Darius Morris

Western Notes: Dumars, Thompson, Horford, Morris, Zion

The Kings have named former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars as a special advisor to GM Vlade Divac, according to a team press release. Dumars, who build Detroit’s 2004 championship team, stepped down from his post with the Pistons in April 2014. “Joe and I played together in the league and is a legend in our sport,” Divac said in a press release. “As an experienced and talented basketball executive, I’m excited to have him serve as a special advisor and expert resource for our incredible front office team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Former Sixers forward Hollis Thompson will join the Kings’ summer league team, J.D. Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Thompson hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular-season game since the 2016/17 season, when he played a combined 40 games for Philadelphia and New Orleans.
  • While numerous teams and agents believe Celtics big man Al Horford will receive a four-year, $112MM offer in free agency, it won’t be coming from the Mavericks, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Horford will decline his $30.1MM player option and has broken off negotiations with Boston.
  • Veteran NBA guard Darius Morris will play for the Spurs’ summer league squad, Shaw reports in another tweet. Morris hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2014/15 season. He had stints with the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Nets.
  • The Pelicans’ top executive, David Griffin, is trying his best to keep the pressure off top pick Zion Williamson. He said on Friday to ESPN”s Malika Andrews and other media members that Williamson doesn’t have the burden of “saving this franchise.” Griffin added that Williamson is not yet the face of the franchise. “This is Jrue Holiday‘s team,” Griffin said. “Zion is going to be learning how to win at a really high level. At some point, if there is a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who is expected to carry us to win games, it will. That is not now.”

Suns Continue Search For Short-Term PG Solution

The Suns remain in the market for a short-term solution at their point guard position, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has been eyeing potential trade targets, free agents, and candidates for call-ups from the G League.

Darius Morris is among the players to receive interest from the Suns, with Wojnarowski reporting that the former Lakers point guard visited Phoenix early this week. Morris, who appeared in 132 total games for the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Nets from 2011-15, hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular season game in more than three years, though he was in camp with the Pelicans in the fall.

Morris is currently playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s G League affiliate, where he has put up 19.5 PPG and 6.7 APG with a .412/.355/.683 shooting line in 11 games so far this season.

The Suns have tried a handful of different players at the point in 2018/19. Isaiah Canaan earned most of the minutes there in the early going before being waived last Wednesday. Rookies Elie Okobo and De’Anthony Melton have each seen some action at the point, but may not be ready for major roles yet. Recently, Phoenix handed the play-making reins to Devin Booker, but a hamstring injury is currently keeping the team’s star guard on the shelf.

After releasing Canaan, the Suns have two open spots on their 15-man roster and have until next Wednesday to fill at least one of them, as we explained yesterday. It remains unclear which player will become the club’s 14th man, but it seems safe to assume it’ll probably be a point guard.

Pelicans Waive Brandon McCoy, Darius Morris

The Pelicans have waived center Brandon McCoy and point guard Darius Morris, the team’s PR department tweets.

New Orleans is now down to 18 players on the training camp roster, including two-way player Trevon Bluiett.

Both appeared in three preseason games. McCoy was waived by the Bucks last month, then signed with the Pelicans on September 29th. He was undrafted out of Nevada-Las Vegas this summer. The 7-foot-1 McCoy averaged 16.9 PPG and 10.3 RPG for UNLV last season.

Morris signed a non-guaranteed two-year deal in early September.

Morris, a second-round pick in the 2011 NBA draft, spent four seasons playing for the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Nets after entering the league. In 132 total regular season contests, he averaged 3.3 PPG and 1.4 APG but hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game since 2015. Since then, Morris had played in the G League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and in China for the Guangdong Southern Tigers.

With the Pelicans subtracting Morris, Jarrett Jack‘s chances of making the roster have seemingly increased.

Pelicans Notes: Okafor, Roster Decisions, Payton

The Pelicans only have 12 players on fully guaranteed contracts, leaving three potential openings on their 15-man regular season roster. However, it sounds like one of those three spots has already been claimed. According to Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link), Jahlil Okafor is a virtual lock to end up on the 15-man squad.

Okafor, who joined the Pelicans this summer after stints in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, injured his ankle last week, but head coach Alvin Gentry suggested that the ailment wouldn’t prevent him from making New Orleans’ roster. Kushner cautions that it’s not quite a done deal yet, but Okafor’s spot appears safe for now.

Here’s more from out of New Orleans:

Pelicans Sign Darius Morris

4:25pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

9:51am: The Pelicans are continuing their efforts to add depth at the point guard position, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that veteran free agent Darius Morris is signing with New Orleans. Morris will receive a partially guaranteed two-year deal, per Charania. It’ll be worth the minimum.

