Month: October 2019

Southeast Notes: Kidd-Gilchrist, Pasecniks, Beal, Fultz

Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist comes into camp without a clearly defined role, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Kidd-Gilchrist opted in to his $13MM contract this season rather than pursue free agency, which he did for his family’s financial security, Bonnell continues. Kidd-Gilchrist’s stock has plummeted in recent seasons and he would have had to settle for a major pay cut if he had dipped his toe into the free agent pool. He was used sparingly last season by coach James Borrego and it’s uncertain if that will change. “I don’t know,” Kidd-Gilchrist said of how he fits on the current roster.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Center Anzejs Pasecniks will play for the Wizards’ G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Pasecniks, a 2017 first-round pick by the Sixers, played for the Wizards during the Las Vegas Summer League. Philadelphia renounced its rights to Pasecniks during the offseason.
  • Count Wizards guard Bradley Beal among the stars interested in playing for Team USA in the Olympics next summer, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets“I don’t plan on having a son this next summer. Or daughter! I don’t plan on having no kids, let’s say that,” he said.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz plans to play in the team’s preseason opener on Saturday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Fultz appeared in 19 games with the Sixers last season but has yet to make his Orlando debut. The No. 1 overall pick in 2017 was traded to the Magic in February.

Marquese Chriss Signs With Warriors

SEPTEMBER 30, 9:35pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

SEPTEMBER 24, 5:40pm: The Warriors and Marquese Chriss have reached an agreement on a one-year deal, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports (via Twitter). Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link) hears that the contract is non-guaranteed.

Chriss is unlikely to make the Warriors’ open day roster, as the team is hard-capped and doesn’t have the room for a 15th contract. However, if Chriss shows promise during camp, the franchise could make a corresponding move to keep Chriss on the squad.

The big man was selected with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2016 draft, though he never lived up to his lofty draft status. Phoenix traded him to Houston in the Ryan Anderson deal back in 2018 and the Rockets declined to pick up his fourth-year option last fall. Chriss also spent time with the Cavaliers, playing in 27 games for Cleveland last season.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Dinwiddie, Brown, Tatum

Sixers center Joel Embiid dropped 20 pounds this summer in order to take the pressure off his balky knee, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports.

“Obviously my knee was bothering me the whole second half of the season and the playoffs,” the Sixers’ star said. “But all I was thinking was what can I do make sure I don’t let my teammates down again or my team. Or the whole city basically. That was to take better of my body.”

Embiid missed 12 games after last season’s All-Star break, mainly due to knee tendinitis. The Sixers will have a load management plan for him, but he expects to play more than the 64 games, Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer tweets.

Embiid added that he has more trust in Sixers GM Elton Brand than predecessor Bryan Colangelo, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets“With the past GM it wasn’t all that,” Embiid said.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie will meet with league officials this week to discuss his plan to turn his contract into an investment tool, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The NBA nixed the idea last week but Dinwiddle hopes he can convince the league to reverse its ruling. Dinwiddie wanted to enable investors to essentially buy shares of his three-year, $34.4MM contract.
  • Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown is eligible for a rookie scale extension until opening night but he’s not fretting over negotiations, Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston writes. “To be honest, I’m not putting too much thought into it,” Brown said. “I’m not losing any sleep over it. I think stuff like that ends up working itself out in the end, or however so. I’m just focused on this season and playing basketball. I think that’s my No. 1 emphasis. Let the chips fall where they may.” He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension.
  • Celtics swingman Jayson Tatum, who played for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, is hopeful of being on the Olympic roster next summer, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets. “I ain’t got nothing else to do,” Tatum said.

Warriors Notes: Green, Russell, Spellman, Curry

Warriors forward Draymond Green is glad he didn’t have to deal with all the speculation regarding free agency in what would have been his walk year, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Green, who could have been one of the top free agents in a diluted market next summer, averted that issue by signing a four-year extension worth nearly $100MM in August. “I didn’t myself want to come into the season with all that,” he said. “Kind of becomes a headache.”

We have more on the Warriors:

  • The D’Angelo RussellKevin Durant sign-and-trade was nerve-wracking and challenging due to time constraints, GM Bob Myers said in a radio interview with 95.7 The Game (hat tip to Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area). “So for that to happen, obviously one thing, Kevin has to leave,” Myers said. “Two, you got to get Brooklyn to cooperate and Kevin to cooperate in a four-hour window of time. You need D’Angelo to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll come.” He had other offers. A lot of times that’s like a three-team trade, they just don’t happen.”
  • Forward Omari Spellman wasn’t immediately thrilled at the prospect of moving from the Hawks to the Warriors, Slater adds in another tweet. “That was extremely tough for me,” he said. “But on the flip side, an organization that has been, let’s be honest, the best team in the league for like the last four, five years decided to take a chance on me.” Golden State traded center Damian Jones and a second-round pick to acquire Spellman.
  • Stephen Curry isn’t interested in any load management plans, Logan Murdock of NBCS Authentic tweets. Concerning his workload, Curry quipped, “48 minutes a game for all 82.”

