DeMar DeRozan

Western Notes: Johnson, LeBron, Aldridge, DeRozan

Cameron Johnson, who was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2019 draft, should see an increased role next season in Phoenix, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic contends. The Suns rookie had made 91 three-pointers in 49 games and his progression may allow the franchise to focus on other position as it looks to upgrade the roster this summer.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Lakers star LeBron James is being sued by a photographer for posting content on his social media pages without permission, as I detailed on Heavy.com. The photojournalist captured a picture of James dunking on Meyers Leonard earlier in the season.
  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News examines LaMarcus Aldridge‘s season and wonders if the 34-year-old big man has a lengthy future with the Spurs. Aldridge has one year and $24MM left on his deal after this season.
  • DeMar DeRozan‘s future with the Spurs isn’t certain either, as McDonald writes in a separate piece. The shooting guard is expected to decline his player option for next season and seek a long-term contract—either with San Antonio or another club.

Spurs’ DeRozan To Opt Out If Not Extended?

Spurs swingman DeMar DeRozan intends to opt out of his contract this summer if he and the team don’t reach a contract extension by the end of June, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

DeRozan, whose player option for 2020/21 is worth $27,739,975, must make a decision on that extension by June 29, per Basketball Insiders. DeRozan and the Spurs have until June 30 to agree to terms on a veteran contract extension.

DeRozan is having one of the best years of his NBA career, averaging 22.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 5.6 APG in 61 games (34.3 MPG). His .526 FG% is easily a career high. However, there are a few factors working against him as he nears potential free agency.

Among those factors: DeRozan will be entering his age-31 season in the fall; his mid-range game is out of sync with most teams’ offensive approaches; and he and LaMarcus Aldridge appear unlikely to lead the Spurs to a playoff spot this spring. On top of that, San Antonio has actually been better without DeRozan on the court (+1.0 net rating) than when he plays (-2.7).

This year’s league-wide salary cap situation is also a point in favor of DeRozan picking up his option. Only a handful of teams will have significant cap room available, and most of those clubs are in the process of rebuilding, reducing the odds that they’ll want to invest heavily in a veteran player like DeRozan.

Still, it’s possible this offseason will represent DeRozan’s best chance at one last lucrative long-term deal — he could comfortably exceed the amount of that $27.7MM option on a multiyear contract, even if he doesn’t match that salary in ’20/21. If he doesn’t reach an extension with the Spurs and opts out, that wouldn’t close the door on a possible return to San Antonio, according to Haynes, who adds that the Knicks are among the teams expected to be interested in the former ninth overall pick. A sign-and-trade to an over-the-cap club could also be an option for DeRozan.

If DeRozan doesn’t sign an extension with the Spurs, I imagine he wouldn’t opt out unless he has a solid Plan B lined up, like Al Horford did last June when he declined his $30MM+ player option with Boston. For his part, the Spurs’ leading scorer downplayed Haynes’ report when he was asked about it on Tuesday night, as Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio-Express News writes.

“Who reported it? Did my Mama say it?,” DeRozan said. “Don’t listen to it then.”

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Spurs Rumors: Gay, Carroll, Belinelli, Bertans

The Spurs are “looking at everything” and weighing a variety of potential paths at the trade deadline, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on a Sunday podcast with Bobby Marks. At 22-26, San Antonio is 1.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Grizzlies and is at risk of missing the postseason for the first time since the turn of the century. The club will have to decide whether to push to continue that streak, take a step back and retool, or simply stand pat.

Having spoken with executives around the NBA, Jabari Young of CNBC Sports says there’s a belief the Spurs want to push for the playoffs. “They are 100% obsessed with getting that eighth seed,” one executive told Young.

If that’s the case, it wouldn’t make sense for San Antonio to trade DeMar DeRozan or LaMarcus Aldridge. However, moving Rudy Gay is a scenario that rival executives consider more realistic, Young suggests.

