Anthony Tolliver

Hollinger’s Latest: Blazers, Warriors, Load Management

There hasn’t been an NBA trade since mid-July but the Trail Blazers appear to be a prime candidate to make a deal, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Zach Collins‘ shoulder injury, which is expected to cost him most of the season, creates an even bigger need at an already thin position. Journeyman Anthony Tolliver is the only true power forward remaining on the roster, Hollinger notes. The Blazers could also use another small forward in their rotation.

Portland has some desirable assets, including expiring contracts, young players and draft picks, in order to upgrade its forward spots. One offshoot of the Collins injury that the Blazers are playing with smaller, faster lineups and that could prove beneficial.

There’s more from Hollinger:

  • The Warriors may trade one of their free agent additions on expiring contracts in order to add one of their two-way players to the 15-man roster. Golden State is pushed up against the hard cap and could free some money by dealing center Willie Cauley-Stein or guard Alec Burks. Any potential deal involving a free agent signed this summer can’t happen until mid-December.
  • Waiving Marquese Chriss‘ non-guaranteed deal is also a strong possibility for Golden State, considering Chriss has already had his role reduced after a strong preseason. The Warriors have already used up eight of the 45 days on the service clock of two-way players Damion Lee and Ky Bowman and can’t convert either to a standard contract unless they make another move.
  • People who criticize load management fail to realize that the modern game is much more taxing on players’ bodies than in past decades, Hollinger writes. The goal is to maximize the number of high-quality games the player can play and that makes it a sound strategy.

Blazers Not Actively Seeking Frontcourt Help

Despite missing Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic up front, the Trail Blazers, currently carrying 14 players on their roster, plan to rely on their depth and positional versatility rather than adding a free agent big man with their open 15th roster spot, according to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. The Blazers announced on Tuesday that Collins, the team’s starting power forward, would miss four months of game action following left shoulder surgery.

A team source relayed to Freeman that signing a new frontcourt piece to shore up depth “is not a priority at this point.” Adding a 15th man would cost the Blazers more than just that player’s salary, since the team is over the luxury tax threshold.

Since Collins suffered the injury against Dallas on October 27, Portland coach Terry Stotts has opted to start journeyman veteran Anthony Tolliver (who can play either forward position) in his stead, with Skal Labissiere spelling Tolliver off the bench.

The Blazers’ 1-3 record following the loss of Collins (they are 3-4 on the year) includes a 127-118 defeat to an injury-depleted Golden State squad yesterday. In the ultra-competitive Western Conference, the Blazers face a tough schedule through November: they will be playing the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets and Bucks, all before Thanksgiving.

Pau Gasol, signed this summer, continues to rehabilitate a left foot stress fracture incurred in May while Gasol was with Milwaukee. Yesterday, Gasol partook in the team’s San Francisco morning shootaround and noted that he has engaged in 1-on-1 contact practice work with Portland assistant coaches. Gasol demurred when asked for a recovery timeline.

“It’s still early,” he told Freeman. “But hopefully I’m getting there.”

Blazers starting center Nurkic remains out of commission as he recovers from compound fractures to his left tibula and fibula suffered in March. This summer, Portland traded for Hassan Whiteside to fill in for Nurkic. Portland’s lone All-Star, Damian Lillard, remained optimistic about his team’s ability to weather the absences of Collins and Nurkic.

“We’ve got to love them as our friends and as our teammates, but the job still has to get done on the court and I think our mentality has to be that it’s not too much for us to handle and we can still get the job done,” Lillard said.

Northwest Notes: Hezonja, Abrines, Jazz, Tolliver

New Trail Blazers guard Mario Hezonja has apologized to players and employees of the team for choosing to sign with the Knicks last summer instead of Portland, Jason Quick of The Athletic writes.

Hezonja, who was courted by a number of teams last year due to his overall potential and scoring ability, ultimately chose to sign with a New York team that failed to offer him a concrete role. He started in 24 of his 58 games this season, with the team accruing the league’s worst record at 17-65.

“I kind of rushed,” Hezonja said. “But I made my mind up quick; I wanted to experience New York.”

