Month: June 2024

Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 12/31/15

The Warriors captured the title. There was the untimely death of Flip Saunders. Superstar Kobe Bryant announced his plans to retire after this season. Those are only three from a long list of vital news stories around the league this year. Indeed, plenty happened in 2015. The year was also filled with significant transactions in the league.

With the year coming to a close tonight, we find it fitting to look back and discuss the most interesting and important moves over the past 12 months. From Greg Monroe choosing the Bucks to LaMarcus Aldridge signing with the Spurs, there are plenty worth revisiting.

So, here is our question of the day: What was the best transaction made by your favorite team in 2015?

It’s an easy topic to digest (it is New Year’s Eve, after all), of course, but regardless of who your favorite team is, there are likely a few moves to choose from. I’ll get us started: While the Knicks’ decision to draft Kristaps Porzingis is likely the organization’s most important move, my favorite transaction was the signing of Arron Afflalo because the veteran has proven to be the rare player who can easily pick up the triangle offense and mesh with Carmelo Anthony.

Being mindful of our commenting policy, let us know in the comments section below what your thoughts are. We look forward to what you have to share.

And-Ones: Okafor, D-League, Bass

After some incidents away from basketball, Sixers rookie Jahlil Okafor is looking to overcome what’s been a rocky start to his promising career, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports writes. Okafor told Spears he has received mentoring from former and current NBA veterans. The Sixers, as Spears points out, have reportedly looked into adding veterans to help the situation.

“When it first happened it was clear that his world was rocked in the biggest way, I’m assuming, of his sporting life,” Sixers coach Brett Brown told Spears. “You can see it in his eyes, his demeanor. His swagger got bumped around a little bit. We explained a lot. ‘We all go through mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up. You screwed up. We got people here that will help you. Time will pass.’ I feel what I see now is a distant memory. It’s taught all of us and I see him playing basketball again.”

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens expressed gratitude for the job Brandon Bass did while the veteran power forward was in Boston, A. Sherrod Blakely of relays. The Lakers signed Bass in July after he spent the previous four seasons with the Celtics, where he helped usher a rebuilding project. In that sense, his current job in Los Angeles is much like the one he had in Boston, Blakely writes. “I really like Brandon; I’m very fond of Brandon,” Stevens said. “He really worked hard and helped get this thing going in the right direction with his work ethic, the way he took care of his body, the example he set for his young teammates.”
  • The Hawks recalled Edy Tavares from the Austin Spurs of the D-League, Atlanta announced in an emailed press release. Tavares was assigned to Austin yesterday via the flexible assignment rule because the Hawks do not have their own affiliate.
  • The Pacers recalled Rakeem Christmas from their D-League affiliate, the team announced via its website.

Wolves Notes: Newton, Mitchell, Martin

Timberwolves GM Milt Newton, who inherited duties of late coach/executive Flip Saunders and is not promised to remain in charge of the front office beyond this season, believes he can walk the fine line of honoring Saunders’ plan while still maintaining his own voice, Steve Aschburner of details. In doing that, Newton is confident he can please owner Glen Taylor, Aschburner adds. 

“The one thing he’s allowed me to do, he says, ‘Milt, if you see something that makes our team better, you have permission to do that,'” Newton said of Taylor, per Aschburner. “But I want to make sure I keep him involved — I don’t ever want to spring a situation on him. So whatever we do in the future, he would have known weeks in advance, maybe months in advance, this is the direction we’re heading in.”

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Newton told Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN that trade chatter has been quiet, adding he recently sat down with Kevin Martin (Twitter link). Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press previously reported that Minnesota has made Martin available in trade discussions.
  • Whether or not Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell becomes the team’s official leader beyond this season hinges on the young players’ development, on his coaching style and tactics, and on his demeanor and consistency in the job, Aschburner writes in a separate piece. Thus, the team’s record is not going to be the deciding factor, Aschburner surmises.
  • The Wolves are taking the same approach with Andrew Wiggins as the Spurs did with Kawhi Leonard in that they’re not trying to force him to be something he is not, Krawczynski writes. Wiggins, a budding star, is similar to Leonard because they are both immensely talented yet neither one seems to seek the spotlight,  Krawczynski adds.
  • Rookie power forward Nemanja Bjelica has fallen out of the Wolves’ rotation, largely because of an inability to stay out of foul trouble, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune relays. Bjelica might also be struggling to adapt to a new country after playing professionally in Europe, Zgoda adds. “It’s the NBA, I came here to improve myself,” Bjelica said. “The first time I play in Spain five, six years ago, it was same. I again need to start doing everything from the beginning.”

