Month: February 2024

Lakers Sign David Nwaba To 10-Day Deal

FEBRUARY 28: The Lakers have officially signed Nwaba to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. The team now has a full 15-man roster.

FEBRUARY 27: The Lakers will sign David Nwaba to a 10-day contract, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical. Nwaba is a 6’4″ swingman who’s been playing for Los Angeles’ D-League affiliate. The franchise entered the day with an open roster spot, as the team’s depth chart at Roster Resource indicates, so no corresponding move will be necessary.

In 38 games with the D-Fenders this season, Nwaba is averaging 13.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists per contest. He’s shooting 64.3% from the field, but just 26.7% from behind the arc. Nwaba’s calling card is his defense. He’s added 1.2 blocks and 1.4 steals per game this season, but his D-League coach believes the stats don’t tell the whole story.

“David Nwaba is probably the best defender in our league,” coach Coby Karl said earlier in the season (via Harrison Faigen of SB Nation). “Defensively he really puts up a stand against guys. He’s just showing that he belongs.”

Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson Talk Lakers, CBA, Walton

New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson addressed fans at the Staples Center on Monday night at the 13th annual Lakers All-Access event, along with co-owner and president Jeanie Buss. As Baxter Holmes and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com detail, Johnson and Buss addressed a handful of topics, including the team’s recent front office changes, the impact of the Collective Bargaining Agreement on the team, and the Lakers’ pre-trade-deadline discussions with Larry Bird and the Pacers.

ESPN’s round-up includes a number of comments that we won’t pass along here, so be sure to check out Holmes’ and Shelburne’s transcript for more from Johnson and Buss. Here are a few of the highlights from the event:

Buss on why she didn’t shake up the Lakers’ front office sooner:

“It was probably the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. Certainly, I am a person who wants continuity, and change is difficult for anybody, but I agonized over it, thought about it and I think that’s what took so long to make the decision, is that it was so difficult. And I apologize to Lakers fans for taking that time. But it was something that had to be made in a very thoughtful way. ‘Well’, some people would say — ‘the timing is unusual because it was a couple days before the trade deadline.’ My thought was that, there really is no offseason in the NBA anymore, that you are constantly trying to plan for what’s coming up. So you have the trade deadline then you have the draft lottery, then you have the draft, then you have summer league — it’s always something. So there really is never a right time to make a change like that. But once I knew in my heart that it was the right decision, then there was really no time like the present.”

Buss on the league’s new CBA:

“There’s 30 teams in the NBA, and I really truly believe that the current CBA and the way the league is set up is that any team at any time can win a championship, and that’s what you really want as a commissioner. You want everybody to have that opportunity. But I think even with an even playing field, there’s something about playing for Lakers fans, Laker nation — no CBA can make that equal. We have the greatest fans and they can’t take those away from us with the CBA. As long as they continue to do that, I think the Lakers will have an edge and pulling from all our strengths and all our assets, which includes former players, like Magic Johnson, like Kobe Bryant — those are our strengths.”

Johnson on engaging in trade talks with longtime rival – and Pacers GM – Larry Bird:

“We only talked for about two or three minutes about the possibility of a trade, but it was more geared toward later on, not at that moment. It was just saying ‘Hi, I’m here and we’re looking forward to talking to you later on this summer.'”

Johnson on working with Lakers head coach Luke Walton:

“It’s been easy. It’s been really easy. This man is the coach of the Lakers. I’m not the coach. He’s the coach. I sit back. I just watch the game, I watch practice. His job is to coach. I may come to him and say, ‘So and so may need to work on this.’ Like I’ve done a couple times. But that’s up to him after that … But I would never interfere with him and the players that he’s coaching.”

Rockets Sign Isaiah Taylor

FEBRUARY 28: The Rockets have officially signed Taylor and assigned him to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, per Watkins. Houston now has one opening on its 15-man roster.