“If they get a nice asset back, I think they would do something with Rudy Gay, but I think their asking price is too high,” an exec told Young.

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • In his conversation with Marks, Wojnarowski speculated that the Spurs may view the idea of trading veterans like DeRozan, Aldridge, and Gay as an “all-or-nothing” proposition. In other words, in the unlikely event that the team could move all three players and get good value back, it could be worth rebooting the roster. Otherwise, it might not make sense to move just one or two of them.
  • The Spurs are working with agent Mark Bartelstein in an effort to find a new home for little-used veteran forward DeMarre Carroll, according to Jabari Young. After signing a three-year deal with San Antonio last summer, Carroll has appeared in just 15 total games this season, including two since Christmas. He has admitted that his reduced role has been “difficult.”
  • According to Young, the Spurs are also shopping Marco Belinelli, a 37.5% career three-point shooter who is on a $5.85MM expiring contract. No serious suitors have emerged for Belinelli, who is considered a liability on defense, Young adds.
  • If Davis Bertans hadn’t been traded last summer, he would’ve seriously considered re-signing with the Spurs in the summer of 2020, a league source tells Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report. That ship has probably sailed now though, according to Scotto, who revisits the saga that saw Marcus Morris renege on a free agent agreement with San Antonio. Morris didn’t tell the franchise directly that he was backing out of his commitment and the Spurs learned of his intentions after he failed to show up for his physical, says Scotto.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Wizards, Heat, Hawks, Magic

Following a tough loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night, Wizards star Bradley Beal voiced concern about his team’s culture, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. After telling reporters that he was frustrated about losing “winnable games,” Beal was asked if that losing builds up.

“I would hope it does,” Beal said. “I don’t like losing so it’s going to keep blowing up for me… Until we start winning and changing our culture.” Asked what a changed culture would like, the Wizards guard replied: Winning games. Get that winning attitude and winning habits.”

As Hughes notes in a separate article, the timing of Beal’s comments is interesting, since the 26-year-old signed an extension in the offseason despite recognizing it would be a challenging season for the Wizards. The team has been fun to watch and certainly hasn’t fallen short of preseason expectations, so Beal’s comments are a little surprising.

Pointing out that Beal recently co-signed a J.J. Redick complaint about some NBA players prioritizing fashion and social media over winning, Hughes wonders if that was just coincidental timing or if the Wizards’ star is frustrated by some of his teammates’ behavior.

David Aldridge of The Athletic, who heard from a source that Beal seemed as angry and emotional after Wednesday’s loss as he’s been since joining the Wizards, noted that Washington’s defense has been “spectacularly bad” this season and speculated that the team’s effort on that end of the floor may be a source of frustration for the All-Star.

As we wait to see how Washington responds to Beal’s concerns, here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald suggests that preserving 2021 cap room isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for the Heat if they find a trade they like, since the team believes it can acquire star free agents even without cap space, as it did last summer with Jimmy Butler.
  • Within the same article, Jackson also explores several trade options for the Heat, citing one source who says the team will likely be in touch with San Antonio. The Spurs haven’t given any indication they want to move LaMarcus Aldridge or DeMar DeRozan, but would consider Miami a potential trade partner if they do consider dealing either veteran star, says Jackson.
  • Count Trae Young among those who like the Hawkstrade for Jeff Teague. According to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Young referred to Teague as “one of the underrated point guards in our league” and praised the veteran’s ability to score, draw fouls, and get teammates involved.
  • With Michael Carter-Williams still battling a shoulder injury and fellow point guard D.J. Augustin out for at least the next three or four weeks with a knee issue, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said he’d speak to president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman about whether or not the team will make a roster move, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Orlando has a full 15-man roster, but Gary Clark is on a 10-day contract.

Southwest Notes: McLemore, Aldridge, Porzingis, DeRozan

Former lottery pick Ben McLemore has revitalized his career with the RocketsESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote an excellent profile piece examining the reemergence of McLemore in Houston.

