Month: February 2024

Jordan Mickey Entering NBA Draft

LSU sophomore power forward Jordan Mickey has decided to enter this year’s NBA draft, as he tells Randy Rosetta of The Times-Picayune. Still, there’s a decent chance the 20-year-old won’t hear his name called on June 25th. He’s just 69th in the prospect rankings that Chad Ford of ESPN.com compiles, while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has him 80th.

The news is no surprise, as Goodman reported a week ago that Mickey was leaning toward declaring for the draft, though the school released a statement around the same time in which the 6’7″ All-SEC honoree cautioned that he hadn’t yet made up his mind. Mickey dealt with injuries this season, but he still averaged nearly a double-double, putting up 15.4 points and 9.9 rebounds in 34.9 minutes per game, with an impressive 3.6 blocks per contest, too. Mickey’s stock nonetheless slipped from this time last year, when he decided to return to school amid rankings that projected he’d go in the late first round or early second round this year.

He’ll join fellow LSU sophomore big man Jarell Martin in this year’s draft, as our log of 2015 early entrants shows. The Tigers lost current Bucks power forward Johnny O’Bryant to the draft last year, but combo forward Ben Simmons, who’s No. 2 on Givony’s 2016 mock draft, has committed to the school for next season. Mickey and Martin helped lead the team to a ninth seed in the NCAA Tournament this season, though LSU lost its first tournament game to eighth-seeded N.C. State.

Rockets Plan Push To Re-Sign Patrick Beverley

The Rockets are “determined” to re-sign Patrick Beverley this summer amid no shortage of interest from other clubs around the league, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes in a report on the latest surrounding the point guard’s season-ending wrist injury. Beverley, whom the Rockets have employed as their starting point guard for just the minimum salary, is set for restricted free agency this summer.

It will take four months for Beverley to recover from the surgery he underwent today, league sources tell Wojnarowski. There was a “fleeting hope” prior to surgery that Beverely could have been back to play in the Western Conference Finals if the Rockets made it to that round, according to Wojnarowski, but that’s not to be. A four-month timetable would mean he wouldn’t be ready until August, a month after free agency begins, but Beverley is expected to be near full recovery by the time he hits the market, Wojnarowski writes.

Houston has reportedly held interest in fellow soon-to-be free agent Goran Dragic since before the season began, though he apparently didn’t make them a preferred trade destination at the deadline because he worried that the Rockets would seek to trade him if he signed a long-term deal with them. The Rockets likely would have given up Beverley in a trade for Dragic, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, and when Houston was close to signing Chris Bosh last summer, the Heat were poised to target Beverley in sign-and-trade talks, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported.

Still, it appears that absent a desire from Dragic to sign with the Rockets, Houston is prepared to recommit to Beverley, and according to Wojnarowski, the Rockets want a long-term deal. Beverley has expressed contentment in playing for the team. The BDA Management client has a reputation as a strong defender, though he’s down the list of point guards on ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus ratings and of guards as ranked by Basketball-Reference’s Defensive Box Plus/Minus. Still, he averaged a career-high 3.4 assists this season, and he shot 35.6% from three-point territory.

Eastern Notes: LeBron, Irving, Stevens, Shved

The relationship between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving was “rocky” at points earlier this season, Irving admits, but it’s grown into a bond that appears much stronger than the one between James and Kevin Love, as Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group details. Love and James say it doesn’t matter whether they become as tight as Irving and James are as long as they can develop a greater on-court connection, Vardon writes.

“People get so infatuated with the best of friends, things of that nature,” James said. “First of all, I’ve got three very good friends in this league, and that’s Carmelo [Anthony], and that’s C.P. [Chris Paul], and that’s [Dwyane Wade] Wade. And after that I have a bunch of teammates. I have guys I ride for every day. But Kyrie is a guy I understand how important he is to this team, how important he is. And the same with Kev as well.”

