Arron Afflalo

Pacific Rumors: Thomas, Budenholzer, Cook, Kings

Isaiah Thomas hip issue has severely damaged his value on the open market, some front office executives told Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. Fears that his hip is either pre-arthritic or already arthritic will likely force the Lakers point guard to accept a one-year “prove it” deal or a two-year deal with a team option, Deveney continues. That’s a dramatic fall for a player who was expected to be a max contract candidate just a year ago, Deveney notes. One GM that Deveney talked to predicted that Thomas would have to accept a “low-risk deal.”

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • It’s unclear why Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the Suns he was no longer interested in their head coaching job, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes. He was either underwhelmed by what he heard from the Suns’ brass, didn’t get a sufficient financial offer or found a better opportunity somewhere else, Bordow adds. Ex-Grizzlies coach David Fizdale appears to be the favorite for the job but he’s also being pursued by the Knicks, Hornets and perhaps the Bucks, Bordow continues. Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov also appears to be a prime candidate but if the Trail Blazers fire Terry Stotts, he would likely become the frontrunner, Bordow adds.
  • Quinn Cook‘s long odyssey from being undrafted in 2015 to rotation player with the Warriors in this year’s playoffs is chronicled by Sports Illustrated’s Jack Fischer. This season alone was a whirlwind, as Fischer explains, with Cook getting waived by the Hawks before training camp, then signing a two-way contract with Golden State. When Stephen Curry was sidelined by a left knee injury, the Warriors signed Cook to a standard contract. He’s averaging 6.8 PPG in 19.8 MPG against the Spurs in the opening round.
  • The Kings have $5.4MM in cap room to use by the end of June, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. They increased it by $2MM through the set-off in the waived contracts of Anthony Tolliver and Arron Afflalo, Marks adds. The new cap year begins in July.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Orlando Magic

Despite some unsavory long-term contracts, the Magic have plenty of cap space lined up for the 2018/19 season. For that reason, and the obvious one that they haven’t sniffed a .500 record the last six seasons, the franchise is very much a blank canvas heading forward.

Last season was the first year at the helm for new president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond, and they played things rather safe, inking a handful of serviceable, if forgettable, veterans to modest deals and calling it an offseason. This summer we may get our first look at what their long-term plans for the franchise are.

Arron Afflalo, SG, 32 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
While the once-vaunted perimeter defender previously came with a hefty price tag, the Magic managed to snag Afflalo on a cheap deal this past season. You can’t fault the squad for the speculative leadership add considering the lack of identity on the roster, but there’s no obvious reason to expect the veteran to want to return after a forgettable 2017/18. Afflalo played just 12.9 minutes per game this season and literally can’t do any worse on the open market than he did last time when he landed a minimum contract on a terrible team that couldn’t even be bothered to give him consistent playing time. That’s not a knock on either party — sometimes things just aren’t a good fit — but I expect the journeyman to seek a more substantive role for the first time since his stint in Denver.

Aaron Gordon, PF, 22 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $18MM contract in 2014
The Magic have all the flexibility in the world to accommodate a sizable Gordon deal and the combo forward is intriguing enough to convince at least one other team to make a generous offer. While it’s hard to say with certainty that Gordon can carry this franchise on his back given that he hasn’t really done so in four seasons, it’s equally hard to fault a team for pouncing on the opportunity to lock in an All-Star-adjacent asset that hasn’t even turned 23 yet. Could Gordon yield the max contract that he’s said to be seeking? It seems within reach, even if the Magic or any other team that commits to it ends up slightly underwhelmed.

Mario Hezonja, SF, 23 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $12MM contract in 2015Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic vertical
The Magic turned down the fourth-year option on Hezonja’s rookie contract and the swingman responded with the most memorable season of his young career so far. In 11 February contests Hezonja averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, briefly showcasing that he could potentially be relied upon as an offensive weapon if given the opportunity. Nothing precludes the Magic from putting an offer on the table to bring him back this summer, but they can’t give him a starting salary higher than the value of the option they turned down ($5.17MM). Regardless, declining that option suggests the front office may have already made up its mind about his future with the team. Hezonja should draw interest elsewhere and could end up as a modest rotation player.

