Month: April 2017

Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 3/31/16

A year after giving Jimmy Butler one of the richest contracts in franchise history, the Bulls are reportedly thinking about putting the All-Star shooting guard on the trading block. Back in July, Butler turned down a host of other suitors and signed a five-year, $92.34MM deal to stay in Chicago.

It was supposed to mark the continuation of a dream backcourt alongside point guard Derrick Rose, but the injury-plagued Bulls have struggled to gain traction in the Eastern Conference and are in danger of missing the playoffs as the regular season enters its final two weeks. Moreover, rumblings have emerged about a power struggle behind the scenes involving Butler and Rose.

When Butler made comments in December suggesting that new coach Fred Hoiberg was too “laid back” to be successful, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com saw it as an effort to step out of Rose’s shadow and claim leadership of the team. Friedell also indicated that Butler was speaking for several players in the Bulls’ locker room, but it wasn’t clear if Rose was among them. Rumors of a rift between the star guards had been simmering since Butler signed his new contract, and a Chicago Sun-Times report in October indicated through an unidentified source that Butler doesn’t respect Rose’s work ethic.

There’s little doubt that changes are coming in Chicago this summer, whether or not the Bulls can squeak into the playoffs. Pau Gasol has already said it’s likely that he will opt out of his contract. Joakim Noah, who has been sidelined since mid-January with a separated shoulder, is also headed toward free agency and may be leaving town.

But the most important decision for GM Gar Forman may be whether to bring an end to the Butler-Rose pairing. Butler still has four years and $72.475MM left on the deal he signed last summer, although the final season is a player option, while Rose is under contract for one more year at $21,323,250.

That brings us to the topic for this evening: If the Bulls decide to break up their backcourt, should they trade away Butler or Rose? Butler is 26 and has become the team’s most reliable scorer, putting up his second straight season with a scoring average above 20 points per game. Rose is 27 and appears to be leaving behind the effects of the ACL injury that cost him the entire 2012/13 season. Tonight’s game is his 63rd of the season, which is the most he has played since 2010/11, although his scoring and assist numbers are well below what they were five years ago.

Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.

And-Ones: Hield, Burke, SuperSonics, Huestis

Buddy Hield’s outstanding performance in the NCAA Tournament may not be helping his draft position as much as casual fans would assume, according to Jonathan Givony of The Vertical. The high-scoring Oklahoma star has led the Sooners to the Final Four, but an unidentified GM says teams knew what Hield was capable of doing even before the tournament started. Hield had considered declaring for last year’s draft, but feedback from teams placed him in the middle of the second round at best. Now he projects as a top-10 pick.

There’s more from around the world of basketball:

  • Hield has impressed NBA executives and scouts who talked to Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops, and one Western Conference exec thinks he could go as high as No. 3. Scotto has Hield atop his list of prospects who have improved their draft stock in the tourney, followed by Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis, North Carolina’s Brice Johnson, Baylor’s Taurean Prince and Iowa State’s Georges Niang.
  • Jazz point guard Trey Burke has seen his playing time cut since the trade for Shelvin Mack, but he’s trying to stay positive, according to The Associated Press“I know I’ll have a long career in this league, regardless of what anybody says,” Burke said. “That’s my mindset. It is a little frustrating because you want to be out there. You know you can help the team. But, for me, I’m looking at the big picture. I don’t really look at the temporary situation. I just try to get better every day. Be the best version of me that I can be.”
  • The annual trip to Portland makes Celtics guards Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley nostalgic for the Seattle SuperSonics, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Both Pacific Northwest natives were just teenagers eight years ago when the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City. “That hurt kids’ childhoods, man, not growing up with a professional basketball team like everyone else had,” Thomas recalled. “It’s tough now, and Portland is the closest team to them. I’m glad I was raised on Sonics basketball.”
  • The Thunder have assigned Josh Huestis to their Oklahoma City Blue affiliate in the D-League, the team announced today. Huestis is averaging 13.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.52 blocks in 23 games with the Blue.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Batum, Dragic, Hawks

