Chris Walker

Free Agent Notes: Durant, Rockets, Clippers

Kevin Durant would give himself a better chance at winning a title if he were to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors or sign with an Eastern Conference team, Bill Simmons of The Ringer writes. Many believe that Durant will sign a two-year deal with OKC that contains a player option for year two, as was reported earlier this week.

Simmons offers an unconventional viewpoint on Durant’s impending decision. Two years ago, Durant signed a $300MM deal with Nike. At the time, he and LeBron James had the best selling sneakers among all NBA players, Simmons points out. The 2014 MVP then injured his foot and missed a significant amount of time during the 2014/15 campaign. Durant’s comeback 2015/16 season was overshadowed by Kobe Bryant‘s retirement and the Warriors’ historic 73-9 record. Now, the conversation is between Nike with James and the Jordan Brand and Under Armour with Stephen Curry, Simmons adds. Simmons argues that Durant, his representatives and Nike know they won’t be competing with the top brands unless Durant wins a ring or he leaves the Thunder and he speculates that if Nike had its way, Durant would sign elsewhere this summer.

The piece, which is must-read, is a reminder that the NBA is a business and there are several off the court factors that play into basketball decisions. Selling sneakers likely won’t be the primary force that drives Durant to stay or leave, but it’s an interesting perspective nonetheless.

Here’s more on the NBA’s upcoming free agency:

NBA Teams Designate Affiliate Players

NBA teams cut as much as 25% of their rosters at the end of the preseason, but franchises that have D-League affiliates have a way to maintain ties to many of the players they release from the NBA roster. An NBA team can claim the D-League rights to up to four of the players it waives, as long as the players clear waivers, consent to join the D-League, and don’t already have their D-League rights owned by another team. These are known as affiliate players, as our Hoops Rumors Glossary entry details.

NBA teams allocated 46 affiliate players to the D-League at the beginning of the season last year, and this year, that number has risen to 56, according to the list the D-League announced today. These players are going directly to the D-League affiliate of the NBA team that cut them and weren’t eligible for the D-League draft that took place Saturday. Teams that designated fewer than the maximum four affiliate players retain the ability to snag the D-League rights of players they waive during the regular season, but for now, this is the complete list:

Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws)

Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge)

Dallas Mavericks (Texas Legends)

Detroit Pistons (Grand Rapids Drive)

Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors)

Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)

Indiana Pacers (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)

Los Angeles Lakers (Los Angeles D-Fenders)

Memphis Grizzlies (Iowa Energy)

Miami Heat (Sioux Falls Skyforce)

New York Knicks (Westchester Knicks)

Oklahoma City Thunder (Oklahoma City Blue)

Orlando Magic (Erie BayHawks)

Philadelphia 76ers (Delaware 87ers)

Phoenix Suns (Bakersfield Jam)

Sacramento Kings (Reno Bighorns)

San Antonio Spurs (Austin Spurs)

Toronto Raptors (Raptors 905)

Utah Jazz (Idaho Stampede)

Also, several players who were on NBA preseason rosters are on D-League rosters through means other than the affiliate player rule. Most of them played under D-League contracts at some point within the last two years, meaning their D-League teams have returning player rights to them. Others entered through last weekend’s D-League draft, while others saw their D-League rights conveyed via trade. Most of these players aren’t with the D-League affiliate of the NBA team they were with last month, with a few exceptions.

Roster information from Adam Johnson of D-League Digest, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor and freelancer and Hoops Rumors contributor Mark Porcaro was used in the creation of this post.

Southwest Notes: Conley, Robinson, Aldridge

The Grizzlies have every intention of re-signing point guard Mike Conley when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer, and based on Conley’s enthusiastic recruitment for center Marc Gasol to re-sign with the team this past offseason, the veteran playmaker also desires his time in Memphis to continue beyond this campaign, Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports writes. Gasol said he plans to leave Conley alone this season and won’t pester him to stay in Memphis, Lee adds.

Yeah, but I cannot force him to do anything that he doesn’t feel that is right. He has to do what is right for him, that he believes in it,” Gasol told Lee. “If you feel forced to do something you don’t believe in, then you’re going to regret it. And whenever he makes his decision, whatever his decision is, he knows our relationship goes way beyond basketball and we’ll always be friends, past this five, 10 years left in our careers. As long as we live, we’re going to be friends. It’s not going to affect our friendship.

