Month: December 2018

Atlantic Notes: Fizdale, Butler, Raptors, Kornet

David Fizdale was asked to give his thoughts on Bulls players threatening to revolt against coach Jim Boylen after a series of harsh practices, and the new Knicks coach gave a response about his players that should bring confidence to fans in New York.

Since being hired as head coach, Fizdale has preached the importance of keeping a healthy culture. The Knicks’ poor culture before Fizdale’s arrival is well-documented and in the past, but it’s something he’ll vigorously work to keep his team away from. When asked if he’d ever consider running a Jim Boylen-style practice, however, Fizdale laughed.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. “I wouldn’t rule it out. But at the end of the day, I can’t even think about what’s going on in Chicago. I’ve got a house full of young ’uns that I’ve got to take care of. But you know every coach has got to handle their situation the way that they see fit. I can only speak for my group. I feel like I’ve established a good trust with these guys so they know if I do pull something, it’s probably worthwhile and that they deserve it. So that’s how I view when I really want to crack down on them, I’m hoping that I’ve gotten to a place with these guys that they know it’s coming from the right place.”

Fizdale’s last job as an assistant was with the Heat, a team with one of the proudest, hard-working atmospheres in the NBA. He saw first hand the importance of keeping a team together both on the hardwood and off, and has brought those principles to his new job with the Knicks this season.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Jimmy Butler has impacted the 76ers despite not playing in the past two games, Brian Seltzer of NBA.com writes. Butler has encouraged and assisted his teammates from the sidelines when needed, becoming a vocal leader for the team. “He just is an incredible example of professionalism to our guys,” coach Brett Brown said. “His resume speaks for itself, and that’s all under the fact that, as I see it, he loves his job. He loves basketball.”
  • The Raptors have their core for the future regardless of what Kawhi Leonard chooses to do in free agency, Shams Charania explaines in a video for Watch Stadium. Leonard will become a free agent on July 1, and could consider joining the Clippers if he leaves Toronto. Outside of Leonard, the Raptors currently sport a core group of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas.
  • Knicks center Luke Kornet has a golden opportunity to prove he deserves to be in New York past this season, Marc Berman of the New York post writes. Kornet is expected to receive more playing time in the coming games as Mitchell Robinson copes with an ankle injury. He recorded 13 points, six rebounds, two steals and three blocks in the team’s overtime victory against the Hornets on Friday.

Central Notes: Hill, Turner, Pistons, Nwaba

George Hill has faced many challenges over the course of his NBA career, but the 11-year guard has been tasked with a different mission this month: Getting acclimated with his new teammates in Milwaukee.

The Bucks traded for Hill as part of a three-team deal nine days ago, acquiring a veteran presence and additional player in the team’s backcourt behind Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon. Hill has already earned the respect of several young players in the locker room, including Brogdon — a former Rookie of the Year winner.

“He’s a really, really good vet on and off the floor,” Brogdon said of Hill, according to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He’s not one of these vets you bring in that’s a great locker-room guy. He’s a guy that’s going to contribute on the floor, lead by example with his voice, really help contribute this year. …

“He knows who he is; he’s a very confident guy, but he also knows what it takes to win. He’s been part of winning teams, winning cultures. We need someone like that in our locker room and he’s going to serve as that.”

Hill made several deep postseason runs with the Pacers before joining the Jazz in 2016. He’s also made stops with the Kings and Cavaliers, and started his NBA career under Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich with the Spurs. This month’s deal marked the fourth time Hill was traded in his professional career.

“For me, it’s a blessing no matter what,” Hill said. “People say, ‘Well, you’ve been sent to different places.’ To be sent to different places it means you’re wanted in different places at the same time.”

There’s more from the Central Division today:

  • Pacers center Myles Turner was fined $15,000 by the NBA on Saturday for directing an inappropriate gesture toward the spectator stands. The incident occurred in the second quarter of the team’s win over the Sixers on Friday night.
  • The Pistons‘ new medical team has been noticeably busy since the start of the season, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes. Ed Stefanski, who was hired to run the team after the franchise parted ways with Stan Van Gundy, decided to go in a different direction with the training staff before the 2018/19 season began. Early injuries to Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard and others have tested the new group for the better, as detailed by Beard.
  • Cavaliers guard David Nwaba is determined to fight through his knee injury, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. Nwaba missed nine straight games with general soreness, but appeared in the team’s last two contests in limited time. “It’s still pretty sore. Just something I’ve got to fight through,” Nwaba said. “See if it gets better over time.”

