Aaron Holiday

Western Notes: Rockets, No. 4, Davis, Holiday

Houston intends to aggressively pursue Jimmy Butler in free agency and Kelly Iko of The Athletic hears that the Rockets will be just as determined to land Butler now as they were in prior to Minnesota dealing him to the Sixers. GM Daryl Morey reportedly offered four first-round picks in exchange for Butler during the season.

It’s no secret that the Rockets are looking to shake up their roster this offseason. They continue to discuss trades involving Clint Capela, and Iko hears that they’ve discussed sending him to the Pelicans for the No. 4 overall pick. In that scenario, Houston would look to insert that pick into a package in order to land another player.

Here’s more from Houston and rest of the Western Conference:

  • The Rockets had interested in trading for Anthony Davis and reached out to the Pelicans prior to New Orleans making the deal with the Lakers. Houston was aware that it wasn’t high on Davis’ preferences and that a trade was not likely to happen.
  • The Lakers could have asked Davis if he’d waive his trade bonus of roughly $4.1MM in order to make salary-matching easier, but they never broached it during negotiations, league sources tell Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. Los Angeles is still attempting to maximize its cap room for an additional star after agreeing to the Davis deal.
  • Several NBA executives are skeptical that the Lakers can build a title-winning team around Davis and LeBron James after the haul they just gave up, Beck relays in the same piece. “[The] Lakers overpaid by a significant margin, given the conditions,” one executive said, adding, “Never let your GM be in a spot where he needs to make a trade to save his job.” 
  • The Suns are not interested in Aaron Holiday, Phoenix-based radio host John Gambadoro tweets. J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star identified the Suns as one of a handful of teams that has interest in acquiring the Pacers point guard, mentioning the Timberwolves, Bulls, and Hawks as well.

Latest On The Mike Conley Trade

The Jazz had been targeting Mike Conley for months before pulling off today’s trade with Memphis, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Utah made a strong push to get Conley before the February deadline, offering Ricky Rubio, two first-round picks and other expiring contracts that would have provided the Grizzlies with cap relief this summer.

Jones cites “frustration” among Jazz management, which believed Conley would be a difference maker in the postseason, when the offer wasn’t accepted. Utah finished with the fifth seed and a first-round playoff ouster.

“What we found out this year,” Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey said after the season ended, “is that while we were a good team, we weren’t a great team.”

The organization sees Conley as a path to becoming great, viewing him as one of the best pick-rand-roll guards in the league and a strong leader in the locker room. The Jazz were willing to pay a heavy price in the deal, giving up Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver and Grayson Allen, plus this year’s first-round pick and a future conditional first-rounder. Sources tell Jones the Grizzlies insisted on Allen because they wanted “a young player with upside” and were impressed by how he improved during the season.

There’s more fallout from today’s trade:

  • The Pistons and Pacers were both contenders for Conley, but were unwilling to surrender two first-round picks, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN. Sources tell Lowe that even if the Pistons had agreed to meet that price, they might have insisted that Memphis take back Reggie Jackson and his $18MM contract. The Pacers, meanwhile, refused to give up the picks plus first-year guard Aaron Holiday.
  • The Jazz needed to send enough salary to Memphis to enable them to guarantee Derrick Favors‘ $16.9MM contract for next season without going over the salary cap, Lowe adds. He states that the decision to include Crowder in the deal instead of Dante Exum shows a lot of faith in the 23-year-old guard.
  • Lowe also notes that the trade will have a ripple effect on free agency. Utah no longer has the cap space for a max-level offer, which means one less suitor for the Sixers’ Tobias Harris. Point guards who had been hoping for an offer from Utah will also be disappointed. In addition, the trade increases the likelihood that the pick the Grizzlies owe the Celtics won’t convey until 2021, when it will be unprotected. The selection has top-six protection next year.
  • Donovan Mitchell is thrilled to have Conley as his new backcourt partner, tweets Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. “He’s a great player,” Mitchell said. “He’s very underrated in my opinion. He does a lot of getting into the lane and being able to find guys and also I can learn a lot from him so as far as being a point guard.”

Eastern Trade Rumors: Cavs, A. Holiday, Kaminsky, Raps

It has been a busy season on the trade market for the Cavaliers, who entered sell mode early and have moved Kyle Korver, George Hill, and Alec Burks in separate deals over the course of the 2018/19 campaign.

