Aaron Gordon

Amick’s Latest: J. Collins, OKC, Pistons, Cavs, Kings, Nuggets

It will be worth keeping an eye on John Collins‘ situation with the Hawks as next month’s trade deadline approaches, says Sam Amick of The Athletic. The two sides were unable to reach a contract extension agreement prior to the season, with Atlanta reportedly offering $90MM+ while Collins viewed himself as a max player.

Given the gap in negotiations and Collins’ upcoming restricted free agency, a deal could make sense — sources tell Amick that the Hawks have shown a willingness to listen to offers for the big man. However, the 23-year-old, who is averaging 18.5 PPG and 7.8 RPG on .559/.407/.841 shooting in 24 games (31.9 MPG), has been a major part of Atlanta’s success so far this season. The club has a +6.0 net rating when he’s on the court, compared to -11.0 when he’s not, per NBA.com.

Since the Hawks badly want to make the playoffs this season and Collins has been so crucial to keeping them in the hunt, an in-season trade may be unlikely, according to Amick, who notes that Atlanta may end up having to decide what to do with the young power forward in the offseason, when his contract expires.

Here’s more from Amick:

  • The Thunder, Pistons, and Cavaliers are among the teams expected to be “open for business” as potential trade deadline sellers, though their most promising young players will be off limits, sources tell Amick. A 5-10 start to the season had the Kings looking like probable sellers too, but they’ve bounced back and are very much in the playoff hunt. A source with knowledge of the team’s thinking tells The Athletic that Sacramento hasn’t ruled out being a deadline buyer.
  • If the Kings do sell, Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, and Nemanja Bjelica will be among the players to monitor. Barnes is known to be on the Celtics‘ radar, while the Sixers – who have long been tied to Hield – are also considering Bjelica, says Amick.
  • After bowing out of the James Harden sweepstakes last month, the Nuggets are focused on in-house improvements. Michael Porter Jr.‘s development will be crucial to that process, per Amick, who notes that the temptation to move Porter for a more proven veteran will always be there until he takes another leap. Amick identifies Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, and Aaron Gordon as some impact players who could pique Denver’s interest, though he cautions that rival executives don’t expect them to be available at this season’s deadline.

And-Ones: Vaccines, Ball, Trade Candidates, Defenders, All-Star Voting

In an effort to alleviate players’ – and some coaches’ – fears and skepticism about receiving COVID-19 vaccines, the NBA is arranging mandatory meetings over the next two weeks between its top medical expert and all 30 teams, Sam Amick, Joe Vardon and David Aldridge of The Athletic report. Teams felt there was a need to provide information and insight on this issue to its players.

The NBA wants everyone associated with the game — players, coaches, referees and chief front office personnel — to get the shots, not only for safety reasons but also as part of a national volunteering-public relations campaign.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • LaMelo Ball ranks as the leading candidate for the Rookie of the Year award, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. The Hornets guard ranks first in assists and steals, second in rebounding and third in scoring among all rookies despite coming off the bench in all but two games. Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton sits in second place for Wasserman, who ranks the rookies from 10-1.
  • With Wizards guard Bradley Beal apparently off the market, there won’t be another blockbuster trade this season to rival the James Harden deal, Tim Bontemps of ESPN opines. Some of the players who could be moved by March’s trade deadline are Lonzo BallJ.J. Redick, P.J. Tucker, George Hill, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, though Hill and Gordon are currently injured.
  • Rudy Gobert‘s contract with the Jazz is a rare case in which a defensive stalwart is compensated like a elite scorer, Aldridge notes in a separate Athletic story. Aldridge takes a closer look at why top defenders are generally not as valued as scorers.
  • Kevin Durant has received the most All-Star votes in the early returns, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Beal is the top vote-getter among Eastern Conference guards. LeBron James has the most votes among Western Conference forwards and Stephen Curry leads all Western Conference guards by a wide margin.

Aaron Gordon Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks With Ankle Injury

Magic forward Aaron Gordon has been diagnosed with a severe left ankle sprain and is expected to be sidelined for the next four to six weeks, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Gordon suffered the injury during the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to Toronto when he rolled the ankle while bringing the ball up the court. He was seen on crutches after the game.

