Month: May 2019

Draft Notes: Aiken, Wieskamp, Bowen, Jazz

All-Ivy League guard Bryce Aiken will take advantage of his final remaining year of NCAA eligibility and will return to Harvard for his senior season, the program announced today in a press release. Aiken had elected to test the draft waters this spring, but ultimately decided to pull out of the 2019 pool before next Wednesday’s withdrawal deadline.

“After having the opportunity to experience the NBA underclassmen process, I’m looking forward to graduating with my class next year, and, hopefully, leading Harvard basketball to unprecedented heights,” Aiken said in a statement.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and updates:

Porzingis Back In Dallas; Mavs Finish Investigating Latvian Altercation

Kristaps Porzingis returned to Dallas several days ago, and the Mavericks have spoken at length to the big man about the alleged physical altercation that took place in his home country of Latvia, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. According to Townsend, after investigating the incident, the club is satisfied that it was simply a case of Porzingis being “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

As we detailed earlier this month, video emerged showing Porzingis in his hometown of Liepaja with a gash over his right eye and blood on his left hand. Reports indicated that the restricted-free-agent-to-be had been attacked by multiple Russians who were said to be upset that he “switched teams” last season.

Despite unsubstantiated reports out of Latvia that Porzingis had suffered a broken hand in the altercation, a team source tells Townsend that both of the 23-year-old’s hands are fine.

It’s an important summer for Porzingis and the Mavericks, who will be negotiating what figures to be a lucrative, long-term deal, despite the fact that he has yet to appear in a game for Dallas and is facing a rape accusation. While each side has plenty of factors to consider as it enters those contract discussions, it seems that the incident in Latvia won’t be among them, as both the team and player appear set to put it behind them.

Warriors Hope To Get Durant, Cousins Back During Finals

The Warriors issued health updates on injured stars Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins today, offering no assurances that either player will be ready to go when the NBA Finals get underway a week from tonight.

According to the team, Durant (strained right calf) still hasn’t been cleared to begin on-court activities, though he continues to make “good progress” in his rehab. The Warriors say it’s unlikely he’ll be available at the start of the NBA Finals, but the club is hopeful he’ll return at some point during the series.

As for Cousins, he practiced with the Warriors today for the first time since suffering his torn left quad on April 16. The team anticipates him playing at some point during the Finals, but has yet to zero in on a specific date — it will depend on his progress.

The fact that Durant, who has already missed the Warriors’ clinching game vs. Houston and the team’s entire series vs. Portland, still isn’t ready to return is the latest signal that his calf injury was more serious than we were originally led to believe. While Golden State is still aiming to get him back at some point against either Milwaukee or Toronto, there’s a non-zero chance that KD has played his last game for the Dubs.

According to the Warriors, updates on both players will be issued next Wednesday, a day before the Finals begin.

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2018/19 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Antetokounmpo and Harden scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

As we detailed in March, this year’s All-NBA selections have significant financial implications for several players. Here’s a breakdown of how several All-NBA candidates were impacted:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is now eligible for a super-max extension with the Bucks, which he can sign in 2020. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2021/22 and would extend his contract by five years.
  • Damian Lillard is now eligible for a super-max extension with the Trail Blazers, which he can sign in 2019. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2021/22 and would extend his contract by four years.
  • Kemba Walker is now eligible for a super-max contract with the Hornets, which he can sign in 2019. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2019/20 and would be for five years.
  • Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, Nikola Vucevic, and other super-max candidates who didn’t earn All-NBA honors aren’t eligible for super-max contracts (or a super-max extension, in Beal’s case). Thompson’s and Vucevic’s maximum contracts this summer would start at 30% of the cap.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns‘ extension with the Timberwolves, which goes into effect in 2019/20, will start at 25% of the cap, rather than 30%, because he didn’t earn All-NBA honors.

Beal and Thompson received the most All-NBA votes of any guards who missed out on the All-NBA teams, receiving 34 and 27 points respectively. Sixers guard Ben Simmons got seven points, while no other guards had more than four.

LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs) and Danilo Gallinari (Clippers) were the runners-up at forward, receiving 17 and seven points, respectively. Pascal Siakam (Raptors) had four points, while no other forwards had more than three.

At center, Towns received 20 points, followed by Vucevic at four and Pistons center Andre Drummond with three.

Interestingly, the 15 players named to the All-NBA teams for 2018/19 were the same 15 players that Hoops Rumors readers voted for in our end-of-season All-NBA polls last month. The only differences were George swapping places with Durant and Irving flipping spots with Westbrook.

The full and official All-NBA voting results can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Five Key Offseason Questions: Minnesota Timberwolves

Things seemed to be on the upswing for the Timberwolves in 2017/18, when the team snapped a 13-year postseason drought, winning 47 games and winning a playoff game for the first time since 2004. However, that positive momentum came to a halt last fall, when Jimmy Butler‘s trade demand disrupted and derailed the Wolves’ season before it began.

