Month: October 2018

Pacific Notes: Divac, Clippers, Warriors, Gilgeous-Alexander

With young and promising players across the board, Kings chairman Vivek Ranadive is optimistic of his team’s future. In a span of two years, the club has managed to trade center DeMarcus Cousins, draft players such as De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley, as well as sign younger prospects.

“Vlade is a Sacramento legend, he’s a Kings legend and he’s just a great guy and right now, the way I see it, he’s put the team in a position to have some exciting times ahead of us,” Ranadive said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee. “I’m very excited about the young players, our rookie (Marvin Bagley), the guys we got last year (in the draft), and I think it will be exciting to watch the team this year.”

Sacramento is likely to miss the Playoffs this season, but the team is in great position to succeed in the future largely because of the moves made by Divac. They are the sixth youngest team in the league, guided by an experienced Playoff-tested head coach in Dave Joerger.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Troy Williams Plans To Sign Two-Way Deal With Kings

Forward Troy Williams plans to sign a two-way contract with the Kings upon clearing waivers, according to The Athletic’s Michael Scotto (Twitter link).

Williams was waived by the Pelicans this week, with the 23-year-old holding past stints on the Grizzlies, Rockets and Knicks. He first entered the league after going undrafted in 2016, having spent three collegiate seasons at Indiana from 2013-16.

A 6-foot-7 forward, Williams has averaged 6.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 16.9 minutes per contest on his career. He scored 34 points across four preseason games with the Pelicans before being waived, and joins a young, hungry Kings team focused on the future.

Atlantic Notes: McConnell, Vonleh, Morris, Fultz

The 76ers plan to let the season play out before committing to guard T.J. McConnell long-term, according to Keith Pompey of Philly.com. McConnell is eligible for a contract extension, with the 26-year-old set to reach free agency in July on his current deal.

The Sixers have held brief discussions on possibly extending McConnell, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (podcast link), although the sides appear unlikely to reach an official agreement. Philadelphia hopes to keep space for a maximum-salary player in the summer of 2019, when talents such as Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard become free agents.

Several teams have expressed interest in trading for McConnell, including the Suns, Pompey wrote. Philadelphia recently rejected a trade proposal from Phoenix that included a second-round pick.

In 76 games with the Sixers last year, McConnell held per-game averages of 6.3 points, four assists and three rebounds in 22.4 minutes per contest. He scored four points and dished out three assists in Tuesday’s loss against Boston.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • New Knicks forward Noah Vonleh explained his decision to sign with the team this week, as relayed by Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “I felt like this was great spot for me, great opportunity,” he said. “Young team, being able to play with a bunch of guys around my age, a bunch of guys who have been in similar situations as me, being former lottery picks, teams giving up on them pretty quick. I felt like it was a good group to come join.”
  • Marcus Morris is prepared for the uncertainty that comes with earning minutes on the Celtics, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Morris could be asked to play major minutes on some nights, and significantly less minutes on other nights. “The only thing I can do is go out there and be effective with the minutes I’m given and that’s my whole motto during the season,” he said.
  • The Sixers could find more success by playing Markelle Fultz off the bench, Marcus Hayes of Philly.com opines. Fultz started in the first half on Tuesday, then came off the bench in the second half behind J.J. RedickHe finished with five points on 2-7 shooting from the floor.

2018 Offseason In Review: Los Angeles Clippers

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2018 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2018/19 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Los Angeles Clippers.