On his third team in three years, McLemore seized his opportunity with the Rockets when injuries befell Eric Gordon and Gerald Green. McLemore has transformed himself into an effective catch-and-shoot option in Houston. For nine games starting on November 30th, McLemore averaged 14 PPG while shooting 39-of-85 from long range.

The first season of McLemore’s two-year, $4.4MM contract with the Rockets became fully guaranteed on January 10th. “I love Ben,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told Lowe. “All he was lacking was confidence and an opportunity.” The rangy, athletic McLemore is averaging 10.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 1.0 APG for the 26-12 Rockets. He is shooting 36.5% from long range on 6.7 attempts and 80% from the free-throw line.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The trade market stock of 34-year-old Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge is rising, writes San Antonio Express-News reporter Mike Finger. Finger postulates that Aldridge would have net more interest as a trade piece than fellow 30+ former All-Star big man, Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love, who has been very, very vocal about being unhappy in Cleveland. Aldridge has emerged as a moderate three-point shooting threat for the first time in his career, knocking down 45.5% of his 2.5 attempts per game, both career highs.
  • Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis was given a platelet-rich-plasma injection to treat the soreness in his right knee that has kept him in street clothes for two weeks, according to ESPN’s Tim McMahon. Porzingis is also grappling with an illness that has slowed his recovery process.
  • Polarizing, old-fashioned Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan returns to the team for whom he made four All-Star appearances today, the Raptors, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN reports. His former teammate, current Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry, reflected on his contributions to Toronto basketball. “I think he poured his heart into the city,” Lowry said. “He gave the city and lot and the city [saw] him grow from a boy to being a man.”

Amick’s Latest: Bogdanovic, Drummond, OKC, Gordon, More

Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s name popped up in trade rumors at the start of the week, but the Kings still view the swingman as a key part of their push for the postseason and team sources “swear” they’re comfortable dealing with his restricted free agency this summer, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic. Interestingly, Amick notes that it was the Lakers, not the Kings, who initiated those reported trade discussions involving Bogdanovic and Kyle Kuzma.

According to Amick, winning is Bogdanovic’s top priority, and he’s not opposed to the idea of a long-term stay in Sacramento if the team continues to improve. If the Kings fall further out of the playoff race in the coming weeks, it’s possible both sides will become more open to a trade, but the price for Bogdanovic would be high.

Meanwhile, the Kings are also considering the possibility of a Dewayne Dedmon trade, and Amick confirms that the Hawks are among the teams with interest in the big man. However, Sacramento’s asking price for Dedmon has been too high for Atlanta’s liking so far, per Amick.

Amick’s latest Athletic article, which lists 16 top trade candidates from around the NBA, is jam-packed with noteworthy tidbits related to those players. Here are some of the highlights:

  • A source with knowledge of the situation downplays the likelihood of the Hawks and Pistons agreeing on an Andre Drummond trade, according to Amick, who hears from a second source that Atlanta could already have landed the center if the team was willing to include a first-round pick in its offer.
  • The Thunder have been sending “mixed messages” in trade discussions, sources tell Amick. They’re open to making moves if there’s something significant to be gained, but also aren’t opposed to standing pat, given how well they’re playing.
  • “There is chatter coming from Orlando” related to forward Aaron Gordon, one executive tells Amick. However, a source with knowledge of the Warriors‘ activity gave Amick a hard “no” when asked specifically about the possibility of the Magic trading Gordon for D’Angelo Russell. Another source said a Russell deal is “unlikely” to happen this season, Amick adds.
  • The Timberwolves are trying to find upgrades, one general manager tells Amick, who points to Robert Covington as the most logical trade chip to help Minnesota land that upgrade.
  • While the Trail Blazers are frequently cited as a potential Kevin Love landing spot, Amick says there’s “serious skepticism” among key people close to the Blazers that the Cavaliers forward will ever end up in Portland.
  • The Spurs have been gauging DeMar DeRozan‘s trade market, but the guard’s ability to walk in free agency this summer if he lands in an unfavorable spot complicates a potential deal. According to Amick, extension talks between San Antonio and DeRozan aren’t dead yet either. Based on the Spurs’ transaction history, an in-season extension might be more likely than an in-season trade.

