Anfernee Simons

Extension Rumors: Bridges, Huerter, Shamet, A. Holiday

The Hornets have engaged in discussions about a possible rookie scale contract extension for forward Miles Bridges, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Bridges is one of 18 players who remains eligible for a rookie extension up until the October 18 deadline.

Scotto says that some people around the NBA believe $20MM per year would be the floor for Bridges on a new deal. That’s the same price that has been frequently projected for another Bridges with a similar skill set: Mikal Bridges of the Suns.

Here are a few updates from Scotto on possible rookie scale extensions:

  • The Suns and sharpshooter Landry Shamet have been having ongoing conversations about a possible extension, with one source suggesting that the odds of the two sides reaching a deal are about 50-50, says Scotto. Shamet has yet to appear in a regular season game for his new team, but Phoenix had reportedly coveted him for a while.
  • Scotto suggests that Hawks wing Kevin Huerter could get “Joe Harris type of money,” adding that some people around the league think Huerter’s value is in the neighborhood of $18MM annually. Harris signed a four-year, $72MM contract with Brooklyn during the 2020 offseason.
  • The Wizards and Aaron Holiday aren’t discussing an extension, but Washington likes the 25-year-old and will likely evaluate him over the course of the 2021/22 season, according to Scotto.
  • Extensions for Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons and Bulls swingman Troy Brown appear unlikely, per Scotto.

Northwest Notes: Simons, SGA, Gupta, Saunders, Nuggets

The Trail Blazers have talked in the past about Anfernee Simons handling backup point guard duties behind Damian Lillard, but CJ McCollum has often played that role, with Simons spending time primarily at the two. However, new head coach Chauncey Billups seems committed to giving Simons a longer look at the point guard spot, and the 22-year-old says he intends to take “full advantage” of the opportunity, as Jason Quick of The Athletic details.

“I want CJ and Ant to be playing some backup point guard,” Billups said. “A lot of my conversations with (Simons) is about that — him being able to play a lot of backup point guard minutes, you know, running the show.”

The Blazers will be keeping a close eye on how Simons responds to the increased responsibilities, since he’s eligible for a rookie scale extension before the regular season begins. A source tells Quick that Simons’ agent Bill Duffy and the Blazers haven’t yet engaged in discussions about a new deal, but are expected to talk closer to the October 18 deadline.

“I don’t know anything about the extension; I’m focused on the season,” Simons said. “I know it’s a big season for me. So I’m not worried about it. My priority is to go out there and play well.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Discussing his new maximum-salary contract extension, Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander called the deal a “dream come true,” but views it as just one achievement to cross off on his long list of career goals, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “I still have 90% of my list, so I won’t stop,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, who added that he feels “150%” healthy after missing the end of last season with a foot injury.
  • When the Timberwolves‘ owners – Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, and Marc Lore – spoke to reporters this week, all three stressed that Sachin Gupta is in charge of the basketball operations department and didn’t mention a looming front office search, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. While that doesn’t necessarily mean they view Gupta as the long-term solution, the timing may not be right to conduct a full-fledged search with the regular season around the corner, Krawczynski notes.
  • Former Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders is in attendance at the Nuggets‘ training camp this week, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. As Wolfson explains, Saunders is close with Denver head coach Michael Malone and executives Tim Connelly and Calvin Booth.

Blazers Rumors: McCollum, Simmons, Lillard, Powell, More

Teams are calling the Trail Blazers to inquire on guard CJ McCollum and offering the opportunity for Portland to move into the “top part of the draft,” according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. However, Quick reports that the Blazers aren’t seriously considering those offers, since they’re in win-now mode and are seeking veteran help rather than rookies.

As Quick details, the Blazers are open to a trade that would allow them to acquire an upgrade on McCollum. However, there are no obvious opportunities out there. A swap revolving around McCollum and Ben Simmons has long been the subject of speculation, but Quick suggests the Sixers likely wouldn’t be enticed by such a deal, even if Portland adds a young player like Anfernee Simons or Nassir Little to its offer.