Signings:

  • Standard contracts:
    • Avery Bradley: Two years, $24.96MM. Second year partially guaranteed ($2MM). Re-signed using Bird rights.
    • Montrezl Harrell: Two years, $12MM. Re-signed using Bird rights.
    • Luc Mbah a Moute: One year, $4.32MM. Signed using mid-level exception.
    • Mike Scott: One year, $4.32MM. Signed using mid-level exception.
    • Tyrone Wallace: Two years, $2.94MM. Partially guaranteed ($300K). Matched Pelicans’ offer sheet. Re-signed as restricted free agent using Non-Bird rights.
  • Two-way contracts:
  • Non-guaranteed camp contracts:

Trades:

Draft picks:

  • 1-11: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — Signed to rookie contract.
  • 1-13: Jerome Robinson — Signed to rookie contract.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap.
  • Carrying approximately $119.6MM in salary.
  • Full bi-annual exception ($3.38MM) still available.

Check out the Los Angeles Clippers’ full roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com.


Story of the summer:

Armed with a pair of lottery picks and a desire to land a star player, the Clippers were the subject of a number of trade rumors this summer. Considering the Spurs wanted to acquire an impact scorer in any trade involving Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers were a realistic suitor, as they could have put together a package headlined by Tobias Harris. However, if they made a strong push for Leonard, that push ultimately fell short, with the Spurs sending the former Finals MVP to Toronto instead.

The Clippers explored ways to package their two late-lottery picks to move up in the draft, and multiple reports, both early and late in the pre-draft process, indicated that they had eyes for Luka Doncic. In the end, the franchise didn’t have enough ammunition to realistically move into the top three, and it was the Mavericks who traded up for Doncic.

While it’s possible that the Clippers were discouraged in the short term by their failed runs at impact players, the long-term outlook for the franchise remains promising. They may not have acquired any stars this summer, but by preserving cap room and other assets, the Clippers are well-positioned for 2019 to go after those top-tier targets, including at least one or two that they missed out on this year.

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Southwest Notes: Carmelo, Rockets, Ding, Mack

Heading into the 2018/19 season, Carmelo Anthony – who has resisted accepting a bench role in the past – told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he’s ready to make that adjustment for his new team. However, in his first game in a reserve role for the Rockets, Anthony scored just nine points in 27 minutes on 3-of-10 shooting. After the loss, the veteran forward admitted that there would be a “learning curve” for his new role, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com relays.

“It’s challenging mentally more so than anything, having to prepare for the game differently,” Anthony said. “Other than that, it’s a challenge all the way around. It’s just a matter of how I’m going to react to that challenge and accepting that challenge, which I am, which I will do.”

As Anthony gets used to playing on the second unit in Houston, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Southwest…

  • The Rockets have promoted front office executive Monte McNair, changing his title from vice president of basketball operations to assistant GM, the team announced in a press release.
  • The Mavericks signed and waived camp invitee Ding Yanyuhang twice before the regular season began. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks confirms to Hoops Rumors, Ding’s first Exhibit 10 contract with Dallas only included a $5K bonus, whereas the second deal bumped that bonus to the maximum allowable $50K. Ding will earn that money if he spends at least two months with the Texas Legends, the Mavs’ G League affiliate.
  • When DeMarcus Cousins went down with his Achilles tear last season, it was something of a turning point for Anthony Davis, who recognized that he had to take his game to another level and carry the Pelicans. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com has the story, along with the quotes from Davis and head coach Alvin Gentry.
  • The Grizzlies‘ signing of Shelvin Mack was something of an afterthought in an offseason that also included the acquisitions of Jaren Jackson Jr., Kyle Anderson, and Garrett Temple, However, Mack opens the season as Mike Conley‘s primary backup at point guard, as Jason Munz of The Memphis Commercial Appeal details.

Pacers, Davon Reed Agree To Two-Way Deal

Former Suns guard Davon Reed intends to sign a two-way contract with the Pacers once he clears waivers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Reed, who was officially cut by Phoenix on Tuesday, will have a clear path to sign with Indiana as a free agent if he goes unclaimed today.

Reed, 23, was the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 draft, but missed a significant chunk of his rookie season due to a knee injury. In total, he appeared in just 21 games in 2017/18, averaging 3.0 PPG and 1.9 RPG on .289/.289/.667 shooting.