Southwest Notes: DeRozan, Brooks, Favors, Mavericks

The Spurs are off to a rough start this season. San Antonio currently sits at the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference with an 11-16 record. Head coach Gregg Popovich has been searching for answers all over the roster lately. This has included shaking up some rotational minutes.

During a tilt against Houston on December 16, Popovich pulled starting shoot guard DeMar DeRozan, the team’s highest earner with a $27.7MM salary this season, with 4:46 left in the game and the Spurs down 101-97. San Antonio had led by as many as 25 points in the first half. Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News notes that DeRozan’s disengaged body language while languishing during the eventual 109-107 loss on the bench was criticized.

Following the criticism, power forward Rudy Gay defended DeRozan’s reaction to the late-game benching, calling the two-time All-NBA selection a “competitor.” DeRozan did stay on the court late to help seal the Spurs’ subsequent game, a 118-105 defeat of the Nets on Thursday. Popovich substituted all starters with 47 seconds left and the victory sewn up.

There’s more out of the Southwest:

  • In his latest mailbag column, The Daily Memphian’s Chris Herrington touches on Dillon Brooks‘ value as a 2020 restricted free agent. Brooks, the 45th pick in the 2017 draft, has been solid in his third NBA season thus far. He has shown his mettle as a long-range shooter for the Grizzlies, connecting on 37.1% of his 4.9 three-point attempts a game this year. He can also defend at a position of need — albeit while getting into foul trouble. Herrington considers Brooks’ best fit on a playoff team to be as a bench scorer. Herrington hopes that Memphis waits out the market for Brooks, and exercises caution if offers from other teams venture significantly beyond the mid-level exception ($9.8MM annually).
  • ESPN’s Andrew Lopez (Twitter link) reports that Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry has lifted the team’s minutes restriction on starting center Derrick Favors. Gentry anticipates Favors playing 25-27 minutes. He has averaged 20.9 minutes a night in 14 games this season.
  • The Mavericks showed off their roster depth beyond starry headliners Luka Doncic (still out with an injury) and Kristaps Porzingis in a 117-98 road win over the Sixers last night. To be fair, Porzingis scored 22 points, pulled down 18 rebounds, and blocked three opponents’ shots. Still, Tim McMahon of ESPN notes that Tim Hardaway, Seth Curry, and even Ryan Broekhoff have had clutch moments for Dallas so far. “We have so many different weapons and so many different guys that can come in,” Porzingis noted after the victory. “I almost feel bad because we have so many guys that can come in, and sometimes they don’t get the opportunity.”

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.

The Southwest could end up being one of the NBA’s most interesting divisions as the trade deadline approaches. The Mavericks and Rockets are headed for the postseason and may be motivated to make roster upgrades. On the other end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies were always willing to sell, and disappointing seasons may clear the way for the Spurs and Pelicans to join them as sellers.

After initially identifying three trade candidates from the Southwest last month, we’re examining three more today. Let’s dive in…

Jrue Holiday, G
New Orleans Pelicans
$26.2MM cap hit; $26.2MM cap hit in 2020/21; $27.1MM player option for 2021/22

Marc Stein of The New York Times injected some intrigue into this season’s trade market on Tuesday when he suggested that the Pelicans no longer view Jrue Holiday as untouchable. A two-time All-Defensive player and a former All-Star, Holiday is capable of playing on or off the ball and may be the most appealing trade chip on the market this winter.

Of course, just because the Pelicans are open to listening to inquires doesn’t mean they’ll simply take the best offer they get for Holiday at the deadline. It will likely require a substantial package to pry him out of New Orleans, particularly since he’s under contract for at least one more year beyond this season — the Pels could wait until the offseason or even the 2021 deadline to shop Holiday more aggressively.

