Courtney Lee

Mavs Release Guard Courtney Lee

Veteran guard Courtney Lee has been waived by the Mavericks, head coach Rick Carlisle told Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

The move trims the Mavs’ roster to the 15-player opening-day limit, plus two others on two-way contracts. While Dallas will monitor roster cuts by other teams, it’s unlikely the team will make another move, Caplan adds.

Lee was signed on a training camp deal on December 11 but was a longshot to make the final roster. He played for the Mavericks last season but was not a consistent rotation presence. Lee appeared in just 24 games, averaging 4.5 PPG, 1.3 RPG, and 0.8 SPG in 14.4 MPG.

He didn’t participate in the restart due to a calf injury.

The 35-year-old out of Western Kentucky was an effective three-and-D perimeter player in his prime. Prior to Dallas, he played for the Magic, Nets, Rockets, Celtics, Grizzlies, Hornets, and Knicks across a 12-year NBA career.

Mavericks Re-Sign Courtney Lee

DECEMBER 11: The Mavs have officially signed Lee to his training camp deal, the team announced today in a press release. Dallas once again has a full 20-man camp roster.


DECEMBER 9: Veteran shooting guard Courtney Lee will return to the Mavericks as part of the club’s training camp roster, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (via Twitter).

The 6’5″ guard was not a consistent rotation presence for the Mavericks during the 2019/20 season. He appeared in just 24 games, averaging 4.5 PPG, 1.3 RPG, and 0.8 SPG in 14.4 MPG.

The 35-year-old out of Western Kentucky was an effective three-and-D perimeter player in his prime, and prior to Dallas had stops with the Magic, Nets, Celtics, Grizzlies, Hornets, and Knicks across a 12-year NBA career.

Lee will face an uphill struggle to crack the 15-man squad after training camp. MacMahon notes that, though Lee will most likely not make the club’s opening night roster, the team thinks highly of his veteran locker room presence.

According to MacMahon (Twitter link), an injured calf caused Lee missed the 2019/20 season’s Orlando campus restart. A preseason opportunity with the Mavericks could double as a showcase for him to the rest of the league, even if he doesn’t stick with Dallas.

Cauley-Stein Opting Out Of Restart; Mavs Sign Burke

JULY 1, 12:53pm: Burke has officially signed a contract, according to his Twitter feed.

JUNE 25, 12:32pm: Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein has opted to sit out of the NBA’s restart this summer, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who notes (via Twitter) that Cauley-Stein and his partner are expecting a newborn child in July.

Free agent guard Trey Burke has agreed to a rest-of-season deal with Dallas and will take Cauley-Stein’s place on the summer roster, per Charania (via Twitter). Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link) first reported that the Mavs had interest in signing Burke.

Burke, 27, was waived by the Sixers at this year’s trade deadline when Philadelphia needed a roster spot to accommodate incoming additions Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks. Up until that point, the former lottery pick had been a solid offensive option off the bench for the 76ers, averaging 5.9 PPG and 2.1 APG on .465/.421/.722 shooting in 25 games (13.2 MPG).

Burke has some history with the Mavericks, having spent a portion of the 2018/19 season in Dallas after being traded by the Knicks. He recorded 9.7 PPG and 2.6 APG in 25 games (17.4 MPG) for the Mavs last season, and will help replace injured guard Jalen Brunson in the team’s backcourt this season. He’ll get a minimum-salary, rest-of-season deal and will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

The Mavericks have a full 15-man roster and weren’t eligible to add a substitute player to replace any of their injured players (Dwight Powell, Courtney Lee, and Brunson). However, they don’t need an open roster spot to sign a replacement for a player who is voluntarily opting out, such as Cauley-Stein.

Cauley-Stein, who holds a $2.29MM player option for 2020/21, won’t be fined or suspended for deciding not to participate in the summer restart. However, he’ll forfeit some ’19/20 pay for sitting out, giving up 1/92.6th of his salary for each Mavs game he misses, up to a maximum of 14 contests. Cauley-Stein is the fourth player known to be opting out of the NBA’s return, joining Avery Bradley, Trevor Ariza, and Davis Bertans.

If the Mavericks want to make another addition to their roster to help fill the holes created by injuries, waiving Lee – who is on an expiring contract – would be an option. However, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News tweeted earlier this week that the Mavs aren’t eager to release Lee, since they value his locker room impact and would like to have him in Orlando this summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: New Orleans, Pelicans’ Schedule, C. Lee, Covington

New Orleans presented a “very strong bid” to be part of the NBA’s restart before Orlando was chosen to host the whole thing, according to Christopher Dodson of Forbes. Sources with the team and local government tell Dodson that New Orleans was hoping to be among several participants in a multi-city plan.

