Month: December 2022

Warriors Notes: Poole, Moody, DiVincenzo, Curry

The Warriors will either have to reach a rookie scale extension with Jordan Poole by October 17 or deal with him as a restricted free agent next summer. Either way, new contracts around the league are already setting his market value, writes Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Anfernee Simons and Jalen Brunson, two guards with credentials similar to Poole, signed new free agent deals in excess of $100MM this summer. On Monday, RJ Barrett, who was part of Poole’s draft class, reached an extension agreement with the Knicks that could pay him up to $120MM over the next four years.

While those three players are accomplished, none has a playoff resume that can compare to Poole’s. At age 22, he was Golden State’s second-best offensive player on the way to an NBA title. He also showed that he can be a primary scorer if needed, averaging 26.0 points over 13 games late in the regular season while Stephen Curry was sidelined by a foot injury.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Moses Moody saw limited playing time as a rookie, but he projects to have a much bigger role during the upcoming season, according to C.J. Holmes of The San Francisco Chronicle. Moody is expected to take over some of the minutes that formerly belonged to Gary Payton II, who signed with the Trail Blazers in July. “I’m telling you, he’s going to fill the stat sheet up,” an unidentified staffer said of Moody. “He’s just going to continue to get better and make plays.”
  • The Warriors believe free agent addition Donte DiVincenzo‘s intelligence and toughness make him a perfect fit for their system, Holmes adds in the same piece. The coaching staff and front office have been impressed with DiVincenzo this summer, even though they’ve only seen him in individual workouts.
  • Curry returned Wednesday to Davidson College, where he was inducted into the school’s hall of fame, had his number retired and received his diploma, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN“This is an absolutely amazing day and an amazing moment for myself and my family,” said Curry, who completed his degree in May.

International Notes: EuroBasket, Dragic, Bjelica, Satoransky, Prigioni

Europe’s largest basketball tournament will tip off Thursday morning for the first time in five years. EuroBasket 2022 will feature more than 30 NBA players, including stars such as Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Rudy Gobert.

Twenty-four teams are involved, with four nations hosting preliminary games, leading up to the gold medal contest Sept. 18 in Berlin, Germany. The tournament used to be held every two years, but it was switched to four-year intervals beginning in 2017. It was delayed an extra year because the Olympics had to be pushed back from 2020 to 2021 due to COVID-19.

Slovenia is the defending champion, with Goran Dragic earning MVP honors in 2017. He didn’t play internationally last year, but has returned to help defend the title, according to Eurohoops.

“A challenging tournament is ahead of us, which we are all looking forward to,” Dragic said. “The championship will be one of the most even ever, as most of the national teams have their strongest possible rosters. As professional athletes, we naturally prefer to play against the best. This gives us additional momentum and presents us with a great challenge. We trained well, the team is ready and we can’t wait for the opening match against Lithuania.”

A full schedule for the event, including the opening matchup between Bulgaria and Spain, is available at ESPN.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Nemanja Bjelica, who played for the Warriors last season, was left off Serbia’s EuroBasket roster because of an injured calf, per Eurohoops. Bjelica missed last week’s FIBA World Cup Qualifiers with the same injury, which he suffered in mid-August. Serbia, led by Jokic, is considered one of the top teams in the tournament even without Bjelica.
  • A final decision on Tomas Satoransky‘s availability for the Czech team won’t be announced until Thursday, sources tell Eurohoops. A health official from the Wizards, whom Satoransky ended last season with, was in Prague to help with his recovery from ligament damage to his right ankle.
  • Timberwolves assistant and former NBA guard Pablo Prigioni has been named head coach of Argentina’s national team, Eurohoops relays. “My feeling for the National Team is big, as is my commitment to this group,” Prigioni stated in a press release. “The Argentina shirt is the most important thing. We are focused, staff and players, on giving our best in the tournament that lies ahead.” His first challenge will be the AmeriCup tournament, which begins Friday in Brazil.

Central Notes: Ball, Westbrook, Turner, Mobley

The Bulls have become more optimistic about the condition of Lonzo Ball‘s injured left knee, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago said on the Bulls Talk podcast, though he cautioned that it’s still a “fluid situation.” Johnson added that it’s still impossible to determine when Ball will be ready to play, but the last two times he has checked with the team, the reports have been more positive than negative.

“I’m not saying that means he’s out there opening night. I’m not saying he’s playing all 82,” Johnson said. “What I’m saying is the skepticism that was earlier in the offseason has moved a little bit toward the optimism side.”

