Month: August 2018

Remaining Offseason Questions: Southeast Division

NBA teams have now completed the brunt of their offseason work, with the draft and free agency practically distant memories. Still, with training camps more than a month away, most clubs around the league have at least one or two outstanding issues they’ve yet to address.

We’re in the midst of looking at all 30 NBA teams, separating them by division and checking in on the key outstanding question that each club still needs to answer before the 2018/19 regular season begins.

After focusing on the Atlantic on Monday and the Central on Tuesday, we’re moving on to the Southeast today…

Atlanta Hawks
Will Kent Bazemore still be a Hawk when the 2018/19 season begins?

As we noted this morning, Bazemore is the longest-tenured Hawks player now that Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala are on new teams. But after trading Schroder and Muscala last month, Atlanta may ultimately deal Bazemore too.

Trade rumors continue to swirl around Bazemore, with the Rockets, Bucks, and Pelicans among the teams linked to the veteran swingman. In a hypothetical trade with each of those teams, the Hawks would have to take on an unwanted contract, which would mean acquiring Ryan Anderson, John Henson, or Solomon Hill. So it will come down to what sort of additional assets those clubs are willing to attach to their bad contracts to sweeten the pot for Atlanta.

If the Hawks don’t feel like any offers for Bazemore are worth pulling the trigger on at this point, there’s no rush to make a deal — he’ll still have value at the trade deadline, especially if he has a strong first half.

Charlotte Hornets
Will the Hornets make a trade involving a wing before the season begins?

Many of those same teams with reported interest in Bazemore have likely checked in with the Hornets as well. In Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Jeremy Lamb, Charlotte has several wings who could be trade candidates.

While all of those players are solid – but unspectacular – on the court, there’s a significant range in their trade value due to their respective contracts. Lamb’s $7.5MM expiring deal, for instance, would be much more palatable for potential trade partners than Batum’s contract, which still has three years and $76.7MM left on it. Williams and Kidd-Gilchrist fall somewhere in the middle — they each have two years left on their deals and are earning between $13-15MM annually.

The Hornets likely won’t push to make a trade before the season starts, and if they do make a move, they’ll have to be wary of their luxury tax situation, as they only sit about $3.5MM below the tax threshold. Still they’ve shown a willingness to deal since Mitch Kupchak took over as head of basketball operations in the spring. Charlotte has made five trades since the 2017/18 season ended.

Miami Heat
Will Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem return for another season?

Despite rumors that Wade is set to return for another year, nothing has been confirmed yet. In fact, Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype reported this week (via Twitter) that retirement remains a “serious consideration” for the future Hall-of-Famer.

Still, if Wade does continue his playing career, it’ll be with the Heat, and rumblings that Haslem is leaning toward another year in South Beach may bode well for the possibility of Wade’s return. While the two veterans aren’t necessarily making their decisions together, there was a sense that if one of them retired, the other would be more likely to follow suit.

The Heat continue to hold roster spots for both players, and Pat Riley suggested last month that he expected clarity around mid-August. If the duo decides to keep playing, Haslem will almost certainly receive a minimum contract. Wade’s situation is a little more complicated, as he may seek some or all of Miami’s taxpayer mid-level exception, which could pay him up to $5.3MM instead of just $2.4MM.

Orlando Magic
Is Isaiah Briscoe penciled in as the Magic’s 15th man?

The Magic have 14 players on fully guaranteed contracts at the moment, and none of them seem likely to be waived before opening night. That leaves one spot open on the regular season roster, and Briscoe looks like the current frontrunner.

Briscoe, who played well overseas last season after going undrafted out of Kentucky in 2017, didn’t get a full guarantee from the Magic, but he did get a generous $500K partial guarantee on his first-year salary. His three-year contract is also structured as if Orlando hopes to keep him around for the next few seasons. Throw in the fact that D.J. Augustin and Jerian Grant are the only other point guards on the NBA roster and Briscoe looks like a safe bet to break camp with the team.

Still, without that full guarantee, Briscoe isn’t a lock for the 15-man squad quite yet. A poor preseason could put his roster spot in jeopardy, particularly with Troy Caupain in the mix on a two-way contract as an insurance policy at the point guard spot. The Magic still have a couple openings on their 20-man offseason roster, so it will be interesting to see if they use either of those slots on a player that could push Briscoe for a place on the regular season roster.

Washington Wizards
Will the Wizards sign Kelly Oubre Jr. to a rookie scale extension?

Oubre enjoyed his best NBA season in 2017/18, establishing new career highs in PPG (11.8), RPG (4.5), 3PT% (.341), and many other categories. However, his production was somewhat up and down, and he struggled to make an impact in the postseason, when he shot just .375/.211/.889.