Even after all that action, the Cavaliers may not be done dealing, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who reports that Cleveland’s front office is still exploring the market in search of a possible home for J.R. Smith. Although the Cavs plan to continue their efforts to move Smith right up until today’s deadline, making a deal is “easier said than done,” a source tells Fedor.

Despite the fact that Smith is on a pseudo-expiring contract, with only $3.87MM of his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20 guaranteed, his $14.72MM cap hit for this season – and the fact that he hasn’t played in an NBA game since mid-November – will be a tough sell. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Smith ultimately ends up on the buyout market after the deadline.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • We’ve heard that the Pacers might be willing to move Cory Joseph and Darren Collison, but it’s their other point guard – rookie Aaron Holiday – who has been a popular target for teams making inquiries, writes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Although Indiana initially took those calls, the club has now pulled Holiday off the table and has no plans to deal him this week, a source tells Michael.
  • While the Hornets remain in the mix for Marc Gasol, they’re also still on the lookout for a potential landing spot for Frank Kaminsky, independent of a Gasol deal, tweets Sporting News’ Sean Deveney. Kaminsky, who has played just 41 minutes in Charlotte’s last 23 games, would presumably welcome a change of scenery.
  • Despite some rumors this week involving the Raptors, Mike Conley, and Kyle Lowry, there’s currently no traction on a Toronto deal that would include those players, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • The Magic and the Bulls are among the clubs that have expressed some level of interest in Clippers point guard Milos Teodosic, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando, who hears that a Teodosic trade is still possible. As we heard earlier in the season, the former EuroLeague star also continues to draw plenty of interest from international teams, Cauchi notes.

Central Notes: Valentine, Holiday, GRIII, Smith

Bulls wing Denzel Valentine, who is scheduled to be sidelined for four to six months upon undergoing reconstructive ankle surgery, spoke to reporters this week about his injury, explaining that he’s thinking big picture in addressing his lingering left ankle issues.

When I come back, it’s going to be a brand new ankle,” Valentine said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “I’ve been pretty much having ankle issues ever since my rookie year, so I mean, I think I’m going to be fine. I think I’m going to take my game to another level because I’m going to be more stable in my ankle. It will take a whole year, get my body right, which I haven’t been able to do since college, really. I’ve just been on the go, on the go, on the go, so it could be a blessing in disguise is how I have to look at it.”

It will be a long and painful road to recovery for Valentine, who likely won’t play at all during the 2018/19 season. However, he added that he’s “fully confident” that he’ll eventually get back to 100%, adding that he’s unsure if he’s ever actually been 100% healthy during his NBA career up until this point.

Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • Pacers 2018 first-rounder Aaron Holiday was out of the rotation for the first month of the season, but he has been making his case for regular minutes lately, as Scott Agness of The Athletic writes. With Victor Oladipo sidelined this week, Holiday has averaged 14.0 PPG on .520/.400/.769 shooting in three games (20.1 MPG), which will make it hard to send him back to the bench when Oladipo returns.
  • Glenn Robinson III, a 39.3% three-point shooter during his three years with the Pacers, got off to a bit of a slow start with the Pistons. However, Robinson – who is shooting 33.3% from downtown so far this season – tells Chris McCosky of The Detroit News that he’s still confident he’ll be a good fit in Detroit once he gets fully up to speed after missing most of the 2017/18 season.
  • J.R. Smith will remain away from the Cavaliers while they try to trade him, and in the view of Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the club is better off without him. On Wednesday, we asked you what’s next for Smith.