Ball had surgery in January for a torn meniscus and was originally expected to return before the end of the season. A bone bruise interfered with his rehab process, and there’s still not a definite timetable for him with training camp less than four weeks away.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers should aggressively pursue a Russell Westbrook trade with the Lakers, argues Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star. Doyel doesn’t expect Westbrook to become a star again in Indiana, but he says taking on the $47MM expiring contract would be worth it to get L.A.’s first-round picks in 2027 and 2029. Doyel also points to Myles Turner and Buddy Hield as the best return the Lakers are likely to get for Westbrook. Doyel adds that the value of the two first-rounders is that they can be moved in other deals to help build around Tyrese Haliburton.
  • Turner, who’s headed for free agency in 2023, is expected to want more than $20MM a year in his next contract, according to Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype. That price will affect his trade value as the Pacers look for potential deals.
  • Cavaliers associate head coach Greg Buckner calls Evan Mobley “H.O.F.” and believes he can develop into one of the best players in league history (audio link from Mat Issa of Basketball News). “Evan’s a worker, by all means,” Buckner said. “I think Evan, when it’s all said and done, will be a top-20 player [all-time], if he stays healthy.”

And-Ones: McCaw, Cole, LeBron, D. Whitehead, League Pass

Team USA isn’t filled with stars for this summer’s competition, but their absence could help players like Patrick McCaw and Norris Cole get another shot at the NBA, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. They’re part of the American team participating in the FIBA AmeriCup tournament, which begins Friday in Brazil.

“I think it’s more about representing the USA for me right now,” said McCaw, who played for three teams in five years and won championship rings in his first three NBA seasons. “I want to make it back to the NBA. I know that’s a process. And I know one day, whenever, next week, next month, next year, when it’s supposed to happen, it’ll happen. But right now, I’m just focusing on this USA, wearing these three letters, giving my all to this team and representing the United States of America.”

The odds may be even longer for Cole, who went to the NBA Finals with the Heat during his first three seasons in the league. Cole has been out of the league since 2017 and has been trying to revive his career with a long list of overseas teams.

“I still have the ability,” said Cole, who will turn 34 in October. “God has still blessed me with the ability. I still have the fire, the hunger and I still feel like I have something to prove, things that I would like to accomplish as a player. That feeling of winning a championship, the mission, the goal, the work to try to get to that point again, that’s what drives me as a competitor. And I want that feeling again.”

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • LeBron James talks to Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated about his desire to eventually play in the NBA with his teenage sons. Bronny is a high school senior and will be eligible for the draft in 2024, but Bryce is only 15 and can’t get to the league until 2027, raising questions of whether LeBron has that many years left. “I feel like I could play for quite a while,” he said. “So it’s all up to my body, but more importantly, my mind. If my mind can stay sharp and fresh and motivated, then the sky’s not even a limit for me. I can go beyond that. But we shall see.”
  • Duke’s Dariq Whitehead, projected as a top-10 pick in next year’s draft, had surgery on Tuesday for a fracture in his right foot, per Myron Medcalf of ESPN. Whitehead is out indefinitely and the school says he will return sometime “this fall.”
  • The NBA has reduced the price of League Pass by more than half for the upcoming season, according to Jacob Feldman of Yahoo. The standard price has been cut from $230 to $100, and the premium package has fallen from $280 to $130.

Heat Notes: Morris, PF Options, Herro, Haslem

The departure of Markieff Morris, who agreed to a deal with the Nets on Tuesday, means the Heat‘s revolving door at power forward will continue, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Morris and P.J. Tucker, who were free agent additions last summer, both signed elsewhere during the offseason. Winderman notes that Miami has been through eight power forwards since Bam Adebayo became the starting center in 2019/20.

Morris’ departure was virtually assured when Udonis Haslem announced last week that he was returning for a 20th season, Winderman adds. Miami will keep one roster spot open due to luxury tax concerns, so there was no room for Morris once fellow free agents Caleb Martin, Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon all reached new deals.

Martin, who is expected to replace Tucker as the starting power forward, re-signed with Miami for its full taxpayer mid-level exception and will receive $20.4MM over the next three years. He was reportedly about to get a better offer from a rival team, but he preferred to remain with the Heat. Winderman points out that if Tucker had taken the MLE, Miami’s starting point on a new deal with Martin would have been limited to the $4.1MM bi-annual exception.

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Utah’s Bojan Bogdanovic and Atlanta’s John Collins are players to watch if the Heat decide to trade for a power forward, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Jazz haven’t expressed a desire to part with Bogdanovic, but he has a $19.5MM expiring contract and could become expendable if Utah commits to rebuilding. The Hawks have explored the trade market for Collins, but he has an expensive contract that pays him more than $75MM over the next three seasons, along with a $26.6MM player option for 2025/26. Jackson doesn’t believe Miami should give up a first-round pick for either player.
  • The Knicks’ extension agreement with RJ Barrett is likely to be similar to what the Heat offer Tyler Herro if he’s not traded, Winderman adds in a separate piece. Herro is eligible for a five-year max extension worth up to $188MM, but Winderman expects his final deal to be more in line with Barrett, whose four-year deal can be worth up to $120MM if he earns several bonuses.
  • Suns star Chris Paul supports Haslem’s decision to play another season, per Joseph Zucker of Bleacher Report. “You all saw that stuff with Udonis Haslem? Y’all heard everyone talking crazy about him like, ‘Why he on the team? Why he on the team?’ Man, I’m probably his biggest fan,” Paul said to a group of high school players in Los Angeles (video link). “You want to know why? Because young guys need vets. They need somebody like UD showing up every day, if practice at 11:00, he’s probably at the gym at 8:30 every day. To motivate guys. To push guys.”