James and Love can opt out to hit free agency this summer, while Irving will enter year one of his five-year extension next season. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS hears “some Brad Stevens chatter” in connection to the University of Texas coaching job (Twitter link). It’s unclear whether there’s interest on either side, though Texas athletics director Steve Patterson has spoken with NBA coaching agents of late, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com. Davis identifies Avery Johnson as a possible sleeper for the job. Stevens is just finishing up the second season of a six-year, $22MM deal and there have been no indications that he wants to leave the Celtics. Further, the Celtics would probably deny him permission to go, as Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com surmises (Twitter link).
  • Alexey Shved loves playing for coach Derek Fisher and is open to re-signing with New York after his contract expires this summer, sources tell Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link). The Knicks can make Shved a restricted free agent if they tender a qualifying offer of nearly $4.103MM.
  • The Cavs have assigned Joe Harris to the D-League, the team announced. It’s the eighth time Cleveland has sent last year’s 33rd overall pick to its affiliate, though none of the seven previous assignments have lasted as long as a week, as our leaguewide assignments/recalls log shows.

Kevin Durant To Miss Rest Of Season

TUESDAY, 10:31am: Durant had his surgery today, the Thunder announced via press release. The timetable for him to return to basketball activities remains four to six months.

FRIDAY, 2:00pm: Kevin Durant will undergo surgery on his ailing right foot and miss the rest of the season, the Thunder announced via press release. GM Sam Presti said in the team’s statement that the healing of the so-called Jones fracture in his foot is showing signs of regression. He’ll have a bone graft procedure that is standard for the 5% to 8% of Jones fracture patients who don’t demonstrate success after their first surgeries, according to the team. Durant first broke the foot before the season and had another procedure in February that was to have alleviated lingering soreness. He hasn’t played since that procedure.

The news is a devastating blow to the Thunder, though it’s not a thoroughly unexpected one after Presti last week raised the specter of Durant missing the balance of 2014/15. Oklahoma City is also without Serge Ibaka for perhaps the rest of the regular season. The playoffs are no guarantee for Oklahoma City, a Western Conference power in recent years, though the team has a three-game lead on the Suns for the final playoff spot with less than three weeks to go. The Thunder are without much recourse to offset the loss of Durant with a roster addition, as I examined last week, without the ability to apply for a disabled player exception or, at least for now, a hardship exception.

Durant played in just 27 games this season, the first time in his NBA career that he’s missed more than eight contests. Only Michael Jordan, who retired, and Bill Walton, who suffered devastating foot problems, played fewer games than Durant has the season after winning an MVP award, as ESPN points out (Twitter link).

The 26-year-old is expected to return to basketball activity in four to six months, Presti said in the statement, a timeframe that should have him ready for the start of training camp in the fall. That’s the start of a season that’s the last under the five-year extension he signed in 2010. Chatter about the top unrestricted free agent in the 2016 class has already begun and is sure to intensify with Durant staring at perhaps only one last season in a Thunder uniform. Still, Presti has insisted that trading Durant to avoid watching him walk in free agency is not an idea he’s considering.

2015 NBA Draft Early Entrants

The college season is over for all but a few of the top American early-entry candidates for the NBA draft, leaving most of them to face decisions about whether to turn pro or return to school. Some of them have already begun to make their intentions known, and more will surely follow, along with early entrants from overseas, as the draft approaches.

We already passed along the key dates for early entrants, with the most important deadlines falling on April 12th, when underclassmen must withdraw from the draft to retain eligibility, April 26th, the final day for all early-entry candidates to declare for the draft, and June 15th, the last day non-college prospects can withdraw.

The NBA’s official list of early entrants won’t come out until after April 26th, but until then, we’ll use this post to keep track of reports on prospects and their decisions. We’ll archive them all in a running list here, which will be accessible anytime under “Hoops Rumors Features” on the right sidebar.

The players below are in alphabetical order. For an idea of how they stack up against one another, check out the lists of the top prospects on DraftExpress and ESPN.com, as well as the Hoops Rumors Draft Prospect Power Rankings. If you have any corrections or omissions, please contact us.

The following players are top early-entry candidates who have decided to return to college. This doesn’t encompass every underclassman who’s decided to keep playing in school, but rather those whom either DraftExpress or ESPN.com listed as among the top 60 prospects when they made their respective decisions to return.

