Month: November 2019

Blazers Notes: Hood, Kanter, McCollum, Aldridge

Shooting guard Rodney Hood surprised the Trail Blazers by accepting the $5.72MM taxpayer mid-level exception, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports.

Portland was hoping to bring back center Enes Kanter at that number, but he balked. Blazers GM Neil Olshey thought Hood wanted more in free agency but was pleasantly surprised by Hood’s decision.

Olshey then shifted gears to finding a starting-quality center and got involved in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade to Miami, winding up with Hassan Whiteside by dealing Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard.

We have more on the Blazers:

  • Backcourt partners CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard are now locked up long-term after McCollum signed a three-year, $100MM extension and they’re excited about that prospect, as he told Quick in a separate story. “It’s a special time,” McCollum said. “(Lillard and I) talked about being in Portland, making a staple here and winning a championship here, and all those things. We’ve crossed off a lot of goals individually and collectively, but I think that both of us being here for the long haul, and both of us being able to grow together and win together is something that people will remember for a long time.”
  • Pau Gasol, who recently signed with the Blazers, said former Spurs teammate LaMarcus Aldridge has spoken highly of Portland and may want to play there again, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweets. Aldridge said last season he and Lillard had spoken about the prospect of becoming teammates again. Aldridge’s $24MM contract for the 2020/21 season is not guaranteed, so it’s conceivable that could occur as soon as next summer.
  • If you missed the details on McCollum’s extension, you can find it all here.

Community Shootaround: Chris Paul

Insurance spokesman Chris Paul finds himself stranded in Oklahoma City at the moment and State Farm can’t help him.

Considered for many seasons as the world’s premier point guard, Paul is stuck on the rebuilding Thunder until GM Sam Presti can find a way to deal his monstrous contract. The Thunder granted Russell Westbrook his wish to be traded in the wake of Paul George‘s trade demand. Presti send the team’s longtime floor leader to the Rockets for Paul, a couple of first-round picks and the right to swap two others.

Paul has played most of his career with contenders that have fallen short in the playoffs. He’s now in an awkward spot with the Thunder, who are looking to build around young point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the top player acquired from the Clippers in the George deal. Dennis Schroder, the team’s sixth man, is also a natural point guard.

The remainder of the roster won’t strike fear into the hearts of opponents. The Thunder will be fortunate to win 30 games next season.

Moving Paul to another team won’t be easy. He’s due $38.5MM next season, $41.4MM in 2020/21 and $44.2MM in 2021/22 if he exercises his player option.

Perhaps a younger Chris Paul was worth all that money but age (34) and injuries have led to a decline. He averaged 15.6 PPG on 41.9% shooting, both career lows, last season.

Paul will probably begin the season with the Thunder and have to wait at least until mid-December, when the latest crop of free agents become trade eligible, to get rescued. A point guard injury could motivate a contender to bring in Paul to save their season.

The Heat have been mentioned as the most likely trade partner but they’d want a couple of first-rounders tossed in to ease the burden of Paul’s salary-cap swallowing contract. The Pistons have also been considered a possible suitor, since they could pair up Paul with former pick-and-roll partner Blake Griffin. However, they’re not keen on Paul’s contract, either, especially with Andre Drummond potentially headed to free agency next summer.

That brings us to our question of the day: Do you think Chris Paul will be on Oklahoma City’s roster all of next season? If not, which team will trade for him?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Burke, O’Quinn, Smart, Fizdale

Despite the loss of J.J. Redick, the Sixers have plenty of perimeter shooters on their current roster, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic details. Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, Mike Scott, Al Horford, James Ennis, Trey Burke and Raul Neto loom as long-range threats but mainly in catch-and-shoot situations. That means Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons need to create and open up space for their perimeter players.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Point guards Trey Burke and Raul Neto could be useful members of the Sixers’ rotation but big man Kyle O’Quinn will have regain the form he showed earlier in his career with the Knicks to make a meaningful contribution, Mike O’Connor of The Athletic writes. O’Connor breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of the incoming reserve trio and how they’ll fit in.
  • Marcus Smart admits the Celtics were a dysfunctional team last season, he said on ESPN’s The Jump this week. Many players were uncomfortable with their roles, according to Smart. “It’s hard for anybody to have to look themselves in mirror and sacrifice something,” Smart said.
  • The fact that the Knicks didn’t re-sign any of their nine free agents reflects poorly on coach David Fizdale, the New York Post’s Marc Berman opines. The teams sold player development over the team’s win-loss record last season, yet didn’t consider any of those players worthy of another contract, Berman notes.