Here’s more from out of the Southwest Division:

  • Nate Robinson‘s stint with the Pelicans this season lasted less than two weeks, but his release wasn’t because of anything the diminutive guard failed to do, John Reid of The Times Picayune relays (Twitter links). Robinson was replaced on New Orleans’ roster by Toney Douglas, who was thought to be a better fit for the team’s roster, according to coach Alvin Gentry, Reid notes. ”We just thought it was a better fit [with Douglas], nothing against Nate,” Gentry said. “Nate came in and did everything we asked him to do.
  • Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is still finding his footing in San Antonio with his new team, and the player admitts that he’s “not even close” to the player San Antonio signed this offseason, Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com writes. “It’s not the same. I’m not the same person here that I was in Portland,” Aldridge said. “I don’t feel like they need me to be that person all the time. It’s learning how to be myself in the offense. I haven’t figured that out yet. I feel like the whole [team philosophy of] ‘good to great passes’ [is] in my head all the time. Hopefully as the season goes on I’ll figure it out. But right now, I’m just trying to fit in.
  • Rockets camp cuts Denzel Livingston, Will Cummings, Joshua Smith, and Chris Walker will join the Rio Grande Valley Vipers,  as D-League affiliate players this season, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle relays (on Twitter).

Rockets Waive Tyler, Walker, Cummings, Livingston

The Rockets have waived Jeremy Tyler, Chris WalkerWill Cummings and Denzel Livingston, the team announced (Twitter link). All four were on non-guaranteed deals. The moves leave Houston with 16 players, including 14 on fully guaranteed contracts. Arsalan Kazemi and Joshua Smith, the other two players, have non-guaranteed salaries.

Tyler, a three-year NBA veteran, is the only one of the four players the Rockets cut today who has previous experience in the league. The center, now 24, last appeared in a regular season game during 2013/14, with the Knicks. He posted eight points and eight rebounds in a total of 29 minutes spread over two preseason games for the Rockets this fall.

Walker, 20, is a once-heralded college recruit whose stock fell precipitously at Florida. He joined the Rockets summer league team in July after going undrafted this year and averaged 5.7 points in 8.3 minutes per game across three preseason appearances.

Cummings, just like Walker and Livingston, went undrafted this year and played with Houston’s summer league team. The 23-year-old former Temple point guard made it into six preseason games and averaged 4.2 points, 2.5 assists and 12.5 minutes per contest. Livingston, a combo guard from Incarnate Word, notched 7.5 points in 11.5 minutes per game during his four preseason appearances.

Rockets Sign Cummings, Livingston, Walker

SEPTEMBER 21ST, 6:15pm: The Rockets formally announced the signings of Cummings, Livingston and Walker (Twitter link). Houston waived Yusuf on Friday without ever formally recognizing his signing.

SEPTEMBER 9TH, 6:59pm: Walker has officially been signed, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link).

SEPTEMBER 5TH, 8:10am: Cummings and Livingston have signed contracts with the Rockets, according to the RealGM.com transactions log.

12:09pm: The signing of Yusuf has taken place, and it’s a non-guaranteed contract worth the rookie minimum salary, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That means it wouldn’t count against the hard cap the Rockets would impose upon themselves if they signed No. 32 pick Montrezl Harrell for more than the minimum or for longer than two years, as I explained earlier.

11:24am: Feigen has corrected his earlier report, omitting Wood’s name from his revised list (Twitter links). Wood’s status with the Rockets thus appears unclear.

SEPTEMBER 3RD, 11:00am: The Rockets are close to signing Denzel Livingston, Will Cummings, Christian Wood, Remi Yusuf and Chris Walker for training camp, a source tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). A deal with Wood, who went undrafted out of UNLV this year, has apparently been in place since June Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that the Rockets had agreed to sign him, but the other four names appear to be new additions for Houston.

Livingston, a 6’4″ combo guard who played his college ball at Incarnate Word, also went undrafted this year. He saw a smidgen of playing time with Houston’s summer league squad, averaging 2.0 points in 7.5 minutes per contest across three appearances. Cummings, a point guard from Temple, was another college senior passed up in the draft this June. He saw more extensive time for the Rockets in summer league, compiling 10.0 PPG in 22.8 MPG, though his 3.3 assists against 2.8 turnovers per game isn’t an encouraging ratio.

