Month: April 2024

Clippers Notes: Bledsoe, Winslow, Vaccinations, Drame

Eric Bledsoe hasn’t played for the Clippers since 2013, but the team is optimistic that the point guard will fit right back into Los Angeles’ rotation in 2021/22, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Head coach Tyronn Lue said on Tuesday that he expects Bledsoe to be part of L.A.’s starting lineup alongside Paul George, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, and Ivica Zubac.

The last time Bledsoe was a Clipper, he was an up-and-comer who was stuck behind Chris Paul on the depth chart and was trying to prove he earned more playing time. He’ll have a larger role this time around, but the 11-year veteran told reporters he’s prepared to do whatever the club asks of him.

“I’m coming in as a veteran player now in a different role … just help the team out the best way I can,” Bledsoe said. “Whether guarding the best player one night, spot up next night, get downhill, whatever the case is, cheering my teammates on. So whatever the case may be, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Both Lue and Jackson spoke this week about how they envision the Clippers benefiting from Bledsoe’s ability to put pressure on the defense and attack the paint.

“He’s gonna be a big boost for us,” Lue said. “I think he’ll be able to push that pace and push that tempo, and get guys easy shots. That’s what we have to do in transition.”

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • Bobby Marks of ESPN provides a minor update on Bledsoe’s contract, tweeting that the veteran guard and the Clippers agreed to push back his salary guarantee date for 2022/23. Bledsoe currently has a partial guarantee of $3.9MM on his $19.4MM salary for next season — his salary will now become fully guaranteed four days after the July moratorium instead of on June 30, creating some additional offseason flexibility for the franchise.
  • Health issues have limited Justise Winslow to just 37 total games over the last two seasons, but the new Clippers forward said on Tuesday that he has felt fully healthy for the last two or three months, tweets Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Winslow added that he wouldn’t wish his hip injury on anyone.
  • Lue said on Wednesday that all the players on the Clippers’ roster are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (video link via Greif).
  • The Clippers are mourning the death of Assane Drame, who joined the team in 2019 as a video intern and had since become a video assistant in the team’s digital content group. Drame died in a car accident on Monday night after working hours earlier at the team’s Media Day, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to Drame’s family and friends.

Northwest Notes: Simons, SGA, Gupta, Saunders, Nuggets

The Trail Blazers have talked in the past about Anfernee Simons handling backup point guard duties behind Damian Lillard, but CJ McCollum has often played that role, with Simons spending time primarily at the two. However, new head coach Chauncey Billups seems committed to giving Simons a longer look at the point guard spot, and the 22-year-old says he intends to take “full advantage” of the opportunity, as Jason Quick of The Athletic details.

“I want CJ and Ant to be playing some backup point guard,” Billups said. “A lot of my conversations with (Simons) is about that — him being able to play a lot of backup point guard minutes, you know, running the show.”

The Blazers will be keeping a close eye on how Simons responds to the increased responsibilities, since he’s eligible for a rookie scale extension before the regular season begins. A source tells Quick that Simons’ agent Bill Duffy and the Blazers haven’t yet engaged in discussions about a new deal, but are expected to talk closer to the October 18 deadline.

“I don’t know anything about the extension; I’m focused on the season,” Simons said. “I know it’s a big season for me. So I’m not worried about it. My priority is to go out there and play well.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Discussing his new maximum-salary contract extension, Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander called the deal a “dream come true,” but views it as just one achievement to cross off on his long list of career goals, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “I still have 90% of my list, so I won’t stop,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, who added that he feels “150%” healthy after missing the end of last season with a foot injury.
  • When the Timberwolves‘ owners – Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, and Marc Lore – spoke to reporters this week, all three stressed that Sachin Gupta is in charge of the basketball operations department and didn’t mention a looming front office search, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. While that doesn’t necessarily mean they view Gupta as the long-term solution, the timing may not be right to conduct a full-fledged search with the regular season around the corner, Krawczynski notes.
  • Former Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders is in attendance at the Nuggets‘ training camp this week, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. As Wolfson explains, Saunders is close with Denver head coach Michael Malone and executives Tim Connelly and Calvin Booth.

2021/22 NBA Over/Unders: Recap

Over the last two weeks, we’ve been examining projections for all 30 NBA teams for the 2021/22 season, publishing polls asking how many games each club will win. With the help of lines from professional oddsmakers, we’ve had you vote on whether each team will go over or under a given win total, from the Nets (55.5) all the way through to the Magic (22.5).