FEBRUARY 27: The Rockets are signing D-League guard Isaiah Taylor to their NBA roster, reports Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. According to Watkins, Taylor will receive a three-year, non-guaranteed contract, and figures to remain assigned to Houston’s D-League affiliate for now.

Taylor, who went undrafted out of Texas last summer, signed a partially guaranteed contract with the Rockets and was with the club for training camp and the preseason. However, he didn’t earn a spot on the club’s regular-season roster, and joined the Rio Grande Valley Vipers as an affiliate player.

In 12 games for the Vipers, Taylor has averaged 21.1 PPG and 6.1 APG, showing an ability to get the free throw line (7.3 attempts per game) and to make outside shots (41.3% on threes).

Having traded away K.J. McDaniels and Tyler Ennis at the trade deadline, the Rockets had two open roster spots available — the team acquired Marcelo Huertas from the Lakers for Ennis, but waived Huertas shortly after trading for him. Taylor will fill one of those two roster openings as a developmental player, while the club figures to focus on adding a veteran with its other open spot.

According to Watkins (via Twitter), the Rockets don’t have serious interest in Andrew Bogut, who is expected to join the Cavaliers if he’s bought out by Philadelphia. Houston is looking to add a wing or another big man, says Watkins.

NBA Deadlines To Watch This Week

The NBA’s trade deadline came and went last Thursday, and while February 23 was the date many NBA fans had circled on their calendars, teams around the league will face a couple more notable deadlines this week.

Here’s a breakdown of what to look for this week:

February 28: Deadline to renegotiate contracts

Under the NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will be officially replaced in July, the rules for when veteran players can sign contract extensions are very restrictive. As we noted near the start of the 2016/17 league year, there were only about two dozen veteran players eligible for extensions this season.

Those players can still sign contract extensions right up until the end of June, but a standard extension only allows for a small raise on a player’s current salary. For someone like Derrick Rose, who is already earning $21MM+, that might work. But for a player like George Hill, who is making just $8MM in 2016/17, a standard extension makes little sense — he’d only be able to land a starting salary of $8.6MM in such a deal.

However, for teams with cap room available – like Hill’s Jazz – another option is available. A team is allowed to renegotiate a player’s contract as part of an extension using its leftover cap room. So Utah, holding a league-high $13.6MM+ in available cap space, could theoretically give Hill a huge raise and then tack on extra years from there, allowing for larger future earnings.

Today is the last day teams are eligible to renegotiate contracts during the 2016/17 league year, and at this point, it doesn’t look as if there will be any action on this front. Hill and teammate Derrick Favors are the most viable candidates for such a deal, but a Monday report suggested the Jazz probably wouldn’t get something done with Favors, and there have been no indications that the team is seriously engaged in negotiations with Hill either.

Among other teams with room below the cap, the Thunder are perhaps the only club to watch, and even then it’s an extreme long shot that they’ll do anything with extension-eligible big man Taj Gibson. With about $3.05MM in cap room, Oklahoma City could theoretically renegotiate Gibson’s deal up to about $12MM and extend him. However, Gibson has been a member of the Thunder for five days, so I doubt the two sides are ready for a long-term commitment.

March 1: Deadline for waived players to retain playoff eligibility

Following the trade deadline, teams have completed a flurry of roster moves, many of which involve waiving players. Because those players are being cut prior to March 1, they’ll retain their eligibility for the postseason if they join a new team. They don’t even necessarily have to sign with that new team prior to March 1, as long as their old team had let them go by that deadline.

Conversely, if a team hangs onto a player beyond the end of the business day on Wednesday, then waives him later, he won’t be playoff-eligible if he catches on with a new team.

For players like Caron Butler or Larry Sanders, who haven’t been on an NBA roster all season but would still like to catch on with a team, the March 1 deadline doesn’t mean much. They’ll still have playoff eligibility if they sign with a club in March.