While Gordon didn’t sustain a fracture, it’s still terrible news for a Magic team that has already been hit hard this season by injuries. Jonathan Isaac won’t play at all in 2020/21 due to a torn ACL and Markelle Fultz was limited to eight games before suffering an identical season-ending ACL tear.

Evan Fournier, Michael Carter-Williams, and Chuma Okeke have also missed time due to injuries, while Al-Farouq Aminu hasn’t been able to play at all as he continues to recover from a knee issue. With Gordon, Isaac, Aminu, and Okeke all currently on the shelf, Orlando will have to lean heavily on Gary Clark and Khem Birch at the power forward spot.

The Magic currently sit at No. 12 in the East with an 8-13 record. Without Gordon and so many other players available, they’ll be hard-pressed to make a run and push their way back up the standings in the coming weeks.

Southeast Notes: Fournier, Gordon, Anthony, Adebayo, Westbrook

The rookie scale extensions handed to Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac could impact the futures of Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon with the Magic, Josh Robbins of The Athletic opines. Fournier is entering his walk year and with the money expended on Fultz and Isaac, it would be tough for the club to re-sign Fournier and remain under the luxury tax, Robbins notes. Gordon and Isaac are best suited as power forwards, so when Isaac returns from his knee injury after this season, Gordon is likely to be dealt, Robbins adds.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • In a separate piece, Robbins examines how various players on the Magic saw their stock drop or fall during training camp. Notably, rookies Cole Anthony and Chuma Okeke saw their stock rise as members of the second unit in preseason games.
  • The Heat locked up Bam Adebayo with a five-year max extension last month. The big money won’t make Adebayo stop looking for ways to improve his game, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “Just because I got money doesn’t mean that I got complacent,” Adebayo said.
  • There’s a feeling of familiarity for Russell Westbrook with the Wizards, starting with his former coach with the Thunder, Scott Brooks, Michael Lee of The Washington Post writes. Westbrook is seeking a comfort zone while playing for his third organization in as many seasons. “Really, it’s just being at peace,” Donnell Beverly, Westbrook’s business partner, told Lee. “I don’t think that’s where he’s been the last few years. I don’t think he’s been at peace.”

Southeast Notes: Capela, Rondo, Beal, Gordon

The Hawks had to wait a long time for their first glimpse of new center Clint Capela, but he seems ready to provide what they’re expecting, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Capela was acquired all the way back at the trade deadline in February, but he wasn’t able to play because of a heel injury that lingered into the summer. In Friday’s preseason opener, he showed he can still be a force on the boards, grabbing 14 rebounds in 20 minutes.

“That’s one of those things that you know is an area of concern. … And that’s going to be big for us,” said coach Lloyd Pierce, whose team ranked near the bottom of the league in rebounding last season. “That’s going to be really big for us because we can teach him some of our thoughts on what we like to do when we get offensive rebounds, to create extra possessions and extra opportunities, it’s going to be huge.”

Capela is a welcome sight for teammate John Collins, who can spend more time at his natural position of power forward after being used in the middle frequently last year. Collins likes playing beside a shot blocker who can anchor the defense.

“As soon as he steps on the court, he adds a defensive presence,” Collins said. “His rebounding, his experience. Clint’s not a quiet guy on the court, he’s trying to direct traffic and lead and let guys know where they are, so I feel like that’s very valuable in the long term.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Rajon Rondo‘s decision to join the rebuilding Hawks makes him the oldest player on his team for the first time in his career, notes Kevin L. Chouinard of NBA.com. Two months removed from helping the Lakers win an NBA title, Rondo steps into a new role of being a veteran leader on a young squad. “Trae Young, John (Collins), Kevin Huerter, the young guys have an extreme amount of upside,” he said. “To me, honestly, I didn’t think the East was very tough this year as far as the talent. I think it was kind of up for grabs as far as which team would prevail to the top. As you’ve seen, anything can happen in the playoffs.”
  • Bradley Beal isn’t concerned about how new backcourt partner Russell Westbrook meshed with his previous star teammates, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. He said their relationship has been “smooth sailing” since the trade that brought Westbrook to the Wizards last week. “I’m easy to adapt to,” Beal said. “I’m not going to come in and say I need this shot, I need the ball here or there. Doesn’t matter. As long as we are all incorporated within offense and everybody’s eating, we’re good.”
  • Magic forward Aaron Gordon is starting the preseason on a minutes limit as he recovers from a hamstring injury he suffered during the restart, writes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Gordon played 16 minutes in Friday’s opener, all in the first half.

