Month: September 2017

Western Notes: Aldridge, Australia, Abrines, Mavs

The Spurs would be better off holding onto power forward LaMarcus Aldridge for another season, Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News opines. Aldridge can opt out of his contract next summer and leave $22.34MM on the table, which would help San Antonio pursue premier free agents, Finger notes. That would probably be preferable to adding players in a trade that would cut into potential cap space, Finger continues. With Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and free agent acquisition Rudy Gay next season, the Spurs can still make a run at a championship, Finger adds.

In other notable items involving theWestern Conference:

  • A trio of Western Conference teams will play Australian National Basketball League teams during the preseason, the NBA announced via press release on Monday. It’s the first time that NBL teams will travel to the U.S. to play against NBA teams. The Sydney Kings will visit the Jazz, Melbourne United will face the Thunder and the Brisbane Bullets will match up against the Suns.
  • Alex Abrines health will be closely watched as he joins the Spanish national team for the EuroBasket tournament, which begins Aug. 31st, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The Thunder swingman received platelet rich plasma injections in his right knee in May. It’s not the first time Abrines has received the injections, as he told Horne he required them “four or five years” ago. The 6’6” Abrines appeared in 68 games last season, averaging 6.0 PPG and 38.1% on 3-point attempts in 15.5 MPG.
  • Wesley Matthews is unlikely to be dealt because of salary-cap implications, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News opines. The Mavericks would most likely have to take salary back to trade the shooting guard and they’d like to avoid that in order to pursue notable free agents next summer, Sefko explains. Matthews holds a $18.6MM player option on the 2018/19 season.

Southeast Notes: Magic, McGruder, Wizards, Howard

Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman focused on versatile players who can play multiple positions in free agency, John Denton of the Magic’s website writes. Despite limited flexibility, the Magic struck quickly when the Spurs renounced their rights to Jonathon Simmons. Orlando also added center Marreese Speights, point guard Shelvin Mack and shooting guard Arron Afflalo to team-friendly deals, Denton continues. That improves the team’s depth and gives coach Frank Vogel a better chance to make in-game adjusments, Denton adds.

In other news around the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat are likely to retain shooting guard Rodney McGruder and forward Okaro White and give them guaranteed money, Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Both players will receive $453K if they remain on the roster by the end of the business day on Tuesday.  They each have $1.3MM contracts for next season amount but the guarantees are equal to half of what each player would have received for the 2017/18 season under the previous NBA veteran-minimum scale, Winderman explains.
  • The Wizards are comfortable with their decision to retain small forward Otto Porter and exceed the luxury-tax apron, Chase Hughes of MidAtlantic.com reports. Porter’s four-year, $106MM contract currently puts the team on course to pay $11.4MM in luxury tax but majority owner Ted Leonsis is willing to do that for a playoff team, as he told Hughes. “You have to be in the tax, but you’re keeping the team together,” he said. “That was a worthwhile thing to do.”
  • Dwight Howard‘s familiarity with Hornets coach Steve Clifford will help Howard focus on defense next season, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer opines. Clifford coached Howard with the Magic and Lakers and knows how to dole out constructive criticism to the enigmatic center, Bonnell explains.

And-Ones: Barrett, Jones, Seattle, Jackson

Small forward R.J. Barrett, considered the top junior prep player, has been reclassified as a senior for the next school year and could be eligible for the draft in 2019, according to Paul Biancardi of ESPN.com. The Ontario native will be eligible to sign a national letter of intent in November and is being recruited by virtually all the top programs, Biancardi continues. The 6’6” Barrett was the tournament MVP while leading Team Canada to a gold medal in the FIBA U19 World Cup.

In other news around the league:

  • Forward Terrence Jones signed a one-year contract to play in China but it’s clear he just sees it as a temporary stay, as he told Oliver Maroney of Uproxx.com in a Q&A session. Jones views his upcoming season with Qingdao as a “last opportunity” to show he can be a better all-around player so that he can return to the NBA. He was waived by both the Pelicans and Bucks last season. “This is my last opportunity to prove to my family, my city and myself that I deserve where I dream to be,” Jones told Maroney. “I want to be a champion in the NBA, I want to win a lot of games and I want the opportunity to have the best job in my world, that’s playing in the NBA. I feel like I’ve made some immature decisions in life before this summer. But whenever I do get that next opportunity, I’m going to make sure I take full advantage of it.”
  • Seattle is a likely choice for an expansion franchise but it’s not going to happen in the short term, as David Aldridge of NBA.com examines in depth. With NBA franchises raking in money, current owners don’t have much incentive to give a piece of the $24 billion they are receiving on TV deals through 2025 to an expansion franchise, Aldridge continues. There are two competing groups who are hoping to be awarded with a potential Seattle franchise and it’s unknown which group the league favors, Aldridge adds.
  • Stephen Jackson hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2013/14 season but he’s holding out hope of hooking onto a team this season, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News reports. Jackson, 39, has been playing in the BIG3 league and he is the league’s second-leading scorer at 21 PPG. “I want to play basketball as long as I can,” Jackson told Orsborn. “I feel like there are guys in the NBA who can’t guard me.”