Butler was eventually traded to Philadelphia, but Minnesota was never really in the playoff hunt in 2018/19, and Tom Thibodeau‘s handling of the Butler saga ultimately led to his dismissal. Heading into the 2019 offseason, the Wolves now employ a new president of basketball operations (Gersson Rosas) and a new permanent head coach (Ryan Saunders) as the organization looks to get back on track and resume contending for the postseason.

Here are five key questions facing the franchise this summer:

1. Which players will Gersson Rosas view as keepers?

When a team overhauls its front office, that doesn’t necessarily mean a roster overhaul will follow. But executives generally have stronger attachments to players that they’ve drafted, signed, or traded for than the ones they’ve inherited.

This will be the first time Rosas has decision-making power in an NBA front office. While his long stint in Houston’s front office is somewhat instructive, we’ll be learning for the first time in the next year or two what sort of players he likes, and which Timberwolves players fit that bill.

The front office changes in Minnesota are unlikely to impact someone like Karl-Anthony Towns, who would be a franchise cornerstone no matter who is running the team. But how invested will Rosas be in players like Robert Covington and Dario Saric? They were the key assets the team received in return for Butler last fall and would still have positive trade value if Rosas isn’t attached to them. Assuming he likes them, they could become long-term building blocks for the Timberwolves.

Rosas’ evaluation of the players on his new roster will impact young prospects under contract (like Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop) and veteran free agents (such as Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson) alike, so it should be an interesting summer in Minnesota as Rosas gets his first opportunity to oversee a series of roster moves.

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Poll: Which Team Will Win Bucks/Raptors Series?

When we asked for conference finals predictions 10 days ago, before each series had gotten underway, the Bucks were the clear choice in the Eastern Conference over the Raptors. In that poll, Milwaukee received just over 64% of the vote, while Toronto received less than 36%.

Now, with the series tied at two games apiece, the series is essentially in the same place it was then — it’s simply a best-of-three instead of a best-of-seven. We also have four games worth of data at our disposal, even if it’s not clear what conclusions we should – or can – draw from that data.

Are the Bucks the team we saw in Game 2, when they dominated the Raptors on both ends of the court en route to a 22-point win? Giannis Antetokounmpo posted 30 points and 17 rebounds in that contest, but he got plenty of help from his supporting cast, with Ersan Ilyasova, Nikola Mirotic, Malcolm Brogdon, George Hill, and Khris Middleton all scoring double-digit points.

The Raptors, meanwhile, got 31 points from Kawhi Leonard in that game, but only two other players – Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell – scored more than eight.

Since the series shifted back to Toronto though, the Bucks’ stars and role players alike struggled with consistency, with no Milwaukee players stringing together two consecutive great games. It was the Raptors’ depth, on the other hand, that thrived in Game 4, as the team cruised to a 120-102 victory despite getting only 19 points out of Leonard.

With the series back in Milwaukee tonight, the Bucks will be looking to rebound, and the odds are in their favor — they haven’t lost three straight games all season. Additionally, Leonard looks like he’s favoring a leg injury, and Lowry is still battling a left hand issue.

Still, Lowry has played through his injury and looks as effective as ever, while Leonard’s defense on Antetokounmpo has made the MVP candidate look uncomfortable. Giannis will need more help from struggling point guard Eric Bledsoe and other role players to advance.

What do you think? With the Eastern Conference Finals all tied up at 2-2, which team do you expect to win the series and represent the East in this year’s NBA Finals?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Richaun Holmes Arrested On Marijuana Charge

Suns center Richaun Holmes was arrested in South Florida on Wednesday night, according to David Ovalle of The Miami Herald, who reports that Holmes was booked on a misdemeanor marijuana charge.

As Ovalle details, Holmes and former Nets forward James Webb III were pulled over in Aventura and were charged with possession of cannabis. Both players posted bond after spending a couple hours in a Miami jail.

Holmes, who was traded from Philadelphia to Phoenix last summer, averaged 8.2 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 70 games (16.9 MPG) for the Suns in 2018/19. Having spent his first four seasons on a single contract, Holmes will reach the open market for the first time this offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

As for Webb, he appeared in 10 games for Brooklyn during the 2017/18 campaign, but didn’t play in the NBA in 2018/19, spending the season with Telekom Baskets Bonn in Germany.

Holmes is the second Suns player to be arrested in Florida this month, joining teammate Josh Jackson. However, given the minor nature of Holmes’ infraction, it’s unlikely to have much impact on his upcoming free agency.

NBA Cancels 2019 Global Camp For International Prospects

The NBA has elected to cancel its Global Camp for 2019, reports ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. The event, a showcase for draft-eligible prospects outside of America, had been set to take place in Monaco from May 30 to June 2.

“We have cancelled the NBA Global Camp 2019 due to logistical issues and other contributing factors that jeopardized our ability to successfully conduct the camp,” NBA executive VP of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe told ESPN in a statement. “The camp will return in the future.”

For many years, NBA teams scouted international prospects at the Adidas EuroCamp each spring, but than event was abandoned by Adidas in the wake of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption. The NBA assumed control of the spring showcase in 2018, spinning it off into the newly-created Global Camp. However, the camp – which is essentially a draft combine for international prospects, as Givony explains – ran for just one year before running into problems in 2019.

