Ben McLemore

Trail Blazers To Sign Ben McLemore

The Trail Blazers will sign free agent shooting guard Ben McLemore, his agent Rich Paul has informed Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (via Twitter).

The athletic swingman flashed significant promise during his first few seasons with the Kings, who selected him with the seventh pick in the 2013 draft out of Kansas. He next proved himself to be a valuable role player while with the Grizzlies, and then suited up for an encore 2018/19 Sacramento season.

Armed with quickness and a reliable three-point shot, McLemore served as a helpful wing contributor on the Rockets’ most recent playoff team, operating as a role player to support All-Star guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook, during the 2019/20 season.

After the Rockets began a midseason 2020/21 fire sale, they sent McLemore to the Lakers. McLemore averaged 8.0 PPG and 1.6 RPG in 21 contests for Los Angeles, connecting on 36.8% of his 5.4 three-point attempts a night. He should prove a valuable floor-spacing role player on the perimeter for Portland.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

California Notes: McLemore, Cousins, Jones, Gasol

The newest Lakers addition, athletic veteran wing Ben McLemore, brings competent perimeter defense to the club, but more than that, his three-point shooting will fulfill a need for Los Angeles, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise for the new reserve: “Ben instantly elevates our ability to knock down 3s on the backside when double teams come and we can play the drive-and-kick game that the modern NBA is made on. So we’re thrilled about his addition and looking forward to getting him into some minutes and into our program.”

The latest Laker is a career 36.3% three-point shooter on 4.0 attempts per game. This season with the rebuilding Rockets, he converted a somewhat below-average 33.1% of his 5.2 long-range looks per contest. Last season, with Houston in the thick of a playoff hunt, McLemore was connecting on 40% of his 6.4 deep looks a night.

There’s more out of California:

  • Clippers All-Star forward Paul George conveyed his excitement for the club’s newest backup center, former four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN“He’s still one of the most skilled bigs in the league,” George raved. Cousins discussed his focus on his fitness in striving to remain in the NBA following a string of major lower body injuries. “I’ve put an incredible amount of work to get to this place,” Cousins said. “I’m in probably the best shape I’ve been in my entire career.”
  • New Kings center Damian Jones, inked to a 10-day deal with the team, has observed similarities between Sacramento’s plays and those of his former team in Golden State, tweets Jason Jones of The Athletic. Kings head coach Luke Walton was an assistant coach on the Warriors bench before departing for his first head coaching opportunity with the Lakers.
  • Recently-demoted Lakers center Marc Gasol made a strong case for continued rotation minutes when he stepped in for new starting center Andre Drummond recently, writes Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. Gasol appeared to be more positive about his reduced role in Los Angeles alongside Drummond. “No matter if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, if it’s whatever position — if it’s some nights, I might not play,” Gasol acknowledged. “It’s been a process for me to reassess this situation a little bit, but like I said, I’m fully committed to this team. So, whatever is thrown at me, I’ll be ready.” Previously, Gasol had expressed frustration with the move. With Drummond now back, Gasol did not play at all in tonight’s 110-104 loss to the Heat.

VanVleet, Bembry, Horton-Tucker Receive One-Game Suspensions

The NBA has suspended three players – Raptors guards Fred VanVleet and DeAndre’ Bembry, along with Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker – for one game apiece, the league announced today in a press release.

The three players left the bench area during an on-court altercation during the Raptors/Lakers game on Tuesday (video link). After Dennis Schröder committed a foul on a OG Anunoby shot attempt, the two players got tangled up and Anunoby grabbed Schroder by the leg, flipping him to the ground. Players from both teams entered the fray at that point.

According to today’s announcement, Anunoby received a $30K fine for initiating the incident, while Lakers big man Montrezl Harrell has been docked $20K for aggressively entering the altercation and shoving Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the one-game suspension will be costliest for VanVleet, who will forfeit $146,552 of his salary. Bembry ($11,980) and Horton-Tucker ($10,469) will also each lose one game’s worth of pay.

