Month: January 2023

And-Ones: Napier, All-Star Bonuses, Trade Proposals, Biggest Needs

Former NBA guard Shabazz Napier has signed with Olimpia Milano for the remainder of the season, according to a team press release. Coach Ettore Messina said Napier will be thrown into the fray immediately against Baskonia, Allesandro Maggi of Sportando relays.

“Shabazz Napier had just one team practice, but we will use him, hoping for some minutes in a position where we need them badly,” he said.

Napier last appeared in the NBA during the 2019/20 season, when he played a combined 56 games for Minnesota and Washington.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Several NBA players could cash in if they’re selected as All-Star reserves, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. Among that group, the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown will earn a $1.5MM bonus if he’s chosen and also appears in 65 regular season games (he has missed six games so far). The Bucks’ Jrue Holiday will collect $324K if he’s chosen, while the Kings’ Domantas Sabonis will receive $1.3MM if he’s selected. The Knicks’ Julius Randle will get an additional $1.2MM if he gets the nod.
  • What are some of the bold moves that playoff contenders could make to improve their chances of success? The Ringer’s Michael Pina explores potential trades that could make the Suns, Clippers, Thunder, Lakers and Pelicans better.
  • The Bulls and Hawks need 3-point shooting.  The Nuggets need defensive help and the Warriors require a stretch wing. The Athletic’s staff runs down the biggest need for every team as the trade deadline approaches.

Southwest Notes: Finney-Smith, Poeltl, Porter Jr., Pelicans

Dorian Finney-Smith signed a four-year extension last season, which ensured financial security. That commitment from the Mavericks doesn’t mean he’ll still be wearing the team’s uniform after this year’s trade deadline. He told The Dallas Morning News’ Callie Caplan that the fact other teams might want him means they recognize his contributions.

“It’s one of those things that I created value in this league,” the Mavericks forward said. “That’s a good thing, but other teams, the organization, got to do what’s best for them. They’re not always going to make the best decisions in your favor.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Jakob Poeltl is one of the hot names on the trade market, but the Spurs don’t necessarily need to trade the impending free agent, Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News notes. Poeltl has said multiple times in recent months he would love to stay in San Antonio and the Spurs have plenty of cap flexibility this summer. They’ll also be on the upswing with the addition of high lottery pick and Poeltl’s skills blend well with any star-level talent.
  • Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr., who will miss his 10th consecutive game on Wednesday, isn’t close to returning, according to Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle. Porter has not begun any basketball activities and doesn’t have a timetable. While the injury has been described as a left foot contusion, his left big toe is the issue. “It’s just irritated. It’s something to do with my joint, but it’ll be fine,” Porter said. “We’ve just been taking it a day at a time, really.”
  • The Pelicans shouldn’t feel pressured to make a move before the trade deadline, Will Guillory of The Athletic opines. Their top players have not seen much court action together due to injuries and they still have a long way to go to develop the chemistry and cohesion they’ll need in the playoffs. With the salary commitments they already have, they should continue building internally with their assets, Guillory adds.

Ben McLemore To Sign With Chinese Team

Ben McLemore has agreed to a one-year contract with the Shandong Heroes of the Chinese Basketball Association, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets.

McLemore spent the past nine seasons in the NBA but there’s been little news regarding the veteran shooting guard since he became a free agent in the offseason. He participated in a free agent workout with the Warriors in September but obviously didn’t get signed by them or any other NBA squad.

McLemore spent most of last season in the Trail Blazers’ rotation, averaging 10.2 points in 20.1 minutes while appearing in 62 games.

The seventh overall pick of the 2013 draft, McLemore has 556 NBA games on his resume, with stops in Sacramento, Memphis, Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers as well as Portland. He’s averaged 9.0 points in 22.5 minutes during his career while making 36.3% of his 3-point attempts.

Western Notes: Lee, Fox, McNair, Ayton, Hyland

Suns point guard Saben Lee is “grateful” for the opportunity the organization gave him, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Lee’s second 10-day contract with Phoenix expired on Monday, so the team must now offer him a rest-of-the-season contract if it wants to keep him.