Magic Notes: Bamba, Gordon, MCW, Bacon

The Magic announced earlier this week that Mohamed Bamba hasn’t been cleared for contact drills, with head coach Steve Clifford suggesting that the big man was still “a ways away” from being 100%. However, in a conversation with Josh Robbins of The Athletic, Bamba said he’s feeling healthy after a bout with COVID-19 earlier in the year.

“I haven’t felt any symptoms since the summer — in fact, June,” Bamba said. “But we all know that it takes a toll on conditioning, and I just want everybody to know that I’m working my ass off to get back in peak shape. I think I’m getting pretty close. Literally every day is valuable towards this. But definitely, I’ve been working.”

Bamba went on to say that he can’t predict exactly when he’ll be back on the court, since the Magic “don’t necessarily do timelines.” However, he added that he’s working to return as soon as possible and appreciates that the organization is being cautious with his health.

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Several teams – as many as 10, and maybe even more than that – called the Magic during the offseason to show interest in trading for Aaron Gordon, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. While we don’t know the full list of potential suitors for Gordon, Lowe confirms that the Timberwolves were among the teams to inquire, as was previously reported. Orlando ultimately decided to hang onto the veteran forward, whom Lowe still believes in as a potential breakout candidate.
  • Michael Carter-Williams, who played for six teams in his first six NBA seasons, drew interest from other clubs this offseason, but wanted to return to the Magic since he feels like he’s found a home in Orlando, writes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. “It is great to have some stability for myself, not only for myself but my family as well,” Carter-Williams said. “We can start to build a little routine and get comfortable.”
  • Dwayne Bacon called it “a blessing” to join the Magic and is looking forward to being reunited with Steve Clifford, Steve Hetzel, and Bruce Kreutzer, who coached him during his rookie season in Charlotte. “I know as long as I’m here they’re going to push me, and they’re going to do and tell me whatever it takes to get to where I want to be and to where they want me to be,” Bacon said, per Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com.

Wolves Rumors: Hernangomez, Edwards, Rubio, Beasley

Timberwolves restricted free agent forward Juan Hernangomez initially sought an offer in excess of $10MM per year, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Unwilling to meet that price right off the bat, the Wolves “essentially told” Hernangomez to prove he could get an offer from another club while they went looking for possible alternatives at power forward, writes Krawczynski.

Minnesota ended up reaching out to a number forwards in free agency, including Derrick Jones (as previously outlined), Paul Millsap, Jae Crowder, and JaMychal Green, and inquired on possible trades involving Magic forward Aaron Gordon, Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, and Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr., sources tell Krawczynski.

The Timberwolves didn’t have any luck with any of those potential targets, but held firm on their offer to Hernangomez, who mulled the possibility of accepting the one-year qualifying offer worth $4.64MM, per Krawczynski. Ultimately, the two sides came to an agreement on a three-year, $21MM deal that has a third-year team option.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • The Timberwolves chose Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 pick last week because they believe he has the clearest path of any of this year’s draft-eligible prospects to becoming a multi-time All-Star, says Krawczysnki.
  • Sources tell The Athletic that the team’s acquisition of Ricky Rubio was partly motivated by seeing what the veteran point guard did for Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker at his previous stops and a belief that he’ll aid Edwards’ development.
  • The Knicks told Malik Beasley he’d be their Plan B in free agency if they couldn’t land Gordon Hayward, according to Krawczynski. Recognizing that New York could be a threat to put forth a troublesome offer sheet, the Wolves went in with an aggressive pitch on the opening night of free agency and secured a commitment from Beasley on the spot. Sources tell The Athletic that Beasley has appreciated the support he’s received from the franchise since running into off-court legal problems.
  • The Timberwolves officially announced Beasley’s new deal today. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) has the year-by-year financial breakdown of that contract, which guarantees the swingman $43MM+ over three years.