If the Pelicans do seriously consider a deal this season, I’d expect the team to seek a package with a similar structure to the one they got for Davis, featuring a mix of young players and draft picks. The Nuggets, Heat, and Timberwolves are among the teams that should be motivated to pursue Holiday and might have the assets to get something done.

DeMar DeRozan, SG
San Antonio Spurs
$27.7MM cap hit; $27.7MM player option for 2020/21

Another former All-Star, DeRozan almost certainly won’t be as sought-after a trade target as Holiday, even if the Spurs convey a willingness to move him. He’s not a strong defender and his limitations from beyond the arc will turn some teams off.

For instance, Orlando is in need of scoring help and reportedly expressed interest in DeRozan, but given their roster construction, the Magic would likely prefer a player who can stretch the floor and help improve their spacing. DeRozan isn’t that player.

DeRozan’s contract also complicates matters. A team focused on 2021 flexibility may like the idea of acquiring the veteran guard and having him exercise his 2020/21 player option to keep him around for the next year-and-a-half. But there’s no guarantee DeRozan won’t opt out at season’s end, so a potential trade partner would have to be comfortable with either losing him in 2020 or ponying up for a new contract at that time.

Throw in the fact that the Spurs haven’t made a midseason trade in nearly six years and there are plenty of factors working against a DeRozan deal. But if San Antonio continues to slip out of playoff contention, it’s an idea the team will have to at least consider.

Jae Crowder, F
Memphis Grizzlies
$7.8MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Andre Iguodala has been the most-discussed trade candidate in Memphis, but teams in need of help on the wing may end up pivoting to Crowder instead.

Unlike Iguodala, Crowder has actually played this season, averaging more than 31 minutes per game in 26 starts for the Grizzlies. It hasn’t been one of his best seasons – his shooting line has slipped to .376/.314/.746 – but Crowder is averaging career-best rates in rebounds and assists and remains capable of filling a three-and-D role.

Perhaps most importantly, his expiring contract has a cap charge nearly $10MM less than Iguodala’s $17MM+ figure. A non-taxpaying team would only have to send out about $4.4MM in salary to meet the salary-matching requirements for Crowder, which would be much more realistic for several contending teams that lack expendable mid-level contracts.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Spurs, DeRozan, McLemore, Pelicans

The Spurs have historically been averse to mid-season trades, having not completed a deal outside of the offseason since February 2014, when they sent Nando De Colo to Toronto in exchange for Austin Daye. However, as Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News writes, after a 9-15 start to the season, the organization will have to consider both the upside and potential downside of simply standing pat again.

Four-time All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan will have the ability to opt out of his contract during the summer of 2020, and while the Spurs seem unlikely to make a blockbuster deal by February 6, it might represent their last real opportunity to acquire something of value in exchange for DeRozan — if he opts for free agency and signs elsewhere, the club likely won’t have the cap flexibility to adequately replace him, Finger observes.

As San Antonio considers its options, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Southwest…

  • When the Spurs weigh what to do with DeRozan, they’ll attempt to determine what type of contract he might be able to command on the open market. Only rebuilding teams are projected to have cap room this summer, creating uncertainty about where a big payday for the veteran might come from, if not San Antonio. “I like DeRozan as my third option, and those type of players are not earning near max-type money,” one league executive tells ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link).
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the renaissance of Ben McLemore, a former No. 7 overall pick whose days as an NBA rotation player appeared numbered before he bounced back with Houston this season. According to Iko, McLemore received a pair of guaranteed contract offers in the offseason, but chose the Rockets‘ partially guaranteed offer because they offered the best combination of playing for a contender and potentially earning a regular role.
  • Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said this week that this year’s team is one of the quietest he has been around during his time in the NBA, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic. As Guillory notes, that’s one reason why New Orleans’ defensive communication has been an issue all season long.