“As the NBA looked to re-open, they did their due diligence and research on best potential in-market planning and what could cities and arenas pull off safely,” said Pelicans Senior VP of Communications Greg Bensel. “So in many markets with city and state restrictions it was going to be impossible, hence the bubble concept.”

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the effort was a “bid to help save our tourism and promote that New Orleans was back and ready for business” in a tweet that was taken down about an hour after it was posted, adds Christian Clark of NOLA.com.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans deserve the soft schedule they received for the eight games in Orlando, argues Rod Walker of NOLA.com. New Orleans will play just two games against teams with winning records, but Walker points out that the Pelicans had the easiest remaining schedule before the hiatus and would have faced just three winning teams — the Jazz, Clippers and Sixers — over their final 18 games.
  • Despite suffering a calf injury that will likely end his season, Courtney Lee plans to accompany the Mavericks to Walt Disney World, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Lee provides a veteran presence in the locker room and could be valuable to the team even if he doesn’t play. Because Willie Cauley-Stein opted not to play in Orlando, Dallas won’t need to create an opening to add Trey Burke, so Lee may remain on the roster (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets will use their second training camp to fully incorporate Robert Covington into their style of play, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Covington was acquired shortly before the trade deadline in early February and played just 14 games for Houston before the hiatus.

Mavs To Seek Reinforcements Following Lee’s Calf Injury

6:43pm: The team has confirmed Lee’s left calf injury in a press release and adds that he won’t be available when it resumes workouts on July 1. There is no timetable for his return.

4:16pm: The Mavericks will be on the lookout for possible roster reinforcements once the NBA’s transactions window opens on Tuesday, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Already missing Dwight Powell, who tore his Achilles in January, and Jalen Brunson, who underwent shoulder surgery in March, Dallas will now be without Courtney Lee as well. According to Stein, Lee suffered a calf injury during the hiatus that required surgery. Confirming Stein’s report, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets that Lee suffered the injury in a “freak accident.”

Although neither Stein nor Lee provides a specific recovery timetable for Lee, MacMahon refers to the injury as “significant,” which makes it sound as if the veteran swingman probably won’t be available this summer.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), injured players aren’t eligible to be replaced by substitute players, so Dallas wouldn’t be able to simply add three players to its Orlando roster in place of Powell, Brunson, and Lee without making corresponding moves to open up spots. Lee is on an expiring contract, so if his season is over, he would be the most logical candidate to be released.

Although Lee wasn’t a regular contributor for the Mavericks throughout the entirety of the 2019/20 campaign, he emerged as part of the rotation in the month leading up to the league’s hiatus. The 34-year-old started five of seven games in March, averaging 6.6 PPG on .500/.467/1.000 shooting in 22.8 minutes per contest.

It remains unclear which free agents the Mavs may be targeting this week, or even which position they may focus on — with Powell, Brunson, and Lee on the shelf, the club is missing a player in its backcourt, on the wing, and in the frontcourt.

Mavericks Attempted To Acquire Danny Green

As the trade deadline approached, it seemed Marcus Morris was heading to Los Angeles one way or another; it was just a matter of if it was going to be the Lakers or the Clippers. It ended up being the latter in a deal that saw Maurice Harkless and a 2020 first-round pick, among other pieces, head to New York.

[RELATED: Clippers to acquire Marcus Morris in three-team trade]

Had the Lakers found success with obtaining Morris, the Mavericks would have attempted to take Danny Green off their hands, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter links).

As Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets, New York was looking to acquire both Kyle Kuzma and Green in talks with the Lakers, who would have had to salary-match Morris’ $15M contract. The Knicks would’ve then flipped Green to Dallas. However, the Lakers were unwilling to part with both Kuzma and Green.

Dallas pursued Green over the summer. The shooting guard decided to sign with the Lakers over Mark Cuban‘s squad. He’s making $14.6M this season and will take home $15.4M next year.

To trade for Green, the Mavericks would have had to give up Courtney Lee‘s expiring contract and Golden State’s 2020 second-round draft pick, a source tells Townsend (Twitter link). That pick currently projects to be 31st overall.

Grizzlies Notes: Iguodala, Brooks, Jackson

We’ve heard all season long that the Grizzlies are confident about their chances of trading veteran swingman Andre Iguodala before the deadline rather than having to buy him out. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com, executives around the NBA suspect Memphis’ confidence stems from having an offer from the Mavericks as a fallback option. Such an offer would likely consist of Courtney Lee‘s expiring contract and the Warriors’ second-round pick.