Rockets, Magic Discussed Russell Westbrook Trade

The Rockets talked to the Magic about a deal involving Russell Westbrook, but the teams weren’t able to make any progress, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The trade would have included a package from Orlando with Aaron Gordon as the centerpiece.

Houston has been searching for a taker for Westbrook, who reportedly asked to be dealt after one season with the team. Rumors have focused on the Knicks, Hornets and Wizards, but the Rockets have seen a limited market for the former MVP. His contract, with $132MM remaining over three seasons, has been an impediment, along with his age and history of injuries.

The Magic have been exploring deals involving Gordon, who has two years left on his contract at about $34.5MM. The 25-year-old is an explosive dunker, but hasn’t developed into the player Orlando was expecting when it drafted him fourth overall in 2014. His scoring average dipped for the second straight season in 2019/20, falling to 14.4 PPG, and he shot just 43.7% from the field.

Southeast Notes: Gordon, Magic, Hawks, Heat

Before the Trail Blazers reached an agreement with Houston to acquire Robert Covington in exchange for Trevor Ariza, this year’s No. 16 pick, and a protected 2021 first-round selection, Portland used similar assets to attempt to acquire Aaron Gordon from the Magic, according to Mitch Lawrence of SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link), who says Orlando didn’t bite.

Gordon is believed to be available, with one recent report suggesting the Magic are attempting to move up in the draft by attaching the forward to the No. 15 pick. However, it makes sense that Orlando would be lukewarm on an offer made up of an expiring contract and two mid-to-late first-rounders. If the Magic do move Gordon, they’d likely want to get an impact player in return, or at least create a path to land one  (ie. securing a high lottery pick).

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman confirmed on Monday that his team has explored the possibility of trading up or trading down in the draft, but said the “greatest likelihood” is that the club remains at No. 15, per Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel.
  • Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said something similar in his Monday conference call, suggesting that staying put at No. 6 is most likely for his club, followed by trading down. As Chris Kirschner of The Athletic relays, Schlenk also spoke about Atlanta shifting from “asset accumulation to hopefully talent accumulation” using its cap room this offseason, suggesting the team is no longer prioritizing accommodating salary dumps with its cap space.
  • Texas Tech guard Jahmi’us Ramsey conducted a personalized workout on Zoom with the Heat, he told reporters today (Twitter link via Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic). Ramsey added that he also did a Zoom workout that about 22 teams watched.

Trade Rumors: Westbrook, Hornets, Holiday, Gordon

The first major domino of the NBA offseason has fallen, as the Thunder and Suns are set to finalize a deal that will send All-Star guard Chris Paul to Phoenix.

Kelly Oubre is one of the key pieces headed to Oklahoma City in that swap, and according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7FM (Twitter link), the Suns felt as if Oubre was expendable not only due to the emergence of Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, but because they didn’t think they’d end up re-signing Oubre in free agency in 2021.

Meanwhile, while Paul is on board with being dealt to the Suns, Marc Berman of The New York Post hears that CP3’s top preference would have been a move to the Clippers. The veteran point guard had “mixed feelings” about a possible deal to the Knicks, Berman adds.

As we wait for more trade agreements to be reached, here are a few of the latest rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Hornets appear to be the most likely landing spot for Russell Westbrook, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who writes that team owner Michael Jordan wants to acquire the former MVP. However, sources tell O’Connor that Charlotte won’t put the No. 3 overall pick on the table in an offer to the Rockets.
  • The Mavericks aren’t involved in the Jrue Holiday sweepstakes for now, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, who tweets that the Pelicans prefer to trade Holiday to an Eastern Conference team. Mike Singer of The Denver Post notes (via Twitter) that New Orleans’ apparent desire to send Holiday to the East might be posturing to try to drive up the price for a team like the Nuggets.
  • Asked today about trade rumors involving Aaron Gordon, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman confirmed there have been “a lot of calls” on the forward (Twitter link via Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel). However, he added that there’s an “amazing amount of misinformation that circulates and is unfounded.” A report last week suggested Orlando was trying to move up in the draft from No. 15 by attaching Gordon to the pick.
  • In case you missed it, James Harden is rumored to be seeking a trade out of Houston.