Cody Zeller

Southeast Notes: Zeller, Bogdanovic, Reddish, Magic, Dedmon

Cody Zeller has been in the NBA since 2013, but since the Hornets center signed a rookie scale extension in 2016 that tacked four years onto his four-year rookie contract, he has never been a free agent. Zeller, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, acknowledged that it’ll be a new experience for him, as Sam Perley of Hornets.com details.

“It’s crazy – my first free agency,” Zeller said. “I’ve only played for one team, so I don’t know how it’ll go or even logistically how it goes. I am eight years into my career and who knows how much longer I’m going to do this.

“I think the biggest thing is just being somewhere where I’m valued. I just want to win. I think we can make that step here if we’re all healthy and make that jump to becoming a competitive team that can make a deep run.”

Although Zeller referred to Charlotte as “home” and said he’s had a “great eight years” with the Hornets, he recognizes that his future is somewhat up in the air. The Hornets have identified center as a position they want to upgrade, so if they bring in a new big man or two, it’s possible there won’t be a spot for Zeller.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic (right knee soreness) and Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness) have both been listed as questionable for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference on Wednesday, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Bogdanovic has started every game of the playoffs so far for Atlanta, while Reddish has yet to make his postseason debut.
  • After winning just 20 games a year ago, the Hawks are an unlikely final-four team, but they’ve succeeded this season by finding the exact contributions they need from every corner of their roster, says Rob Mahoney of The Ringer.
  • The degree of difficulty for the Magic‘s rebuild increased a little on Tuesday, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. As Robbins writes, Orlando was fortunate to get the No. 8 pick from Chicago, but the team’s own pick slipping outside the top four will make it more challenging to land a future All-Star in the 2021 draft.
  • Heat center Dewayne Dedmon said at season’s end that he’d like to remain in Miami. Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald takes a look at whether that’s a realistic possibility.

Southeast Notes: Hornets’ Centers, Ball, Oladipo, Clifford

James Borrego isn’t satisfied with his options at center and he hasn’t been since he took over as Hornets coach three years ago, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, P.J. Washington and Vernon Carey have all seen time in middle this season, but none of them has been outstanding. Washington will probably be the starter for the rest of the season, Bonnell adds, but he’s a natural power forward at 6-7 and likely isn’t the long-term answer.

“Every night I’m just trying to figure it out with that group. It’s been like that for three years,” Borrego said after watching his team get outrebounded 54-33 in a loss to the Celtics this week. “It may be another three years that we continue to look like that, actually. … Just trying to piece it together.”

General manager Mitch Kupchak was interested in James Wiseman in last year’s draft, but the Warriors grabbed him with the second pick. Charlotte may not be in the lottery this year, but the club will have about $30MM in cap room when free agency begins. Bonnell suggests targeting Kings center Richaun Holmes or trying to trade for Pacers center Myles Turner.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • With LaMelo Ball returning tonight from a fractured wrist, Nekias Duncan of Basketball News examines how the Hornets‘ dynamic rookie impacts the game through play-making, scoring and defense.
  • Heat guard Victor Oladipo may be getting closer to playing, even though he didn’t accompany the team on its weekend road trip, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Oladipo hasn’t played since hurting his knee in an April 8 game, and the team hasn’t provided much information about a possible return. However, coach Erik Spoelstra said Oladipo is “making progress,” according to a tweet from the team. Tyler Herro, who continues to have issues with his injured foot, missed the road trip as well, notes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (via Twitter).
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford continues to be sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19, but acting coach Tyrone Corbin said Clifford “feels great,” tweets Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Corbin said Clifford is still not showing any symptoms of the virus and his oxygen numbers remain good.

Southeast Notes: Williams, Reddish, Zeller, Magic

Having announced last week on Instagram that he contemplated retirement after being traded to the Hawks, Lou Williams expanded on that subject during his Tuesday media availability, explaining that it “hurts” to have been traded by the Clippers.

“I had a lot of investment there. We had some success,” Williams said, per Paul Newberry of The Associated Press. “We were gearing up for another deep run, a championship run. That was my mentality. I thought I would finish the season there.

“… (But) I don’t want to look back and say I retired prematurely, be asking myself what could have been or what I could’ve done. This is an opportunity to finish out the season with this team (Atlanta) and go from there.”