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, Beverley, Fournier

Despite frequent clashes in the past, Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley have been in contact since Beverley was acquired by the Lakers via trade from the Jazz, sources tell veteran reporter Marc Stein (Twitter link), who adds that head coach Darvin Ham has informed the two guards that he plans to utilize them together at times.

A report last week from Jovan Buha of The Athletic indicated that Beverley’s addition made Westbrook’s exit more likely, but Stein reported a few days ago that the Lakers have thus far resisted the Rockets’ approach with John Wall last season, having him sit out despite being healthy.

If that’s the case, it stands to reason that a trade would be the most viable path for L.A. to take with Westbrook’s $47.06MM expiring deal, though finding a taker will be easier said than done at the reported price point.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Steve Popper of Newsday suggests the Lakers might be interested in adding a shooter like Knicks wing Evan Fournier in a potential three-team trade between the Jazz, Knicks and Lakers that would send Donovan Mitchell to New York and Westbrook to Utah. Popper mentions Fournier because he’s been involved in trade talks for salary-matching purposes, but because it isn’t sourced, it might just be speculation on his part. Having said that, the Lakers do need shooting, and Fournier shot 38.9% from beyond the arc last season on high volume (7.7 attempts per game).
  • Could Westbrook be the missing piece in a Mitchell deal between the Jazz and Knicks? Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores that topic, floating the possibility of a three-team trade with the Lakers receiving Fournier and Cam Reddish from the Knicks and Bojan Bogdanovic from the Jazz.
  • In case you missed it, the Lakers are reportedly still interested in Reddish after trying to deal for him ahead of the deadline in February, we rounded up some Lakers rumors this morning, and recently examined their pre-camp roster situation as well.

Raptors Sign Josh Jackson To Non-Guaranteed Deal

3:00pm: Jackson’s contract is non-guaranteed, a source tells Blake Murphy of Sportsnet (Twitter link).


2:26pm: The Raptors have signed free agent swingman Josh Jackson, the team announced (via Twitter). While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, it would be surprising if Jackson received a fully guaranteed contract.

The No. 4 overall pick of the 2017 draft after one season at Kansas, Jackson has struggled to gain traction in the NBA after being a highly touted but raw prospect.

Jackson was drafted by Phoenix, where he spent his first two seasons, then was traded to Memphis in the 2019 offseason. Memphis declined the team option on the fourth year of his rookie contract, so despite being a high pick, he only spent three of a possible four years on his rookie deal.

Jackson signed a two-year, $9.77MM contract with Detroit ahead of the 2020/21 season, but his on-court results were a mixed bag. He was in and out of the Pistons’ rotation last season and was later traded to the Kings at the February deadline in the four-team deal that sent Marvin Bagley III to Detroit.

Unfortunately, Jackson played even less for Sacramento than he had for Detroit, appearing in just 12 games for a total of 123 minutes.

In 291 career games, including 92 starts (23.1 MPG), the 25-year-old holds averages of 11.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 1.8 APG on .416/.292/.680 shooting. Jackson has good size (6’8″, 207 pounds) and above-average athleticism for a wing, but struggles to score efficiently, turns the ball over a lot (two more turnovers than assists in his career), and isn’t a great defender even though he has the tools for it.

The Raptors currently have 17 players on standard deals, including 13 with fully guaranteed contracts, according to our roster count. Jackson will likely be among the group that includes Dalano Banton, Justin Champagnie and D.J. Wilson as players battling for the final spots on the 15-man roster.

Rockets To Retire Elvin Hayes’ No. 44

The Rockets will retire jersey No. 44 in honor of legendary Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes during halftime of Houston’s game against Indiana on November 18, the team announced.

Hayes, also known as “The Big E,” was a star in college for the University of Houston, averaging 31.0 points and 17.2 rebounds across his four seasons with the Cougars. The Rockets, then in San Diego, selected Hayes’ No. 1 overall in the 1968 draft, and he promptly led the league in scoring (28.4 points, plus 17.1 rebounds). He’s the last rookie to accomplish the feat.