Bradley Beal‘s harsh comments toward his teammates after Wednesday’s loss in Sacramento are a sign of underlying problems on the Wizards, contends J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Beal, who is headed toward restricted free agency this summer, said the team isn’t “hungry enough” and seemed to give up in the closing moments of the game. “We bark too much,” Beal said. “We say what we need to do. We scream at one another. We can even try to blame [coach Randy Wittman] if we want to, but at the end of the day we still the ones playing. … We just do dumb mental lapses that just mess up the game and end up hurting us in the long run.” Michael thinks Beal and John Wall need to get together as team leaders and work out whatever personal differences they have with each other before their relationship is too far gone.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Nicolas Batum figures to be the most sought after among a large group of Hornets free agents, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Contracts for Marvin Williams, Courtney Lee and Al Jefferson will also expire at the end of the season and Jeremy Lin has the choice to opt out, but Batum has risen above the crowd with his versatile play. “I’ve been around teams where people think about their contract and their personal situation. I can’t understand that,” Batum said. “With this team, we know if we do great as a team, if we all do our jobs, everything will work out.”
  • If the Heat were giving any thought to trading point guard Goran Dragic and pursuing Grizzlies free agent Mike ConleyBarry Jackson of The Miami Herald says Dragic has changed their minds with his recent performance. “We love Goran,” said team president Pat Riley. “Now he’s playing like The Dragon. His game has opened up. I’m very happy that we have this point guard.”
  • The Hawks plan to keep Lamar Patterson and Edy Tavares with the Austin Spurs through the D-League team’s playoff run, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both rookies have spent extensive time in the D-League this season. Tavares, a 7’3″ center, has played in 27 games for the affiliates of the Spurs, Suns and Cavs, while Patterson has been in 17 games with San Antonio’s and Cleveland’s D-League teams.

Knicks Notes: Anthony, Grant, Rambis, Jackson

Carmelo Anthony and two other Knicks starters have volunteered to give up some minutes in favor of younger players, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Anthony convinced point guard Jose Calderon and center Robin Lopez to join him in the effort, and interim coach Kurt Rambis agreed it’s a good idea. Beneficiaries should include rookie Jerian Grant and second-year player Langston Galloway, along with veteran reserves Derrick Williams, Kevin Seraphin and Kyle O’Quinn. “I still would like to be out there playing and competing,” Anthony said, “but at this point if we can build guys like Jerian and Langston and [Williams] and [O’Quinn], and just give those guys that opportunity they wouldn’t have had or haven’t had in the past, I think it’s good for them. I think it’s good for the morale of the team, I think it’s good for their confidence.”

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Rambis offered encouraging words for Grant, a first-round pick who is largely considered a disappointment, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Grant has averaged 4.8 points and 2.2 assists in 70 games, all as a backup. “He’s getting better,’’ Rambis said. “He has tremendous speed. We’re encouraging him to use speed and quickness at point guard, [but he] still has to be concerned with organizing of the offense. That’s where he falls short.”
  • The players’ confidence in Rambis and overall team morale are on the decline, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The displeasure in the locker room bubbled over this week when Arron Afflalo went public with complaints about being demoted to a reserve role. Bondy said the ill feelings stem from team president Phil Jackson’s decision to fire Derek Fisher in the middle of the season and replace him with an interim coach who needs to win right away to keep his job.
  • Jackson set a poor example this week by taking a vacation to Woodstock so close to the end of the season, charges Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Isola also warns of an upcoming showdown over the coaching situation, with Jackson wanting to keep Rambis and owner James Dolan preferring an outsider such as Tom Thibodeau, David Blatt, Mark Jackson or Scott Brooks. The columnist suggests Dolan should require that Jackson commit to two more seasons in New York before letting him hire Rambis.

Lakers Rumors: Russell, Young, Scott, Bryant

The video controversy involving D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young was an inevitable result of their flawed personalities, contends Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Ding says Russell’s immaturity and Young’s desire for a celebrity lifestyle combined to create the incident, which reportedly has led to deep rifts in the locker room. The columnist adds that many in the Lakers’ front office are angry at Russell for bringing this distraction to the team and are worried that it may turn off potential free agent targets. However, the Lakers recognize Russell’s unique talents and aren’t likely to deal him away over a misguided prank.

