Bismack Biyombo

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Bridges, Labissiere, Clippers

The Lakers ensured themselves a successful offseason when they signed LeBron James, but they still need to fill a vacancy at center, writes Matt John of Basketball Insiders. The addition of free agent JaVale McGee doesn’t really solidify the position, and the only other choices on the roster are rookie Moe Wagner and Ivica Zubac.

With David West and Brandan Wright as the best free agents left on the market, John identifies several potential trade targets, including Tristan Thompson, James’ former teammate in Cleveland. Thompson is a physical rebounder and defender with whom James had a good rapport. However, John notes that he may not be available unless Cleveland decides to rebuild.

Other possibilities include the Bismack Biyombo, who finds himself in a center logjam after being traded to Charlotte, the Bucks’ John Henson, the Bulls’ Robin Lopez, the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic and the Hawks’ Dewayne Dedmon.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns rookie swingman Mikal Bridges was a little disappointed he didn’t play more in the summer league, James Blancarte of Basketeball Insiders reports. “It’s tough you know. Coming in mentally, you don’t know what the coach is going to do and how they are going to play you,” Bridges told Blancarte. “Couple of games, not playing as much as I thought I was going to be [playing]. Just staying mentally [tough], going through that.” Bridges averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 20 MPG during five Las Vegas outings. He will also likely have wait his turn during his rookie campaign but Phoenix thought enough of him to swing a draft-night trade with the Sixers, Blancarte notes.
  • Kings big man Skal Labissiere is looking to improve his durability during his offseason workouts, Jason Wise of the team’s website relays. Memphis-area trainer Raheem Shabazz has made Instagram posts showing the work Labissiere is putting in as he prepares for his third NBA season.
  • Clippers lottery picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson showed flashes of potential in summer league games but they were far from perfect, according to Keith Smith of RealGM. Gilgeous-Alexander has a solid all-around game but needs lot of work with his shot. Robinson has to focus more on the defensive end, Smith continues, while undrafted big man Angel Delgado struggled on the perimeter. However, Delgado displayed strong rebounding instincts and toughness on the interior, Smith adds.

Hornets Notes: Trades, Howard, Biyombo, Parker

In exchange for taking on an extra year of salary when they traded Dwight Howard for Timofey Mozgov, the Hornets acquired a pair of second-round picks. However, the Nets also sent cash to Charlotte in that deal, and now we know just how much. According to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), the Hornets received $5MM for their troubles.

During the 2018/19 league year, an NBA team can only acquire up to $5.243MM in cash in trades, so the Hornets nearly reached their limit in that transactions with the Nets. Charlotte did reach its limit shortly thereafter, when the team flipped one of the second-rounders it acquired from Brooklyn to the Thunder. In that swap, which sent Hamidou Diallo to Oklahoma City, the Hornets received $243K in cash along with a 2019 second-round pick, tweets Pincus.

The Hornets now won’t be able to acquire any more cash in a trade until the 2019/20 league year begins, though they can still send out up to $5.243MM in deals this season.

Here’s more out of Charlotte:

  • Explaining the decision to trade Howard, Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said the team considered waiving and stretching the veteran center like the Nets ultimately did, but decided the trade with Brooklyn was the best way to go. Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer has the details, along with the quotes from Kupchak.
  • According to Kupchak, Bismack Biyombo‘s rebounding and rim-protecting abilities are a key reason why the Hornets flipped Mozgov to Orlando for him (link via Rick Bonnell). Kupchak also spoke about the increasing value of second-round picks around the NBA — Charlotte has made five trades so far this offseason, and all five have included at least one incoming or outgoing second-rounder.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com doesn’t believe the Hornets will receive great value from the two-year, $10MM deal they gave Tony Parker. Pelton cites Parker’s .498 true shooting percentage, which ranked 252 out of the 275 players who played at least 1000 minutes last season, as one reason for pessimism, adding that Charlotte failed to take advantage of a buyer’s market for point guards.
  • Even if Parker’s on-court numbers for the Hornets are lacking, new head coach James Borrego values the veteran leadership the longtime Spurs point guard will bring to the franchise, as Rick Bonnell writes. “We were trying to find a player in free agency that had experience, had wisdom, had winning DNA,” Borrego said. “He is such a valuable piece and has been to that San Antonio organization. We’re very fortunate right now.”