Lee has appeared in 10 games with the Suns, averaging 7.0 points and 3.3 assists in 17.3 minutes. “It’s been really good,” Lee said. “Being able to make strides on and off the court. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here the past 20 days. Able to get a good amount of playing time as well.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Guard De’Aaron Fox is pleased the Kings reached a three-year contract extension with GM Monte McNair, he told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. “It’s great. Just to have consistency throughout the organization, you want that to be the last thing you’re worried about is no extension,” Fox said. “Just from top to bottom, I feel like everybody wants to know that they have a little bit of security. I feel like you do your job better when you’re secure.”
  • Suns center Deandre Ayton could be a long-term trade target for the Mavericks, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said on the Lowe Post podcast (hat tip to Hoops Hype). “He’s a name that I’ve heard around the Mavericks,” MacMahon said. “And again, I think that would have to be a later than right now type of situation.”
  • Nuggets backup guard Bones Hyland has been mentioned in trade rumors recently. He told TheDNVR.com’s Harrison Wind that he’s oblivious to the chatter. “I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me at all,” Hyland said. “I don’t pay no mind to it. Whatever happens, happens.”

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Warren, Mazzulla, Celtics’ Targets, Barnes

Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said Ben Simmons is “showing signs of progress” regarding his left knee soreness, according to Mark Sanchez of the New York Post. However, Simmons will miss his third consecutive game when the team faces Boston on Wednesday, ESPN’s Nick Friedell tweets. Forward T.J. Warren (left shin contusion) will also miss his third straight contest.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla, a little-known assistant when training camp approached, will now coach in the All-Star Game, the league’s PR department tweets. Boston’s interim head coach and his staff will coach Team Giannis, thanks to Boston’s Eastern Conference-leading record.
  • Could the Celtics target Mason Plumlee, P.J. Washington or even bring back Kelly Olynyk for a second stint? The Athletic’s Jay King examines some of the frontcourt trade options the franchise might explore.
  • While the Raptors may be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline, their star second-year forward Scottie Barnes — who isn’t going anywhere — continues to shine, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes. Warriors coach Steve Kerr compare Barnes to Draymond Green. “Guys like that have a feel for the game. They have a sense of what’s happening on the floor seemingly before the other nine people out there,” Kerr said. “That’s why I enjoy watching Barnes play. For a young guy, he has a great feel for the game.”

Matt Thomas Signs With Panathinaikos

Greek team Panathinaikos has signed veteran sharpshooter Matt Thomas through the 2023/24 season, the club announced in a press release.

Thomas, 28, spent last season with the Bulls, appearing in 40 games and averaging 4.0 PPG and 1.3 RPG on .410/.385/.800 shooting. The former Iowa State standout also played for the Raptors and Jazz from 2019-21, appearing in 126 total NBA regular season contests and making 40.4% of his three-pointers during that time.

As good a shooter as Thomas is, he had a hard time earning regular rotation minutes in the NBA due to his limitations as a ball-handler and defender. He began his professional career by spending two seasons in Europe from 2017-19, but this will be his first time playing in the Greek League.

Panathinaikos, which also competes in the EuroLeague, has no shortage of NBA players on its roster, including swingman Dwayne Bacon and former lottery picks Derrick Williams and Georgios Papagiannis. The team is looking to bounce back and move up the standings following an 8-13 start in EuroLeague play.

Pistons Granted Disabled Player Exception

The Pistons have been granted a disabled player exception due to Cade Cunningham‘s season-ending injury, reports James L. Edwards II of The Athletic (Twitter link). The former No. 1 overall pick underwent surgery in December to address a left tibial stress fracture.

A disabled player exception grants an over-the-cap team some extra spending power when it loses a player to an injury deemed more likely than not to sideline him through at least June 15.

The exception is worth either half the injured player’s salary or the value of the mid-level exception, whichever is lesser. In this case, Cunningham’s salary for 2022/23 is $10,552,800, so Detroit’s DPE will be worth $5,276,400.

As we explain in our glossary entry, the disabled player exception can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. The exception can only be used on a single player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.

Although the disabled player exception gives a team extra cap flexibility, it doesn’t open up an extra spot on the 15-man roster. The club must have a roster spot available to use the DPE to add a player.