Walker, a once-heralded prospect whose stock plummeted at Florida, put up 4.2 PPG in 8.8 MPG for the summer Rockets. The forward/center declared for this year’s draft after his sophomore season with the Gators. Yusuf is a somewhat more surprising addition, since he didn’t play NBA summer league ball. The guard, a native of Nigeria, played at Texas A&M-Kingsville before going undrafted in 2006, and he spent time last season playing with SKP Banska Bystrica in Slovakia.

Southwest Notes: McGee, Motiejunas, Walker

Much will be expected of prominent offseason additions Wesley Matthews and Deron Williamsbut the Mavericks will keep it simple with first-round pick Justin Anderson and free agent signee JaVale McGee, observes Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com. Anderson, this year’s 21st overall pick, has the comfort of a four-year rookie scale contract on his side, but McGee has only a $250K partial guarantee protecting his place on the roster.

“Well, I definitely feel like we’re different players, the centers that we have, so it’s definitely going to be good competition,” McGee said. “But that’s what basketball is for, competition, so it’s definitely going to make us all better. It’s definitely a positive thing, being a leaper as I am and a shot blocker and a dunker, so that’s definitely what teams need. I’m just somebody who keeps it simple, who dunks the ball, blocks shots and is just a presence in the paint. … [coach Rick Carlisle] just wants me to keep it simple, and just play as hard as I can and be a presence in the paint.”

McGee was a popular choice among Hoops Rumors readers in a recent poll about the starting center job in Dallas, but while we wait to see if McGee makes the regular season roster, much less the starting lineup, here’s more from the Southwest Division:

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Davis, Suns, Clippers

Kings executive Vlade Divac insists the team has no plans to trade DeMarcus Cousins, according to Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Divac, who is preparing for his first draft since being named vice president of basketball and franchise operations in March, said the team is looking for players who will complement Cousins’ skills. “That is not happening,” Divac said about the possibility of moving Cousins, “but I would love to do something, a smaller move, before the draft. We have a lot of changes to make. The league is much more up-tempo now, and we need more three-point shooting. If we don’t get that in the draft, we’ll be active in free agency and see about making trades later in the offseason.” Sacramento holds the sixth pick in Thursday’s draft.

There’s more from the Pacific Division as we count down toward draft day:

  • Ed Davis hopes to land a richer and longer contract with the Lakers by opting out of his current deal, but Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News isn’t sure if that will work. The 26-year-old Davis, who has a $1.1MM option for next season, posted a career high in scoring, rebounding and several other categories this year. An unidentified source told Medina that Davis wants a two- or three-year contract worth $7MM to $8MM annually or a one-year deal in the $9MM to $10MM range. Whether the Lakers will make that kind of offer depends on what the team can acquire through the draft and free agency.
  • After a non-playoff season, any Suns player can be traded or replaced through the draft, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. “We always need guys that will push our guys or even challenge them for a spot,” said Suns coach Jeff Hornacek. “… Where we’re picking at 13, you’re going to get a good, solid guy that can push our guys and maybe in a year or two take over their spots.” Coro writes that the 12 picks ahead of Phoenix are unpredictable, but he expects the Suns to use their pick to add size.
  • The Clippers will hold a workout today for Ryan Boatright, D.J. Newbill, Chris Walker, Royce O’Neale and Damontre Harris, tweets Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.

Draft Notes: Hornets, Looney, Jazz, Turner

The Hornets will work out Kevon Looney, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter links). The team owns the No. 9 selection in the upcoming draft. Looney’s agents believe his range is anywhere from No. 7 to No. 20, as the UCLA product tells Zach Links of Hoops Rumors. Looney is represented by both Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management and Todd Ramasar of Stealth Sports, as our agency database indicates.

Here’s more news on player workouts:

  • The Hornets are also scheduled to work out Jonathan Holmes, Jay Hook, Cady Lalanne, Josh Richardson and LeBryan Nash, as Bonnell reports in the same set of tweets.
  • Myles Turner has worked out for the Jazz, Aaron Falk of Salt Lake Tribune reports (Twitter link).  Falk notes that this was Turner’s first workout with any team. Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranks the Texas product as the ninth best prospect, while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranks him as the 13th. Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors has Kelly Oubre Jr. going to the Jazz with the No. 12 selection, but he mentions Turner as a possible alternative.
  • The Jazz will conduct workouts for Will Cummings, Rakeem Christmas, Kelly Oubre Jr., Keifer Sykes, Chris Walker and K.T. Harrell, according to the team’s Twitter feed.
  • Utah will also work out George de Paula, Royce O’Neale, Ousmane Drame, Levi Randolph, Derrick Marks and Jarvis Williams, according to the team’s Twitter feed.

