Cole Aldrich

Northwest Notes: Thunder, Harris, Dudley

The Thunder have three players who’ve grown used to getting the final shot over the course of long, impressive careers. Now, Royce Young of ESPN writes, they’ll have to figure out who gets the ball when the game is on the line.

While Russell Westbrook was the painfully obvious choice last season, he’s joined on the Thunder by Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Both Anthony and George have traditionally been the focal point of their teams’ offenses and were often the go-to options down the stretch, the latter even going so far as to lambaste former teammate C.J. Miles for taking a last-second shot in the playoffs last spring.

Carmelo’s been a closeout guy the places he’s been, the same thing with Paul. But any time you have a team you have to do it by finding the open man,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “Clearly for us last year, somebody creating and generating a shot for himself or someone else, it was Russell. But obviously now with Carmelo and Paul being here, I think it’s about making the right play and right decision.

One knock on the Thunder in the past has been their reliance on isolation basketball when the game is on the long. Considering the roster balance last season, that style of play was more or less expected. With a number of legitimate offensive threats in 2017/18, however, the expectations for ball movement – and making sound decisions – should rise.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Details on Gary Harris‘ contract have emerged, Bobby Marks of ESPN writes. The cap hit for the Nuggets guard in 2018/19 will be $16.5MM and that mark will rise annually until the deal terminates at $20.5MM in 2021/22. There are also $2.5MM of additional, unlikely, bonuses each year.
  • There’s no clear frontrunner to fill the primary backup power forward role for the Nuggets this offseason. Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports writes about how the changing NBA could impact Denver’s frontcourt depth chart in 2017/18.
  • A prediction that the Timberwolves could send Cole Aldrich and a second-round pick to the Suns for Jared Dudley has legs, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets. Minnesota has been particularly interested in Dudley’s recovery from offseason toe surgery.

Lowe’s Latest: Wolves, Suns, Parker, Bucks

In another one of his in-depth NBA preview features, ESPN’s Zach Lowe has grouped the NBA’s 30 teams into tiers, with the Warriors in the top tier on their own, followed by the Cavaliers, Thunder, Rockets, and Spurs in tier two. Lowe’s piece examines each club, with a handful of Eastern Conference teams – the Nets, Hawks, Knicks, Pacers, and Bulls – bringing up the rear.

Along the way, Lowe drops a few noteworthy tidbits of information about roster moves and trade possibilities, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • The Timberwolves have dangled Cole Aldrich‘s contract and a second-round pick in search of veteran help, sources tell Lowe. We heard reports of Aldrich’s availability back in July, and nothing came of it, but the Wolves still project to have an open roster spot or two, so it’s possible the team will revisit this scenario at some point.
  • The Suns have explored trading Jared Dudley and/or Tyson Chandler, but they likely feel no urgency to move either player at this point, says Lowe. The ESPN scribe adds that Phoenix “will surely listen” if the team receives inquiries on Eric Bledsoe.
  • Bucks forward Jabari Parker is unlikely to return before February, at the earliest, according to Lowe. The former No. 2 overall pick continues to recover from a torn ACL as his October 16 contract extension deadline nears.
  • The Bucks – who got out of the tax this year – would risk going back over the tax threshold for 2018/19 with an extension for Parker. Sources tell Lowe that Milwaukee has discussed dumping John Henson and/or Mirza Teletovic, but teams are “squeezing hard.” Henson and Teletovic are on the books for about $10.5MM each in 2018/19.

Nets Notes: Carroll, Free Agents, Aldrich, Draft Pick

Brooklyn GM Sean Marks got Raptors president Masai Ujiri to sweeten the deal involving DeMarre Carroll as they talked during Saturday’s games at the Las Vegas Summer League, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Toronto’s original offer involved just Carroll and a first-round pick, but Marks was able to convince Ujiri to send along a second-rounder and take back the $3MM contract of Justin Hamilton.

The deal provides needed cap relief for the Raptors, while giving the Nets a replacement for Otto Porter after the Wizards announced their intention to match Brooklyn’s four-year, $106.5MM offer sheet. The trade may not be finalized before Thursday while the Nets wait for the Wizards to conduct Porter’s physical and report the results to the league.