Similarly, players on 10-day contracts generally don’t have to worry about the March 1 deadline, since they’re not being waived by their teams — their contracts simply expire. So someone like Briante Weber, who is currently on a 10-day deal in Charlotte, could sign with any team after that contract expires and be eligible to appear in the postseason. However, he’d lose that playoff eligibility if he signed a rest-of-season contract with a team and then was waived by that club after March 1.

For the most part, notable veterans who need to be waived by March 1 to retain postseason eligibility have already been granted their release. Deron Williams has a new team, while Matt Barnes and Terrence Jones are among the new free agents, and Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings, and Jose Calderon are on track to clear waivers on Wednesday. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye out today and tomorrow to see who else might hit the waiver wire.

Knicks To Target Jrue Holiday In Free Agency?

Some members of the Knicks organization view Jrue Holiday as a free agent target for the club this summer, league sources tell Ian Begley of ESPN.com. As Begley points out, team president Phil Jackson displayed interest in trading for Holiday earlier in his tenure in New York, so it makes sense that the veteran point guard would be on the Knicks’ radar in the offseason.

After missing the start of the season due to a personal matter, Holiday has appeared in 45 games for the Pelicans in 2016/17, averaging 15.9 PPG and 7.4 APG to go along with a .457/.374/.705 shooting line. The 26-year-old is in the final year of his current contract, putting him in line to hit the open market this summer.

Although there are a number of big-name free agent point guards set to hit the market in July, many of those players – such as Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, and Kyle Lowry – are viewed as highly likely to re-sign with their current teams. That could leave a player like Holiday as one of the top options left on the board, though New Orleans is expected to make a strong effort to lock him up. Holiday acknowledged last week that the Pelicans view him as a part of their future along with Anthony Davis and newly-acquired DeMarcus Cousins.

The Knicks have a free-agent-to-be point guard of their own on the roster, with Derrick Rose on an expiring deal. Earlier in the season, it appeared that there might be mutual interest between Rose and the Knicks in a contract extension, but the odds of Rose remaining in New York long-term seem to have declined since then.

Here are a few more Knicks notes:

  • On Monday, head coach Jeff Hornacek “firmly denied” that the Knicks had moved into tank mode, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “Who says we’re trying to lose?” Hornacek said. “As a team we’re not thinking about losing. We’re still trying to win. Brandon [Jennings] being waived doesn’t mean [not] trying to win games. We feel Ron Baker can fill right in. It’s a different dynamic. He can control things and provide defense.”
  • According to Berman, the Knicks recognized that Jennings was “unhappy” with his role in New York and that he would have been upset if his playing time had been reduced down the stretch. A source tells Berman that the Knicks felt the veteran guard was “no longer a fit” with the team, leading to his release. “Brandon wanted to play more minutes here,” Hornacek said. “With Derrick here, it made it awfully tough.”
  • As Berman explains, even if the Knicks’ interest in re-signing Rose this summer is limited, the team may hang onto him until season’s end to keep his cap hold on the books, in case it can help accommodate a sign-and-trade.

And-Ones: Hansbrough, Bogut, Jennings

Tyler Hansbrough has signed a contract with the D-League, Chris Reichert of The Step Back reports (Twitter link). Now 31 years old, Hansbrough played 44 games with the Hornets last season, receiving a career-worst 7.8 MPG. Hansbrough went unsigned as an unrestricted free agent over the offseason, but expressed interest in returning to Charlotte after 2015/16.

“Personally, when I was called, I felt like I went out there and helped the team in the ways that I could. I’d be glad to be back,” Hansbrough told Sam Perley of Hornets.com.