Pacers Waive Center Kevin Seraphin

The Pacers have waived center Kevin Seraphin, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. Seraphin’s salary of $1,974,159 for next season would have been guaranteed if he remained on the roster Tuesday.

Indiana has three other centers – Myles Turner, Al Jefferson and second-round pick Ike Anigbogu – on the roster. The Pacers have 13 players under guaranteed contracts.

Seraphin appeared in 49 games with the Pacers last season, including three starts, and averaged 4.7 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 11.4 MPG. He also played in four postseason games, averaging 7.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG.

Seraphin, 27, played his first five seasons with the Wizards and also toiled for the Knicks for a season before joining the Pacers last summer.

There’s a good chance he will wind up playing in Europe next season. FC Barcelona is reportedly interested in signing him. Seraphin is currently in France, where he’s training for the EuroBasket tournament with his national team.

Bucks Sign Tony Snell To Four-Year Deal

JULY 31: More than a month after the Bucks and Snell agreed to terms on a new deal, the team has made it official, issuing a press release to formally announce the signing.Tony Snell vertical

“Tony was an integral part of our team’s improvement last season and we’re excited to re-sign him,” new GM Jon Horst said in a statement. “He is a tireless worker, a terrific teammate and a man of great character. We look forward to having him back with the Bucks as we continue to build toward a championship.”

JUNE 30: The Bucks have agreed on a four-year deal with Tony Snell worth $46MM, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Snell will hold a player option after the third year.

The agreement comes on the heels of a season in which Snell emerged as rotation player on a postseason contender. In 80 games for the Bucks, the swingman posted 8.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest.

Wojnarowski had previously written about how the three-and-D player figured to draw considerable interest on the market and the disclosed agreement falls right in line with what he predicted earlier in the month.

Fun Fact: This was the first Woj Bomb of Wojnarowski’s stint with ESPN.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: When Will Kyrie, Carmelo Be Traded?

The NBA’s offseason moves at a rapid pace, with the draft typically taking place just a week or two after the NBA Finals end, then free agency getting underway about a week after that. By late July, things have often quieted down, as NBA executives and reporters take some vacation time before training camps resume in September.

This year though, things are a little different. The pace of free agent signings and trades has certainly slowed down as August approaches, but two very notable trade candidates remain on the block: Carmelo Anthony in New York and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.

Anthony has been mentioned in trade rumors for the entire offseason, so it’s somewhat surprising that he remains with the Knicks. Still, a number of factors have complicated a potential deal, including Anthony’s no-trade clause, exorbitant salary, and trade kicker. Carmelo is reportedly focused on joining the Rockets, having not shown much enthusiasm about waiving his no-trade clause to go to another team, such as the Cavs. But the Knicks have been unable to work out a deal with the Rockets, since New York has no interest in taking back Ryan Anderson‘s contract.

The Knicks put Anthony trade talks on hold when they hired Scott Perry as their new general manager and promoted Steve Mills to president of basketball operations. But there’s still a belief that the rebuilding franchise would like to move on from the standout forward, even with Phil Jackson no longer around to create tension by lobbing thinly-veiled criticisms at Melo in the press.

Meanwhile, Irving wasn’t considered a trade candidate until about a week and a half ago, when word broke that he had asked the Cavaliers to move him. The star point guard has two more guaranteed years left on his current contract, and unlike Carmelo, he doesn’t have a no-trade clause. As such, his leverage is somewhat limited. Nonetheless, the Cavs appear dedicated to finding Irving a new home.

A Friday report indicated that at least six teams had made an offer for Irving, though one of those teams – the Heat – denied doing so. About 20 clubs reportedly inquired with the Cavs to express some level of interest in the process. Cleveland’s asking price is high for now, and many of those teams won’t be able to put together a viable package, but there appears to be optimism that something will get done.

What do you think? Will a trade involving Anthony or Irving happen soon, or will these situations continue to drag on into the fall? Can you picture either player sticking with his current team for training camp and perhaps even to start the 2017/18 season?

Submit your vote below and head to the comments section to weigh in with your thoughts!

Terrence Jones To Play In China

2:28pm: Jones’ one-year deal with Qingdao will be worth $2MM, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

10:27am: Free agent big man Terrence Jones appears set to open the 2017/18 season in China. According to international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link), Jones has reached an agreement with the Qingdao Eagles on “one of the largest single-season deals” in CBA history.

The 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Jones emerged as Houston’s starting power forward in his second NBA season, averaging 12.1 PPG and 6.9 RPG in 76 games in 2013/14. However, he has not matched or exceeded those numbers in subsequent years.

