Aaron Gordon

Suns Pursued Gordon, Mavs Went After Gallinari At Deadline

Within his latest Inside Pass column for The Athletic, Shams Charania passes along details on several deals that were pursued but didn’t get done at the 2020 trade deadline, a month ago today.

According to Charania, the Suns made a “late push” for Magic forward Aaron Gordon, while the Mavericks did the same for Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari is on an expiring contract, but Gordon is under team control for two more years beyond this season and is expected to receive interest from multiple teams this offseason if Orlando is willing to move him, Charania says.

Elsewhere in the Western Conference, the Nuggets attempted to make a “major trade” just before the deadline, sources tell The Athletic. Charania notes that Jrue Holiday was a player of significant interest for Denver, though it’s not clear if he was the player the Nuggets were pushing for at the deadline. The Pelicans never showed any interest in moving Holiday, per Charania.

Finally, while we’ve previously heard that the Lakers made an offer for point guard Derrick Rose, Charania provides some additional details on that offer, writing that it included fan favorite Alex Caruso and draft compensation. The Lakers would have needed to include at least one more player in that package for salary-matching purposes. In any case, the Pistons weren’t interested in moving Rose.

Although nothing materialized on any of these fronts, there’s value in knowing which teams pursued which players, since many of them remain under contract beyond this season and could become trade targets again down the road. Someone like Gallinari, meanwhile, could be on Dallas’ wish list in free agency, assuming the Mavs didn’t simply view him as a rental.

Magic, Pistons Eyed Spencer Dinwiddie Before Deadline

Some members of the Magic and Pistons had interest in exploring a trade for Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie prior to this month’s trade deadline, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley describes that interest as “internal,” so it’s not clear if either team actually reached out to Brooklyn to inquire on Dinwiddie.

Although there was no indication that the Nets seriously considered moving Dinwiddie in a deadline deal, his name did pop up in a few rumors earlier this month. He was reportedly discussed in talks between the Nets and Hawks, with the Lakers inquiring on him as well.

One post-deadline report suggested that there’s “buzz around the league” about Dinwiddie potentially being part of a package for Magic forward Aaron Gordon. Begley picks up on that thread, noting that some executives believe a player like Gordon would help Brooklyn going forward, though it’s not clear if GM Sean Marks shares that view. Begley also hears that the Pacers had some pre-deadline interest in pursuing Gordon, a potential summer trade candidate.

The Nets, who will have a crowded backcourt of Dinwiddie, Kyrie Irving, and Caris LeVert once everyone is healthy next season, could eventually decide to deal from a position of strength, though Irving’s injury history – he’s out for the rest of the season – may give the team pause.

If Brooklyn does make Dinwiddie available in the offseason, the Magic make more sense as a suitor than the Pistons, who are heading toward a full-fledged rebuild. Orlando has lacked play-making and scoring in recent years. Dinwiddie, who is averaging 20.8 PPG and 6.6 APG in 57 games (31.4 MPG) this season, could help in both areas. He’s under contract for $11.45MM next season, with a $12.3MM player option for 2021/22.

Latest On The Dunk Contest Controversy

The judges at Saturday’s dunk contest intended for the event to end in a tie, but their plan failed when three of them awarded nines on Aaron Gordon‘s final jam, according to Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

After Derrick Jones Jr. and Gordon both received 50s on their first dunks in the dunk-off, Jones finished his night with a running slam from just inside the foul line that received a 48. Gordon sought to clinch the trophy in dramatic fashion by jumping over 7’5″ Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, but after a long wait the judges awarded him three nines and two 10s for a final score of 47.

“We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, ‘This is a tie!'” said hip-hop artist Common, who served as one of the judges. “But somebody didn’t do it right. I don’t know who it is.”

A second judge, Candace Parker, confirmed Common’s comments, saying the intent was for the dunk-off to end in a tie, which would have meant a poll of the judges to determine a winner.

