offered, which gives the team some more stability. I also really like Knight as a player, and he and Eric Bledsoe should form a dynamic tandem, though defense is going to be a persistent issue for the pair.

“Who are the Pistons more likely to keep–Greg Monroe or Reggie Jackson? Who should they push harder to retain?” Ozzie

Well, seeing how Monroe declined to work out a long-term deal with the team and has given a number of indications that he intends to depart this summer as a free agent, picking Jackson is the easy answer for who is more likely to remain in Motown. Jackson wasn’t acquired to be just a rental, so the team will likely match any offer sheet the point guard receives as a restricted free agent after the season. Monroe is an unrestricted free agent, so there is no safety net for Detroit in regards to re-signing him. My crystal ball sees Monroe wearing a Knicks jersey next season and Jackson still sporting Detroit’s in 2015/16.

As for who the team should push harder to keep, I would still say Jackson. That isn’t meant to diminish Monroe’s value, it’s about which player is the best fit for them right now. Monroe and Andre Drummond don’t mesh together very well offensively, and the Pistons need to improve their backcourt production, something Jackson’s presence will certainly help. Having Jackson and Brandon Jennings sharing a backcourt next season isn’t an ideal situation for anyone involved, but with Jennings set to become a free agent after next season, the problem should be short-lived. Jennings’ injury will complicate matters, but look for Detroit to try and deal him this summer. Drummond and Jackson are a nice foundation for Stan Van Gundy to work with, and if the team is able to retain Jackson this summer, this was an excellent trade by the executive.

“Which team won the trade deadline?” Parker

This one is a tough question since the success of many of the trades can’t be gauged until the playoffs are complete. But with that caveat in place, I’ll say that the Thunder won the deadline this season. Sure, the franchise gave up Reggie Jackson in the deal, but to add Enes Kanter, D.J. Augustin, and Kyle Singler for a player whose role had diminished significantly since the arrival of Dion Waiters was a strong move for GM Sam Presti. OKC added some needed frontcourt scoring in Kanter, and two solid rotation players in Singler and Augustin. I really like what the team accomplished at the deadline. This is a much better trade for the franchise than swapping for Brook Lopez would have been. Now if the Thunder could only remain healthy…

I would also like to give Heat president Pat Riley credit for making the second best deal of the trade deadline, acquiring Dragic was a solid move by the executive. But it is also one that will unfortunately be tarnished a bit by Chris Bosh being lost for the season. With Bosh and Dragic on the court, the Heat would have had a very real shot to go deep into the playoffs in the East and this deal looks like a master stroke as a result. Without Bosh, Miami will play out the string and hope to make a favorable enough impression on Dragic, with the hope that he’ll re-sign with Miami this summer.

“With the issues Rajon Rondo is having with [coach] Rick Carlisle, does this mean Rondo’s gone at the end of the season?” Clyde S.

The recent difficulties between Rondo and Carlisle won’t be the determining factor in Rondo’s free agent decision. They certainly don’t help, but Rondo should be used to having clashes with coaches by now, and the one game suspension he received as a result shouldn’t drive an irreparable wedge between Rondo and the team.

What Dallas should be more concerned about is how poorly Rondo has fit in with the team thus far. The Mavs seem to play more effectively as a squad when Rondo has been seated, which shouldn’t be the case when talking about an elite point guard like him. There will likely be more than a few teams that will pursue Rondo when he becomes a free agent this summer, and the point guard may find a fit he prefers to the one he has in Dallas. In the end, I think Rondo will end up leaving Dallas this summer, but for a multitude of reasons beyond a simple tiff with his coach.

“Which trade was the worst one of the season?” Roberto N.

I’m going to cheat a bit on this one and pick a deal that happened prior to the season beginning — the Knicks’ trade of Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Mavs for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, and two second rounders. It’s an understatement to say that this deal didn’t work out on the court, with the Knicks currently owning the worst overall record in the league. But the bigger loss is what New York potentially missed out on at the trade deadline as a result of this previous transaction.