Horton-Tucker and Bembry will serve their suspensions tonight, while VanVleet will serve his one-game ban once he’s healthy and ready to return from his hip ailment.

Although they’ll be missing Horton-Tucker, and Kyle Kuzma is listed as questionable with calf tightness, the Lakers will get some reinforcements for Thursday’s contest vs. Miami, as head coach Frank Vogel said today that both Ben McLemore (protocols) and Andre Drummond (toe) will be available (Twitter link via Mike Trudell).

Lakers Sign Ben McLemore To Rest-Of-Season Deal

7:00pm: The Lakers have issued a press release officially announcing the addition of McLemore.


2:14pm: Free agent guard Ben McLemore has reached an agreement to sign with the Lakers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’ll be a rest-of-season contract, Charania adds (via Twitter).

McLemore, 28, had been playing for the Rockets until he was released on Saturday. The former seventh overall pick cleared waivers on Monday, making him eligible to sign with any team, and Charania suggests (via Twitter) that he drew interest from a few other contenders, including the Bucks.

The Lakers make sense as McLemore’s destination, given that he’s a Klutch Sports client, like LeBron James and Anthony Davis, among others. The team was also said to be seeking a three-and-D wing after signing Andre Drummond.

McLemore had a strong season in Houston a year ago, averaging 10.1 PPG on .444/.400/.746 shooting in 71 games (22.8 MPG) for a Rockets team that made the postseason and won its first-round playoff series.

This year, playing for a squad that has undergone major roster upheaval and has been hit hard by injuries and COVID-19 protocols, McLemore’s numbers dipped across the board — he recorded 7.4 PPG on .357/.331/.719 shooting in 32 contests (16.8 MPG).

Since the Lakers have an open spot on their 15-man roster, no corresponding move will be required to make room for McLemore. The team also has enough space below its hard cap to finalize the deal immediately. If McLemore were to officially sign today, he’d earn just under $611K for the rest of the season, with L.A. taking on a $455K cap hit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rockets Waive Ben McLemore

APRIL 4: The move is official, according to a tweet from the team.


APRIL 3: The Rockets are planning to waive sharpshooting swingman Ben McLemore, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Several contending teams are expected to have interest in McLemore, Charania adds.

McLemore, 28, was one of many Rockets players available at the trade deadline but no deal materialized. In 32 games (four starts) with Houston this season, McLemore averaged 7.4 PPG and 2.1 PPG. Those numbers are down from his first year with the Rockets in 2019/20, when he posted 10.1 PPG across 72 contests.

In his eighth NBA season, McLemore will look to join his fourth team after previously having suited up for the Kings, Grizzlies and Rockets.

McLemore becomes the latest casualty of a difficult season in Houston, both on and off the court. The team played through a historic losing streak while dismantling its roster and McLemore is now the latest player set to depart.

Rockets Likely To Trade Oladipo Before Deadline

The Heat and Knicks, two of the teams linked most frequently to Victor Oladipo, are reluctant to offer substantial packages for the Rockets guard, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). However, that doesn’t mean that Houston is considering moving the two-time All-Star for pennies on the dollar.

[RELATED: Heat, Knicks, Pistons have shown interest in Oladipo]

According to Wojnarowski, a market has developed for Oladipo, with teams offering some combination of young players and/or first-round picks. The clubs making those offers will be capped out this offseason, Woj notes, which means acquiring Oladipo’s Bird rights would be crucial to locking him up long-term. Miami and New York, on the other hand, project to have significant cap room and could conceivably sign Oladipo outright in free agency.

The Rockets appear likely to move Oladipo before this Thursday’s trade deadline, says Wojnarowski.