Entering his fourth year, Oubre is now eligible for a rookie scale extension, and he and the Wizards will have until October 15 to work out a new deal that would go into effect in 2019/20. If the two sides don’t reach an agreement, the 22-year-old would be eligible for restricted free agency next summer.

If they expect Oubre to take another big step forward this season, the Wizards would be wise to see if they can lock him up now at a team-friendly rate. However, with big-money multiyear contracts for John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter already on the books, the club may be reluctant to invest heavily in another contributor whose skill set overlaps with that of its highest-paid players.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which Team Will Win Central Division?

The Cavaliers have won the Central division for four consecutive seasons, and the Cavs, Pistons, and Bulls have combined to claim 12 of the last 14 division titles. However, those clubs won’t enter the 2018/19 season as the frontrunners to finish atop the Central.

Currently, the Pacers and Bucks are viewed as virtual co-favorites for the Central crown in ’18/19. The opening over/unders from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had the Pacers at 47.5 wins and the Bucks at 46.5. Currently, however, betting site Bodog.eu has both teams projected at 46.5 wins for the upcoming season. No other Central team is projected to get to .500.

Indiana and Milwaukee finished four games apart last season, as the 48-34 Pacers claimed the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the 44-38 Bucks came in at No. 7. Both clubs have also made modest upgrades to their respective rosters during the offseason.

Indiana lost Lance Stephenson, Trevor Booker, Al Jefferson, and Glenn Robinson III, but added Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, Kyle O’Quinn, and Aaron Holiday. In Milwaukee, the Bucks acquired Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, and Donte DiVincenzo to replace Jabari Parker, Brandon Jennings, and Jason Terry.

As they look to leapfrog the Pacers in 2018/19, the Bucks will be relying on continued development from Giannis Antetokounmpo – potentially the best player in the East – as well as an immediate impact from new head coach Mike Budenholzer. As for the Pacers, they’ll count on continuity from a group that gelled quickly last season, as well as improvements from young players like Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis.

What do you think? Do you expect the Pacers to supplant the Cavaliers as the Central’s top team in 2018/19? Will the Bucks take home the Central crown for the first time since 2001? Or will the Pistons, Cavs, or Bulls make a surprise run to win the division?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Traded First Round Picks For 2019 NBA Draft

The 2019 NBA draft is over 10 months away, but several teams have already traded their first round picks for that night, and more clubs are likely to do so before this season’s trade deadline.

We’ll use the space below to keep tabs on each team’s first round pick for 2019, continually updating it as necessary throughout the year.

We’ve listed all 30 teams here, so even if a team hasn’t traded its first round pick, that will be noted. We’ll also provide details on protections for each traded pick, including what happens to the pick in 2020 if it doesn’t change hands in 2019.

Here’s the full breakdown on the status of each 2019 first round pick:

Atlantic

  • Boston Celtics: Own pick.
  • Brooklyn Nets: Own pick.
  • New York Knicks: Own pick.
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Will send more favorable of Kings‘ and Sixers‘ first round picks to Celtics (top-1 protected).
    • If Kings’ or Sixers’ first-rounder is No. 1 overall, Sixers would instead receive more favorable pick and Celtics would receive less favorable pick.
  • Toronto Raptors: Traded to Spurs (top-20 protected).
    • If not conveyed in 2019, Spurs will instead receive Raptors’ 2020 and 2023 second-round picks.

Central

  • Chicago Bulls: Own pick.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Traded to Hawks (top-10 protected).
    • If not conveyed in 2019, top-10 protected in 2020.
  • Detroit Pistons: Own pick.
  • Indiana Pacers: Own pick.
  • Milwaukee Bucks: Traded to Suns (top-3 protected; 17-30 protected).
    • If not conveyed in 2019, top-7 protected in 2020.

Southeast

  • Atlanta Hawks: Own pick.
  • Charlotte Hornets: Own pick.
  • Miami Heat: Own pick.
  • Orlando Magic: Own pick.
  • Washington Wizards: Own pick.

Northwest

  • Denver Nuggets: Traded to Nets (top-12 protected).
    • If not conveyed in 2019, top-12 protected in 2020.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: Own pick.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder: Own pick.
  • Portland Trail Blazers: Own pick.
  • Utah Jazz: Own pick.

Pacific

  • Golden State Warriors: Own pick.
  • Los Angeles Clippers: Traded to Celtics (top-14 protected).
    • If not conveyed in 2019, top-14 protected in 2020.
  • Los Angeles Lakers: Own pick.
  • Phoenix Suns: Own pick.
  • Sacramento Kings: Traded to Sixers or Celtics (unprotected).
    • Celtics will receive more favorable of Kings’ and Sixers’ first round picks (top-1 protected).
    • Sixers will receive less favorable of Kings’ and Sixers’ first round picks, unless one is No. 1 overall pick.