News of the Pelicans’ agreement with Morris comes a day after word broke that the club is signing two-way restricted free agent Tyrone Wallace to an offer sheet. New Orleans has two openings on its 20-man offseason roster, so the team could add both Wallace and Morris and let them battle it out for a regular season roster spot. Morris could also be an insurance policy in case the Clippers match the Pelicans’ offer sheet for Wallace.

Morris, a second-round pick in the 2011 NBA draft, spent four seasons playing for the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Nets after entering the league. In 132 total regular season contests (11.1 MPG), the 27-year-old averaged 3.3 PPG and 1.4 APG, last appearing in an NBA game in 2015. Since then, Morris has played in the G League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and in China for the Guangdong Southern Tigers.

Like Wallace, Morris was one of a handful of free agent point guards who worked out for the Pelicans in August. The club also took a look at Ty Lawson and Erick Green.

If the Clippers don’t match Wallace’s offer sheet with New Orleans, he would become the seventh player on the Pelicans’ roster with a non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed salary. Emeka Okafor, Jahlil Okafor, Troy Williams, Kenrich Williams, Garlon Green, and Morris would also be in the mix on non-guaranteed on partially guaranteed deals.

Pelicans Continue To Seek Point Guard Depth

The Pelicans remain on the lookout for point guard depth, according to Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate, who tweets that the club is hoping to add another player to its camp roster at that position.

As we relayed last week, New Orleans recently worked out veteran point guard Ty Lawson, along with Tyrone Wallace, who was a two-way player for the Clippers last season. In addition to those free agents, the Pelicans have also taken a closer look at Darius Morris and Erick Green, per Kushner.

A former second-round pick who hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since 2015, Morris has played extensively for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the G League and also spent some time in China with the Guangdong Southern Tigers last season.

Green, a former standout at Virginia Tech, has played primarily overseas in recent years, having been a member of Valencia in Spain during the 2017/18 campaign. The 6’3″ guard averaged a team-high 14.4 PPG in 28 EuroLeague contests with Valencia, making 41.7% of his three-pointers.

Currently, Jrue Holiday, Elfrid Payton, and Frank Jackson highlight the Pelicans’ point guard depth chart. However, Jackson has yet to appear in an NBA game after missing his rookie year with a broken foot, and New Orleans was fond of playing Holiday off the ball alongside Rajon Rondo last year, so the All-Defensive guard figures to see action at the two again in 2018/19.

The Pelicans only have 12 players on fully guaranteed contracts, with Jahlil Okafor, Emeka Okafor, Troy Williams, and DeAndre Liggins among the other veterans vying for roster spots. With one opening left on their 20-man offseason roster, the Pelicans may bring in a point guard to compete for a spot on the 15-man regular season squad as well.

And-Ones: Non-Guaranteed Deals, Maker, Morris

The Rocketsrelease of Bobby Brown today may be the first in a series of roster moves made by NBA teams before Sunday night. Sunday (January 7) is the last day for clubs to waive a player on a non-guaranteed contract to avoid having that player’s salary become fully guaranteed for the season.

We’ve compiled our own list of players on non-guaranteed contracts to keep an eye on, but over at ESPN.com, Bobby Marks goes one step further, running through each team in an Insider-only piece and assessing each non-guaranteed player’s chances of surviving the cut. As Marks details, some of the players on non-guaranteed salaries, such as Spencer Dinwiddie in Brooklyn, are in no danger of being cut. But others, like Bucks swingman DeAndre Liggins, may be holding their breath until that deadline passes.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the NBA:

  • Thon Maker‘s brother Matur Maker will bypass college and enter his name into the 2018 NBA draft pool, according to reports from Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. The younger Maker almost certainly won’t be a lottery pick like his brother in Milwaukee, but he’s hoping to make a similar prep-to-pro leap. He plans on hiring an agent in the spring, guardian and mentor Ed Smith tells Daniels.
  • Earlier today, we passed along word that former Suns guard Mike James was being eyed by China’s Guangdong Southern Tigers as a potential replacement for Edwin Jackson. However, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays, it appears Guangdong will sign another ex-NBA guard, Darius Morris, rather than James.
  • While you could make a case for several other players, including Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, there’s no question that Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma and Warriors big man Jordan Bell have been two of the biggest steals from the 2017 draft. Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) examines what lessons NBA front offices and scouts can learn from Kuzma and Bell.

17 Players Vying For Spots On USA’s AmeriCup Roster

USA Basketball has begun the process of selecting its roster for the AmeriCup 2017, the first of a series of qualifying tournaments under FIBA’s new format. As Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press details, Team USA doesn’t need to win the AmeriCup to qualify for the next World Cup and Olympics, but it’s a tournament the U.S. must participate in to eventually play in more crucial events.