Grizzlies Sign Guard Marko Guduric

5:30pm: Guduric’s deal is worth $5.3MM over two years, according to Omari Sankofa II and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). As Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian notes (via Twitter), the team used a portion of its bi-annual exception to complete the deal, which is fully guaranteed.

4:31pm: The Grizzlies have signed guard Marko Guduric, according to a team press release.

Multiple reports out of Europe earlier this month indicated that he would sign a two-year contract with Memphis and now it’s official.

The 6’6” Guduric, 24, has played the last two seasons for Fenerbahçe in Turkey. Last season, he averaged 9.4 PPG while shooting 54.9% from the field and 47.7% from three-point range. He also helped his team win the 2019 Turkish Cup.

The Serbian native previously played four seasons for KK Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade but went undrafted in 2017. He’s also a member of the Serbian national team.

He’ll provide depth at shooting guard behind Dillon Brooks and Grayson Allen, among others. Memphis already had 15 players with guaranteed deals, a couple more with partial guarantees, plus a pair of two-way players. Thus, the club will have to make some more roster moves before opening night.

And-Ones: Acy, Stauskas, Lin, Retooling

Veteran NBA big man Quincy Acy, who has appeared in 337 total regular season games for the Raptors, Kings, Knicks, Mavericks, Nets, and Suns since 2012, has officially signed with Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv, according to a press release.

“I’m excited to put on the Maccabi jersey, to bring passion, grit, and energy every game as we fight to win and bring success.” Acy said in a statement. “I’m ready to get going, ready to get some wins. I’m ready to come to Tel Aviv with my family and join the fan base.”

Acy, 28, last played in the NBA with the Suns during the 2018/19 season, appearing in 10 games for the team over the course of two 10-day contracts.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • After reporting earlier in the week that former lottery pick Nik Stauskas has turned down offers from EuroLeague teams, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets that Spanish club Baskonia now looks like the most likely destination for the free agent guard. No deal is done yet, however.
  • In the wake of Jeremy Lin‘s emotional comments about how he feels as if the NBA has given up on him, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star puts the point guard’s free agency in context, pointing out that there’s still plenty of time for Lin to catch on with an NBA team. Even if he doesn’t, Lin has a successful career under his belt, says Smith.
  • Given the success that teams like the Clippers and Jazz have had retooling their respective rosters rather than going through an all-out rebuild, Matt John of Basketball Insiders wonders if more lottery-bound clubs will follow that example and look to turn things around quickly rather than resigning themselves to several years of losing seasons.

Lakers Officially Announce Coaching Staff

The Lakers have officially announced the assistant coaches who will join new head coach Frank Vogel on the team’s bench this season.

As expected, former head coaches Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins are the headliners of the group. Their deals with the team were previously reported, as was Phil Handy‘s. Handy has appeared in five consecutive NBA Finals, having coached in Cleveland before joining the Raptors for the 2018/19 season.

The Lakers also confirmed the previously-reported hirings of former Lakers player Mike Penberthy and former Hornets player development coach Quinton Crawford, both of whom will be assistants. Miles Simon will be the only returning assistant from last season’s staff.

“I could not be more excited about the group we’ve assembled,” Vogel said in a statement. “Each of these guys brings a unique set of skills and experiences that will greatly impact the success of our players, as we look to build a championship-caliber team.”

The Lakers also announced that they’ve hired Greg St. Jean as a player development coach/advance scout and Dru Anthrop as the team’s head video coordinator/player development coach.

Pacers Sign Naz Mitrou-Long To Two-Way Deal

JULY 31: The Pacers have officially signed Mitrou-Long to a two-way deal, the team announced today (via Twitter).

JULY 30: The Pacers have reached an agreement to sign Naz Mitrou-Long to a two-way contract, league sources tell Scott Agness and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Agness adds (via Twitter) that Mitrou-Long is expected to formally sign his deal with Indiana on Wednesday as the team works to finalize a handful of contract agreements.

An undrafted free agent out of Iowa State, Mitrou-Long has appeared in 15 games for the Jazz over the past two seasons, having inked multiple two-way and 10-day contracts with Utah during that time.

The 6’4″ guard, who turns 26 years old this Saturday, saw far more action with the Jazz’s G League affiliate over the last two years. He averaged 18.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.7 APG on .432/.359/.845 shooting in 72 games for the Salt Lake City Stars during that stretch.

An impressive Summer League stint with the Cavaliers, in which Mitrou-Long averaged 16.8 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 5.0 RPG in four games, boosted the Canadian’s stock this offseason and helped earned him a new deal with the Pacers.