Other goings-on around the game…

  • The Rockets are unlikely to sign Andrew Bogut, sources tell Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets would like to add Bogut as insurance in case of a Clint Capela or Nene Hilario injury, but the big man may be looking for a bigger role.
  • The Pistons don’t appear to be interested in a reunion with Brandon Jennings, Rod Beards of The Detroit News relays. “With Ish here, I don’t think [Jennings] would be a fit. From Brandon’s standpoint, my guess is he wants to go somewhere he can play,” Van Gundy said. “In a contract year, especially, he needs to get playing time and get seen. I hope it works for him. I really like him and he’s able to land something good this summer.”
  • The BIG3 announced five additional players will register for its draft pool: James White, Andre OwensPops Mensah-Bonsu, Lawrence Moten, and Ndudi Ebi (press release). In April, BIG3 will hold a player combine for all players in the draft pool. While all five players have NBA experience, White most recently appeared in an NBA game- scoring 25 points over 57 games with the 2012/13 Knicks.
  • The Cavaliers could be the winner of the Nerlens Noel trade if Bogut decides to join the defending champs, John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Rumors linked Bogut to Cleveland over the weekend, but it was reported today that the big man has “strong interest” in joining the Celtics.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post

Durant Discusses Why He Didn’t Join The Wizards

Kevin Durant didn’t consider the Wizards when he was a free agent in part because he accomplished everything he set out to do in the D.C. Metro area, Tim Bontemps and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post relay.

“I don’t want to open up anything in the past, but I really just didn’t want to play at home,” Durant said. “It was nothing about the fans. Being at home, I was so happy with that part of my life — playing at home, being in front of friends, hanging with friends and family every day. That was a part of my life that has come and gone.

“I was like, I’m trying to build a second part of my life as a man living in a different part of the country, just trying to do different things. I did everything I was supposed to do in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, I felt. Now it’s time to do something new. I didn’t want to come back. That’s just my thought process behind it. It had nothing to do with basketball, the fans, the city.”

Landing Durant was always a pipedream for the Wizards. Washington did not get a meeting with him in free agency while it watched six other franchises court the small forward.

Durant added that his mother was a major influence on his decision not to come back home. “No disrespect to anybody back at home, but my mom, she wanted me to see the world. She wanted me to see a different part of the country, and she didn’t want it to be a quick flight, either. She didn’t want anybody to be able to just get ahold of me,” Durant said.

Over the course of his career, the 8-time All-Star routinely made visits to his home state of Maryland during his offseasons. It was rewarding to come home and help out the community, but it came with challenges.

“With any athlete, when they’re playing in their hometown, there are advantages and disadvantages,” said Stu Vetter, Durant’s former high school coach. “The disadvantage is, everyone becomes a very good friend very quickly. Your time is in great demand. Your resources are in great demand. And everyone wants a favor.”

Durant visits his home community less frequently now than he did earlier in his career, but the area remains close to his heart. He’s a huge Redskins fan, who believes the team should re-sign Kirk Cousins (you can check out the latest on Cousins and Washington at Pro Football Rumors). Durant considered coming back home after learning about LeBron James‘ decision to return to his home state in 2014 but quickly decided that his own situation was not parallel to LBJ’s.

“I thought about what it might be like,” Durant said. “I thought about it. But it made LeBron’s situation different because he got drafted there. So it was like he was home already, so he knew what it was like. It wasn’t like it was his first time going back. For me, I never played at home. I didn’t know what it would be. I know every time I go back it’s pretty hectic, and I just wanted to focus on basketball and not have to worry about a lot of stuff that comes with being at home.”

“It’s always good going back, but I would rather play in a different city.”

Community Shootaround: Brandon Jennings

The Knicks released Brandon Jennings earlier today after the point guard asked for an opportunity to join a playoff team. Jennings, who signed a one-year, $5MM deal with New York in the offseason, will have the opportunity to sign with any team should he clear waivers.

He was initially linked to the Hornets, but it was later reported that Charlotte was unlikely to pursue the former No. 10 overall pick. The Wizards have been mentioned as a landing spot, with Marc Stein of ESPN.com reporting that Washington is at the “front of the line.”

Washington would be a great fit for the point guard. The franchise’s starting five can compete with any team in the league, but its bench unit is an area of concern. The Wizards addressed the issue by adding Bojan Bogdanovic in a trade with the Nets, but they could use another player who can create offense off in their second unit.