Hornets, Bulls, Magic Complete Three-Way Deal

JULY 8, 8:27am: The trade is now official, according to press releases from all three teams. In addition to receiving Biyombo, the Hornets will also acquire 2019 and 2020 second-round picks from the Magic. Orlando holds multiple second-rounders in each year, so it’s not yet clear which selections are changing hands.

“There were some elements of (the trade) that we were discussing individually the last few weeks, but the deal actually came together just [on Saturday],” said Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman. “It was really kind of a quick-hitter.”

The Bulls intend to waive Stone, per Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

JULY 7, 8:20pm: The trade has been agreed to in principle, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

JULY 7, 7:51pm: Charlotte, Chicago and Orlando are close to a trade that would send Timofey Mozgov to the Magic, Bismack Biyombo to the Hornets and Julyan Stone to the Bulls, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Bulls guard Jerian Grant will also go to Orlando in the deal, Woj adds (Twitter link).

The Hornets will give up more than $17MM in the trade between Mozgov’s $16MM salary for next season and Stone’s non-guaranteed $1,656,092. This will be the second trade of the summer for Mozgov, who was shipped from the Nets to the Hornets in a deal that became official yesterday. He has two years left on his current contract, with a $16.72MM salary for 2019/20.

In Biyombo, Charlotte picks up a shot blocker to replace Dwight Howard, who went to Brooklyn in the Mozgov deal. Biyombo’s contract is nearly in line with Mozgov’s, paying him $17MM in 2018/19, with a player option for the same amount the following season. Orlando breaks up a logjam at center that had existed since drafting Mohamed Bamba, while Mozgov becomes the third-string center in Orlando and probably won’t see much more playing time than he did in Brooklyn.

Chicago plays a minor role in the trade, creating modest savings by sending out Grant’s $2,639,314 salary in exchange for Stone’s non-guaranteed figure. The Bulls could be looking to shed any salary they can before their expected matching of the Kings’ offer sheet for Zach LaVine.

Stone’s guarantee date is August 1, posts Bobby Marks on ESPN Now, and the Bulls can increase their cap room to $16MM by letting him go and getting rid of Noah Vonleh‘s cap hold. Taking on Biyombo’s contract pushes the Hornets up to $120.3MM in salary with 14 guaranteed deals, just $3.4MM under the luxury tax.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Sixers, Magic, Doncic, Walker

The Sixers‘ coaching staff and front office had “serious conversations” about selecting Michael Porter Jr. before deciding on Mikal Bridges, tweets ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. The Sixers were intrigued by Porter’s potential to become a star, but bypassed him for a safer choice. Porter went four picks later to the Nuggets, while Bridges was traded to the Suns.

Because former president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo resigned in the wake of a controversy involving Twitter burner accounts, the Sixers are relying on a group effort between coaches and executives to decide on their picks.

There’s more from an active draft night:

  • The Magic’s selection of Mohamed Bamba at No. 6 doesn’t mean Nikola Vucevic is headed out of town, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Vucevic is heading into a contract year, making $12.75MM next season. Orlando has a potential logjam at center with Bismack Biyombo signed for $17MM next year with a $17MM player option for 2019/20. “He’s a good pick,” Vucevic said of Biyombo. “He’s talented and he’ll be a big presence.”
  • The Mavericks won’t ask Luka Doncic to go through a full summer league schedule after just finishing up his season in Europe, relays ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). “He needs a break,” said coach Rick Carlisle. The Mavs will meet soon to determine how much they want Doncic to do this summer.
  • A medical issue may have caused Lonnie Walker to drop to the Spurs at No. 18, according to Doug Gottlieb of Fox Sports Radio (Twitter link). However, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony states that health concerns regarding Walker were exaggerated and had little effect on where he was taken (Twitter link).
  • The Cavaliers are hoping to buy a pick in the second round, sources tell Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). The club can’t send out any more cash in trades during the 2017/18 league year, but could reach an agreement tonight and finalize it in July. The Cavs don’t own any picks beyond No. 8.
  • The Bulls made an effort to move up, but decided it was “too expensive,” a source tells Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Any move would have cost them the 22nd pick and future selections.