[RELATED: Hawks worth keeping eye on for Oladipo]

Oladipo hasn’t recaptured his All-Star form since suffering a ruptured quad tendon in 2019, but remains relatively productive, averaging 20.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 4.7 APG on .411/.333/.767 shooting in 29 games (33.4 MPG) for Indiana and Houston this season. He’ll be seeking a raise on his current $21MM salary this offseason when he reaches unrestricted free agency.

Besides Oladipo, not many other Rockets players who are on the trade block are generating major interest ahead of this week’s deadline, per David Aldridge, Kelly Iko, and Danny Leroux of The Athletic. Danuel House has generated some interest, but the market for Sterling Brown and Ben McLemore appears limited.

Southwest Notes: J. Johnson, Rockets, Nwaba, DeRozan

Mavericks forward James Johnson, who left the team over the weekend to attend a personal matter in Wyoming, missed a mandatory COVID-19 test and will be sidelined due to the health and safety protocols until he registers a certain number of negative tests, head coach Rick Carlisle said on Tuesday, per Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.

Johnson is now back in Dallas, but he won’t be active for any of the Mavericks’ three remaining games this week, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, who tweets that the earliest the veteran forward could be cleared is for the March 24 contest against Minnesota.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • In the latest episode of The HoopsHype Podcast, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype and Kelly Iko of The Athletic previewed the Rockets‘ trade deadline, discussing possible suitors for Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker, as well as other players who could be available. Iko believes Ben McLemore could be had for a second-round pick and suggests that Christian Wood is the closest thing to an untouchable player on the roster.
  • David Nwaba decided to forgo wrist surgery and play through the injury for the shorthanded Rockets, but he reaggravated the issue a couple games ago, putting surgery back on the table, according to head coach Stephen Silas, who said Nwaba is “probably going to be out for quite a bit” (video link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston).
  • Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan will miss a fourth consecutive game on Wednesday for personal reasons, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).
  • Although the Pelicans suffered a brutal loss in Portland on Tuesday night, the decision to expand the rotation has served the team well, giving New Orleans’ young players a chance to see more minutes, writes Scott Kushner of NOLA.com.

Southwest Notes: Porter, Grizzlies, McLemore, Doncic, Porzingis

With John Wall out due to a left knee contusion and Eric Gordon sidelined for four-to-six weeks, Kevin Porter Jr. will get more playing time than expected, starting with his Rockets debut on Friday, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Porter was recalled from the G League last weekend.

The second-year swingman, who was acquired from the Cavaliers in January, lit up the G League. He averaged 24.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.5 steals in 15 games. “He will have the ball in his hands, he will initiate plays, he will be off the ball a little bit,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said.

We have more on the Southwest Division:

  • The Grizzlies don’t have a glaring need heading toward the trade deadline but they could use more star power, according to Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian. Getting that star isn’t an easy proposition, though they have enough assets to pull off such a deal. They could also consider dealing two or three good players for one better one, even if that player isn’t quite an All-Star, Herrington adds.
  • Rockets guard Ben McLemore is drawing interest from teams looking to add backcourt depth, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets. McLemore, 28, had one of the better years of his career last season, averaging 10.1 PPG and shooting 40% from deep in 71 games. He’s averaging 6.4 PPG in 15.7 MPG this year and his shot has been off (30.9% on threes). McLemore is the final year of a very movable contract ($2.28MM).
  • Mavericks stars Luka Dončić (right ankle) and Kristaps Porzingis (right knee) sat out Thursday’s game in the second end of a back-to-back. That won’t be the last time they’ll get nights off for injury recovery, coach Rick Carlisle told Eddie Sefko of the team’s website and other media members. “There will be more of these along the way,” he said.

Rockets Rumors: Oladipo, Tucker, Gordon, More

With the Rockets in the midst of a 13-game losing streak and their playoff chances dwindling, people around the NBA are wondering if general manager Rafael Stone will launch a full-scale rebuild this month in what could be a seller’s market, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

One rival scout told Fischer that he keeps hearing the Rockets will hold a “fire sale” prior to this year’s deadline, while an assistant general manager predicted that the club will “burn the house down.” Another assistant GM told Bleacher Report that Houston has been starting to call teams about deals.