There’s more today out of Brooklyn:

  • With nearly $17MM left in cap space along with a $4.3MM room exception, the Nets will move on to other targets in free agency, Lewis adds. They were believed to be interested in Pistons’ guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but the Carroll trade prevents them from making a max offer. Caldwell-Pope turned down $80MM over five years from Detroit, but his options may be limited now as fewer teams have cap room to work with. Other possibilities for Brooklyn are C.J. Miles, Dewayne Dedmon, Nikola Mirotic or another restricted free agent in JaMychal Green. Coach Kenny Atkinson sees the value in having an older player around. “I do think [Marks and I] both agree that we don’t want to go in with a totally young roster,” he said. “We do need that veteran support. If it’s the right position where somebody can help us, it’s definitely something [to consider].”
  • Saturday’s deal may end the Timberwolves’ hopes of getting the Nets to take on Cole Aldrich’s salary, Lewis notes in the same piece. Minnesota wants to unload Aldrich, who will make $7.3MM in the upcoming season and nearly $6.9MM in 2018/19, to create enough cap room to sign Miles. However, Marks wouldn’t agree to the deal unless the Wolves threw in Oklahoma City’s 2018 first-rounder.
  • The second-rounder the Nets will receive in the Carroll deal will probably be the lower of the Magic or Lakers picks, according to a tweet from NetsDaily. Brooklyn already has the rights to the Pacers’ 2018 second-rounder if Indiana misses the playoffs.

Free Agent Rumors: Clippers, KCP, Lakers, Casspi

Free agent big man Willie Reed is meeting today with the Clippers, league sources tell Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link). ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms the meeting and adds (via Twitter) that Jeff Withey is also sitting down with the club today. Los Angeles doesn’t have a whole lot of financial flexibility left, having used most of its mid-level exception on Milos Teodosic, but the club remains in the market for a backup for DeAndre Jordan, with Marreese Speights having opted out.

Here’s more on free agency:

  • The Pistons‘ best offer to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was worth $80MM over five years, which “wasn’t even close” to what the free agent guard was seeking, a source tells Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link). Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) also hears the two sides weren’t at all close, though he doesn’t confirm those specific figures. Caldwell-Pope is now an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Lakers have shown some interest in Rodney Stuckey, but have only had preliminary discussions on that front, writes Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Alex Kennedy (Twitter link) first reported L.A.’s interest in Stuckey.
  • Before he agreed to sign with the Warriors on a minimum salary deal, Omri Casspi turned down a one-year, $4.5MM offer from a probable lottery team, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who notes that Casspi opted for a chance at a title instead of the bigger payday.
  • The Timberwolves are said to be trying harder to unload Cole Aldrich‘s contract in an effort to land C.J. Miles, but the team remains reluctant to attach a first-round pick, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.

Free Agent Rumors: Wolves, Knicks, Waiters, Jazz

The Timberwolves were linked to free agent swingman C.J. Miles earlier today, but weren’t necessarily considered a probable landing spot for Miles due to the team’s lack of cap flexibility. However, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link), who passed along the initial report on Miles, the Pacers are open to the idea of a sign-and-trade which would net them Cole Aldrich‘s contract and OKC’s 2018 first-round pick from Minnesota.

Both teams would have to agree on that sign-and-trade scenario, and of course Miles would also have to be on board, so there may be some snags along the way. But as Wolfson points out, there are ways for the Wolves to get creative if they really want to land Miles or another free agent.

Wolfson has more on the Wolves, tweeting that he has heard the team made an offer to Nick Young. That offer would likely be worth the $4.3MM room exception, and Young turned down a $5.67MM player option with the Lakers last month, so I’d be surprised if Minnesota’s offer is enough to land him, but the club clearly remains on the lookout for shooting help.

Here’s more on free agency:

  • The Knicks continue to stay in touch with free agent guard Dion Waiters, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that Waiters and Rajon Rondo remain on the Lakers‘ radar.
  • With Gordon Hayward and Otto Porter off the board, the Jazz have expressed interest in Rudy Gay, says Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). As Royce Young of ESPN tweets, Patrick Patterson essentially took the deal that Gay was unwilling to with the Thunder, so OKC may be out, leaving the Heat and Jazz as the top contenders for Gay.
  • Having already brought back nearly all of their key free agents, the Warriors are also considered likely to re-sign Zaza Pachulia, according to Sam Amick of USA Today.
  • After a strong showing for the Pistons in Summer League play, Eric Moreland is believed to have received a multiyear contract offer from Detroit, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

Northwest Notes: Aldrich, Westbrook, Plumlee, Hood

Cole Aldrich, who signed a three-year, $22MM deal with the Wolves over the summer, was brought in to be a veteran mentor to the younger guys on the team and he’s enjoying his role, as he tells Michael Rand of The StarTribune. “Well, with [Jordan Hill], myself, [Brandon Rush] and we had John Lucas earlier in the year, it’s fun to have those guys and the young guys,” Aldrich said. “The teams we were on last year, we were all on older teams, playoff teams. Being able to bring our experience from those teams to a younger group of guys has been a lot of fun.”

