Month: February 2024

Ron Baker Out Indefinitely With Shoulder Injury

Knicks guard Ron Baker has been diagnosed with a dislocated right shoulder and a torn labrum, the team announced today (via Twitter). Baker will be sidelined indefinitely.

The 2017/18 league year got off to a good start for Baker, who inked a two-year, $8.9MM deal with the Knicks in free agency. However, he has struggled mightily on the court, dealing with injuries throughout the season and failing to provide much value in the 29 games he has played. On the year, Baker is averaging 2.4 PPG and 1.6 APG in 13.3 minutes per contest, with a .339/.333/.769 shooting line.

Baker’s $4.54MM salary for 2018/19 isn’t yet guaranteed, but he has long been considered a lock to exercise his player option, and his latest injury should further cement that decision.

Most of Baker’s minutes this season have come at shooting guard, so it will be interesting to see how the Knicks address that spot if they decide to move starter Courtney Lee before next Thursday’s trade deadline. For now, Tim Hardaway and Damyean Dotson are candidates to play a few extra minutes at the two behind Lee, and New York may also use more lineups featuring multiple point guards.

Kyler’s Latest: G. Hill, Kings, Mavs, Randle, Parker

In the wake of this week’s massive Blake Griffin trade, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders assessed the trade market in an effort to determine which teams may be the next to make moves. We covered some of Kyler’s Clippers-related items on Tuesday, and a Rodney Hood/Stanley Johnson note from his article was reported elsewhere, but there are plenty more tidbits worth rounding up. Let’s dive in…

  • The rumored deal involving George Hill between the Cavaliers and Kings isn’t dead yet, but both teams are exploring the market in search of trades they might like more, per Kyler. The two teams could revisit a Hill swap on or before February 8.
  • The Kings still appear willing to move a young player or two for a first-round pick, with Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson among those trade candidates, Kyler writes.
  • The Mavericks‘ preferred target is Julius Randle, but they may start to seriously consider Labissiere if the Lakers don’t engage in Randle talks, says Kyler. Still, Mavs sources tell Kyler that they place a lot of value on first-round picks, so it sounds like they’ll be reluctant to move one.
  • Bucks sources have “aggressively downplayed” the idea that the team will trade forward Jabari Parker, who is returning this week from an ACL injury. However, the team acknowledges that its cap situation could complicate contract talks with the former No. 2 overall pick this offseason. Bucks ownership appears willing to commit to Parker if management wants to lock him up, according to Kyler, who notes that the forward would be a prime trade chip if Milwaukee wants to make a splash for a big-name center.

John Wall Undergoes Knee Surgery, Out 6-8 Weeks

JANUARY 31: The Wizards officially confirmed today in a press release that Wall underwent a successful arthroscopic debridement procedure on his left knee. He’ll miss about six to eight weeks, according to the team.

JANUARY 30: John Wall will undergo a procedure on his troublesome left knee tomorrow, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post, who reports that the Wizards point guard will be sidelined for the next six-to-eight weeks. Buckner had written on Monday that Wall was headed to Cleveland to seek a second opinion on his knee issue.

Wall’s knee soreness, which stems from an injury sustained early in the season, has slowed him down at times this season. He has received injections and had his knee drained already, and will now undergo what Buckner refers to as a “clean up.” Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who calls the procedure a “knee scope,” hears that Wall could be sidelined for two months (Twitter link).

The Wizards will look to hold onto their position in the Eastern Conference playoff picture during Wall’s absence. Currently, the club’s 27-22 record is tied for fifth in the East, but the Bucks (27-22) and Pacers (28-23) could soon push Washington down to the No. 7 spot. The Sixers (24-23) and the new-look Pistons (22-26) are also lurking.

While the Wizards hope to get a fully healthy Wall back for this season’s stretch run, the team has to be nervous about ongoing knee issues for a player who is under contract through 2022/23 — based on current cap projections, the point guard’s salary will rise to nearly $47MM by the end of his super-max contract.

Wall’s knee injury will also force him to miss the All-Star Game, so a replacement figures to be announced soon. That substitute will be an Eastern Conference player and will join LeBron James‘ squad for the event. (Update: Andre Drummond is replacing Wall.)

Former NBA Player Rasual Butler Killed In Car Crash

Former NBA swingman Rasual Butler and his wife, R&B singer Leah LaBelle, were killed in a single car crash that occurred early on Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, according to a TMZ report.

Per TMZ, Butler lost control of his Range Rover, hit a parking meter, and ran into a wall, flipping the vehicle. The accident occurred around 2:00 am.

Butler, who was 38 years old, was selected by Miami in the second round of the 2002 draft and enjoyed a long NBA career, spending time with the Heat, Hornets, Clippers, Bulls, Raptors, Pacers, Wizards, and Spurs over the course of 13 seasons.