While there was some uncertainty about his place on the Suns’ roster heading into the summer due to his lost rookie season and the partial guarantee on his 2018/19 salary, Reed played well in five Summer League games in Las Vegas, posting 13.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, and a .489 FG% in Vegas. That Summer League showing helped earn Reed the rest of his ’18/19 guarantee and secure his roster spot temporarily, but he was Phoenix’s final cut this week when the club signed Jamal Crawford.

Although Reed was on a minimum salary, he had a four-year contract and wasn’t signed using the minimum salary exception, meaning a team would need cap room or a trade exception in order to claim him off waivers. As such, a claim is not expected.

Assuming he finalizes his deal with the Pacers, who were intrigued by the Miami guard leading up to the 2017 draft, as Scott Agness of The Athletic tweets, Reed will join Edmond Sumner as the two-way players on Indiana’s roster. C.J. Wilcox had also signed a two-way contract with the Pacers during the summer, but he’ll miss the entire 2018/19 campaign after suffering a torn Achilles during an offseason workout.

NBA: No Major Draft Eligibility Changes Before 2022

The NBA has informed its teams that there will be no changes to the league’s draft eligibility rules to allow players to enter the draft right out of high school until at least 2022, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Currently, players must be at least 19 years old and must be at least one year removed from high school before they’re eligible to enter the NBA draft, which results in most top prospects attending college for one year before going pro.

Way back in November of 2017, we heard the NBA and the players’ union were discussing the possibility of adjusting draft eligibility rules with an eye toward eliminating that one-and-done path. The Commission on College Basketball subsequently issued a report this past April recommending that the one-and-done rule be altered or eliminated. While that appears likely to happen at some point, a July report indicated it wouldn’t occur until at least 2021 — now we know we’ll have to wait at least one additional year beyond that.

If and when the NBA opens the door for players to enter the draft out of high school, that draft year figures to be flooded with top prospects. For instance, if it happens in 2022, the top high school grads of that year would join that season’s top college freshman in the ’22 draft class. As such, the league would prefer to give teams plenty of notice for when it will happen.

With the league’s draft eligibility rules expected to remain unchanged until at least 2022, the NBA G League is set to offer top high school prospects an alternative to the usual one-and-done route in the NCAA. As we relayed earlier today, “select contracts” worth $125K – well over the standard $35K G League salary – will be available starting in 2019 for elite prospects who aren’t yet draft-eligible.

Woj’s Latest: McConnell, Clippers, Kawhi, Butler

The Sixers have discussed a possible contract extension for T.J. McConnell, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during the latest edition of The Woj Pod. Despite some “conversations” about a new deal, Wojnarowski doesn’t suggest that those talks have gotten serious, and Zach Lowe adds that he doesn’t expect Philadelphia to extend McConnell early, since the team wants to maximize its cap room for next summer.

Still, it will be interesting to see what happens with McConnell, who would be eligible for up to four years and about $47.5MM on an in-season extension. Wojnarowski indicates that the Sixers‘ backup point guard is “in demand” on the trade market, but has always been a favorite of head coach Brett Brown. As long as Markelle Fultz remains a question mark, McConnell is an important part of the club’s rotation.

[RELATED: Sixers turned down Suns’ trade offer for T.J. McConnell]

Wojnarowski and Lowe relayed a few more noteworthy tidbits on their latest podcast, so let’s round up the highlights….

  • Wojnarowski believes that the Clippers’ chance of landing Kawhi Leonard in 2019 are “better than not.” However, while he thinks L.A. is in a great position for Leonard, he cautions that anything can happen between now and next July.
  • Wojnarowski also expects the Clippers to “be heard from again” in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes, though the ESPN scribe expects many other potential trade partners to re-engage the Timberwolves once Minnesota gets “more realistic” about its asking price.
  • Elsewhere on the Butler front, Wojnarowski notes that the All-NBA swingman has made it clear that the Lakers are “not really a consideration” for him. Conversely, the Lakers think they can do better than Butler with their potential max-salary slot, Woj adds.
  • Both Wojnarowski and Lowe raved about Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, with Woj suggesting that Spoelstra could command $10MM annually as a “free agent” coach. An executive from a rival team asked Lowe last season if he thought the Heat would be willing to part with Spoelstra for a first-round pick — both Woj and Lowe agree that they wouldn’t.