Jones did provide solid part-time production for the Pelicans in 2016/17, averaging 11.5 PPG and 5.9 RPG in 51 games for New Orleans. However, the 25-year-old was waived in February after the club’s acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins, and while he caught on quickly with the Bucks, Jones didn’t play much in Milwaukee and was waived again in April.

According to Sam Amico of Amico Hoops, Jones received interest from a handful of NBA clubs, but wasn’t interested in signing a minimum salary deal. It sounds like the contract he received from Qingdao will represent a larger payday, along with the opportunity for a much more substantial role.

Checking In On Unsigned 2017 Draft Picks

One month into the 2017/18 NBA league year, most of this year’s draftees know where they’ll be playing for the upcoming season. As our tracker for draft pick signings shows, we’re only waiting for resolution on a small group of players.

Twenty-nine of 30 first-round picks have signed their first NBA contracts, and the 30th – Sixers big man Anzejs Pasecniks – will remain overseas for at least one more year. Meanwhile, in the second round, about half of this year’s picks have signed NBA contracts, a handful of others have agreed to two-way deals, and some will continue to play international ball.

There’s no rush at this point for teams to finalize plans for the last few unsigned draft picks from this year’s class, but it’s still worth checking in to see where things stand for those players. Here are the 2017 draftees whose statuses for ’17/18 appear to be up in the air:

  • Ivan Rabb (Memphis Grizzlies, No. 35): The Grizzlies signed 45th overall pick Dillon Brooks, but have yet to lock up Rabb, who now finds himself in an interesting spot. Memphis already has 15 players on guaranteed contracts for 2017/18, and that total doesn’t even include RFA JaMychal Green, who seems likely to return. Even though there’s no current opening for Rabb, he was probably too high a draft pick to accept a two-way contract, so perhaps the Grizzlies ultimately intend to trade or waive a player (or two) to make room. Otherwise, it’s not clear what the plan is for Rabb.
  • Isaiah Hartenstein (Houston Rockets, No. 43): International basketball reporter David Pick provided an update on Hartenstein today, tweeting that Houston will likely have him start with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the G League. So far, no player drafted earlier than No. 51 has signed a two-way contract, and typically only players selected at the very end of the draft accept straight G League contracts. If Hartenstein is willing to go to the G League, it would be a great value move for the Rockets.
  • Nigel Williams-Goss (Utah Jazz, No. 55): Two weeks ago, we heard that Williams-Goss was a candidate for Utah’s second two-way contract opening. The Jazz haven’t made a move to fill that slot since then, so I’d expect Williams-Goss remains the leading candidate.
  • Jabari Bird (Boston Celtics, No. 56): Like Williams-Goss in Utah, Bird appears to be the top candidate for the final two-way contract opening in Boston. Such a move would make a lot of sense. There isn’t enough room on the Celtics’ regular-season roster for Bird, and the four players selected with the picks from 51 through 54 in this year’s draft all got two-way deals — it’s logical that the 55th and 56th picks would too.

Hawks Waive Diamond Stone

The Hawks have waived second-year center Diamond Stone, per Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Shortly after Vivlamore published his report, the Hawks issued a press release confirming the roster move.

Stone was one of two players acquired from L.A. by the Hawks in a three-way trade with the Clippers and Nuggets earlier this month. Jamal Crawford, the other player who landed in Atlanta as a result of that trade, was bought out by the club shortly after the move was finalized, so the Hawks have now cut both players involved in the deal. The Hawks also received a first-round pick in that swap, which was clearly the most important part of the package.

While Stone wasn’t Atlanta’s primary target in that trade, it’s still somewhat surprising that the team has waived him already. The big man’s minimum salary contract for 2017/18 was guaranteed, and he’s just one year removed from being drafted 40th overall. However, apparently the Hawks weren’t interested in using one of their 15 regular-season roster spots on Stone.

The Hawks could choose to stretch Stone’s $1,312,611 cap hit over the next three seasons, though the club isn’t in any cap trouble this season, so it may make sense to just keep his full salary on the books for 2017/18.

With Stone out of the mix at center, the Hawks figure to lean on Dewayne Dedmon, Mike Muscala, and Miles Plumlee.

Magic Waive Marcus Georges-Hunt

The Magic have trimmed their roster count by one, waiving shooting guard Marcus Georges-Hunt today. The club issued a press release formally announcing the move and making it official.

Georges-Hunt, 23, joined the Celtics for training camp a year ago after going undrafted out of Georgia Tech, but didn’t earn a regular season roster spot with Boston. The 6’5″ guard spent most of the 2016/17 season with the Maine Red Claws, averaging 15.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 4.4 APG, and being named to the All NBA D-League Third Team.

Georges-Hunt’s performance earned him another NBA shot — he signed a deal with the Magic in April and appeared in five games for the team down the stretch. That contract included a second year, but Georges-Hunt’s minimum salary for 2017/18 was non-guaranteed until the fall, so Orlando won’t be on the hook for any of that money.

Georges-Hunt will become an unrestricted free agent if he clears waivers on Wednesday.

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