Month: January 2019

Kings Interested In Harrison Barnes

The Kings have interest in Harrison Barnes ahead of the February 7 trade deadline, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (hat tip RealGM).

Barnes is currently in the third season of a four-year, $94MM deal with the Mavericks. His contract contains a $25.1MM player option for the 2019/20 season, with the 26-year-old averaging 18.1 points per game on 41% shooting this year.

“I know the Kings would love to have Harrison Barnes,” Windhorst stated on the Hoop Collective Podcast. “Whether or not that can work out? I don’t know.”

Sacramento was on a three-game win streak entering Thursday’s loss to Charlotte, holding a 23-22 record just over the halfway point of the season. The team sports a young, dynamic core of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley lll and others.

The Kings were also said to be eyeing Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. back in November, according to The Athletic’s Jason Jones. Porter is set to make $26MM this season and $27.2MM next season.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/17/19

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

Dennis Smith Jr. Hasn’t Requested Trade From Mavs

The Mavericks and Dennis Smith Jr. have held positive discussions in recent days, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who also adds that Smith hasn’t requested a trade to this point.

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported earlier in the day that Dallas hopes to reconcile and move forward with Smith on the roster, despite shopping the 2017 lottery pick in recent weeks. Teams have yet to give the Mavericks a tempting trade package for Smith, with the 21-year-old expressing interest in moving on from the team and finding a new situation, according to MacMahon.

The fractured relationship between Smith and coach Rick Carlisle is partially to blame for this mess, with team officials characterizing the relationship as a veteran coach being demanding of a young player to ultimately help his development, MacMahon added.

Smith missed the Mavs’ game on Wednesday due to an illness, sitting out the previous three games with what the team listed as a “sore back”. The Mavericks don’t expect him to join them for their two-game road trip against the Pacers on Saturday and Bucks on Monday, MacMahon reports (Twitter link).

Dallas has other contracts that could be used in trades — particularly Wesley Matthews, Salah Mejri and the injured J.J. Barea — but is clearly motivated to keep Smith on the roster and see how the pairing of him and young star Luka Doncic pans out in the longterm.

The NBA’s annual trade deadline falls on Feb. 7 at 3:00 pm ET this season.

Clint Capela Undergoes Surgery, Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks

JANUARY 17: Capela underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, general manager Daryl Morey announced on Thursday. Capela is expected to miss four to six weeks of action, as previously reported.

JANUARY 14: The injury bug continues to plague the Rockets. Already down multiple key contributors, Houston will now be without starting center Clint Capela for the next four to six weeks due to a right thumb injury, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarwoski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), an MRI on the injury showed ligament damage.

The Rockets have been playing well lately despite both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon being sidelined with injuries of their own, largely due to the efforts of Capela and MVP candidate James Harden. With Capela now on the shelf too, Harden will face his most difficult challenge of 2018/19 so far as he looks to keep Houston in a playoff position. Currently, the 24-18 Rockets are tied for fifth in the West, but the ninth-seeded Jazz are 23-21, so there’s not a whole lot of room for error.

After signing a lucrative new five-year contract with the Rockets in the offseason, Capela is enjoying the best season of his five-year career, establishing new highs in PPG (17.6), RPG (12.6), APG (1.5), and several other categories.

With Capela out, the Rockets will lean more heavily on Nene, with Isaiah Hartenstein and Marquese Chriss among their other options at the five. The team may also try to get away with more small-ball lineups, using someone like P.J. Tucker at center.

A roster move would benefit the Rockets, but they don’t have a ton of roster or financial flexibility to add help at this point. There’s an opening on their 15-man roster, but two-way player Danuel House seems likely to claim that spot very soon. If that happens, Houston would open up a two-way slot for a new addition — the deadline to sign a player to a two-way contract is Tuesday.

If the Rockets feel the need to create another opening on their 15-man roster, the most obvious move would be to finally release Carmelo Anthony. In that scenario, the team could turn to 10-day contracts or a rest-of-season signing to address its frontcourt. However, the in-the-tax Rockets will have to be wary of increasing their projected tax bill with any signings.

