- The Kings passed on Luka Doncic in the 2018 draft due to concerns about his fit alongside De’Aaron Fox, a decision that some fans in Sacramento have had a hard time moving past, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. According to Amick, former Kings coach Dave Joerger passive-aggressively joked to GM Vlade Divac midway through last season that he’d negotiated a trade with the Mavericks to land Doncic, to which Divac shot back: “Do I get their coach, too?”
Having traded Jeff Teague to Atlanta today, the Timberwolves are actively pursuing additional deals and have intensified their pursuit of Warriors point guard D’Angelo Russell, report Shams Charania and Jon Krawcznyski of The Athletic.
[RELATED: Timberwolves trade Jeff Teague to Hawks]
Russell was atop Minnesota’s wish list in free agency this past offseason, but the Wolves’ recruiting efforts fell short when the Warriors swooped in with a four-year, maximum-salary offer for the All-Star guard.
Russell has been viewed as a trade candidate essentially since the day he agreed to sign with Golden State, but the Warriors appear inclined to keep him at least through the 2020 trade deadline, per Charania and Krawcznyski, since the club would have more trade options once its hard cap lifts in July. As such, there has been no traction so far on a potential deal between the Wolves and Warriors.
While nothing is imminent on the Russell front, rival teams say the market for Robert Covington has been heating up as of late, according to Charania and Krawczynski. Minnesota is expected to “drive a hard bargain” for the talented three-and-D wing, but plenty of contenders have interest, including the Rockets, Mavericks, and Sixers.
New Wolves head of basketball operations Gersson Rosas spent nearly two decades working in Houston’s front office and was Daryl Morey‘s top lieutenant for years. He shares Morey’s aggressive approach to the trade market and likely won’t hesitate to shake things up and reshape Minnesota’s roster to fit his vision. After today’s Teague deal, it seems safe to say the Wolves aren’t done dealing.
Carmelo Anthony is downplaying tonight’s return to Houston for the first time since last year’s failed experiment, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Anthony signed with the Rockets last summer, but only played 10 games before being pulled from the rotation. He remained on the roster but away from the team for about two months before being traded to Chicago in January.
Although GM Daryl Morey made several attempts over the years to acquire Anthony, once the Rockets landed him they found his mid-range game wasn’t compatible with their preferred offense.
“I honestly don’t have any feelings about going back,” Anthony said. “I was only there a couple weeks. I don’t really have any type of feelings going back.”
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- Now that No. 1 pick Zion Williamson has a target date for his NBA debut, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer examines how New Orleans will use him during the second half of the season. Despite a dismal start, the Pelicans entered the night just four games out of a playoff spot, and O’Connor notes that 14 of their final 15 games will be against teams with losing records. “I’ve heard the narrative that he shouldn’t play at all, but that would be absurd from where he is,” head of basketball operations David Griffin said. “He’s worked this hard because he intends to play basketball and he wants to lead his guys. He’s going to be an alpha as a vocal presence; you can’t be that when you’re not playing basketball.”
- After initially being listed as available, Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis was a late scratch for tonight’s game at Sacramento, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. It marks the ninth straight game that Porzingis has missed because of soreness in his right knee, combined with an illness that prevented him from working out for a few days. The team is “playing it safe,” MacMahon adds (Twitter link). Dallas is 4-4 so far without him.
- Dillon Brooks met the starter criteria by starting his 41st game of the season for the Grizzlies last night, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. As a result, his qualifying offer will increase from $2MM to $3.1MM, which will also be the amount of his free agent cap hold.
The Hawks, who have been linked to centers like Andre Drummond, Steven Adams, and Dewayne Dedmon in recent weeks, also expressed trade interest in Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl, reports Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report.
The Spurs typically don’t make many in-season trades and Poeltl hasn’t really been cited as a trade candidate this winter. Still, the Hawks may have been interested to know whether the former lottery pick is in San Antonio’s long-term plans, since he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency this summer. The 24-year-old center is averaging 5.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 1.4 BPG in a part-time role (17.6 MPG) for the Spurs this season.
While nothing may end up happening with Poeltl, the report is the latest indication that the Hawks are surveying the market for a center who could potentially fit in their frontcourt alongside John Collins.
Let’s round up some more items out of Atlanta…
- Trae Young thinks the Hawks’ “exciting young players” will make prospective free agent targets seriously consider Atlanta in the offseason, as he tells Scotto. Multiple agents who spoke to Scotto agree that the Hawks will be a major player in free agency, though some pointed to the team’s significant cap room as the primary factor. “Every team that offers money would be considered,” one agent told Scotto. “An agent that says otherwise is just lying or stupid. They need to add quality veterans to help the young guys. Atlanta would be under consideration.”