“I really felt it was an even battle, and we, as judges, felt the scores should be even and they should just have a judge-off,” Common said after a breath-taking series of dunks from both competitors. “We had the cards. Put your card up for who had the best dunks.”

Gordon started the event with perfect scores on his first five dunks. He expected a sixth after dunking over Fall, and he and the crowd at the United Center in Chicago were visibly dismayed when the final results left him a point behind Jones. It was a familiar experience for Gordon, who also lost the 2016 dunk contest to Zach LaVine in a controversial decision.

“We’re here to do four dunks,” Gordon told reporters afterward. “It should be the best of four dunks. I did four straight 50s — five straight 50s. That’s over. It’s a wrap. Let’s go home. Four 50s in a row in an NBA dunk contest, it’s over. But I don’t know. Who’s running the show?”

There’s more on the wild finish to All-Star Saturday Night:

  • Despite the controversy, Jones believes he was the rightful winner and was unhappy with the score he received on his final dunk, relays Andre Fernandez of The Athletic“When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school,” Jones said. “I know that’s 50-worthy. There’s no way I should have gotten a 48.”
  • Jones also said he could have kept dunking as long as the contest remained tied (video link from Ben Golliver of The Washington Post). “I just turned 23,” said Jones, who had a birthday cake wheeled onto the court before his first dunk. “I’ve got legs for days, bro.”
  • Fall tells Shelburne that his role in Gordon’s final dunk wasn’t pre-arranged (Twitter link). After a night that saw several dunks over other people, Gordon picked out the tallest man in the building. “I was scared for my life,” Fall admitted.
  • Dwyane Wade, one of the three judges who gave Gordon a nine on his final attempt, denied that the score was a favor to Jones, his former Heat teammate. “I wasn’t the only one who gave him a 9, let’s talk about that!” Wade said in a video tweeted by Complex Sports.
  • Several commentators suggested that the controversy may affect the league’s ability to get elite dunkers in future competitions. After watching the event, Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, who many wanted to see participate this year, tweeted, “Y’all just made my decision easier,” then later sent out a video of American Idol judge Randy Jackson saying, “Yeah, it’s a no from me dawg.”
  • Dwight Howard offered a tribute to Kobe Bryant with his second dunk, taking off his shirt to reveal a Superman jersey underneath, then taking away the S logo to to show a number 24. He told Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that Bryant had agreed to be part of the dunk before his tragic death last month (Twitter link).

Community Shootaround: Was Aaron Gordon Robbed?

After receiving 50s on his first five dunks, Orlando’s Aaron Gordon got a 47 from the judges on his final attempt and settled for second place in a controversial finish to this year’s dunk contest. The score came on a dunk where he leaped over 7’5″ Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, and the result was reminiscent of the 2016 dunk contest where Gordon finished second to Zach LaVine.

Gordon thrilled the crowd with a series of memorable slams, but still finished behind Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr., who put on a show of his own. It’s being hailed as of the greatest dunk showdowns in the history of the contest, but it will likely be remembered for its unpopular finish.

TNT announcers Kenny Smith and Reggie Miller both criticized the judging when the final score was revealed, and a host of NBA reporters followed suit on Twitter.

“Call the cops! Aaron Gordon just got robbed! When you dunk over Tacko Fall that’s a 50!” tweeted Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report.

“Aaron Gordon has jumped over Stuff the Magic Dragon and Tacko Fall and he’s somehow 0 for 2,” added Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press. “Nobody has ever done more and gotten less.” (Twitter link)

The world record in the high jump is 7 ft 11.67 inches,” noted former NBA executive John Hollinger, who now writes for the Athletic. “Gordon jumped over a guy who is 7-6 in shoes, grabbed a basketball and dunked it.” (Twitter link)

Gordon was among those unhappy with the judging, telling reporters, including Fred Katz of The Athletic, “Jumping over someone who’s 7’5″, that’s no easy feat. … What’d I get? 47? C’mon, man. What’re we doing? … I don’t even know who gave me the 9s. I’m gonna find them.” (Twitter links)

Gordon also said he’s through with the dunk contest and may try the 3-point competition in the future. “It’s a wrap,” he said. “I feel like I should have two trophies. So it’s over for that.” (Twitter link)

We want to get your feedback. Did Gordon deserve to win? Should the judges have declared the contest a tie in recognition of the great dunks from both Gordon and Jones that sent the contest into overtime? Please leave your feedback in the space below.