There’s more Lakers news from Los Angeles:

  • The Russell-Young story is making waves throughout the league, writes David Mayo of MLive. Pistons power forward Marcus Morris said he probably won’t speak to Russell again, adding, “That’s something you don’t want to see in the NBA.” Detroit teammate Stanley Johnson, a longtime friend of Russell’s, says being a rookie doesn’t excuse what he did, and coach/executive Stan Van Gundy agreed with Lakers’ coach Byron Scott that the incident shouldn’t have become public knowledge. “This should be one of those situations where whatever is said in there stays in there,” Van Gundy said, referring to the locker room.
  • Kobe Bryant received an offer last summer to play for Barcelona, according to the Spanish website mundodeportivo.com (hat tip to Kurt Helin of NBCSports.com). The offer called for Bryant to appear only in Euroleague games, which feature the most successful teams from each participating nation. Because Bryant is making $25MM this year in his final season with the Lakers, it’s likely that the Barcelona offer was for next season. Bryant reportedly turned it down, saying he wasn’t physically able to handle the competition.
  • Scott hasn’t provided the smooth transition into the post-Kobe era that the franchise was counting on, but Jabari Davis of Basketball Insiders believes the team has a young core that will eventually turn the Lakers into winners again. Despite his off-court faux pas, Russell has shown himself to be an exceptional talent, and Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. also provide hope for the future, either as part of the resurgence or as trade pieces to bring in veteran talent.

Texas Notes: Morey, McDaniels, Parsons, Simmons

Rockets GM Daryl Morey is accepting blame for the team’s disappointing season, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. After advancing to the Western Conference finals last year, Houston is 37-38 and locked in a three-way tie for seventh place. “It has been a very tough year in terms of a lot of the things we were hoping [to] take us to the next level, didn’t and we also took a step back on top of that, so far,” Morey said. “The season is not over but to this point we underperformed from what we did from last season.” The most glaring move that didn’t work out was an offseason deal that brought point guard Ty Lawson from Denver. Lawson proved to be a bad fit alongside James Harden and signed with the Pacers after agreeing to a buyout in Houston.

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • K.J. McDaniels‘ improvement on defense has given him more playing time, Watkins tweets. Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff likes the versatility of McDaniels, who can match up with point guards if necessary. McDaniels is getting significant minutes for the first time since Houston acquired him via trade from Philadelphia in February 2015. The Rockets re-signed him to a three-year, $10MM deal during the offseason.
  • Chandler Parsons, who appears poised to opt out of his current contract, isn’t guaranteeing a return to the Mavericks, as he said during the television broadcast of Wednesday’s Mavs game, according to The Dallas Morning News“We’ll see what happens this summer with the option and whatnot, but right now we’re just focused on the team and anything I can do to help them,” he said. “We’ll worry about free agency when we get there.” Parsons is likely out for the season after undergoing knee surgery, but a report this morning suggested he may be available if Dallas reaches the second round of the playoffs.
  • Spurs rookie Jonathon Simmons overcame tremendous odds to earn a spot on an NBA roster, writes Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Simmons was close to giving up when he attended a D-League tryout in Austin in 2013. He impressed the Toros and spent two seasons there before getting his chance this year in San Antonio. Simmons has become a regular part of the Spurs’ rotation, averaging 14.3 minutes through 52 appearances.

Bucks Notes: Howard, Antetokounmpo, Knight

If the Bucks are looking to make a splash in free agency for the second straight summer, Dwight Howard could be the player to target, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. The Rockets’ center has expressed his intention to turn down a player option for next season worth $23.282MM and seek a maximum contract starting at about $30MM. Milwaukee was among the teams that expressed interest in acquiring him before last month’s trade deadline, and Howard said he was intrigued by the possibility. Bontemps believes Howard would be the kind of defensive anchor that Greg Monroe failed to become after he signed with the Bucks last offseason. Depending where the salary cap is set, Milwaukee could have more than $20MM to spend if it doesn’t re-sign Jerryd Bayless, Greivis Vasquez and O.J. Mayo.

There’s more news out of Milwaukee:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo could be in line for a maximum contract extension over the summer, Bontemps writes in the same piece. Coach Jason Kidd recently anointed Antetokounmpo as the Bucks’ starting point guard for next season, and the franchise could reward him with a max deal. At age 21, the third-year pro has blossomed in Milwaukee, averaging 18.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.9 blocks per game since the All-Star break.
  • The Bucks had to make a choice last season between giving a long-term contract to Khris Middleton or Brandon Knight, according to Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee shipped Knight to Phoenix in a three-team trade in February of 2015 and re-signed Middleton at $70MM over five years. “We had a good time while we played,” said Knight, who on Wednesday returned to Milwaukee for his first game there since the deal. “I think we [the Bucks] were just scratching the surface. Who knows where we could have went to?”
  • Wednesday marked the first game for Vasquez since November 27th, Gardner notes in a separate story. The backup point guard had surgery on his right ankle in December and was sidelined for 58 games. “You miss that many games, and the coach gives you an opportunity to play the game that you love, it means a lot to me,” Vasquez said. “It also shows what a class act this franchise is, because they’ve been with me the whole time.” Vasquez is headed toward free agency after earning $6.6MM this season.