More from around the Northwest…

  • Several of Mason Plumlee‘s teammates had adverse reactions to Sunday’s trade, Casey Holdahl of NBA.com reports. “I mean, the business sucks man,” Damian Lillard said. “You wish you could get a team together and put pieces together and you can keep it together. You wish you had the power to keep it together regardless of anything. It happens this way sometimes.” Plumlee, who was dealt to the Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, had become an “adept playmaker” under coach Terry Stotts. “He’s [Plumlee] just a glue guy that you want on your team,” C.J. McCollum said. “He’s a guy who does things the right way, never complains and he’s getting better. He put together a nice string of 20, 25 games to where he’s getting double-doubles, making his free throws, finishing in the lane. And he’s a good guy. That’s what matters the most, he’s a good guy.”
  • Kevin Durant continues to get the best of Russell Westbrook, Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. KD is averaging 37.7 points against OKC this season, a span in which the Warriors have gone 3-0. Despite the loss, Westbrook appeared to enjoy the home crowd’s mental warfare against Durant. “Honestly, I used to get booed in all arenas,” Westbrook said. “So, you know, the tables have turned a little bit.”
  • Chris Haynes of ESPN was critical of Westbrook’s demeanor in Saturday’s rivalry game, writing: “That miniature exchange exemplified Durant’s frustration in playing alongside Westbrook for those eight years with the Thunder. It was always, “I’m coming. I’m coming.” Meanwhile, the team wasn’t going anywhere.” Whereas Westbrook pursued lofty stats, Haynes writes, Durant always prioritized winning.
  • Rodney Hood, who has been out of action since February 1 due to a right knee injury, is expected to return after the All-Star break, the Jazz announced on its official website. Hood has averaged 13.7 points with 3.6 rebounds through 40 games in 2016/17.

Eastern Notes: Anthony, McDermott, Aldrich

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is “baffled and hurt” by the recent comments team president Phil Jackson made about him in the media, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. Anthony told the scribe that he wishes that Jackson would have come to him first with any critiques rather than airing them through the media. “I think we’re playing good basketball,’’ Anthony said. “I don’t know what’s this cloud over the team now. We lost a game. I just feel if it was something he wanted to address and had a stance on something, the door has always been open both ways. He always sends me a text or talks to me if it was any type of problem that was going on. I always welcome the conversation with open arms.

At the end of the day, my focus is us and what we’re doing,’’ ‘Melo continued. “We’re at a point as a team we’re making strides, playing good basketball. I just don’t know what was behind the comments or where the comments came from. I just want to continue to do what we’re doing – playing ball. We’re playing good basketball now. To have a temporary black cloud …. I know it happens – it’s New York and something I know. It’s not something I expect [from the team]. I didn’t talk to him. I didn’t know where he was coming from. He wants to talk about it, cool. If he doesn’t, cool. In my eyes, it’s over to me.’’

Here’s more from the East:

  • Bulls forward Doug McDermott, who made his return on Thursday night after missing 11 contests with a concussion, is relieved to finally be able to get back to business, Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com relays. “The first week-and-a-half was tough sleeping-wise, just weird symptoms you don’t even realize,” McDermott said. “Just being in cars, going to my appointments was tough at times, some headaches throughout the week. But with a concussion you just have to be true to yourself and true to the doctors. You don’t want to lie about things because it can only make things worse. I’m finally to the point where I’m feeling better.” McDermott played 26 minutes and scored 8 points in the win over the Spurs.
  • The Knicks are considering hiring Makhtar N’Diaye, who currently is a player agent with the Wasserman Media Group, as a scout, Frank Isola of The New York Daily News tweets.
  • The Pistons signed Aron Baynes in the summer of 2015, but had they not been able to reach an agreement with the big man, they would have targeted Cole Aldrich for their back-up center spot, Keith Langlois of NBA.com reports. Baynes has been an effective player for Detroit, averaging 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per outing this season.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Thibodeau Discusses Fresh Start In Minnesota

After a year away from the game, Tom Thibodeau is back as coach and president of basketball operations with the Timberwolves, who have one of the most intriguing collections of young talent in the NBA. Minnesota added point guard Kris Dunn through the draft this summer and improved its bench by signing free agents Jordan Hill, Cole Aldrich and Brandon Rush.