Poll: Who Will Win 2020 Slam Dunk Contest?

Bulls guard Zach LaVine, a two-time Slam Dunk Contest winner, flirted with the idea of taking part in this year’s event in his home arena. However, after suggesting that he’d only participate if he was named to the All-Star team, LaVine has stuck to that stance. That means fans in Chicago this weekend won’t get the opportunity to see a rematch of the 2016 final, which pitted LaVine against Aaron Gordon in perhaps the most memorable Dunk Contest of the decade.

Gordon will participate though, and he’ll be one of the most experienced dunkers on the court this Saturday night. Besides finishing as the runner-up to LaVine in 2016, Gordon also took part in 2017’s contest. Having fallen short twice before, the Magic forward is confident the third time will be the charm, telling Josh Robbins of The Athletic, “I’m gonna win.”

However, it’s Dwight Howard – not Gordon – who has the most Dunk Contest experience of any of this year’s participants. This will be Howard’s fourth time taking part in the event, and he even has a win under his belt.

That win came in 2008 though, and the Lakers center hasn’t participated in a Dunk Contest since 2009, more than a decade ago. A win this year for the 34-year-old Howard would be unprecedented in an event that’s typically a young man’s game. Dominique Wilkins, who had just turned 30 when he won 1990’s contest, is the oldest all-time winner. The second-oldest? Nate Robinson, who was 26 when he beat Howard in 2009.

If you believe that youth will win out in 2020, you’ll have to consider Bucks wing Pat Connaughton an underdog as well. The 27-year-old will be participating in his first NBA Dunk Contest, and is flying under the radar as Saturday’s festivities near — something he says is just fine with him.

No one’s worried about me and hopefully Saturday night they’ll be like, ‘Damn, I should have been worried about him,'” Connaughton said this week, per Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The fourth contestant this year will be Heat swingman Derrick Jones Jr., who will also be celebrating his birthday on Saturday, as he turns 23. Jones finished as the runner-up to Glenn Robinson III in 2017’s event and will likely have some new tricks up his sleeve this time around.

What do you think? Will Howard defy the odds and win his second Dunk Contest? Will Gordon or Jones get over the hump after placing second in past competitions? Will the first-time Connaughton make a name for himself with a win on Saturday?

Vote below our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Wizards, Monk, Gordon

The Trae Young-led Hawks enjoyed an exciting 2018/19 season, and their returning players were confronted with big developmental questions, according to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner. Kirschner revisits an earlier column from before the Hawks’ season kicked off with answers to those questions.

Young’s All-Star performance this season has proved that he has the goods on offense, but many of his teammates have underwhelmed thus far this year as the Hawks have stumbled to a 15-41 record heading into the All-Star break.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards are guardedly optimistic about their season heading into the All-Star break, as Candace Buckner of the Washington Post reports. “We’re in a good spot,” Washington star Bradley Beal said. “I wish we could have had a few more before the break. I think we lost two that I felt we could’ve won, but for the most part we’re in a good position.”
  • Third-year Hornets shooting guard Malik Monk concedes he may not have been ready for the NBA when he was drafted at age 19, per a conversation with Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “I went to Kentucky, and I still wasn’t ready for the NBA,” Monk told Bonnell. “Some days you’re tired. Or your body hurts. Or you have a headache. And nobody wants to hear that. You’ve got to fight through that. That’s what I’ve really learned — that you’ve got to fight.”
  • Magic forward and two-time Slam Dunk also-ran Aaron Gordon aspires to win his first Slam Dunk Contest this All-Star weekend in Chicago, according to Josh Cohen of Magic.com.“It would be incredible,” Gordon said. “It would be one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Magic Discussed Aaron Gordon Trades Before Deadline

Aaron Gordon remained with the Magic through last week’s trade deadline, but Sean Deveney of Heavy.com hears that Orlando discussed the sixth-year forward with a handful of teams. According to Deveney, the Warriors and Timberwolves were among the clubs that spoke to the Magic about Gordon. There was also “chatter” involving the Suns.