Here are the full results of those votes:

Eastern Conference


  • Brooklyn Nets (55.5 wins): Over (63.2%)
  • Philadelphia 76ers (51.5 wins): Under (70.0%)
  • Boston Celtics (46.5 wins): Over (58.1%)
  • New York Knicks (42.5 wins): Over (65.1%)
  • Toronto Raptors (36.5 wins): Under (50.6%)


  • Milwaukee Bucks (54.5 wins): Over (63.7%)
  • Indiana Pacers (42.5 wins): Under (58.2%)
  • Chicago Bulls (42.5 wins): Over (68.3%)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (26.5 wins): Under (50.5%)
  • Detroit Pistons (25.5 wins): Under (52.6%)


  • Miami Heat (48.5 wins): Under (53.6%)
  • Atlanta Hawks (47.5 wins): Over (62.2%)
  • Charlotte Hornets (38.5 wins): Over (54.5%)
  • Washington Wizards (34.5 wins): Over (54.9%)
  • Orlando Magic (22.5 wins): Under (53.8%)

Western Conference


  • Utah Jazz (52.5 wins): Over (61.7%)
  • Denver Nuggets (48.5 wins): Over (69.3%)
  • Portland Trail Blazers (44.5 wins): Over (53.0%)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (34.5 wins): Under (57.1%)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (23.5 wins): Under (65.0%)


  • Los Angeles Lakers (52.5 wins): Over (58.2%)
  • Phoenix Suns (51.5 wins): Over (58.6%)
  • Golden State Warriors (48.5 wins): Over (50.3%)
  • Los Angeles Clippers (43.5 wins): Over (51.2%)
  • Sacramento Kings (36.5 wins): Under (66.0%)


  • Dallas Mavericks (48.5 wins): Over (55.3%)
  • Memphis Grizzlies (41.5 wins): Over (50.5%)
  • New Orleans Pelicans (39.5 wins): Under (64.6%)
  • San Antonio Spurs (29.5 wins): Over (53.8%)
  • Houston Rockets (26.5 wins): Under (71.0%)

As these results show, our voters are slightly more bullish on the Western Conference teams than those in the East, relative to their expectations. A total of 10 Western teams were voted “over” their projected win totals, compared to eight Eastern teams.

These results also expect that our voters see a fairly wide gap between the good teams and the bad teams heading into the season. Of the 18 teams with win projections above .500, 15 were voted “over.” Meanwhile, nine of the 12 clubs with win projections below .500 were voted “under.”

These were the five “over” bets that received the largest vote shares:

  1. Denver Nuggets, 48.5 wins: 69.3%
  2. Chicago Bulls, 42.5 wins: 68.3%
  3. New York Knicks, 42.5 wins: 65.1%
  4. Milwaukee Bucks, 54.5 wins: 63.7%
  5. Brooklyn Nets, 55.5 wins: 63.2%

I have to admit some of these choices surprised me a little. The Nuggets will be without Jamal Murray (ACL tear) for most or all of the season; we still don’t know how the pieces in Chicago will fit together; and the Bucks and Nets may not push their stars especially hard during the regular season, preferring to focus on being healthy for the playoffs. I’ll be curious to see how these results play out.

Here are the five “under” bets that received the largest vote shares:

  1. Houston Rockets, 26.5 wins: 71.0%
  2. Philadelphia 76ers, 51.5 wins: 70.0%
  3. Sacramento Kings, 36.5 wins: 66.0%
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder, 23.5 wins: 65.0%
  5. New Orleans Pelicans, 39.5 wins: 64.6%

The Sixers pick here makes sense, given the ongoing Ben Simmons drama. I can’t quibble with the Rockets and Thunder bets either — the NBA’s bottom-feeders often finish with even worse records than expected, so if you think Houston and Oklahoma City will be in that group, taking the under is reasonable. On the other hand, I’m slightly more bullish on the Kings and Pelicans, but given how much New Orleans’ success relies on Zion Williamson‘s health, I’d admittedly be pretty nervous to bet on the over for the Pels.

What do you think of our picks in general? Are there any results above that you strongly disagree with? Did you make any over or under votes within the last couple weeks that you’re second-guessing now? Jump into our comment section below and weigh in with your thoughts!