Southwest

  • Dallas Mavericks: Traded to Hawks (top-5 protected).
    • If not conveyed in 2019, top-5 protected in 2020.
  • Houston Rockets: Own pick.
  • Memphis Grizzlies: Traded to Celtics (top-8 protected).
    • If not conveyed in 2019, top-6 protected in 2020.
  • New Orleans Pelicans: Own pick.
  • San Antonio Spurs: Own pick.

Information from RealGM was used in the creation of this post.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Harris, Pelicans

While Mike Conley is expected to return to the Grizzlies‘ starting lineup in 2018/19 after missing nearly all of the 2017/18 campaign with foot issues, Memphis will still need to identify a backup for Conley at point guard. Peter Edmison of The Commercial Appeal examines the candidates for the role, including incumbent Andrew Harrison, veteran Shelvin Mack, and rookie Jevon Carter.

In Edmison’s view, Harrison has earned the first opportunity to claim the backup job. Although Mack could see action, especially if Carter – who suffered a thumb injury – isn’t ready to start the season, Edmison doesn’t view the veteran as a player the Grizzlies needed, unless they want to cover their bases in the event that Conley’s return is slower than anticipated.

With Mack on a guaranteed contract, the Grizzlies now have 15 players on guaranteed salaries, plus Harrison’s non-guaranteed deal. Assuming Memphis plans to retain Harrison, the club will have to trade or release another player before the regular season gets underway.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

Norris Cole To Play In Italy

Longtime NBA point guard Norris Cole will remain overseas for the coming season, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando, who confirms that Cole will play for Italian club Scandone Avellino in 2018/19. The deal was first reported by Sportchannel214 (Twitter link).

It will be the second consecutive season in Europe for Cole, who spent the 2017/18 campaign with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. In 28 EuroLeague games for Maccabi, Cole posted 12.6 PPG, 3.8 APG, and 2.5 RPG. He also averaged 11.8 PPG, 3.6 APG, and 2.2 RPG in 32 Israeli League contests.

Before he headed overseas last year, Cole had appeared in 360 total NBA regular season games for the Heat, Pelicans, and Thunder. He also played in 68 postseason contests, winning titles with Miami in 2012 and 2013. The 29-year-old’s last NBA action came during the 2016/17 season, when he appeared in 13 games for Oklahoma City.

Longest-Tenured Players By NBA Team

No NBA player has been with the same team longer than Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season with the Mavericks. Nowitzki’s longevity in Dallas allows him to once again top our annual list of the NBA’s longest-tenured players by team, but there was plenty of upheaval in the list’s top 10 this offseason.

Tony Parker, who had been with the Spurs since 2001, is now a Hornet. Nick Collison, who had been with the Thunder since 2003, retired. Other long-tenured players like DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors), and Wilson Chandler (Nuggets) are now on new teams too.

In some cases, the newest longest-tenured player for those teams is a surprising one. For instance, with Jordan no longer in Los Angeles, would you believe the player that has been with the Clippers the longest is Wesley Johnson? Meanwhile, after letting Julius Randle walk in free agency, the Lakers don’t have any players who have been on their roster for longer than two years, making 20-year-old Brandon Ingram the longest-tenured Laker.

Be sure to check out the rosters and depth charts at RosterResource.com for full details on how and when each team acquired every player on its roster.

Here are the NBA’s current longest-tenured players by team:

  1. Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki (draft trade), June 1998
  2. San Antonio SpursManu Ginobili (draft-and-stash signing), July 2002
    •  Note: Ginobili was originally selected by the Spurs in the 1999 draft, but didn’t sign with the team until 2002.
  3. Miami Heat: Udonis Haslem (free agent), August 2003
    • Note: Haslem is currently an unrestricted free agent, but appears likely to return to the Heat.
  4. Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley (draft), June 2007
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook (draft), June 2008
  6. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry (draft), June 2009
  7. Washington Wizards: John Wall (draft), June 2010
  8. Utah Jazz: Derrick Favors (trade), February 2011
  9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson (draft), June 2011
  10. Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker (draft), June 2011
  11. New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis (draft), June 2012
    • Note: Davis joined the franchise when it was the New Orleans Hornets.
  12. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard (draft), Meyers Leonard (draft), June 2012
    • Note: Lillard is technically the slightly longer-tenured Blazer, having been selected sixth overall, while Leonard was picked 11th overall.
  13. Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond (draft), June 2012
  14. Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson (draft), June 2012
  15. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry (trade), July 2012
    • Note: Jonas Valanciunas was drafted by the Raptors in 2011, but didn’t sign his first contract with the team until after the acquisition of Lowry.
  16. Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic (trade), August 2012
  17. Houston Rockets: James Harden (trade), October 2012
  18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Gorgui Dieng (draft trade), June 2013
  19. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid (draft), June 2014
  20. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart (draft), June 2014
  21. Phoenix Suns: T.J. Warren (draft), June 2014
  22. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris (draft trade), Nikola Jokic (draft), June 2014
    • Note: Harris is technically the slightly longer-tenured Nugget, having been selected 19th overall, while Jokic was picked 41st overall.
  23. Atlanta Hawks: Kent Bazemore (free agent), September 2014
  24. New York Knicks: Lance Thomas (trade), January 2015
    • Note: Thomas was technically waived by the Knicks after being acquired via trade, but re-signed with the team without playing for any other clubs in the interim.
  25. Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein (draft), June 2015
  26. Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner (draft), June 2015
  27. Chicago BullsBobby Portis (draft), June 2015
  28. Brooklyn Nets: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (draft trade), June 2015
  29. Los Angeles Clippers: Wesley Johnson (free agent), July 2015
  30. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram (draft), Ivica Zubac (draft), June 2016
    • Note: Ingram is technically the slightly longer-tenured Laker, having been selected second overall, while Zubac was picked 32nd overall.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pelicans Still In Need Of A Wing Player?