Latest On Kawhi Leonard Agent Situation

3:08pm: Elfus tells Fischer that he has “stepped back from off-the-court negotiations” for Leonard but says no other change has taken place (Twitter link).

3:06pm: Elfus tells USA Today’s Sam Amick that the initial report was “unfounded” and that he remains an Impact Sports Management client (Twitter link). That leaves it unclear whether Elfus will continue as Leonard’s primary agent, but it nonetheless appears as though the same company will continue to represent the Spurs star.

2:56pm: Leonard remains with Impact Sports Management, and the change is simply a matter of who does what for Leonard within the agency, as Zach Lowe of ESPN.com clarifies (Twitter link).

2:42pm: Kawhi Leonard has parted with agent Brian Elfus of Impact Sports Management, a league source tells Jake Fischer of SI Now (Twitter link). The reason for the split is unclear, as Leonard signed a five-year contract for the maximum salary with the Spurs just this past July.

Players are normally the catalysts for agent changes, since the representatives work for them, though sometimes agents make the decision to end the relationship. A change of agents sometimes has more to do with off-court endorsement deals than with NBA contracts, though Leonard has long shied from the spotlight and has been reluctant to promote himself in commercials.

In any case, Elfus will continue to receive a commission on the deal Leonard signed this summer, which is worth precisely $94,343,129. The typical NBA agent commission would give him 4% of that amount, though sometimes agents waive their fees to maintain relationships with particularly valuable clients.

And-Ones: Young, Russell, Bogut, Draft

A source close to Nick Young tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News that D’Angelo Russell hasn’t apologized directly to him, which conflicts with an earlier report that Young had accepted an apology from the rookie for secretly recording his statements about women other than his fiancee. Young chose not to be in the room when Russell apologized to the team as a whole for the incident, Medina hears. Other Lakers teammates indicated through their remarks Wednesday that they’re ready to move past the tension that’s existed since Russell’s recording went public, but Young declined to address the matter beyond a brief statement, as Medina details. “I don’t want to get into my personal life right now,” Young said. “I think it’s best me and D’Angelo handle the situation we have in a private manner outside of the media. I think it’s something we do need to sit down and talk about. That’s about it. What happened is what happened. We have to work on it.”

See more from around the NBA:

  • Andrew Bogut reiterated recently that he’d like to reach an extension deal with the Warriors in the offseason, reports Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Bogut becomes eligible to formally sign an extension October 25th, just as the regular season begins. He first spoke publicly of his desire for an extension in December with Sam Amick of USA Today.
  • Rutgers freshman point guard Corey Sanders will enter the draft without an agent, he announced via Twitter (hat tip to Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com). The lack of an agent allows him to return to college ball if he withdraws by May 25th. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress pegs him as just the 73rd-best freshman prospect, and he’s not listed in Chad Ford’s ESPN Insider rankings.
  • The Vertical’s Bobby Marks, a former NBA executive, delves into the inner workings of draft promises, a fairly common phenomenon in which a team lets a player know it’ll draft him if he’s available at a certain draft slot. It’s unheard of for teams to renege on promises, and early promises sometimes prompt supposedly long-shot prospects to declare for the draft, knowing the team has their back, as Marks details.

Grizzlies Sign Bryce Cotton To 10-Day Contract

FRIDAY, 12:52pm: The signing is official, the team announced via press release. The contract will cover five games, against the Raptors, Magic, Bulls, Mavs and Wizards.

THURSDAY, 8:37pm:Bryce Cotton will join the Grizzlies on a 10-day contract, tweets Chris Vernon of 92.9 FM ESPN in Memphis. He will replace Ray McCallum, whose second 10-day deal with Memphis will expire overnight. It would thus appear that the Grizzlies will maintain a 17-man roster, two over the usual limit, and that Memphis has received its latest in a line of hardship exceptions to supplement an injury-racked lineup.

Cotton had been with the Spurs’ D-League affiliate in Austin until late January, when he signed with Xinjiang in China. The 6’1″ point guard reached a deal with the Suns on November 25th, but appeared in just three games before being waived in January prior to contracts throughout the league becoming guaranteed.

Cotton, who will earn $49,709 on the 10-day contract, will become the record 28th player to play for the Grizzlies this season. The team has had as many as 18 on its roster at a time because of injury exceptions.

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