Although the Magic ended up having a fairly quiet deadline, executives around the NBA think the team may end up revisiting Gordon trade talks this summer, says Deveney.

“They were trying, and they tried hard to get something done with him at the deadline,” one source told Deveney. “All that gets brought back into focus once the season is over and you have a good idea what the market is for him.”

This is hardly the first time we’ve heard Gordon-related trade chatter this season. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported back in November that teams were monitoring the former No. 4 overall pick, and Deveney wrote shortly thereafter that there may be some long-term concerns in Orlando about Gordon’s frontcourt fit with with cornerstone player Jonathan Isaac.

A pair of January reports even connected both the Warriors and Wolves to Gordon. Those teams ultimately made a blockbuster deal with one another instead, swapping D’Angelo Russell and Andrew Wiggins in a trade that included other players and draft picks.

Gordon has had a down year in Orlando, with his scoring average slipping to 13.9 PPG and his shooting percentage dropping to a career-worst .422 FG%. Still, he’d be a coveted player on the trade market, given his versatility, his age (24) and his relatively team-friendly contract ($34.5MM over two years after 2019/20).

According to Deveney, the Mavericks are another team that has “long had interest” in Gordon, but they might have a hard time putting together a competitive package. Deveney writes that “buzz around the league” suggests the Nets and Nuggets – perhaps with a package featuring Spencer Dinwiddie or Gary Harris – would be teams to watch if Gordon is made available this summer.

O’Connor’s Latest: Lakers, Kings, Wolves, Gordon, More

When reports surfaced earlier in January suggesting that the Lakers and Kings had discussed a possible deal involving Kyle Kuzma and Bogdan Bogdanovic, there were conflicting accounts on which team instigated the talks and what was offered.

In his latest article for The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor provides some clarity on those discussions, citing sources who say the Kings offered Nemanja Bjelica and a draft pick in exchange for Kuzma. The Lakers countered by asking for Bogdanovic and Sacramento balked, according to O’Connor.

Bogdanovic is one of a handful of players that O’Connor would target in trade talks over the next week, as he explains in today’s article. That piece also features a few more noteworthy tidbits from O’Connor’s sources, so let’s round up some highlights…

  • The Timberwolves called the Magic about Aaron Gordon earlier in the season, league sources tell O’Connor. If Minnesota made an offer for Gordon, it’s unclear what exactly that offer consisted of, per O’Connor. However, he notes that the Wolves are shopping Robert Covington.
  • League sources don’t expect any major deals from the Pacers at this year’s deadline, according to O’Connor. However, the club could consider a significant move in the offseason if it’s eliminated in the first round this spring. O’Connor points to Myles Turner as a potential trade candidate down the road, though he acknowledges that Indiana would likely be more inclined to consider moving Turner if rookie Goga Bitadze was closer to being a reliable contributor.
  • NBA teams have begun to monitor Vasilije Micic‘s situation in Europe, since the Anadolu Efes guard has become one of the world’s best non-NBA players, sources tell O’Connor. Currently, the Sixers hold Micic’s rights. The 26-year-old, who was the No. 52 pick in the 2014 draft, is averaging 14.2 PPG and 5.8 APG in EuroLeague play this season.

Amick’s Latest: Bogdanovic, Drummond, OKC, Gordon, More

Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s name popped up in trade rumors at the start of the week, but the Kings still view the swingman as a key part of their push for the postseason and team sources “swear” they’re comfortable dealing with his restricted free agency this summer, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic. Interestingly, Amick notes that it was the Lakers, not the Kings, who initiated those reported trade discussions involving Bogdanovic and Kyle Kuzma.