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, Davis, LeBron, Vaccinations

One of Russell Westbrook‘s priorities with the Lakers will be to help unleash Anthony Davis, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. After their first practice together on Tuesday, Westbrook called Davis “the ultimate weapon” because of his unique skills for a big man.

“He’s one of a kind,” Westbrook said. “There’s nobody like him who can do everything he’s able to do at his size. And my job is to make sure I continue to push him each day, each practice, each game, so he can be at the top of his game each and every night.”

Davis said he welcomes having someone who will drive him to be his best. He has been an All-Star the past eight years, but he’s coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him post career-low numbers with 7.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting career-worst percentages from the field and the free-throw line.

“I like teammates who are going to push me,” Davis said. “Encouragement — I don’t need encouragement. I want to be pushed. I want guys to tell me when I’m messing up. Me and Russ had numerous conversations in this first practice alone about things we can do together as a duo when we’re both on the floor.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Coach Frank Vogel was impressed by how fast Westbrook still is at age 32, per Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Vogel called his new point guard “a blur out there” and said he plans to take advantage of it with an up-tempo approach. “When the ball’s outleted to (LeBron James), Russ has gotta fly; when the ball’s outleted to Russ, Bron’s gonna fly,” Vogel said. “And that’s the best way to complement those guys.”
  • James was instrumental in assembling the Lakers’ new roster, and Vogel believes he will adjust his game to make it successful, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. L.A. concentrated on veteran talent during the offseason, putting together a roster that’s very accomplished but is also the oldest in the league. “All these other stars that he’s played with, he’s adapted his game, done whatever’s necessary to win and put himself in position for the ultimate goal,” Vogel said. “The willingness to do it is one thing, but when you have his skill set and his mind, he literally can do it all. So I’m very confident that that’s going to work itself out.”
  • The Lakers plan to be fully vaccinated by the start of the season, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “It was never a team discussion,” James said at media day, “but I think at the end of the day you’re figuring out ways to always be available and protect one another.”

Pistons Notes: Olynyk, Pickett, Rotation, Stewart

Kelly Olynyk has reached the point in his career where he wants to be a mentor as well as an on-court contributor, so the Pistons seemed like a perfect fit in free agency, writes Lauren Williams of MLive. The addition of Olynyk brings another reliable shooter and passer to Detroit’s frontcourt along with eight years of experience that he can share with the team’s young players.

“It’s just about I’m at the point in my career where I think I can really help a team like this young team with leadership on and off the court,” he said. “So just, teaching guys because I’m nine years in now. I kind of have those tricks of the trade. It’s time to pass them on. So I thought it was a great opportunity from that standpoint and also a great opportunity to come through and play.”

Through two days of training camp, coach Dwane Casey is still figuring out exactly what he wants Olynyk’s role to be. Casey is counting on having the ball in Olynyk’s hands frequently, whether he starts or comes off the bench.

“I think he’ll be a high usage rate guy with the second unit, first unit or who he’s playing with, just because of his ball skills and his ability,” Casey said. “And one weapon you can have in the NBA today is a five man that can shoot the ball from deep.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • The Pistons are excited about rookie swingman Jamorko Pickett, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Pickett earned a two-way contract with a strong Summer League performance, and Casey said at media day that he has a chance to be a good player for several years. Casey admitted he didn’t know much about Pickett heading into the draft, but general manager Troy Weaver and scout Jason Buckner were watching him closely in college.
  • Detroit will have more depth than in recent years, but Casey doesn’t plan to expand his rotation beyond 10 players, Edwards adds. The most intense competition figures to be at the backup wing, where Josh Jackson, Frank Jackson and Hamidou Diallo will all be fighting for minutes. “It’s crowded at the wing position,” Casey said. “There’s some healthy competition at that area. We’re going to need a couple different things; we’re going to need shooting, defense, with either unit. You want that balance, so we’re going to go with who gives us that balance at the wing position.”
  • Second-year center Isaiah Stewart is getting some valuable instruction from new Hall of Famer Ben Wallace, per Keith Langlois of“Today was probably the most I ever talked to him,” Stewart said after Tuesday’s practice. “I took advantage of the time and asked as many questions as I can. Hearing he’s going to be around more, I’m definitely going to be picking his brain. I hope he doesn’t get tired of that.”