Central Notes: Forman, Ellenson, Evans, Kanter

Bulls GM Gar Forman has done a good job of acquiring young talent but the hard part is yet to come, as Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times explains. Chicago will need to use its cap room and land at least one star player to become a major threat in the Eastern Conference, Cowley continues. Forman’s reputation around the league is shaky and he’s never been able to land such a player in his current position. That could eventually wreck this rebuilding project, Cowley concludes.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pistons power forward Henry Ellenson is entering a pivotal year in his career, Ansar Khan of MLive.com notes. Ellenson is expected to his minutes increase under new coach Dwane Casey and Ellenson has been working diligently to become a stronger defender and improve his ball-handling. However, the third-year big man out of Marquette struggled with his new shooting motion during summer league games, particularly from long range, and that’s disconcerting, Khan adds.
  • Free agent additions Doug McDermott and Tyreke Evans, along with first-round pick Aaron Holiday, should facilitate the Pacers’ desire to increase their 3-point production, according to Greg Rappaport of Pacers.com. McDermott closed out last season in Dallas by making nearly 50% of his long-range attempts in the final 24 games, while Holiday posted solid 3-point percentages during his college career, Rappaport continues. Evans has improved his long-range shooting over the last three seasons and will be an upgrade over Lance Stephenson, Rappaport adds.
  • Knicks center Enes Kanter took a shot at the Bucks franchise and said he never considered joining them this summer, Royce Young of ESPN reports. Kanter posted a deer emoji on his Twitter account, then deleted it minutes later, the night before he decided to opt in and stay in New York. But Milwaukee was never on his radar. “I know I was not going to go to the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s the Milwaukee Bucks,” he told Young. “Unless they give you good, good money, then go, but you don’t leave New York for Milwaukee.”

Pacers Sign First-Rounder Aaron Holiday

The Pacers have signed first-round pick Aaron Holiday to his rookie scale contract, according to a press release issued by the team.

Holiday, the younger brother of NBA players Jrue Holiday and Justin Holiday, enjoyed a major breakout season at UCLA in 2017/18, increasing his scoring average by eight points per game to 20.3 PPG. That mark tied him with Arizona’s Deandre Ayton for the Pac-12 scoring lead. Holiday also chipped in 5.8 APG and 3.7 RPG, shooting 42.9% on three-point attempts.

The Pacers selected Holiday with the 23rd overall pick in the 2018 draft, which will put him in line for a first-year salary of approximately $1.91MM. That figure represents the maximum allowable 120% of the rookie scale amount for the No. 23 pick in 2018/19.

Like all other first-rounders who sign rookie scale contracts, Holiday will get two guaranteed years, with team options in years three and four.

Draft Rumors: Top 6, Bulls, Kings, Sixers, Suns

The Mavericks, Bulls, Cavaliers, and Clippers are among the teams still exploring the possibility of moving up in the draft lottery, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski adds that the Sixers‘ pick (No. 10) is in play for teams targeting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Wojnarowski currently believes that Deandre Ayton (Suns), Marvin Bagley III (Kings), Luka Doncic (Hawks), Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba (Mavericks), and Trae Young (Magic) are the most likely selections (Twitter link). Interestingly, the Grizzlies are the only team Wojnarowski doesn’t mention in his rundown, suggesting the No. 4 pick is still the most likely selection at the top to be traded.

If the top six plays out like that and Chicago doesn’t trade up, the Bulls would likely opt for Wendell Carter Jr. over Michael Porter Jr., tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.

Here are several more rumors worth passing along as draft night nears…

  • Kings beat reporter James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link) is also getting the vibe out of Sacramento that Marvin Bagley III is the club’s likely choice at No. 2.
  • Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) is hearing some buzz linking Zhaire Smith to the Sixers at No. 10.
  • Although the Heat are exploring opportunities to trade into the first round of tonight’s draft, it’s hard to imagine the club completing a deal for a first-round pick unless it can shed a veteran salary, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
  • The Suns, who hold Miami’s pick at No. 16, are eyeing Donte DiVincenzo, Zhaire Smith, Jalen Brunson, Aaron Holiday, Lonnie Walker, Troy Brown, Elie Okobo, and Landry Shamet at that spot, per John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).
  • NBA teams have been impressed with Michael Porter Jr. in interviews, but the club that picks him will have to be “ultra-cautious” with his health, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, who suggests (via Twitter) that sitting Porter for a good chunk of 2018/19 is a real possibility.

Draft Notes: Bulls, Bamba, Clippers, R. Williams

There are a number of signs that the Bulls may be focusing on Mohamed Bamba as a prime target in Thursday night’s draft, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. As Johnson details, the club has had “consistent contact” with Bamba throughout the pre-draft process, with team president Michael Reinsdorf among those who has talked to the young center.

According to Johnson, the Bulls have been intrigued by Bamba’s “game-changing defensive potential” from the start of the pre-draft process. However, there’s a sense around the NBA that Chicago may have to trade up if the club wants to be assured of landing Bamba.