Seven Teams Discussing No. 4 Pick With Grizzlies

The Grizzlies remain in discussions with a number of clubs about the possibility of a trade involving the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com. Givony identifies the Mavericks, Magic, Bulls, Knicks, Nuggets, Celtics, and Clippers as teams that have shown “varying degrees of interest” in making a deal.

Memphis has been exploring the idea of trading the No. 4 selection throughout the pre-draft process, and would like to include Chandler Parsons‘ unwanted contract in any swap. According to Givony, Parsons would likely be part of any deal Memphis makes involving that fourth overall pick.

Sources tell Givony that the Grizzlies don’t want to move out of the lottery altogether, so teams picking within a few spots of Memphis will likely have the best odds of making a deal, which could be bad news for a club like Boston. According to Givony, the Grizzlies have their eye on Wendell Carter Jr. as a potential target, so they may not want to drop too far — Carter is considered a probable top-10 pick.

A trade involving the Grizzlies and Magic, who hold the No. 6 pick, might appeal to Memphis if Orlando is willing to include Evan Fournier, per Givony. However, the Magic are hesitant to do so, preferring to offer up Bismack Biyombo. We heard earlier on Wednesday evening that the Knicks have considered a move up – perhaps to No. 4 – for Mohamed Bamba.

It’s possible that trade talks will go right down to the wire, since teams interested in moving up will likely want to make sure that their preferred prospect is available at No. 4.

For what it’s worth, Kevin O’Connor reported earlier in the evening (via Twitter) that the Mavs, Magic, Bulls, Knicks, Clippers, and Celtics have also explored the possibility of moving up to No. 3 in a trade with the Hawks. O’Connor suggested that Luka Doncic or Bamba would be the targets in that spot.

And-Ones: NBA Africa Game, Global Camp, Upshaw

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Sixers center Joel Embiid will headline the rosters in this summer’s NBA Africa Game, the league announced today. The event, which will take place on Saturday, August 4 in Pretoria, South Africa, will feature a Team Africa vs. Team World format, with Cameroon native Embiid heading Team Africa and DeRozan representing Team World.

Joining Embiid on Team Africa will be fellow NBAers Al-Farouq Aminu, Bismack Biyombo, Cheick Diallo, Evan Fournier, Serge Ibaka, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Pascal Siakam. DeRozan’s teamates on Team World will include Harrison Barnes, Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Gay, Khris Middleton, and Hassan Whiteside.

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

  • A total of 40 draft-eligible prospects from outside the United States will take part in the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Treviso, Italy from June 2-5, the NBA announced on Wednesday. While Luka Doncic won’t attend the pre-draft showcase, there will be plenty of prospects worth watching, including Cedevita forward Dzanan Musa, who is the No. 19 prospect on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.
  • The mother of Zeke Upshaw, the G League player who passed away earlier this year after collapsing during a Grand Rapids Drive game, has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the NBA and the Pistons of negligence. The suit alleges that the defendants failed to provide the Drive with the “the resources, policies, and procedures reasonably necessary” to prevent or handle Upshaw’s collapse. Noah Trister of The Associated Press has the full story and more details.
  • Now that two-way contracts have been in effect for nearly a full year, Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days explores what sort of changes we may see to the rules surrounding those contracts in the future.

Knicks Rumors: Payton, Noah, Biyombo, Hernangomez

The Knicks got some devastating news on Tuesday night, as an MRI revealed that Kristaps Porzingis suffered a torn ACL, sidelining him for the rest of the 2017/18 season — and likely for the start of next season too.