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Lawson, Mavs

Coach Dave Joerger asked the Grizzlies‘ front office for Ryan Hollins after news that Brandan Wright would need to miss at least six weeks so it’s no surprise Memphis is glad to have the center back, Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal details. The Grizzlies signed Hollins on Tuesday. Hollins was with Memphis during training camp, but the Grizzlies waived him before the season started. Hollins had a strong showing in training camp, but it just wasn’t enough for the Grizzlies to keep him at the time, Tillery writes. The move to sign Hollins is an essential one because it adds a much-needed big man to the roster, Tillery adds.

“We’ve got some support and some insurance for Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph whether it be an injury or a foul,” Joerger said. “We also got an energy guy and a hard roller. That will help with our 3-point shooting. We have a lob threat.”

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Ty Lawson has shown flashes of his offensive game coming back to life since his return from a two-game suspension for last season’s DUI case, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Despite Lawson’s recent string of success, however, the Rockets have no immediate plans of reinserting him in the starting lineup, per Feigen. “He’s starting to find his rhythm,” Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “You can see some of the shots that he’s taking. Those are the shots he’s taken in the past when he’s confident. Those are plays and shots he was taking in Denver when he was playing at his peak. Early in the season, he was hesitant to take those shots. Now, he’s taken the gloves off a little bit he’s freed himself to play the way he played in the past when he’s been successful.”
  • Zaza Pachulia said the most significant difference between playing in Dallas this season in comparison to his previous stops with the Hawks and Bucks is the Mavs‘ collective experience and maturity. Pachulia made the comments while appearing on The Ben & Skin Show on 105.3 FM KTVT The Fan in Dallas (interview transcription via the Dallas Morning News). “Most of the time I’ve been on the teams that have either been young or rebuilding or immature,” Pachulia said. “They were good opportunities I had and good experiences I had playing with the good coaches, the young prospects around me. So I’ve never really been on a team like Dallas Mavericks.”

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And-Ones: Morris, McGary, D-League

Pistons combo forward Marcus Morris can’t hold back from commenting on his brother’s situation with the Suns, and insists that despite Markieff Morris putting a positive spin on things, he still wants out of Phoenix, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press relays. When asked what is wrong with the Suns right now, Marcus responded, “It’s self-explanatory. You see what’s going on. Sorry to say it, but it’s self-explanatory. I don’t know what’s going on over there. It’s like a [clown] show right now.” Discussing Markieff’s feelings about the franchise, Marcus told Ellis, “One thing about Keef is he’s always positive. Some stuff might happen a little, but he’s always positive. He’s still looking to get out of there, still looking to go somewhere else. Right now he has to be a pro and continue to take care of his business on and off the court.

When asked if he has advised his brother on what to do going forward, Marcus said, “It’s not like he’s going to read this and say my brother gave me some advice. We talk every day. He knows what’s best for him. We all know what’s best for him, and what’s best for him is to continue to be professional and continue to work hard on his game. I know he’s doing that day in, day out — regardless of the suspension and what’s going on. He’s a hard worker, and so he will continue to be ready when his number’s called. If he gets traded, he’ll be able to contribute to any team in the league.