He and Brian Bowen II, who inked a two-way contract with Indiana on July 1, will occupy the team’s two-way slots for now.

Latest On Carmelo Anthony

Appearing recently on “The Breakfast Club,” Carmelo Anthony‘s trainer Chris Brickley said that Anthony is still hoping to sign with an NBA team and is being realistic about what sort of role he could play, as Jack Maloney of CBS Sports relays.

“I think teams are afraid of, ‘I want to be the star,’ or ‘I want this.’ That’s not the case, though,” Brickley said. “‘Melo just wants to have a final season, farewell season, do what D-Wade did. Do the jersey swap. He had a great career, he’s a Hall-of-Famer. So hopefully that can happen.”

While Brickley’s comments were well-meaning, they could open up Anthony to unfair ridicule, according to Frank Isola of The Athletic, who says that Carmelo would be better served by speaking for himself. The 10-time All-Star should also be focusing on ways he can help a contending team rather than a farewell tour, Isola adds.

“Can he still play? That’s what teams want to know,” an NBA coach whose team had internal discussions about pursuing Anthony told Isola. “It can’t be about a farewell tour.”

The question of whether Anthony can add value to a playoff team is on the mind of various team executives, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. As Charania explains, those execs want to know if the 35-year-old would be willing to accept a role where he sits on some nights and thrives in other games, based on matchups.

“‘Melo could fill a spot on most second units, but what kind of role works for both sides?” one executive said to Charania.

Charania’s look at Anthony’s future includes several more interesting tidbits, so let’s round up up the highlights…

  • If the Knicks had landed two star free agents this summer, they would have considered bringing back Anthony, league sources tell Charania. Now that the team has gone in a different direction, that no longer looks like a viable option. However, some executives believe that if Anthony doesn’t find another NBA home, he could sign a one-day contract to retire as a Knick.
  • The Lakers are the only other team that currently looks like a potential suitor for Anthony, due to his friendship with LeBron James, but that’s viewed as an unlikely scenario, given the team’s depth at forward and on the wing. The presence of Kurt Rambis in the front office may be a factor as well — Charania notes that Rambis was with the Knicks during Anthony’s final “tumultuous” stretch in New York.
  • Anthony’s camp had conversation with USA Basketball about Carmelo being part of Team USA’s World Cup squad in 2019. Both sides ultimately decided not to go in that direction though, says Charania.
  • Last season, a team in the Chinese Basketball Association was prepared to offer Anthony a deal that would have paid him nearly $1MM for several weeks of work, a source tells Charania. However, those discussions never gained traction and multiple agents who do deals with clubs in China are skeptical that Anthony would go that route, Charania writes. If he were interested in playing in the CBA, Anthony would likely receive lucrative offers.

2019 NBA Head Coaching Carousel Recap

The 2017/18 NBA league year was one of the most active in recent memory for head coaching changes. Nine teams – nearly one-third of the league’s 30 franchises – named new head coaches between the start of the ’17/18 season and the 2018 draft.

The ’18/19 league year was only slightly quieter in terms of head coaching changes. Fred Hoiberg (Bulls), Tyronn Lue (Cavaliers), and Tom Thibodeau (Timberwolves) were fired during the season, and several more coaches got the axe at season’s end.

Jim Boylen, Hoiberg’s replacement in Chicago, was named the Bulls’ new permanent head coach during the season and was extended at season’s end, but Cleveland and Minnesota conducted head coaching searches this spring. As such, the Cavs and Wolves are included in our round-up below of the offseason’s head coaching shake-up, but the Bulls aren’t.

Here’s a recap of which teams have named new permanent head coaches since the end of the 2018/19 season:

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Hired: John Beilein (story)
  • Replaced: Larry Drew (story)
  • Contract details: Five-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Juwan Howard, Jamahl Mosley, J.B. Bickerstaff, Alex Jensen, Ime Udoka, Ettore Messina, Steve Hetzel, Wes Unseld Jr., Jordi Fernandez, David Vanterpool

After mutually agreeing to part ways with Drew, the Cavaliers conducted a long, thorough coaching search that focused primarily on young, up-and-coming assistants. So it came as a surprise when they made a long-term commitment to Beilein, a 66-year-old college head coach.

Still, Beilein has a strong track record developing young players at the University of Michigan. He’ll bring that pedigree to Cleveland, where he’ll be joined by other new hires like associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and assistant Lindsay Gottlieb.