Butler appeared in 809 total regular season NBA games, averaging 7.5 PPG and 2.4 RPG. He also played in 43 postseason contests. While Butler had been out of the NBA since appearing in 46 contests for San Antonio during the 2015/16 campaign, the former La Salle standout participated in Ice Cube‘s BIG3 league in the summer of 2017.

Our condolences go out to Butler’s and LaBelle’s friends and family.

Celtics Not Re-Signing Jarell Eddie For Now

Jarell Eddie‘s 10-day contract with the Celtics expired on Tuesday, but he won’t receive a second 10-day deal from the team at this point, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Eddie, who signed his contract with the Celtics on January 20, had been a lights-out shooter in the G League this season, posting 17.2 PPG and 4.1 RPG with an impressive .490/.500/.947 shooting line. While that performance earned him a contract with Boston, it didn’t earn him much playing time — Eddie appeared in two games and played just six total minutes during his 10-day stint with the C’s.

While Eddie could be brought back to Boston at some point, it makes more sense for the team to maintain flexibility by keeping its 15th and final roster spot open as the trade deadline approaches. If the Celtics don’t use that roster opening to add a player in a deadline trade, they’ll likely consider using it to add Eddie or another 10-day player later in February, while monitoring the buyout market as well.

The Celtics are just one of a handful of teams not re-signing players after expired 10-day deals, as our tracker shows. Nigel Hayes didn’t receive a second 10-day contract from the Lakers this week after his initial pact expired, and DeAndre Liggins hasn’t been re-signed by the Pelicans after playing on two 10-day deals with the club.

In Liggins’ case, it’s worth noting that a team can’t sign a player to three 10-day contracts — after the expiration of the second, the team must decide whether to sign the player for the rest of the season or let him go.

Sixers, Others Express Interest In Tyreke Evans

11:08am: While the Sixers have expressed interest in Evans, they’re hardly alone. The Celtics, Cavaliers, Pelicans, Thunder, Heat, and Rockets have all inquired on the veteran guard too, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who tweets that it will come down to which team is willing to meet the Grizzlies’ asking price.

10:48am: The Sixers have expressed trade interest in Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), However, according to Stein, Memphis continues to seek a first-round pick in exchange for Evans, and Philadelphia is reluctant to surrender one.

Evans, 28, has been enjoying one of the best years of his NBA career in Memphis this season, averaging 19.5 PPG, 5.0 APG, and 5.0 RPG with a .458/.392/.799 shooting line so far. Based on his terrific production, the Grizzlies are said to be looking for a first-rounder in any deal.

However, while Evans’ expiring contract and modest salary ($3.29MM) make him an intriguing trade piece, they also reduce his value to some extent — he would likely be a rental for any team acquiring him, since he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Evans is on track to get much more expensive, and whichever team has him at season’s end won’t have his Bird rights, limiting that club’s ability to re-sign him.

Still, the Sixers represent an interesting potential trade partner for the Grizzlies, particularly since they could end up with multiple first-round picks this spring. Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal speculates (via Twitter) that perhaps Memphis could pry the 76ers’ own first-round pick away from Philadelphia if the Grizzlies are willing to take on Jerryd Bayless‘ contract, which has a guaranteed $8.58MM cap hit for 2018/19.

Although salary-matching rules would prevent Memphis from trading Evans straight up for Bayless, attaching a player like Ben McLemore or Brandan Wright to Evans would make it cap-legal, Herrington notes (via Twitter). James Ennis‘ contract would also work, but Ennis is a more valuable trade chip than McLemore or Wright, so the Grizzlies likely wouldn’t want to just throw him in for salary purposes.

Celtics Notes: Bradley, L. Williams, Trade Targets

This week’s blockbuster Blake Griffin trade didn’t include the Celtics, but it may have a ripple effect that’s felt in Boston, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

As Blakely points out, the Clippers currently owe the Celtics their 2019 first-round pick, which is lottery-protected in 2019 and again in 2020. The Griffin deal and any upcoming moves that the Clippers make to reshape their roster figure to have an impact on whether the Celtics will actually be able to get their hands on that first-rounder in ’19 or ’20 — L.A. would need to be a playoff team for the pick to change hands. If the Clips land in the lottery both years, Boston would instead receive a 2022 second-round pick.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the arrival of Avery Bradley in Los Angeles will make the Clippers any more willing to trade Lou Williams. But if the Clips are ready to make a move, the Celtics would be a logical trade partner, writes Blakely. Boston has a disabled player exception that would fit Williams’ salary, some extra draft picks, and a need for a reliable second scorer to complement Kyrie Irving.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • While Lou Williams is a possible trade target for the Celtics, the team can’t go after Avery Bradley. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the only way Boston could reacquire the former Celtic this season would be if he’s bought out by the Clippers, which almost certainly won’t happen. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents a team from trading a player during an offseason, then reacquiring him before the end of the subsequent season.
  • Speaking of Marks, he takes an in-depth look at the Celtics’ trade deadline options in an Insider-only piece at ESPN.com. Marks suggests that if Boston wants to add a big man, Robin Lopez is a potential trade target, and Greg Monroe is worth monitoring as a possible buyout candidate.
  • The devastating ankle injury suffered on opening night by Gordon Hayward could easily have derailed the Celtics’ season, but the team has responded admirably to that setback, writes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “I do think it’s a testament to the mental makeup of our group,” said head coach Brad Stevens. “They really believe in each other. They are willing to pick up for one another. I’ve talked about the hardest roles in this league is when you don’t know if you’re going to play or not and your number is called. A lot of guys on our team’s number was called a lot earlier than they thought. They really helped put us in the position that we are in.”