Nuggets Notes: Porter Jr., Vaccine, Green, Hyland

After news broke Monday of a max extension for Michael Porter Jr., he thought of the difficult journey it took to reach this point, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. There were serious questions about Porter’s long-term health heading into the 2018 draft after he injured his back in college. After being in consideration for the top pick when the season began, Porter slipped all the way to No. 14, where the Nuggets nabbed him as a long-term investment.

“I think it’s a lot more gratifying,” Porter said. “I’m one of those dudes, that even growing up, I didn’t think of it like, ‘Dang, I’m going to be making millions of dollars when I go to the NBA.’ I thought of it as, ‘Dang, I’m going to get to play against LeBron (James), (Kevin Durant).’ It was never about the money for me. … The road that I took made it so much more gratifying.”

After sitting out his first NBA season, Porter showed signs of stardom in 2019/20 and followed that with a breakthrough year, averaging 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season. He said that after learning of his extension, he called Jamal Murray and texted Nikola Jokic. They are the core that Nuggets management hopes will bring the franchise its first NBA title.

“We’re good to go,” Porter said. “Us three right there, when you’ve got (Aaron Gordon), you’ve got Will (Barton), Monte (Morris), we’re locked in. We know we’re going to be good. We know we’re going to be nice for years to come. … They didn’t pay us all this money to not win a championship.”

There’s more from Denver:

  • Porter, one of a handful of high-profile NBA players who haven’t been vaccinated, talked about his decision with Singer in a separate story“For me, I had COVID twice, I saw how my body reacted, and although the chances are slim, with the vaccine, there’s a chance you could have a bad reaction to it,” Porter said. “For me, I don’t feel comfortable.”
  • Jeff Green, who signed with Denver in the offseason, is already making an impact at training camp, according to Eric Spyropoulos of The veteran big man brings a new element to the Nuggets’ offense and can guard a variety of players on the other end of the court. “His feel for the game, his versatility, even at his age his athleticism, it really felt like a seamless fit in that regard,” coach Michael Malone said. “So, I’ve been really impressed with Jeff.”
  • First-round pick Bones Hyland has found there’s quite a bit to learn in his first training camp, Spyropoulos adds in the same story. “It’s a lot (to adjust to), you know, and that’s not lost on me,” Malone said. “It’s not lost on any of the coaches, because here’s a guy that just finished up his sophomore season at VCU, and he’s out here with 17 other NBA players, (learning) terminology, drills, (and a) new system.”

Lakers Sign Cameron Oliver To Exhibit 10 Contract

SEPTEMBER 29: The signing is official, the team announced (via Twitter).

SEPTEMBER 16: The Lakers are signing free agent forward Cameron Oliver to an Exhibit 10 deal, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Oliver, 25, has played primarily in the G League and overseas since going undrafted out of Nevada in 2017. However, he did sign with the Rockets at the end of the 2020/21 season, appearing in four games for the team down the stretch and averaging 10.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 1.0 BPG on .576/.308/.636 shooting in 21.8 minutes per contest.

The Lakers are currently only carrying 13 players on guaranteed contracts, so Oliver could theoretically be a candidate to make the 15-man regular season roster. However, like fellow Exhibit 10 recipients Chaundee Brown and Mac McClung, Oliver seems more likely to end up playing for the South Bay Lakers, L.A.’s G League affiliate.

Oliver nearly averaged a double-double during his last stint in the G League, putting up 15.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 2.2 BPG in 26 games (26.6 MPG) for the Delaware Blue Coats in 2018/19.

Cavaliers Notes: Garland, Sexton, Love, Valentine, Mobley

The Cavaliers want Darius Garland to become more of a team leader as he enters his third NBA season, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Garland has emerged as a dynamic offensive player and appears to be part of the foundation for the rebuilding Cavs. He earned an invitation to the Select Team that scrimmaged the U.S. Olympic squad over the summer and appeared in exhibition games with Team USA.

Cleveland needs to find new leadership after parting with veterans Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova during the offseason. It’s a role that Garland is eager to take on.

