Central Notes: Pistons, Parker, Rondo

Rumors swirled around Pistons players as the NBA’s trade deadline approached but as Thursday came and went, the Detroit roster went unchanged. Stan Van Gundy spoke with Aaron McMann of MLive about the club’s lack of activity.

Look, we’re not real happy with how we’ve played up to this point overall, but we still do have a young group,” Van Gundy said of the now 28-31 Pistons.. “And as much as you would like the progress to be steadily up hill, it’s not always. That doesn’t mean that you lose faith in your guys.”

The Pistons have struggled since starting guard Reggie Jackson returned to the lineup in early December, previously he had been recovering from a knee procedure and Ish Smith had stepped in to man the point. Over the course of the past month, Jackson’s name has been linked to the Timberwolves in a possible two- or three- team trade, potentially involving the Knicks.

You don’t want to get that deal fever where you just want to make a deal so badly that you end up making a bad one,” he said. Considering that Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, two names that came up as possible trade candidates at the deadline, are just 23 and 24 years old respectively, patience may still pay off.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Though 2014 second-overall pick Jabari Parker will miss the remainder of this season and part of next season recovering from a torn ACL, his second drastic injury in the past three seasons, the Bucks didn’t consider dealing him at the deadline, tweets Stephen Watson of WISN 12 News. “Absolutely not,” general manager John Hammond told Watson, when asked explicitly.
  • It’s not clear whether the Bulls will embrace a rebuild or continue to push to win now and the continued presence of Rajon Rondo in the lineup embodies the organization’s indirection, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes.
  • After a pair of 10-day contracts with the Hornets, former Pistons guard Ray McCallum – one of the last cut by the Pistons during training camp – is back in the D-League with Detroit’s affiliate in Grand Rapids. The point guard is averaging 17.8 points and 7.5 assists per game with the Drive so far this season.

Southeast Notes: Gordon, McGruder, Wizards

The trade that sent Serge Ibaka from the Magic to the Raptors opened an opportunity for 21-year-old forward Aaron Gordon to slide from the three to his natural position at the four, writes John Denton of the team’s official website. The third-year man is readjusting to the defensive responsibilities of the power forward position.

I need to become a better shot-blocker because I missed plenty of opportunities where I could have at least altered shots,” the Magic big man said of his first game back at power forward on Thursday night. “I was unsure of the timing, when to go and my positioning on the court.

Previously the Magic had been using Gordon as a perimeter defender charged with the task of checking the opposing team’s best scorer. “I’m used to not over-helping and over-committing because I’m usually guarding the best player on the floor,” Gordon said. “Now, that’s not the case and I have the leniency to go help and block shots.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Undrafted rookie Rodney McGruder is making a name for himself as a scrappy, pest of a player, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. The forward has played a substantial role on a Heat team that has done nothing but exceed expectations this season. “He’s always head first, nose first into everything,”  teammate Wayne Ellington said. “He makes it hard for guys when he frustrates guys.
  • Backup center Willie Reed is day-to-day with ankle bursitis and didn’t travel with the team for Sunday’s matchup with the Mavs. With Reed out, the Heat will turn to veteran Udonis Haslem or an out-of-position James Jones to handle duties at the five, says Winderman in a separate piece for the Sun-Sentinel.
  • The Wizards have some adjustments to make with offseason acquisition Ian Mahinmi back in the lineup and newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovic still settling in, writes J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. “We’re trying to find some consistency,” said head coach Scott Brooks. “Getting Ian back, hopefully we can get him back to a stretch of games where he can play and build a chemistry with the group he’s out there with. Now Bojan so we can have him out there with that group. It’s consistency and understanding where we can get some points. I got to try to figure out what’s the best minute-wise and who plays and the matchups.

Northwest Division: Rubio, Jazz, Exum

Although there was plenty of speculation that Ricky Rubio could be on the move, the Timberwolves didn’t end up parting ways with the sixth-year veteran. According to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, the 26-year-old hasn’t let the rumors impact his game.

Nothing happened, rightLife goes on,” the point guard told Zgoda. In the Timberwolves’ first game since the Thursday deadline, Rubio has dropped consecutive double-doubles.

Teammate Karl-Anthony Towns cites Rubio’s presence in the locker room as an asset for the young Timberwolves. “Ricky is a big part of our team,” Towns said. “Not even from just a skill and leader standpoint. But just morale. Just seeing him in the locker room lifts us up.

