Month: March 2019

And-Ones: Munford, Stokes, Davis, Perkins, Brown

Former NBA guard Xavier Munford has left the Chinese Basketball Association to join the Wisconsin Herd, G League affiliate of the Bucks, the team announced this week.

Munford appeared in 34 games with the Herd last season, holding per-game averages of 24.4 points, five rebounds and 5.2 assists. He shot 50.9% from the floor and 44.4% from 3-point range during that stint, earning a two-way contract with the Bucks in January of 2018.

Munford went unsigned in free agency and agreed to a deal with the Fuijan Sturgeons this past December. He holds NBA experience with the Grizzlies and multiple summer league stints over the past few seasons, going undrafted in 2014 out of Rhode Island. NBA teams could look to Munford for a potential 10-day contract in the coming weeks.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Free agent Jarnell Stokes has registered interest from teams in China, a source told Hoops Rumors. The Sioux Falls Skyforce announced that Stokes, 25, left the team this week to pursue other opportunities. Stokes was waived from his two-way contract with the Grizzlies in early January after the team was faced with injuries to Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson and other wing players.
  • The Maine Red Claws have re-acquired Trey Davis, the team announced in a press release. Davis is expected to be in uniform on Friday when Maine takes on the Greensboro Swarm. Davis, a 6-foot point guard, originally made the team out of open tryouts as an undrafted guard in 2017.
  • Kendrick Perkins and Shannon Brown have become the latest ex-NBA players to sign with Ice Cube’s BIG3 league this summer, the association announced (Twitter links). Perkins, a bruising center who spent 15 seasons in the NBA, played a key role in helping the Celtics win a championship in 2008. Brown, a high-flying guard who held stints with several different teams, won two NBA championships as a member of the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/31/19

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

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Beverley, Terry, Lakers

As the Lakers and Pelicans continue to discuss trade packages centered around Anthony Davis, one young Laker is approaching the matter with a positive outlook: Second-year forward Kyle Kuzma.

“It’s always a good thing when you hear trade rumors,” Kuzma said, according to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. “That’s what everybody always says. It means you have value, and it means potentially you gonna be in this league a long time, people want you. For us, it’s all about controlling what you can control, because at the end of the day, it’s a business. You can’t control your destiny in this league, but you can control your work ethic and how great you wanna be. You can be great anywhere.”

Entering Thursday, Pelicans GM Dell Demps refused to pick up his phone to discuss a trade with the Lakers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe. This rapidly changed as the day progressed, with Wojnarowski later reporting that the sides connected on a call early in the afternoon.

Davis requested a trade from the Pelicans last Friday after several years of failed seasons with the organization. Davis, 25, is the most talented two-way player available on the trade market as of today, meaning the Lakers would have to offer an assortment of young assets that likely includes Kuzma to pry him out of New Orleans.

“Could really care less, honestly,” Kuzma said of Davis’ trade request. “Just control what you can control. Play basketball anywhere.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The NBA has issued a warning to Clippers guard Patrick Beverley for violating the league’s anti-flopping rule, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. Beverley was caught flopping on a play against the Kings on Sunday, later tweeting in response, “Ok ok ok ok you got me I flopped!!!! Can’t touch anybody this year gotta do something!!!” 
  • Suns guard Emanuel Terry said he had to overcome several doubters to reach his 10-day contract with the team, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. “A lot of people, there’s haters in the world,” Terry said. “You can’t hate on somebody’s blessing cause then that’s your downfall as well. So I just remained humble, say a prayer and give my trust to God.”
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com ranks the trade value of several players on the Lakers, including Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and others. It’s unclear which players the Pelicans would target in potential trade discussions involving Anthony Davis.

NBA Announces All-Star Reserves

The NBA announced today the reserves for the 2019 All-Star Game, releasing the pool of players eligible to be drafted by captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo for the contest.

For the Eastern Conference, Washington’s Bradley Beal, Detroit’s Blake Griffin, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic were all selected.

