Cody Zeller

Eastern Notes: Boylan, Hornets, Saric, Yabusele

Former Cavaliers assistant coach Jim Boylan has filed an age-discrimination lawsuit against the franchise, which the team has labelled “frivolous” and a “shameless cash grab,” according to an Associated Press report. Boylan, 63, worked five seasons under former coaches David Blatt and Tyronn Lue but did not have his option picked up this summer. Boylan contends GM Koby Altman told him owner Dan Gilbert wanted a younger coach.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Hornets have used a committee approach at the center spot and that position is likely to remain in flux, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports. Starter Cody Zeller, Willy Hernangomez, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nicolas Batum, Frank Kaminsky and Bismack Biyombo have all taken turns in the middle but first-year coach James Borrego isn’t worried. “We’re still searching (but) I like the dilemma I have,” he told Bonnell.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is allowing forward Dario Saric to work through his shooting slump, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Saric has scored in single digits in each of the last three games while shooting 2-for-13 from long range. Brown has no plans to reduce Saric’s workload. “If he came to me and said, ‘I need some time,’ I would listen,” Brown said. “But I don’t feel like I’m force-feeding anything, I do not feel like I’m hurting him. In fact, I feel like I’m helping him.”
  • Guerschon Yabusele’s option was picked up for next season because his game fits the modern NBA, according to coach Brad Stevens, and the Celtics believe the 22-year-old has high upside, the team’s PR department tweets. Boston’s brass decided to retain Yabusele despite a cap hit of $3,117,240, a figure that could grow if Boston pays the luxury tax. The 6’8” Yabusele has played just 18 minutes this season after seeing action in 33 games in his rookie campaign. But with several players hitting the free agent market next summer, the Celtics felt Yabusele was too valuable to give up, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald notes. “Having Guerschon gives us continuity. He knows our system,” GM Danny Ainge said. “He’s loved by everybody. It’s just not easy to find that type of player.”

Southeast Notes: Rivers, Clifford, Zeller, Mahinmi

Early in the summer the Wizards traded Marcin Gortat to the Clippers in exchange for Austin Rivers, a move that boosted the team’s backcourt depth and provides another option in small-ball lineups. The trade kicked off a busy offseason for Rivers, who has worked to adjust to life on the East Coast while adding a child to his family.

As Zach Rosen writes for the team’s website, Rivers will look to provide a consistent scoring punch off the bench and be a key cog in lineups alongside John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. That five-man unit will space the floor on offense and should be flexible on defense, which is a priority for Scott Brooks this season as he works to modernize the Wizards on both ends of the floor.

Rivers is coming off a career year in 2017/18, averaging 15.2 points and 4 assists per game while hitting 37.8% of his 3-pointers (he attempted nearly six per game). Rivers can both run the second-unit offense or be a secondary ball-handler when on the floor with the team’s All-Star guards, which will further diversify the Wizards’ attack. As Rosen points out, Brooks’ focus for the upcoming season is on 3-pointers, layups, dunks and defense, which should allow Rivers to fit right in.

As one of the team’s key additions, along with Dwight Howard and Jeff Green, Rivers will play an important role as the Wizards look to bounce back from a disappointing campaign in 2017/18.

There’s more from the Southeast division:

  • As he begins his first season as head coach of the Magic, Steve Clifford continues to tinker with possible lineup combinations. As John Denton writes for the team website, Clifford has specifically explored lineups that include both Mohamed Bamba and Nikola Vucevic on the floor. In such a lineup, the Magic would rely on Bamba to guard quicker power forwards due to his mobility. On offense, both bigs could play on the perimeter at times, given their shooting ability.
  • As the Hornets look to bounce back from another disappointing season, Cody Zeller will be a key piece to the puzzle. As Rick Bonnell points out for The Charlotte Observer, the Hornets have struggled mightily without Zeller, posting a 35-59 record in the games he has missed over the past four years. Zeller provides stellar two-way play and experience at the center position, which is exactly what the Hornets will need this season.
  • Finally able to go through a healthy offseason, Ian Mahinmi has looked much better in the Wizards‘ first two preseason games. As Chase Hughes writes for NBC Sports Washington, Mahinmi has started in place of Howard throughout the preseason and has had the sort of defensive impact the Wizards hoped for when they signed him during the 2016 offseason.

Southeast Notes: Dedmon, Anderson, Wade, Pope, Hornets

Center Dewayne Dedmon and swingman Justin Anderson will not be cleared for Hawks training camp, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. Dedmon suffered an avulsion fracture in his left ankle earlier this month and shed his walking boot last week. Dedmon, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, will be reevaluated next week, Vivlamore continues.  Anderson had surgery June 29th on his left leg due to recurring tibial stress syndrome. Anderson, who was acquired from the Sixers in a three-team deal in July, will be re-evaluated in two weeks, Vivlamore adds.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

Hornets Notes: Borrego, Batum, Howard, Zeller

Nicolas Batum may benefit more than anyone from the Hornets’ coaching change, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Spurs assistant James Borrego is expected to install the motion offense used in San Antonio, which plays to Batum’s strengths of handling the ball and making quick decisions.

