Axel Hervelle

And-Ones: 2020/21 Season, Trade Exceptions, J. Martin, More

The NBA pulled off an impressive feat over the summer, making it through the end of its 2019/20 season and the entire playoffs at Walt Disney World without any COVID-19 cases among players. However, now that the NBA has left its bubble for the ’20/21 campaign, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers is among those worried about whether or not the league will be able to replicate that success, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“Man, I tell you I’m very concerned if we can pull this off,” Rivers said, pointing to COVID-19 outbreaks in college football and in the NFL as ominous signs. “The difference in football is they play once a week. They have 1,000 players, so when you miss three or four players, you can still get away with it.

“If we miss three or four players, we’re in trouble, especially with the amount of games (we play). We’re playing three to four games a week. So if one of our guys, or two of our key guys, get the virus and they miss 10 days to 14 days, that can be eight games. In a 72-game season, that can knock you out of the playoffs.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • After the Thunder and Celtics created record-setting traded player exceptions this offseason, some executives around the league are wondering if the TPE rules aren’t functioning as intended and should be tweaked, says Sean Deveney of
  • Former NBA first-round pick Jarell Martin has signed with the Sydney Kings in Australia’s National Basketball League, sources tell Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Martin, who appeared in 184 NBA games for Memphis and Orlando, will replace newly-retired big man Andrew Bogut in Sydney’s frontcourt, Uluc notes.
  • We’re less than two weeks removed from the 2020 draft, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to look ahead to the 2021 offseason. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) previews what to expect next summer, Danny Leroux of The Athletic projects which teams will have the most cap room, and John Hollinger of The Athletic identifies some star players worth watching leading up to the ’21 offseason.
  • Just days after having his draft rights traded to the Knicks in their Austin Rivers deal, Belgian power forward Axel Hervelle has announced his retirement, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Hervelle, 37, never signed an NBA contract after being drafted 52nd overall in 2005.

Knicks Add Austin Rivers Via Sign-And-Trade

The Knicks have officially completed their addition of Austin Rivers in a sign-and-trade deal with the Rockets rather than signing him outright, announcing the move today in a press release.

The move also sends the draft rights of three players – guard Sergio Llull, forward Tadija Dragicevic, and forward Axel Hervelle – to New York. In exchange, the Rockets receive the draft rights to guard Issuf Sanon and create a modest trade exception.

Rivers had agreed over the weekend to sign a three-year, $10MM deal with the Knicks. The final two years of his new contract are non-guaranteed, which is permitted under sign-and-trade rules.

The inclusion of Llull in this deal is the most interesting new piece of information. The Rockets have long attempted to get the Spanish guard, who was selected 34th overall in the 2009 draft, to come stateside and play in the NBA, but he has preferred to remain in his home country with Real Madrid — he has played for the EuroLeague club since 2007.

At age 33, Llull seems increasingly unlikely to ever make the move to the NBA. That’s even more true of Dragicevic and Hervelle, who were drafted in 2008 and 2005, respectively, and are in their mid-30s now. However, their rights could be useful as filler in future trades.

Sanon, who has played for Slovenian and Ukrainian teams since being drafted in 2018, is still a candidate to eventually sign an NBA contract. He was the 44th overall pick two years ago and is still just 21 years old.

Of course, the only player of immediate importance in the deal is Rivers, who will add some veteran experience to the Knicks’ backcourt in 2020/21. He averaged 8.8 PPG and 2.6 RPG on .421/.356/.703 shooting in 68 games (23.4 MPG) for the Rockets last season.

New York will technically be hard-capped as a result of acquiring a player via sign-and-trade. The team remains far below the cap for the time being though, so it’s fair to assume that $138.93MM hard cap won’t become an issue in 2020/21.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.