Marreese Speights, C, 30 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Speights went from chipping in for four straight Western Conference contenders to a decidedly less competitive Magic squad, but don’t overlook the fact that the veteran established himself as a leader on a team in his home state. While there won’t be a shortage of space or money to bring Speights back in 2018/19, it’s reasonable to believe he’ll at least consider offers that could put him back in a position to contend. Speights was, and remains, an intriguing stretch big capable of filling the stat sheet in limited minutes off the bench. He won’t be any team’s top priority but he’s worth more than what he made this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Rumors: Afflalo, Thompson, Johnson, Wizards

Arron Afflalo could be a target for the Raptors if he reaches a buyout agreement with the Magic, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Afflalo played for the Nuggets when Raptors president Masai Ujiri was there, while current Magic president Jeff Weltman is Toronto’s former GM, Lewenberg notes. The career 38.6% 3-point shooter would give the Raptors some insurance at the wing, Lewenberg adds. Afflalo has appeared in 43 games with the Magic, averaging 3.2 PPG in 12.9 MPG. He signed with Orlando last summer on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.

In other developments around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks are an unlikely destination for Klay Thompson during free agency in 2019, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays though an Adrian Wojnarowski podcast. The Warriors shooting guard wants to continue to play in a warm weather city, he told Wojnarowski. “It’d be weird leaving the Bay Area. I believe I’m going to be there for a very long time.,” he said. “I can say that truthfully. But a lot can happen the next two years. It’s going to be hard to leave California when it’s sunny like this.”
  • The Heat are expected to seek offers for combo guard Tyler Johnson as early as this summer but his contract provisions will make that difficult, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald explains. Johnson will make $19.2MM in each of the final two years of the backloaded deal, plus Miami would have to pay a $3.2MM trade kicker, Jackson continues. Any team trading for Johnson this offseason would have to take on the additional $1.6MM cap hit in each of the next two seasons. Miami matched the Nets’ offer sheet for Johnson during the summer of 2016.
  • The Wizards need to do a better job of communicating with each other to avoid locker room controversies, Chase Hughes of NBCSports.com writes. The team does not have any unresolvable issues, according to Hughes, but problems like the tension between John Wall and his teammates need to be addressed privately rather than through the media or social media channels, Hughes adds.

Rockets Notes: Trade Market, CP3, Rotation

Although the Rockets had a big win over the Warriors on Saturday night, one January victory is a far cry from beating Golden State in a seven-game series in May. In order to give his team the best possible chance to knock off the defending champions, GM Daryl Morey figures to explore the trade market leading up to the deadline, so ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) surveyed some of Houston’s potential options.

As Marks details, James Harden, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, and Clint Capela are considered part of the Rockets’ core and won’t go anywhere at the deadline. Several other veterans, including Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, and Luc Mbah a Moute, are important pieces in the rotation and are also unlikely to be moved. Ryan Anderson‘s contract makes him a potential trade chip, but that’s more likely to happen in 2018/19 than in the next two weeks, in Marks’ view.

That leaves the Rockets, who have already traded their 2018 first-round pick, with few trade assets of note, as Marks acknowledges. The former Nets front office executive points to Mario Chalmers and Arron Afflalo as the sort of smaller-scale trade (or buyout) targets the Rockets could look into in the coming weeks.