Williams was cleared to play on Tuesday night, but didn’t take the court. Having just met most of his teammates, he wanted to take a game to get his bearings before entering the fray, Newberry writes.

“I want to get an understanding of how they play,” Williams said. “See their sets, get a feel for their rotations, understand how this group of guys mesh, see where I might fit. It would be unfair to this group of guys to just throw me out there.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The Hawks provided a minor update on Cam Reddish (Achilles) on Tuesday night, announcing in a press release that he has increased his lower limb weight room work and will add limited low level impact work. Reddish isn’t close to returning and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
  • After falling out of the Hornets‘ starting lineup and seeing his minutes dip, Cody Zeller resolved to try to earn back those minutes rather than sulking, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “My high school coach used to say, ‘If you want to play more, play better,'” said Zeller, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds in just 24 minutes on Tuesday. The big man has assured head coach James Borrego that he’ll remain engaged regardless of how much playing time he gets, Bonnell adds.
  • With the Magic in position to get a high lottery pick in this year’s draft, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic identifies Cade Cunningham, Jalen Suggs, and Jalen Green as the top prospects the team should target if given the opportunity. Evan Mobley has positional overlap with Wendell Carter and Mohamed Bamba, but he and Jonathan Kuminga would both be good fallback options too if Orlando gets a top-five pick and those first three prospects aren’t available, Vecenie says.

Holmes, Drummond Among Hornets’ Potential Offseason Targets

The Hornets sought to upgrade their center at last week’s trade deadline, expressing interest in a number of big men on the trade market, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

As Fischer details, Charlotte was eyeing Andre Drummond, but couldn’t reach an agreement with the Cavaliers on a viable trade, then lost out to the Lakers on the buyout market. In addition to Drummond, the Hornets also expressed interest in veteran centers such as Myles Turner, Montrezl Harrell, and Richaun Holmes, sources tell Fischer.

A previous report indicated that the Pacers and Hornets discussed a trade involving Turner and P.J. Washington during the 2020 offseason, and Fischer says Charlotte revisited those talks at last week’s deadline, exploring a deal centered around Turner, Washington, and Cody Zeller‘s expiring contract. However, the team had no luck.

Having not addressed the center position via trade, the Hornets figure to be on the lookout for a big man this summer when Zeller’s and Bismack Biyombo‘s contracts expire, and Fischer identifies Holmes and Drummond as two players likely to be on Charlotte’s radar. Both players will be unrestricted free agents after the season.

Holmes is under contract at a bargain price ($5MM) for the rest of 2020/21, but could seek upwards of $20MM per year in free agency, according to Fischer. Meanwhile, league executives polled by Bleacher Report estimate that Drummond’s next deal could look something like Steven Adams‘ two-year, $35MM extension with New Orleans. The Hornets talked to Drummond following his buyout from Cleveland, and the 27-year-old was intrigued by the idea of playing with LaMelo Ball, says Fischer.

Charlotte has the ability to open up some cap room this offseason, though that space would be extremely limited if the team extends Malik Monk a qualifying offer and keeps his $16MM+ cap hold on its books. Monk is in the midst of a career year, but his name was involved in the trade conversations the Hornets had for Harrell and Holmes, per Fischer.

If it’s the simplest path to creating the room necessary to sign one of this summer’s top free agent centers, the Hornets could be willing to make Monk unrestricted. Re-signing him to a deal worth less than his cap hold would be another path to generating a little flexibility.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Gay, Anthony, Zeller, Wizards