As we wait to see if Bamba is indeed the player Chicago covets, let’s round up a few more draft-related rumors and news items…

  • Texas A&M big man Robert Williams visited the Clippers on Tuesday and had a conversation with owner Steve Ballmer, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Wojnarowski, who notes that the Clips have taken an extensive look at Williams, adds that the center won’t attend the draft, opting instead to watch it at home in Shreveport with friends and family.
  • Speaking of the Clippers, they’ve been rebuffed by the Kings (No. 2), Hawks (No. 3), Grizzlies (No. 4), and Mavericks (No. 5) in their efforts to move up in the draft, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. While the team will continue to explore ways to get it hands on Luka Doncic, L.A. is confident that it can get two talented players at 12 and 13.
  • Miami prospect Bruce Brown is squeezing in a second workout with the Celtics today ahead of Thursday’s draft, he tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).
  • Aaron Holiday (UCLA), Ray Spalding (Louisville), Donte Ingram (Loyola-Chicago), and Jonathan Williams (VCU) worked out for the Knicks on Tuesday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com, who adds (via Twitter) that the club also auditioned Penn State’s Tony Carr this week.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Draft, Bamba, Wiz

The Heat don’t have a selection in Thursday’s draft and the team isn’t expected to make major moves in an attempt to land a top pick, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel relays.

“I think this is not a deep draft,” Heat vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer said. “I kind of compare it to the college basketball season. This past year, there weren’t that many good teams. There were just a bunch of average or maybe slightly better. There were good teams but not great teams.”

Phoenix holds Miami’s first-rounder from the Goran Dragic deal and the team’s second-round pick was dealt to the Grizzlies in a 2016 trade that sent Chris Andersen to Memphis in order to save on the luxury tax.

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Outside of Jonathan Isaac, the Magic are not tied down to any player on the roster long-term, Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated writes. Orlando holds the No. 6 pick and Woo argues that Mohamed Bamba is an ideal selection given the team’s draft history.
  • The Hornets should be taking a long-term view in the upcoming draft and high-upside prospects like Kevin Knox or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander make sense at No. 11, Woo contends in the same piece. The scribe adds that if Charlotte selects a point guard in the first round, it could signal the end of the Kemba Walker era.
  • Depth has long been an issue for the Wizards, especially at the point guard position, and Candace Buckner of The Washington Post examines which prospects the team may consider at No. 15 if it looks to find a long-term backup to John Wall. Aaron Holiday, the brother of New Orleans point guard Jrue Holiday, is among the players Washington should consider, Buckner writes.

Draft Updates: Green Room, Sexton, Gilgeous-Alexander, Shamet

The names of several green room invitees for Thursday night’s draft have been leaked, relays Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Only college players will be in the room this year, as Luka Doncic is still involved with his season for Real Madrid.

The projected top picks will be well represented with Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr., Texas’ Mo Bamba, Alabama’s Collin Sexton, Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr., Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., Villanova’s Mikal Bridges, Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges all on hand.

Joining them will be Kentucky’s Kevin Knox, Texas A&M’s Robert Williams, Miami’s Lonnie Walker, Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith, Boston College’s Jerome Robinson, Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison and UCLA’s Aaron Holiday.

There’s more pre-draft news to pass along:

  • Sexton doesn’t have any more workouts on his schedule after completing today’s session with the Magic, tweets Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Sexton has been limiting his workouts to teams in his projected range, as the only others were for the Cavaliers (No. 8 pick), Knicks (No. 9) and Hornets (No. 11).
  • Gilgeous-Alexander is a rare mid-level prospect who hasn’t conducted a single publicized workout, notes Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype. Although a team or two may have brought him in for a secret session, there are also organizations that tried to work him out but were denied. Kalbrosky speculates Gilgeous-Alexander’s representatives may be trying to steer him to a large-market team like the Clippers, who hold the 12th and 13th picks.
  • The Sixers will work out Wichita State’s Landry Shamet on Tuesday, Kalbroksy tweets, adding that Philadelphia may consider him at No. 26.
  • The Suns held a workout today with Texas Tech’s Smith as the biggest name in the group. Also participating, according to a tweet from the team, were Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie, Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson, Wake Forest’s Bryant Crawford, Oregon State’s Drew Eubanks and Bosnia’s Markus Loncar. This is the Suns’ final scheduled session before the draft, tweets Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.