Sources tell Givony that confusion over which venues organizers of the event had actually booked was one key reason for the event’s cancellation. The Global Camp was supposed to take place at the home arena of international club AS Monaco Basket, but the team said it had not been consulted about the availability of its arena, Givony writes.

As our list shows, this year’s group of early entrants features 59 international prospects, and Givony has heard from agents that many of those players only entered the draft pool in the hopes of being selected to participate in the Global Camp. With the event no longer taking place and the withdrawal deadline for early entrants set for June 10, that list of international prospects on the early entry list figures to dwindle significantly in the coming weeks.

Dan Gilbert: “We Killed It” In The Kyrie Irving Trade

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert continues to insist that his team got the better of the deal that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston before the start of the 2017/18 season, relays Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.

Irving still had two years left on his contract when he asked for a trade to get him away from the team’s uncertain future in the wake of LeBron James‘ upcoming free agency. The Cavaliers agreed to his demand, getting Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a draft pick that became Collin Sexton.

“It becomes a melting snowball,” Gilbert said. “We had to trade him when we did. What team would want Kyrie with only one year on his contract knowing he could leave after the season? You won’t get much back (under those circumstances).”

In addition, Irving’s agent implied that if the trade demand wasn’t met, his client might undergo knee surgery that would keep him out for most of the year. Irving wound up having two operations on his knee last season and missed the playoffs.

Gilbert expects Irving to move on again when he becomes a free agent this summer.

“I don’t know, but I think Kyrie will leave Boston,” he said. “We could have ended up with nothing. Looking back after all the moves (GM) Koby (Altman) made, we killed it in that trade.”

Gilbert shares his views on a few other topics in the same story:
  • James comes with “a limited shelf life” because of his age and contract situation, Gilbert said. LeBron reached the NBA Finals in all four years of his most recent stay in Cleveland, but was never willing to sign a long-term commitment, giving himself flexibility to leave if he didn’t like how the team was being run. “It’s a win now at all costs,” Gilbert said. “… It all revolves around the sun, which is him. Whatever pressure comes with it, it worked out. We won a title.”
  • Gilbert denies that he was responsible for the decision to hire Michigan’s John Beilein as the team’s new coach. He said Altman came up with the idea and led a group of eight front office representatives who met with Beilein. “All eight loved him,” Gilbert said. “All eight wanted to hire him. They were polled individually. That caught my attention. This was a week before I met with John.” He also called the financial aspects of Beilein’s new five-year contract “very reasonable.”
  • Unlike when LeBron left in 2010, Gilbert knows there’s no chance he will return someday to resurrect the franchise. So the focus now is creating a successful organization from scratch. “We have to build a culture and a team, beyond just adding a lot more talent,” Gilbert said. “I really believe in this front office and the coaching staff. We are putting together a team based on culture and character.”

Suns Notes: Collison, Conley, Davis, Williams

Darren Collison may be the most realistic solution to the Suns‘ point guard problem, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. An unrestricted free agent, Collison spent the past two seasons with the Pacers, averaging 11.9 points and 5.3 assists per game during his time there.

He pushes the ball up court quickly, runs the pick-and-roll well, and is an above average defender, all things Phoenix needs from that position, Rankin states. The Suns should have enough cap room to make an attractive offer to Collison, who earned $10MM this season, and they have a connection, as Collison played for new VP of basketball operations Jeff Bower during his rookie season in New Orleans.

Phoenix could also pursue a couple of high-priced point guards if it wants to take a win-now approach, Rankin notes. The Grizzlies’ Mike Conley is expected to return to the trade market now that his team is in position to draft Ja Morant, while the Rockets may be willing to part with Chris Paul to get out from under his salary commitment.

There’s more tonight from Phoenix:

  • The Suns could also try to get involved in the pursuit of Pelicans star Anthony Davis, Rankin adds in the same piece. He speculates they could offer Deandre Ayton and the No. 6 pick, along with T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson and Tyler Johnson to help match salaries. While Davis is no lock to re-sign in Phoenix, Rankin thinks it might be worth the risk to prove the organization is serious about winning and to give Davis a chance to develop a rapport with Devin Booker.
  • Monty Williams considered staying out of coaching to care for his family, but his children insisted he give it another try, relays Kevin Zimmerman of Arizona Sports. At his introductory press conference Tuesday, the Suns’ new head coach explained what brought him back to the game after his wife’s tragic death in 2016. “My oldest daughter kind of read me the riot act one day about getting back into coaching,” Williams said. “And then I had a conversation with (Spurs GM) R.C. Buford one day … R.C. looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Your kids won’t be happy if you don’t get back into coaching.’ Those two episodes really pushed me back into the mode of doing what I do well.”
  • The reputation Phoenix has as a bad basketball city is an impediment to adding free agents, says Michelle Gardner of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix finished 27th in a recent “Best Cities for Basketball” survey and ranked next to last in attendance this season.