Month: May 2017

And-Ones: Deng, Pistons, Jazz

The Heat hopes Luol Deng, who’s undecided about his more than $10.15MM player option, sticks around for at least one more season after he gave the team exactly what was needed — solid shooting and rebounding — Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post writes. Deng said, according to Lieser, that it was a challenging season because it was his first with the team and there was a lot of turnover. Deng, 30, averaged 14 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, and shot 46.9% from the field, which, as Lieser points out, are all similar to his career averages. Lieser adds that keeping Deng for one year is mutually beneficial to the player and team, considering his age and the expected rise of the salary cap next season.

“Lu’s a very unique player — you can’t put him in a specific box,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s a great off-the-ball, active, energy-type guy, and when you have more playmakers out there, the better he looks and the better he makes those guys look. When we put all that together, you’ll see a more comfortable, confident, aggressive Luol Deng.”

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The Pistons, who own the eighth pick in the draft, have about six “primary” players they are eyeing to take with the selection, according to president of basketball operations and head coach Stan Van GundyDavid Mayo of MLive.com writes. Forwards must dominate that group, Mayo adds, because the team has Andre Drummond at center and depth at both guard positions. Van Gundy likes perimeter floor stretchers offensively who can defend the pick-and-roll, writes Mayo, who lists these players as potential options: Justise Winslow, Stanley Johnson, Frank Kaminsky, Kelly Oubre and Kristaps Porzingis. “I think there’s a lot of guys that are good players and have a lot to offer,” Van Gundy said. “But I think every team may view those guys a little bit differently in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, besides the fit for their team and how they want to play. That’s why I think right now for us that there’s got to be a fairly large group of people that we keep an open mind about.”
  • Nedim Buza, Lucas Dias Silva, Alan Williams, Sam Thompson and TaShawn Thomas will work out with the Jazz, the team tweeted from its official account.
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Northwest Notes: Thunder, Jazz, Draft

Monty Williams would be a solid fit as Thunder coach Billy Donovan‘s lead assistant because Williams brings a wealth of experience and can relate to players well, Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman opines. Williams, 43, was fired as coach of the Pelicans after five seasons. He also has served as an assistant coach for the Blazers for five years. The downside of bringing Williams in, however, is that because he has so much experience, he likely will tend to have his name attached to future head coaching vacancies and that would be problematic for stability purposes, Mayberry adds. Mike Brown and Mo Cheeks are also possibly in the mix, Mayberry writes. The Raptors have been reportedly interested in bringing Williams in as an assistant.

There is more news out of the Northwest:

  • Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey is adamant that the team won’t spend money just to spend money and is comfortable going into next season under the salary cap, Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News writes. The Jazz had a strong finish to the season so it’s conceivable that they do not tinker with the roster much, but they do have financial flexibility to do so.The Jazz ranked 25th in league salaries this year, Sorensen notes. “Do we feel obligated that we have to? Absolutely not,’’ Lindsey said. “We could exist underneath the salary cap going into next season.’’ The Jazz won’t go after any big name free agents, but there’s a decent chance they target an up-and-coming player like the Bucks’ Khris Middleton, a restricted free agent who made less than $1MM last year, Sorensen writes.
  • R.J. Hunter will work out for the Thunder on Monday and the Jazz on Wednesday, tweets Jake Fischer of LibertyBallers.com. The Georgia State guard is the 21st-ranked prospect on Chad Ford’s ESPN.com list, while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has him 26th.
  • Minnesota guard Andre Hollins tweeted that he worked out with the Timberwolves on Friday (hat tip to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press).

Western Notes: Warriors, Lakers, McCollum

Alvin Gentry‘s hiring as the coach of the Pelicans will leave a major void on Steve Kerr‘s coaching staff and Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group offers Luke WaltonBrian Shaw and Mike D’Antoni as possible replacements for the Warriors. Walton is currently the No. 3 assistant, but he has a strong feel for offense, is somebody Kerr has hand-picked for coaching success in the future and is the front-runner for the position, according to Kawakami. Shaw, a former Nuggets coach, visited the Warriors’ practice on Saturday and stayed for a while afterward, Kawakami reports. Kawakami describes D’Antoni as “a long shot” for the position. Kerr will focus on bringing someone in who is offensively-minded, Kawakami writes, because that was primarily Gentry’s role with the team.

Here’s more on the Western Conference:

  • All signs point to C.J. McCollum, who had his $3.2MM option picked up by the Blazers in October, getting more playing time next season because of his strong playoff run, Jabari Young of CSNNW.com writes. McCollum said he wants to get stronger, increase reaction to pick and rolls, and improve his mid-range shooting during the offseason, Young adds. “I’m going to work on everything like I always do,” said McCollum. “… “I got to step it up. It’s going to be a new year, I’m going to be in the league for two years now, so a better understanding of the game and how I can make my impact.”
  • The Lakers should target an overseas prospect to stash with the 27th pick of the draft, Bradford Doolittle of ESPN.com (insider piece) writes, because GM Mitch Kupchak said it’s unlikely the team carries three rookies on next season’s roster and although the option is risky, an overseas project offers long-term payoff. Candidates include Macedonian point guard Cedi Osman and French center Mouhammadou Jaiteh, Doolittle adds. The Lakers also own the second and 34th picks. At No. 34, Kupchak can target a high-risk, high-reward player with little financial consequence, Doolittle writes. Washington’s Robert Upshaw would be an ideal fit for those reasons, Doolittle adds.