A bigger issue with the Pelicans this upcoming season may be the absence of a reliable player on the wing rather than the loss of Rajon Rondo or DeMarcus Cousins, as newcomers Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton are capable of replicating their production, at least in part, writes Scott Kushner of The Advocate.

Kushner opines that nobody on the Pelicans’ roster is capable of being a solid “3-and-D” player, as Solomon Hill has struggled to recover from a torn hamstring and E’Twaun Moore, limited by his 6’4” frame, has been asked to play against players much taller than him and seemingly taken out of his comfort zone as a result.

“If it was up to me — it doesn’t really matter as long as I stay on the floor and help my team win — but I would like to say that maybe I hopefully could be playing a little bit more guard (this season),” Moore said. “Last year, I was more of a wing, but it worked out well for the team because we played so fast. But it would be kind of cool to be going back to being a guard again.”

So, the Pelicans will now hold a three-man competition between Troy Williams, Garlon Green, and Kenrich Williams in order to find someone who may be able to crack the team’s wing rotation this season.

The Pelicans could also be active around midseason, as they were when they acquired Cousins in 2017 and Nikola Mirotic last season. But for now, they’ll rely on MVP-candidate Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Randle and Mirotic, which should be enough to keep them in the Western Conference playoff race.

Poll: Most Likely 2019 Free Agent Prediction

As we relayed earlier this evening, an ESPN panel was asked where they think some of the top-projected free agents of 2019 might end up next summer.

The panel believes that both Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler will end up with the Knicks, while Kawhi Leonard will sign with the Lakers and both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson will remain with the Warriors in the bay area.

It would still take some doing for the Knicks to open up the cap space for a second max-salary player, but Irving and Butler have reportedly talked about teaming up, potentially in The Big Apple. Moreover, Irving is from the NYC area.

As for Leonard, he and the Lakers have been linked for a while now, with the 27-year-old star already reportedly stating his preference for Los Angeles. Additionally, the Lakers will easily have the cap room to sign Leonard after mostly signing players to one-year deals this summer.

Finally, both Durant and Thompson could be casualties of the Warriors’ luxury tax concerns, especially if the team doesn’t win it all this season and ownership sees the championship window closing, however unlikely that may be.

So, our question tonight is, which of ESPN’s five predictions is most likely to come to fruition? Irving to the Knicks, Butler to the Knicks, Leonard to the Lakers, Durant staying with the Warriors, or Thompson staying with the Warriors?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to make your case for your pick.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

And-Ones: 2019 FAs, MVP Odds, Oldest Vets

An ESPN panel was asked where they think some of the top-projected free agents of 2019 might end up next summer. The results were interesting, with the panel making a prediction for five players: Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.

As we explored earlier this summer, both Irving and Butler have reportedly expressed interested in playing together, and the panel obviously took that into consideration, predicting both players to suit up for the Knicks next season. However, the Celtics were a close second for Irving.

Interestingly, the Lakers were the second-highest voted selection for both Butler and Thompson, and the first-place selection for Leonard by a wide-margin. Meanwhile, both Thompson and Durant are projected to return to the Warriors.

We have more from around the league:

Hornets Waive Mangok Mathiang

The Hornets have waived big man Mangok Mathiang, per an official release from the team and announcement from President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

Mathiang, 25, signed a two-way contract with the Hornets a little over one year ago today.  He played in four games during the 2017/18 season, averaging 2.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 5.0 minutes per contest.

The 6’10” center also appeared in 43 games (36 starts) for Charlotte’s G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, where he averaged 10.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 assists in 25.3 minutes per game.

After waiving Mathiang, the Hornets now have an open two-way spot on their roster, with rookie guard J.P. Macura holding down the other two-way contract for Charlotte.