We are thrilled to celebrate Elvin Hayes’ stellar career by retiring his jersey,” said Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta. “Elvin was the original basketball superstar in the City of Houston and has a lasting legacy with not only the NBA and the Rockets, but the University of Houston as well. We’re excited to honor Elvin and his family this November and see his jersey hang where it belongs, alongside the other legends from our franchise’s storied history.”

Hayes will become the seventh Rockets player to have his number retired, joining fellow Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, Yao Ming, Clyde Drexler, Rudy Tomjanovich, and Calvin Murphy. Hayes played alongside both Tomjanovich and Murphy on the Rockets.

Representing the Rockets and the City of Houston has meant so much to me throughout my life,” said Hayes. “Knowing that my number will stand with the other great players in franchise history is truly an honor. I want to thank Tilman and the Fertitta family, along with the Rockets organization, and most importantly the fans for the love they have shown me throughout my playing career and beyond. I look forward to celebrating this special moment with all of you in November.”

A 12-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA member, Hayes was selected as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996 and earned a berth on the 75th anniversary team last season. He started and ended his career with the Rockets, averaging 27.4 points and 16.3 boards over his first four seasons.

An incredibly durable player, he missed just nine games across 16 seasons, never playing fewer than 80 games. Hayes is one of only four players to hold career averages of at least 21 points and 12 rebounds, with the others being Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Bob Pettit, per the press release.

As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscriber link) writes, Hayes was Fertitta’s favorite player growing up and surprised Hayes last week in a meeting to inform him of the plan to celebrate the team’s 55th anniversary, which includes throwback a throwback green jersey from the San Diego days.

I am really so happy,” Hayes said. “I really, really had no idea. I went to the games. I really enjoy going to the games and visiting with the Rockets and players, working with the organization. It was really an honor when I was called, and this happened. I was just really shocked.”

Hayes will be honored the day after his 77th birthday, Feigen notes. In addition to his time with the Rockets, Hayes made three Finals appearances with the Washington Bullets, including a championship in 1978. Washington retired his No. 11 in 1981, so he’ll join a short list of players who’ve had their numbers retired by multiple teams.

Atlantic Notes: Trent, Achiuwa, Morris, Barrett

While Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Scottie Barnes look like safe bets to be part of the Raptors‘ starting lineup this fall, the fifth spot may come down to Gary Trent Jr. vs. Precious Achiuwa. And, as Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, both players will be motivated to have big years — Trent can become an unrestricted free agent next offseason if he declines his 2023/24 player option, while Achiuwa will become eligible for a rookie scale extension in 2023.

If the Raptors decide Achiuwa’s size makes him a better fit for that starting role, Trent is still capable of maintaining or improving his value while coming off the bench, Koreen argues. As a sixth man, Trent’s usage rate would likely be higher than it would be as a starter. Throw in the fact that he’ll only be 24 years old next summer and projects to be part of a playoff team, and Trent should be in line for a nice payday whether he’s a starter or a reserve in 2022/23.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Nets‘ one-year deal with Markieff Morris won’t be guaranteed, according to reports from ESPN and Brian Lewis of The New York Post. We’ll have to wait until after the signing is official to confirm whether Morris’ salary will be fully non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed — either way, he seems like a good bet to earn a regular season roster spot if he looks healthy in training camp.
  • There aren’t many NBA executives who have a “down-the-middle” take on Knicks forward RJ Barrett, according to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, who says some talent evaluators view him as a future All-Star while others question his shooting ability, his decision making, and/or his touch around the basket. Vecenie explains within his article why he’s a believer in Barrett’s long-term potential.
  • For more on Barrett’s extension and how it affects Donovan Mitchell trade talks, be sure to check out our Knicks page, which has been busy so far this week.

Montrezl Harrell’s Felony Charge Reduced To Misdemeanor

Veteran NBA big man Montrezl Harrell, who was arrested in Kentucky earlier this year on marijuana charges, had his felony trafficking charge reduced to a misdemeanor possession charge, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

If Harrell remains in good legal standing for the next 12 months, the misdemeanor charge will be removed from his record, Haynes adds. Harrell was initially charged after police found three pounds of marijuana in his vehicle during a traffic stop in Richmond, Ky.

The reduced charge is good news for Harrell, who remains unsigned nearly two months after the 2022 free agent period opened. While the 28-year-old’s production has slipped in the last couple seasons since he earned Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2020, his ongoing availability seems more about his legal situation off the court than what he can provide on the court. Now that Harrell is facing a less serious charge, he could be in position to find a new NBA home before training camps begin in September.

A seven-year veteran, Harrell appeared in 71 total games for the Wizards and Hornets in 2021/22, averaging 13.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 2.0 APG on 64.5% shooting in 23.1 minutes per contest.

The former Louisville standout is a talented scorer, but doesn’t stretch the floor on offense and isn’t a rim protector on defense, limiting his appeal to some extent. Still, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t find a spot on an NBA roster this fall.