The Timberwolves currently sit three games back of the Western Conference’s eight-seed and have publicly said as recently as this month that they’re committed to making the playoffs. Holding on to Rubio, as opposed to turning over the offense to rookie Kris Dunn or reserve Tyus Jones, may help them get there.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets should target Jazz forward Gordon Hayward and be happy that they didn’t land Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins, writes Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. Kiszla suggests that the club could pursue Hayward as a replacement for pending free agent Danilo Gallinari.
  • Despite having to master a new playbook in the middle of a season and pack enough items to live off of in a new city, the newly acquired Thunder players brought over in Oklahoma City’s Thursday deal are adjusting just fine. “They have a great culture here that they’ve built, starting at the top,” Doug McDermott told Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman. “It makes it really easy for guys like me and Taj Gibson to fit in.
  • The Jazz held off on tweaking their roster at the trade deadline for fear of messing with their team chemistry. The front office wants to see what the roster is capable of when fully healthy, tweets Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune.
  • Count Jazz guard Dante Exum as one Landmark Sports Agency client that will stay with the firm despite Rob Pelinka‘s decision to accept a position as general manager of the Lakers. The guard trusts Pelinka’s people, tweets Andy Larsen of KSL.
  • The Trail Blazers weren’t very active on Thursday, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. “The phones went pretty dead,” general manager Neil Oshey told him. The forward-thinking Blazers did, of course, add Jusuf Nurkic in the days leading up to the deadline, the general manager explained to Cody Sharrett of the team’s official website.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 2/26/17

Here are the D-League transactions for Sunday:

Hoops Links: Lin, Wade, Cousins, Noel

On Sundays, we link to some of the very best work from around the basketball blogosphere. Do you have a link to a great basketball blog post – either your own or someone else’s – that you want to see featured on Hoops Rumors? Send it to us at [email protected]. Here’s this week’s rundown:

Hawks Waive Lamar Patterson

The Hawks have waived Lamar Patterson, according to a team press release. Atlanta and Patterson agreed to the release in order to allow Patterson to tend to a personal matter.

The team recently signed Patterson to a two-year deal, though his contract only was partially guaranteed. The team also signed Ryan Kelly, a move which brought the team’s roster count to 15 players, as the team’s depth chart at Roster Resource indicates. After waiving, Patterson, the team’s roster is at 14 players, which means Atlanta has the ability to examine the buyout market in search of a possible contributor.

Patterson played 40 games for the Hawks over the last two seasons. He’s averaging 2.3 points in 10.9 minutes per game.

 

Cavaliers Notes: James, Smith, Williams

LeBron James claims that he “always felt good” about the Cavaliers‘ roster this season, though he admitted that he feels better now about the team than he did in January., Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes.

“Had nothing to do about exactly the team, it was just the way we were playing,” James recently said. “I’ve always felt good about the team. Coming into the season, even in January I felt good about our team, but you know it’s just about the way we were playing. So now I feel really good about the way we’re playing right now, and coach Lue has a pretty good handle for what he would like us to do on the court.”

The 4-time MVP has been critical of the front office this season, battling with ownership over payroll concerns and demanding outside help in the form of a playmaker. Just last month, he called the roster “top heavy” and exclaimed that this year’s squad was worse than the team that won the championship last season. The team has since added Derrick Williams via 10-day deal and it plans on adding Deron Williams on Monday. LBJ appears happy with with the team’s moves.

“Listen the only thing that matters is the guys on the court and the guys who come to work every day,” James said. “The moves will be made by our GM and things of that nature. Coaching staff is ready to put the guys on the floor, so that’s my concern, that’s my mindset right now. Getting this team geared up for the postseason and we want to continue to play good ball.”

Here’s more from The Land:

  • Kyle Korver knows Deron Williams from their time together in Utah and he believes Williams will be a great fit for the Cavs, Vardon writes in a separate piece“He wants to be a part of an opportunity to win a championship,” Korver said of Williams. “And just being here the whole time I’ve been here, and just seeing where there are some of the holes, or not holes, but where we can be better and knowing who he is and his skill set, I think it’s an incredible fit. He’s a guy that can play with the ball, he can play off the ball. He’s a good shooter, he’s a smart player. He can switch on defense, he’s a bigger body. I just think he’s a really good fit all around.”
  • The Cavs were interested in adding Williams during the 2015 offseason when the point guard agreed to a buyout with the Nets, Vardon adds in that same piece. Williams opted to join Dallas over coming to Cleveland.
  • While there’s no official date for J.R. Smith‘s return to the court, the team is optimistic about his recovery from a thumb injury, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays. “He seems to be doing very well. I’d say he’s on schedule, maybe slightly ahead of schedule,” GM David Griffin said.
  • Earlier today, we learned that Andrew Bogut is expected to join the Cavs once he reaches a buyout agreement with the Sixers.

Andrew Bogut Expected To Join Cavaliers

Andrew Bogut is expected to join the Cavaliers once he reaches a buyout agreement with the Sixers, sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Cleveland is expected to add Deron Williams on Monday and it currently has only one open roster spot, so the team will need to make a corresponding move should it plan to add both players.