- In that same conversation with Scotto, Young said it’s still too early to judge the 2018 draft-night blockbuster between the Mavericks and Hawks, despite Luka Doncic‘s success in Dallas this season. “[Doncic’s] on a team, and they’ve got more veterans and is a team that’s more looking to win now,” Young said. “We’re more of a team that wants to win now, but we’re focusing more on developing, and we’re one of the youngest teams in the league. It’s just two totally different situations, so it’s just hard to really judge who won or lost [the trade] right now.”
- Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk has been patient since assuming control of the front office in 2017, biding his time as the club accumulates draft assets and young prospects. Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer takes a look at whether Schlenk can realistically maintain that patient approach going forward, with Atlanta’s roster in need of some help.
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:
Derrick Favors, Pelicans, 28, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $37.6MM deal in 2018
A power forward by trade, Favors has emerged as the Pelicans’ starting center. Over a nine-game span prior to Friday’s action, Favors posted six double-doubles while averaging 11.2 PPG and 14.4 RPG. With an expiring $17.65MM contract, Favors is a candidate to be dealt before February’s deadline. Favors left Friday’s game with a hamstring injury but as long as it’s not serious, he could be an intriguing rental. Several teams were already monitoring Favors prior to his recent productive run. Jaxson Hayes is the future center for the Pelicans and Favors doesn’t stretch defenses but his steady contributions will draw some attention in a weak free agent market.
Isaiah Hartenstein, Rockets, 21, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.92MM deal in 2018
Hartenstein doesn’t get many opportunities but he puts up strong numbers when the Rockets are shorthanded in the frontcourt. In a three-game stretch in late December, Hartenstein averaged 14.7 PPG on 73% percent shooting and 11.3 RPG. In six G League outings this season, he has posted 21.3 PPG, 14.5 RPG and 4.7 APG in 33.3 MPG. The Rockets have a June 29 deadline to guarantee Hartenstein’s $1.66MM salary. It’s hard to see the Rockets letting the 21-year-old 7-footer walk away at that price.
Josh Jackson, Grizzlies, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $18.2MM deal in 2017
Following two troubled seasons with the Suns, Jackson was dealt to the Grizzlies during the offseason. Memphis decided to have Jackson work on improving his game and reputation at the G League level. The fourth overall pick of the 2017 draft has toiled there during the first three months of the season. Jackson was suspended two games for violating team rules last month, then went into an offensive funk until a 35-point outburst against the Iowa Wolves Monday. There’s no indication the Grizzlies have any interest in re-signing the unrestricted free agent this summer.
Ryan Broekhoff, Mavericks, 29, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $2.25MM deal in 2018
Broekhoff suffered a fractured left fibula late last month and is out indefinitely. Tough break — literally — for the Australian swingman, who wasn’t playing much anyway. He has appeared in 10 games this season, averaging 3.7 PPG in 7.7 MPG, after playing 42 games with Dallas last season in his first NBA campaign. Dallas would have to extend a $1.9MM qualifying offer to him in June to make him a restricted free agent. It seems likely that Broekhoff will return overseas next season to resume his career.
Jakob Poeltl, Spurs, 24, C (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $12.2MM deal in 2016
The Raptors’ 2016 lottery pick hasn’t really developed with a change of scenery over the past two seasons. Though Poeltl has made modest increases in his rebounding, assist and shot-blocking averages this season, his playing time remains limited to 15-20 minutes per game. The 7-footer doesn’t provide much offensively and has yet to develop a 3-point shot. He’s also a poor free throw shooter. San Antonio would have to extend a $5.1MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. That’s a reasonable price for a second-unit player but San Antonio may let him walk and seek an upgrade.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here are Monday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:
- The Hornets recalled forwards Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels from the Greensboro Swarm, according to a team press release. Martin, an undrafted rookie, has appeared in five games for the Hornets, averaging 1.8 PPG in 6.4 MPG. Martin has appeared in 17 games for the Swarm, averaging 19.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 3.8 APG in 35.1 MPG. McDaniels, a second-round pick who has made two cameos with the Hornets, has appeared in 20 games with the Swarm, averaging 17.3 PPG and 7.7 RPG.