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Griffin, Johnson, Olympics

Pistons center Andre Drummond and senior advisor Ed Stefanski brushed aside specific questions about a potential extension during the team’s Media Day on Monday. Drummond said he’s happy in Detroit and wishes to remain there.

“I love being here. I love playing in Detroit,” he said. “I’m looking forward to continuing my time here.”

Stefanski refused to talk about any potential negotiations. Drummond, who could be the top free agent on the market next summer if he opts out of the final year of his contract, has requested extension talks, according to Vince Ellis of the Free Press. Prior to opening night, Drummond can opt in for the 2020/21 season and add up to three additional years.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Coach Dwane Casey hopes to give Blake Griffin more nights off this season to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Griffin was hobbled by a knee injury late last season and underwent arthroscopic surgery after the season. “We rode him like a cheap horse last year,” Casey said. “If we didn’t, I don’t think we would have made the playoffs because he was that special to us.” Griffin won’t resist any load management strategies. “For me personally, I’m going to let our staff and front office lead the way on that,” he said. “It’s not going to be me going to them asking for games (off), it’s not going to be them fighting with me. I’m going to listen to them.”
  • Veteran swingman Joe Johnson, who signed a partially guaranteed contract, is essentially competing with big man Christian Wood, who was claimed off waivers, for the last roster spot unless a player with a fully guaranteed contract is traded or waived. “There’s no added pressure on me,” Johnson said. “This opportunity came about and I’m thankful for it but it wasn’t my purpose. I still do love the game, I keep myself in great shape, so to be able to get a chance to compete with these guys, it will be fun.” Johnson, who also worked out for the Sixers, cancelled four scheduled workouts to sign with Detroit.
  • Drummond expressed his desire to play in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He withdrew from playing with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer in order to focus on the upcoming season. “I would love to play in the Olympics,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to play in the Olympics? It would be a big-time thing to be a part of. To play for that gold medal is huge, so I would be very honored to play for them.” Griffin was non-committal about his interest in playing for Team USA in the Olympics next season. “It’s just so far away,” he said. “I’ll definitely address that at the proper time.”

Bulls Notes: Young, Point Guards, Hutchison, WCJ

Veteran forward Thaddeus Young played in the postseason in each of his last three seasons in Indiana, and has appeared in the playoffs in eight of his 12 NBA seasons in total. However, as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, he opted to sign with the Bulls, who were coming off a 22-win season.

Speaking today to reporters, including Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link), Young said he received interest from potential championships contenders in free agency, but liked the idea of becoming a veteran leader in Chicago. According to Young, he intends to bring energy and veteran leadership to the club and to be the sort of player who can speak up in the locker room and hold everyone accountable (Twitter link via Strotman).

While joining the Bulls may have appealed to Young for the reasons he mentioned, it’s probably also safe to assume that most of those title contenders who expressed interest in him this summer weren’t able to match the $13MM+ annual salary he received from Chicago.

Here’s more from the Bulls on Media Day:

  • Head coach Jim Boylen said the point guard situation in Chicago will “work its way out” in terms of minutes and that the Bulls’ players have embraced the competition, tweets Strotman. Tomas Satoransky, Coby White, Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Shaquille Harrison are all expected to be in the point guard mix.
  • The Bulls’ goal in 2019/20 is to make the playoffs, Boylen declared today (Twitter link via Strotman). The club finished 19 games back of the No. 8 seed last season.
  • Chandler Hutchison, who suffered a hamstring strain earlier this month, is “going to be out for a little bit,” per head of basketball operations John Paxson (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune). Paxson also noted that Luke Kornet has turf toe and will miss a few days.
  • Wendell Carter Jr., on the other hand, said today that he feels 100% – and better than he has for the last five or six years – after undergoing core muscle surgery during the offseason, tweets Strotman.

Mavs’ Carlisle “Wouldn’t Trade Doncic For Anybody”

In addition to expressing optimism about Kristaps Porzingis‘ health and outlook for the coming season at the Mavericks‘ Media Day on Monday, head coach Rick Carlisle offered high praise for the team’s other cornerstone player.

I wouldn’t trade [Luka] Doncic for anybody,” Carlisle said of the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to MacMahon, Carlisle also raved about Doncic’s ability to make the other four players on the floor better, comparing him to Hall-of-Famer Larry Bird.