Nets Notes: Graham, Russell, Kurucs, Marks

Forgotten Nets guard Treveon Graham is close to returning after missing the last two months of action, Peter Botte of the New York Post writes. 

Graham, 25, has watched 28 straight games from afar as he rehabs from a hamstring injury. He was assigned to the Long Island Nets on Saturday, Brooklyn’s G League affiliate, and practiced with the team to continue working toward a return.

“He’s practiced a little bit, but that one I don’t want to put a date on it yet,” coach Kenny Atkinson said, according to Botte. “That’s obviously good news, that he’s starting to participate in practice and in some game activities. But no timetable for him. We love him and we miss him and I think he brings a defensive piece that I think really can help us. I think he’s gonna be a good player for us.”

Graham signed a free-agent contract to join the Nets this past July, coming off a season where he played 63 games with the Hornets. He scored 4.3 points per game on 43% shooting from the floor and 41% from 3-point range last year, with the VCU product currently in his third NBA season.

There’s more out of Brooklyn today:

  • Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily ponders whether there’s any room left for D’Angelo Russell after the Nets agreed to a contract extension with Spencer Dinwiddie. Russell has started in all 30 games this season, but Dinwiddie’s stellar play off the bench has earned him early praise for a larger role.
  • Rodions Kurucs may have played his way into the Nets’ rotation after a strong game against the Wizards on Friday, Botte writes in a different story for the New York Post. Kurucs scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in his first career start, earning some respect in the process. “The big question is can you do this long term, as the league gets to know him better?” Atkinson said of Kurucs. “This is a small pocket of games, but my experience says I believe this will be a season-long thing where he’s getting minutes now.”
  • General manager Sean Marks explained his decision to ink Dinwiddie on a multi-year extension last week, as relayed by Bryan Fonseca and Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily. “You want to reward a guy who has bought in entirely,” Marks said. “Go back three years when we first signed him. I think Spencer has showed terrific ability to improve, to develop, to be part of this culture and it’s deserving of him right now.”

Wizards Notes: Ariza, Oubre, Rivers, Wall

Trading for Trevor Ariza is a short-sighted move that offers false hope to Wizards fans, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Washington makes a similar move nearly every season, Ziller notes, adding veteran players who are supposed to be difference makers, but the team has won just three playoff series since John Wall arrived.

The addition of Ariza, in a deal expected to be completed tomorrow, seems almost certain to be a short-term move. His contract expires at the end of the season, Washington doesn’t acquire his Bird Rights because he’s on a one-year deal and the team already projects to be over the cap for 2019/20.

The Wizards wanted to unload Kelly Oubre, who is being shipped to Phoenix, before he hit restricted free agency next summer. But Ziller blasts that thought process as well, contending the team would have been better off taking its chances that Oubre wouldn’t get an offer that’s too expensive to match. As it stands, Washington will probably enter next season without Ariza, Oubre or anything else to show from this weekend’s trade.

There’s more from the nation’s capital:

  • Players were left in disbelief after the bizarre circumstances of Friday’s canceled trade, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Oubre and Austin Rivers learned they were being dealt Friday night, then found out the deal collapsed before it was revived in a different form Saturday morning. “It was kind of weird and kind of difficult,” Wall said. “[We] go into the locker room and we’re about to shower and stuff and we don’t understand who is about to get traded, who’s been traded. It was kind of a tough situation. I give those guys a lot of credit. They handled that stuff like professionals. A lot of guys could have reacted in different ways, which I have seen in the past.”
  • Wall understands the financial component of the deal and why the team wasn’t optimistic about keeping Oubre, Hughes adds in the same piece. Washington has the sixth-highest payroll in the league and is facing a significant luxury tax payment. The team has made three trades already this season and has saved money on each one. “We have three guys that are paid pretty high,” Wall said. “And then understanding what Kelly is going to receive or ask for this summer, I don’t think we have the money to match it. So, I think that’s the reason why we made that trade.”
  • The Wizards sent $500K to the Bucks in last week’s deal that brought in Sam Dekker for Jason Smith, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

Grizzlies Notes: Bickerstaff, M. Brooks, Selden, Carter

As bizarre as the circumstances were surrounding Friday’s failed three-team trade, it’s not the first time Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff has experienced that type of situation, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Bickerstaff was serving as interim coach of the Rockets in 2016 when the team traded Donatas Motiejunas to the Pistons, who later voided the deal because of injury concerns.