Draft Notes: Anderson, Brown, Randle

Virginia’s Justin Anderson worked out with the Lakers on Thursday and afterward said he expects to be selected in the middle or toward the end of the first round based on conversations with his agent and interviews during draft workouts and the NBA pre-draft combine, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. Anderson, who is ranked 23rd by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and is pegged at No. 28 by Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required), believes he can thrive in the league with his strength, defense and ability to knock down shots, Medina adds. Johnson has also worked out with the Bulls and Spurs and plans to work out with the Celtics, Medina notes.

“I’m just going to be a complete and smart defender as well as a knockdown shooter,” Anderson said. “I’ll use my physicality and strength and be as complete as I can be. Whatever system I land, I know I can adjust.”

Here’s more news on the draft:

  • Stanford’s Anthony Brown also worked out with the Lakers, and his shooting ability could be of use to the to the Lakers, who own the second, 27th and 34th picks, Medina writes in a separate story. Brown shot 44.1% from 3-point range in two seasons at Stanford, Medina notes. The Lakers received poor shooting seasons from several players, including Nick Young, who shot a career-low 37% from the field, as Medina points out. “I’m a great shooter,” Brown said. “That’s the number one thing I hang my hat on, shooting the basketball. I’m also going to defend you. I’m a three-deep player.”
  • Stanford guard Chasson Randle‘s next workout will be with the Sixers, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweets. Randle has already worked out for the Thunder and Celtics, Washburn adds.
  • Jarvis Threatt has workouts with the Wizards, Suns and Rockets next week, Adam Johnson of D-League Digest tweets.
  • BYU’s Tyler Haws wants to hear his name called on draft night, but if he doesn’t, he will have opportunities to play overseas, Jeff Call of the Deseret News writes. “He’s got a couple of offers already overseas,” said BYU coach Dave Rose, who added he expects Haws to be drafted.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Beverley, Smith

Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said he will make a push to add a player who is between 6’7″ and 6’9″ who can shoot 3-pointers in the draft, Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal writes. The Grizzlies own the 25th pick. The Grizzlies’ workout on Friday featured Tennessee’s Josh Richardson, Arkansas’ Ky Madden, Florida State’s Aaron Thomas, Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton, Florida’s Chris Walker and Arizona’s Brandon Ashley, Tillery reports. Citing the team’s recent draft history, Tillery writes that the Grizzlies believe it’s very conceivable to find a player that is talented and ready to fill a need at that pick. Connaughton appeared to be the most intriguing player in the Grizzlies’ workout, Tillery adds, citing the 6’5″ guard’s 44-inch vertical leap, shooting ability and basketball savvy. GM Chris Wallace said that the pick has to end up being an asset.

“You’d love to have need and talent coincide,” Wallace said. “What you’re trying to do is get a player who is going to be with you for a while and help the team or someone that gains some interest around the league, and helps you make a transaction. Those are reasonable scenarios for picks in the 20s.”

Here’s more from out of the Southwest:

  • Like he has expressed previously, Patrick Beverley, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, is hopeful he will be with the Rockets next year, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. Hopefully it’s here,” Beverley said, per Berman. “I’m very loyal. This is the only team that took a chance on me. I understand it’s a business.” Reports in April indicated the Rockets would like to re-sign Beverley, who earned  $915,243 this season.
  • Josh Smith is another free agent who has previously conveyed his desire to return to the Rockets next season, but the veteran understands how unpredictable the free agency climate can be, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. “Coming into free agency, you never know what is going to happen,” Smith said. “You just hope for the best and stay positive. Just reflect right now and don’t worry about the future.” It was reported last month there there’s mutual interest between Smith and GM Daryl Morey in a new deal.

Central Notes: Gasol, Hoiberg, Jackson

Tom Thibodeau, who was fired Thursday as coach of the Bulls, received some public support Sunday from Pau Gasol, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Gasol used his blog to thank the coach who convinced him to come to Chicago and helped him thrive with an inside-out offense. “Coach Thibodeau, [I] want to thank your trust and support this season,” Gasol wrote. “I am sure that his departure was a very difficult decision for the organization of the Bulls, but I am convinced that they have a solid plan for the success of the franchise. We all have high expectations for the coming season and will do anything to bring the ring to Chicago. Go Bulls!”