Mavericks sources have “done their best to refute” that idea, per MacMahon. A pair of Dallas-based reporters suggested last month that the Mavs don’t plan on pursuing Iguodala. With the 2020 trade deadline right around the corner, it may just be a matter of days before we find out whether or not that’s a smokescreen. I suspect the Mavs would be willing to trade Golden State’s second-rounder, but perhaps there are targets they like more than Iguodala.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Despite only being drafted in 2017, Dillon Brooks is the longest-tenured Grizzlies player, having endured a roster overhaul and a pair of coaching staff shakeups during his three years in Memphis, writes Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com. In Wallace’s view, Brooks – who has averaged a career-best 16.0 PPG to go along with a .400 3PT% in 47 games this season – has made himself a Most Improved Player candidate as he nears restricted free agency.
  • According to Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins, the team would like to get newly-recalled forward Josh Jackson into its rotation, tweets Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian. That didn’t happen on Tuesday since Jackson – who has been in the G League all season – had only had one shootaround with the NBA team.
  • If the Grizzlies can keep building on the success they’ve enjoyed so far this season, they’ll end up skipping a long, painful rebuilding process, says Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. As Giannotto observes, every time it seems as if the overachieving Grizzlies might come back to earth, they’ve been doing something else to prove that success is sustainable.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

Brandon Ingram, Pelicans, 22, SF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $23.8MM deal in 2016
More appropriately, Ingram’s stock is way, way up. Ingram’s last season with the Lakers was cut short by a blood clot issue. He averaged 18.3 PPG but there was still skepticism just how good Ingram was. He’s answered that emphatically in his first 13 games with the Pelicans, posting All-Star level numbers (26.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 45.9 percent on 3s). The Pelicans will make him a restricted free agent by extending a $9.48MM qualifying offer. Will Ingram re-sign with New Orleans, sign a big offer sheet, or sign the QO and test unrestricted free agency the following summer? For sure, he’ll get paid.

Courtney Lee, Mavericks, 34, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $48MM deal in 2016
Lee’s value to Dallas is mainly his expiring contract, which could prove useful as the Mavs look to acquire another piece to their vastly improved squad. Lee’s playing time has been mainly limited to garbage-time minutes. After two solid seasons with the Knicks, Lee’s career has declined the past two seasons. His 3-point prowess (38.7 percent for his career) might earn him a short-term deal next summer but he won’t be making anywhere near $12MM next season.

Gerald Green, Rockets, 33, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2019
Have we seen the last of Green in the NBA? That’s a strong possibility, considering his age and long-term rehab from a foot injury. He underwent surgery in late October and is expected to miss the regular season and likely the postseason as well. Green, a 12-year NBA veteran, has made prior stops with Boston, Minnesota, Houston, Dallas, New Jersey, Indiana, Phoenix and Miami during his professional career. He was a major contributor off the Rockets’ bench last season, averaging 9.2 PPG and 2.5 PPG in 73 contests. Another veteran’s minimum deal is his best hope.

Marco Belinelli, Spurs, 33, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2018
Belinelli’s perimeter shooting has made him one of the league’s most reliable second-unit players for years. The shooting touch has abandoned him, one of the many reasons the Spurs have struggled this season. Belinelli is shooting just 29 percent from the field while averaging 5.2 PPG. He has averaged in double figures off the bench for the past four seasons. Gregg Popovich has continued to give him steady minutes, so Bellinelli’s production should return to the norm. But if his playing time is reduced, he may have to settle for the veteran’s minimum next summer.

Dillon Brooks, Grizzlies, 23, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.8MM deal in 2017
Brooks was limited to 18 games last season, mainly due to a toe injury that required surgery in January. He has come back at full strength and started every game this season for the Grizzlies. He’s the team’s third-leading scorer at 13.3 PPG while making 38.7 percent of his 3-pointers. It’s a foregone conclusion the Grizzlies will extend a $2MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer. The 2017 second-round pick will get a substantial pay raise regardless of how his free agent journey unfolds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southwest Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Although the Spurs don’t typically make splashy in-season trades, the Southwest could still end up being one of the NBA’s busiest divisions in 2019/20 in terms of trade activity. The Rockets and Mavericks are in position to buyers, while the Pelicans and Grizzlies may seek out deals that position them to better build around the top two picks from the 2019 draft.

Let’s focus on three players out of the Southwest who could emerge as trade candidates before this season’s deadline…

Andre Iguodala, G/F
Memphis Grizzlies
$17.19MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Iguodala is perhaps the most obvious trade candidate in the NBA at the moment. The Grizzlies are so resigned to the fact that the veteran wing has no future in Memphis that they’re not even requiring him to be with the team, having reached an agreement in September allowing him not to report to camp.