“The guy we brought back, D-Mo, was a high character kid so there wasn’t concern about him having a negative impact on the locker room or anything like that,” Bickerstaff said. “The emotion that they feel is more of a personal emotion. I don’t think it’s necessarily something that’s aimed at the team or a group of guys. But there’s thoughts in your mind that you go through.”

Bickerstaff offered an apology yesterday to Wayne Selden and MarShon Brooks, whom the organization intended to move to Phoenix in the deal. The trade collapsed over apparent confusion over whether the Suns were getting MarShon or Dillon Brooks.

“It’s a difficult situation for people to be put in,” Bickerstaff said. “Guys who have shown up and worked every day and did everything we asked them to do. Felt bad for them. From the coaching side, I thought the right thing to do was apologize and let them know we understand how it feels, how we appreciate in the last 24 hours how they handled it because they could have handled it in a much worse way.”

There’s more today from Memphis:

  • MarShon Brooks’ mother learned of the trade on social media during Friday’s game and tried to tell her son about it from the crowd, tweets Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian. However, she was too far away for Brooks to figure out what she was saying. “I’m not frustrated with the situation,” Brooks said about the canceled deal. “It’s a business. I understand that. I will say this though: When guys like a Jimmy Butler or Kevin Durant go to different teams and want to play where they want to play, you see why. It’s a business, on both sides.” (Twitter link)
  • Memphis may have found a gem in second-round pick Jevon Carter, Herrington writes in a full story. Carter had 11 points and two steals in his NBA debut Saturday and displayed the defensive prowess the Grizzlies were counting on when they drafted him. “It’s just a part of the game. It’s a process,” Carter said of starting his career in the G League. “Every day I come in here, I work, and I just wait. I just give my best effort — being a good teammate on the bench for these guys. I love these guys, so whatever I can do to help is what I’ll do.”
  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace gave his thoughts on the trade fiasco last night, insisting his team wasn’t responsible for any confusion.

Nuggets To Sign Brandon Goodwin To Two-Way Deal

11:53am: The Nuggets are expected to complete the signing today after waiving Akoon-Purcell, tweets Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports. Akoon-Purcell has been kept in the NBA all season because of injuries and has nearly reached his 45-day limit (Twitter link).

8:20am: Brandon Goodwin will return to the Nuggets on a two-way contract, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Denver already has both two-way slots filled, so either DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell or Thomas Welsh will have to be waived before the signing can be completed. Akoon-Purcell, who has appeared in seven games for the Nuggets, is the more likely candidate to be let go, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Goodwin first came to Denver in late November when the team was granted a hardship exception. He spent about two weeks with the Nuggets before being waived when Nick Young was signed on Monday. Goodwin didn’t see any game action during his first stint in Denver.

The former Florida Gulf Coast guard was in training camp with Memphis after signing an Exhibit 10 contract, but was released before the start of the season. He had been playing in the G League with the Grizzlies’ Memphis Hustle affiliate.

Bulls Notes: Parker, Boylen, Alkins

Jabari Parker is refusing to lash out at the Bulls, even though he finds himself on the trading block after being pulled from the rotation, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Parker’s situation in Chicago soured quickly after he joined the team as a free agent in July. New coach Jim Boylen reportedly cites poor effort on defense and a selfish attitude on offense as the basis for his decisions, but Parker doesn’t want to get caught up in a war of words.

“I chose to come here,” Parker said. “I did everything I can to prove that I belong here. And I’m going to continue to do that. My job is to be ready to be on the court. My agent’s job is to just be my defense and be that voice for me that I’m not able to say.”

Parker is open to a deal, and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, is working with the team to resolve the situation. According to Johnson, the Bulls began seeking trade partners well before restrictions were lifted on newly signed free agents yesterday.

“It’s not easy,” Boylen said. “I’ve been direct and honest with him about what I expect and what I hope he can continue to work on.”

There’s more this morning out of Chicago:

  • The Heat, Suns, Cavaliers and Hawks are teams that might be good fits for Parker, writes Frank Urbina of HoopsHype.
  • Boylen had a strong supporter in Spurs coach Gregg Popovich even before the Bulls’ surprising win in San Antonio last night, Johnson adds in the same story. Boylen, who has been under fire since replacing Fred Hoiberg two weeks ago, spent two years as an assistant with the Spurs and was with the team when it won the 2014 NBA title. “He’s a pretty straightforward, honest individual, and he’ll do it the way he thinks is best for that group,” Popovich said. “And he’ll be fair, he’ll be demanding, and he will try to make everything clear so whatever system he wants to employ will get across. I’ve learned as much from him as he’s learned from us here.”
  • If there’s a bright side to Zach LaVine‘s injury, it gives the Bulls a chance to evaluate rookie Rawle Alkins, notes Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. Alkins signed a two-way contract this summer and has spent the season in the G League at Windy City, where he is averaging 15.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He will be called up in time for tomorrow night’s game, tweets Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Sixers’ Management Split On What To Do With Fultz