The Rockets haven’t had a sub-.500 season since 2005/06 and it’s unclear whether team owner Tilman Fertitta would have the patience for a multiyear rebuild. As Fischer explains, Houston still had playoff aspirations when it traded James Harden to Brooklyn in January — the decision to flip Caris LeVert for Victor Oladipo in that blockbuster deal was made in part due to the club’s belief that Oladipo would make more of an impact in the postseason race.

However, the Rockets also have incentive not to try to fight their way back up the standings, as their first-round pick will be swapped with either the Thunder’s or Heat’s pick (whichever is worse) if it doesn’t land in the top four. Even a last-place finish won’t guarantee that the Rockets hang onto their own first-rounder, but the lower they finish, the better their odds are of hanging onto a top pick that could help them secure a long-term franchise cornerstone.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Fischer suggests that if the Rockets hang onto Oladipo through the trade deadline, a sign-and-trade deal in the offseason appears to be the most likely outcome. “They’re too smart to just whiff and get nothing off of him,” a Western Conference official said. Still, getting anything of value in a sign-and-trade would hinge on Oladipo wanting to join a team that doesn’t have the cap room available to sign him outright.
  • The Sixers are on a long list of potential suitors for P.J. Tucker, according to Fischer, who says the veteran forward would welcome the opportunity to join a 76ers team led by former Rockets GM Daryl Morey. League sources tell Bleacher Report that Houston could’ve gotten a late first-round pick from the Timberwolves in the 2020 draft for Tucker, but the team will be hard-pressed to get that strong a return now, since the 35-year-old has had a down year. “If they had a first for him now, he’d already be gone,” one GM said.
  • Fischer adds that there has been a “long-whispered rumor” that the Nets and Rockets could make a swap involving Tucker and Spencer Dinwiddie. According to Fischer, wherever Tucker ends up, he’ll be looking for one last lucrative contract in the offseason, having turned down a two-year extension from the Rockets earlier in the season.
  • There’s little expectation that the Rockets will trade Eric Gordon, sources tell Fischer. However, clubs may target some of the team’s other, more affordable wings, including Sterling Brown, Danuel House, Ben McLemore, and Jae’Sean Tate.

Texas Notes: New Rockets Backcourt, Doncic, McLemore, Stone

With the James Harden drama now in their rearview, the Rockets have a backcourt featuring two former All-Stars in John Wall and Victor Oladipo, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. That guard tandem, plus well-paid reserve Eric Gordon, will need to develop chemistry and coordinate how they divvy up shooting and ball-handling duties.

Feigen notes that Wall and Oladipo could be a better defensive pair than their predecessor duos of Harden and Russell Westbrook and Harden and Chris Paul, though injuries could be an impediment to that. Both Wall and Oladipo have lengthy injury histories, and Wall is currently out with knee issues.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Mavericks All-Star Luka Doncic and longtime head coach Rick Carlisle will have to move past the former’s noticeable frustration that the latter did not employ an available timeout during a pivotal late-game possession in Dallas’s eventual 112-109 defeat to the Bucks last Friday, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN details.
  • Backup Rockets guard Ben McLemore realizes that expectations for Houston may be lower than they were with Harden, but contends that the team has more than enough to compete, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (Twitter video link). “We got guys that are gonna fight, that’s gonna compete, that’s dogs,” McLemore said.
  • Rockets GM Rafael Stone discussed the new-look club during a virtual media conference call today, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Stone explained his interest in ultimately making a trade with the Nets for James Harden. “What’s super exciting about this deal is that it gives us flexibility,” Stone said. “In the NBA, picks are the best currency. Everybody likes them, everybody values them.” Stone also mentioned that the club “will aggressively be trying to use” the $10.6MM trade exception it acquired in the transaction ahead of the 2020/21 season’s trade deadline in late March.