Month: December 2019

Latest On Knicks’ Potential Front Office Search

The Knicks are planning to make a run at top Raptors executive Masai Ujiri and Marc Stein of The New York Times reports (via his latest newsletter) that there are many around the league who believe Ujiri can be lured to New York.

Even though the Knicks have been laughable on the court, the prestige of the franchise and of winning it all in the arguably the greatest city in the world carries weight with top executives in the NBA. Entering Madison Square Garden’s latest rehabilitation project and coming out with a championship remains a unique and coveted prize.

Regardless of whom New York lands, the franchise’s next architect will face his share of challenges. It’s not certain if owner James Dolan is finally ready to give his top executive something that resembles “real autonomy,” Stein writes. Even Phil Jackson, who was relieved of his duties before his contract was up, didn’t get nearly enough freedom to make internal moves that could have impacted the culture. Stein adds that Dolan has given zero indication that he will sell the team.

In addition to Ujiri, Stein mentions R.C. Buford (Spurs), Bob Myers (Warriors) and Donnie Nelson (Mavericks) as names to keep an eye on when it comes to a potential top executive search in New York.

Otto Porter Jr. To Miss Additional Time

Otto Porter Jr. was expected to be back on the court prior to Christmas. However, his left foot woes are going to keep him out of the lineup for at least four more weeks, according to the team’s website. The Bulls indicated that Porter will “continue his period of immobilization and progress as tolerated” during that time.

That four-week mark is when the team plans on re-evaluating the small fracture in his foot, so expect Porter to sit out well into January. The wing has only played in nine games for Chicago this season because of the ailment. His averages thus far as 11.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per contest.

The Bulls enter the night 8-17 on the season. They could certainly use their starting small forward back in the lineup if they are going to make a run at the postseason, as I mentioned on the Turning Points podcast.

Chicago had high hopes for the season, but without Porter Jr. for much of the year, the team has struggled to score efficiently. Only the Knicks have a worse offensive rating than the Bulls, per NBA.com.

Community Shootaround: Next Head Coaching Change

David Fizdale became the first head coach of the 2019/20 NBA season to be fired when he was let go by the Knicks last Friday. The move didn’t come as a huge surprise, having been telegraphed last month when executives Steve Mills and Scott Perry held an impromptu press conference to express disappointment with the club’s slow start.

However, Fizdale is unlikely to be the only head coach replaced prior to the spring. As we detailed last fall, nearly every NBA season over the last decade or so has featured multiple in-season coaching changes. In 2018/19, three coaches – Tyronn Lue (Cavaliers), Fred Hoiberg (Bulls), and Tom Thibodeau (Timberwolves) – had been dismissed by the time the All-Star break rolled around.

While Fizdale had been on the hot seat for much of the season, there aren’t a lot of other head coaches in similar situations. Many of the teams off to disappointing starts either have accomplished coaches whom they believe in, such as Gregg Popovich in San Antonio or Terry Stotts in Portland, or have new-ish coaches that they’re willing to be patient with, like John Beilein in Cleveland and Lloyd Pierce in Atlanta.

Still, there are a handful of head coaches whose seats might be heating up. Here are a few:

  • Alvin Gentry (Pelicans): Multiple recent reports have suggested that the Pelicans like Gentry and are willing to be patient with him, but the team was hoping for much better than a 6-18 start, even without Zion Williamson.
  • Jim Boylen (Bulls): John Hollinger and Sam Amick of The Athletic suggested this week that Boylen is still well-liked by Bulls management, but not so much by Bulls players. Chicago entered the season with playoff aspirations but has struggled in the early going, with an 8-17 record.
  • Scott Brooks (Wizards): The Wizards brought in Brooks in 2016 to coach a potential contender. With a new general manager taking over during the offseason and Washington embarking on a rebuild, it was unclear whether the franchise still envisioned Brooks as its coach of the future. He has done well so far though developing some of the Wizards’ young players.
  • Mike D’Antoni (Rockets): The 15-8 Rockets have been solid, but D’Antoni’s failed extension negotiations with team ownership in the offseason cast a cloud over his future with the team. A source told Hollinger and Amick that D’Antoni probably won’t remain in Houston beyond 2019/20. If the Rockets have a prolonged slump at all this season, it’s possible the team will consider making a change even before next spring.

What do you think? Will all of the coaches listed above – and the rest of the NBA’s head coaches – make it through the 2019/20 season? Or will at least one more team follow the Knicks’ lead and make an in-season change?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your two cents!

And-Ones: Kyrie, Yabusele, 2019 Rookie Class

Kyrie Irving has been ruled out for the Nets‘ Wednesday’s contest vs. Charlotte, which will be the 13th game he has missed this season. As a result, he can no longer play in 70 games in 2019/20, which means he’ll miss out on a $125K bonus in his contract, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out (via Twitter).