NBA Won’t Ask Enes Kanter To Tone Down Criticism Of Turkish Government

The NBA supports the decision Enes Kanter made to stay behind while the Knicks traveled to London, and commissioner Adam Silver said the league is taking reports of Turkey issuing an extradition notice for the 26-year-old center “very seriously.”

“My stance is I think it’s very unfortunate Enes Kanter is not here with the New York Knicks,” Silver said of Kanter not making the trip to London (via Marc Berman of the New York Post). “I absolutely understand his reasoning why he elected not to come. Certainly, there wasn’t a suggestion to the league not to come on this trip. We live in a world, these are really significant issues that he’s dealing with. I recognize for the NBA that by virtue of a fact we’re a global business, we have to pay attention to these issues.”

Sources tell Berman that the NBA won’t act until official extradition is made and the league will work with the State Department should that occur. 

Turkish prosecutors are seeking an international arrest warrant for Kanter, accusing him of associating with a terrorist group and providing funds to Fethullah Gulan, a Muslim cleric who previously resided in Turkey. Gulan currently lives in Pennsylvania and the U.S. Government does not consider him a terrorist.

Kanter, who refutes any wrongdoing, has repeatedly has spoken out against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him a “maniac” and “the Hitler of our century.” The NBA will not approach Kanter about toning down his criticism of the Turkish Government.

“There’s nothing more important as commissioner of the league than the safety of our players,” Silver said. “We take very seriously the threats he’s received — even if it’s people on social media. I support Enes as a player in this league. I support the platform players have to speak out on issues that are important to them.”

Kanter isn’t going to be extradited based on the claims of Erdogan — or at least that’s the opinion of Sports Illustrated’s legal expert Michael McCann.

Extradition is a multi-step process that can take years to complete and the probability of it occurring in Kanter’s situation is “very low,” McCann writes. It’s unclear whether Turkey possesses any evidence of Kanter committing any wrongdoing, something that would be needed for the U.S. to comply with Turkey’s request, McCann adds.

It has also been reported that Turkey will file a “red notice” with the International Police Organization also known as Interpol. The organization doesn’t have the authority to arrest anyone and is usually used to more effectively share information between countries regarding the whereabouts of a potential fugitive or unlawful figure.

As McCann notes, Turkey requesting Kanter be placed on “red notice” is curious. Kanter’s whereabouts are mostly known publicly because of his team’s schedule. He’s active on social media and he’s a 6’11” human walking around the U.S., one who is unlikely to leave North America because of immigration status.

One thing is clear: Kanter won’t be sent to Turkey based on his criticism of Erdogan, as freedom of speech is protected in the U.S. Kanter previously said he did not travel with the Knicks for the London trip for fear he would be assassinated by Turkish spies as a result of his criticism.

“Anyone who speaks out against him is a target,” Kanter wrote of Erdogan in an op-ed in The Washington Post. “I am definitely a target. And Erdogan wants me back in Turkey where he can silence me.”

Berman spoke with a Turkish basketball reporter who was at the Knicks-Wizards London game and talked to the New York Post scribe on the condition of anonymity. The reporter said that “no one likes Enes in Turkey right now,” adding that Kanter could be “attacked in the USA” as easily as he could be in London.

Kanter won’t have major issues traveling to any of the NBA’s 30 home arena. He has made arrangements with the U.S. government to travel with the Knicks to Canada when they play the Raptors in Toronto.

The 26-year-old center is currently on the trade block for New York, as the team is in the midst of a youth movement. There have been no reports of rival teams shying away from acquiring him because of his political friction with the Turkish Government.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Mavericks Notes: Smith Jr., Trades, Doncic

The struggle between Dennis Smith Jr. and Rick Carlisle continues, though the Mavericks still hold hope that they can reconcile the situation. Smith is reportedly unhappy with his in-season role change and the push for appears to be coming from DSJ’s camp.