Atlantic Notes: Saric, Celtics, Daniels, Holmes

Dario Saric‘s buyout with Anadolu Efes after next season would cost about 800K euros, as USA Today and DraftExpress contributor Derek Bodner hears. That’s about $900K at today’s exchange rate, but much less than the $2MM-plus it would apparently take to buy Saric out of his deal for this coming season, as the Sixers are reportedly trying to do. Bodner breaks down the numbers involved with Saric’s potential buyout and his rookie scale contract, concluding that it would be most financially rewarding for Saric to stay overseas for two more years and sign with the Sixers in 2017, when he’d no longer be bound by the rookie scale. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge denied to reporters today that the team has had any substantial talks about trading picks, notes Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. The C’s have reportedly been offering around their first-round picks, at Nos. 16 and 28, to move into the lottery. Still, Ainge admitted the team is at least exploring the idea of trading some of the four total picks it has in this month’s draft, among other options that would keep the team from having to bring four rookies onto the roster.
  • Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, Florida’s Chris Walker, Wisconsin’s Duje Dukan, Butler’s Kameron Woods, and Georgetown’s Greg Whittington all worked out for the Celtics today, Forsberg notes (on Twitter). Jamal Jones, who spent last season in the D-League but remains draft-eligible, is also part of the workout, as Forsberg relays.
  • Draft-and-stash prospect DeAndre Daniels is hopeful that the Raptors will sign him for next season, and the team, which still sees him as part of its future, won’t rule out the idea, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca reports (Twitter links). The small forward who was last year’s 37th overall pick spent this past season with the Perth Wildcats of Australia.
  • The Knicks will soon work out Bowling Green forward Richaun Holmes, sources told Shams Charania of RealGM. Holmes spoke to Zach Links of Hoops Rumors recently about his improved shooting and his goal to make the same strides in ball handling.

Northwest Notes: Aldridge, Jazz, Nuggets

Earlier today, a report surfaced indicating that Blazers star LaMarcus Aldridge had put his Portland area home up for sale.  Apparently, that is not the case.  Yes, the house is up for sale, but the 29-year-old free agent isn’t the owner.  It turns out that the West Linn, Oregon home is actually owned by former Blazers guard Damon Stoudamire and Aldridge was simply renting it, as John Canzano of The Oregonian writes.  Stoudamire later confirmed as much on Twitter [sic]:

eating lunch and my house in West Linn comes across the screen. Don’t know if LA is leaving PO but, thx for the pub! #4sale,” Stoudamire wrote.

While Blazers fans calm down a bit, let’s take a look at more news out of the Northwest Division..

  • The Jazz have a greater chance at bringing over Tibor Pleiss next year than Ante Tomic, ESPN700’s Andy Larsen tweets.  However, it’s also possible that both players make the jump or that neither player does.  Larsen notes that what Utah does with both players is very much dependent on who they draft (link).  There won’t be much room for both players if they draft a big man at No. 12 later this month.
  • The Jazz formally announced on Twitter that they will work out six prospects on Friday.  That group includes SMU center Yanick Moreira, UNC Asheville center Jaleel Roberts, Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison, Maryland guard/forward Dez Wells, N.C. State guard Trevor Lacey, and St. John’s guard Phil Greene.  Hoops Rumors spoke with Greene and his former coach Steve Lavin recently about the guard’s NBA prospects.  Greene is represented by veteran NBA agent Keith Kreiter.
  • In a press release, the Nuggets announced that they will audition seven players on Friday.  The morning group will feature forward Darion Atkins (Virginia), guard Devin Booker (Kentucky), forward Sam Dekker (Wisconsin), guard Jerian Grant (Notre Dame),  guard Pierria Henry (Charlotte), and guard/forward SirDominic Pointer (St. John’s).
  • The Blazers‘ second pre-draft workout includes Henry, George de Paula, Chris Walker, Joshua Smith, and Seth Tuttle, according to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian (on Twitter).  As previously reported, Jarell Martin will also be a participant.