Bogut was sent to Philadelphia as part of the Nerlens Noel trade, but he hasn’t reported to the team. He must be waived before Wednesday’s deadline in order to be eligible for postseason play, per league rules. He has spoken to Sixer coach Brett Brown, explaining his desire to play for a championship contender and a buyout agreement is considered likely.

Cleveland is among the five teams which reportedly reached out to Bogut’s representatives. The Spurs, Rockets, Celtics and Jazz were also interested in adding the Australian big man.

Bogut has battled injuries this season, but when he’s healthy, he remains one of the better interior defenders in the league. ESPN’s Real Defensive Plus/Minus ranks him as the second-best center in the league on defensive this season.

Lakers Notes: Ball, Magic, Ennis, Russell

Lonzo Ball’s father has clarified comments that indicated his son wouldn’t play for any team but the Lakers, according to ESPN.com. LaVar Ball said Saturday in a radio interview that he wants Lonzo to be drafted by L.A. and would discourage other teams from taking him. But he toned down those remarks in a later interview. “All I said was that my boy is going to play for the Lakers, and I’m going to speak it into existence,” LaVar Ball told ESPN Saturday night. “I want him to be a Laker, but I wasn’t saying he’s only going to play for the Lakers.” Lonzo Ball is a star guard at UCLA and is projected to be one of the first players drafted. The Lakers are currently third in our Reverse Standings, but their pick will be conveyed to the Sixers if they drop out of the top three.

There’s more today from Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers needed the fresh start they got by putting Magic Johnson in charge of the organization, contends Bill Heisler of The Orange County Register. He says there is plenty of shared blame for the team’s sorry state, including deceased former owner Jerry Buss, who hired Mike D’Antoni as coach in 2013 instead of Phil Jackson; Jim Buss, who hired Mike Brown as coach; Jeanie Buss, who gave Kobe Bryant a $55MM extension for his final two seasons; and former GM Mitch Kupchak, who handed out huge free agent deals to Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng last summer.
  • The Lakers are the latest team to give an opportunity to former first-round pick Tyler Ennis, writes Joey Kaufman of The Orange County Register. L.A. acquired the 22-year-old point guard Thursday in a deal with Houston, where he had only seen 6.3 minutes per night in 31 games. It marked the third time Ennis has been traded since being drafted by the Suns in 2014. “It’s too early right now,” coach Luke Walton said when asked about Ennis’ role in L.A. “We definitely want to get him out there and give him some opportunities and some chances.” Playing time may open up for Ennis if the Lakers go through with a rumored buyout with veteran point guard Jose Calderon.
  • With Johnson taking over the front office and Rob Pelinka hired as the new general manager, there’s a fresh sense of urgency surrounding the organization, according to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. D’Angelo Russell described the feeling as like coming to a new team.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Pelicans, Noel, Williams

The pressure is rising in New Orleans after losses in DeMarcus Cousins‘ first two games with the Pelicans, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Many observers anointed New Orleans as the favorite to grab the West’s eighth playoff spot after Monday’s trade, but the Pelicans were embarrassed Thursday at home by the Rockets, then faded late in Saturday’s loss at Dallas. They are now 3 1/2 games behind the Nuggets for the eighth spot with 23 games remaining. Cousins had a spectacular game in his debut with 27 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, five steals and four blocks, but scored 12 points on just nine shots last night.

Pelicans commentator David Wesley says Cousins and Anthony Davis haven’t figured out how to co-exist on the court. “Right now, the spacing of the floor is not there,” Wesley said during Saturday’s game. “And with DeMarcus, Anthony, whoever is on the block that’s trying to operate, there are no lanes to operate with. There are no spaces right now to drive the basketball for the guards or the perimeter players. And they’re going to have to figure that out. This is [the] team they have.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Depth at the wing positions could be a problem in New Orleans for the rest of the season, notes Justin Verrier of ESPN.com. The trade for Cousins sent Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway to Sacramento, and Omri Casspi, who was acquired from the Kings, broke his right thumb in his first game and has been released. The Pelicans will have to get by with temporary acquisitions like Reggie Williams, who signed a 10-day contract Saturday.
  • The Mavericks were ecstatic with their first look at Nerlens Noel, who was acquired Thursday in a trade with the Sixers, relays Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. Noel, who hasn’t practiced yet with his new team, came off the bench Saturday with nine points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes. Dallas views the 22-year-old center as one of its building blocks, even though he will probably be used in a reserve role for the rest of the season. “Noel’s going to be the starting center here,” Carlisle said about Noel’s future role. “I do think he’ll get some starts this year. I just can’t tell you when or how frequently or exactly how it’s going to go. That’s the truth.”
  • Picking up Lou Williams from the Lakers shows the Rockets are serious about contending for a title this season, writes Fran Blinebury of NBA.com.
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