The Mavs want the former No. 9 overall pick, who hasn’t played in over a week because of back issues and an “illness,” to return to the court on their terms but it’s not as if the team is making DSJ sit in the corner on every play. Carlisle has attempted to call specific plays with the intent of getting Smith in rhythm and the combo guard would break off the play and improvise, a scout tells Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Both sides are clearly frustrated. Luka Doncic has certainly outshined Smith and there isn’t room for both of them to be the primary play-maker. As we wait to see if a resolution occurs, let’s take a look at more notes from Dallas:

  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examines what the market would look like for Smith. Pelton believes a high lottery pick would be too much to give up for a point guard with years of progress to go before becoming a top player.
  • Doncic has been a more effective scorer this season when spending more time off the ball and next to Smith, Pelton explains in the same piece. Doncic has a higher true shooting percentage in those situations and with Carlisle’s propensity to play multiple point guards at the same time, concerns about the two fitting together may be overblown. Pelton argues that if the Mavericks trade Smith and use the Doncic-Smith fit as a scapegoat, it could in fact simply be a cover for a decision that the Mavericks would have made regardless of how the two meshed.
  • In the same piece, Pelton takes a look at all the former top-10 picks since 2012 that have switched teams before the end of their second season. Outside of Buddy Hield in Sacramento, it’s easy to argue that no team was thrilled with the production it received when trading for a former top-10 pick. Thomas Robinson, Anthony Bennett, Nik Stauskas, Noah Vonleh, and Kris Dunn conclude the list.

Community Shootaround: DeMarcus Cousins’ Return

DeMarcus Cousins is on track to play his first game as a member of the Warriors on Friday against the Clippers, assuming all goes well during his final evaluation on Thursday, writes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Within his story on Cousins’ impending return, Haynes notes that the former All-Star will actually make his debut several weeks later than he had hoped.

According to Haynes, Cousins wanted to speed up his timeline, and attempted to get cleared to play a few weeks ago, but the Warriors would have imposed a restriction of 10 minutes per game in that scenario. Rather than settling for such limited playing time, Cousins opted to continue his rehab process, improving his conditioning and preparing for a more significant role.

While Cousins will still likely be on some sort of minutes restriction as the club looks to ease him back into action, head coach Steve Kerr has yet to offer any specifics.

“We’ve got some ideas of how we are going to use him,” Kerr said, “but there is not a substitute for actual game experience. So, we’ll put him out there and see how it goes.”

With Cousins’ Warriors debut imminent, it will be fascinating to see how he fits in with Golden State’s other All-Stars and whether he looks at all like his old self after a long, challenging rehabilitation from a major Achilles injury. NBA players who have suffered Achilles tears often don’t make it all the way back, and for those that do, the process often takes two or three years. Still, speaking to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Cousins sounds very confident in his abilities.

“I won’t be the same player. I’ve gotten better,” he said with a laugh. “So you know, a lot of things have changed in my game. You start to tune up other areas of your game: jump shooting, skill work. I think everything has just increased and gotten better.”

The idea of slotting Cousins into a lineup that also features Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green is tantalizing — on paper, it’s the sort of five-man unit that makes Golden State a lock for a third straight championship. But there’s no guarantee it’ll actually be a success on the court. The Warriors’ stars have typically done a great job of buying into the system and playing their roles, but as we’ve seen in Boston this season, things don’t always run smoothly when a team has “too much” talent.

In advance of Cousins’ first game, we want to hear your thoughts on the situation in Golden State. Will Cousins make a great team even better, ensuring that the Warriors are holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy again this June? Will there be some growing pains before Cousins and the Warriors hit their stride down the stretch? Or do you think Cousins might ultimately be a non-factor for Golden State as he continues to recover from a significant injury?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

Heat Notes: Waiters, Haslem, Ellington

The Heat have hit Dion Waiters with a fine after he publicly griped about his playing time earlier in the week, suggesting he was tired of being “patient” as he waited for an increased role. Miami didn’t disclose how much the fine for Waiters was worth, but said it was for conduct detrimental to the team, as David Furones of The South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra addressed the issue today, telling reporters that dropping expletives and complaining to the media about his playing time won’t earn Waiters more minutes (Twitter link via Furones).

“I think it’s important for him to realize: Our team is much different than when he left last year, and while his teammates are really here to support him, nobody is volunteering their rotation minutes to him. It’ll have to be earned just like everybody else,” Spoelstra said, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “These concepts of patience and surrendering to the team, whether we want to put expletives in front of it or behind it, those are going to be very important concepts for him to embrace, and I think he will.”