G League To Offer New Alternative For One-And-Done Candidates

The NBA G League is creating a new “professional path” for NBA prospects as an alternative to the one-and-done route in college basketball, reports ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Starting in 2019, the G League will offer “select contracts” worth $125K to top prospects who are at least 18 years old but aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft, league president Malcolm Turner tells Givony. The standard NBAGL salary is $35K.

Rather than spending one year in a college program before making the leap to the NBA, those prospects would get a chance to earn a six-figure salary, spend a season within the NBA’s infrastructure, and participate in off-court development programs “geared towards facilitating and accelerating their transition to the pro game,” per Tucker.

The NBA’s one-and-done rule may be adjusted in future years, eliminating the need for elite high school prospects to spend a year in college or elsewhere before becoming draft-eligible. However, that’s not expected to happen until the 2022 draft, at the earliest, so the G League hopes to offer a viable alternative in the meantime.

Without the NCAA’s rules in effect, standout prospects who go the NBAGL route would be eligible for shoe deals and other promotional and marketing opportunities, in addition to earning a $125K salary on a select contract.

According to Turner, the G League won’t pursue top prospects who have already committed to colleges, though the select contract route will be an option for players who decommit from programs. The NBAGL president also tells Givony that the league will be selective about which prospects it targets, focusing on high-character players who are ready to make the jump to professional ball.

Several details will still need to be worked out, including how these players are assigned to specific G League teams and whether this opportunity will also be open to international prospects.

Turner is optimistic about the possibilities and several agents share his enthusiasm, according to Givony (Twitter link). However, Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com (Twitter link) questions whether the $125K salary is high enough to make it worthwhile for elite prospects. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter) that the G League lifestyle isn’t a glamorous one, so if a player prioritizes packed arenas and private jets, the NCAA path may still be the better option. “You’ll get paid there too,” Wojnarowski adds.

Jimmy Butler Trade Talks ‘Mostly Dormant’ For Now

With the 2018/19 season officially underway, the Jimmy Butler trade talks that were so active in the weeks leading up to opening night are “mostly dormant” for the time being, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Heat were the most aggressive suitor for Butler during the preseason, having nearly reached a deal with the Timberwolves that would have sent Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, and a protected first-round pick to Minnesota for the All-NBA swingman. However, according to Charania, Heat president Pat Riley informed his players a few days before the regular season began that the club planned to stick with its current roster for now.

While the Timberwolves aren’t close to any deals involving Butler at the moment, trade discussions figure to pick back up at some point. Team owner Glen Taylor confirmed earlier this week that he and the 29-year-old reached an understanding — Butler will play hard for the Wolves while the team continues to seek out a trade package for him.

If and when those trade talks resume, Miami still looks like a prime landing spot. Marc Stein of The New York Times also noted earlier this week that “rumbles persist” about the Rockets maintaining serious interest in trading for Butler, despite the Wolves’ aversion to helping Houston build another super-team in the Western Conference.

Although Butler isn’t necessarily happy to still be in Minnesota, he has been making an effort to display leadership and help out his teammates by easing the pressure from head coach Tom Thibodeau, according to Charania.

“Just hoop, I told them, and I think that I can get Thibs to relax a little bit,” Butler said. “He’s never going to say anything about offense as long as you go down there and play with effort on the defensive end and get a couple stops. It’s whenever you’re not getting stops when he starts yelling. I think Thibs has calmed down a lot, and guys are playing with effort.”