Hezonja reached agreement on a two-year, minimum-salary deal with Portland on the first day of free agency, committing to a franchise that’s focused on competing for an NBA title. He put pen to paper and inked his contract on Wednesday.

“I just have to fit in,” Hezonja said. “This team was in the Western Conference finals. I’m here to help. My individual goal is to push them even further. I want to be on a successful team and surround myself with players better than myself, because that will help me. That will help me be even better and become that top-tier player eventually.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Former Thunder guard Alex Abrines took to social media to discuss the personal issues he’s faced this year, as relayed by Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Abrines left the team in February after three seasons due to these unspecified personal matters. In the video, Abrines also announced his intentions to return to the game of basketball, with the 25-year-old currently an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Jazz — along with the rest of the league — will have a much different feel entering the 2019/20 season, Doug Robinson of The Deseret News writes. Utah will acquire star guard Mike Conley, lose longtime Jazz forward Derrick Favors, and add scoring wing Bojan Bogdanovic, reshaping and improving their roster over the span of a couple weeks.
  • New Trail Blazers forward Anthony Tolliver recalled watching the team’s lack of three-point shooting during the postseason this spring, especially while players such as Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum were double teamed, Jason Quick writes in a separate article for The Athletic. “Watching the playoffs last year, they got double-teamed a lot, and that’s literally how guys like myself can excel,” Tolliver said. “I was like, ‘Wow! I could really help them out.’” Like Hezonja, Tolliver signed his minimum-salary contract with the team on Wednesday.

Trail Blazers Sign Anthony Tolliver To One-Year Deal

JULY 3: The Trail Blazers have officially signed Tolliver, the team announced today in a press release. Minimum-salary contracts can be finalized during the July moratorium.

JULY 1: The Trail Blazers and free agent power forward Anthony Tolliver have reached an agreement on a one-year deal worth $2.6MM, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Based on the reported terms, it appears to be a veteran’s minimum deal for Tolliver, as he’s eligible for a $2,564,753 minimum salary in 2019/20. Portland also reportedly committed its taxpayer mid-level exception to Rodney Hood already, limiting the club’s ability to offer other free agents more than the minimum.

Tolliver, 34, has been one of the NBA’s more effective under-the-radar stretch fours in recent years. He struggled a little in Minnesota last season, averaging just 5.0 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 65 games (16.6 MPG), but he has knocked down 1.6 threes per game at a 40.7% rate over the last three seasons for the Kings, Pistons, and Timberwolves.

Tolliver will help provide much-needed outside shooting in the frontcourt for a Portland team that has lost Al-Farouq Aminu in free agency and is trading away Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard to acquire Hassan Whiteside.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Nurkic, Tolliver, Jensen

Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum has been sidelined with a left popliteus strain since March 16, but has ramped up his on-court work as he nears a potential return, writes Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com. McCollum still wasn’t ready to commit to a specific return date, but sounded optimistic that he won’t be on the shelf for much longer.

“I think, having did some stuff today, I’m going to see how my body reacts, try to get through this week, see where I’m at and kind of go from there,” McCollum said on Wednesday. “When I first got hurt there were some dates that I kind of circled and I’m getting close to them, so I’ll see how I feel. But the biggest thing for me is to make sure I’m symptom-free, make sure I don’t have any lingering issues before I step back on the court.”