Here’s more news from the Central Division:

  • Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, who is expected to officially replace Thibodeau this week, is a “leader,” former Bulls GM Jerry Krause told Johnson in a separate story. “He’d earn respect of players right away,” Krause said. “If you don’t respect Fred Hoiberg, you don’t respect people.” Hoiberg is recovering from heart surgery and his children are finishing the school year Monday, so the date of his announcement is uncertain, but it’s a foregone conclusion that he will be Chicago’s next coach. Johnson couldn’t confirm a report that Hoiberg will receive $25MM over five years, but a source told him the contract will top the $20MM extension Hoiberg got from ISU in 2013.
  • Chicago is counting on Hoiberg to improve its offense, according to Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders. The columnist contends that Hoiberg’s philosophies fit well with the talent that the Bulls possess.
  • Some have wondered if Reggie Jackson, acquired last season, could be the long-term replacement for point guard Brandon Jennings, who will be a free agent in the summer of 2016.  For what it’s worth, Pistons coach/exec Stan Van Gundy says that he can see the two clicking well on the floor at the same time, David Mayo of MLive.com writes. “I think it can work,” Van Gundy said. “I think that we’ve seen a vision of it already with [Russell] Westbrook and Reggie in Oklahoma City. They were certainly able to find minutes for both of them. So yeah, I’ve certainly thought about it. But that would be jumping the gun a little bit. The main thing is to get him back.”

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Latest on Kevin Love

It wasn’t quite a definitive announcement of his plans, but Cavs forward Kevin Love sounds like someone who is intent on returning to Cleveland next season, as Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. When asked if he’d be back with Cleveland, Love said, “No, I truly haven’t even thought about it, but as I mentioned, I expect to be suiting up by Game 1 of next year.” When asked if that game would be with the Cavs, he responded in the affirmative. Love has read the speculation about where he might bolt to next season, but he says that he hasn’t let that affect him.

That’s something that I guess comes with the territory,” he said. “Anybody that has pending free agency coming up in the summer, I feel like that’s going to happen. I try to not pay attention to it. I mentioned earlier in the season I learned how to just, kind of took out my Twitter, forgot looking at any kind of social media kind of stuff. Maybe Instagram here and there, but that was really it. That’s kind of been put on the back burner for me.”

Love has a player option for next season worth more than $16.744MM. In January, he told Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group that he planned to opt in and remain a Cavalier.

But the decision to stay in Cleveland may not be entirely up to Love, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. If the Cavaliers want Tristan Thompson to be their power forward of the future and decide to reward him with a maximum contract, they may free up money by moving Love somewhere. One option could be a sign-and-trade deal that sends him to New York and brings back the Knicks’ No. 4 draft pick as part of the package, Berman speculates. Thompson and LeBron James share the same agent in Rich Paul, and James recently said that Thompson “should probably be a Cavalier for his whole career.”

Love also said Sunday that he and Boston’s Kelly Olynyk are back on good terms, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Love suffered the shoulder injury that knocked him out of the playoffs as he and Olynyk were chasing a loose ball during a first-round game. The Celtics had been mentioned as a possible destination for Love if he decides to pursue free agency, but there were rumors that the Olynyk incident may have removed Boston from Love’s list. That apparently is no longer a concern.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Hoops Links: Cavs, Millsap, Hawks

On this date in 1991, the Knicks appointed Pat Riley as their head coach. Riley’s Knicks became one of the league’s most physical teams. After three consecutive playoff ousters at the hands of Michael Jordan’s Bulls, the Knicks topped Chicago without MJ in 1994 to make their first NBA Finals appearance in many years. Soon after, Riley gave his resignation to MSG via fax machine in order to join up with the Heat.

Got a great basketball blog post that you want to see featured on Hoops Rumors? Send it to Zach at HoopsLinks@gmail.com. Here’s this week’s look around the basketball blogosphere…

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Western Draft Notes: Towns, Grant, Jazz

Karl-Anthony Towns will interview with the Wolves and the Lakers, but won’t work out for any teams, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv reports. The big man would relish the opportunity to play in Minnesota. “It would be a blessing and an honor to even have a chance to play for Minnesota and be able to have the chance to play for a great organization and learn from a great mentor like Kevin Garnett, Towns said.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

  • Jerian Grant, whom I profiled earlier today, will work out for the Raptors, Heat, Hornets, Nuggets and Wizards according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Grant previously worked out for the Pacers, SunsThunder and Rockets.
  • The Suns are looking for play-makers off their bench and Grant may be a good candidate for the No. 13 pick, Coro opines in the same piece.  “We’re looking at the guys who could possibly be backup point guards,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “The more guys we can get on this team, whether it’s point guard, off-guard, three-man, center, forward, whatever it is — that bring intelligence to the game can only help us.” 
  • The Jazz own the No. 12 selection in the draft and Kincade Upstill of the Deseret News wonders if the team should trade its pick. Upstill examines some hypothetical trades involving the team’s first-rounder, including an intriguing swap with the Clippers that involves sending J.J. Redick to the Jazz for Trey Burke and the No. 12 pick.
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