Charlotte’s approach under Steve Clifford this season was heavy on postups for center Dwight Howard, which restricted Batum’s effectiveness. His scoring average dropped to 11.6 points per game, the lowest in his three years with the Hornets, and Bonnell speculates that he needs a new approach on offense to become productive again.

Bonnell addresses more Hornets topics in a mailbag column:

  • New GM Mitch Kupchak would like to move at least one big contract this summer to provide cap relief, but the organization might be wise to hold onto Howard. Bonnell states that the team may be in a better long-term position by allowing Howard’s $23.8MM contract to expire next summer rather than trading it for other expensive assets. However, he questions how much Howard will play next season, especially if the Hornets fall out of contention early.
  • Of the five players with large contracts, Cody Zeller may be easiest to trade. Zeller is signed for the next three seasons at an average of about $14MM per year, but he is only 25 and could develop into an effective center if he can overcome his injury history.
  • Young players Malik Monk, Willy Hernangomez and Dwayne Bacon may get a better chance to prove themselves under Borrego than Clifford. Bonnell says all three will be closely watched and supervised over the offseason, although Hernangomez will spend a large part of the summer with the Spanish National Team.
  • Borrego may try to add a former NBA head coach to his staff, just as Clifford did with Bob Weiss and Eddie Jordan.
  • The most pressing offseason need is finding a point guard to back up Kemba Walker. Monk played there late in the season, but Bonnell notes that it’s too early to say if that’s his best position. It’s also a long-term concern because Walker is headed for free agency in 2019.

Hornets Notes: Howard, Hernangomez, Walker

The Hornets shouldn’t have any regrets when it comes to their offseason acquisition of Dwight Howard, but despite the 32-year-old veteran’s admirably productive season, the team should look into trading him, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes.

Howard has been impressively consistent and durable and the move that the club made to acquire him was worth the risk. Unfortunately for Hornets fans, Charlotte seems destined to rebuild, something that Howard may not be all that interested in and that his arduous $23.8MM 2018/19 contract may complicate.

In 76 games for the Hornets this season, Howard has averaged 16.8 points – his highest scoring output in four seasons – and 12.4 rebounds.

There’s more out of Charlotte tonight:

  • Midseason acquisition Willy Hernangomez has had his work cut out for him appeasing Hornets coach Steve Clifford but the young big man appears to be taking the constructive crticisim to heart, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. “With every player, you have to find a way that you’re comfortable talking with them and they are comfortable talking with you. Serious players, they want a coach who can help them play better,” Clifford said.
  • A year of setbacks and injuries has continued into the final month of the regular season. Most recently, the Hornets have watched big man Cody Zeller shut things down for the remainder of the season. “I would say we’re at the stage now where it almost becomes, ‘Why [ask him to play]?‘” head coach Steve Clifford told Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “It’s so hard to not play for long stretches off the season. Why, with five games left, would we even play him? It makes more sense to me to let him get back to 100 percent and then just start again next [season].”
  • A dramatic year has resulted in another disappointing, playoff-less season for the Hornets and now it seems as though Kemba Walker‘s future in Charlotte is far from certain. This week we asked readers what they think will come of Walker’s tenure with the organization. Could Hornets fans be nearing the end of an era?

Hornets Notes: Clifford, Bacon, Zeller, Batum

The Hornets have already announced that general manager Rich Cho won’t have his contract renewed after this season, and according to Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer, head coach Steve Clifford probably shouldn’t be retained either.

Despite being one of the best coaches that the city of Charlotte has ever had – in Sorensen’s eyes – Sorensen wonders whether the team has reached a point where the players have stopped listening to Clifford and his message.

The Hornets have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this year. The team was widely expected to compete for a playoff spot, but have been out of the hunt for much of the season, currently sporting a record of 34-41 with seven games remaining after finishing with a similarly disappointing record last season at 36-46.

There’s more out of Charlotte from Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

  • The Hornets selected Malik Monk with the 11th overall pick in last year’s draft, with expectations that Monk could come in and help the team this season. However, the Charlotte rookie who has probably ended up having the best season is second-round pick Dwayne Bacon, the 40th overall selection. With that in mind, Bonnell analyzes whether Bacon could end up being the better catch.
  • Hornets big man Cody Zeller missed his 10th consecutive game tonight against the Cavs, leaving Bonnell to wonder whether Zeller may be done for the season. Zeller, who thought he might be ready to play in Dallas on Saturday, said his injured left knee had begun to swell again after he tested it.
  • Part of the Hornets’ problem is a high payroll for next season, leaving the team with few options to improve upon its current roster. One albatross of a contract is that of Nicolas Batum, who is scheduled to make $24MM next season. In a mailbag piece, Bonnell answers some readers’ questions regarding Batum and his contract, among others.