Here’s more out of Houston:

  • In an in-depth Paul feature on SI.com, Lee Jenkins writes that Harden’s free agent pursuit of Paul last year began before the offseason started. According to Jenkins, Harden asked CP3 about his free agency plans during the 81st game of the regular season, when the Rockets faced the Clippers.
  • Within the same piece, Jenkins suggests that Paul insists he has no plans to become a coach once his playing career is over. While the cerebral point guard, who already serves as a sort of on-court coach, is viewed as a good fit for that sort of role, he’s not interested in the travel that comes along with it, says Jenkins.
  • With Harden, Paul, and the rest of the key Rockets players healthy – and Ariza and Gerald Green back from their two-game suspensions – Mike D’Antoni has more options at his disposal than he has all season. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle details, D’Antoni views that as a “good problem” and may extend his rotation beyond his usual eight or nine players for the next little while.

NBA Suspends Arron Afflalo Two Games

The NBA has suspended Magic guard Arron Afflalo two games for his role in an altercation with Timberwolves forward Nemanja Bjelica, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets.

On Tuesday night, Afflalo got tangled up with the 29-year-old Wolves forward and ended up launching a wild haymaker that careened off the back of Bjelica’s head and neck. Bjelica put Afflalo in a headlock before the two were eventually separated.

The suspension, which will be in place for tonight’s Magic-Cavaliers game, targets Afflalo and not Bjelica presumably because Afflalo appeared to be the one to escalate the situation, while Bjelica looked content containing Afflalo and defusing the situation.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Magic, Wall, Morris

Given Pat Riley‘s history as a coach and executive overseeing star-studded rosters, it’s somewhat unusual that the Heat don’t currently have any players that have made an All-Star team. However, as he said this week during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Riley believes Miami has players that qualify as “stars,” even if they’ve never been recognized as All-Stars.

“I was asked this question earlier and I was a little bit taken aback by it, that, ‘How do you think you can win when you don’t have any All-Stars?'” the Heat president said, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “And when you think about All-Stars, there were 12 All-Stars last year in the Eastern Conference and there are 225 players in the Eastern Conference. So we had a lot of stars on our team last year, we had All-Stars on our team last year, they simply weren’t selected.”

Although Riley is happy with his current roster, he also made it clear that the Heat won’t hesitate to pursue superstar-caliber players should they become available: “When it comes to ‘one step away,’ where are we in the rebuilding process, we’re going to always chase the most talented players that we can that are superstars, that we feel have the ability to be a superstar, and to really carry a team when a team can’t carry itself.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast division:

  • After bouncing around from Denver to Portland to New York to Sacramento over the last several seasons, Arron Afflalo is happy to be back in Orlando. And, as Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes, his Magic teammates are happy to have him on the roster. “He’s a really great vet to have around,” Aaron Gordon said of Afflalo. “Not only is he extremely talented and a skilled basketball player . . . he’s very good in the locker room. He’s always positive. He’s always encouraging. He’s looking to get everybody involved.”
  • John Denton of NBA.com takes a closer look at new Magic swingman Jonathon Simmons, the club’s biggest free agent signing of the offseason.
  • Wizards head coach Scott Brooks believes John Wall can be in the MVP conversation this season, and Wall admits that he’s set the same goal for himself, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.
  • Wall and the Wizards are looking forward to getting Markieff Morris back with the team, though the veteran forward won’t be healthy to start the season. Hughes has the details in a separate article for NBC Sports Washington.

Arron Afflalo Signs One-Year Deal With Magic

JULY 27, 11:03pm: The signing is official, according to a tweet from the team.

JULY 25, 4:10pm: The Magic have agreed to a one-year contract with free agent swingman Arron Afflalo, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The deal will be worth the veteran’s minimum, per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter link). Once the signing is official, Orlando looks to be capped out.

Although the Magic front office is under new management now, with Jeff Weltman and John Hammond running the show, the move represents a reunion for the two sides — Afflalo previously played for the franchise from 2012 to 2014.

The 31-year-old journeyman has played for six different franchises in ten seasons. His career slash line is .451/.386/.825, with his best scoring season coming as a member of the Magic in 2013/14. That season, Afflalo scored 18.2 PPG, while shooting 45.9% from the field. The former UCLA Bruin started all 73 games in which he played during that campaign. Over the course of Afflalo’s career, he has averaged 11.3 PPG and has started 534 of his 709 games played.