Pacific Notes: Randle, Booker, Ball

A move back into the starting lineup has helped Lakers forward Julius Randle take his game to another level, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register writes. The 23-year-old has averaged 16.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in just 26.5 minutes of action.

Randle, who started the season off the bench after two years as the team’s starting power forward, was promoted by Lakers head coach Luke Walton to be a physical presence for the squad and collect rebounds.

All in, Randle has registered seven double-doubles in the month of January alone while also taking major steps defensively. The move into the starting lineup, Oram writes, comes with more responsibility on that end of the ball considering that the Lakers tend to play man-to-man with their starters while switching everything with their reserves.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • X-Rays of Devin Booker‘s ribs came back negative, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes. The 21-year-old Suns guard missed Monday’s game with a rib contusion but hopes to be back in the lineup Wednesday.
  • The Trail Blazers are playing some of their best basketball of the season of late, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes, but everything can change at the drop of a hat in the competitive Western Conference. Head coach Terry Stotts cautioned against counting out the Pelicans and Thunder following the recent season-ending injuries to DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Roberson, however.
  • Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball has started testing his knee laterally, Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times tweets. Ball still isn’t practicing with the team but seems to be making gradual progress. Ball has missed seven straight games.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/30/18

Here are the G League moves from around the Association:

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Chicago Bulls

After navigating the drama of last season and coming out in a solid position, the Bulls will need to do everything they can to keep the momentum of their rebuild rolling.

The club has shown glimpses of being a competent squad at times this season, with a number of intriguing assets already on the roster. However, nobody would bat an eye if the Bulls end up bottoming out with a solid pick in the lottery.

Much of Chicago’s long-term success will come down to the eventual growth of players like Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, but don’t think that the forthcoming free agency period won’t represent its own opportunities for progress.

Zach LaVine, SG, 23 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $9.6MM deal in 2014
It’s hard to believe that LaVine is still so young considering how long he’s been in the league. This summer he’ll hit the market as a restricted free agent following a torn ACL that sidelined him for parts of each of the past two seasons. That’s good news and bad news for Chicago. Like the rest of us, the Bulls are intrigued by LaVine’s ceiling and an abbreviated campaign isn’t enough to base such an important long-term decision on. That said, other teams will have even less to base a substantial offer on. Given the uncertainty around his health and even his ability to be a primary offensive weapon, it’s hard to imagine the Bulls offering a max contract but they’ve got enough cap flexibility to make him their highest-paid player in 2018/19 and beyond, assuming they like what they see out of him down the stretch.

Nikola Mirotic, PF, 27 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $25MM deal in 2017Nikola Mirotic vertical
It’s hard to imagine that Mirotic will still be in a Bulls uniform come next summer considering that earlier today it seemed all but certain he would be traded to the Pelicans. Nonetheless, Mirotic’s contract situation will be similar wherever he lands up — his $12.5MM team option for 2018/19 is a bargain. Mirotic has shown that he’s capable of having a major impact on his ball club and any team that brings him on ahead of the February 8 trade deadline would be wise to lock him in at the discount. The open-ended contract buffs his value as a trade chip for Chicago but at the end of the day he’s a stretch four with no major red flags. That’s worth $12.5MM.

David Nwaba, SG, 25 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $1.4MM deal in 2017
The Bulls are rebuilding their roster from the ground up, so players like Nwaba hold appeal even if they don’t necessarily scream team cornerstone. Nwaba is a respected perimeter defender that gels well with other, more offensively inclined weapons on the roster. There may be a few teams interested in poaching him for the intangibles that he brings to the court, just as Jonathon Simmons had suitors last summer, but a dearth of league-wide cap space may keep things in check. My guess is that the Bulls would be happy to cut Nwaba a check similar to Simmons’ (~$6MM per) so long as it’s on a short-term deal.

Quincy Pondexter, SF, 30 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $14MM deal in 2014
It’s impressive enough that Pondexter is back on the court after his years-long battle with injuries and illness. This year, his first with the Bulls after coming over in a salary clearing trade from the Pelicans, is the last of a four-year contract extension that’s basically felt like 12. It’s hard to envision Pondexter back in Chicago once the deal expires, but he could stick around the league if he can prove to other teams that he’s healthy enough to play the role of veteran gunner. He’s certainly earned the opportunity, at least.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.