Because upcoming qualifiers will take place during the NBA season, Team USA is putting together a roster primarily made up of G League players and veterans who have been playing overseas, as we previously learned. With training camp set to begin on Thursday, 17 hopefuls are suiting up for Team USA, with the program poised to eventually pare that group down to a 12-man roster.

Here are Team USA’s training camp participants, via USA Basketball:

Although there are no high-profile names in this group, several players have some NBA experience. Hilliard is currently a free agent, but appeared in 77 games over the last two seasons for the Pistons. Drew, Munford, and Plumlee have all played in at least a dozen NBA games.

Marshall, Morris, and Reggie Williams are perhaps the most notable names on the list, having played regular rotation roles for various NBA teams in recent years. Marshall was a lottery pick in the 2012 draft, while Williams has appeared in more than 200 NBA games since 2010.

None of the players on Team USA’s training camp roster are currently under contract with an NBA club, but Willis – the only player of the group who has yet to play professional ball – has reportedly agreed to a training camp deal with the Pistons.

The club will be coached by Jeff Van Gundy, an international rookie himself, and will eventually participate in preliminary round games in Uruguay later this month. If Team USA wins its group – which also includes Panama, the Dominican Republic, and host Uruguay – it would advance to the semifinals in Argentina in early September.

As Mahoney outlines in his report, Team USA won’t face real pressure to win until November, when the club need a top-three finish in a pool that includes Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Cuba in order to start advancing to later qualifiers. For more in-depth details on how those qualifiers work, be sure to check out FIBA’s breakdowns for the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.

And-Ones: Motiejunas, Blatt, Lakers, Free Agency

Heat president Pat Riley and Lakers president Magic Johnson participated in a panel discussion earlier this week, with Riley joking about how expects to land “a treasure of players” from Johnson in trades. As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel outlines, Riley also talked about Johnson’s transition to the front office, and the challenges the former Lakers star will face as he adjusts to a role that doesn’t involve much interaction with his players.

“When I went from coaching to the front office, my first three months I was actually in fits, because I had lost control. You lose control of the team and the game, because you’re just selecting players,” Riley said. “And one thing you don’t want to do as president is second-guess your coach too much, go down to the locker room, don’t hang around too much. … [Magic] will sit up there in that box of his, and when things aren’t going good the first, he’s going to want to go down there and be Lonzo Ball‘s mentor.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Donatas Motiejunas has new representation, according to international basketball reporter David Pick, who tweets that the free-agent-to-be has signed with Octagon Sports. Motiejunas was previously repped by Wasserman, but left the agency in the wake of his tumultuous restricted free agency last season.
  • Former Cavaliers head coach David Blatt, who coached Turkey’s Darussafaka Dogus in 2016/17, may return to Israel for the coming season. David Pick reports (via Twitter) that Maccabi Tel Aviv executives appear ready to offer Blatt a long-term deal in the $3-4MM range. Blatt coached the Israeli club from 2010 to 2014 before he headed to Cleveland.
  • Ex-Lakers guard Darius Morris tells Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link) that he has worked out for the Lakers, Grizzlies, and Pistons, and has a session lined up with the Jazz as well.
  • In a feature for Bleacher Report, Howard Beck examines how free agency decisions by LeBron James and Kevin Durant may have changed the landscape for star players, inspiring more of them to change teams in the future.

And-Ones: Morris, Richardson, Draft

Darius Morris, who was waived by the Nets at the end of June, has received contract offers from NBA teams and clubs overseas, but thanks to a foot injury suffered during training, he’ll be out of action for a few months, Morris’ agent, Brian Dyke, told international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). The 24-year-old made 38 appearances for Brooklyn during the 2014/15 campaign, logging averages of 2.2 points, 0.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 7.9 minutes per contest.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders tabs new L.A. arrivals Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson as two of six players who appear likely to benefit from having changed teams this summer.
  • Jason Richardson‘s deal with the Hawks is a one-year minimum-salary arrangement and is without any guaranteed money, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). It has limited injury protection, Pincus also says, so it appears to be an Exhibit 9 contract. Richardson will see $1,499,187 if he sticks for the entire season, but since the deal only covers one season, it would cost the Hawks no more than $947,276, the equivalent of the two-year veteran’s minimum. The league picks up the rest of the tab.
  • Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress peered into his crystal ball and released his first mock draft for 2017’s big event. The current top three players on Givony’s draft board are forwards Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, with point guard Dennis Smith rounding out the top-ranked trio.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.