Month: May 2018

Lou Amundson Signs In Japan

Lou Amundson, who last played in the NBA during the 2015/16 season for the Knicks, has signed with the Kawasaki Brave Thunders of the Japanese B.League, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Amundson, who was part of the 2015 trade that sent Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to Cleveland, began his career in the G League and was named All-NBA D-League First Team and NBA D-League Rookie of the Year in 2007.

The 35-year-old veteran power forward has played in 428 games over 10 NBA seasons, with career averages of 3.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

NBA Competition Committee To Review Out-Of-Bounds Replays

Just last week we highlighted how the growing tension between NBA players and officials had gotten to a point where leaders of their respective unions felt compelled to meet. Then, in response to an NBA Officiating Last Two Minute Report, LeBron James came out and stated that the issue irking him most about the officiating is when an official refuses to acknowledge that an infraction occurred (per Dave McMenamin of ESPN).

Now, based at least in large part on a call missed by the officials during the Bucks win over the Thunder on Friday night, the NBA’s competition committee will look into making missed out-of-bounds calls replayable, according to Royce Young of ESPN.

The controversial non-call occurred with less than 5.0 seconds remaining in the game. The Bucks called timeout and set up a play for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who spun around Josh Huestis and finished with a dunk over Russell Westbrook. However, replays visible in the arena clearly showed that Antetokounmpo stepped out of bounds on his way to the hoop.

Unfortunately for the Thunder, the officials were not permitted to review the play because it did not meet the criteria to trigger a review. In order for a review to be triggered under the current replay system, the officials would have needed to make a call on the floor signaling that Antetokounmpo was out of bounds.

As succinctly explained by head official Derrick Stafford after Friday’s game, “In any reviewable matter, there has to be a whistle called on the floor. There was no whistle blown for the play, so we couldn’t review it.”

The NBA’s competition committee will meet in March to discuss this and other issues, but a change, if any, would not be implemented until the 2018-19 season.

Southeast Notes: Whiteside, Payton, Gordon

Heat center Hassan Whiteside returned from injury this week after missing 13 games with a bone bruise in his left knee. In his absence, the Heat modified their offense a bit to involve their big men in more dribble handoffs and other ball-handling activities, showcasing the skill of players like Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo. And as Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel reports, Whiteside will be called upon to continue this change.

“You’re going to get assists when you handle the ball more,” he said. “It’s just part of the game. (Coach is) putting it into the big’s hands more (and) I love it, man. I can’t wait to get my hands into that. It’s not as much pick-and-roll as much as it was. It’s more handoffs, bigs flashing to the elbows, that sort of stuff.”

And while Whiteside is eager to see how he fits into the new offense, Winderman figures that the adjustment will be gradual as Whiteside’s playing time increases. As head coach Eric Spoelstra explained, “The rhythm, the timing, the cohesiveness, you can’t take it for granted. You actually have to spend time working at it and getting back into the swing of things. It’s one thing to watch it. It’s different when you drill five on five.”

There’s more today from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic guard Elfrid Payton may be playing some of the best basketball of his career, and it’s on the heels of head coach Frank Vogel asking Payton for more production and aggressiveness in the wake of a rash of injuries to the Magic roster, reports John Denton of NBA.com. Payton has averaged 19.2 points, 7.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds a game on 59.5 percent shooting since he was approached by Vogel.
  • As we discussed yesterday, Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac is out indefinitely while he recovers from injury. In another piece for NBA.com, Denton explains how Isaac is being patient and waiting for his ankle to completely heal. Said Isaac, “Just take my time, day-by-day. It’s tough (being out). It takes time and trying to come back when it’s not completely there (physically) is tough, so I just have to be patient and take it day-by-day.’’
  • In yet another story for NBA.com, Denton also profiles how Aaron Gordon is beginning to embrace pressure packed moments. Gordon, only 22, has already made two game-winning three pointers for the Magic this season.

Pacific Notes: Curry, Warriors, Walton, Rivers

In Stephen Curry‘s absence, the Warriors did not stop winning as they won nine of the 11 games they played without their two-time Most Valuable Player. Despite their winning ways, the Warriors are a completely different team with a different mentality when Curry is healthy, Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post writes.

Without Curry, the Warriors still have shooting prowess of Klay Thompson, the versatility of Draymond Green, and the natural talent of Kevin Durant to guide the team. However, with Curry in the mix, he draws so much attention — mixed with his skill — that opposing teams struggle to adjust.

“He brings something different than anybody ever has, to be honest with you,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr tells Bontemps. “There are plenty of guys who dominate the game in different ways. You think of Shaq overpowering people, or Michael Jordans combination of power and skill and tenacity. But nobody has ever tilted the floor the way Steph does at such a deep range and with such incredible ballhandling skills.”