The Heat made their deal for Trevor Ariza with over a week to go until the March 25 trade deadline. One reason for Miami’s willingness to act early was the team’s inability to find common ground with the Spurs or Rockets on trade compensation for Rudy Gay or P.J. Tucker, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Gay and Tucker had been previously mentioned as potential Heat targets, and Gay was the preferred choice for some of those within the organization, according to Jackson. However, the Spurs’ asking price was deemed too high for Miami’s liking — the two teams also made no progress in talks for LaMarcus Aldridge, Jackson adds.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Magic rookie Cole Anthony, who has been sidelined since February 9 due to shoulder and rib injuries, isn’t close to returning, head coach Steve Clifford said this week, per Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. “He was on the court yesterday for the first time just doing some light shooting,” Clifford said on Wednesday. “Let’s put it this way: It’s more than days, it’s weeks before –– and I shouldn’t even say –– I don’t know exactly, but it’s not that close is the feedback (from the training staff).”
  • After starting Thursday night’s game vs. the Lakers, Hornets center Cody Zeller didn’t play at all in the second half, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Zeller’s role is worth watching with the trade deadline around the corner — if Charlotte makes a move, it could involve the center position and Zeller’s $15.4MM expiring contract.
  • Fred Katz and John Hollinger of The Athletic teamed up to break down some hypothetical trade deadline deals involving the Wizards, including swaps that would send players such as George Hill, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Wayne Ellington to D.C.

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Wood, Durant, Zeller

At last season’s trade deadline, after agreeing to send Clint Capela to Atlanta, the Rockets pursued a deal for Christian Wood, offering the Pistons a pair of second-round picks and Isaiah Hartenstein in exchange for the big man, according to James L. Edwards III and Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Detroit rebuffed that offer and showed interest in re-signing Wood during the 2020 offseason.

The Pistons’ interest was reciprocated by Wood, and the team made him a contract offer, per Edwards and Iko. However, Detroit was pursuing free agents like Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee and wasn’t in position to use cap room on Wood as well.

Without dipping into their cap space, the Pistons had the ability to use Wood’s Early Bird rights to offer him a contract that started at $10.05MM, and – according to The Athletic’s duo – they didn’t go over that amount. That meant they were outbid when the Rockets presented Wood with a three-year offer that started at $13MM+.

Here’s more on Wood, along with a couple more Eastern Conference notes:

  • With Wood’s Rockets set to face Detroit on Friday, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said he’s proud to see the big man enjoying success in Houston, as Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press writes. “We tried to get him here, we just didn’t have enough in the bucket,” Casey said. “He’s a special kid and I think good things for him and wish him well, except for (Friday) night.” Wood has been ruled out for the game due to a sprained right ankle.
  • Nets star Kevin Durant, who played 50 minutes in Wednesday’s double-overtime loss to Cleveland, will be held out of Friday’s rematch due to injury management, per the team (Twitter link). Friday’s game is the first half of a back-to-back set, so Durant should be available on Saturday vs. Miami.
  • After having missed most of the season with a hand fracture he suffered on opening night, Hornets center Cody Zeller is listed as probable for Friday’s game vs. Chicago and is expected to be available. Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer examines what sort of impact Zeller can have on a Hornets team in need of frontcourt depth.

Health Updates: Satoransky, Hutchison, Tatum, Fournier, More

A handful of NBA players who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this season are close to returning to action, including Bulls veterans Tomas Satoransky and Chandler Hutchison. Head coach Billy Donovan said today that both players practiced and are on track to being available for Friday’s game vs. Charlotte (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Celtics star Jayson Tatum will remain sidelined for Wednesday’s game vs. Philadelphia, but has a chance to get back on the court for Friday’s rematch vs. the 76ers after clearing the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Head coach Brad Stevens said during an appearance on Zolak & Bertand in Boston today that Tatum has about a 50/50 chance of playing on Friday, per Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal (Twitter link).

Finally, Sixers guard Seth Curry is out of the league’s COVID-19 protocols, but isn’t quite ready to suit up for Wednesday’s game. Although he wasn’t listed on the club’s initial injury report, he’ll sit out tonight due to “post health and safety protocols reconditioning,” says Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

Here are a few more health updates from around the NBA:

  • Magic guard Evan Fournier, who has been on the shelf for the team’s last nine games due to back spasms, will be available for Wednesday’s game vs. Minnesota, the team announced (via Twitter). Orlando was 4-0 with Fournier healthy to start the season, but lost the game in which he was injured and has slumped badly since then. Fournier’s return will be a welcome sight for the 6-8 club.
  • Hornets center Cody Zeller, who suffered a broken hand on opening night, returned to practice today, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, who notes (via Twitter) that the big man’s recovery timeline has him on track for an early-February return.
  • In case you missed it, the Trail Blazers announced this week that CJ McCollum (foot) and Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) will be out for at least four weeks and six weeks, respectively.