Doncic, 20, immediately established himself as an impact player during his rookie season, averaging 21.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 6.0 APG in 72 games (32.3 MPG) for the Mavs. He’s also on one of the league’s most favorable contracts for a star player, with three years and $25.9MM left on his rookie deal. That contract will likely be followed up with a long-term, maximum-salary extension similar to the one Porzingis received from the team this summer.

In other words, Carlisle won’t have to worry about his young star being traded for “anybody” anytime soon. As MacMahon relays (via Twitter), Doncic told reporters today that he’s prepared for the pressure of assuming Dirk Nowitzki‘s place as the face of the franchise in Dallas.

I’ve had pressure since I was 16,” Doncic said. “I like pressure.”

Giannis Not Interested In Addressing Contract Situation In 2019/20

Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo can’t sign a super-max extension for another year, and can’t become a free agent until the summer of 2021, but that won’t stop NBA fans and observers from speculating about his long-term future. Speaking today to reporters, including ESPN’s Eric Woodyard, Antetokounmpo made it clear that he has no plans to entertain that speculation this season.

“I’m not gonna talk about it a lot this season, and I’m not going to try to address it,” Antetokounmpo said.

The Greek forward is still just 24 years old and is coming off his first MVP season, cementing his place among the NBA’s stars to watch over the next five or 10 years. Throw in the fact that he’s playing in one of the league’s smaller markets, and it’s no surprise that whispers about his next contract have already begun. For his part though, Antetokounmpo is focused on the season ahead.

“I feel like if you have a great team – and our goal is to win a championship and be the last team standing and get better each day – I think it’s disrespectful towards my teammates talking about my free agency and what I’m going through,” Antetokounmpo said. “So, when the time is right, we’re all gonna talk about it. I don’t think the time is right.”

Because he earned All-NBA honors and took home an MVP award this season, Antetokounmpo locked in his super-max eligibility, but he can’t actually sign that extension – which would start at 35% of the cap – until he has at least seven years of NBA experience. As soon as they’re permitted to, the Bucks plan on putting that offer on the table — in fact, general manager GM Jon Horst made that plan public and was fined $50K by the NBA for doing so.

Based on the league’s latest cap projections, a five-year super-max deal for Giannis that starts in the 2021/22 season would be worth just over $252MM.

Popovich: Spurs “Blindsided” By Morris’ Change Of Heart

While it was overshadowed by bigger-name transactions, one of the most fascinating sequences of the first week of 2019’s free agent period came after the Spurs agreed to sign Marcus Morris to a two-year deal worth their mid-level exception.

San Antonio, having already reached a deal to sign DeMarre Carroll using a portion of the mid-level, renegotiated Carroll’s contract and agreed to send Davis Bertans to the Wizards in a three-team trade that would ultimately open up the MLE for Morris. However, Morris then reneged on his agreement with the Spurs, opting to sign with the Knicks instead. San Antonio subsequently used part of its MLE to sign Trey Lyles, but likely would have preferred to simply keep Bertans.

Addressing that situation for the first time today, Spurs head coach and head of basketball operations Gregg Popovich expressed frustration with how things played out, as Jabari Young of The Athletic (video link) relays.

“It was more than difficult to lose Davis,” Popovich said. “Let’s just say that that was an unfortunate situation that was handled unprofessionally on a couple of different levels. We made that move (trading Bertans) to make the signing that we did, and we got blindsided. Davis was a special player, as we all know. He was young and getting better and better, so we hated losing him.”

Morris’ change of heart in free agency played a part in his split with agent Rich Paul, who reportedly urged him to stick to his deal with the Spurs. The situation also allegedly fueled some animosity between the Knicks and Spurs.

Morris told Shams Charania of The Athletic in late July that as soon as he changed his mind and decided to sign with the Knicks, he called the Spurs to make sure they knew. According to Morris, he had “great conversations afterward” with the Spurs and felt good about moving forward.

Based on his Media Day comments, it doesn’t sound as if Popovich shared the same feelings about how the saga played out. Asked today if Morris reached out to the team and explained what happened, Popovich replied, “Not really.”

Trail Blazers Sign Keljin Blevins

Keljin Blevins has signed a training camp contract with the Trail Blazers, the team announced in a press release.

The 23-year-old forward was part of Portland’s Summer League team, appearing in three games and scoring five points with three rebounds and a steal in 28 total minutes. Blevins went undrafted out of Montana State this year and spent two seasons at Southern Mississippi as well.

The signing brings the Blazers to 19 players ahead of the opening of camp tomorrow. Portland has a two-way spot available, so Blevins is likely competing for that.