Note: Neither of these lists take into account seniors or overseas players who turn 22 in 2015, since they’re automatically draft-eligible. That also applies to Emmanuel Mudiay, who automatically entered the draft when he played professionally in China prior to January 1st this year.

Atlantic Notes: Bradley, Thomas, Ish Smith

Multiple executives from other teams around the league are impressed with all of the trades that the Celtics have made the last two years, but there’s no grand design behind it, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe.

“We don’t have any master plan,” Ainge says. “You just hope you have the assets when a deal comes along.”

Ainge pledges an active run in free agency this summer, though he believes some of the team’s existing players could grow into the sort of star-level performers who usually are among the top three players on a contender, as Lowe details. The Celtics love Marcus Smart, last year’s No. 6 overall pick, Lowe writes, and while multiple teams offered expiring deals and picks toward the back end of the first round for Avery Bradley, Ainge turned them away, several league sources tell Lowe. There’s more on the Celtics amid the latest from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics think Isaiah Thomas is a better asset to trade than the protected 2016 first-round pick from Cleveland that they gave up to get him from the Suns at the deadline, according to Lowe. The C’s talked about waiting to do the Thomas deal to avoid winning too many games down the stretch this year, but decided against that, with Ainge informing coach Brad Stevens, whom he normally keeps in the loop, of the deal just an hour before it happened, as Lowe examines. “Ideally, he might have been someone you pick up in the summer,” Ainge said. “But someone else might trade for him. You might be in a bidding war. You have to move while the iron is hot.”
  • Nerlens Noel on Monday called Ish Smith “the first real point guard I’ve ever played with” and expressed a desire that Smith, a free agent at season’s end, return to the Sixers, notes Tom Moore of Calkins Media. Of course, Noel spent the first half of the season with reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams at the point. In any case, Noel’s development has taken off since Smith arrived shortly after the deadline trade that sent Carter-Williams out, notes Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News, who refers to the big man’s growth as the team’s most important mission this season.
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post wonders just what the Knicks‘ D-League coaching change Monday means for the future of assistant GM Allan Houston, once seemingly a GM-in-training. Houston’s duties with the NBA team had already been curtailed under Phil Jackson, Berman writes.

Draft Notes: Harrell, Poeltl, Dunn, Portis

We heard this afternoon that Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier, a pair of Louisville standouts, would be entering this summer’s draft. As the NCAA season nears its finish, we’ll see plenty more announcements of players forgoing the remainder of their college eligibility to declare for the draft early. Chad Ford of ESPN (Insider link) rounds up the players who have officially thrown their names into the ring, as well players who might return to school next year. Ford hears that among others, potential lottery picks Jakob Poeltl, Kris Dunn, and Bobby Portis are still undecided about declaring. Still, there’s plenty of time before players must make up their minds, so we’ll have to wait to see if any top flight prospects return to school in an attempt to bolster their stock even further.

Here’s more on the draft:

  • Ford takes a look at Harrell’s stock in the upcoming draft in another ESPN Insider piece. While there are concerns about the Louisville big man’s size, he could go as high as No. 15 if he performs well in pre-draft workouts, according to Ford, who notes that teams are impressed by his motor and ability to finish at the basket.
  • Yannis Koutroupis and Cody Toppert of Basketball Insiders run down a list of players who have seen their draft stock potentially affected by their tournament performance. Karl-Anthony Towns and Sam Dekker find their names on both scribes’ lists of studs, while the duo isn’t so high on how the bunch from Arizona performed, particularly freshman Stanley Johnson.
  • Despite the presence of both Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel on the Sixers’ roster, Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer thinks Philly should still take Towns or Jahlil Okafor this June if the team gets a chance.

Eastern Notes: Mirotic, Deng, Knicks, Pistons

Unsurprisingly, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau thinks Nikola Mirotic deserves to win Rookie of the Year over Andrew Wiggins and Nerlens Noel, as Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald reveals. Mirotic is second among rookies in points per game since the All-Star break behind only Wiggins, and his contributions on a contending team could ultimately help his case for the award. While we continue to see how the race for top Rookie honors shapes up, we’ll round up more from out east..