Here’s more from around the NBA:

  • The Thunder have recalled Mitch McGary from their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This was the big man’s fourth stint with the Blue on the season.
  • The Pacers announced that center Shayne Whittington has been recalled from the D-League. This concludes Whittington’s second assignment to the Mad Ants of the season.
  • The Bulls have assigned power forward Cristiano Felicio to the D-League, the team announced. Felicio will report to the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers’ affiliate, as part of the flexible assignment rule since Chicago doesn’t possess its own D-League team.
  • Josh Richardson and Jarnell Stokes, both of whom are currently assigned to the Heat‘s D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls, will be recalled on Saturday, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel tweets.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Landry, Curry

The Suns miscalculated during the 2013/14 season when the team dealt away Marcin Gortat in an effort to speed up the rebuilding process by bottoming out, but instead won 48 games, Zach Lowe of writes. “We were never trying to lose games,” team owner Robert Sarver told Lowe. “We were trying to play young players who we thought could be part of the next great Phoenix team, and some of them just played a lot better than we thought they would.” It was the unexpected success of that campaign that led Phoenix to chase immediate wins at the expense of long-term team-building, Lowe adds, which is a major reason for the mess the franchise is currently in. The ESPN scribe also opines that coach Jeff Hornacek shouldn’t necessarily be held accountable for the team’s woeful record this season, and for the sake of continuity he should be allowed another opportunity in 2016/17.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Nik Stauskas and Carl Landry, both of whom were traded by Sacramento to the Sixers, say that they harbor no ill will toward the Kings organization for shipping them away, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “There’s no hard feelings,” Landry said. “The organization and the owner [Vivek Ranadive] and the vets, everybody in that organization gave me an opportunity. I am not going to go out there and try to score more points than needs to be scored. I’m just going to go out there and try to get a win. That’s it. Nothing personal.” Stauskas laid the blame for being dealt on himself, Pompey adds. “I didn’t play the way I wanted to my rookie year,” Stauskas said, “and obviously they felt like they wanted to go in a different direction. That’s the way the NBA works.
  • Warriors superstar Stephen Curry has taken some surprising criticism for the way he plays potentially “ruining” young players who attempt to emulate him. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle strongly disagrees, and compares the point guard to Apple visionary Steve Jobs, Michael Florek of The Dallas Morning News writes. “He’s changed the way we live,” Carlisle said of Jobs. “He and Bill Gates have done that. Steph Curry is changing the way the game is going to be played in the future. I’m sure of it. That’s a historic thing. The way AAU coaches and kids coming up are going to view the game, I’m confident it’s going to have a big influence. He’s an exciting guy to watch, and he’s a menacing guy to game plan for.”

Eastern Notes: Marshall, Butler, Bosh

Jimmy Butler notes that he and Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg are learning a lot about each other, and that Hoiberg is holding him accountable for his actions, Nick Friedell of writes. “I still got respect for him,” Butler said of Hoiberg. “I don’t think it’s a different light. Nothing I do is to disrespect anybody. I think he realizes I’m going to be here, I realize he’s going to be here, so we got to deal with each other anyways. I think that he’s holding me accountable for everything. He talked to me whenever I was low energy last game, and I fixed it. That’s the type of guy he is. He has the utmost confidence in me because he continually put the ball in my hand when he didn’t have to.

Butler does appreciate the effort that Hoiberg has made to connect with him, Friedell adds. “I think we’re both learning a lot about each other,” Butler said. “He’s probably learning how moody I am on a daily basis, to tell you the truth. And it’s hard, but I think he lets me be who I am. He handles everything that I do very well. I’m not a big communicator, I’m not great at it, but he’s always talking to me. He’s always asking, ‘How are you doing? What can we do?’ He’s always asking my opinion on a lot of things. Yeah, it helped a lot.

Here’s the latest from the Eastern Conference:

  • Sixers point guard Kendall Marshall‘s role has been significantly diminished with the team’s acquisition of Ish Smith from New Orleans, but he is trying to remain upbeat despite the team’s woes, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.”It’s not easy,” Marshall said of losing his starting spot. “But it’s part of being a professional. I’ve definitely been in this situation before. I know what it’s like. At the end of day, I have to play better if I want to be on the court. He’s playing extremely well. Obviously our team is playing a lot better. We are in game. When the team is playing better that’s not anything I can be mad about.
  • Chris Bosh believes that the Heat suffer from focus issues and don’t pay enough attention when leads begin to slip away during games, Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post writes. The power forward didn’t call out anyone in particular, but did note that the problem includes both players and coaches, Lieser adds. “Yeah, top to bottom,” Bosh said. “I’m inclusive. We’re a team. From me to [coach Erik Spoelstra] to the guys in the locker room, we have to not let that affect our play. We have to move on to the next one. We want to have the No. 1 league defense and the No. 1 league offense, but we don’t have that, so we have to work with what we have and play the game.