Los Angeles Lakers

  • Hired: Frank Vogel (story)
  • Replaced: Luke Walton (story)
  • Contract details: Three-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Monty Williams, Tyronn Lue, Jason Kidd, Juwan Howard, J.B. Bickerstaff

After months of rumors that Walton was on the hot seat, it seemed as if the Lakers would have a top candidate or two in mind to pursue at season’s end, when Walton’s ouster became official. Williams and Lue appeared to be those top targets, but Williams accepted an offer from Phoenix and Lue and the Lakers couldn’t agree to terms.

The Lakers moved onto Plan B (or was it Plan C?), unexpectedly turning to Vogel on a fairly short-term deal. The former Pacers coach will be joined by other former head coaches on the Lakers’ sidelines, as Kidd and Lionel Hollins are reportedly coming aboard as assistants.

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Hired: Taylor Jenkins (story)
  • Replaced: J.B. Bickerstaff (story)
  • Contract details: Not known
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Alex Jensen, Jarron Collins, Igor Kokoskov, Nate Tibbetts, Adrian Griffin, Sarunas Jasikevicius

The longest-lasting head coaching search of the offseason also resulted in the most out-of-left-field hire. Jenkins, a longtime Mike Budenholzer lieutenant in Atlanta and Milwaukee, hadn’t received much head coaching buzz in recent years, but the Grizzlies liked what they saw in multiple meetings with him.

The hiring of Jenkins was the first major decision made by the new Memphis management group led by team president Jason Wexler and executive VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman.

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Hired: Ryan Saunders (story)
  • Replaced: Tom Thibodeau (in-season change)
  • Contract details: Not known
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Juwan Howard, David Vanterpool, Chris Finch, Darvin Ham

Saunders stepped in as the Timberwolves’ interim head coach in January when Thibodeau was let go, and he immediately emerged as a player-friendly coach who earned the trust of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and others.

With a new president of basketball operations arriving in the spring, it seemed as if the Wolves might go in another direction, and Gersson Rosas did briefly consider outside candidates. However, Rosas ultimately opted for continuity, making the 33-year-old the NBA’s youngest current head coach.

Phoenix Suns

  • Hired: Monty Williams (story)
  • Replaced: Igor Kokoskov (story)
  • Contract details: Five-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: David Vanterpool, Nate Tibbetts

Williams was one of the most popular head coaching candidates on the market this offseason, as the Sixers assistant received consideration from the Lakers and Kings in addition to the Suns. In Phoenix, he’ll assume control of a young roster headed by Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker.

It will be Williams’ second opportunity to serve as an NBA head coach. He previously held that position in New Orleans from 2010-15 for the Hornets and Pelicans.

Sacramento Kings

  • Hired: Luke Walton (story)
  • Replaced: Dave Joerger (story)
  • Contract details: Four-year deal (link)

No team moved faster to name a new head coach than the Kings, who had a deal in place with Walton just two days after firing Joerger. While there were rumors that Sacramento would consider Monty Williams and Ettore Messina, the team settled quickly on Walton, who was originally hired in Los Angeles to coach a young Lakers squad that didn’t feature LeBron James. He’ll get another opportunity to coach an up-and-coming roster in Sacramento.

The fact that the Kings moved so quickly on Walton meant that by the time sexual assault allegations against him surfaced later in April, he was already under contract with his new team. There has been no indication that Sacramento is reconsidering its commitment to Walton, who has vehemently denied those allegations.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacers Sign Justin Holiday

JULY 31: The Pacers have signed Holiday, the team confirmed today (via Twitter). Now that the deal is complete, Indiana is officially over the cap.

JULY 19: One of the most notable veteran free agents still on the market has reached a deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), who reports that swingman Justin Holiday is signing a one-year, $4.8MM contract with the Pacers.

Holiday, 30, appeared in 82 total games last season for the Bulls and Grizzlies, averaging 10.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 1.5 SPG in 31.8 minutes per contest. With most starting-caliber free agents off the board, Holiday was one of the only veterans left who appeared likely to sign for more than the minimum.

In Indiana, it appears he’ll receive the team’s room exception, which is worth $4.767MM. With Victor Oladipo not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season Holiday should get a chance to play plenty of minutes at the two in the early going.

Even after Oladipo returns, Holiday is on track to play a regular role on the wing for the Pacers, alongside players like newly-added swingman Jeremy Lamb and forwards T.J. Warren and Doug McDermott.

Joining the Pacers will also give Holiday the opportunity to unite with younger brother Aaron Holiday, who should have an increased role in Indiana’s backcourt. It will be the first time since the 2012/13 season, when Justin briefly played with Jrue Holiday in Philadelphia, that two of the Holiday brothers have been on the same roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.