After a solid start to the year, there was speculation that the Knicks could remain in the playoff picture in the East, with key contributors like Porzingis and Enes Kanter publicly encouraging the organization to push for the postseason rather than selling off assets. Already mired in a slump though, the Knicks are now nine games below .500 and their playoff hopes appear to be on life support.

With the Porzingis injury further reducing the Knicks’ chances of making a late-season run, members of the franchise have already discussed giving the team’s young players more minutes for the rest of the year, sources tell Ian Begley of ESPN (Twitter link). While Begley says it’s not clear yet whether that’s the definitive plan, it would certainly make sense to shift in that direction.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks have checked in on Magic guard Elfrid Payton, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who notes that Knicks GM Scott Perry was a member of Orlando’s front office when the club drafted Payton. Berman adds that Perry and the Knicks view Payton as the type of athletic player they covet, and believe the fourth-year point guard has more upside as a defender than the advanced metrics suggest.
  • According to Berman, the Knicks and Magic have engaged in preliminary talks about Payton, and the two teams have discussed the possibility of including highly-paid bigs Joakim Noah and Bismack Biyombo in a deal. Still, these talks occurred before Porzingis went down on Tuesday, so it’s not clear how that injury impacts New York’s plans.
  • The Nuggets are one of about a dozen teams that have inquired on Willy Hernangomez, but the young center isn’t being discussed in talks with the Magic, sources tell Berman. The Knicks would likely move Hernangomez if they could get a first-round pick or a promising young player at a different position in return, says Berman.
  • With Porzingis potentially sidelined until the 2019 calendar year, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton examines how the injury will affect the Knicks’ offseason plans. If Porzingis misses a good chunk of the 2018/19 season, the team may end putting off any major veteran additions until at least 2019, Pelton notes. He adds that the injury could make a Courtney Lee trade more viable for the Knicks, since Lee is more of a win-now piece.

Kyler’s Latest: Knicks, Jazz, Magic, Bucks, Lakers

The Knicks may use the trade market to open a roster spot for G League guard Trey Burke, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. New York is reportedly in “serious talks” about signing Burke, who has been with the organization’s Westchester affiliate since being waived during the preseason.

The Knicks have a full roster and there is speculation that veteran point guard Ramon Sessions could be waived to clear the way for Burke. However, Kyler says the Knicks have received interest in backup centers Kyle O’Quinn and Willy Hernangomez. They may be able to get a draft pick in return for O’Quinn, but not many teams can take on his $4.08MM salary without sending another player back to New York, which wouldn’t help with signing Burke.

Burke has been outstanding in the G League and has attracted interest from other organizations. According to Kyler, Burke’s representatives have told the Knicks he will consider other offers if they don’t sign him soon. So while there’s not a definite deadline to open a roster spot, there is an incentive to get something done.

Kyler offers info on several other potential deals as the trade deadline draws nearer:

  • The Jazz would like to get something in return for the expiring contracts of Derrick Favors [$12MM] and Joe Johnson [$10.5MM]. Utah is among the teams linked to Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic, who becomes eligible for a deal Monday. Kyler says the Bulls are willing to make a deal and would be happy to get draft picks and expiring deals in return.
  • The Magic could be active at the deadline, as sources say they have received inquiries on nearly all their players. They would like to deal guard Evan Fournier, but haven’t received any offers they consider attractive. Despite being a non-contender at 12-28, Orlando isn’t overly interested in draft picks because it already has a lot of young talent and its own pick is likely to fall in the top five. It would take a proven All-Star to land Aaron Gordon, according to Kyler, and the Magic don’t expect to receive that kind of offer. They are also resigned that no one is going to take Bismack Biyombo with two years and $34MM left on his contract beyond this season.
  • The Bucks continue to need frontcourt help and might give up Jabari Parker in the right deal. However, with Mirza Teletovic sidelined with blood clots in his lungs, the organization would have difficulty matching a big salary. Sources believe Malcolm Brogdon or Thon Maker would have to be included in any significant trade.
  • The Lakers may have to deal Larry Nance Jr. as an incentive to get teams to take on other salaries. They would love to get rid of Luol Deng‘s contract, but are finding no options without giving up a hefty package of first-rounders.