- Point guard Chris Clemons has been recalled by the Rockets, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Clemons had a 40-point game for the Rio Grande Vipers on Sunday. The previous Sunday he racked up 16 points and nine assists for the Rockets against New Orleans.
- The Mavericks assigned small forward Isaiah Roby to the Texas Legends, the team’s PR department tweets. The second-round pick has been rehabbing a foot injury.
- The Suns recalled Jalen Lecque from their Northern Arizona affiliate, the team tweets. The undrafted rookie guard has yet to make his NBA debut.
- The Pacers recalled star guard Victor Oladipo from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team tweets. Oladipo practiced with the Mad Ants as he continues his rehab from a right knee ailment.
- The Raptors assigned Matt Thomas to Raptors 905, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. He’ll play in a G League contest on Monday, then return to the NBA club and suit up against Portland on Tuesday, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. The shooting guard has been sidelined by a finger injury and hasn’t played for the Raptors since November 23.
- Raptors forwards Stanley Johnson and Malcolm Miller have also been assigned to Raptors 905, Murphy adds in another tweet. Johnson, who asked to be sent to the G League, will also play on Monday as he works his way back from a groin injury, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link). Miller has appeared in 20 games with the NBA club this season but is only averaging 5.5 MPG.
- The Lakers recalled Talen Horton-Tucker from South Bay, the G League affiliate tweets. The second-round rookie has appeared in two NBA games this season.
- Clippers consultant Jerry West has very high praise for rising Mavericks star Luka Doncic, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News reports. “One player has transformed them into a playoff team,” West said. “[Doncic] will be the best player Dallas has ever had… I have great respect for [Dirk] Nowitzki, but Dirk is not him.” West has won nine titles as a player and executive in a storied Hall-of-Fame career.
3:42pm: The Celtics, Mavericks, and Raptors have also registered interest in Drummond, tweets Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Goodwill notes that Drummond has relationships with Dallas big man Kristaps Porzingis and Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry, while Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports adds (via Twitter) that the big man is close with Hawks star Trae Young.
2:05pm: The Pistons and Hawks have engaged in talks on a possible trade involving center Andre Drummond, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, nothing is imminent, but Detroit is discussing Drummond with multiple teams and there’s an increasing belief that the big man will be moved before next month’s trade deadline.
Drummond, 26, is enjoying perhaps the best season of his NBA career so far, with career highs in PPG (17.6), BPG (1.8), and SPG (2.0) to go along with a league-leading 15.8 RPG. Despite his strong play though, the Pistons are out of the playoff picture — their 12-23 record places them 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Facing a potential lottery finish and a contract year for Drummond, who will likely decline his $28.75MM option for 2020/21, it makes sense that the Pistons would consider their options. Securing a strong return for their starting center would be a more favorable outcome than losing him for nothing in the summer or overpaying to lock him up to a long-term contract.
As we relayed earlier today, Pistons owner Tom Gores admitted that his struggling team may need to consider taking a step back rather than remaining in win-now mode, and the Hawks are in the market for a veteran center. The two teams could be a good match, especially since Atlanta has extra draft picks available and a handful of expiring contracts that could be used for salary-matching purposes. Chandler Parsons‘s expiring $25.1MM deal would be the most logical trade chip to match Drummond’s $27.09MM cap hit.
According to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (via Twitter), a package of one or more expiring contracts and a protected 2020 first-round pick is one option being discussed. It’s not clear if the Hawks would be willing to make such an offer or if the Pistons would accept it.
If the Hawks were to acquire Drummond during the season, they’d be in position to re-sign him in July using his Bird rights. The club has plenty of cap flexibility going forward, so there would be no risk of going into tax territory even with a lucrative new deal for Drummond. Atlanta would then be in position to build around a frontcourt of Drummond and John Collins, with Trae Young running the show.
Of course, as Woj notes, the Hawks aren’t the only team talking to Detroit about a potential trade involving Drummond, so the Pistons are unlikely to rush a deal unless they get an offer they really like. The club still has nearly five weeks until the February 6 trade deadline arrives.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Athletic’s Sam Amick spoke with new Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis about his adjustment to supporting Luka Doncic in Dallas. Porzingis is averaging 17.1 PPG, 9.4 RPG and 2.1 BPG. “In the very beginning of the season, it was a little bit frustrating for me because it’s a new system,” Porzingis told Amick. “[Doncic is] starting to read the game more when maybe I need to get a touch, when to run a play for me or somebody else on the team. And I feel like that connection is getting better.”