Teams had until January 15 to apply for disabled player exceptions, so if a player suffers a season-ending injury anytime between now and the end of the season, a DPE won’t be available for his club. The Pistons – and any other team with a disabled player exception – will have until March 10 to use their DPE.

L.A. Notes: LeBron, T. Bryant, Lakers, Conley, Clippers

After missing Monday’s game in Brooklyn due to left foot/ankle soreness, Lakers star LeBron James has been listed as questionable to play on Tuesday in New York, tweets Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

While that status indicates that his availability for tonight remains up in the air, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link) that LeBron will play against the Knicks. He’s just 117 points away from catching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • While his production fell off last week with Anthony Davis back, Lakers center Thomas Bryant showed on Monday that he remains a crucial – and highly effective – insurance policy, scoring 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting with Davis unavailable, Turner writes for The Los Angeles Times. “I’m willing to do whatever the team needs me to do in order to win,” Bryant said. “Whether that’s coming off the bench, I’m with it. Or if that’s starting, I’m ready as well.”
  • Now that the Lakers have traded away their 2029 second-round pick, Eric Pincus of Sports Business Classroom considers how the team could add protections to their 2029 first-round pick if it’s traded this season. Protections aren’t allowed to be added to picks beyond seven years, so if the Lakers trade their 2029 first-rounder with protections at February’s deadline, they won’t be able to include language that pushes it to 2030.
  • ESPN’s Tim MacMahon is the latest reporter to throw cold water on the idea of the Clippers acquiring point guard Mike Conley from the Jazz. After Jake Fischer reported last week that the idea of the Clips landing Conley was probably “unrealistic,” MacMahon said on an episode of The Lowe Post podcast that it’s unlikely to happen because L.A. is reluctant to give up a first-round pick. “If they are (going to give up a first-rounder) for a point guard, I think it’s more likely (Fred) VanVleet than it is for Conley,” MacMahon said (hat tip to Scott Polacek of Bleacher Report).
  • It took some time for the Clippers‘ star combo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to hit their stride this season, but the pairing is finally paying dividends, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. The team had won five straight games before Leonard and George sat out the second half of a back-to-back set on Sunday. L.A. won’t have another back-to-back until March.

Sixers Notes: Trade Deadline, Fultz, Niang, Milton

The Sixers are hoping to land a reliable backup center before next week’s trade deadline, sources tell Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed have been filling that role, but Harrell hasn’t been strong defensively and the coaching staff doesn’t fully trust Reed, according to Neubeck.

Neubeck states that the front office is willing to add another big man even if it can’t get rid of Harrell or Reed in the same deal. He mentions former Sixer Andre Drummond, whom the Bulls are reportedly open to trading, as an example of the type of traditional center the team wants to acquire.

Several teams have contacted the Timberwolves about Naz Reid, but Neubeck doesn’t expect him to be an option for Philadelphia. He also says the decision could wait for the buyout market, although it could be tough to find a long-term solution who’s content to be a backup for Embiid.

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Furkan Korkmaz, Danuel House and Jaden Springer are the best candidates to be moved in the type of deals the Sixers are considering, Neubeck adds. He hears from sources that Matisse Thybulle would likely be included in a “higher-end” trade, with the Kings among several teams that have shown interest in the fourth-year guard. Shake Milton, who’s headed for free agency after the season, could be useful as a trade sweetener, according to Neubeck.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz had 12 points and 10 assists Monday night while playing his first game in Philadelphia since being traded to Orlando in 2019, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers had hoped Fultz would be part of their foundation after drafting him first overall in 2017, but a combination of injuries and shooting difficulties led to him playing just 33 combined games in his two seasons with the team. “I’ve always been a big fan,” Embiid said of his former teammate. “When we traded him, I was disappointed because I felt like we were giving up on him too early.”
  • Georges Niang and Milton believe too much was made about an on-court argument they had during Saturday’s nationally televised game, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Niang was upset about not getting a pass from Milton on a two-on-one break, but they both joked about the incident afterward. “I just told both of them to let it go, that we had a [expletive] game to win,” Embiid said. “I think it’s also good for the team, not a bad thing. Guys get into each other, that makes us better. … After the game, we’re all laughing.”

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:

Rookies:

Sophomores:

G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.