Indiana guard Victor Oladipo was also chosen, but he’ll miss the game due to injury. The NBA could name a replacement for Oladipo, with Eric Bledsoe or D’Angelo Russell among the most likely candidates.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Golden State’s Klay Thompson, Portland’s Damian Lillard, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns were chosen to represent the Western Conference.

James and Antetokounmpo will draft their respective teams next Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7:00pm ET. The draft will air on TNT and commence just hours after the NBA’s trade deadline. Each captain must first finish selecting from the pool of starters — announced last week — before choosing from this list of reserves.

The All-Star Game is set to take place on Sunday, Feb. 17 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte. The starters for the game were chosen by votes from fans, players and media, while the reserves were selected by the 30 NBA head coaches.

Mavericks Waive Ray Spalding

The Mavericks waived forward Ray Spalding after agreeing to a trade with New York on Thursday, the team announced in a press release. He’ll clear waivers and become a free agent on Saturday, assuming no team places a claim.

Having acquired four players, including Kristaps Porzingis, in a blockbuster deal with the Knicks, the Mavs only sent out three players in the swap, meaning the club had to waive a player to avoid exceeding the 15-player max. Spadling was ultimately the odd man out.

Spalding appeared in just one game with Dallas and was selected with the No. 56 pick in 2018. His rights were traded to Dallas from Philadelphia on draft night, with the 21-year-old now set to enter unrestricted free agency during his rookie season.

Spalding, who spent four seasons at Louisville, has spent most of the 2018/19 season with the Texas Legends — G League affiliate of the Mavericks. He’s held per-game averages of 15.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 29 games with Texas on the year.

Fantasy Hoops: Everything Surrounding The Porzingis Trade

The Knicks stunned the NBA universe today by trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks. New York is receiving a package “headlined” by Dennis Smith Jr. in exchange for the young big man. As part of the deal, the franchise will get out the contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. (two years and approximately $39MM left on his deal after this season) and Courtney Lee (one year at $12.7MM), and will receive two future first-round picks.

DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews will head to New York and Trey Burke will go to Dallas. From a fantasy perspective, Smith has to be considered the biggest winner. He should take over the reins of the Knicks’ murky point guard situation so New York can evaluate him either as part of the long-term future of the franchise or as an asset in a trade this summer.

Emmanuel Mudiay is nursing a shoulder injury and when he returns to work, he’ll at best co-pilot the backcourt with DSJ. At worst, he’ll come off the bench and if the Knicks continue to tank run out lineups without any point guards, as they did on Wednesday, Mudiay’s stock will come crashing down.

The same can be said about Frank Ntilikina, though unlike Mudiay, who has been consistent for the Knicks and reliable from a fantasy standpoint, the French point guard shouldn’t be counted on to be a rosterable player.

What kind of roles will Matthews and Jordan have? Assuming the pair don Knicks’ uniforms, as opposed to agreeing to buyouts, their minutes won’t be as consistent as they were in Dallas. This could be a scenario where the first time either of them has an injury, the Knicks shut them down for the year. Both players have enough fantasy value to remain on rosters in season-long leagues given each players chances of agreeing to a buyout. If Jordan and Matthews stay put, I’d keep a close eye on the waiver wire to prepare for the day the Knicks tell the vets to wear their suits to work and their respective fantasy basketball values change drastically.

While the additions of Hardaway and Lee for the Mavs appear to be a result of salary dumps, Doncic may be shifted into the traditional point guard slot more often as a result. The team could still move either shooting guard to another team before the deadline (neither player’s salary could be aggregated in a potential deal). Assuming both players stay put, Doncic, who spent just 12% of his time this season at the traditional one spot, per Basketball-Reference, should see much more time at the point.

Burke saw 32 minutes in his last game as Knick, which happened to be against the Mavericks at The Garden. The former Michigan product became New York’s default starting point guard because of injuries to Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina and should see action in the Mavs’ backcourt because of their injuries and dearth of quality options.