On Sunday, it was reported that the Magic were  “on course” to sign Marreese Speights to a minimum salary contract. The signing has not yet been made official.

Free Agent Rumors: Afflalo, Timberwolves, Yanyuhang

Veteran swingman Arron Afflalo has remained on vine through the first week of free agency but TNTs David Aldridge suspects that he’ll be picked up soon.

The 31-year-old was waived by the Kings last month after putting up 8.4 points per game in his 10th pro season. In the right situation, Afflalo could be a valuable defensive presence out on the perimeter. In Sacramento he was an established, veteran piece on a team that hit the rebuild button part-way through the regular season.

Aldridge notes that the Timberwolves took a good look at him prior to signing Jamal Crawford, a testament to his value as a 3-and-D option for teams in win now mode.

There’s more free agency buzz from around the league:

Kings Release Arron Afflalo

The Kings have released Arron Afflalo today, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. The guard had a contract guarantee that would have otherwise triggered today.

Afflalo had initially signed a two-year $25MM with the Kings last offseason but the second year, worth $12.5MM, would have only been guaranteed if he remained on the club’s roster through today.

Considering the different state that the franchise is in now versus last year, it’s no surprise that the team has decided to part ways with the veteran.

Per Bobby Marks of The Vertical, rather than pay the $12.5 that had been earmarked for the 2017/18 campaign, the Kings will instead stretch $1.5MM in payouts to Afflalo over the course of the next three seasons.

In 61 games for the Kings last year, including 45 starts, Afflalo put 8.4 points per game.

Pacific Notes: Iguodala, Kerr, Joerger, Rob Pelinka

Andre Iguodala has been assessed a $10K fine for making “inappropriate comments” during a postgame interview, the league announced on its official website (link). Iguodala’s comments came after a 103-102 loss to Minnesota on Friday, when the 33-year-old was venting about not participating in a match-up with the Spurs. Steve Kerr had Iguodala’s back, claiming the 13-year vet likes to mess with the media.

“You guys just got Andre’d,” Kerr said to a group of reporters, including Chris Haynes of ESPN. Andre is one of those guys who likes to stir the pot and has a lot of cryptic messaging at times. [He] jokes around. I didn’t take anything from it. It’s just Andre being Andre.”

Iguodala spoke with the press Monday, expressing regret for the impact of his comments.

“I feel like it’s the wrong time because it puts my team in that situation and coaching staff in that situation,” he told Ethan Strauss of ESPN. “I have a great relationship with Steve Kerr, and he knows that. Steve spoke to you guys about it, you know what I mean. Steve in his words, someone still may not believe him, but he and I are in a great place. We don’t even have to speak about it because he knew that in no way shape or form that I’m talking about him.”

More from around the Pacific…

  • The Kings will be sticking with their veterans despite a losing record, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Coach Dave Joerger isn’t going to “throw away” the team’s remaining games in 2016/17, Jones writes, and will play veterans (Garrett Temple, Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver) alongside young players. “I’m very happy with coach,” Afflalo said. “Throughout all of this, he’s remained very positive and encouraged us to win games. He’s playing to win, he’s doing the best that he can with our roster. I commend him for that. So, from a veteran perspective, you’ve always got to keep hope alive and to to go out there and take it one game at a time.”
  • New Lakers GM Rob Pelinka plans to conduct individual meetings with his players, Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times writes. “For Earvin [Magic Johnson], Luke and I, we see our fundamental purpose, not just one that’s all about leadership in terms of the front office, but that’s also one about service,” Pelinka said. “When I say that, we want to make sure that we establish a platform of excellence for the players in that locker room. That’s the heartbeat of the team. I think the message to the guys is we want to serve your needs to help you be great.”