Curry scored 38 points with an NBA season-high 10 three’s made in his on-court return on Saturday. The 29-8 Warriors remain the top seed in the Western Conference and a healthy Curry only increases the odds that they will finish the regular season with the NBA’s best record for a fourth straight season.

Check out other Pacific Division news below:

  • There have been reports of the Warriors looking to trade one of their big men as JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulias names have come up in rumors. Danny Leroux of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) examines how trading one of those players would impact the team’s salary cap.
  • The Lakers‘ losses have piled up in recent weeks but head coach Luke Walton is adamant about maintaining his decision-making and coaching style consistent, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. “The guys know every decision I make might not always be right,” Walton said. “But every decision I make is answered with, ‘What do I believe is best for the team?’”
  • Austin Rivers‘ strained right Achilles tendon — while not season-ending — is only the latest blow to a Clippers team that has faced a drove of season-altering injuries, Elliot Teaford of the Orange County Register writes.

 

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/31/17

Here are the G-League moves from around the NBA today:

  • The Hornets recalled Dwayne Bacon from the organization’s G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, the team announced in a press release. In 28 games for Charlotte, Bacon has averaged 3.6 PPG and 3.1 RPG. He was acquired along with cash considerations from the Pelicans for draft rights to Frank Jackson during the 2017 NBA Draft.
  • The Hornets also recalled guard Julyan Stone from the Greensboro Swarm. per the press release. Stone has appeared in four contests for the Hornets, posting totals of  1.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG and 1.8 APG.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Porzingis, Noah, Hardaway

On the heels of two strong performances, Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek wants to find more minutes for rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, Newsday’s Al Iannazzone writes. Veteran Jarrett Jack remains the starter with Ntilikina taking over late in games but the team does not want to push him too hard early in his career.

“We’re trying to get him some more minutes,” Hornacek said. “It makes it difficult late in games if he’s going well, he ends up playing a lot of minutes. Maybe we need to give him a break here and there.”

Ntilikina, 19, has averaged 6.0 PPG and 3.5 APG for the Knicks in 33 games while flashing his defensive capabilities. The Knicks took a risk drafting Ntilikina out of France with the eighth overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. The organization envisions him as the eventual full-time point guard. For now, the team will be cautious with his workload. “Not yet,” Hornacek said about giving Ntilikina more minutes. “That’s something we’ll continue to look at it, but for now, no.”

Check out other Knicks news below:

  • Kristaps Porzingis‘ frustration with his recent shooting struggles has spilled over into the referees’ officiating, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays.  Porzingis voiced his concern with a lack of called fouls on his shots and described his trick to avoid receiving technical fouls.  “When something like that happens, I look at the ref,’’ Porzingis said. “If I say something I try to delete it and sprint back. When I’m sprinting back, I’m already not thinking about it. That’s how I cut it off at that moment.’’ Porzingis is still averaging a career-best 24.5 PPG but his field goal percentage has dipped to .446%.
  • Joakim Noah received some rare playing time in the Knicks’ win over the Pelicans on Saturday and was appreciative of the minutes, Berman writes in a separate story. While Noah logged just four points and rebounds in 12 minutes, it was a good way to end a road trip that started with a DNP against his former team, the Bulls, in Chicago.
  • It’s no coincidence that a lot of the Knicks’ struggles with winning and scoring started once Tim Hardaway Jr. went down with a phantom stress injury in his left leg, several teammates told Berman of the New York Post. Hardaway was a steady presence, averaging a career-best 17.8 PPG in 21 games. The team continues to hope their starting guard is back sometime in January.

Weekly Mailbag: 12/25/17 – 12/31/17

We have an opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap or the NBA draft? Drop us a line at HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com.

What are the latest Bucks trade rumors besides DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia? — ROBZ, via Twitter

Milwaukee has been in the market for a center since sending Greg Monroe to Phoenix in the Eric Bledsoe deal. The Bucks are loaded with talent, but are being held back by their lack of rebounding, where they rank near the bottom of the league. They will be interested in any big man who becomes available between now and the February 8 trade deadline and would probably be first in line for Jordan if the Clippers decide to part with him. An under-the-radar name to watch is Kyle O’Quinn, who has developed into an effective back-up for the Knicks. Enes Kanter has the starting job in New York and the team wants to find additional minutes for Willy Hernangomez and Joakim Noah, so a deal involving O’Quinn wouldn’t be surprising. He’s relatively cheap at $4.0875MM this year with a $4,256,250 player option for next season, so the Bucks wouldn’t have to give up much in return.