  • Luol Deng has seen heavy time on the court throughout his career, twice leading the NBA in minutes played per night, and the 30 year old admits all the burn has definitely had an effect on him, as Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders details. “I feel 45,” Deng said. “I feel oldYou’ve got to be smart and realize how your body feels.”  The 11th-year veteran has sought advice about playing into his 30’s from Steve Nash and Richard Hamilton, according to Camerato.
  • Fred Kerber of the New York Post opines that if the Knicks can find a way to finish with even just a .500 record next season, it would mark one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in NBA history. Landing Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor in the draft this June would certainly help New York’s chances, Kerber believes.
  • Andre Drummond‘s offensive game is expanding, and that could help the Pistons offset the likely loss of unrestricted free agent Greg Monroe, David Mayo of MLive.com writes. Drummond has mostly relied on lob dunks and putbacks for his offensive contributions during his three-year career but has shown improved postup moves in recent games, including five made hook shots against the Heat on Sunday, Mayo adds. That is a welcome development, Mayo opines, considering that Monroe — the team’s main post threat — signed a qualifying offer last summer as a restricted free agent so that he could become unrestricted this summer.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Blazers Sign Tim Frazier For Rest Of Season

8:34pm: Portland has officially inked Frazier for the remainder of the season, the team announced.

4:14pm: The Blazers are planning to sign point guard Tim Frazier to a deal that covers the rest of the season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Portland has an open roster spot, so a corresponding move wouldn’t be necessary. The D-League just named Frazier its Player of the Week for his performance with the Celtics affiliate.

The 24-year-old was with Boston’s NBA club for the preseason on a non-guaranteed contract, but the Celtics let him go before opening night. The idea was to secure his D-League rights, but the Blazers appear poised to become the second team other than the Celtics to bring him back to the NBA this season. The Sixers gave Frazier a pair of 10-day contracts in February, but they terminated the last one before it ended to accommodate their waiver claim of former Blazer Thomas Robinson. That was in spite of Frazier’s 7.2 assists in 28.6 minutes per game over six appearances, three of them starts, for the Sixers.

Frazier went back to the D-League after Philadelphia let him go, and the first-year pro who went undrafted out of Penn State this past summer continued toward averages of 16.1 points, 9.5 assists and 3.3 turnovers in 35.6 minutes per game for the Maine Red Claws. He doesn’t appear in line for much playing time in Portland, where Damian Lillard and Steve Blake man the point, unless the team is planning on resting Lillard down the stretch of the regular season. I’d imagine there’s a non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed salary for next season included as part of the arrangement, but that’s just my speculation.

And-Ones: Pekovic, Luxury Tax, Grizzlies

Nikola Pekovic‘s injury-riddled season appears to be over as Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders does not expect him to play the remainder of the season, Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. The 29-year-old, fifth-year center has appeared in just 31 games this season and has not played since March 11th because of an ankle injury. He is averaging 12.5 points — his lowest since his rookie season — and 7.5 rebounds in 26.3 minutes. He has three years and $35.8MM remaining on his contract, the longest commitment that Minnesota has besides point guard Ricky Rubio.

In other news around the league:

  • The luxury tax threshold is estimated to check in at around $81MM for next season, a source tells Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, confirming a figure Sean Deveney of The Sporting News cited earlier this season. The threshold should vault to around $101MM for 2016/17, Bondy added.
  • The Grizzlies recalled forward Jarnell Stokes and guard Russ Smith from their D-League affiliate, the Iowa Energy, the team announced on its website. Stokes has been assigned to Iowa six times this season while Smith has completed three stints with the Energy as well three prior stints with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Stokes has averaged 2.7 points and 1.7 rebounds in 17 games with the Grizzlies. Smith has averaged 1.4 points and 0.4 assists in 5.0 minutes in 10 games in his rookie season with Memphis and the Pelicans.
  • Funding for upgrades to the Target Center, the Timberwolves’ home area, could receive an additional boost from the city of Minneapolis, Erin Golden of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.  A proposal to increase the city’s contribution to the upgrades cleared another Minneapolis City Council hurdle, Golden continues. The city, which has already agreed to spend $50MM on a project, could boost its support by another $24.5MM because of rising construction costs, Golden adds.