While the Grizzlies are holding out hope that a favorable trade emerges for Iguodala, many of his primary suitors don’t have much to offer to match his $17MM+ salary and may rather wait to see if he’s bought out. A recent survey of executives conducted by David Aldridge of The Athletic revealed that most people around the league expect Iguodala to end up with the Lakers, but they have no realistic path to a trade, given the construction of their roster.

It makes sense for the Grizzlies to be patient with this process. Iguodala would fit in well on just about every NBA roster, and more buyers could emerge by January or February, increasing Memphis’ leverage.

Courtney Lee, SG
Dallas Mavericks
$12.76MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Lee had one of his best seasons as a pro in 2017/18, averaging 12.0 PPG on .454/.406/.919 shooting, but he has been slowed by injuries since then and isn’t currently a fixture in the Mavericks‘ rotation.

Although he doesn’t have positive value, Lee’s expiring contract would be Dallas’ best salary-matching piece if the club goes out in search of an upgrade. The team is well below the tax line, so taking on some extra money in a deal involving Lee wouldn’t be an issue.

By way of example, the Mavs could offer Lee and another asset to the Grizzlies for Iguodala (and perhaps already have). Although there’s a gap between their cap charges, the NBA’s trade rules would allow Dallas to take back up to $17.76MM in exchange for Lee alone.

Nene, C
Houston Rockets
$10MM cap hit; $10MM non-guaranteed cap hit for 2020/21

When the Rockets gave Nene an incentive-heavy contract that was only fully guaranteed for $2.56MM (his minimum salary), the idea was to create a trade chip like the one the Mavericks have with Lee. Because the deal featured $7.44MM in incentives deemed “likely,” Nene’s cap hit is technically $10MM, but as long as he doesn’t play more than nine games, he ultimately won’t count for more than $2.56MM against his team’s cap.

Unfortunately for Daryl Morey and the Rockets’ front office, that plan backfired, as the NBA ruled that only the guaranteed portion of Nene’s contract can be counted for salary-matching purposes. That significantly limits his trade value.

Still, it’s not as if Nene now has no value as a trade chip. On his own, he could bring back a player earning up to about $4.59MM. Paired with a little-used player like Isaiah Hartenstein, the Rockets could acquire a player earning up to approximately $7.07MM. That could still come in handy when the deadline rolls around.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Iguodala Drawing Interest From At Least Five Teams

1:53pm: In addition to the Rockets, Clippers, and Mavericks, the Nuggets and Lakers also have interest in Iguodala, tweets Stein.

Stein first mentioned Denver’s interest in Iguodala in his newsletter last week, though Amick tweets that the Nuggets view Memphis’ asking price as too high. If they do make a play for Iggy, Mason Plumlee‘s expiring $14MM contract would be their best salary-matching piece.

As for the Lakers, they have no clear path to matching Iguodala’s salary until after December 15, so they’re an unlikely suitor unless he’s bought out.

11:32am: After acquiring Russell Westbrook from Oklahoma City, the Rockets‘ top priority will be to find a way to land veteran forward Andre Iguodala, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

According to Amick, Houston continues to push to acquire Iguodala from the Grizzlies via trade. The Clippers are also known to be among the most serious suitors for the former Warrior, Amick adds.

In order to match Iguodala’s $17,185,185 salary, the Rockets or Clippers would have to send out at least $12,185,185 in salary of their own, which will be difficult, but not impossible.

Los Angeles could use Maurice Harkless‘ $11,511,234 expiring contract, but would have to include at least one more piece — likely either Jerome Robinson or one of their 2019 draftees. Those two 2019 draft picks (Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann) can’t be dealt until at least August 9 after signing on Tuesday.

The Rockets, meanwhile, probably wouldn’t want to move Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker, or Eric Gordon for Iguodala, so a sign-and-trade involving Iman Shumpert could be their most viable path for matching salaries. Shumpert would have to sign a three-year contract in that scenario, but only the first year would need to be fully guaranteed. He could sign for exactly $12,185,185, and presumably he’d be open to the idea, since he won’t receive that kind of money from any other team as a free agent.

Although Amick doesn’t name any other suitors for Iguodala, Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com suggests that the Mavericks are interested in the former Finals MVP too, and are willing to offer Courtney Lee‘s expiring contract and a second-round pick. Lee has a $12,759,670 cap hit, so no additional players would need to be added to such an offer for matching purposes. However, the Grizzlies don’t appear to have interest in taking on Lee, according to Fisher.

The Grizzlies acquired Iguodala as a salary dump, receiving a future first-round pick and cash from the Warriors for their troubles, so if they’re able to flip him and acquire positive assets, they’ll be coming out ahead.

Still, Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) says there’s a belief in league circles that Memphis may be leaning toward keeping Iggy on their roster into the season unless they receive a trade offer that includes a first-round pick.