Here’s more on Waiters and the Heat:

  • According to Jackson, Waiters said today that he’s glad he let his frustration out, but he should have expressed it differently. “I was frustrated,” Waiters said. “I want to play. I want to speed this process up a little bit. I don’t mean no harm to nobody. I’m not perfect nor do I try to be. I just want to play the game I love that I missed for a year.” Waiters added that he “absolutely” wants to remain with the Heat.
  • Multiple teammates, including Udonis Haslem, spoke to Waiters – both privately and during a team meeting on Wednesday – about channeling his frustration in more productive ways, writes Jackson. “We don’t have any bad apples on our team,” Haslem said. “We understand Dion’s comments, while not the right thing to do, are coming from a good place.”
  • Waiters isn’t the only Heat player frustrated by his role. In a separate article for The Miami Herald, Jackson reports that Wayne Ellington‘s agent has had conversations with Heat officials about his client’s limited role and his future with the club. According to Jackson, the team stressed that it values Ellington and is aware he’d like to play more, but no promises were made.

Mavs Hope To Reconcile With Dennis Smith Jr.

2:51pm: The trade issue is being pushed from Smith’s side rather than the Mavs’ side, multiple sources tell Townsend, who confirms (via Twitter) that DSJ isn’t thrilled by the change in his role this season.

2:36pm: After reports earlier this week suggested that the Mavericks were ramping up their efforts to trade Dennis Smith Jr., the team is now hoping to reconcile with its frustrated second-year guard and move forward with Smith on its roster, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com.

As MacMahon details, the Mavs have explored the trade market for Smith for much of the season, and still sound open to making a move if they get good value for him. However, the team believes the 2017 lottery pick can develop into a star and won’t move him without getting a significant return, sources tell MacMahon.

“Plan A is still to fix this,” one Mavs source told ESPN.

Those reports from earlier in the week indicated that Smith’s uncertain fit alongside Luka Doncic and his relationship with head coach Rick Carlisle were among the reasons why the Mavericks were pursuing a trade. In his latest report, MacMahon confirms that both of those issues have been frustrating for Smith, who has “recently expressed that he hopes to be traded.”

Multiple team sources downplayed the friction between Smith and Carlisle, according to MacMahon, who writes that the club chalks it up to typical growing pains for a young player. Carlisle would welcome the opportunity to continue coaching the 21-year-old, MacMahon adds. Still, Tim Cato of The Athletic notes (via Twitter) that the Mavs want to retain Smith on their own terms, playing the role Carlisle envisions for him.

If Smith’s camp isn’t on board with that plan or if the Mavs receive a favorable offer, the trade chatter surrounding the guard could increase once again. In fact, one league source suggests to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) that the club isn’t necessarily convinced that fences can be mended with Smith.

Nonetheless, the Mavs don’t want to be forced into a bad deal, so for now it looks like the franchise will try its best to make things work with one of its top young prospects.

NBA To Televise All-Star Draft On February 7

February 7 is shaping up to be an eventful day on the NBA calendar this season. Already the date of the 2018/19 trade deadline (at 2:00pm central time), Thursday, February 7 will also be the day on which the NBA televises an All-Star draft for the first time.

The league confirmed today in a press release that the 2019 All-Star draft will air on TNT on February 7, starting at 6:00pm CT. As was the case last season, the top vote-getter in each conference will be an All-Star captain, and will draft a squad of four starters from a pool of eight players selected by fans, players, and media members. The captains will subsequently select seven players apiece from a 14-player pool of All-Stars named by NBA coaches.

This year’s All-Star starters will be announced on January 24, with the remaining All-Stars revealed on January 31. Based on the latest voting results, released today by the NBA, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo project to be the All-Star captains this season — LeBron (3,770,807 votes) is ahead of Luka Doncic by about 469,000 votes in the West, while Giannis (3,626,909 votes) leads Kyrie Irving in the East by approximately 440,000 votes.

This is the second time the NBA has used this All-Star format. James and Stephen Curry were captains last season, but the draft was conducted privately. After talking things over with the players, the NBA has decided to make that event public this time around, which should make for an entertaining broadcast.