Irving’s contract with the Nets includes eight separate bonuses worth $125K, which could be worth up to $1MM in total. The other seven are still in play, but some of those incentives are tied to games-played totals as well.

For instance, the Nets’ point guard can earn $125K for committing fewer than 2.4 turnovers per game and another $125K for attempting at least 4.6 free throws per game. But he also must play at least 60 regular season games to receive those bonuses. We have the full details here.

As we wait to see when Irving will be able to return, here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former Celtics first-rounder Guerschon Yabusele was recently fined 10,000 yuan ($1,421) by the Chinese Basketball Association for not paying sufficient attention during the pregame playing of the Chinese anthem, per an Associated Press report. Yabusele, a member of the Nanjing Monkey Kings, had his head bowed rather than directing his gaze toward the flag. The fine reflects China’s sensitivity over respect for national images, the AP report notes.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a closer look at the 2019 lottery class and makes a case that the results from the group thus far have been pretty ugly. In a follow-up article, Hollinger identifies some of the silver linings from this year’s rookie class, including a player who went undrafted: Raptors guard Terence Davis.
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks breaks down every NBA contract, sorting them by expiring deals, multiyear pacts, and deals that can’t currently be traded.

2020 NBA Free Agent Stock Watch Series

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA league year, we’re keeping an eye on 2020’s free-agents-to-be, monitoring their value and assessing how their play on the court will impact upcoming contract negotiations. Each of these looks at potential 2020 free agents focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on five players — one from each team.

Each installment in our Free Agent Stock Watch series looking ahead to the 2020 offseason is linked below, along with an outline of which players we discuss in each piece.

We’ll continue to update this page – which can be found under the “Hoops Rumors Features” sidebar of our desktop page, or in the “Features” section of our mobile site – as we add new entries over the coming weeks and months.


Eastern Conference

Atlantic

Central

Southeast


Western Conference

Northwest

Pacific

Southwest

Eastern Notes: George, Pacers, Ujiri, Heat, Beal, Love

It has been nearly two-and-a-half years since Paul George was traded by the Pacers to the Thunder, but fans in Indiana still booed George – now on Clipper – on Monday whenever he touched the ball, as if this was his first game back, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. George, who said he wasn’t surprised by being booed, also hinted that the full story of his departure from Indiana still hasn’t come out.

“You know, someday I’ll do a tell-all and tell the leading events of how I left Indiana,” George said. “And I promise you, I’m not the one to boo.

“… I’m not gonna share the teaser,” George later said. “… I like being the villain. I’m here two nights out of the year. The people they should boo is here a lot longer than I am.”

The George trade was one of the first major moves made by Kevin Pritchard, who became Indiana’s head of basketball operations during the spring of 2017. While George implied on Monday that the Pacers franchise may be partially to blame for the circumstances surrounding that trade, he declined to criticize Pritchard, as Youngmisuk notes.

“I’m not going to bad-mouth KP,” George said when told that Pritchard said George’s trade request felt like a punch in the gut. “That’s just Kevin’s side of the story.”

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Howard Beck of Bleacher Report recently reported that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri turned down a lucrative extension offer, but Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca hears from sources that the offer didn’t happen. Still, Grange wouldn’t be surprised if Ujiri is interested in testing the “free agent” market at some point, and believes the Knicks could be a real threat to lure him away from Toronto.
  • The Heat would have had serious interest in Bradley Beal if the Wizards had made him available in trade talks or if he had reached free agency in 2021. Instead, Beal re-upped with Washington, signing a two-year extension earlier this year. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald caught up with Beal to ask the Wizards’ star whether he considered the possibility of a move to the Heat before inking that new deal. Beal’s answer? “Yes and no.” Jackson has the full story and quotes.
  • Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald explains why the Celtics shouldn’t be viewed as a potential suitor for Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who is reportedly on the trade block.

Wizards’, Cavs’ Trade Exceptions Expire

A pair of traded player exceptions expired on Monday, as the Wizards and Cavaliers didn’t find a use for their TPEs. Washington’s exception was worth about $3.39MM, while Cleveland’s was worth $2.76MM.

Both trade exceptions were generated in last December’s three-team trade involving the Bucks, Cavaliers, and Wizards, which saw George Hill sent to Milwaukee and John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova land in Cleveland. The Cavs generated their exception as a result of sending Sam Dekker to the Wizards, but never ended up using that TPE.

The Wizards, meanwhile, created a $5.45MM trade exception in the deal by sending Jason Smith to Milwaukee. They did actually use a part of that exception this past summer, using it to absorb Moritz Wagner‘s $2.06MM in their deal with the Lakers. Washington didn’t use the rest of the TPE, however.

The Cavs still have three traded player exceptions available, though the most valuable one is worth just $1.54MM, so they’re unlikely to be used. The Wizards have more options — they have four TPEs left, including a $5MM exception that doesn’t expire until July 7, 2020.