According to Amick, winning is Bogdanovic’s top priority, and he’s not opposed to the idea of a long-term stay in Sacramento if the team continues to improve. If the Kings fall further out of the playoff race in the coming weeks, it’s possible both sides will become more open to a trade, but the price for Bogdanovic would be high.

Meanwhile, the Kings are also considering the possibility of a Dewayne Dedmon trade, and Amick confirms that the Hawks are among the teams with interest in the big man. However, Sacramento’s asking price for Dedmon has been too high for Atlanta’s liking so far, per Amick.

Amick’s latest Athletic article, which lists 16 top trade candidates from around the NBA, is jam-packed with noteworthy tidbits related to those players. Here are some of the highlights:

  • A source with knowledge of the situation downplays the likelihood of the Hawks and Pistons agreeing on an Andre Drummond trade, according to Amick, who hears from a second source that Atlanta could already have landed the center if the team was willing to include a first-round pick in its offer.
  • The Thunder have been sending “mixed messages” in trade discussions, sources tell Amick. They’re open to making moves if there’s something significant to be gained, but also aren’t opposed to standing pat, given how well they’re playing.
  • “There is chatter coming from Orlando” related to forward Aaron Gordon, one executive tells Amick. However, a source with knowledge of the Warriors‘ activity gave Amick a hard “no” when asked specifically about the possibility of the Magic trading Gordon for D’Angelo Russell. Another source said a Russell deal is “unlikely” to happen this season, Amick adds.
  • The Timberwolves are trying to find upgrades, one general manager tells Amick, who points to Robert Covington as the most logical trade chip to help Minnesota land that upgrade.
  • While the Trail Blazers are frequently cited as a potential Kevin Love landing spot, Amick says there’s “serious skepticism” among key people close to the Blazers that the Cavaliers forward will ever end up in Portland.
  • The Spurs have been gauging DeMar DeRozan‘s trade market, but the guard’s ability to walk in free agency this summer if he lands in an unfavorable spot complicates a potential deal. According to Amick, extension talks between San Antonio and DeRozan aren’t dead yet either. Based on the Spurs’ transaction history, an in-season extension might be more likely than an in-season trade.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Payton, Gordon, Rozier

Now that Bradley Beal‘s consecutive games streak has ended at 194, Fred Katz of the Athletic wonders if it’s time to consider load management for the Wizards star. Beal missed Saturday’s game with “right lower leg soreness,” which isn’t believed to be a long-term concern. In deference to the streak, coach Scott Brooks refused to keep Beal out of the lineup last season even after Washington dropped out of the playoff race, but he may consider a different approach now.

At 9-22 and with a host of injured players, the Wizards seem like a sure bet for another lottery appearance. Management has already said player development is the focus for this season, particularly with John Wall still recovering from a ruptured Achilles. Beal led the league in minutes played last year and ranks third this season. He is a strong opponent of load management, but it makes little sense to keep putting him on the court every night if it heightens his risk of injury.

“He’s as durable as anybody in the league,” Brooks said. “He’s played just about every game the last three and a half years and good minutes. He wants to play. He wants to practice. That’s great. That’s who he is. I’m sure this is gonna bother him, not being on the court with the guys knowing how banged up we are.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Gary Payton II, who signed with the Wizards this week under the hardship exception, is making a strong bid to stay on the roster, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. He is posting an 11.7/7.3/4.0 line through three games and has twice recorded six steals. Washington would have to release someone to make room for Payton, and a decision must be made by January 7 when players who aren’t waived will have their contracts guaranteed for the rest of the season.
  • Magic forward Aaron Gordon admitted last night that his left Achilles tendon has been bothering him for “a while,” tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “I feel like I might’ve been playing on it a little too long already,” Gordon said. “So now’s the time I’ve got to get it taken care of just so I get healthy and get back and help my team because it’s not something you want to play (around) with.” (Twitter link)
  • The NBA has fined Hornets guard Terry Rozier $25K for throwing the ball into the stands at the end of Friday’s loss to the Thunder.