“That’s my whole goal this year,” he said. “And then just try to make it as easy as I can for some of the young guys that we have, even though I’m still a young guy. But I’m going to my third year, so I’ve seen a lot, played a lot of games. Just try to do some of the little things that make everybody successful.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Collin Sexton was reportedly on the trade market this summer, but the Cavaliers weren’t able to find the type of return they wanted, Russo states in the same piece. Sexton will be eligible for a rookie scale extension through October 18, and although general manager Koby Altman refused to talk about negotiations, he said the team hopes to be able to work something out. “We want him here long-term,” Altman said. “And he wants to be here long-term. We’re certainly working with his representation to see that through. But this is someone that’s been with us since the start of this thing, in terms of where we’ve been the last three years. And we love him; we want him here long-term. We’ll deal with that sort of behind closed doors. But the feelings are mutual in terms of something long-term.”
  • Kevin Love hasn’t talked to Altman or coach J.B. Bickerstaff about his role, but he’s expected to play fewer minutes per game, Russo adds. The team’s top priority for Love will be to keep him away from injuries after he missed 47 games last season.
  • Denzel Valentine is eager for a new challenge after spending the past five years in Chicago, Russo tweets. The 27-year-old guard signed a two-year deal with the Cavs last week. “I believe in myself. I believe in my abilities,” he said. “It’s been up and down, but I feel like the best basketball is ahead of me. I’m finally getting healthy, finally coming into my own, getting my routines down and I think it’s only up from here.”
  • The Cavaliers plan to be patient with rookie big man Evan Mobley, tweets Chris Fedor of “We will be cautious of too much, too soon, but I think his game is going to dictate what too much is,” Bickerstaff said. “We don’t want to put the weight of the world on his shoulders. We’re building this team and then talent always rises to the top.”

Bulls Notes: White, Ball, DeRozan, Stotts

Bulls guard Coby White is limited at training camp after offseason shoulder surgery, but he’s making progress toward an early-season comeback, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. White has started dribbling and shooting and took part in some open-court drills after Tuesday’s practice ended.

“I’m able to do pretty much everything on a basketball court. I just struggle with left hand, overhead shots — such as, like, layups — but I can pretty much do anything,” he said. “Right now I’ve just been working on strengthening my shoulder and getting it stronger because I ain’t used it for a long time.”

The Bulls are hoping to have White back by mid-November, which will mark five months since his operation. When White does return, he’ll have to fight for playing time after the offseason additions of Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso, but he’s excited about the new-look backcourt.

“Lonzo’s gonna really help the team as a major piece,” White said. “He’s so unselfish, and as a point guard, he’s great defensively, which is one thing that I can (learn) from him.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Ball called it a “pretty easy” decision to sign with the Bulls, according to Michael Mulford of Yahoo Sports. Ball, who received a four-year, $84MM offer shortly after free agency began, said he always considered Chicago to be the front-runner. “They really didn’t want me to change anything I had going, any part of my game,” he said at media day. “They wanted me to excel in the things I’m already comfortable doing so it was an easy choice for me like I said and then I think Zach (LaVine) had a big part to play, as well.”
  • DeRozan isn’t fazed about the idea of having so many score-first players on the roster, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. DeRozan, LaVine and Nikola Vucevic are used to being the primary scorers for their teams and now they have to find a way to combine their talents into a cohesive offense. “It’s basketball at the end of the day,’’ DeRozan said. “You put me out there, I’m going to figure out whatever needs to be figured out for us to be successful. I don’t overthink it. I think that’s when a lot of people get in trouble – when you try to overthink this game. It’s a simple game. You understand what it takes, what needs to be done and you go out there and execute it and do it to the best of your abilities. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t get caught up in ‘I got to do this, do this.’ Whatever it takes to win, that’s all I care about.”
  • Former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts was an observer at Bulls practice, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. Head coach Billy Donovan explained that it’s common to host college coaches and former NBA coaches to get their perspectives on the team.

Pistons Add Jared Cunningham, Waive Deividas Sirvydis

The Pistons have signed veteran shooting guard Jared Cunningham to a training camp contract and placed swingman Deividas Sirvydis on waivers, the team announced (via Twitter).

Cunningham, 30, last played in the NBA during the 2015/16 season when he appeared in a combined 44 games with the Cavaliers and Bucks. Since then, he has spent time overseas and in the G League, last playing for Bnei Herzliya in Israel.

Cleveland selected Cunningham with the 24th overall pick in the 2012 draft and shipped him to Dallas in a draft-night trade. He had brief stays with six NBA teams and holds a career scoring average of 2.3 PPG in 84 games.

Sirvydis, the 37th pick in the 2019 draft, just re-signed with Detroit on Tuesday after being waived in July. He saw limited action in 20 games last season and could be headed to the Pistons’ new G League affiliate, the Motor City Cruise.

Detroit’s roster remains at the training camp limit of 20 players.