Here’s more on the Blazers from Quick:

  • Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey has met twice with Damian Lillard since the season ended. They had a three-hour sitdown on June 19 at the team’s practice facility and then met in Las Vegas with new head coach Chauncey Billups last Friday, per Quick. During those meetings, Lillard conveyed his publicly-stated preference that the Blazers act with more urgency in upgrading their roster.
  • Despite Lillard’s call for urgency, it remains to be seen whether Portland will do anything drastic with its roster this summer. Quick says “there appears to be an inclination to run this group back again” in the hopes that Billups’ influence and a full season of Powell raise the Blazers’ ceiling. Quick acknowledges that exercising patience would be a risky approach, given Lillard’s unease, but points out there are some similarities to 2018, when the club made few roster changes after being swept in the first round and then reached the Western Finals in 2019.
  • Re-signing Norman Powell is the Blazers’ top priority in free agency. Billups recently met with Powell in Las Vegas and “communicated his vision” to the veteran swingman. The team hopes the hiring of Billups helps convince Powell to remain in Portland.
  • Olshey recognizes that building a bench led by Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter contributed to the team’s defensive shortcomings and will aim to add “long, rangy” players who can guard multiple positions and comfortably switch on defense, according to Quick.
  • The Blazers will likely try to buy a second-round pick in next Thursday’s draft, says Quick.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Blazers, Hernangomez, Nuggets

While it doesn’t look at this point like the Trail Blazers will seriously explore Damian Lillard trades this offseason, that doesn’t mean they’re not getting calls about their All-NBA point guard. Front office sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have been the most aggressive suitors for Lillard as of late.

With no Lillard trade request imminent, the Blazers are more likely to pursue upgrades around the star guard, though O’Connor notes that the team’s trade assets are somewhat limited. Portland doesn’t have any draft picks this year and rival teams aren’t particularly high on young players like Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, according to O’Connor. The club’s best bet for a deal that reshapes the roster and increases its ceiling might involve CJ McCollum and Ben Simmons, O’Connor adds.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

Western Notes: Johnson, Redick, Blazers, Jensen

Mavericks forward James Johnson missed five games for Dallas due to both traveling for a family emergency and then needing to enter COVID-19 protocols, but the veteran enforcer rejoined the Mavericks for a team practice today, according to Dwain Price of Mavs.com. Johnson can return to the hardwood tomorrow for the club’s game against the Timberwolves, Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com (Twitter link) adds.

“We don’t get that much chemistry going on throughout this [COVID-19] thing, and how we have to be separated a lot,” Johnson noted of this unique 2020/21 season. “The times that we can get it are at practice and on the road, and I miss that.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • Veteran Pelicans wing J.J. Redick is most likely to be bought out of his expiring $13MM contract after the trade deadline passes, and ink a deal with a team on the East Coast to be near his family, sources tell Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons and forward Nassir Little have entered the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols and are missing at least this evening’s contest against the Nets, Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com tweets.
  • Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen has been given the go-ahead by the team to interview for the head coaching gig with his alma matter, the University of Utah, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium (via Twitter). Brandon Judd of the Deseret News notes that Jensen, a former Utes player, has been on the Jazz’s bench since 2013.

Simons, Stanley, Toppin To Compete In Dunk Contest

Anfernee Simons of the Trail Blazers, Cassius Stanley of the Pacers, and Obi Toppin of the Knicks will compete for the annual Slam Dunk title at halftime of the All-Star game on Sunday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, the NBA announced in a press release.

Simons, a 6’3” guard, is averaging 8.2 PPG in his third NBA season. Stanley is a 6’5″ rookie guard on a two-way contract after being selected in the second round last fall. He recorded a maximum vertical leap of 44 inches in the 2020 draft combine. Toppin, a 6’9″ rookie forward and lottery pick, is averaging 4.6 PPG in 25 games off the bench.

The 3-Point Contest, which will be held prior to the game, has a lot more star power. Suns guard Devin Booker and Warriors guard Stephen Curry, former winners of the long-ball contest, head the list of participants. The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Bulls’ Zach LaVine and the Jazz‘s Donovan Mitchell round out the six-man field.

The Skills Challenge, which will also be held prior to the game, also has plenty of All-Star firepower. Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Suns guard Chris Paul head that six-man listKnicks forward Julius Randle, Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis, Magic center Nikola Vucevic and Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington round out the field.

Anfernee Simons, Cassius Stanley Expected To Join Dunk Contest

Blazers guard Anfernee Simons and Pacers two-way guard Cassius Stanley are expected to join Knicks forward Obi Toppin in the All-Star slam dunk contest on March 7, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

All three players would be first-time participants in the contest, which is set to take place at halftime of the All-Star Game next Sunday.