With four games left in the season, Portland has a two-game cushion on Utah for the No. 4 seed. The Blazers will finish their season against the Nuggets (twice), the Lakers, and the Kings as they look to secure home court advantage for the first round — it remains to be seen whether McCollum will be able to get back for any of those games.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazers recorded their 50th win on Wednesday night, which means that injured center Jusuf Nurkic has officially earned a $1.25MM bonus. As Bobby Marks of ESPN.com details, Portland is now on the hook for another $2.19MM in tax costs, though that number will decrease a little when Maurice Harkless fails to shoot 35% on threes. Nurkic’s cap hit for 2019/20 will rise from $12MM to $13.25MM, since that 50-win bonus is now considered “likely” for next season.
  • When the Timberwolves faced the Mavericks last night, Anthony Tolliver could have been playing against the Wolves rather than for them, notes Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who tweets that he thinks Minnesota should have accepted Dallas’ trade offer of J.J. Barea and a second-round pick. Wolfson has previously reported that the Thunder and Raptors offered second-round picks attached to Patrick Patterson and C.J. Miles, respectively, for Tolliver, but those deals would’ve taken the Wolves into the tax.
  • In a discussion at The Athletic, Britt Robson and Jon Krawczynski look ahead to the Timberwolves’ offseason, examining the return from the Jimmy Butler trade, Ryan Saunders‘ future, and much more.
  • Jazz assistant Alex Jensen interviewed for the head coaching position at BYU this week, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link) first identified Jensen as a potential frontrunner for BYU.

And-Ones: Iguodala, Gupta, Vesely, Williamson

Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala was elected First Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association, according to an NBPA press release. Iguodala has been on the Executive Committee since February 2013. He replaces LeBron James, whose four-year term has expired.

The BucksMalcolm Brogdon, the CelticsJaylen Brown and the HornetsBismack Biyombo were elected to serve as VPs on the Executive Committee. They replace Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Curry and Iguodala.

Chris Paul remains President of the committee with Anthony Tolliver, Pau Gasol, C.J. McCollum and Garrett Temple also serving on it.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Pistons assistant GM Sachin Gupta never knew ESPN’s Trade Machine would become so popular when he created it in 2006, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Gupta called it a “fun project” and took about a month to write the code for the Trade Machine when he worked for the network, Beard adds. “It’s not meant to replace common sense. It’s not meant to replace any GM’s job,” Gupta said. “It’s simply based on the rules and whether it works or not.”
  • Former NBA player Jan Vesely has signed an extension with Fenerbahce that keep him under contract until 2022, the Turkish team tweets. The 7-foot power forward was drafted by the Wizards with the sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft but only lasted three NBA seasons.
  • Stephen Curry is a fan of Duke’s Zion Williamson, considered the top prospect in this year’s draft, he said in an interview with The Undefeated and relayed by E. Jay Zarett of the Sporting News. “He’s unreal. We were talking about him the other day in our team room,” Curry said, via Justin Tinsley of the Undefeated. “He has a lot of hype around him and he’s unbelievably talented, but you can’t teach his passion and the way that … he plays. He plays hard every possession, and that’s an underrated skill that kids can kind of emulate.”

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Northwest Division:

Tyler Lydon, Nuggets, 22, PF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $3.45MM deal in 2017
Lydon was the 24th overall pick in 2017 and acquired from Utah in a draft-day deal. He didn’t make much of an impression as a rookie, as the Nuggets declined his third-year option in October. Lydon has appeared in 21 games this season, mostly during garbage time. At the G League level, Lydon has averaged 5.3 three-point attempts and made 36.7%. He’s also rebounded well (8.5 in 31.3 MPG). He’ll be seeking a fresh start this summer, most likely with a rebuilding team that can offer him a greater opportunity.

Anthony Tolliver, Timberwolves, 33, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $5.75MM deal in 2018
Tolliver carved out a steady role under former Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and delivered a career year last season. He averaged 8.9 PPG in 22.2 MPG and shot 43.6% from distance, and when he hit the free agent market, he drew interest from the Clippers, Mavericks, and Sixers as well as the Timberwolves. It hasn’t gone well in Minnesota, as Tolliver completely dropped out of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation in mid-November. He’s seen more action under Ryan Saunders but hasn’t made an impact. He’ll likely have to settle for the veteran’s minimum this summer to stay in the league.

Nerlens Noel, Thunder, 24, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $3.74MM deal in 2018
Noel has a player option worth less than $2MM and it’s likely he’ll decline it and take his chances on the open market. Noel has carved out a steady bench role with the Thunder and provided a defensive presence, along with an occasional scoring outburst. His Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating, according to Basketball-Reference, is an outstanding 5.8. He posted a 22-point, 13-rebound stat line in 22 minutes in a loss to New Orleans on Thursday. Noel, the sixth overall pick in 2013, has revived his career to some extent after a lost season in Dallas.