Southeast Notes: Wade, Zeller, Wilkins, Magic

Dwyane Wade spent his first 13 seasons as a member of the Heat and he wants to finish his career with the organization. Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes that Wade, who is currently with the Cavaliers, wants to find a way back to South Beach before retirement.

“I have thought about it, of course. I wouldn’t lie and say I haven’t,” Wade said to Winderman of possibly rejoining the Heat. “When that opportunity comes, that day comes, hopefully, I can go out in a Miami Heat jersey. I don’t know how it will be, but I would love it.”

Wade, who recently turned 36, is enjoying a solid season off the bench for Cleveland, averaging 11.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.7 APG in 44 games. The Heat are in the midst of a strong season, sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 29-23 record. Wade said he has followed the team since his departure and is proud of how the team has meshed together to find success.

Ideally, Wade would finish his playing career with one final season in a Heat uniform. However, it is possible for Wade to sign a one-day ceremonial contract — similar to Paul Pierce with the Celtics — and officially retire as a member of the Heat.

Check out other news from the Southeast Division:

  • Cody Zeller made his return on Friday after missing 21 games with torn left meniscus, providing a jolt for the Hornets. Brendan Marks of the Charlotte Observer writes that while it’s too early to tell how well Zeller has recovered, he could play a pivotal role as the Hornets make a playoff push.
  • The Hornets’ G-League affiliate Greensboro Swarm announced that 10-year NBA veteran Damien Wilkins has joined the team. Wilkins started the year with the Pacers and now returns to the Swarm, a team he appeared in 48 games with last season.
  •  Magic general manager John Hammond does not characterize the 15-35 as sellers but acknowledged any moves Orlando makes at the deadline are with the future in mind, John Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

Injury Notes: Zeller, Dunn, Lydon

The Hornets are expected to get  Cody Zeller involved in team scrimmages in a matter of days Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. The forward has been sidelined since undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in mid-December.

Zeller was a critical piece of the Hornets’ rotation before his injury and will look to settle back into his new role of manning the backup center position behind Dwight Howard as soon as he’s cleared to do so.

In 19 games of action for the Hornets, Zeller has averaged 7.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. His return will be much appreciated by a team that’s struggled mightily in the first half of 2017/18.

There are other injury updates to report on this evening:

  • Rookie forward Tyler Lydon will miss four months of action after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports. The Nuggets revealed in a press release that Lydon went under the knife after an injury sustained on assignment in the G League.
  • We wrote last week that Bulls guard Kris Dunn was out indefinitely after entering the NBA’s concussion protocol. This week, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes that the guard’s symptoms haven’t changed much. Dun, who still suffers headaches, will take the comeback process slow and be out a while longer.
  • Pistons big man Jon Leuer underwent successful surgery on his left ankle and will miss the remainder of the 2017/18 campaign, Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets. Leuer now faces a four-month recovery process.

Southeast Notes: Heat Injuries, Hornets, Isaac

The Heat have dealt with a plethora of injuries this season but, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes, the team is slowly but surely making progress. Hassan Whiteside, for example, has started doing on-court work for the first time since being sidelined eight games ago.

While there’s still no timetable for Whiteside’s return, Heat fans can take solace in the fact that head coach Erik Spoelstra seems convinced that Rodney McGruder will return to the court by the end of the season.

I will not answer [in more detail] because he will read it and take it as major progress and then start banging on my door and say I’m ready to play,” the Heat coach said. “He’s out of the boot and doing more work, all non-impact at this point.

Finally, there was hope that Justise Winslow would be able to return within the week for the Heat. The forward received optimistic MRI results after injuring his knee on Wednesday. Spoelstra, however, pumped the brakes on that one saying that he wouldn’t commit to that timetable. Winslow is currently limited to bicycle and pool work.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division tonight:

Cody Zeller To Undergo Surgery, Miss Six Weeks

Hornets center Cody Zeller will undergo surgery to repair torn meniscus in his left knee on Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets, citing league sources. Zeller is expected to miss six weeks, Wojnarowski adds.

Zeller injured the knee last week against the Warriors. Zeller was relegated a second-unit role this season with the addition of Dwight Howard but had been productive, averaging 7.2 PPG and 5.5 RPG. In his absence, Frank Kaminsky and Johnny O’Bryant will likely share minutes behind Howard. Kaminsky has missed two games with an ankle sprain but is expected to play Monday.

Zeller, 25, has long-term security but it remains to be seen whether the knee injury will have a lingering effect. He’s making $12.6MM this season and his contract runs through the 2020/21 season.

If the Hornets want to add a big man, they could sign a free agent to a pro-rated, non-guaranteed minimum deal and remain below the luxury tax line, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. The Hornets have a roster spot open and are $1.8MM below the tax line, Marks notes.