Simons, 21, has averaged 8.5 points, 1.2 assists and 17.5 minutes for Portland this season. Stanley would become the first player on a two-way contract to ever compete in a dunk contest — the 21-year-old has only appeared in eight games for the Pacers this year.

Along with the dunk contest, the three-point contest and skills competition will also be held on March 7 in Atlanta. The league’s traditional method of spreading the events over a weekend has been voided this season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Charania’s Latest: Nets, Roberson, Ball, Simons, Faried

Before they signed veteran swingman Iman Shumpert in an effort to improve their wing defense, the Nets considered longtime Thunder forward Andre Roberson, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. According to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link), the Nets’ interest in Roberson wasn’t just cursory — the team actually worked him out before signing Shumpert.

Roberson, who is limited on offense but has a reputation as a defensive stopper, returned last August during the NBA’s summer restart after having missed over two full years due to knee issues. However, his contract expired at season’s end and he has yet to catch on with a new NBA team. Given how many of Brooklyn’s end-of-roster players have non-guaranteed salaries, it’s possible the Nets could open up a spot and circle back to Roberson later in the season, as Lewis notes.

Here’s more from Charania:

  • The Raptors and Nets – who were both mentioned by Charania as possible Andre Drummond suitors via trade or buyout – are viewed as two teams in the market for frontcourt help. Charania suggests the Mavericks, Lakers, and Trail Blazers are among the clubs likely to join that list.
  • Charania confirms that the Bulls have some interest in Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, but says the two teams haven’t engaged in any dialogue about a possible trade.
  • Rival teams are keeping an eye on Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons, according to Charania. There’s no indication Portland has interest in moving Simons, but other clubs may envision a larger scoring and play-making role for him than he has in Portland, where he backs up an All-NBA point guard.
  • Veteran big man Kenneth Faried, 31, is working out in Los Angeles and hopes to make an NBA comeback, per Charania.

Northwest Notes: Rubio, Morris, Simons, Mitchell

Ricky Rubio believes the Timberwolves are playing selfishly, which has led to 11 losses in their last 12 games, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Rubio, who returned to action Friday after clearing COVID-19 protocols, says the team needs to air out its issues.

“It would be good to have a long meeting, but I don’t think we can have more than a 10-minute meeting,” the Timberwolves guard said. “But we need like a three-hour meeting. After talking, we got to execute the words that we have.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Monte Morris is grateful the Nuggets extended his contract during the offseason, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. “The contract got me at peace,” he said. Morris, who signed a three-year, $27MM extension early last month, is averaging a career-high 11.7 PPG and 3.2 APG in 26.3 MPG through Denver’s first 15 games.
  • It’s time for third-year guard Anfernee Simons to assert himself with CJ McCollum sidelined by a foot injury, Jason Quick of The Athletic opines. Simons needs to show he can consistently make 3-pointers, run the team and defend without fouling, Quick says. In Simons’ last outing, he scored six points in 15 minutes on Monday. The Trail Blazers picked up their 2021/22 option on Simons last month.
  • While Donovan Mitchell has received some criticism for his lack of impact on the defensive end, he’s living up to his bill as the Jazz‘s franchise player, Tony Jones of The Athletic argues. There’s little doubt that Mitchell is capable of being the No. 1 offensive option on a title team, Jones asserts. Mitchell, who signed a max extension in November, is averaging career highs in points (24.3), assists (4.9) and 3-point shooting (40.8%).

Trail Blazers Pick Up 2021/22 Options For Simons, Little

The Trail Blazers have picked up the 2021/22 season options for third-year guard Anfernee Simons and second-year forward Nassir Little, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

After appearing in just 20 games during his 2018/19 rookie campaign, Simons, 21, earned a slot in Portland’s rotation during his second season with the club, 2019/20. The 6’3″ guard averaged 8.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 1.4 APG in 20.7 MPG across 70 games.

The team has now locked in the $3,938,818 2021/22 season salary for Simons. If the Trail Blazers and Simons do not reach an agreement on a rookie scale extension next offseason, the guard will become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2022.

Little, 20, was drafted with the No. 25 pick in 2019 after one season at North Carolina. The 6’5″ forward appeared in 48 games during his rookie season, averaging 11.9 MPG. He is set to earn $2,316,240 next season.

The league deadline for teams to exercise third- and fourth-year team options on rookie scale contracts is December 29.