Kent Youngblood of The Star-Tribune talked with Thibodeau about his return to the game, his reputation as a defensive coach, his expectations for the young Wolves and Ricky Rubio‘s role now that Dunn is in town. Here are some highlights of the interview:

On Rubio’s role in Thibodeau’s offense:

“I think he’ll fit in very well. He’s a good player. He practices hard. He can really pass the ball. Passing and defense are two things that help build your team, brings the best out of people. I think Ricky has the ability to make other people better.”

On Rubio and Dunn as a possible starting backcourt:

“We’re going to get a lot of those questions answered in the preseason as we go forward. You want to go step by step. You don’t want to skip over things. I like guys who can play multiple positions, I like different combinations. There are times when you play two point guards together. I did that a lot in Chicago, just the speed of the game changes.”

On possible improvement from Nemanja Bjelica:

“I’m excited about him. He’s had a great summer. He’s in really good shape. He has a very unique skill set: He can shoot the three, he can put it on the floor. The one thing that is probably overlooked is his playmaking ability. You can run pick-and-roll with him. He’s got great vision, he can pass over people.”

On the additions of Aldrich and Hill:

“The way Cole played the second half of last year, I think he’s figured out who he is. The last two years have been very good for him. He fits in well, plays to his strengths, covers up his weaknesses, makes the team function well. And Jordan has been a very good player in this league. That gives us quality depth up front.”

On playoff expectations:

“I don’t want to put a lid on what we can do, but I want us doing the right things. Concentrate on that improvement and how fast we get there, I don’t know. We’re young and we’re going to improve. I think we’ll be a different team at the end of the year than what we were at the beginning of the year.”

Timberwolves Sign Cole Aldrich

March 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center Cole Aldrich (45) moves the ball against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Channing Frye (9) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Images

JULY 13: The Wolves have formally signed Aldrich, the team announced today (via Twitter).

JULY 3: Veteran center Cole Aldrich will sign a three-year, $22MM deal with the Timberwolves, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The 27-year-old center spent the 2015/16 season with the Clippers and averaged 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 60 games.

Aldrich decided last month to opt out of his contract with L.A., which would have paid him the league minimum, approximately $1.23MM. The Clippers had hoped to keep the unrestricted free agent, but he chose to accept the offer from Minnesota.

The Bloomington, Minn., native will serve as a backup to Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns. The Timberwolves will be his sixth NBA franchise.

Free Agent Rumors: Hornets, Blazers, Pachulia

Having tried to move Spencer Hawes‘ contract in a trade prior to the draft, the Hornets continue to explore a possible deal involving Hawes, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter links). According to Wojnarowski, Charlotte would like to create the cap room to add a center in free agency. Roy Hibbert and Zaza Pachulia are at the top of the Hornets’ wish list, with Festus Ezeli and Jordan Hill among the other players the team is eyeing, says Wojnarowski.

Here are several more free agent rumors and updates from around the NBA:

  • The Trail Blazers kicked the tires on Ezeli and Nene, but won’t pursue those players, instead focusing their attention on Pachulia, reports Jason Quick of CSNNW.com (Twitter links). According to Quick, the Blazers were concerned they’d have to renounce one or two of their restricted free agents to go after Ezeli, and they aren’t willing to do that for Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard, or Maurice Harkless at this point.
  • Quick also has an update on veteran free agent Gerald Henderson, tweeting that the Trail Blazers are one of “seven to eight teams” to show interest in Henderson so far.
  • A reunion between Lance Stephenson and the Pacers isn’t out of the question, according to Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star, who reports that Stephenson has discussed the possibility of agreeing to a multiyear contract with Indiana. The veteran free agent is considering a few teams, but a source tells Taylor that Stephenson “absolutely loves the town and the [Pacers] organization.”
  • Before Cole Aldrich agreed to sign with the Timberwolves, he was receiving interest from the Magic and the Suns, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter). Orlando struck a deal with Bismack Biyombo, but Phoenix could still be in the market for a free agent big man.
  • Portland reportedly offered Pau Gasol a higher salary than he ultimately accepted from the Spurs, and it sounds like the Timberwolves did too. Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press reports (via Twitter) that Minnesota’s first offer was $36MM for two years, and the team may have increased that offer within the last day or so.
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