Jalen Brunson has stepped up since DSJ was originally sidelined because of his injury/unhappiness, though the rookie point guard is best suited for a role off the bench. Brunson and Luka Doncic have seen 68 minutes together over the 10 games since the Lakers contest (the last game before DSJ left the team). The duo recorded a -22.6 net rating, which is second-to-last on the Mavs among the 35 different two-man lineups that recorded at least 60 minutes over that stretch. Burke, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, should get a chance to prove he belongs with the starters, especially if Dallas chooses to go with Doncic and Hardaway as the starting two and three.

Lastly, Kristaps Porzingis was always an iffy prospect to count on for fantasy purposes this season, as he was recovering from a torn ACL. There are rumors he’ll sign his qualifying offer with Dallas, which can be seen as him not being sold on his new settings. If you believe he’ll go through with that plan and play next season on a one-year deal, his incentive to find the court this season disintegrates. Instead of showing he’s healthy this season with a payday coming in restricted free agency this summer, he’ll angle for a new contract in 2020 with no restrictions on his choice of suitors after potentially showcasing good health during the 2019/20 campaign.

Stashing Porzingis on your bench in season-leagues is a risky proposition. Less so if your league has an IR slot, though either way, it’s wise to leave him on waivers until there’s definitive word of him making his Mavericks’ debut.

Fantasy questions? Take to the comment section below or tweet me at @CW_Crouse.

Missed an earlier edition of Fantasy Hoops? Check out the entire series here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Knicks Trade Kristaps Porzingis To Mavericks

The Knicks have traded Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Mavericks for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two first-round picks, both teams announced in press releases Thursday.

News of this deal comes just shortly after word broke that Porzingis had met with Knicks management to express frustration with the direction of the organization, leaving the team with the impression that he wanted to be moved. While Porzingis’ preference to be dealt may have jump-started these talks, it didn’t take the Knicks long to find a potential deal they liked, suggesting that they may not have been fully invested in the relationship either.

“As is standard for this time of year, we were exploring various options on potential trades,” Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a statement. “Considering the uncertainty regarding Kristaps’ free agent status and his request today to be traded, we made a trade that we are confident improves the franchise.”

From the Knicks’ perspective, moving on from Porzingis by attaching two unwanted multi-year contracts to him creates some tantalizing free agent possibilities for the franchise. By replacing Porzingis’ cap hold ($17.09MM), Hardaway’s salary ($18.15MM), and Lee’s salary ($12.76MM) with Smith’s modest $4.46MM salary on the 2019/20 books, the Knicks will reduce their commitments by approximately $43.5MM, which should open up enough cap room for two maximum-salary free agents.

The Knicks’ only players with guaranteed contracts for 2019/20 are Smith, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson. Armed with those youngsters and a likely top-five pick, New York will enter free agency with the ability to potentially land two free agents from a group that includes Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, and others.

Besides creating substantial cap flexibility, the Knicks will acquire Smith, a second-year guard who wasn’t happy with his role in Dallas. The ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft, DSJ saw his responsibilities dialed back due to Luka Doncic‘s emergence this season. Smith has still built upon some of last year’s numbers, averaging 12.9 PPG, 4.3 APG, and 3.0 RPG with a .440/.344/.695 shooting line. He now appears poised to take over point guard duties in New York, a year after the team passed on him to draft Ntilikina.

New York also acquired a 2021 unprotected first-round pick and 2023 protected first-round pick (1-10) in the trade agreement, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ian Begley reported.

“We feel like we did the right thing,” Knicks president Steve Mills said, according to Begley. “When you try to think about how you want to build your team for the long term, you don’t want to commit a max (contract) to a player who clearly says to you he doesn’t want to be here.”

Jordan and Matthews, who are on pricey expiring deals, likely don’t have a future in New York. Rival executives expect the Knicks to explore the trade market over the next week for potential deals involving those veterans, according to Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link). Both Fischer and ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link) suggest that Jordan and Matthews will be intriguing buyout candidates if they’re not flipped by the Knicks.

Perry emphasized in a conference call Thursday that both Jordan and Matthews could have a positive impact on their young players for the remainder of the season, as relayed by Begley. This, of course, is provided they aren’t traded or bought out from their current deals. This statement drew a questioning response on social media from Knicks center Enes Kanter, another candidate to be traded by the deadline.