Al-Farouq Aminu, Trail Blazers, 28, PF (Up) — Signed to a four-year, $30MM deal in 2015
The quintessential glue guy, Aminu never puts up big numbers but he does a little bit of everything for a playoff-bound team in the West. He’s averaging a career-best 7.9 RPG in 29.0 MPG and his defensive versatility makes him indispensable on a team lacking in stoppers. He’s also become a respectable – if not prolific – 3-point shooter (35.8%). It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if Aminu re-signs with Portland but he’ll have several suitors in July and shouldn’t have any trouble getting a multi-year deal.

Royce O’Neale, Jazz, 25, SF (Up)– Signed to a three-year, $3.8MM deal in 2017
O’Neale, undrafted out of Baylor, has been a rotation player all season for Utah. He’s often the the last offensive option on the court but he’s pumped up his production this month. He averaged 13.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG in the last four games prior to the All-Star break. He’s shooting an outstanding 43.9% from long range and advanced defensive metrics are also kind to him (2.2 Defensive Box Plus/Minus). O’Neale’s $1.62MM salary for next season isn’t fully guaranteed until next January but the Jazz might do that a lot sooner and perhaps even negotiate an extension with the swingman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Gasol, Conley, Hornets, Wolves, Suns

The Grizzlies hold two of the NBA’s biggest trade chips as today’s trade deadline approaches, and the two teams linked most frequently to Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, respectively, remain in the hunt for those players, according to reports.

Marc Stein of The New York Times tweeted this morning that the Hornets continue to engage the Grizzlies on a potential deal for Gasol, which has been rumored throughout the week, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms (via Twitter) that the two teams are still trying to bridge the gap in those talks.

Meanwhile, on the Conley front, the Jazz have been most frequently cited as a potential landing spot for the veteran point guard. Despite whispers that Conley prefers not to end up in Utah, the Jazz haven’t abandoned their efforts to acquire him, according to Stein, who tweets that Memphis has considered waiting until the offseason to revisit Conley trade talks.

Even if Gasol and/or Conley stay put, it could still be an active deadline in Memphis. Stein notes (via Twitter) that JaMychal Green is attracting trade interest. Garrett Temple and Justin Holiday have also been mentioned as potential trade candidates.

Here are a few more trade rumors from across the league:

  • While their focus is on Gasol for now, the Hornets were in the mix for Harrison Barnes before he was sent to Sacramento, according to Stein (Twitter link).
  • The Timberwolves haven’t made any serious progress on any deals, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who observes (via Twitter) that the Jeff Teague, Gorgui Dieng, and Taj Gibson contracts won’t be easy to move due to large cap hits and – in the case of Teague and Dieng – multiyear commitments. Anthony Tolliver, on a smaller expiring contract, has generated interest and could be moved today, Wolfson adds.
  • League sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic that the Suns haven’t talked to the Lakers about a Lonzo Ball deal and that Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren aren’t expected to go anywhere today.
  • Although there may be an outside perception that Anthony Davis‘ trade request has destabilized the Pelicans, none of his teammates have shown even a hint of animosity toward him, as Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com details. Head coach Alvin Gentry called Davis “a great kid,” while teammate Jrue Holiday said, he “loves” having AD around. “He’s like my big brother. He takes care of me,” Jahlil Okafor said of Davis. “… Selfishly, I would love to be by him every day like I have been this year. But at the end of the day, I just want him to be happy.”

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Nuggets, IT, Rubio

It’s possible that the Timberwolves will stand pat at the trade deadline as they look to push for a playoff spot in the West, but doing so would mean forgoing an opportunity to “leverage existing assets for future gains,” writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. As Robson points out, unless the Wolves have a plan for how to re-sign and incorporate veterans like Derrick Rose, Anthony Tolliver, and Taj Gibson, who are on expiring contracts, it might make sense to explore the trade market for possible deals.