So that leads us to tonight’s shootaround topic: Which team would be the best fit for Brandon Jennings? Should he sign with the Wizards or should another team make a run at signing the 27-year-old?

The Jazz could use a point guard off the bench. The team wants to make a postseason run and adding Jennings could provide insurance of sorts in case George Hill can’t stay on the court. Utah has roughly 13.6MM in cap space, so the team could claim Jennings and not have to worry about convincing him to sign.

The Pelicans are thin in the backcourt after the DeMarcus Cousins trade. Jennings could provide the team with depth as it looks to win the Western Conference eighth seed race.

It appears Kyle Lowry is going to miss the rest of the regular season for the Raptors and while Jennings isn’t going to match Lowry’s impact on the nightly basis, he’s not a bad replacement for a team that’s looking to maintain a top-4 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Do you think any of these teams should make a run at Jennings or is there another team that would be a better fit. Take to the comment section below. We look forward to what you have to say!

Andrew Bogut Has “Strong Interest” In Joining Celtics

Initial reports that Andrew Bogut would sign with the Cavs may have been overblown. According to a report from Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, the Celtics are “very much” in contention for Bogut’s services (article link). Per Himmelsbach, Bogut is looking to speak to a few Celtics players over the phone on Tuesday to get an idea of his potential fit under Brad Stevens.

For what it’s worth, Danny Ainge wouldn’t divulge the team’s interest in Bogut during a phone interview with the Globe on Monday. “I like our team right now,” Ainge said, “and unless something really jumps out to us where I feel like we can get significantly better, I’d just assume keep our team intact.”

Jay King of MassLive.com acknowledged that of all the buyout free agents, Bogut makes the most sense for the Celtics. Sam Amico of Amico Hoops noted that if Bogut signs with Cleveland, Deron Williams will have had something to do with it. Former teammates in Dallas, Williams announced that he’s “been in contact” with Bogut since his buyout.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Jennings, Randle, Ndour

The Knicks appear to be done with buyouts after parting ways with Brandon Jennings today. While there was some speculation about Derrick Rose being cut by the club, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN suggests the Knicks probably won’t complete any more buyouts unless “a player they like becomes available.” (Twitter link)

Despite Jeff Hornacek‘s words to the contrary, the Knicks appear to be in full-on tank mode at this point. Sporting a 24-35 record, the Knicks are four games behind Detroit for the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference.

More from The Garden…

  • Hornacek has been a fan of Chasson Randle‘s game, Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times writes. The Knicks always viewed Jennings as a stopgap, Vorkunov writes, whose absence will now allow Randle to receive NBA minutes over the next several weeks. “We loved Chasson, his ability, how he can play,” Hornacek said. “He’s a smart player, knows how to play the game, shoot the ball. Chasson can play.”
  • Frank Isola of the Daily News commended the team for cutting Jennings, as Brandon “was never going to be a part of the Knicks future.” Jennings wasn’t happy with the Knicks, as he’d begun to lose minutes to rookie Ron Baker. Isola speculates the reason Jennings was released before Sasha Vujacic was Vujacic’s willingness to run the triangle offense. Additionally, the Knicks attempted to trade Jennings prior to the deadline, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes, but no team was interested in giving up an asset for him.
  • Isola is skeptical that the Knicks will cut Rose (link above). The Knicks still view themselves as a playoff-caliber team, and waiving Rose would be an admission of a “colossal mistake” from Phil Jackson. Had the Knicks dealt Rose for Ricky Rubio, Isola observes, Jackson essentially would have traded Rose, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez for Rubio. Isola suggested the team look to the future; “acquiring as many lottery balls as possible” rather than playing for the eighth seed. Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis‘ minutes should be limited, and Ndour appears to be a release candidate.
  • In trade deadline negotiations, the Timberwolves wanted Mindaugas Kuzminskas in addition to Rose, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com. The Knicks and Wolves couldn’t get on the same page for a deadline swap, as we’d previously heard the Knicks insist Minnesota include Nemanja Bjelica alongside Rubio.