Northwest Notes: Barton, Pekovic, Payne

Nuggets small forward Will Barton is enjoying a breakout season in Denver and his former coach with the Blazers, Terry Stotts, saw this development coming, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. I remember a postseason interview and someone asked me about what player made the biggest improvement or something like that, and in my mind it was Will Barton,” Stotts said. “Year 1, he was a young rookie, and he had a lot to learn. I thought the strides he made in Year 2 as a player and as a person and as a professional was good to see. I’d like to think the success he’s having now is in part because of the hard work he put in while he was here.

Since he knows he’s going to be on the court, he has an outstanding feel for the game,” Stotts continued. “Now he’s not pressing. He plays the game. He really is a student of the game, and since he knows he’s going to be out there, he does a little bit of everything and kind of takes what the game gives him.” In 33 appearances this season, with only one as a starter, Barton is averaging 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists on 47% shooting, and he should certainly be under consideration for the Most Improved Player award for 2015/16 if this production level continues.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic has been cleared to participate in full contact practices, which is the next step in his return from the surgery he underwent back in April to repair damage to his Achilles tendon, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune relays. It is unclear how much work Pekovic will need to put in before he is turned loose in game conditions, though Zgoda notes the big man will require at least a few practices before that is likely to occur.
  • The Thunder are pleased with the development of 2015 first-rounder Cameron Payne, and they credit his time spent in the D-League for accelerating his learning curve, Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel writes. “I don’t really look at scoring as much,” said Thunder coach Billy Donovan. “I think the thing to me that was really impressive is how easily he whipped the ball around and got guys shots. Cameron has earned, in my opinion, the right to have confidence because of the time he’s put in the gym.”

2015/16 Salary Rankings: Centers

Hoops Rumors is in the process of ranking the cap hit for each NBA player by position. The first spot on the hardwood that we’ll be looking at is the center position, a spot on the floor that has lessened in importance over the years, but one that still remains integral to a team’s success. All told, NBA teams have committed a total of $494,425,900 in cap hits this season to the men who patrol the paint around the league. The average salary for the five spot this season is a respectable $5,886,023, with Dwight Howard topping the list with a whopping $22,359,364 to account for on his year-end W-2 form.

It should be noted that teams won’t necessarily pay out every dollar listed here. There are quite a few players who have non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts. Some of those players will be sweating it out until January 7th. That’s when teams must waive players with no specific guarantee date written into their contracts to avoid having to guarantee their salaries for the rest of the season. In addition, incentive clauses that a player either triggers or fails to meet can leave a player with more or less money than his cap hit reflects. Still, the purpose of this list is to show the relative pay scale by position, which is why all contracts are included in this post.

The league’s centers are listed below, in descending order of salary:

  1. Dwight Howard (Rockets) — $22,359,364
  2. Marc Gasol (Grizzlies) — $19,689,000
  3. DeAndre Jordan (Clippers) — $19,689,000
  4. Brook Lopez (Nets) — $19,689,000
  5. Enes Kanter (Thunder) — $16,407,500
  6. Greg Monroe (Bucks) — $16,407,500
  7. DeMarcus Cousins (Kings) — $15,851,950
  8. Roy Hibbert (Lakers) — $15,592,216
  9. Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers) — $14,260,870
  10. Andrew Bogut (Warriors) — $13,800,000
  11. Al Jefferson (Hornets) — $13,500,000
  12. Joakim Noah (Bulls) — $13,400,000
  13. JaVale McGee (Mavericks) — $13,270,964 (Includes the $12MM owed from the Sixers, who waived him)
  14. Tyson Chandler (Suns) — $13,000,000
  15. Nene (Wizards) — $13,000,000
  16. Robin Lopez (Knicks) — $12,650,000
  17. Nikola Pekovic (Timberwolves) — $12,100,000
  18. Al Horford (Hawks) — $12,000,000
  19. Nikola Vucevic (Magic) — $11,250,000
  20. Marcin Gortat (Wizards) — $11,217,391
  21. Anderson Varejao (Cavaliers) — $9,638,554
  22. Omer Asik (Pelicans) — $9,213,483
  23. Tiago Splitter (Hawks) — $8,800,000
  24. Kosta Koufos (Kings) — $7,700,000
  25. Boris Diaw (Spurs) — $7,500,000
  26. Ed Davis (Trail Blazers) — $6,980,802
  27. Aron Baynes (Pistons) — $6,500,000
  28. Spencer Hawes (Hornets) — $6,110,034
  29. Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves) — $5,703,600
  30. J.J. Hickson (Nuggets) — $5,613,500
  31. Brandan Wright (Grizzlies) — $5,464,000
  32. Tim Duncan (Spurs) — $5,250,000
  33. Zaza Pachulia (Mavericks) — $5,200,000
  34. Chris Kaman (Trail Blazers) — $5,016,000
  35. Chris Andersen (Heat) — $5,000,000
  36. Timofey Mozgov (Cavaliers) — $4,950,000
  37. Jonas Valanciunas (Raptors) — $4,660,482
  38. Joel Embiid (Sixers) — $4,626,960
  39. Jahlil Okafor (Sixers) — $4,582,680
  40. Alexis Ajinca (Pelicans) — $4,389,607
  41. Cody Zeller (Hornets) — $4,204,200
  42. Ian Mahinmi (Pacers) — $4,000,000
  43. Alex Len (Suns) — $3,807,120
  44. Willie Cauley-Stein (Kings) — $3,398,280
  45. Drew Gooden (Wizards) — $3,300,000
  46. Andre Drummond (Pistons) — $3,272,091
  47. John Henson (Bucks) — $2,943,221
  48. Tibor Pleiss (Jazz) — $2,900,000
  49. Bismack Biyombo (Raptors) — $2,814,000
  50. Kevin Seraphin (Knicks) — $2,814,000
  51. Tyler Zeller (Celtics) — $2,616,975
  52. Joel Anthony (Pistons) — $2,500,000
  53. Steven Adams (Thunder) — $2,279,040
  54. Kelly Olynyk (Celtics) — $2,165,160
  55. Miles Plumlee (Bucks) — $2,109,294
  56. Festus Ezeli (Warriors) — $2,008,748
  57. Larry Sanders (Waived by Bucks via stretch provision) — $1,865,547
  58. Lucas Nogueira (Raptors) — $1,842,000
  59. Jusuf Nurkic (Nuggets) — $1,842,000
  60. Joffrey Lauvergne (Nuggets) — $1,709,719
  61. Kendrick Perkins (Pelicans) — $1,499,187
  62. Gorgui Dieng (Timberwolves) — $1,474,440
  63. Mason Plumlee (Trail Blazers) — $1,415,520
  64. Nikola Jokic (Nuggets) — $1,300,000
  65. Sasha Kaun (Cavaliers) — $1,276,000
  66. Boban Marjanovic (Spurs) — $1,200,000
  67. Rudy Gobert (Jazz) — $1,175,880
  68. Cole Aldrich (Clippers) — $1,100,602
  69. Edy Tavares (Hawks) — $1,000,000
  70. Robert Sacre (Lakers) — $981,348
  71. Hassan Whiteside (Heat) — $981,348
  72. Samuel Dalembert (Waived by Mavericks) — $947,276
  73. Dewayne Dedmon (Magic) — $947,276
  74. Mike Muscala (Hawks) — $947,276
  75. Jeff Withey (Jazz) — $947,276
  76. Tarik Black (Lakers) — $845,059
  77. Shayne Whittington (Pacers) — $845,059
  78. Salah Mejri (Mavericks) — $525,093
  79. Aaron Gray (Waived by Pistons via stretch provision) — $452,049
  80. Fab Melo (Waived by Grizzlies via stretch provision) — $437,080
  81. Miroslav Raduljica (Waived by the Clippers via stretch provision) — $252,042
  82. Robert Upshaw (Waived by Lakers) — $35,000
  83. Ryan Hollins (Waived by Grizzlies) — $16,034
  84. Jaleel Roberts (Waived by Wizards) — $10,000
  85. Jordan Railey (Waived by Sixers) — $6,178

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.