For more information on traded player exceptions and how they work, be sure to check out our glossary entry on the subject and our full list of available TPEs.

Miles Plumlee Expected To Sign With Chinese Team

After parting ways with Kenneth Faried, the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions have reportedly agreed to sign another veteran NBA big man. A source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando that the Chinese club is adding free agent center Miles Plumlee.

The 26th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Plumlee has appeared in 346 total regular season NBA games for the Pacers, Suns, Bucks, Hornets, and Hawks, averaging 4.9 PPG and 4.5 RPG in 16.4 minutes per contest over the course of his career.

Plumlee, who was entering the final season of the four-year, $50MM deal he signed in 2016, was traded from Atlanta to Memphis over the summer, but didn’t make the Grizzlies’ regular season roster. The 31-year-old was waived along with Ivan Rabb at the end of the preseason, as the Grizzlies ate the remaining $12.4MM on his contract. He has been a free agent since then.

Mason is one of three Plumlee brothers with NBA experience, but he and Marshall Plumlee are out of the league for now, leaving Nuggets backup center Mason Plumlee as the only one of the brothers currently on an NBA roster.

O’Connor’s Latest: Thunder, Blazers, Love, Iguodala, More

As we relayed earlier this morning, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported that the Rockets have “serious interest” in Timberwolves wing Robert Covington. That tidbit was just one of many in a longer article jam-packed with notes and observations on the NBA’s trade market, so let’s round up some of the other highlights from O’Connor’s piece…

  • As expected, Thunder veterans Chris Paul, Steven Adams, and Danilo Gallinari are all available, league sources tell O’Connor. However, as Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday, Oklahoma City also seems willing to take on bad contracts and unwanted money, according to O’Connor, who hears that getting out of tax territory isn’t necessarily a priority for the club. The Thunder don’t anticipate a major tax bill this season and know they won’t be back over that line in future years, so they’re willing to live with a slightly bigger penalty this season if it means acquiring extra assets.
  • Speaking of Gallinari, the Trail Blazers are expected to pursue the Thunder forward, league sources tell The Ringer. O’Connor also hears that Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love would like to play for his hometown team in Portland.
  • O’Connor identifies the following teams as ones that appear most open to trading late first-round or early second-round draft picks: The Bucks, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Sixers, and Mavericks. Some of those clubs hold other teams’ picks and could dangle those in trade talks. For instance, Milwaukee owns Indiana’s lottery-protected first-rounder; Philadelphia has New York’s and Atlanta’s second-rounders; and Dallas controls Golden State’s second-rounder.
  • League sources tell O’Connor that Davis Bertans (Wizards), Marvin Williams (Hornets), J.J. Redick (Pelicans), and Marcus Morris (Knicks) are among the veterans who are candidates to be dealt before the deadline. Redick likely won’t be moved, but multiple execs believe New Orleans could strongly consider the idea if the right offer comes along.
  • O’Connor hears that there’s “no world” in which the Grizzlies buy out Andre Iguodala. Memphis will trade him — it’s just a matter of when and where, says O’Connor. A source tells The Ringer that the Grizzlies are open to any type of trade package, even if it means taking back a multiyear contract.

Rockets Interested In Robert Covington

A day after Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Rockets were willing to surrender future assets for help on the wing, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer identifies one specific target Houston is eyeing. League sources tell O’Connor that the Rockets have “serious interest” in Timberwolves forward Robert Covington.

Houston isn’t the only team with interest in Covington — O’Connor hears from multiple sources that playoff teams are monitoring the availability of the veteran, who will turn 29 on Saturday. As a very effective three-and-D player with a favorable contract, Covington could net a strong package for the Wolves if they decide to move him before this year’s deadline, O’Connor writes.

In 22 games (all starts) this season, Covington is averaging 12.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 1.3 SPG with a .455/.369/.902 shooting line for Minnesota. He has an $11.3MM cap hit, with guaranteed salaries of $12.1MM (2020/21) and $13MM (’21/22) to follow.

For the Rockets, putting together a trade package for Covington might be tricky. While Houston could offer its first-round pick in 2020 and/or 2022, matching salaries would be an issue. The team signed Nene to a contract loaded with incentives in the hopes of using him as a salary-matching piece in a deal for a player like Covington, but the NBA ruled that Nene’s outgoing salary in a trade can only be $2.56MM (his guaranteed base) rather than $10MM (his actual cap hit), limiting the club’s options.

The Rockets are also right at the tax line, meaning they could face stricter salary-matching rules, depending on how a deal is structured. If Houston is unwilling to trade one of its five highest-paid players (James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and P.J. Tucker), the club would have to package at least three smaller contracts for someone like Covington, which would be difficult for Minnesota to accommodate.

For what it’s worth, new Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas was Daryl Morey‘s top lieutenant for years in Houston, so Rosas will be very familiar with the Rockets’ roster.