Meanwhile, the deal represents a huge swing for the Mavericks, who will pair Porzingis with Doncic with an eye toward keeping both players in Dallas for years to come. By taking on the multiyear contracts for Hardaway and Lee in exchange for Jordan and Matthews, Dallas will almost certainly give up its chance to create cap room in 2019, but will be on track to open up significant space in 2020, while Doncic is still on his rookie contract. Porzingis posted a clip of him shaking hands with Doncic after the trade became official, clearly excited for his new partnership in Dallas.

An All-Star a year ago, Porzingis averaged 22.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 2.4 BPG with a .439/.395/.793 shooting line in 48 games in 2017/18, displaying franchise-player potential. However, a torn ACL ended his season early and has sidelined him for the entire 2018/19 campaign so far. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer, at which point he could sign his one-year qualifying offer, sign an offer sheet with another team, or negotiate a new deal directly with the Mavs.

[RELATED: Porzingis plans to tell Mavs he’ll sign qualifying offer?]

Dallas also created a $12.9MM trade exception in the agreement, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Additionally, Marks notes (via Twitter) that the two teams will have to account for Hardaway’s 15% trade bonus, which is currently worth $3.75MM. Assuming THJ doesn’t waive it, his cap hits will increase by $1.875MM annually for this season and next, and the Knicks will have to pay the bonus money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mutual Interest Between Suns, Lonzo Ball?

As Lonzo Ball‘s name continues to surface in Anthony Davis-related trade rumors, Ball’s camp maintains that New Orleans wouldn’t be a desirable destination for the point guard, per Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Ball’s camp has reportedly expressed a desire to end up on a team with a more glaring hole at point guard if he’s traded, and two sources tell Ganguli that there’s mutual interest between Ball and the Suns.

According to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times, Ball and his representatives recognize that they don’t have any power to control his destination in a trade, but they’d like the Lakers to re-route him to a third team such as the Bulls, Knicks, or Suns if he’s included in a Davis package. It’s not clear if the Knicks would still a preferred destination after today’s trade agreement involving Dennis Smith Jr.

In any case, the Pelicans, apparently undeterred by Ball’s disinterest, continue to view him as a key piece in any deal with the Lakers for Davis, Turner writes. As we relayed earlier today, the Lakers sent New Orleans some potential trade scenarios for Davis, and one of those scenarios – according to Turner – included Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac, and a future first-round pick. Pelicans GM Dell Demps hasn’t gotten back to the Lakers yet about any of their hypothetical offers, says Turner.

As Turner writes, Ball has concerns about a potentially crowded backcourt in New Orleans and would rather end up with a team without an answer at point guard. The Suns, who have been on the lookout for a long-term point guard since at least the summer of 2018, certainly fit that bill. According to Turner, the Pelicans believe they fall into that group as well.

“Lonzo is going to be able to do whatever he wants to [in New Orleans],” Turner’s source said. “I think he thinks that Jrue [Holiday] is the starting point guard, but Jrue doesn’t want to be a point guard. Lonzo would be the starting point guard and he would play 35 minutes every night. There’s no way that he wouldn’t. If he wins in New Orleans, he’ll be as big of a star as he can be anywhere.”

Porzingis Plans To Inform Mavs He’ll Sign QO?

3:37pm: Porzingis has yet to make any formal decisions on his future with the Mavs, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

3:31pm: With the Mavericks and Knicks in the process of finalizing a trade that will send Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas, Shams Charania of The Athletic has provided another fascinating detail. According to Charania (Twitter link), Porzingis intends to inform the Mavs that he plans to sign his qualifying offer as a restricted free agent this summer.

In order to make a player a restricted free agent, a team must submit a one-year qualifying offer to that player. This QO serves as a placeholder one-year contract offer, which the player can accept if he wants to. Accepting a qualifying offer puts the player on track to reach unrestricted free agency the following year, but typically pays him far less than he’d receive on a multiyear contract.

In Porzingis’ case, because he has failed to meet the “starter criteria” this season (by making at least 41 starts or playing 2,000+ minutes), his qualifying offer will be worth just $4.5MM. By comparison, a maximum-salary offer from the Mavericks would be worth a projected $27.25MM in 2019/20 and approximately $158MM over five years.