Elsewhere in the Northwest, the Nuggets are another team whose trade deadline outlook remains cloudy, as Nick Kosmider of The Athletic details. The odds of Denver making a major move appear slim, but the club has a number of trade exceptions at its disposal that could be used to acquire a rotation player – perhaps a Wayne Ellington type – without going into the tax. Of course, with Isaiah Thomas potentially on track to return down the stretch, the Nuggets may simply view IT as their de facto deadline acquisition, Kosmider notes.

Here are a few more notes from around the Northwest:

  • Speaking of Isaiah Thomas, after a weekend report suggested that the Nuggets were optimistic the point guard would make his debut with the team before the All-Star break, head coach Mike Malone pushed back on the idea that there’s a set timeline, per Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. “Don’t believe everything you read,” Malone said. “I don’t know where these leaks come from, but (with) Isaiah, there’s no timeline. There’s nothing (that has) been set about February, this, that or the other thing. You’ll see him when he’s ready to play.”
  • Plagued by injuries at the point guard spot so far in 2019, the Jazz got a boost when Ricky Rubio returned to the rotation on Monday, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Dante Exum and Raul Neto remain sidelined, likely until at least next week, but Utah has made a nice run while short-handed, winning eight of 10 games to move into playoff position in the West.
  • Derrick Rose played a big part in helping Karl-Anthony Towns get through the Jimmy Butler “mess” earlier in the season, according to Kentucky’s John Calipari, who coached Towns for one season in 2014/15. According to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Timberwolves team members say that Towns’ locker room presence receded as Butler became more frustrated and unhappy during his final days in Minnesota. “There was a dogfight, and Karl’s not one to get into that. So, he stepped back,” Calipari said. “Things happen. There are power struggles all the time in [the NBA]. If a guy can bully you, he will bully you. And that’s what Jimmy did to Karl. C’mon, that’s the league.”

Latest On Tom Thibodeau, Wolves

Contrary to a report that emerged last night in the wake of Tom Thibodeau’s firing in Minnesota, former Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is not an “immediate candidate” to become the team’s next coach or president, a source tells Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Interim coach Ryan Saunders will be given an opportunity to earn the job on a permanent basis, Krawczynski adds, and he has strong support from his players, who respect his work ethic and welcome his approachable nature as a change from Thibodeau. The organization will consider hiring an assistant who has experience as a head coach to help Saunders with the challenges of his new position.

GM Scott Layden was retained last night and will likely remain in place for the rest of the season, but he may need the team to make the playoffs to keep his job beyond that.

While the Wolves have a disappointing 19-21 record, the decision to part with Thibodeau was based on business as much as basketball, Krawczynski writes. The coach had become unpopular with fans, who routinely booed him every time his name was announced in pre-game introductions. Even worse, they were staying away, as Minnesota has dropped to 29th in home attendance after ranking 21st last season. The organization didn’t want to keep an alienating presence in place with a season ticket drive looming.

It’s no secret that owner Glen Taylor was unhappy with Thibodeau and Layden over how they handled the situation with Jimmy Butler before he was traded to the Sixers. Taylor commented several times that he believed both men were dragging their feet on Butler’s trade request and that they let the volatile star hijack the team during training camp and the early season.

Thibodeau has long had a reputation of giving heavy minutes to his starters, and several players complained about poor communication over their roles. Krawczynski reports that Gorgui Dieng, who has fallen out of the rotation after signing a huge contract, was “openly seething” in the locker room after Friday’s game. Tyus Jones, Anthony Tolliver and Jeff Teague have also expressed frustration over their status on the team.

As one of the few remaining coach/executives left in the league, Thibodeau’s standing was also harmed by several personnel decisions that didn’t work out. He was the driving force behind the decision to send Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a draft pick that turned out to be Lauri Markkanen to the Bulls to acquire Butler. He also convinced Taylor to part with Ricky Rubio in exchange for Teague. And of course, he was responsible for bringing Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, his former players in Chicago, to Minnesota to form the “Timber-Bulls.”

Taylor was in Florida last night as Layden and CEO Ethan Casson delivered the news to Thibodeau. Taylor’s only comment came in an official statement from the organization, saying, “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”