Kyler’s Latest: Lakers, Mavs, Grizzlies, Magic

The Lakers and Mavericks both currently sit comfortably in the lottery, with little chance of making a run at a playoff spot this season. Still, there’s a sense in NBA circles that the two teams could be logical trade partners, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

Kyler cautions that there have been zero talks between the Lakers and Mavericks about a potential Luol Deng trade, but he suggests that if any team is willing to roll the dice on Deng and his exorbitant contract, Dallas might be that team. The Mavericks have some expiring contracts that would appeal to L.A., and if the Lakers attached Julius Randle and a future draft pick to Deng, that could pique the Mavs’ interest, Kyler writes.

Of course, within the last month, we’ve heard that the Lakers aren’t interested in parting with future first-round picks in order to move Deng, and a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested that the club had essentially given up hope of another team taking on the veteran forward’s unwieldy contract. So even if the Mavericks represent the best potential fit, the odds of a deal remain slim.

Kyler’s latest piece for Basketball Insiders includes several other items of interest on a handful of lottery teams, so let’s round up a few highlights…

  • The Grizzlies are unlikely to make any franchise-altering moves before next month’s trade deadline, which means Marc Gasol probably isn’t going anywhere. Still, they’re a team worth watching, according to Kyler, who points to Tyreke Evans as a potential Memphis trade candidate.
  • The “dream scenario” for the Magic would be to move Bismack Biyombo before the deadline, but they’re highly unlikely to find a taker for that contract. Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier may also emerge as trade chips, but Aaron Gordon almost certainly isn’t going anywhere — the “prevailing thought” is that he’ll be retained by Orlando as a restricted free agent this summer, says Kyler.
  • The Hawks appear open to listening to inquiries on Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore, but their current asking prices are probably too high to work anything out, reports Kyler.

Front Office Shakeups Ahead?

Disappointing seasons could lead to front office changes for at least five teams this summer, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

The most obvious team headed for a shakeup is Sacramento, which reportedly wants to position someone above GM Vlade Divac and may have interest in former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, despite an official statement denying it. There are also ongoing rumors of a rift between Vivek Ranadive and the minority ownership, which has grown frustrated with the way the team has been managed.

Kyler notes that Ken Catanella was hired as an assistant GM last summer, but wasn’t given the power that many expected him to have.

Change may also be coming to these organizations:

  • Orlando — The Magic seem ready to replace GM Rob Hennigan, with Pistons executive and former Orlando player Pat Garrity as the leading candidate to be offered the job. The Magic had hoped to be playoff contenders after signing Bismack Biyombo and trading for Serge Ibaka, but the new combination never worked out. Orlando is 14th in the East at 27-47, and Ibaka was shipped to Toronto last month. Kyler cites league sources who say several of the Magic’s lower level executives are expecting changes and have started contacting other organizations.
  • New Orleans — A recent report said coach Alvin Gentry and GM Dell Demps could both be fired without significant progress by the end of the season. Demps may have bought himself more timee with the DeMarcus Cousins trade, but the Pelicans have reached the playoffs just twice during his seven years at the helm. Louisiana native Joe Dumars is close to ownership and is reportedly being considered as a replacement.
  • Phoenix — The Suns will miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year, and many believe that owner Robert Sarver wants to turn things around quickly. Ryan McDonough has amassed an impressive group of young talent in his four years as GM, but that may not be enough to convince Sarver to keep him.
  • Atlanta — It’s unlikely that coach/executive Mike Budenholzer or GM Wes Wilcox gets replaced, but several staff additions are expected. The Hawks have been shaken by the loss of free agent Al Horford last season and the possible exit of Paul Millsap this summer, along with a late-season losing streak that may knock them out of the playoffs. More voices may be brought on to help Budenholzer and Wilcox with the decision-making process.