The Sixers’ front office is divided over whether to trade Markelle Fultz and would expect a quality first-rounder in return if he does get moved, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Fultz, currently sidelined while dealing with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome, has improved his numbers slightly after a disappointing rookie season. He is averaging 8.2 PPG in 19 games, 15 of them starts, but continues to struggle with his shot, hitting just .419 from the field and .286 from 3-point range.

The Sixers entered win-now mode after the Jimmy Butler trade, Pompey notes, and don’t need the distraction of trying to develop a young player. However, they are wary of seeing him turn into a star somewhere else, knowing that former GM Bryan Colangelo will get the blame if Fultz fails in Philadelphia, but the current group will be held responsible if he is traded away cheaply.

The Sixers have already refused several offers for Fultz, which indicates that other teams aren’t willing to part with potentially high first-round picks. Pompey states that rival organizations believe Philadelphia will lessen its requirements as the February 7 trade deadline draws nearer, adding that teams remain unconvinced that Fultz will overcome his shooting problems or shoulder injury any time soon.

Fultz hasn’t played since November 19 and is working out in Los Angeles while rehabbing the shoulder. His agent, Raymond Brothers, said on December 4 that Fultz would miss three to six weeks, which could put his return as late as mid-January.

Pompey speculates only a few teams — possibly as many as 10 — might take a chance on Fultz. He lists the Pistons, Magic and Heat as potential landing spots, stating that a league source confirmed Detroit was among three teams that reached out to the Sixers. Whoever winds up with Fultz will be committed to playing him $9.7MM next season and will have to make a decision on his fourth-year option in October.

Woj: Lakers Keeping Young Players To Pursue Anthony Davis

The Lakers refused to break up their young core to acquire Trevor Ariza from the Suns because they’re saving their assets for a run at Anthony Davis, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said today on ESPN (Hat tip to Real GM).

Davis will be eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension from the Pelicans next summer, which could pay him a record-setting $239.54MM over five seasons. However, if Davis decides not to accept that offer, he is guaranteed just one more season in New Orleans before his player option arrives in the summer of 2020.

The Lakers are among several teams preparing for that scenario, stockpiling as much young talent as they can to offer the Pelicans in a potential trade.

“Here’s the line they have to walk: they’re not going to give away picks and their top young players in some deal that makes them incrementally better this season,” Wojnarowski said, “because they have to save all those assets for Anthony Davis, a big trade this summer either pre or post free agency.”

L.A. has been careful about preserving cap room for next season to be able to make a max offer in a talented free agent class that will include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and several other stars. The pursuit of Davis won’t affect that plan, according to Wojnarowski.

“The absolute dream scenario, people talk about (how) they can trade for Anthony Davis or sign a free agent,” he said. “The dream scenario is they do both.”

ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who co-hosted the show with Wojnarowski, explained that the Lakers plan to take a shot at free agency first, then will try to swing a deal for Davis. If it works, that could produce a Big Three that would eclipse what LeBron James had in Miami or Cleveland.

Assuming none of them are traded away during the season, L.A. will have Lonzo Ball ($8.72MM for next year), Brandon Ingram ($7.27MM), Kyle Kuzma ($1.97MM) and Josh Hart ($1.93MM) available to offer in a potential deal for Davis.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/15/18

Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Bucks have recalled forward D.J. Wilson from their Wisconsin affiliate, the team announced on its website. Wilson averaged 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games with the Herd during his latest assignment.
  • The Pelicans recalled rookie guard Frank Jackson from the Texas Legends, according to a press release from the team. Jackson was assigned to play for the Legends last night and contributed 20 points in a win over Austin.
  • The Jazz assigned center Tony Bradley to the Salt Lake City Stars, the team announced on Twitter. Bradley is averaging 14.8 PPG and 7.6 RPG in 12 G League games.
  • The Wizards sent first-round pick Troy Brown to the Capital City GoGo for tonight’s game, according to a tweet from the team.
  • The Warriors assigned Jacob Evans to their Santa Cruz affiliate, tweets Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. Evans has seen little action in Golden State and is going to the G League to get some playing time.