While Porzingis could potentially cash in with a huge payday in 2020, playing on a one-year, $4.5MM deal next year would be a huge gamble for a young player coming off ACL surgery. If he thrives next season, he’d be in position to reach the open market in ’20 and choose his destination without any restrictions, but if he struggles at all or battles more injuries, his long-term value could take a major hit.

It appears the Mavericks are comfortable going through with the trade despite not having any long-term assurances from Porzingis, which makes sense. The franchise likely figures it can use the next year and a half to convince the 23-year-old to stay in Dallas long-term. If he ultimately leaves, the cost – Dennis Smith Jr., plus the expiring contracts of Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan and a future first-rounder – wasn’t too damaging, and the Mavs would be in position to open up a massive amount of cap room in 2020.

Assuming the Mavs and Knicks make their deal official and Porzingis informs Dallas of his summer plans, this will be a fascinating story to watch in the coming months, as there’s no guarantee the big man won’t re-think his stance.

The Mavs could potentially point to Nerlens Noel – who signed his qualifying offer with Dallas after turning down a reported four-year, $70MM offer from the club, then had to settle for a minimum-salary contract the following year – as a cautionary tale during their discussions with Porzingis.

Porzingis May Prefer Trade; Knicks Expected To Explore Market

After meeting with Knicks management to express his concern about the team’s direction, Kristaps Porzingis left the franchise with the impression that he prefers to be traded, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Knicks are expected to begin discussions about possible Porzingis trades ahead of next week’s deadline, the ESPN duo reports.

As we relayed in our earlier Porzingis story, the injured big man – along with his brother (and agent) Janis – reportedly spoke to the Knicks today about his frustration with the team’s losing, the franchise’s history of dysfunction, and his concern about whether sustainable organizational success is possible.

While ESPN’s report suggested that Porzingis would like to win in New York, it seems that he’s not confident that can happen anytime soon. He’ll be a restricted free agent during the summer of 2019, so the Knicks are in position to hang onto him for at least another season, if they so choose, but it sounds like the club is willing to test the market to see what kind of offers are out there. The Knicks previously considered trading Porzingis when Phil Jackson was in charge of basketball decisions.

An All-Star a year ago, Porzingis averaged 22.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 2.4 BPG with a .439/.395/.793 shooting line in 48 games in 2017/18, displaying franchise-player potential. However, a torn ACL ended his season early and has sidelined him for the entire 2018/19 campaign so far.

Considering Porzingis still hasn’t returned to action following that ACL tear, it’s not clear what the trade market for him would look like at this point. If he’s able to get back on the court during the final couple months of the season and prove he’s healthy, it would increase his value, but it’s not clear when he’ll return — plus, it may be tricky for the Knicks to pull off a sign-and-trade deal in the offseason.

The Celtics, Clippers, Thunder, and Spurs figure to be among the teams with interest in trading for Porzingis, tweets Frank Isola of The Athletic. Wojnarowski names the Clippers and Spurs as well, adding the Nets, Heat, and Raptors to the list of potential suitors (Twitter link). Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) throws the Mavericks into the mix as well.

As we noted earlier today, Porzingis will have a limited ability to jump ship anytime soon if he’s not traded during the season or in a sign-and-trade. He could accept his qualifying offer this summer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2020, but settling for a one-year, $4.5MM deal would be a big risk for a 7’3″ player coming off an ACL tear.

His other option would be to sign a shorter-term offer sheet with a rival suitor — the Knicks would almost certainly match it, but Porzingis would have the opportunity to get back on the open market sooner than if he signs a four- or five-year contract with New York.

If the Knicks don’t move Porzingis before the deadline, it will be interesting to see if he reconsiders his stance at all in the coming months. New York has a good deal of cap flexibility and is in position to land a top-five draft pick, so it’s not as if the club is poised to stay stuck in lottery territory forever. Some good luck in the draft lottery or on the free agent market could substantially accelerate the Knicks’ rebuilding process.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.