If the Knicks had held onto Chandler last offseason, it’s quite possible that Reggie Jackson would be wearing a Knicks jersey right now instead of a Pistons one, and New York would have the inside track on re-signing him this summer. With the Thunder’s reported pursuit of Brook Lopez, it’s more than likely that OKC would have had some level of interest in acquiring Chandler at the trade deadline. At the very least, the Knicks would have had a better than average shot at flipping Chandler for a major upgrade at the point, instead of having to watch helplessly on the sidelines thanks to a lack of assets. Knicks fans had to settle for the Zen Master unloading Pablo Prigioni to the Rockets as the team’s biggest splash of the trade deadline.

The Knicks also managed to make this trade look even worse by declining Shane Larkin’s team option. As a result, New York is unable to offer Larkin more than the $1,675,320 value of his option if they wish to re-sign him, which could prove problematic in retaining his services if the team so desires. The young point guard hasn’t set the world on fire this season, but Larkin does have the potential to develop into a valuable role-player, and that’s something the Knicks could certainly use more of.

That’s all the space I have for this week. Thanks for all of the submissions. Keep sending in your questions, and I’ll see you back here next Saturday with more responses.

Eastern Notes: Crowder, Anthony, Beasley

Celtics swingman Jae Crowder‘s stock has risen, fallen and risen again following his inclusion in the Rajon Rondo trade, as Chris Forsberg of examines. The 24-year-old’s contract is up at season’s end, but Forsberg suggests it’s likely the Celtics will tender the qualifying offer worth more than $1.181MM necessary to match offers for him this summer.

Here’s more from out of the Eastern Conference:

  • There are many around the league who question Carmelo Anthony‘s decision to play 30 minutes in the NBA All-Star game after missing significant time for the Knicks while nursing his injured knee, Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders writes. Chauncey Billups, ‘Melo’s former teammate, was vocal in his disappointment with Anthony’s choice, Beer adds. “If you are hurt and you know you are going to shut it down, just get the surgery and make that commitment that the Knicks made to him and just get better and not worry about playing for the fans and the All-Star Game,” Billups said. “I thought it was poor judgment but to each his own.”
  • Billups also believes that Anthony needs a strong leader to help guide him in New York, Beer relays. “My perception of him [is] he really needed my guidance, he needed my leadership,” Billups said. “I don’t know that he quite knew how to lead a team or a franchise, but at that time he was young. I can’t expect him to. He was already a great player, but he is best served when he doesn’t have to be the leader of the team.”
  • Michael Beasley was not re-signed by the Heat last summer due to concerns with his defense, consistency and maturity, but Chris Bosh’s season-ending injury changed Miami’s thinking regarding the player, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown, when providing a status update for injured rookie Joel Embiid, said, “It would be misleading to say anything that’s promising about him playing this year,” Tom Moore of Calkins Media tweets.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Rondo, Beasley, Liggins

Rajon Rondo downplayed the recent incident between him and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, Tim MacMahon of writes. “I just got built-up frustration,” said Rondo. “I take a lot of the blame for what I’ve been doing on the court, but just a little frustrated. The most important thing is communication with Coach. I’ve talked to a lot of the coaches, I’ve talked to a lot of staff members. Coach and I, when I first got here, we were talking a lot and watching film after every game. He’s backed off a little bit with the addition of Amar’e [Stoudemire], trying to help get him up to speed. Our communication was great at first. Not that it wasn’t so great, but it’s just that we weren’t communicating enough. That shouldn’t be the case the rest of the season.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Rondo insists that there are no lingering issues from his suspension, MacMahon tweets. “Everything is back to normal,” Rondo said. “He [Carlisle] had some frustrations with me and vice versa. Communication is definitely key.
  • The Heat are glad to have Michael Beasley back on the team, with the player having recently inked a 10-day deal, and may be looking at keeping Beasley for the remainder of the season, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. “Look, it is a business in this league,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And faces do change. But we view Mike as a family member. We drafted him. We developed him. This summer we made a lot of different changes. So the way our team was set up, we didn’t bring him back. But that was not an indictment on how we felt about him. And then so, because of all the change right now, we feel fortunate that we’re able to bring somebody back with his skill set who has familiarity with our system and our culture at this time of year. We think it’s a good fit.
  • DeAndre Liggins has signed with the German club Eisbaren-Bremerhaven, the team announced (translation by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Liggins signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Heat last season, but he appeared in just one game for Miami. Liggins averaged 6.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists in Russia this season before being waived last month.