What do you believe is a decent asking price for Nikola Mirotic and Robin Lopez together or in separate deals? — Mike 2k_97, via Twitter

The Bulls have looked like a playoff team over the past three weeks, but management still has a rebuilding mindset. That means the team will be asking for first-rounders in any deal. Mirotic has been a candidate for Most Improved Player since returning from facial fractures, averaging 18.1 points through 12 games and shooting 48% from 3-point range. His has a $12.5MM salary this season and a team option for the same amount in 2018/19, so he would be a relatively inexpensive piece for a contender to add. He is still bitter over his preseason fight with Bobby Portis and would welcome a trade if it gets him to a playoff team. He doesn’t become eligible to be traded until January 15, but a recent report said the Bulls are willing to move him if they can get a mid to late first-rounder in return. Lopez has a much higher salary at nearly $13.8MM this year and close to $14.36MM next season, so he will be much tougher to trade.

What do you think of LaVar Ball’s junior basketball league that will cater to high school ballers who want to skip college basketball and  join the NBA? — Gregory Dizon

It certainly has appeal to some players who see the NBA as their future and don’t want to deal with the academic part of college life, and having Ball in charge means it would get plenty of publicity. But the economics of running any new league are always a concern, as attendance and general interest will depend on landing some big-name prospects each year. The biggest challenge for the league will be proving that it can be an effective path to a pro career. Most five-star recruits are going to view the coaching provided at Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Kansas and other major college programs as a better option than an upstart pro league.

Heat Sign Derrick Jones To Two-Way Deal, Waive Matt Williams

12:37pm: The moves are official, according to Winderman (Twitter link).

DECEMBER 31, 11:39am: The Heat will sign small forward Derrick Jones to a two-way contract, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical.

Miami will create an opening by waiving shooting guard Matt Williams, who currently holds one of the team’s two-way deals, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel (Twitter link).

The other two-way contract belongs to point guard Derrick Walton, who is nearing his 45-day NBA limit. The Heat could have chosen to convert Walton’s deal to a standard NBA contract and release center A.J. Hammons, who has spent the entire season in the G League after being acquired in an offseason trade with the Mavericks. Hammons is making more than $1.3MM this season and has nearly $1.45MM guaranteed for 2019/20, and Miami decided it isn’t ready to part with him.

Jones, 20, won a roster spot with the Suns last season, but was waived December 7 when Phoenix converted Mike James‘ contract to a full NBA deal. Jones has been playing for the Suns’ G League team in Northern Arizona since being cut. He appeared in 32 games for Phoenix in 2016/17 and six this season, averaging 4.7 points in about 15 minutes.

Williams has played a total of 11 minutes in three games for the Heat.

Southwest Notes: Conley, McRoberts, D. Smith, Rondo

Mike Conley is traveling with the Grizzlies on their road trip and is hoping to return to action soon, according to Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Conley, who has missed 23 games with an aching left Achilles and heel, appears to have made significant progress in his rehab program, Tillery notes after watching his pre-game workouts.

Conley and the Grizzlies haven’t commented on a possible return date. The team issued its last medical update December 18, saying Conley would be out at least two more weeks. Tillery expects further news to be announced Monday or Tuesday. After a strong start to the season, Memphis has collapsed without Conley, going 4-19 to tumble into the Western Conference basement.

There’s more today from the Southwest Division:

  • Josh McRoberts is getting closer to making his debut with the Mavericks, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Acquired from the Heat in an offseason trade, McRoberts has been sidelined with a lower extremity injury. There was hope that he might be able to play tonight against the Thunder, but he has been declared inactive, tweets Earl K. Sneed. With McRoberts returning and Nerlens Noel expected back from thumb surgery in early to mid-January, the Mavericks will again have an abundance of big men that will likely be resolved by a trade before the February 8 deadline.
  • Regardless of whatever else happens this season, the Mavericks are confident they have a building block for the future in Dennis Smith Jr. The rookie point guard has been everything Dallas expected when it made him the No. 9 pick in this year’s draft, although coach Rick Carlisle said he still needs to learn how to be a leader at the NBA level. “We drafted him because we think he can be a great player, one of the best players to ever play in a Mavericks’ uniform, on the one hand,” Carlisle said. “On the other hand, the things that are really essential to winning and are very nuanced aren’t screaming out to the world the way a triple-double is. And he’s understanding that. It’s a huge step.”
  • Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters not to read too much into his decision to leave Rajon Rondo on the bench during the fourth quarter of Friday’s loss to Dallas, relays Christian Boutwell of The Journal Times. Gentry opted for veteran backup Jameer Nelson, but that probably won’t be the start of a trend. “It had nothing to do with Rondo, or the way he was playing or anything like that,” Gentry said. “It was just coach’s instinct.”

Nicolas Brussino Signs With Spanish Team

Nicolas Brussino, who was waived by the Hawks December 8, has signed with CB Gran Canaria in Spain, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

The 24-year-old swingman appeared in just four games for Atlanta, which claimed him off waivers after the Mavericks released him in July. He played 54 games for Dallas last season as a rookie, averaging 9.6 minutes and 2.8 points.

Brussino is a member of the Argentinian national team and won a silver medal at this year’s FIBA AmeriCup, where he earned a spot on the all-tournament squad.