Southeast Notes: Bryant, Zeller, Monk, Gallinari

Wizards center Thomas Bryant has learned to play more under control and that has him poised for a career year, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post.

“It’s fun to coach him, because he’s emotional. Last year it was not to our advantage. This year, he’s controlling it,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “… His growth in that area, it’s going to help us win a lot of games this year.”

Bryant is averaging 17.9 PPG and 6.7 RPG, enhancing his future value. He’s under contract with the Wizards through the 2021/22 season, then becomes an unrestricted free agent.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets big man Cody Zeller said he can’t speed up the healing process after breaking the ring finger on his left hand, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. He has been relegated to working out — mostly on a stationary bike — to retain conditioning. He had a timetable of 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on Christmas Eve. “It’s not like a muscle or something else, where you can kind of work through it. You really have to give it time to heal,” Zeller said. “My rehab has been trying to get some of the swelling out.”
  • Hornets coach James Borrego will make some rotation changes to spark the offense and attempt to end the team’s three-game skid, Bonnell writes in a separate story“There are lineup tweaks that will be made for tomorrow. Not necessarily in the starting lineup. But along the way, trying to find some different combinations of guys as we move throughout a game to give us more offense,” Borrego said. Malik Monk could see his playing time expand at Cody Martin‘s expense, Bonnell speculates.
  • Danilo Gallinari was acquired by the Hawks in a sign-and-trade with the Thunder and made a three-year commitment. However, he’s already thinking about his long-term future, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. In an interview by La Repubblica, Gallinari said he’d like to eventually finish his career by returning to Italy’s Olimpia Milano. “Playing with Olimpia, in a team as strong and ambitious as this season, is a dream for me,” he said.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Herro, Magic, Hornets

The next phase in the development of Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo could be improving his shot creation, and veteran point guard Goran Dragic should still have a huge role for the club even as he returns to the super-sub role he had ahead of the Heat’s Finals run this summer and fall, per Seth Partnow and Dave DuFour of the Athletic.

Partnow and DuFour also wonder whether the 34-year-old Dragic’s incredible run during the 2020 Orlando restart, including a scorching playoff tear, was a blip on the radar or can be replicated this season.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Tyler Herro has supplanted Dragic as the Heat’s starting point guard in his second season, as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald details. Dragic started at the point for most of the 2020 NBA playoffs.
  • Newly-extended Magic players Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac are excited for their opportunity to contribute to Orlando’s growth as a club, per Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel“Not everybody gets extended, and to be a part of this group… and to be with this organization, it means everything to me,” Isaac said. “I love the coaching staff. I love the team. I love that they have belief in me, and they have it because I have belief in myself.” Isaac is expected to miss the entire 2020/21 season with a torn left ACL.
  • The Hornets will be forced to scramble a bit after losing starting center Cody Zeller for four-to-six weeks with a fractured left hand, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. While Bismack Biyombo will probably get the nod as Zeller’s replacement at the five, Bonnell expects head coach James Borrego to lean more on small-ball lineups that would feature 6’7″ forward P.J. Washington at center and Miles Bridges at power forward.

Cody Zeller Fractures Hand In Season Opener, Out 4-6 Weeks

DECEMBER 24: The Hornets anticipate that Zeller will miss four to six weeks of action following a surgery today on his fractured left hand, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.


DECEMBER 23: The Hornets have announced that starting center Cody Zeller fractured his left hand during Charlotte’s 2020/21 season opener, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

Bonnell says the severity of the fracture, and thus the amount of time Zeller could miss, is unclear. The 28-year-old out of Indiana averaged 11.1 PPG and 7.1 RPG on 52.4% field goal shooting during the 2019/20 season. He injured his hand in the second half of an eventual 121-114 loss to the Cavaliers.

An extended loss of games for Zeller could lead to more run for rookie bigs Vernon Carey Jr., the No. 32 pick out of Duke, and Nick Richards, the No. 42 pick out of Kentucky. Bonnell expects Bismack Biyombo to replace Zeller as the Hornets’ starting center.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, Charlotte is among a small quantity of clubs with an open roster spot still available.

[RELATED: 2020/21 NBA Roster Counts]

There are several veteran big men still on the free agent market, including Dewayne Dedmon, Taj Gibson, and Kyle O’Quinn.